Browse Exhibits (22 total)

Old Friends and New Arrivals: Selected Recent Acquisitions in Special Collections friends/1. Take your pick (1).jpg

Like all libraries, the DeGolyer Library and the Bywaters Special Collections benefit greatly from donors. In fact, both collections were originally gifts to SMU and have been sustained and supported by gifts (of materials or money) ever since. While we always thank our donors in our annual reports, from time to time we also like to mount exhibitions of recent (and not so recent) gifts as a way to highlight the delightful variety that comes our way.

Here, then, are “Old Friends and New Arrivals,” an eclectic blend of materials from a host of generous donors. Our staff has selected pop-up books, postcards, ephemera, rare books, photographs, manuscripts, maps, games, and SMU memorabilia from the University Archives.

As one promotional flyer on display puts it, “Take Your Pick”!

OK, I'll Do It Myself: Narratives of Intrepid Women in the American Wilderness, Selections from the Caroline F. Schimmel Collection feature image catalog cover.jpg

DeGolyer Library presents a digital companion exhibit to a traveling exhibition curated by book collector and bibliographer Caroline Schimmel featuring materials from her own collection. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the School of Library Service at Columbia University, Schimmel, over the last 45 years, has gathered over 23,000 narratives and representations of women in the American wilderness, including the North and South Poles. The fiction portion of her collection, except for the items included in the exhibit, was donated to Penn in 2014. She continues to seek and document known and unknown intrepid women, both in fact and fiction and reminds us that "anonymous" is most likely a woman. The 145 books, photographs, manuscripts, and memorabilia in the exhibit, by 101 women and one man and dating from 1682 to 2015, reflect the sweep of women's experiences in the American wilderness. The materials range from Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (1705), Maria Sibylla Merian's hand-printed and hand-colored copy of her monumental study of flora and fauna of Surinam; sharpshooter and entertainer Annie Oakley's travel trunk and gloves, as well as an envelope she shot through the small printed heart from 20 feet away; Mary Godfrey's illustrated account of the "horrid massacre" of her family in 1825; Dale Evans's scruffy rhinestoned pink boots; and much more. 

The State Fair of Texas Fair/ag2002_1405_000_statefair_1000_72.jpg

In 2016, The State Fair of Texas celebrated its 130th anniversary, and the DeGolyer Library joined in the celebration with an exhibition of State Fair photographs by Dallasite Lynn Lennon. In 1984   Lennon began documenting the State Fair of Texas, a photographic project that continued for 10 years. Her slice-of-life photographs captured on film people from all walks of life, livestock, the changing weather, the Midway, traditional and novelty foods, and performers and entertainment of all kinds. In addition to Lennon’s images, several cases of related ephemera include State Fair tokens, badges, pamphlets, brochures, postcards, handkerchiefs and more dating from the 19th into the 20th century from various DeGolyer collections. 


"A Highway to the Pacific": Building the Transcontinental Railroad

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On May 10, 1869, the last rail was laid, a golden spike was driven, and the Union Pacific Railroad, proceeding west from Omaha, and the Central Pacific Railroad, proceeding east from Sacramento, met at Promontory, Utah, having built together the first transcontinental railroad in the world.


Our exhibit of original pamphlets, maps, photographs, government surveys, and other materials tells the story of this “highway to the Pacific,” as promoters often called it. A great technological achievement, the railroad was the subject of intense political debate, and played a leading role in the long-term development of the American west.

An Eye for Elegance: Carrie Marcus Neiman and the Women Who Shaped Neiman Marcus


An Eye for Elegance explores the life and legacy of Carrie Marcus Neiman, who with her brother Herbert Marcus, Sr. and her husband Al Neiman, founded the iconic luxury department store Neiman Marcus. The trio opened the high end, ready-to-wear store in 1907. At the time, women who could afford luxury clothing had them custom made in New York and Paris, Dallas was still a mid-sized regional hub, and oil wealth hadn't yet come to Texas. An Eye for Elegance explores how Carrie, along with buyer Moira Cullen, fashion promotions director Kay Kerr, interior designer Eleanor LeMaire and food director Helen Corbitt shaped the fashions and tastes of their clients and society.

Engaged With Books


For our first exhibition since January 2020, we chose to celebrate reading and the written word by showcasing photographs of people holding books and other reading material. The images highlight the importance of books as studio props in the nineteenth century and later in casual snapshots taken in the home and outside.

Black Lives, Black Letters: Primary Sources in African American History and Literature

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“Black Lives, Black Letters: Primary Sources in African American History and Literature,” highlights the range of DeGolyer Library’s holdings in this area, featuring rare books, pamphlets, broadsides, sheet music, prints, photographs, manuscripts, and ephemera documenting aspects of the Black experience in America, from the colonial period to the present. Well known figures, from Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison, from Frederick Douglass to Barack Obama, are represented. But more often than not, our sources are drawn from much less familiar, sometimes anonymous, figures from the past, in literature, education, politics, religion, business, sports, the performing arts, domestic life, and popular culture.

Our exhibition is designed to complement a lecture at SMU on March 24 by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed, whose recent book, On Juneteenth, is both a personal memoir of growing up in segregated Texas and a profound mediation on the meaning of our shared past. “All the major currents of American history flow through Texas,” she writes. We agree, and attempt to illustrate that fact through this exhibition, bringing attention to important, previously overlooked voices.

Send Me a Postcard! Women on the Road across 19th-20th America

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“Send Me a Postcard! Women on the Road across 19th-20th Century America” highlights women’s voices and their stories across America’s roadways. Though travel has generally been associated with men, and the male prerogative of exploration, investment, and research, women have always been on the move. Women traveled for a variety of reasons including education and knowledge, general ambition, a sense of adventure and a new freedom and mobility to move outside of their traditional sphere. This exhibition examines the experiences of women travelers. From a group of college students on a summer road trip, to an anthropologist documenting the American Southwest, from trips to National Parks to visits to zoos, diners to dives, encounters with hitchhikers, bikers and natives, these manuscripts and narratives are full of memories and adventures and represent a variety of perspectives.

Included in the exhibit are trailblazers such as: Blanche Stuart Scott, the first person to inaugurate a transcontinental motor trip for the purpose of interesting women in the value of motor car driving; Alice Huyler Ramsey, the first woman to drive an automobile across the United States from coast to coast in 1909; Harriet White Fisher Andrew, the first woman to circle the globe in a Locomobile. Also highlighted are everyday ladies on family vacations and girl’s trips. Elizabeth Dalrymple who motored with her friends from Pennsylvania to Colorado in 1940 said of travel: “never worry about getting lost out here in the great open spaces, as every road eventually leads to somewhere, no matter how lonely or how long.” Documents such as these provide invaluable insight women’s experiences traveling and what life was like for women on the road. While no two experiences are alike, together these narratives weave together women’s shared experiences with life on the road, demonstrating in fact “women can handle an automobile just as well as men.”

“Send Me a Postcard” features materials from the DeGolyer Library’s holdings of rare books, pamphlets, ephemera and manuscripts holdings, including the Archives of Women of the Southwest.


The Joy of Cooking: Two Centuries of Cookbooks at the DeGolyer Library

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The Joy of Cooking: Two Centuries of Cookbooks at the DeGolyer Library highlights the vast collection of cookbooks preserved in our library. These cookbooks are a storehouse of recipes, as well as a sign of technological, sociological, cultural, and economic change over time. From handwritten recipe collections and household guides of the 19th century, to ‘reducing’ cookbooks of the 1920s and the rationing cookbooks of World War II, this exhibit charts changing attitudes and approaches to homecooked meals. The Joy of Cooking exhibit will also examine food communities in America, including Jewish cuisine, African American foodways, and church and community cookbooks. If we are what we eat, cookbooks can tell us much about our character in the past.

 October 6th-December 22nd

Open Monday-Friday, 8:30-5:00

Open Saturday-Sunday, 10:00-6:00

(excluding November 5th, 24th-26th, and December 17th)

Amy Clampitt: her peripatetic life and work

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This mini-exhibit is part of DeGoyler's larger Lives of the Poets: Literary Biography from Geoffrey Chaucer to Amy Clampitt exhibit.

This mini-exhibit was inspired by the work of Dr. Willard Spiegelman and his 2023 biography over American poet Amy Clampitt, titled: Nothing Stays Put- the Life and Poetry of Amy Clampitt. Several of the items in this exhibit were donated from his collection.

The items in this exhibit include correspondence from Clampitt; some of her early writings and also some of her poetry; photos of Clampitt throughout her life. The exhibit includes works about Clampitt written after her death.

The items in the exhibit are organized chronologically from the 1940s to the 2020s, which allows for the viewer to trace Clampitt's development and experiences.