SMU Archives Uncategorized

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





Impeachment Season

Impeachment of the President of the United States has been rare. Only three presidents have been impeached for “high crimes and misdemeanors”: Andrew Johnson (1868), Bill Clinton (1998), and Donald Trump (2019). Richard Nixon resigned from office before he almost certainly would have been impeached by the House and likely convicted by the Senate.

Presidential history is emerging as an area of strength for researchers here at the DeGolyer Library, and the trial of Donald J. Trump in the Senate gives us a chance to provide some historical context.


Our collection includes sheet music and joke book below are newly-acquired Danny O. Crew Collection, a simply astounding collection of over 30,000 items, from George Washington to the present.



Pictured here are two tickets from Andrew Johnson’s trial, courtesy of the Hervey Priddy Collection, an equally encyclopedic resource.


Our general collection features a variety of Clinton related titles, including Recipes From Hope, while the joke book is from the Crew Collection.




We encourage researchers to explore our presidential holdings, and we will gladly provide collaboration and support if not collusion!  Contact if you have any questions.

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!

Manuscripts Uncategorized

NASA’s Part Supplier

When the Apollo 11 spaceflight departed the Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969, it was carrying three astronauts, mankind’s aspirations to finally land on the Moon, and sophisticated equipment that made it all possible. Prior to the historic spaceflight, NASA contracted several companies to build the Saturn V launch vehicle, the Apollo spacecraft that landed on the Moon on July 20, and the Apollo ground control center in Houston. The Dallas based Texas Instruments was one of the subcontractors that supplied parts for all three components of the Apollo 11 mission.


TI World reported in its August 1969 issue that “in a televised transmission on the return trip to Earth, Astronaut Mike Collins cited the flawless

performance of the equipment in Apollo 11,” while holding one of the switches on the control panel of the command module -the capsule that brought the astronauts back to Earth. The switch, TI World proudly pointed out, had been produced by TI’s Control Products division in Attleboro, MA, one of a total of approximately 800 switches required by the space mission. Hundreds of TI’s small signal transistors, silicon and germanium power transistors, computer diodes,, miniature thermostats worked without a hitch to ensure the success of the spaceflight and Moon landing. While it didn’t actually go to the Moon or even outside of Dallas, the data signal conditioner in the image is an example of an integrated circuit similar to the luckier ones that were selected for space travel.


In 1969, Texas Instruments was not a novice in the space exploration field. A leader in the semiconductor industry due to its innovations in the integrated circuit and integrated circuit and solid state technology,  Texas Instruments established a Space System branch that supplied equipment to space exploration programs such as the Mariner Mars and Venus probe missions, the Ranger 7 photo mission to the Moon, as well as the subsequent Apollo, Mariner, Voyager, and Discovery missions that all enhanced space travel and exploration. Since low weight was essential in spacecraft, TI was capable to produce and deliver small devices, all due to the company’s pioneer innovations in the transistor and integrated circuit technologies.

IRIS (Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer) measured atmospheric constituents and temperature profiles of planets. Measurement accuracy was achieved in the TI labs via the IRIS bench checkout equipment.






Data and image recording devices built using TI components are essential in the recording and transmission of information taken by the space probes Voyager 1 and  Voyager 2, which were launched in 1977, and have since traveled beyond the known planets and into the interstellar space. The Hubble Space Telescope pictured here uses TI built imaging chips.

Texas Instruments Records document the company’s advancements in the semiconductor industry that led to significant developments in the transistor technology and the invention of the integrated circuit.

By Ada Negraru



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


Love is in the Air! War-time Letters Between Stanley Marcus and His Wife, Billie

Stanley and Mary ‘Billie’ Marcus Onboard Ship en route to Nassau, ca. 1935.

As February moves on towards Valentine’s Day, one’s thoughts turn to expressions of affection and love – flowers, cards, gifts, decorations, etc. In thinking about the season, I am reminded of letters in the Stanley Marcus Papers between him and his wife. Marcus married the former Mary “Billie” Cantrell in 1932. During World War II, Stanley Marcus, then executive vice president of the Neiman Marcus company in Dallas, was called to assist in the war effort in Washington, D.C. In January, 1942, it was announced he would undertake the job in the Office of Production Management (O.P.M.) as Chairman of the Apparel Division, War Production Board. The purpose of his position was to assist in establishing wartime guidelines for fabric conservation and style simplification work. Knowing the fashion industry as he did, Marcus was perfectly suited to the position and willingly moved to Washington to serve his country.

Although they had been married ten years, the letters between Stanley and Billie are filled with love and longing to be together again. Stanley starts a letter soon after leaving Dallas, in mid January 1942: “Darling, I’ve been homesick & lonesome as hell all weekend. I feel so cut off from all the things & people I want to be with and close to. Your voice a little while ago sounded the same note that my inner voice feels. Every time I get in the real depths, I just ask myself ‘What if you were in Australia, or Bataan, or Iceland, or Panama?’ And then my questions sink into their relative position of importance. If I am helping the national effort I have not cause for personal complaint. Wars never bring with them joy. Wars aren’t meant to be easy. Wars mean only sacrifice of one kind or another by all persons involved. And if mine were the greatest sacrifice, we wouldn’t have much to sacrifice at all. The people who are really sacrificing are those who are paying with their lives, their arms, their eyes, their faces. These are the answers I keep giving myself.” He closes the eight page letter with, “All in all – a dull, depressing, and boring weekend. But maybe the sun will shine this week, but whether it does or not I’ll be thinking of you. Your, Stanley.”

At about the same time, Billie begins a letter to Stanley, “My darling, You have decided and rightly so. Today and tonight were hard and I know there will be others like them. And while I won’t promise not to indulge in a few, I do promise you I’ll remember every word we both said about what we would be to each other this coming year – Friday night before you left. Do you recall? I know you do. There are so many words I want to write you darling, now all this has become a reality but they are still jumbling out of my mind and I can’t spin them together.”  She ends her long letter with, “I love you more than I can tell you. Always, Billie.”

Duty in D.C. was shorter than expected, and Stanley returned to Dallas and his beloved wife in June, 1942.













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


Notes in the Margins

Do you write in your books?  You’re not alone–in our copy of Francis Bacon’s The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh (1622), one reader went beyond underlining key points or scribbling notes in margins, and created an index where there was none.

Francis Bacon wrote The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh in 1622, as an attempt to regain favor with Britain’s then-king, James I.

The handwritten index



The title page




Bacon began writing Historie in 1621, at the lowest point in his life. Famously the creator of the scientific method and father of empiricism, he was also a statesman and made Lord Chancellor of England by James I. But in three short years, Bacon was impeached by Parliament over corruption charges and briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London. It was then that Bacon began writing Historie.  It’s believed that Historie, a flattering biography of James’s royal ancestor, was written as an attempt to regain favor with James.





The index



Our first edition folio was printed in London by W. Stansby for Matthew Lownes and William Barret, and features a portrait of Henry VII by John Payne.  The front and back cover of the book (the boards) are still covered in the calf skin they were bound with in 1622, but the spine was re-backed, or rebuilt, at a later date.






A big question when working with rare books is the provenance—who were the previous owners?  When we’re dealing with a book printed nearly 400 years ago, it’s no surprise it’s changed hands many times.  With this book, we have the names of four separate owners.


“Ex Libris Jabobi Mundy”


On the front page, it’s written ‘Ex Libris Jacobi Mundy (xx) Inter Templo 19 Dec 1727’.  I haven’t been able to find any additional information about Jacob Mundy, but by signing his name with ‘Inter Templo’, we know he was a barrister (lawyer), as the Inns of Court in London is the professional association to which barristers in England and Wales belong.


Charles Gery Milnes bookplate





Also featured is a bookplate for Charles Gery Milnes (1804-1855).  Milnes, who according to Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry, was a gentleman who resided at Beckingham Hall in County Lincoln.







“J. Milnes”


Above the title page, ‘J. Milnes, Middle Temple” wrote an inscription about the manuscript dated 1791.



Burkes Peerage lists Charles’ parents as John Milnes and Mary Selina Gery, so it’s safe to assume ‘J. Milnes’ is John, Charles father (and by listing ‘Middle Temple’ we know that like Jacob Mundy, J. Milnes belonged to the Inns of Court and was therefore a barrister.)








The handwriting on the ‘J. Milnes’ note matches the handwriting on the index, but interestingly, not the handwriting in the margins throughout the text.  Were the margin notes Charles’ addition to a book left to him by his father?






Jacobus bookplate



Finally, the bookplate that represents how Historie became part of the DeGolyer’s collection– one commemorating the gifting of  Historie to SMU by Mr. and Mrs. Henry S. Jacobus, Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Lorch Folz, in honor of Dorothy and Henry Jacobus’s fortieth wedding anniversary. This gift by Dorothy and Henry’s children was both in recognition of their parents’ marriage, as well as the family legacy at SMU—in 1971, Dorothy and Henry presented SMU with a 1,500 volume book collection representing 200 years of English culture.






For more information, or to view this or any of the DeGolyer’s 17th century books, contact Christina Jensen.



Bacon, Francis. The Historie of the Raigne of King Henry the Seventh. London: Printed by W. Stansby for Matthew Lownes, and William Barret, 1622.

Burke, J. Bernard, A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland for 1852: In 2 Vol. London: Colburn and Co., 1852.

Peltonen, Markku. The Cambridge Companion to Bacon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Peltonen, Markku. 2007 “Bacon, Francis, Viscount St Alban (1561–1626), lord chancellor, politician, and philosopher.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 9 Jan. 2019.


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.




“I Was Born into a Red Land”

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)


June 6, 1968 – June 6, 2018: the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy

“Barefoot and Boss.” Barefoot Sanders and Robert F. Kennedy, Dallas, Nov. 14, 1961. Andy Hanson photograph, DeGolyer Library, SMU






Fifty years ago, like his brother President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy – Bobby – was murdered by an assassin’s bullet.  The year 1968 was a tempestuous time in America. The Vietnam War continued, and the anti-war movement peaked. Martin Luther King had been killed earlier in the year, igniting riots across the country. President Lyndon B. Johnson decided not to seek a second term in the upcoming election. Robert Kennedy, former U.S. Attorney General, stepped up to a swell of support, running for national office. He was perceived by some to be the only man in American politics capable of uniting the people. He was beloved by minorities for his integrity and devotion to the civil rights cause.



“For a whole generation of progressive political activists and journalists, there was a glimmer of something different in RFK than the more conventional politics of his brothers Jack and Ted — an ability to both put together a mind-bending coalition of minority and white-working-class voters that would blow up the racial politics the GOP was beginning to aggressively embrace by 1968 and to keep the fraying New Deal majority alive.” New York Magazine, June 5, 2018


Quotes from Robert F. Kennedy:

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better.” 

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

“All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

The picture above is from the Andy Hanson photographs collection. Hanson worked for the Dallas Times Herald for thirty years until it closed in 1991. He photographed and actively documented the theater, opera, musical, and social events in the city. Included in the collection are many photographs and negatives of famous, high profile, politicians, celebrities, and newsworthy people in Dallas.

For some Hanson images online, see:


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