Tuesday, October 9, 2012
SMU’s Remember the Ladies! exhibit explores women’s history in Dallas
The exhibit is named after an Abigail Adams quote.
University Park A young member of Girl Scouts wrote to her mother “Miss Ross said if I did not write you I could not have any supper” on July 1, 1931 from Camp Kiwants in Dallas.
The note is one of several letters, photos and artifacts in the DeGolyer Library’s Remember the Ladies exhibit, which presents a century’s worth of words and images of women, their families, daily activities, organizations, professions and pastimes.
Pamalla Anderson, head of public services and reference at DeGolyer Library, began working on the exhibit with university archivist Joan Gosnel over a year ago to coincide with a library fundraising campaign, Remember the Ladies!. The 10-year campaign raised its goal of $1 million for an endowed archivist position for the Archives of Women of the Southwest collection in May.
The campaign and the exhibit’s namesake come from a famous remark made by Abigail Adams in a 1776 letter to her husband John Adams, second president of the United States.
“Remember the ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors,” Adams wrote.
Featured artifacts in the exhibit are from both the library’s general women’s collections as well as from the Women of the Southwest collection.
“I wanted to give them a sampling of the kind of women’s collections that we have at the library and show depth of those collections,” Anderson said.
SMU junior Margaret Elder has worked in the library for the past three years. She found a marble hall of empty display cases and requests for exhibit materials waiting for her when she arrived back on campus in July. Her favorite case features materials from Kidd Key College, an all-girls college in Sherman, Texas that thrived during World War I.
“I have always been interested in the exhibits that they put up in DeGolyer and the last few have come from external sources, so to help with one that was more in-house was really exciting,” Elder said.
Photographs, cookbooks, papers by female SMU notables, and correspondences by Dallas businesswomen and homemakers are a few featured items from other display cases. Pamphlets, materials and memorabilia from the national women’s movement and local women’s book clubs also on display range from the historically significant to the retrospectively amusing.
In a speech commemorating the $1 million mark of the Women of the Southwest Archive fundraising campaign, Director of DeGolyer Library Russell Martin said that the exhibit “help[s] bring the past to life” through the impressions of the women who came before us.
Remember the Ladies is free and open to the public until Dec.14. The DeGolyer Library is located in the Fondren West Building and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Anderson is available for tours at any time.
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