“I Was Born into a Red Land”

October 9, 2018

Everette Lee DeGolyer, photographed with his younger siblings Homer and Christine. Circa 1895.

Everette Lee DeGolyer was born October 9, 1886, in a sod house near Greensburg, Kansas. He was the first-born child of John and Narcissa (Huddle) DeGolyer. The couple had married April 17, 1883, at Iuka, Marion County, Illinois. John DeGolyer was a native of Indiana, born at Napoleonville, January 26, 1859. Narcissa Huddle was born in East Saint Louis, Illinois. A restless man, John DeGolyer was farming a homestead in Kansas in 1886, but his real interest was in prospecting for zinc and lead. Profitable discoveries, however, eluded him. A tornado struck the DeGolyer farm a few weeks after Everette was born, tearing the roof from the sod house but leaving untouched the part where mother and infant lay. Combined with an unrelenting drought, prospects in Kansas didn’t appear to be glowing, and by 1889 John DeGolyer decided to move back east, or at least as far as the neighborhood of Joplin, Missouri, renowned at the time for the mineral wealth in the area.

He traded his Kansas farm for a wagon and team, and headed for Missouri, stopping periodically along the way to unload the rocking chair so that Narcissa could rock the young Everette to sleep. John and Narcissa settled in Marionville, Missouri, where their second child, a daughter, Edith Christine, was born, August 29, 1890. Two years later, the family circle was complete with the birth of Homer Lewis DeGolyer, on November 13, 1892. By that time, the DeGolyers were living in Aurora, Missouri. At each stop along the way, John DeGolyer supplemented his income from prospecting by operating restaurants (wherein Everette learned to cook, a skill that would come in handy later while he was a field geologist for the USGS).

In 1901, John DeGolyer finally got his stake in the Oklahoma land lottery near the town of Hobart, and the DeGolyers moved again. But the family didn’t stay in Hobart long, moving to Oklahoma City for a time and finally to Norman in 1904, where Everette enrolled in the high school division of the University of Oklahoma. This was the most stable period of young Everette’s life, where he was able to pursue his much-interrupted education and think about his future. While his father never found wealth through mining, Everette was determined to be a miner himself. “I was born into a red land, and I will always love a red land best,” he wrote years later.

Source: Lon Tinkle, Mr. De: A Biography of Everette Lee DeGolyer (1970)

DeGolyer Library goes live at DFW Archives Bazaar

October 8, 2018


Reference, Access, Outreach. These words don’t mean much to the public, but for archivists, they describe how we interact with the public. People might understand that we collect old “stuff,” but then what happens?

Students using material in the DeGolyer.

Reference happens.  In the DeGolyer Library we help people find answers through phone calls, via email, and when they come to visit.  When visiting, a researchers signs in, talks with a staff member about their research, and then we bring them folders or boxes of materials. Sometimes our readers are academics who know their subjects—and know exactly what they want. But more often, our readers want to know something—but they don’t know where or how to look. We take the time to try to match materials to their questions.

Access happens in Archives as well.  For the DeGolyer Library, we provide access in multiple ways. We create catalog records, which condense a manuscript collection down to its essentials. For some collections we create finding aids, which are longer documents. A finding aid may inventory many of the folders of the collection.  More importantly, it includes a history of who created the material and why they created it. This helps provide historically context for the collection. Other times we might scan parts of a collection. We do this when we know that a section is very popular—or well used.  People who can’t visit can view these letters or photographs from far away.

Panel Discussion

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


Outreach happens when the DeGolyer library has exhibits, hosts talks, writes blog posts, or participates in events like the DFW Archives Bazaar.

Join archivists, museum curators, librarians, and history professionals from all across the DFW area at the Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park on Sunday, October 14, 2018, from 1-5pm for the DFW Archives Bazaar. The Bazaar will feature over twenty-five Texas archives offering fun and interactive ways to learn more about the historical resources and services available in North Texas. Come discover the photographs, documents, films, maps, and more held in the incredible archival collections in and around DFW!

The event is free and open to everyone — what a great way to experience Texas’ diverse history! At the demo booths and interactive exhibit guests can learn how to preserve their family treasures, interview family members about their own history, digitize family memories, and much more. Other attractions include a full slate of speakers and sessions featuring historic film. At the “Ask an Archivist” Station, professional archivists will be available to answer your questions! Have a future archivist in the family? Students can learn about archival career options and get advice on schools, programs, and internships at the career booth.

In addition to the exhibitors and demos, there will be a door prizes, trivia, and more. All attendees of the DFW Archives Bazaar will receive free access to the rest of Dallas Heritage Village and everyone is encouraged to picnic on the grounds (food and beverages will also be available for purchase).

Explore Your Past! Preserve Your Future! The DeGolyer invites you to the Dallas Heritage Village to see archivists in the wild.  And you might just get a free bookmark.

The Integrated Circuit has just turned 60

September 12, 2018

Jack Kilby at desk with glasses, ca. 1960

During late summer 1958, many of Texas Instruments’ employees were enjoying the company’s annual two-week vacation. Not Jack Kilby, who as a recently hired engineer, had not accrued enough vacation time and kept on working in TI’s Semiconductor Components division in Dallas. TI was developing the micro-module program with the U.S. Army Signal Corps, but was not quite successful in finding cost-effective methods to miniaturize circuit components.

Kilby used the peace and quiet at the lab to draw several sketches for alternative types of semiconductors, which he presented to Willis Adcock, the manager of the SC development department when the latter returned from vacation. With Adcock’s approval, Kilby designed different versions of silicon circuits, ultimately arriving at a phase-shift oscillator circuit that integrated resistors and capacitors onto a single bar of germanium. Three oscillators were successfully tested on September 12, 1958 – the birthdate of the integrated circuit.

Jack Kilby holding circuit board with early ICs, ca. 1968

First IC, 1958

Though skeptical of the invention at first, the electronics industry would be revolutionized by the integrated circuit, also known as the microchip. Over the next decades, Kilby’s device led to the miniaturization of computer technology and the emergence of microelectronics. A wide array of fields, from aeronautics to defense and education have grown to rely on the miniature device,  and products that we now take for granted would not be possible without the invention of the IC: the hand-held calculator, the electronic watch, the mobile phone, and the digital camera are only a few examples of devices that use the microchip.


The DeGolyer Library holds the Texas Instruments archive, which contains records related to the invention of many of these products, as well as a copy of Kilby’s notebook. Jack Kilby’s papers are also part of DeGolyer’s collection of manuscripts.

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