June 25, 2020
It seems everyone handled the shelter-in-place order a little differently. Some used the time to complete some long overdue home projects, others used the time to exercise or learn languages. Many in the library and archives profession got crafty. Sadly for me, I never managed to learn knitting or crocheting and my artistic skills never seemed to develop. But I did manage to exit lockdown with a stronger set of culinary skills.
Inspired by the countless women on cooking shows and women who authored cookbooks, I spent my time at home learning basic skills like how to poach an egg to more advanced skills like how to spatchcock a turkey. I baked cookies, cakes, and pies, and cooked everything from Korean beef tacos to a lobster linguine. What I really enjoyed though, was seeing trending stories on social media of historical societies, and libraries posting old recipes, such as the depression era peanut butter bread online.
Upon returning to work, and knowing that the Archives of Women of the Southwest was chock-full of talented culinary women, I was excited to see what I might stumble across in the stacks that might lead to my next kitchen adventure.
Lucille Elizabeth Bishop Smith (1892–1985) was an African American entrepreneur, chef, and inventor of the first hot biscuit mix. She worked as a caterer, a food demonstrator, a pastry chef, and a dietician. In 1927, the Fort Worth school system hired Smith as a teacher-coordinator for a vocational education program designed to prepare African-American students for domestic service jobs.
Ten years later, Prairie View State College hired Smith as the teacher trainer of industrial education. During that time she wrote and compiled several service manuals which were later approved by the University of Texas system and adopted throughout the state.
In 1941 Smith published her first recipes as a boxed set of cards called Lucille’s Treasure Chest of Fine Foods. The preface of the 1945 edition of her recipe cards states that the recipes “were once private records for personal gain” but now published “with the hope that they will aid persons interesting in lifting culinary art from the commonplace.” It was during the 1940s that Smith invented her All Purpose Hot Roll Mix as a fundraiser for her local church.
During the Vietnam War, Smith baked more than 300 fruit cakes to send to each of the enlisted personnel serving in the war from Tarrant County. She completed the baking project in one week as part of the “gift lift”. The next year the city honored her and proclaimed a “Lucille B. Smith Day.”
Despite living and working in the Jim Crow era, Smith carved out a space for herself. She was the first African-American woman to join the Fort Worth Chamber of Congress, she was named to the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women in 1969, and she founded the Lucille B. Smith’s Fine Foods Corporation in 1974 at the age of 82. A celebrated woman entrepreneur, and chef, Lucille B. Smith passed away in 1985 at the age of 92.
Established in 1993, the Archives of Women of the Southwest is one of the special collections of DeGolyer Library. The primary mission of the Archives of Women of the Southwest is to document the historical experience of women in the Southwest, with special emphasis on Dallas and North Texas, as well as a regional focus.
For access to these collections, to learn more about the women of the southwest, or to try your hand at recipe from one of the many pioneering women chefs in history, be sure to Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information or assistance.
June 17, 2020
Today’s social environment reflects the turbulent and difficult times in which we find ourselves. We are experiencing national and global anger over the senseless killing of George Floyd and other African Americans by police. Black lives do matter, and people of good will acutely feel for those who are in pain. We are aware that we must continue the struggle for meaningful and enduring change to overcome acts of racism and violence that corrode our nation and the world.
Sadly, these recent events have a related, dark past stretching back for centuries. Some acts of racial violence have received attention, while others have gone undocumented. In the photography collection at the DeGolyer Library, we hold illustrations of past racial injustice in our region. The importance of photography in documenting such events can not be overestimated.
In Dallas on March 3, 1910, Allen Brooks, a 65-year old African-American laborer accused of rape, awaited arraignment at the Dallas County Courthouse. An angry vigilante crowd of white men had gathered outside. They broke into the courthouse and threw Brooks out a second-story window. He was then stabbed and beaten. With a rope around his neck, he was dragged through the street and strung up on a telephone pole near the Elk Arch in downtown. A crowd of 5,000 men, women, and children dispassionately watched as if it were a sporting event. Spectators took pieces of Brooks’s clothing as souvenirs. The sensational story of Allen Brooks’s lynching was disturbing enough to make national and even international newspapers; however, there is still no marker to commemorate his violent death.
While times were tough for most blacks after the Civil War, they still had their emancipation to celebrate. It was June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston with the announcement that the war was over, and slaves had been emancipated two years before. The day came to be known as Juneteenth, an annual day for African Americans to celebrate their freedom and advancement.
Post Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist hate group, was active throughout the south, and Texas was no exception. Their initial goal was the suppression of African Americans, but by the 1920s they also included hatred of Catholics, Jews, and foreigners. In 1922, with six thousand members, Fort Worth had one of the strongest Klans in the country. Its members, to quote the Star-Telegram on April 3, 1922, were the “best men in every walk of life,” and many were policemen. When the city finance commissioner, W.B. Townsend, died in 1923, the Dallas Morning News reported his funeral included what was called the first Klan funeral parade ever held.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma, race riot and massacre that took place May 31 and June 1, 1921, has been called the single worst incident of racial violence in U.S. history. A black teenage shoe shiner, Dick Rowland, was accused of assaulting a white female elevator operator. The ensuing racial attack by white mobs destroyed more than 35 square blocks in the wealthiest African American community in America, known as Black Wall Street. The Red Cross estimated 300 blacks dead, 1,250 residences burned, and many homes looted. However, those published estimates could greatly underestimate the real numbers.
Hispanic Americans have also faced racism and violence and are also documented in our collections. In Dallas, in the early morning of July 24, 1973, 12 year old Santos Rodriguez and his 13 year old brother, David, were taken from their home, handcuffed, and put in a police squad car. They were accused of robbing a gas station vending machine. Without a warrant, the boys were taken to the gas station for interrogation. A white officer, Darrell L. Cain, tried to get a confession from the Rodriguez brothers, but they consistently denied the crime. Officer Cain then got out his gun, removed some bullets, and put the revolver to Santos’s head. Threatening to kill him, Cain began to play Russian roulette. He pulled the trigger, an empty round. Cain fired again, sending a bullet into Santos’s head killing the boy instantly. It was later proved that the Rodriguez brothers had nothing to do with the petty cash robbery. Cain was sentenced to five years in prison for murder with malice; however, he only served two and a half years for killing the Hispanic child. A few days after Santos’s death, there was a march of protest attended by a multiracial group of 5,000 Latino, African American, and white citizens.
The struggle for racial equality and human rights has been ongoing for a very long time. My great-great-grandfather was a white abolitionist. William Harrison Smith, who lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was a church deacon and part of the Underground Railroad. He operated a “safe house” in the 1850s and 1860s and helped get fugitive slaves north to safety in Canada. Because helping slaves was illegal, everyone who worked with the Underground Railroad worked secretly, usually at night and did so at great risk. It is important to remember in the turbulence of today that the Underground Railroad was interracial. It’s an example of whites and blacks working together for a common cause to promote liberty and ultimately equality. Times have changed since the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, but clearly much more change is needed. The future holds promise along with many challenges. Black and brown lives matter, and we all need to work toward a future of lasting change for racial equality.
Photographs such as the ones shown here, and many more like them in our collection, help to illustrate where we’ve been, and how much more work we have to do to form ‘a more perfect Union.’
Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs, DeGolyer Library, SMU
June 8, 2020
Last week, black students and alumni on Twitter described the racism, hate-speech, microaggressions, and harassment by police that they faced at SMU, with the hashtag #BlackAtSMU
To learn more about the historical experiences of black students at SMU, consider exploring the Voices of SMU Oral History and Digital Humanities Student Projects. The university archives is dedicated to documenting the whole of the student experience. Like most libraries and archives, the DeGolyer Library and the SMU Archives has fallen short in collecting, documenting, and supporting black voices and works. A key part of our efforts to make up for these shortcomings is the Voices of SMU Oral History Project, a collaboration between students, alumni, and entities across campus, led by Dr. Jill Kelly from the Clements Department of History, SMU Archivist Joan Gosnell, and the Norwick Center for Digital Solutions.
“With Voices of SMU, Undergraduate Research Assistants conduct oral history interviews with SMU alumni from underrepresented groups. The oral histories are made available online in the SMU Libraries Digital Collections. The project grew out of a “Doing Oral History” class in 2018 and has since enabled extracurricular research experience for students—using the university archives, conducting and preserving interviews, presenting at conferences, and publishing their findings.
The interviews document not only the history of the university, but Texas as well, including the desegregation of higher education, the experiences of African American and Latinx university students, and black and brown student activism in Texas. They speak to growing up in Dallas’ Little Mexico; post-World War II African American community-building in places such as Hamilton Park, Dallas; studying as an undocumented student; organizing as minority seminarians and student activists; and shaping Texas’s churches, social ministries, and business communities upon graduation.”
The Oral History interviews are viewable through our digital library. You can browse the interviews with black students and alumni by clicking here.
Some highlights from interviews with recent graduates:
Charis ‘Kay’ Rodgers (Class of 2018)
Troy Alley (Class of 2015)
Vanessa Uzoh (B.A. 2013, M.S. 2019)
Contact Joan Gosnell at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more