Browsing Foward

Celebrating a century of collecting
in the year of the library

A detail from a colorful engraving from a Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company timetable (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., 1880).

A detail from a colorful engraving from a Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad Company timetable (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co., 1880).

Private Japhet Collins, Confederate States

Private Japhet Collins, Confederate States of America Army, ca. 1861, from the Lawrence T. Jones III Collection of Texas Photography.

"Treasures of DeGolyer Library: 100 Years of Collecting" provides a rare opportunity to view some of the most significant research materials archived at SMU in a single exhibition. From one of the earliest maps to depict the New World to a massive charting of early Dallas, the "monumental rarities of historical importance" on display offer "a sense of the breadth and depth of our collections," says Russell Martin '78, '86, Director of DeGolyer Library.

This "best of the best" survey covers DeGolyer's major collecting areas: Western Americana, exploration and discovery, photography, transportation, literary works and the history of science, as well as business.

Among the treasures highlighted:

  • The 1493 "Columbus Letter." Printed in Rome, the small pamphlet is the earliest account of Christopher Columbus' first voyage. While the explorer thought he had reached Asia, he had, in fact, discovered islands in the Caribbean. He describes the natural habitat and indigenous people he encounters, ending the letter with predictions of future wealth for the Spanish crown and spiritual salvation for the natives.
  • Texas' "Unanimous Declaration of Independence." Only 12 copies of this famous document declaring the Republic of Texas' independence from Mexico in 1836 are known to exist.
  • Revised edition of the Murphy and Bolanz official map of the City of Dallas and its suburbs, 1891. Measuring approximately 11-by-11 feet, the map by an early real estate development firm offers a bird's-eye view of Dallas at a time when the population was around 38,000 and the SMU campus was still farmland.

Also included are selections from the SMU Archives, such as Founders' Medals from 1912, small commemorative medallions presented to early donors to the University.

Early next year, a companion book to the exhibit will be published by DeGolyer Library. Check the library's website – smu.edu/cul/degolyer – for more information as details become available.

"Treasures of DeGolyer Library" continues through February 28, 2014. More information is available on the library's website or by calling 214-768-3637.

A page from the 'Various and Ingenious Machines of Agostino Ramelli' (Paris, 1588), a landmark book in mechanical engineering.

Far Left: A hand-colored aquatint from explorer Alexander von Humboldt's Vues des Cordillères, et Monumens des Peuples Indigènes de lÁmérique

Left: A page from the "Various and Ingenious Machines of Agostino Ramelli" (Paris, 1588), a landmark book in mechanical engineering.