An Evening Reminiscing

April 5, 2017

The Wittliffs and Virgil Musick

L to R: Bill Wittliff, Virgil Musick, and Sally Wittliff


On February 23, 2017, Bill Wittliff and Virgil Musick reunited for the first time in 20 years. Bill and Sally Wittliff, creators of the Encino Press, joined Virgil Musick, a faithful collector of their work, for an exhibition opening and panel discussion at the DeGolyer Library. Brought together nearly 30 years ago by Musick’s admiration for Wittliff’s talent creating fine press books, the three spent the evening reminiscing about the years the press was in operation. Before the panel discussion began, the special guests browsed among the cases of Wittliff’s materials that comprise the exhibit, Bill Wittliff, Texas Man of Letters: Selections from the Virgil Musick Collection. On display are awarding winning books from Wittliff’s time at the SMU Press and Encino Press as well as broadsides, exhibit catalogs, and photographs.


Bob More book

J. Frank Dobie
Bob More, Man and Bird Man
Dallas: The Encino Press, 1965
Introduction, design, and inscription by William D. Wittliff


Wittliff recounted that publishing houses in the Southwest were significantly fewer in number in the early 1960s than those found on the East Coast, and fine presses were even scarcer.  Nonetheless, the Wittliffs jumped in. Although his degree was in journalism, Wittliff had a knack for selecting typeface, paper, and colors, which when combined resulted in a distinctive Encino Press style, something noticed by Musick. Wittliff thanked Musick not only for collecting the works of the Encino Press, but also for being a “paying customer,” not always a given in the early years. The Wittliffs agreed that despite working out of a carport for a time, a warehouse fire that destroyed a significant part of their inventory, printing mishaps, and more, the years of the Encino Press were wonderful times. Musick shared the sentiment, clearly enjoying the opportunity to trade stories and recollections with the Witliffs. He related an anecdote about one of the last Encino Press publications that he tracked down years after its publication and joked that his wife never did know how much he paid for it.


Panel Discussion

Panel discussion with Bill Wittliff (L) and Virgil Musick (R)


The exhibit runs through June 1, 2017, in the Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall.

Losing a friend

March 9, 2017


On January 6, 2017, a great friend of the Southern Methodist University Archives, Joe Redwine Patterson died. “Joe Red,” for those of you who were lucky enough to know him, was a walking, talking one-man promoter for “SMU school spirit.”

Joe graduated from SMU with a B.A. in Philosophy in 1948, with an M.A. in Government in 1951, and a J.D. in 1954. While at SMU, he served both as Head Cheerleader (1947-48) and Student Body President (1948-49).  Both of these positions were elected positions.  His enthusiasm for SMU athletics and passion for school spirit continued long after Joe graduated.  Most remarkably, Joe met with the SMU Student Senate in 2013 and taught this newest generation about school spirit—and what cheerleading was like in the 1940s.

Joe was an invaluable source of information for this archivist trying to learn about the history and the spirit of SMU.  At first, Joe was just another patron. Later, he became a friend. His donations of both memorabilia and memories for the SMU Archives have given us a special insight to the pivotal post World War II era.  Thank you Joe Redwine Patterson for your dedicated spirit and service to our University.

The cheer squad in 1948. Joe Redwine Patterson is at the bottom of the pyramid on the right. (photo is from the Rotunda)

Did You Know that the Library has a Very Interesting Book?

January 6, 2017

On Nov. 13, 1918, The Campus, SMU’s student newspaper, reported that the library received Bohemia. This autobiography was written by the Czech immigrant, abolitionist and doctor, Anthony Michael Dignowity. He was born in Bohemia in 1810 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1832. His stories about selling pretzels during Lent and as a snail salesman during boyhood are charming. His descriptions of Austrian military justice are chilling.


The headline of the student newspaper article was “The Libarary [sic] has an interesting book.” This particular book was a part of a very large collection from Methodist minister, publisher, magazine editor and bibliographer E.L. Shettles. At the time, Librarian Dorothy Amann “considers it a most valuable addition to the library.” DeGolyer Library still has this copy of the book, and it is still interesting, still a valuable addition to the collection, and still worth traveling to the Library to read in person.


There are several options of how to read Bohemia under Austrian Despotism: Being an Autobiography. It was reprinted by Books on Demand in 2013 and is available on Amazon for $44.95. It was digitized by the Internet Archives and is available free online. The 1859 edition was recently sold at auction for $245. Thirty other libraries in the U.S. have the 1859 edition including Harvard, Yale, and the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem Pa.


The question remains, why is important to visit the DeGolyer Library and why is it important to read Bohemia or any rare book in person? By visiting the DeGolyer, unplugging from a computer, focusing solely on reading and turning the 158 year old pages, you are transported into another time. You can immerse yourself into the words and read deeply. You feel the paper in your hands. No distractions. Time travel is yours at the DeGolyer Library.

View more posts