National Library Week 2021

It’s National Library Week, and this year’s theme is “Welcome to Your Library.” The library universe has long extended far beyond the four walls of a building and during this past tumultuous year, librarians around the world found new ways to meet the information needs of their communities, such as curbside service virtual reference, and a variety of zoom programs.

In celebration of these leaders of literacy, these titans of technology, these curators of culture, let’s take a look back in time at Southern Methodist University’s very first librarian.

Dorothy Amann was born on February 20, 1874, in Ripley, Mississippi. She attended Thomas Arnold Academy in Salado, Texas, and trained as a businesswoman at Old Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Dorothy Amann, February 28, 1893
Dorothy Amann, February 28, 1893

Hired as one of the first staff members of the newly formed Southern Methodist University, she traveled from Midland, Texas, to Dallas in October 1913 to serve as President R.S. Hyer’s secretary. She became SMU’s first librarian when the responsibility for the collection and disposition of books fell to her in 1915. Miss Amann’s zeal for the job led her to study library science at Columbia University. Her contribution to the library field included serving as President of the Texas Library Association (1921-22), President and founder of the Southwest Library Association (1938-40), and organizer and President of the Dallas Library Club.

The Dorothy Amann papers encompass her involvement in the organization and development of Southern Methodist University from its humble beginnings to the opening of the Fondren Library and beyond. Most importantly, and beloved by students, she suggested the name of the athletics team by exclaiming: “They look like a bunch of wild mustangs.” The collection contains early SMU historical information in the form of Miss Amann’s letters, speeches, articles, and nostalgic ephemera. The letters include correspondence between Miss Amann and President Robert Hyer and President Umphrey Lee. Of special note are the diagram cuttings from a journal article published in 1941 heralding the opening of Fondren Library.

Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information or assistance with accessing these collections.

Contact Joan Gosnell, University Archivists, for additional information on the history of Southern Methodist University.

The DeGolyer Library continues to expand our digitization efforts, adding new content weekly. We have thousands of items digitized and searchable in our digital collections. Be sure to browse our holdings to find more letters, photographs, manuscripts, imprints, art, and audio/video.