Southern Methodist University Archives

Southern Methodist University Archives The Southern Methodist University Archives serves as a research repository for the official administrative and historical records of the University.

In addition, the Archives serves as the collective memory of Southern Methodist University.

02/21/2023

. SMU
Giving Day is coming March 7. Let’s get ready to give! The SMU Archives is supporting "Voices of SMU," our oral history program for giving day.

Sounds like a terrific program!
01/09/2023

Sounds like a terrific program!

Join us Thursday, January 19 in the Texana Room, Fondren Library.

10/05/2022

Kudos to Bethany Bass, Maria Katsulos, and Ash Thye for their excellent presentation at the Q***r History South conference this past weekend in Dallas. The theme of the conference was "Archives for ALL, Y'all." Beth and Maria graduated last year and are pursuing grad programs at Teacher's College at Columbia University (Beth) and Northwestern (Maria). Ash is a senior this year. They shared insights from the oral, archival, and institutional research carried out by SMU Pride last year. We couldn't be prouder of them!

It's giving day at Southern Methodist University. As much as the Archives doesn't want to ask, we do *need* dollars for ...
03/22/2022

It's giving day at Southern Methodist University. As much as the Archives doesn't want to ask, we do *need* dollars for "Voices of SMU," our oral history project. Just a little bit goes to help us pay for interview transcripts. https://bit.ly/36A7rtJ

03/14/2022

Looking forward to giving day at SMU and supporting Voices of SMU.

03/06/2022
02/24/2022

In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came and spoke to a standing-room-only audience in McFarlin Auditorium. Now, the MLK Day of Service happens every year to honor Dr. King's life and teachings by bringing our campus together through community service that helps to improve social issues. To end the last full week of Black History Month, let's throwback to the beginning of the semester, where a group of Mustangs lent a hand to local nonprofits to serve the Dallas community. Click the link in our bio to learn more about Dr. King's trip to SMU and to listen to his speech.

01/06/2022

David Chang appeared in PBS show "Finding your Roots" and his maternal great grandfather, Sang Yang Woo, attended and graduated from Southern Methodist University in Theology in 1925. Mr Woo was a founding member of SMU's Cosmopolitan Club in 1922. This Club (like other Cosmopolitan Clubs at other universities) was a place both for international students to network with each other and for US students to learn about other cultures. SMU had a Cosmopolitan Club until 1969.

So happy that our friends in the Bridwell are open again!
11/04/2021

So happy that our friends in the Bridwell are open again!

Newly Renovated Library is Open for Business After two years of closure due to renovations and COVID-19, Bridwell Library re-opened on August 18. “We’re back and we’re better than ever!” said Anthony J. Elia, Director and J.S. Bridwell Foundation Endowed Librarian. A new welcome desk greets ...

Nia did amazing work collecting history when she was a part of our Voices of SMU team. So glad to hear that she is makin...
10/12/2021

Nia did amazing work collecting history when she was a part of our Voices of SMU team. So glad to hear that she is making today and the future better!

An immersive summer internship in Washington, D.C., gave Tower Scholar Nia Kamau ’22 a new perspective on creating sustainable social change.

https://bit.ly/Nia-Kamau

During the swinging 1960s, SMU women students were not so free-wheeling. Co-eds had a dress code, and they could not wea...
09/23/2021

During the swinging 1960s, SMU women students were not so free-wheeling. Co-eds had a dress code, and they could not wear pants to class. In fall 1967, the head of Fondren Library decreed that women could not wear pants to the Library in the evenings.

09/20/2021

The Archives have a few brief, but exciting, seconds in this video! So excited to be a part.

At the beginning of each school year from 1915 through 1963, first year students (AKA freshman) were required to wear Re...
08/25/2021

At the beginning of each school year from 1915 through 1963, first year students (AKA freshman) were required to wear Red and Blue Beanies (hats) everywhere except Church. If the student was found without the Beanie into the Fountain, he or she went!

Learn more about SMU's Dallas CollegeFounded in 1920, Dallas College offered adult education services for the people of ...
07/22/2021

Learn more about SMU's Dallas College

Founded in 1920, Dallas College offered adult education services for the people of Dallas seeking a college degree on a more flexible schedule. Due to its unique position and abilities, Dallas College welcomed a wide variety of different people into its classrooms. 15-year-olds simultaneously taking DC and high schools shared classes with 60-year-old mothers seeking pre-law degrees. In fact, DC recognized its eclectic student body when describing its typical student as altogether indescribable. One of the most interesting alumni at DC was Helen Sulkowicz, who was a former concentration camp prisoner in both Auschwitz and Stutthof from Poland. At DC, she took classes in voice and diction with hopes of “improving her vocabulary and increase her command of the English education.” She and the other students exemplified how important DC was for the community, granting opportunities for those with busy schedules and competing responsibilities.
These students also created a vibrant culture and student life despite their other daily commitments. A chapter of the honor society Alpha Sigma Lambda was organized in the college in 1947. Students were chosen from the top 5 percent of students with over 30 hours with an average grade above 85. A student council also existed, as well as groups who ran the newspaper and yearbook. A court of honor was also created, with a queen ultimately being crowned each year. Other activities included various dances and events, including the annual Yuletide Dance, of which 140 people attended in 1950.
Dallas College, while no longer in existence, remains an important piece of SMU history. Serving thousands of individuals, DC filled a gap that SMU could not on its own. Its student body was varied and interesting, with many having lived intriguing lives long before they arrived for classes. Their experiences contributed to a spirited and passionate student body that sought out education despite the many obstacles and responsibilities that precluded a typical college education. Understanding their role and presence aids one in understanding SMU and gives insight into the history of the university. (Thanks to Clare Ennis for this post)

Dallas College, formed in 1920 under Southern Methodist University, was created with the goal of educating working adult...
07/13/2021

Dallas College, formed in 1920 under Southern Methodist University, was created with the goal of educating working adults unable to solely devote their time to their educations. Its broad objectives were stated to be “to make up for defects in earlier education, to give educational opportunities to employed people, to meet the needs of industrial and professional workers who want to increase their sphere of usefulness, … and to integrate life experiences into a wholesome philosophy.” Interest was high, bringing a myriad of individuals with disparate goals united by a shared appreciation and desire for education.

Initially scattered throughout various buildings in downtown Dallas, DC found its first home on the third floor of the Young Women’s Christian Association building in 1924. The college continued to develop, as seen by the 1936 Board of Trustees’ decision to allow DC to grant degrees. In 1944, the college was granted its own building to accompany its growth, which only continued throughout the rest of the decade. By 1950, yearly enrollment records continued to be broken; for that particular fall semester, 2,412 students enrolled. While the college would not persist forever, it played an important role in both the SMU and Dallas community by serving those seeking an education but unable to wholly dedicate oneself to the typical college program.

While impermanent, Dallas College was an important part of SMU’s offerings for decades, allowing those with busy lives and many responsibilities to continue seeking an education. The history of its growth can be clearly seen through its various homes in the Dallas area. For those unable to partake in a “typical” college experience, DC offered a haven and an opportunity.

(Thanks to SMU student, Clare Ennis for this look back)

Helping researchers find the materials that they need is my favorite part of the Archives job.  Even if they aren't work...
06/23/2021

Helping researchers find the materials that they need is my favorite part of the Archives job. Even if they aren't working on SMU Archives. David Delbert Kruger

While we’ve previously discussed increasing racial diversity at SMU and how that process played out starting in the 1950...
04/30/2021

While we’ve previously discussed increasing racial diversity at SMU and how that process played out starting in the 1950s, another interesting issue of diversity is in regards to the religious affiliation of the students and faculty of SMU at that same time. The most notorious case of conflict is found in the life of John Beaty.

Beaty earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in English, and in 1918, was appointed to be one of the first English professors at SMU. A man of high regard, he served in World War II as a Lieutenant Colonel Military Intelligence officer and became known as one of the leading experts in MI. In fact, Beaty was so well-regarded by the university, that in 1946, at the end of WWII, President Umphrey Lee specifically requested him to return from service to the university as it was “imperative” to him back because he was considered a “particularly valuable” professor to the school. This esteem Beaty earned, though rightly due, would eventually be tarnished starting in 1951 when his reputation began to decay.

In the midst of rising fear of Communism and “Anti-American” activities in the 1950’s, Beaty decided to weigh in on the public discourse through his publication of the 1951 work "The Iron Curtain over America". In this, Beaty condemned ways in which communism had infiltrated the American life. More specifically, he argued that Jews were attempting to take over Christian institutions, and subsequently, would cause a decay in patriotic Americanism.

Backlash ensued and, in 1953, Margaret Hartley, an editor of the Southwest Review, a newspaper closely linked to the activities at SMU, slammed Beaty for his “anti-Semitic language” and for promoting the “fringes of Protestantism.” At this, Beaty fought back and published in 1954 a pamphlet entitled “How to Capture a University” claiming that non-Christian forces had “sought since the summer of 1932” to “wield power in [SMU’s] councils.”
At this, a controversy was triggered within SMU and the administration quickly took action to set up a hearing committee including SMU Board of Trustees members and several Methodist bishops to investigate Dr. Beaty’s claims. The special committee’s main focus became on whether or not Beaty’s claims were substantial, and reaffirming that “SMU has remained loyal to the same high Christian ideals on which it was founded.”

At the conclusion of this hearing, the committee found Beaty’s charges to be unsubstantiated and he was voted to be censured. Beaty was effectively silenced, but he remained a professor serving in the English department until his retirement in 1957. This controversy is particularly important to SMU because it demonstrates exactly how difficult inclusion of religion was at SMU and how the administration battled to find the path of the right to inclusion while remaining a Christian university.

04/16/2021

Thank you so much for showing your support for Voices of SMU on SMU Giving Day! With your help, we were able to reach our fundraising goal! You are what keeps the project going!! (Individual "thank you" notes are coming. Stay tuned!!!)

04/14/2021

Many of the of the great personalities who helped found SMU have been immortalized by buildings, scholarships, and funds named in their honor. From Boaz to Hyer, Kirby to Bishop, these individuals’ impacts on the university are known and appreciated. However, I’d like to introduce another man who’s impact on the foundation of SMU was vital.

John A. Rice was a Methodist minister from Fort Worth. One of the first professors of the school, Rice was instrumental in the founding of SMU. Originally the President of the Board of Trustees of Polytechnic College (one of the two institutions – the other being Southwestern University - initially meant to merge to become SMU) Rice eventually accepted a position on the Board of Trustees for SMU. Well-regarded and known for his great business savvy, Rice was constantly requested to take charge of a variety of projects. Some of his tasks included reviewing and finalizing the contract for construction of Dallas Hall, reforming some of the initial business practices of the institution, and starting a campaign to fund the Biblical Department at SMU.

Rice’s service to the fledgling university, however, did not end there. A generous giver, Rice donated hundreds of dollars to SMU (>$3,500 today), but more importantly, he spent many years leading the Biblical Studies department as a professor of the Old Testament. From 1912 to the middle of 1921, Rice was arguably one of the most prominent figures at SMU, garnering respect from many in the DFW community and afar. But, by the summer of 1921 all this would come crashing down.

As an Old Testament specialist, Rice published a book entitled “The Old Testament in the lift of today” offering a look as to what was still applicable for “modern life” from the Old Testament. Letters written to President Boaz indicate there was a large controversy over theological concerns regarding whether or not a personal devil exists, the divine inspiration of the Old Testament, and the role of the laws of Moses in today’s society. Particularly interesting was the outcry by many outside of the Methodist Church, particularly within the Baptist community, to this book. Rice was called upon by the Board of SMU to clarify his positions, but despite this effort, he was pressured to resign. Accepting his fate, he sent in a letter of resignation in the summer of 1921. Yet, even after submitting this letter many Methodist ministers under his training and others who knew him earnestly plead to Boaz and the Board not accept his resignation, but ultimately his request was accepted and Rice left SMU.

Rice’s impact on SMU ought not be forgotten. More importantly, the controversy surrounding Rice offers insight as to how orthodox SMU truly was in its theology in its early days and the measure which would be taken in order to avoid scandal.

04/12/2021

We are one day away from ! Help us support undergraduate oral history research with alumni of color by donating to Voices of SMU tomorrow!

The SMU Archives loves Voices of SMU.
04/09/2021

The SMU Archives loves Voices of SMU.

Thank you for joining us this week for our event Voices of SMU:Lessons from Alumni. We enjoyed seeing you and hearing your questions! You can watch the events’ recording at the following link: https://vimeo.com/534602233

Our intern, Gabriel, has been most of our Facebook postings this semester!
03/26/2021

Our intern, Gabriel, has been most of our Facebook postings this semester!

Want to learn about our Oral history project that documents the history of the university, but Texas as well, including ...
03/24/2021

Want to learn about our Oral history project that documents the history of the university, but Texas as well, including the desegregation of higher education, the experiences of African American, Latinx, and Asian university students. Attend our Zoom event on Monday, April 5 from 4 to 6 Register here https://smu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I5QyMt9SRj6Z5rCZfJ8r0Q

As the middle of March approaches, spring fever is kicking into gear. Students who would typically be looking forward to...
03/19/2021

As the middle of March approaches, spring fever is kicking into gear. Students who would typically be looking forward to a well-deserved break in the semester are now stuck studying for midterms and writing papers. The snowstorm that occurred in Texas this past month was a slight break for some students, but it was at the expense of many others losing power, water, and basic services. These weather-related incidents on campus inspired me this week to think about how the weather has impacted SMU in the past, from snowstorms and heatwaves to students enjoying a breezy day on Dallas Hall lawn.

The snowstorm of last week is not unique in its incidence at SMU. In fact, an even larger snowstorm hit SMU in 2010, when Dallas received over 12 inches of snow around February 11. While students complained about poor communication from the administration, this seemed relatively well-handled considering this was the largest amount of snowfall ever recorded in the Metroplex. The only notable issues were a delay in communication by the school in its cancelling of classes and some tree limbs falling in the aftermath of the weight of the snow. Unlikely to occur two years in a row, the subsequent year, Dallas faced another ice storm that shut down the Metroplex and closed campus down as well. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl which was to be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, snow fell from the roof’s East end on February 4 and injured six people.

In researching snow incidents at SMU, I thought it would also be interesting to see the other extreme of the weather, heatwaves. Interestingly enough, there was almost nothing to find! The little historical recordings I could find point to an SMU that actually thrived during any sort of serious heat. In 1952, Dallas was facing an historic heatwave and drought, yet SMU boasted that it was “the largest and the first centralized air-conditioning plant in the world.” In 1978, again facing a heatwave, the SMU Summer Campus bragged about SMU’s ability to handle the heat by providing a place for the community to cool off (the lap pool).

In reality, most of the time, the weather at SMU is enjoyed by students and faculty alike. One example I found particularly compelling of how the natural beauty of SMU has been enjoyed was in an article from 1946 noting that a “fever of laziness” came over many students as they could be found enjoying the weather “listening to the grass grow.” While I would not characterize most days on the Hilltop this semester as lazy, students certainly have many opportunities to enjoy the warm Dallas weather. A plethora of sunbathing locations exist including Dallas Hall Lawn, the MHPS Quad, and Burleson Park. The best example of how SMU has capitalized on its location though is the tanning pool installed at the Dedman Recreation Center in 2006. Students since then have boasted of this “state-of-the-art” facility where studying, relaxation, and fun are all present. Specifically designed to face the sun at peak hours, it was voted “Best Place to Get a Tan” in the Park Cities in 2014.

Ultimately, SMU has faced some days of extreme weather, but overwhelmingly we enjoy a plethora of pleasant days as a beautiful university in the heart of Dallas.

Below are students from the 1990’s enjoying a day on the lawn.

On this day in 1966, Rev. Martin Luther King spoke at Southern Methodist University. His words are as true today as they...
03/17/2021

On this day in 1966, Rev. Martin Luther King spoke at Southern Methodist University. His words are as true today as they were 55 years ago, "Segregation is a cancer in the body politic which must be removed before our moral and democratic health can be realized. We don’t have long to solve this problem. There is a bit of urgency about it. The shape of the world today no longer affords us the luxury of an anemic democracy. There is a revolt all over the world against colonialism, imperialism and racism. And all over the world people are saying racism and colonialism must go."

https://www.smu.edu/AboutSMU/MLK

The letter of invitation was sent to Dr. King by then-SMU Student Senate Vice President Bert Moore on behalf of the Student Senate. Moore, a theology student, had traveled to Montgomery, Ala., to participate in a civil rights march with Dr. King. He was introduced to the crowd by Students' Associat...

As I spend my spring semester enjoying the warming temperatures at SMU, I’ve been regularly thinking about a word I thin...
03/11/2021

As I spend my spring semester enjoying the warming temperatures at SMU, I’ve been regularly thinking about a word I think SMU embodies quite well: prosperity. The spirit of SMU is deeply prosperous, and from its students to its alumni and families, our university is known for the future and current success stemming from the Hilltop. It inspired me this week to look into perhaps one of the most prosperous times in America, the 1950’s. Yet, even in its midst, SMU faced many challenges including questions on race, religion, and leadership.

One of the most important pieces of attending SMU is the ability to experience diversity in culture. This unfortunately was not the case heading into the 1950’s. Today, the university is over 40% minority or foreign resident students, however this could not be had it not been for the work of Theology School faculty in 1950 who were “eager to move faster” and “enroll African Americans as regular students.” Nonetheless, they fought many challenges, including those presented by Joe Perkins, the school’s namesake benefactor who advocated ridding the university of any black students, though they were already confined to the Theology School facilities. While this backlash was serious, the steadfast belief in integration prevailed as Perkins Dean Merrimon Cuninggim and the Bishop of Dallas finally convinced Perkins and the rest of SMU’s faculty that this was the only path forward. In fall 1962, the first non-white undergraduate student was admitted to the Hilltop.

Another key tension of the 1950’s appears in the form of belief as well. In 1954, Willis Tate was named SMU’s fifth president. Though a devout Methodist, Tate also believed in the “[openness] to all viewpoints” as a non-sectarian college. English Professor John Beaty argued that there were forces inside of the university looking to destroy “the traditions of Christian civilization.” This sort of rhetoric extended into the realm of politics as well, when SMU students invited a leading figure of the communist movement in America, John Gates, to come speak. The press quickly alleged “leftish” sympathies and brainwashing students. Nonetheless, Tate and longtime Trustee, Eugene McElvaney, defended the position.

As a result of these difficult but strong ethical decisions made by SMU’s leaders, the university has slowly become seen as a leading institution of higher education and a beacon for diversity of ideas, culture, and freedom of speech.

Below is a picture of students from 1954 engaging in a "friendliness campaign."

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