DeGolyer Library Exhibits Manuscripts

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 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.


DeGolyer Library Manuscripts Texana

Veterans and Their Stories

DeGolyer Library is pleased to announce that Congressman Sam Johnson ’51 will donate his congressional papers at the end of his term in 2018. Before representing Texas’ 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991, he served six years in the Texas House of Representatives. Prior to his political career, he served 29 years in the United States Air Force, retiring as a colonel. Johnson was a prisoner of war for seven years in the “Hanoi Hilton” and wrote of his experience in his 1992 memoir, Captive Warriors: A Vietnam POW’s Story.

Congressman Sam Johnson
October 20, 2017

Sam Johnson’s story will be added to a host of other soldiers’ and military spouses’ collections held in DeGolyer Library. As we remember and honor veterans on November 11, we invite researchers to study primary sources including:


Joseph Zeppa collection of correspondence and ephemera The Joseph Zeppa collection contains over 700 books on military history, as well as correspondence from noted military leaders. A highlight of the collection is the friendly correspondence between two former opposing generals, U.S. Brigadier General Paul Robinett and German General Franz Halder.

Jack Miller papers

Jack Miller

Jack Miller ’38 was one of “Carlson’s Raiders” in the battle of Guadalcanal, where he was killed in action in 1942. His letters to his family describe his experiences, and his family’s correspondence can be found in the Juanita and Henry S. Miller Jr. family papers.




Clarence W. Clark World War II correspondence

Clarence W. Clark served in the United States Army with the 51st Air Service Group in the China-Burma-India campaign. His collection of letters to his wife, Frances, in Tyler, Texas, describe his military experience from 1942-1945.


William E. McClure family papers
William E. McClure letter











William E. McClure served in the United States Navy during World War I. His letters to his family in Tyler, Texas, describe his experience in the Philippines and France.


David E. Hoxie letters David Hoxie was a Union Army officer during the Civil War, and his letters describe military life at various camps in Massachusetts and Washington D.C.


Theodore Laidley Mexican War letters Theodore Laidley was a United States Army officer during the Mexican War. His letters to his father describe Mexico and military life.

DeGolyer Library Manuscripts

Helping to document the closing of a JCPenney store

It usually starts with an email from a reporter.  “I am working on a story…..”   The first question is “what is your deadline?”  Then I begin the search for information, photographs, or anything else that can shape the story.

With this assignment, the reporter was looking for specific information about the JCPenney Pendleton, Oregon, store which was closing after 106 years.

JCPenney store in Pendleton, Ore., 1917.

I was lucky.  There were store interiors and store exterior photos from 1917. There was a written store history–current as of 2002 (JCPenney’s Centennial).  I even found a 1911 balance sheet from the Pendleton store. The reporter wanted materials from the 1960s or 1970s.  I didn’t have anything specific to Pendleton, but he accepted some fun fashion advertising and JCPenney catalog covers.

I waited, hoping that he would make “us” look good.  I hoped, too, that he would give credit to the JCPenney Archives at the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University.

John Rosman, of Oregon Public Broadcasting, put together a piece that just made me smile–despite the sadness of a store closing.  He even managed to tie Jeff Bezos of Amazon into the video. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

DeGolyer Library Manuscripts

Preparing for the Christmas Holiday in 1929

Are you feeling overwhelmed by your list of things to do before December 25th?  Step back in time and visit toys from the 1920s from JCPenney. Although JCPenney started in 1902, by 1929, the company was operating nationwide, had 1,395 stores, and was just beginning to pursue colorful advertising.  This special 1929 Christmas booklet included a poem as well as illustrations of the toys for sale.  Different from today’s advertisements, it also included activities—a paper doll, a maze, and a Christmas poem.


toys_arrive_2_cover_192y                           toys_arrive_i_-hope_when_santa_1929

Another 1929 advertisement featured a JCPenney toy brand for boys called “Little Jim.” The sturdy, metal, moving toys in this line were tested and studied by teachers and doctors so they would be educational as well as fun.  Popular toys included a firetruck, dump truck, and sports car.

JCPenney’s “Mary Lu” brand toys were made especially for girls. Educators designed them so that girls would learn how to become future homemakers and mothers. A 15-piece percolator set for 98 cents had cups, saucers, plates, sugar, creamers—everything to make a perfect cup of “play” coffee.

store_news_xmas_mechanical_toys_1929                            store_news_xmas_mary_lu_1929

Today toys still top the present list for boys and girls of all ages. But the real present for researchers is our collections.  We will be open for business through Thursday, Dec. 22, so that you can hunt for just that perfect piece of information that you need.  Call first, Santa (or our librarians and archivists) needs to know which boxes you want to peek in.





DeGolyer Library Manuscripts Uncategorized

Mr. Penney’s birthday celebrated on September 16

On September 16, 1875, James Cash Penney was born in Hamilton, Missouri. Although his retail career began in Hamilton, he moved to Colorado to find his fortune.  His first store, the Golden Rule, opened in Kemmerer, Wyoming in 1902.  Kemmerer was a small mining town.  He and his wife and infant son lived above the small store. He sold basic goods–men’s overalls for 35 cents and ladies shoes for 49 cents.

Mr. Penney made a success of that store and many more. In 1913, the Golden Rule was re-named to the J.C.Penney Company. In 1916, the company had 127 stores.  In 1925, it had 674 stores, and by 1940 there were 1,586 stores.  Mr. Penney stepped down from day-to-day management in 1917, but he continued to travel to many stores through the 1960s as a good will ambassador.

Memphis and Mr P

In 2004, the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University received Mr. Penney’s personal papers from the J.C. Penney Company.  These materials, including letters, speeches, photographs, and more, have been processed and are ready for researchers to use. When the DeGolyer Library’s remodeling is over, we welcome readers to use these papers.

DeGolyer Library Manuscripts

Remembering Blackie Sherrod

Bill Millsaps of the Richmond Times-Dispatch once commented on Texas sportswriter Blackie Sherrod’s writing abilities by saying that, “John Kennedy once said Winston Churchill marshaled the English language and sent it into battle. Blackie invited the English language up on the porch, gave it some four-alarm chili and a Dr. Pepper, and sent it out to make the sports world laugh.” Sherrod, during his lengthy career, was recognized as a legend in sports writing, and influenced other notable Texas sports journalists, including Dan Jenkins.

Blackie Sherrod, ca. early 1950s
Blackie Sherrod, ca. early 1950s

William Forrest “Blackie” Sherrod worked for nearly sixty years as a sports columnist and editor for several Texas newspapers (Temple Telegram, Fort-Worth Press, Dallas Times Herald, and Dallas Morning News) until his retirement in early 2003. A native of Belton, Texas, Sherrod was born on November 9, 1919. During his years at Belton High School, he competed on the football, basketball, and track teams. While in high school, he also wrote for the Belton Tiger, the school newspaper.

Sherrod attended Baylor University for one year (1937-38), but transferred to Howard Payne University, where he graduated in May 1941 with a BA in English. He served in the United States Navy during World War II in the Pacific Theatre, completing 22 missions and earning three medals. Following the close of the war in 1945, he returned to Texas and began writing for the Temple Telegram in 1946.

The following year, he moved to north Texas, working for the Fort Worth Press from 1947 to 1957. His tenure at the Dallas Times Herald began in 1958. While there, Sherrod worked as both a columnist and as sports editor. Although his primary occupation was covering sports, his work as a journalist also included national events. For example, Sherrod reported on the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the 1969 Apollo moon landing.

Blackie Sherrod's Notebooks, 1987
Blackie Sherrod’s Notebooks, 1987

Blackie Sherrod transferred to the Dallas Morning News in 1985, and continued his writing there until his 2003 retirement. He wrote regular columns, including his Sunday “Scattershooting” section, as well as authoring several books: Blackie Sherrod: Scattershooting (1975); The Blackie Sherrod Collection (1988); and Blackie Sherrod at Large (2003). Sherrod also co-authored two other books; one with University of Texas Football Coach Darrell K. Royal, and one on University of Texas football player Freddie Steinmark.

Honors Sherrod received in recognition of his lengthy and notable career include induction into the National Sportswriter Hall of Fame, the Red Smith National Sportswriter of the Year award, and an honorary PhD from his alma mater—Howard Payne University—in 1997. Sherrod also received the Texas Sportswriter of the Year Award over fifteen times. He donated his papers to the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University in 2003.

Blackie Sherrod Attending the Cotton Bowl
Blackie Sherrod Attending the Cotton Bowl

Source: Finding Aid for Blackie Sherrod Papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

DeGolyer Library Manuscripts Photography Recent Acquisitions

Elmer and Diane Powell Collection on the Mexican Revolution

Two Women Soldiers, Matamoros, Mex, ca. 1915
Two Women Soldiers, Matamoros, Mex, ca. 1915



In December, the DeGolyer Library was the recipient of another generous donation from Elmer and Diane Powell in addition to the thousands of items donated in 2014! Of great historical importance in the study of the Mexican Revolution, the Powell Collection includes many rare materials: real photographic postcards, photographs, prints, original artwork, broadsides, currency, periodicals, books and manuscripts related to the Mexican Revolution. The Powell collection covers the pre-revolution years of president Porfirio Diaz to the post-revolution era in Mexico. Particularly strong in photography, included are images related to such Federal and revolutionary leaders as Diaz, Madero, Huerta, Carranza, Obregon, Villa, and Zapata. There are many pictures by important but little-known photographers of battle sites, executions, street scenes, the Decena Tragica, and locations throughout Mexico and on the U.S. border during the ten year conflict.

DeGolyer Library Manuscripts Photography Recent Acquisitions Texana

George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection

Dallas, Texas, Stereograph
Dallas, Texas, Stereograph

cook-08The George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection is an important addition to the DeGolyer Library and is a wonderful resource for research in Dallas and Texas history. A native Dallasite, George W. Cook (1949-2012) collected Dallas and Texas primary sources. He had a special interest in photographs, postcards, advertising souvenirs, trade cards, badges, family collections, documents, art, postal history, and three-dimensional objects such as signs, regional porcelain and glass, and architectural ornaments.

The strength of Cook’s collection lies in its visual images (over 2,200 photographs and 15,000 postcards), but there are also significant manuscripts, diaries, albums, banknotes, ephemera, books, pamphlets, broadsides and objects related to the city of Dallas and Texas. There are approximately 20,000 items altogether – a rich collection with a wide range of materials related to Dallas and Texas history!

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