Exploring the Voices of SMU Collection

Last week, black students and alumni on Twitter described the racism, hate-speech, microaggressions, and harassment by police that they faced at SMU, with the hashtag #BlackAtSMU

To learn more about the historical experiences of black students at SMU, consider exploring the Voices of SMU Oral History and Digital Humanities Student Projects. The university archives is dedicated to documenting the whole of the student experience. Like most libraries and archives, the DeGolyer Library and the SMU Archives has fallen short in collecting, documenting, and supporting black voices and works.  A key part of our efforts to make up for these shortcomings is the Voices of SMU Oral History Project, a collaboration between students, alumni, and entities across campus, led by Dr. Jill Kelly from the Clements Department of History,  SMU Archivist Joan Gosnell, and the Norwick Center for Digital Solutions.

From their blog:

With Voices of SMU, Undergraduate Research Assistants conduct oral history interviews with SMU alumni from underrepresented groups. The oral histories are made available online in the SMU Libraries Digital Collections. The project grew out of a “Doing Oral History” class in 2018 and has since enabled extracurricular research experience for students—using the university archives, conducting and preserving interviews, presenting at conferences, and publishing their findings.

The interviews document not only the history of the university, but Texas as well, including the desegregation of higher education, the experiences of African American and Latinx university students, and black and brown student activism in Texas. They speak to growing up in Dallas’ Little Mexico; post-World War II African American community-building in places such as Hamilton Park, Dallas; studying as an undocumented student; organizing as minority seminarians and student activists; and shaping Texas’s churches, social ministries, and business communities upon graduation.”

The Oral History interviews are viewable through our digital library. You can browse the interviews with black students and alumni by clicking here.

Some highlights from interviews with recent graduates:

Charis ‘Kay’ Rodgers (Class of 2018)

Troy Alley (Class of 2015)

Vanessa Uzoh (B.A. 2013, M.S. 2019)


Contact Joan Gosnell at jgosne@smu.edu to learn more