DeGolyer Library Special Collections

Gerry York — A Team Player

In Honor of the Mustangs, book signing, author, Darwin Payne, Hall of Champions, Loyd Center, Ford Stadium. Gerry York at far left.

The DeGolyer Library lost a shining light and mentor on March 18. Gerry York, 87, class of 58, Southern Methodist University sports historian, fan, volunteer, and loving husband, father, and grandfather, died from complications from a stroke.

Almost 25 years ago, Gerry and Ed Wisneski created Heritage Hall, a museum documenting SMU’s athletics history and traditions. Later, Gerry served as its curator and continued to update exhibits. Starting in 2007, he began working in the SMU Archives organizing historic sports records.

Gerry was the chief photographs wrangler for Darwin Payne’s sports history, “In Honor of the Mustangs.” The photos in the book illustrate and match the text to tell the story.  Gerry was part of the committee who worked on the book, and he was regarded as a content expert.

For more than 10 years, Gerry worked with Owen Benatar to put together the interviews and videos for the SMU Hall of Fame induction. In his spare time, he wrote a history of Corsicana Country Club after doing extensive research at the Corsicana library.

All of this was after a career of 50 years in insurance.  While he was a student at SMU, he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He never lost his enthusiasm for golf, for shooting hoops, for updating us on the news from his grandchildren, or for sharing SMU sports discoveries. We will miss this valuable team player.


DeGolyer Library Special Collections

Documenting Student Life during Covid-19

It started, as these things do, with a conversation. Jill Kelly, history professor, had an idea that she shared with Cindy Boeke, digital collections librarian, and me, the SMU university archivist. Jill said, “What do you think about having a history intern use Zoom to interview students about their experiences during this time of Covid-19?”

That was all it took. I instantly loved this. If I had something like this from the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, I would be beyond happy.

RAs discussing interview
SMU undergraduate Research Assistants discussing Anga Sanders’ interview. From left to right Sryia Reddy, Nia Kamau, Carson Dudick, and India Simmons.

Some background: I work with the Voices of SMU Oral History project. Undergraduate Research Assistants, funded by the Undergraduate Research Program of the Office of Engaged Learning, interview Southern Methodist University alumni of color about their experiences as students to diversity the university archive. We’ve been working on this for almost three years—the students have completed over 130 interviews to date. Its success has been made possible by fabulous graduate student project managers and support from the Friends of the Libraries, the Provost’s Office of Student Academic Engagement and Success, the William P. Clements Department of History, and many others. Our students are wonderful (you know who you are). The folks from the amazing nCDS provide the necessary (and seamless) infrastructure and technical support. Jill Kelly is our fearless leader.

In all of my reading during this past month (has it only been a month?), I keep reading about how other archives are documenting Covid. Yes, I had started documenting what SMU did before we left the campus. I had printed out all the early emails. I have a email file with all the recent emails about how the hilltop is coping with Covid. The Daily Campus has started a “Class of Covid” special project.

I thought about asking people to journal knowing that it would be good for them (and good for the archives). In fact, I had spoken to history graduate student T. Ashton Reynolds about journaling. I knew my archivist friend Amy Schindler at University of Nebraska at Omaha had asked for journals. But, try as I could, I can’t even journal as much as I wanted to.

Journal with no words
Journal with no words

I just can’t gather my thoughts together in a coherent way.  How could I ask SMU students to do something that I could not?

Jill has a history student with a terrific resume (great interpersonal and organizational skills) who wants to do an internship during this summer.  As we know, this will be a distance internship. We brainstormed how we could help a student intern build archival skills as they would in person from afar, and one that would keep someone engaged remotely. nCDS experimented with Zoom, the distance meeting program that has taken over all of our lives this last month, for some Voices interviews last year. Then, the idea.

We plan for our student intern to interview graduating students (and maybe some staff and faculty) to talk about how the coronavirus impacted their lives. Our student will learn about the basics of oral history, from ethics, to asking open-ended questions and the nitty-gritty detail of recording and preservation. We will work together to come up with some good basic questions for the interviews. And we will talk about whether or not these interviews should be “quarantined” for a number of years. We want our interviewees to speak freely.

During and after the internship, the SMU archives will have to do the fundraising to get transcripts done. I don’t want the archivist after me to have these materials just in the cloud, but not accessible.  It all started with a conversation. And it will end with many conversations about how we survived and sometimes even thrived during these very trying times.


Written by Joan Gosnell, SMU University Archivist




DeGolyer Library Special Collections

Turn On the Lights

It all started with a question….Cole Suttle is pursuing a Master of Arts in Design and Innovation and was working on a project about the Dallas Shakespeare Club. He asked “Where are the lamps that were donated by the Shakespeare Club on Campus?”

This was easily answered, but I went outside to double check. Most people on campus have walked by them, but no one really notices these lamps.

Shakespeare lamps. Photo taken by Cole Suttle.

The two bronze lamps in front of Fondren Library are even older than SMU. The Dallas Shakespeare Club donated these lamps to the first downtown Public Library in 1907, only a few years after the library opened. The 10 foot columns are Corinthian style. The women in the Club wanted to give Dallas Public Library something that was permanent, beautiful, and useful.

When Fondren was first opened in 1940, the Shakespeare lamps weren’t here.

Fondren Library in the late 1940s.

The lamps arrived at SMU between September 1959 and May 1962. The 1960 Rotunda photo of Fondren Library showed the front of the library with no lamps. The 1962 Rotunda had this photo of Fondren showing the lamps.

In research, one question often turns into a quest, and Cole was ready to explore. He asked, “where are the Shakespeare lamps?” His actual research goal was “how has the Shakespeare Club of Dallas managed to stay active for more than 100 years?”

The Dallas Shakespeare Club was founded in January 1886 as a way for Dallas women to gather, read, perform, and analyze the Bard’s work. Along the way, they helped to raise funds (along with the Dallas Federation of Women’s Clubs and other organizations) to open Dallas’ first Public Library. For the Club’s hundredth birthday, the Club donated one of Shakespeare’s first Folios to Dallas Public Library. It’s on permanent exhibit on the seventh floor of the downtown library.

Cole Suttle with Centennial history of the Dallas Shakespeare Club.  Photo by Joan Gosnell

During his journey, Cole discovered the book written for the Club’s centennial anniversary, interviewed at least one current club member, went to the Dallas Historical Society in Fair Park to use its archival records, and viewed the First Folio at Dallas Public Library.

He did much more than my just leaving the building to look at the lamps. Libraries may light the way for discovery, but our patrons are the ones who do the hard work and find the source of the light.


Fondren Library, taken after 1962, but before the 1970s


By Joan Gosnell

DeGolyer Library Special Collections

Corporate Christmas Greetings

As Mitt Romney famously said, “Corporations are people, my friend.” Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, corporations, at times, do act like people. This is most evident during the Holiday Season. Businesses, made up of people, mark this time of year in creative ways. Sometimes they try to increase sales, and sometimes they are just human beings with love in their hearts and joy to share.

The DeGolyer Library has an emphasis on collecting business records and photographic collections. Here are some holiday highlights..

With December being the month of gifts and special occasions, retailers pulled out all the stops for Christmas marketing. At both ends of the retail spectrum, JCPenney and Neiman-Marcus showcased their merchandise. These two images show that they also targeted two ends of the age spectrum. The DeGolyer Library has the papers of the men who are most known for these two retail institutions: Mr. Penney and Stanley Marcus.


1963 Toy catalog from JCPenney
Neiman-Marcus Treasure Bookcover from 1940

Industrial companies, too, would decorate for Christmas. Some celebrated in the main headquarters, while out in the field others just wanted a piece of home. Robert Richie traveled the world and visited many large companies in his role as an industrial photographer.

Semiconductor Christmas Tree from the Texas Instruments collection.
Gulf Oil wells decked  with Santa.


The DeGolyer Library wishes all of our friends and researchers  a very happy holiday season. We hope to see you in the New Year. Remember we open on Wednesday, January 2 at 8:30 just in case you want to see any of our books, photographs or manuscripts collections in person.



DeGolyer Library Events Special Collections

DeGolyer Library goes live at DFW Archives Bazaar


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.

DeGolyer Library Special Collections

Doing It–Creating Controversy at SMU

Cover of controversial student handbook, “doing it.”

During the summer, our friends at the William G Jones film archives discovered a fascinating, and little known, story

about an uproar at Southern Methodist University in its WFAA Newsfilm Collection.  The controversy centered over the student handbook. Student handbooks are often the most mundane of publications—they’re rarely even read by the students who are the target audience. Not so, in September 1974 here on the Hilltop.

SMU’s first student handbook was published by the YMCA for the 1916-1917 school year.  It listed the names of faculty, administrators, and the officers of both the YMCA and the YWCA, and published the football schedule. Most importantly, it had a listing of all sorts of college slang for incoming freshmen including “Prexy” for President and “the dump,” for the men’s dormitory.

First student handbook at SMU

The handbook evolved into the “M” book, which continued to be published by the YMCA. It focused on clubs, traditions, the structure of the university, and some rules and regulations. There was usually space for students to keep a calendar or notes within the book–encouraging them to use the handbook for more than just the first weeks of school.  The “M” book was distributed to all students.

In the fall of 1968, the Office of the Vice-President for Student Affairs began publishing the SMU Enchiridion. The SMU Enchiridion was a manual of rules governing students of Southern Methodist University and mainly contained rules and regulations. In the fall of 1973, the Student senate formed an ad-hoc committee to create a new student handbook.  This was done with the blessing of Student Affairs.  The committee completed its work in the summer of 1974.   This time, however, the editors decided to have a little fun with the publication.

Doing It poked fun at campus security, the women’s symposium, students, and the administration. Reflecting its time, the handbook mentioned drug use, premarital sex, and used profanity. The straw that broke the camel’s back was this photo.

Male and Female students in a men’s bathroom

The Student Senate, after spending $6,400 on production and printing, rejected the handbooks, and refused to distribute them. Someone, however, broke into the Senate offices and stole 200 copies–and distributed them widely.  After more deliberation, the Senate reluctantly authorized distribution of handbooks with a disclaimer attached saying that they were not authorized.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs updated the Enchiridion, which became the “official” handbook for school year 1974-1975.  It only had rules, regulations, and organizational structure. There was nothing about student clubs or activities.

Although right now, only five student handbooks have been digitized, the SMU Archives is planning to digitize our whole collection from 1916 to 2006.  Stay tuned to catch them all.


DeGolyer Library Special Collections

Remembering Marsh Terry


Marsh Terry, also known as “Mr. SMU,” was born this day–February 7.  He was a long-term friend of the DeGolyer Library.  For a while, he even had an office (Room 318) here.

Marsh graduated from SMU.  Marsh worked at SMU.  Marsh taught at SMU.  And Marsh wrote about SMU.  From High on the Hilltop is his informal history filled with insights based on his long association with the university.  It is available from the DeGolyer Library for $34.95.

One of his earliest published works, “Night Alone,” appeared in the December 1952 Hoofprints, a SMU student publication.  His last published work from 2011, Loving U. The Story of a Love Affair (and Some Lover’s Quarrels) with a University. A Memoir was also published by a SMU entity–the DeGolyer Library.  If you want to read it, it is available from us for $25.

We celebrate Marsh, the writer.  We also remember  Marsh, our friend.  We miss his breaking into song, the twinkle in his eye, and his wisdom.  Thank you Marsh for all that you have given to Southern Methodist University.

DeGolyer Library Exhibits Special Collections

Under Construction–Putting the Pieces together for an Exhibit

When people think about working in a rare book library, they imagine librarians reading books all day. What they don’t imagine is the hard physical work that we do many days.


Lifting boxes of books. Shelving and reshelving books. Putting the pieces together for an exhibit. Moving the cases. Lifting the lids. Putting material in the cases. Putting the lids back on. Changing our minds and rearranging the cases. Climbing ladders and adjusting the framed pictures. Sweeping up the mess from our behind the scenes supplies.


But at the end of the day, when the exhibit is installed, we forget about the lifting and moving. We are happy when our readers enjoy the displays. And this particular exhibit we know you will not forget.

“OK, I’ll do it Myself” is the newest exhibit at the DeGolyer Library.

Book collector and bibliographer Caroline Schimmel has selected and organized 144 books, photographs, manuscripts and memorabilia by 101 women, dating from 1682 to 2015. Items include Maria Sibylla Merian’s hand-printed and colored copy of Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium(1705); Annie Oakley’s travel trunk, photos, gloves, and color-printed envelope she shot through the heart; Mary Godfrey’s illustrated account of the “horrid massacre” of her family in 1825; and Dale Evans’s scruffy rhinestoned pink boots.

You will be able to remember the exhibit long after your visit. Caroline Schimmel has put together a remarkable catalog of this collection. It is available for purchase.

After the grand opening, NBC5 in Dallas-Fort Worth interviewed both SMU history professor Christa DeLuzio and Caroline Schimmel.

“OK, I’ll do it Myself” will be in the Hillcrest Foundation Exhibit Hall between January 18, 2018 and March 29, 2018. The Exhibit Hall is located in the Fondren Library on the Southern Methodist University Campus and is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 5.





DeGolyer Library Events Special Collections

Mr. Penney’s Farming Pursuits

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.


DeGolyer Library Special Collections

SMU Mustang Band: Celebrating 100 Years

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.