Neil Foley

Three Roads to Magdalena author David Wallace Adams receives Weber-Clements Book Prize Nov. 15, 2017

Three Roads to Magdalena coverAcclaimed as a unique and enduring window into borderlands history, David Wallace Adams’ 2016 book, Three Roads to Magdalena: Coming of Age in a Southwest Borderland, 1890-1990, received this year’s Weber-Clements Prize for Best Non-Fiction Book on Southwestern America on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. The public event was hosted by the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

Three Roads to Magdalena is a unique blend of oral, social and childhood history about a region of New Mexico that Adams fell in love with while serving as curriculum director at a Navajo Reservation school in Alamo, New Mexico. Thirty miles to the northwest was Magdalena, a once-booming frontier town where Navajo, Anglo and Hispanic people have lived in shifting, sometimes separate, sometimes overlapping worlds for well over a century.

Adams’ time as a Clements Center Fellow from 2005-06 afforded him the opportunity to hone several thousand pages of multi-faceted, highly personal research he had collected into what would become this 454-page book, published by University Press of Kansas.

David Wallace Adams, kroberts@abqjournal.com

David Wallace Adams

Now professor emeritus of history and education at Cleveland State University in Ohio, Adams teaches courses about the American West and Native American history. He also is the author of the acclaimed 1995 book, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience, 1875-1928.

The Weber-Clements Award, overseen by the Western History Association (WHA), honors fine writing and original research on the American Southwest. The competition is open to any nonfiction book on Southwestern life published in the year prior to its selection. The winning author receives $2,500.

Three Roads to Magdalena “draws upon a precious trove of interviews to explain what it was like growing up in this multicultural borderland during the late 19th and 20th centuries,” WHA judges noted. “From the hazy, tactile memories of early childhood through the hot and precise recollections of adolescent adventures, people across the region shared moving and intimate stories of the kind historians are seldom privileged enough to hear. Balancing critical distance with insight, humor and compassion, Adams has woven these recollections together into a book that is wise, challenging, absorbing, ingeniously researched and beautifully written.”

SMU history professor Neil Foley recently made the book required reading in his graduate-level class, “Citizenship and Transnational Identity.” When Foley learned that two of his assigned books had been considered for the Weber-Clements Prize, “I decided to ask the students, ‘If you were on the prize committee, which one of these two finalists do you think should win?’ After a straw poll, the students unanimously agreed Three Roads to Magdalena should take the prize. And to everyone’s delight, Foley informed the class that Adams’ book did win.

“That just goes to show you don’t have to be a professional historian to write good history [Adams has a doctorate in education] – and you don’t need to be a professional historian to know when you’re reading good history,” Foley says.

— Written by Denise Gee

SMU scholars lead Community Conversation on renaming schools named for Confederate generals, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017

SMU Community Conversations - Dallas Public Schools Named After Confederates

As Dallas addresses the challenges of dealing with its Confederate monuments, SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and Perkins School of Theology host a Community Conversation on the proposed renaming of four Dallas public schools currently named for Confederate generals.

The Dallas Independent School District Board voted in September to focus on renaming four Dallas ISD elementary schools named for Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston and William Cabell. The SMU panelists will provide perspective and historical context surrounding the naming of Dallas ISD schools.

“Community Conversations: SMU Scholars Discuss Dallas Public Schools” will take place 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 30, 2017 in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

Panelists include:

The discussion will be moderated by Ted A. Campbell, professor of church history in Perkins School of Theology. The event is free and open to the public.

> RSVP for “SMU Community Conversations” online

SMU faculty to help lead immigration history conference at Dallas’ Old Red Museum Sept. 19, 2015

Immigrants going through San Angelo, Texas - early photograph, Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photography Collection

A photo by M.C. Ragsdale ca. 1885-90 of immigrants passing through San Angelo, Texas. From the Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photography Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU.

The challenging task of teaching a controversial subject to middle- and high-school students will be the focus of an upcoming immigration conference featuring several University faculty members.

SMU and the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture are partnering with Humanities Texas and the Texas Historical Commission to present a conference on the history of U.S. immigration from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 at the museum.

“Issues surrounding immigration are at the forefront of public discourse these days,” said Zac Harmon, executive director of the Old Red Museum. “Statistics and beliefs are strongly held but are often mistaken for facts. This conference will provide documented, factual information for teachers, politicians and other citizens who really want to understand the issue. We are grateful to the Philip R. Jonsson Foundation for sponsoring this first of what we hope will become an annual conference.”

Conference participants can choose to hear two of six speakers scheduled during the morning session. Lunch and a keynote address by Margaret Spellings, president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center and former secretary of education (2005-09), will follow.

Afternoon breakout sessions will provide teachers with lesson plans, materials and strategies to help them make history come alive for students of all grade levels. Teachers attending both sessions can earn six Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits.

Topics and speakers include:

  • “D/FW Becoming an Immigrant Gateway” – Caroline Brettell, University Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Ruth Collins Altshuler Director of SMU’s Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute
  • “Gone To Texas: Immigration to the Lone Star State in the 19th Century” – Gregg Cantrell, Emma and Ralph Lowe Chair of Texas History, TCU
  • “Immigration and the Changing Face of America” – Neil Foley, Robert and Nancy Dedman Chair in History, Dedman College
  • “Visualizing the Changing Landscape of U.S. Immigration” – Kyle Walker, assistant professor of population and urban geography, TCU
  • “Managing Migration in an Era of Globalization” – James F. Hollifield, Ora Nixon Arnold Professor of International Political Economy and director of SMU’s Tower Center for Political Studies
  • “Immigration and the Changing Demography of Liberal Democracies” – Gary Freeman, professor of government, University of Texas-Austin

Registration, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, parking, materials and access to the exhibit area, is $25 and can be completed online at www.oldred.org. For information, contact Shannon Page at the Old Red Museum, 214-757-1927.

Written by Kenny Ryan

Calendar Highlights: March 27, 2013

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 1.18.00 PMStanton Sharp Lecture: The Clements Department of History presents “‘The Hispanic Challenge’ and the ‘Mexicanization’ of America” by Neil Foley, SMU’s Robert and Nancy Dedman Chair in History. Foley will focus on the rapid increase in the Hispanic population since the 1980s and the fear Americans hold that Hispanic immigration will be the end of America’s “core Anglo-Protestant culture.” The lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27, in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall, with a reception beforehand at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Please contact Mildred Pinkston for more information.

Comini Lecture: Susan Verdi Webster, Jane Williams Mahoney Professor of Art History and Studies at the College of William and Mary, will speak on “The Secret Lives of Buildings in Colonial Quito: People, Processes and Cultural Optics” at 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 29 in the Bob Smith Auditorium, Meadows Museum, Webster will discuss Andean and European perspectives on architectural production in colonial Quito, Ecuador, with the view that the way buildings are perceived within a historical context is based upon who is actually doing the looking. Learn about her unique approach to analyzing and understanding architectural production within colonial contexts at this event.

Happy Good Friday and Easter Weekend!

(Images c/o SMU)