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 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.