Ask An Archivist

September 27, 2017

Oct. 4, 2017 is “Ask An Archivist” day.  This yearly Twitter campaign began in 2010 to engage everyday people who want to know about historic collections and the people who work with those collections.


The SMU Archives has formally participated in Twitter’s #Ask An Archivist day for only 2 years, but this day always brings a smile.  For the DeGolyer Library, every day is “Ask An Archivist Day.”

We’ve gotten questions about SMU history (“Why does the sundial in front of Dallas Hall not work correctly?”).  We’ve gotten questions about specific collections (“I want to find my mother’s wedding gown as seen in the 1974 JCPenney catalog” or Are there any copyright restrictions for an image in the Texas Instruments collection that I want to use?”).

We’ve gotten questions from students in library school wanting to know about how to become an archivist.  We’ve given advice to friends and co-workers about how to save their family photographs.

Almost each and every day, someone asks an archivist about the materials in the SMU Archives or the DeGolyer Library.  Yes, we even get questions on Sundays. No matter your question or when you decide to ask us, we archivists are happy to follow up with you.

So if you are on Twitter, tweet us (@SMUArchives) or any of the other archivists on the beautiful SMU campus (@artsarchivist, @BridwellLibrary, @metalarchivist, or @SMUJonesFilm) on Oct. 4—or any other day.  We love to help.



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Kenda North Photography Collection

September 13, 2017

Kenda North Photography Archive Donated to the DeGolyer Library, SMU


Kress Building Series No 30787

It is an honor to announce that Kenda North has donated her photographic archive to the DeGolyer Library to be included in the Archives of the Women of the Southwest. The spectacular lifework collection includes color photographs from the 1970s to the present.

The list of North’s achievements, exhibitions, and awards is long. She has been working and exhibiting her photography since receiving her MFA in 1976.

Kenda North has been specifically working in color in photography her entire career with innovative work with dye transfer materials in the late 70s and early 80s. Her career has been marked by consistent experimentation and techniques of available color processes. North has had over 50 one person exhibitions and participated in over 100 group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally. Her photographs are in over 50 public collections throughout the U.S. and Europe. From 1989 to the present, North has been on the faculty at the University of Texas, Arlington.

A retrospective exhibition of her work is on view at the Arlington Museum of Art from August 19-October 8, 2017.


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Joining the SMU Community

August 14, 2017

Preparing students to join college life has always been a concern to university administrators.

In 1915 (and for some years after), freshmen at SMU were called “Fish.” During that first spring semester, seniors pranked two unsuspecting classes with fake finals.  As early as 1919, incoming freshman had mandatory psychological tests. These tests (although updated) remained in place until the mid-1970s.

The first formal freshman orientation was in 1924 and it lasted one day.  It began with a devotional exercise, and President Charles Selecman spoke on the ideals and traditions of SMU.  By 1928 that freshman day had expanded into a five-day-long orientation.

Beanies were a part of freshman life from 1916 until 1963. The first-year student were required to wear beanies until the end of the fall semester or if SMU won the homecoming game—whichever came first.  Beanies had one’s name printed on the front of the hat—and were not the most “fashion-forward” items.  Anyone caught not wearing their beanie was tossed into the fountain.   In 1963, a beanie cost $1.28.


In a book called, “The Freshman Girl,” published in 1925, there was no talk about a formal orientation program, but deans and professors from different colleges and universities discussed how to acclimate new students on how to study, survive social life, budget, and take care of their health.  “There are few groups of human beings more interesting than a class of schoolgirls going out into the new world of college or of society. There are few hearts of men or women that do not yearn toward them, longing to help them….”

Fifty years ago, in 1967, the SMU’s orientation process included a Tuesday to Sunday program-filled schedule.

Freshman in 1967 moved in to their dorm rooms on Tuesday morning. After their first lunch in the cafeteria, they were welcomed in an assembly by Provost Neill McFarland.  Another meeting at 7 pm introduced the group to the Student President.  At 10 pm, men in their dorms, women in theirs, learned their “respective rights and privileges.” Wednesday and Thursday students pored over physical and psychological exams deeming them “fit to be a Mustang.” An all-university street dance was held Thursday night behind Boaz Hall. On Friday, students registered for their first semester of classes.  After learning the SMU cheers on Saturday, students attended a 10 pm until midnight dance. Women had a special curfew of 1 am that night.  On Sunday, students went to religious services.

Today, in the late summer SMU first-year students still take part in an orientation to college life.  Today that process takes place in two steps, AARO  (Academic Advising, Registration, & Orientation) and Mustang Corral.  At AARO, a two-day event, incoming students are advised on classes, and parents are counseled about student life.  During Mustang Corral, a five-day event, first year students are introduced to Dallas, each other, SMU policies, and traditions.

No matter how or when you became a Mustang, we are happy that you joined Southern Methodist University. To relive some of your glory days, you can always visit the SMU Archives in the DeGolyer Library in person or online.


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