Events Photography Texana

Juneteenth National Independence Day

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863. However, it was two and a half years later before Texas slaves got the message when Union Major General Gordon Granger issued the order in Galveston, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.” It was June 19, 1865 establishing the basis for the holiday, “Juneteenth” (“June” plus “nineteenth”), today the most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States.

For years, Juneteenth has been recognized with some form of observance in almost every state. On June 15, 2021 the Senate unanimously approved a bill to make Juneteenth a legal public holiday. The next day, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bill. Then on June 17, President Joe Biden signed into law legislation establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Below are just three related examples of Juneteenth and celebrations from the DeGolyer collections. To see hundreds more images from our collections that document the African American experience, follow this link:!dgl!jtx!tex!wes!gcd!jmm/searchterm/african%20americans/field/all/mode/all/conn/all/order/date/ad/asc/page/1  And to pursue projects in African American history in greater depth, we encourage researchers to visit the DeGolyer Library in person!


Union Major General Gordon Granger, 1865


Emancipation Day, 1913, Corpus Christi, Texas















Emancipation Celebration, June 19, 1913


54th Anniversary Emancipation Proclamation, 1865-1919



















By Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs, DeGolyer Library

Events Photography

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Anniversary

As we are now at the hundredth anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, people look back at the atrocity with questions even today. They wonder how such a thing could happen. The Tulsa massacre occurred when white mobs attacked the affluent Greenwood African American community. The complete devastation of the Greenwood neighborhood, known as Black Wall Street, that was burned to the ground is hard to comprehend. It has been called the deadliest and most destructive massacre in our country’s history. It was a brutal attack on the prosperous black neighborhood with thousands of angry white people targeting the area and its citizens in a wave of violence that included murder, shootings, the looting of homes and businesses, fires set by torches, even incendiary explosive devices dropped from small airplanes that caused buildings to burn from the roof down. A number of the more graphic photographs were printed after the massacre as postcards such as these. Members of Tulsa white supremacist organizations displayed them and mailed them to sympathizers around the country. What caused the terrible outbreak? Apparently a young black teenager named Dick Rowland entered an elevator in an office building downtown. At some point after that, the young white elevator operator, Sarah Page, screamed, and Rowland fled. It has largely been accepted that Rowland may have only stumbled into the girl. The police were called, and the next morning they arrested Rowland. Later a large group of angry white men gathered outside the courthouse demanding Rowland, and rumors of a lynching spread. The white men grew to 1,500, some armed. About 75 black men had gathered to protect Rowland, some also armed. After shots were fired, the outnumbered black men went back to Greenwood, and there the massacre began. In the end, 35 blocks were burned to the ground, as many as 300 blacks were killed, and nearly 10,000 people were left homeless. No one was ever charged for these crimes, and prosperity for the African American community has never returned. For generations the tragedy was repressed, only now at the 100-year anniversary getting the attention it deserves.                                                               By Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs

Events Manuscripts Uncategorized

Isn’t it bazaar?

Tomorrow, November 2, is the second annual DFW archives bazaar. This event will take place from 1:00pm-5:00pm at the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center in Denton, Texas.

2019 DFW archives bazaar logo
2019 DFW archives bazaar logo

Come visit with archivists, museum curators, librarians, and history professionals from all across the DFW area. Discover the various resources in your own backyard, learn how to preserve your family treasures, interview family members about their own history, digitize family memories, and much more. Visit the “Ask an Archivist” Station, and find out what it takes to become a professional archivist. In addition to the exhibitors and demos, there will be door prizes, trivia, and more.

My path to becoming an archivist was not straightforward. I found my way into the profession while in graduate school working on an MA in history. My first archival gig was as an intern at a local historical museum. From the moment I walked into the stacks, I was hooked.

What I love most about this profession is that every day is an opportunity to learn new things about the people, places, and events of our past. Since we just finished celebrating American Archives Month, I thought I would take an opportunity to answer a few of the questions I get asked the most on the job.

What is the oldest item in your collection?

A Columbus letter dated 29 April 1493.

What is your favorite item in the collection?

1816 letter from Lady Diana Barham to Mrs. Thomas Haweis
1816 letter from Lady Diana Barham to Mrs. Thomas Haweis

This is hard because there are just so many amazing pieces that I could never narrow it to one item. I can say that correspondence is definitely my favorite type of record. Throughout my archivist career I have read thousands upon thousands of letters from centuries old to a few weeks old, from handwritten notes to corporate form letters. Because letter writing is not instant like, say, a tweet or blog post, when I read through these letters I imagine a person sitting down to write out their thoughts and feelings. Combine this with a knowledge of time and place and you can get a visual image of what that particular day in their life was like.


Why don’t you just put everything online?

If I had a dollar for every time I get asked this question, I still wouldn’t be able to put even a fraction of our holdings online. Mass digitization is costly, both in money and time. Each box on the shelf can hold roughly 700-1800 individual pieces of paper and even more photographs, negatives, and slides. Many archival record groups are not easy to scan quickly. The fastest way is with an automatic feeder, but this only works with same-sized pages in good condition. Manual scanning is the best option for unique or fragile records. Depending on the record, it may take multiple scans to capture all of the information. On top of the logistics, there are a number of laws that affect digital projects including privacy laws, HIPPA, FERPA, and of course copyright and intellectual property laws.

Despite these challenges, archives around the globe are working to make materials available online and on improving access to these resources. Here at SMU we have the incredible team at the Norwick Center for Digital Solutions (nCDS). You can follow their blog Off the Shelf to stay up to date with our ongoing digital projects and to see what’s new online.

Visit the DeGolyer library to view rare books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other materials. The collections are available to all SMU students, faculty, visiting scholars, and other researchers. DeGolyer Library’s holdings of primary sources are complemented by exhibitions, lectures, publications, and other programs. We hope to see you soon!

Events Photography

A Life of Service: George H. W. Bush

George H.W. Bush, 1963, by Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library

A Texas icon and 41st president, George H. W. Bush (1924-2018) died November 30, 2018 at his home in Houston. Bush, the patriarch of one of the most influential political families in the U.S., was 94. Barbara, his wife of 73 years, died last April. They had six children, among them George W. Bush, 43rd U.S. president.

Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, at 18, Bush enlisted in the armed services and became the youngest Navy aviator. During WWII, he flew 58 combat missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action. He and Barbara married in 1945, and the Bush family moved to Texas in 1948 to enter the oil business. Bush served two terms as a representative to Congress from Texas. He went on to serve as ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China, and became director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was chosen as a running mate by Ronald Reagan, and served as his vice president.


President George H. W. Bush After Throwing Opening Pitch at Texas Rangers Opening Game, 1991. The former first baseman for Yale is shown grimacing here after his pitch had bounced in the dirt. Mr. Bush made very few errant throws in his career!   By Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library



In 1988, Bush won the general presidential election, with Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana as his running mate, and became the 41st president of the United States (1989–1993). His single term of office was during a rapidly changing world: the end of the Cold War, the dissolution of the Communist empire, the fall of the Berlin Wall. In response to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein led invasion of Kuwait in 1990, working with United Nations partners, Bush organized a coalition of nations to oppose the invasion resulting in the Persian Gulf War. After 42 days, a cease-fire was signed.

President Barack Obama awarded George H. W. Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2010, lauding his more than 70 years of service, his humility and decency that “reflects the very best of the American spirit.” At the news of Bush’s passing, Obama said, George H. W. Bush’s “life is a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling….”  “It’s a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he’d want us to try.” Bush will be buried next to his wife at his presidential library in College Station.






Dallas Mayor Starke Taylor, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Barbara Bush, ca.1985. By Andy Hanson, DeGolyer Library





















By Anne E. Peterson, Curator of Photographs, DeGolyer Library.

The Andy Hanson Photographs collection, held at the DeGolyer Library, is an important visual record of Dallas history. The large archive of more than 79,000 prints and 373,000 negatives provide a “whos who” of people living in Dallas and the politicians and celebrities who visited the city from 1960 to 2008.



Events Manuscripts

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.

Archives of Women of the Southwest Events Manuscripts

Archives of the Women of the Southwest 25th Anniversary Celebration

On Sunday, March 11, 2018, the Advisory Board of the Archives of the Women of the Southwest celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the board with a celebration at the DeGolyer Library at SMU. The Advisory Board was created in 1993 to:

  • Promote the visibility and scholarly value of archival material related to women in the Southwestern regional area of the United States
  • Encourage the use of the archives as an important resource for research
  • Advise on collection development for the archives
  • Coordinate fundraising to assure continuance of an endowment sufficient to maintain the archival collection
  • Raise public awareness of the need of the archives


Elisabet Ney’s Formosa Studio, ca. 1892-1907. Part of Edmund Montgomery and Elizabet Ney papers.

Major accomplishments over the 25-year life of the board include The Remember the Ladies! Campaign which raised $1,000,000 to endow an archivist position dedicated solely to supporting the collection.


The Archives of Women of the Southwest includes records of notable women leaders who acted as pioneers in social and political reform movements, businesswomen who paved the way for future generations to succeed in the workforce, influential women in the arts and voluntary service, as well as papers recording the daily lives of women in the 19th and 20th centuries.


At the event marking the 25th anniversary, Russell Martin, Director of the DeGolyer Library, read from love letters between teenagers Mattabel Lovett and Richard Spiller, 1903-1904, in Gray County and Lipscomb County, Texas. Mattabel’s correspondence was intelligent and lively, reflecting an independent spirit as well as the cultural attitudes of the time and place.  The collection of Lovett’s letters is one of over 300 accessions in the Archives of Women of the Southwest. The Archives is well positioned to collect, preserve, and provide access to even more primary materials in women’s history over the next 25 years.



Events Manuscripts

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.


Events SMU Archives Uncategorized

Ask An Archivist

Oct. 4, 2017 is “Ask An Archivist” day.  This yearly Twitter campaign began in 2010 to engage everyday people who want to know about historic collections and the people who work with those collections.


The SMU Archives has formally participated in Twitter’s #Ask An Archivist day for only 2 years, but this day always brings a smile.  For the DeGolyer Library, every day is “Ask An Archivist Day.”

We’ve gotten questions about SMU history (“Why does the sundial in front of Dallas Hall not work correctly?”).  We’ve gotten questions about specific collections (“I want to find my mother’s wedding gown as seen in the 1974 JCPenney catalog” or Are there any copyright restrictions for an image in the Texas Instruments collection that I want to use?”).

We’ve gotten questions from students in library school wanting to know about how to become an archivist.  We’ve given advice to friends and co-workers about how to save their family photographs.

Almost each and every day, someone asks an archivist about the materials in the SMU Archives or the DeGolyer Library.  Yes, we even get questions on Sundays. No matter your question or when you decide to ask us, we archivists are happy to follow up with you.

So if you are on Twitter, tweet us (@SMUArchives) or any of the other archivists on the beautiful SMU campus (@artsarchivist, @BridwellLibrary, @metalarchivist, or @SMUJonesFilm) on Oct. 4—or any other day.  We love to help.