Leon Claire Metz (born November 6, 1930) is an American cultural historian, author, television documentary personality, and lecturer on the American Old West period. Metz has presented hundreds of his programs to groups all over the U.S. particularly in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona. Metz has also made numerous TV appearances television documentaries most notably, A&E's The Real West series, which is also shown on The History Channel. Metz was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia,[1] and graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1948. He then joined the US Air Force during the Korean War. He was primarily stationed at Biggs Field, El Paso where he was a propeller mechanic, attaining the rank of staff sergeant, which he would later portray in his book Fort Bliss: An Illustrated History. C.L. "Doc" Sonnichsen a noted historian himself, would serve as an early mentor for the young Metz. Metz has penned 17 books, most notably John Selman: Texas Gunfighter and a biography of Old West lawman Pat Garrett. Metz also hosts a weekly column in the El Paso Times. Metz also hosts a radio show, The Leon Metz Show on KTSM, which relates to Southwestern U.S. history. He can also be seen often on BBC television specials on the west. On June 16, 2012 Metz contributed his voice to an alternative hip hop album entitled Greetings from El Paso, a concept album about El Paso, Texas by local rapper Zyme One.

“We are always on the lookout for little-known rarities,” wrote Leon C. Metz in the 1968 summer issue of U.T. El Paso’s NOVA magazine. Mr. Metz, a native of West Virginia, became the University of Texas at El Paso’s first archivist in 1967. He soon after claimed that “The University of Texas at El Paso should have the finest archives collection this side of the Mississippi in a few years.” Leon Metz was not only an archivist, but an author as well. He wrote works like Turning Points in El Paso, Texas (1985), John Wesley Hardin: Dark Angel of Texas (1996), and John Selman: Texas Gunfighter, a book he published in 1966, prior to becoming the university’s archivist. Leon Metz first became acquainted with El Paso and the Southwest while he was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed at Biggs Field in the early 1950s. He quickly came to like the Southwest and after his discharge in 1953 he began attending night classes at Texas Western College (now UTEP) while also working for the Standard Oil Refining Company. After being offered the position of becoming archives librarian in 1967, Mr. Metz played an important role in developing and organizing U.T. El Paso’s Special Collections Department, located in the university library.

In 1968, Leon Metz also stated in NOVA magazine that “No doubt our future reputation will hinge on the amount of Southwestern material we manage to collect. An archives is only as good as the material filed therein. In this respect I would like for every reader to consider himself an honorary U.T. El Paso archivist. In your lifetime you have happened across records, papers that were being lost and destroyed through neglect and indifference.” During his time at U.T. El Paso, Metz wrote dozens of articles, conducted many interviews, and helped collect valuable information about the American Southwest, El Paso, and the university. He traveled extensively throughout the El Paso region and Mexico in search of the “little-known rarities” he felt were so important to the school’s archives. Metz’s work on John Selman won the Texas Writers League book award, and until recent years, he maintained a weekly column in the El Paso Times, which were about Southwestern and borderlands history.

Uploaded on 07.24.2014 by El Paso Museum of History

Central / University, (1930 - 1939), Meet El Pasoans

  • Leon Claire Metz
  • Historian
  • author
  • television
  • documentaries
  • UTEP
  • archivist
  • biggs field
  • American Southwest
  • historiador
  • autor
  • documentales
  • archivista
  • sudoeste

Your comment will be visible after the El Paso Museum staff has reviewed it. This usually happens within 24 hours.

Thank you for your comment

Leon Claire Metz

Report this entry

Choose the most important reason for this report

Your name

Your email address

Optional detail

Thank you for your report

More from the same community-collection

1966 Rosemary Gereda Ballet - El Paso, Texas

Rosemary Gereda and others, part of the group led by Ingebor Heuser.

Keitha Adams, Basketball coach, UTEP

Keitha Adams, Women's Basketball Coach, UTEP

Norma Hernandez, Math Professor 1987

Dr. Norma

Kathleen Worrell - El Paso, Texas - 1914

Kathleen Worrell - El Paso, Texas - 1914

Lola Dawkins - El Paso, Texas - 2005

Lola Dawkins - El Paso, Texas - 2005

Mary Vance Gwinn, El Paso, Texas - circa 1955

Left to right: Ernest Gwinn, Gammon Gwinn III (son), and Mary Vance Gwinn (mother) in family home. All three were...

Lucy Gereda @ College of Mines El Paso TX 1938

1938 Lucy Alvares de Gereda during her college years at the School of Mines (now UTEP). She is carrying the...

The Jones Family - 2017

Aaron Jones picked in the NFL Draft - 2017 - Aaron Jones second from left of the image.

Memorial Gym, UTEP Beginnings 1960

Photograph shows early construction on Memorial Gym on the UTEP Campus in El Paso, Texas 1960. Location was in the...

Brumbelow Building Near Kidd Field 1960

Brumbelow Building near Kidd Field on UTEP campus in El Paso Texas in 1960. Building housed ROTC program in 2015.

Texas College of Mines, Buildings in 1932

Photo shows automobiles parked in front of buildings at Texas College of Mines El Paso, Texas in 1932.

Landmarks, Westside, El Paso, Texas 1965

Aerial photo shows ASARCO and Sun Bowl Stadium as landmarks on the westside of El Paso, Texas 1965. UTEP Triangle,...

Female Student Wears TWC Beanie - 1966

Female student in El Paso, Texas wears commemorative Texas Western College beanie.

On March 19, 1966,...

Students circa 1925, early buildings at Texas College of Mines

Students circa 1925 stand before earliest buildings at Texas College of Mines

M Club Supporters of Texas College of Mines

M Club Supporters of Texas College of Mines in El Paso, Texas 1925