Mr. Penney’s Farming Pursuits

November 29, 2017

David Kruger delights the audience with photographs of Mr. Penney.

On Thursday, November 16, the DeGolyer Library hosted David Kruger to discuss his book, J.C. Penney: the Man, the Store, and American Agriculture. David kept the audience entranced with a slideshow of over 100 images, and people stayed after the event to chat.

Some  might know that the store in the mall, JCPenney, was founded by a man, James Cash Penney, but probably only a few know about Mr. Penney’s wide-ranging work in cattle breeding. The DeGolyer Library has the records of both Mr. Penney, the man and JCPenney, the company.

Mr. James Cash Penney with one of his prize winning Guernseys.

David Kruger is the Agricultural Research and Instruction Librarian at the William Robertson Coe Library at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.  His interest in the Penney Company began in his childhood. David began work on this book in 2009, and visited the DeGolyer Library multiple times to study the archives.  He also talked with people who knew Mr. Penney as a farmer. The book was published in 2017.


Far from a dry academic tome, J.C. Penney: the Man, the Store, and American Agriculture  makes for an enjoyable reading. It is worth buying a copy (or even Interlibrary Loan it.)  The Wall Street Journal gave David’s book a very positive review–as did Successful Farming magazine.


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Veterans and Their Stories

November 7, 2017

DeGolyer Library is pleased to announce that Congressman Sam Johnson ’51 will donate his congressional papers at the end of his term in 2018. Before representing Texas’ 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991, he served six years in the Texas House of Representatives. Prior to his political career, he served 29 years in the United States Air Force, retiring as a colonel. Johnson was a prisoner of war for seven years in the “Hanoi Hilton” and wrote of his experience in his 1992 memoir, Captive Warriors: A Vietnam POW’s Story.

Congressman Sam Johnson

October 20, 2017

Sam Johnson’s story will be added to a host of other soldiers’ and military spouses’ collections held in DeGolyer Library. As we remember and honor veterans on November 11, we invite researchers to study primary sources including:


Joseph Zeppa collection of correspondence and ephemera The Joseph Zeppa collection contains over 700 books on military history, as well as correspondence from noted military leaders. A highlight of the collection is the friendly correspondence between two former opposing generals, U.S. Brigadier General Paul Robinett and German General Franz Halder.

Jack Miller papers

Jack Miller

Jack Miller ’38 was one of “Carlson’s Raiders” in the battle of Guadalcanal, where he was killed in action in 1942. His letters to his family describe his experiences, and his family’s correspondence can be found in the Juanita and Henry S. Miller Jr. family papers.




Clarence W. Clark World War II correspondence

Clarence W. Clark served in the United States Army with the 51st Air Service Group in the China-Burma-India campaign. His collection of letters to his wife, Frances, in Tyler, Texas, describe his military experience from 1942-1945.


William E. McClure family papers
William E. McClure letter











William E. McClure served in the United States Navy during World War I. His letters to his family in Tyler, Texas, describe his experience in the Philippines and France.


David E. Hoxie letters David Hoxie was a Union Army officer during the Civil War, and his letters describe military life at various camps in Massachusetts and Washington D.C.


Theodore Laidley Mexican War letters Theodore Laidley was a United States Army officer during the Mexican War. His letters to his father describe Mexico and military life.

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SMU Mustang Band: Celebrating 100 Years

October 30, 2017

The Mustang Band will be celebrating its 100th anniversary during SMU’s Homecoming this month. Known for its school spirit, its use of jazz music, and its uniforms, the band has made an indelible contribution to our campus throughout the past 100 years.

The band’s uniforms have their own history.  On November 3, 1922, the student newspaper reported that Cullum and Borem donated $25 to start the fund to “buy suits for the boys.”  SMU Vice President Horace Whaling said, “The Band can play some mighty pretty music, now what they need is some pretty uniforms to go with it.”

By 1925, the band uniforms were already in disarray.  Student-led director Cy Barcus was not taking care of the uniforms and equipment, so SMU Business Manager Layton Bailey sent this scolding letter.

Letter to Cy Barcus about untidy uniforms

Layton Bailey gets an inventory of the uniforms.

After this youthful indiscretion, Barcus graduated but returned as the first band director. He pioneered a number of new ideas, including introducing “swing” or Jazz music to the band.  He also persuaded Coach Ray Morrison to bring in a small black pony, soon to become known as Peruna I, as a mascot. Cy Barcus also started the flutter-tongue introduction on his cornet to get the band’s attention – still used today! After his service to the Mustang Band, Barcus became a Methodist minister.

In 1956, the Student Activity fee began allocating funds to the Mustang Band for uniforms.  The Daily Campus noted that before uniforms were always funded by donations. From 1956 through 1972, the Student Activity Fee made regular allocations to the uniform fund. Often this was $1,000.

In 1959-1960, Dr. Irving Dreibolt began introducing new uniforms to the Mustang Band.  By 1968-1969, the band had a total of 20 different uniforms in its wardrobe.  Some were exceptionally traditional; others, like the horse uniform, were anything but. With a wardrobe of unique uniforms, the band became known as the “Best Dressed Band in the Land.”

The infamous horse uniform

Traditional uniform, but not a traditional–or sanctioned–location.

No matter which uniform they wore, Mustang Band members have always jazzed up Southern Methodist University.

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