News from the DeGolyer Library
November 2020

Southern Methodist University
Our Latest Virtual Exhibit
If remembered at all in the popular mind, the Presidential election of 1884 is best known, perhaps, as the "dirtiest" campaign in American history. But the election of 1884 is notable in several other respects. It resulted in the first Democratic victory since 1856. Beyond the personal scandals associated with both candidates and the campaign, many other issues were at stake, some of which were addressed, some of which were suppressed or ignored, such as women's rights, civil rights for African Americans, growing disparities in wealth (and what to do about that), prohibition, civil service reform, and the challenges immigration posed in creating a more pluralistic society. If many of these sound familiar to us today, the election of 1884 is worth a second look.

This exhibit draws on over a hundred objects to tell the story of this moment in American history. The Hervey Priddy Collection, the Danny O. Crew Collection, and the R. Hal Williams Collection are featured prominently, as well as items from the general DeGolyer Library collections. From the beginning, our benefactor Hervey Priddy wanted to mount this exhibit in honor of the late Hal Williams, a beloved and respected professor here at SMU, who had been working on a biography of James G. Blaine at the time of his death. It is a pleasure for us to do so.

A novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, defined the boom and bust times of the post Civil War era, when unbridled acquisitiveness dominated national life. As they note, tongue-in-cheek: "In a State where there is no fever of speculation, no inflamed desire for sudden wealth, where the poor are all simple-minded and contented, and the rich are all honest and generous, where society is in a condition of primitive purity and politics is the occupation of only the capable and the patriotic, there are necessarily no materials for such a history as we have constructed out of an ideal commonwealth."

1884 was a banner year in the Gilded Age.
New Finding Aids and Collections

Nela Río is an Argentine-Canadian poet, artist, and educator who has published collections of poetry and short stories anthologized in both the United States and Canada from the 1980s-2010s. She was also a professor of Spanish language literature at the University of St. Thomas in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada for thirty-three years. This collection contains Nela Río’s manuscripts, academic work, correspondence, and poem posters. A major part of her papers include manuscripts and recordings for her collaborative project from 1998-2007: La Voz y la Escritura.

John W. Wilson was a Texas author and executive at Texas Instruments. His most famous work is High John the Conqueror, which was first published in 1948. This collection includes his manuscripts, correspondence, military records, and materials for the English classes he taught at Southern Methodist University after World War II.

Recently Accessioned

A2020.0032c - Helen Gould Lodge no.512

News & Notes
Thanksgiving was a little different this year, but many of us still spent much of the day in the kitchen. In a sequel to her 2019 Thanksgiving post, Samantha Dodd looked at the handwritten recipe book of Minnie Belle Campbell Jones, found in the Archives of Women of the Southwest.

In her latest blog post, Christina Jensen highlighted some of the historical guides to the Ottoman Empire that can be found in the DeGolyer collection, and dug into the history behind western Europe's fascination with the region.

From the Stacks
Larry McMurtry
I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend reading The Last Picture Show and finishing season four of The Crown. It turns out there's a connecting thread between the two in the DeGolyer Library. Our Larry McMurtry letters collection contains a manuscript draft of "A Night at the White House," detailing the author's evening spent fêting Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1985. The manuscript features the McMurtry's handwritten edits, including an observation at the end of page 10, noting "the gloomy Baryshnikov did not dance."

Margaret Tallichet Wyler

The Archives of Women of the Southwest goes Hollywood with the accession of the Margaret Tallichet Wyler papers. Tallichet Wyler was an actress, Dallas native, and SMU graduate who starred in Stranger on the Third Floor and screen-tested for Gone With the Wind. She was married to legendary director William Wyler. Her papers include publicity shots, contracts, correspondence, and diaries.

Newly Digitized Items

45 real picture postcards taken ca. 1904-1918, from the John Miller Morris real Photograph Postcards and Photographs of Texas Collection were recently added to the digital library. The images capture life along the border, including a bad day for 5 motorists stranded with a flat tire in 1910 in Cameron County.
DeGolyer Book Plate
DeGolyer Library | Southern Methodist University | 214-768-3637 | |