Cleaning Up and Moving On from A Piece of Cowboys History
What a difference a year makes. Just one year ago, the Dallas Cowboys were moving their headquarters from Valley Ranch to The Star in Frisco, looking ahead to an unknown season in their new surroundings. Two sensational Pro Bowl rookies, an award winning O-Line, and a 13-3 record later, it seems the new digs suits the team and organization just fine. But as the Cowboys and their fan base again look forward to the upcoming season, a smaller team finishes up looking towards the past.
The Archival team is responsible for the history and historical items of the Dallas Cowboys. Our responsibilities include the acquisition and processing of new items, the preservation and conservation of existing holdings, and fulfilling requests from within the organization for items and information. After the Cowboys moved to The Star, it became our responsibility to go through what was left behind. The Cowboys had called Valley Ranch home for 31 years, and the accumulation of paperwork, memorabilia, and media definitely showed it.
It took the better part of the year to go through Valley Ranch, and it was time-consuming work. Each room in the main building was gone through thoroughly, checking closets, filing cabinets, and the walls themselves for photos, memorabilia, and even furniture that spoke to the Cowboys’ history. The 15 display cases in the lobby, and several others throughout the building, had to be catalogued; the items displayed were inventoried, photographed, and boxed up for transport. All of the items kept were put in a central location in preparation for their move to the Archives.
The building that housed the field equipment, “the shed”, proved to be the most interesting thing to search through. It housed much of the older items and paperwork from the organization. It took close to two months to rifle through the untold number of boxes and pounds of dust, but real treasures were found. Items we thought had been lost to eternity popped up, like media guides and film from the 1960s and 1970s. About half of what we found was tossed and shredded, the other half we put onto pallets to move to the Archives.
In the end, the majority of our time was spent organizing, logging, and boxing up the media library. An estimated 30,000 pieces of media were housed in an approximately 35-yard long corridor. The floor-to-ceiling shelving was completely full and several large bins were filled with what could no longer fit. Over the course of seven months, we inventoried the various forms of media, mostly Beta and VHS tapes, and boxed them up for transportation to the Archives (and an eventual digitization project).
The cleanup of Valley Ranch was intimidating, overwhelming, and frustrating work, but the end result is beyond satisfying. So as the Archival team finishes the final chapter in the legacy of Valley Ranch, we join in looking towards the future, wondering what the next chapter in the history of the Dallas Cowboys will say.