Posted by & filed under 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 2010's.

Today a new historical plaque commemorating the former location of the Harriss Gym was unveiled at the southwest corner of the Hurley Administration Building (near the main entrance to the Union). Along with being the site of women’s athletic events, the Harriss Gym served as the site of many social events on campus from the 1920s through the mid-1950s. The gym was named in honor of Beulah Harriss, North Texas’s first female physical education teacher and the founder of the Green Jackets. Harriss was also active in the Denton community at large. She helped establish a Girl Scout Troop in Denton and was a founding member of DATCU.

Local teen Elise Clements is to thank for the Harriss plaque on the UNT campus, as well as a state historical marker honoring Harriss in Quakertown Park at the former site of the Denton Girl Scout Little House. Clements learned Harriss’s story while researching the history of the Girl Scouts in Denton. Clements did research in the Portal to Texas History and UNT Special Collections while preparing her successful application for the Quakertown state historical marker. After viewing the Green Jackets Collection in UNT Special Collections, Clements said, “I was able to actually hold a piece of [Harriss’s] history, which brought her story to life for me.” Clements received a Silver Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout in the sixth, seventh, or eighth grade can earn, for her efforts to secure a historical marker for Harriss. At the Harriss Gym plaque dedication, President Smatresk promised Clements a scholarship to attend UNT in recognition of her dedication to local history.

Ken Bahnsen, one of Harriss’s former students and a UNT athletic legend in his own right, spoke at the UNT plaque ceremony to share his memories of “Miss Beulah,” as she was affectionately known by her students. Bahnsen said he was impressed that Harriss always greeted people by name when she saw them on campus.

Other speakers at the plaque ceremony included President Neal Smatresk, Melissa McGuire (Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs), John Nauright (Department Chair, Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation), Elise Clements, and Judy Clements.

Posted by & filed under 1940's, 1950's, 1960's.

“They thought I was a surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”- Frida Kahlo

In 1905 Estherville, Ohio, Silas and Mary Compton welcomed their new son, Carl Benton Compton into the world. Instead of following his father into the medical profession, Carl Compton became a painter, sculptor, ceramist and lithographer (among many other things) and, in his success, a figurehead for surrealist and regionalist artwork in the Southwest.

The young Compton exhibited a voracious appetite for absorbing life and in his adult years traveled around the globe studying art in its many forms. In 1929 Carl Compton graduated with a Bachelors of Art from Notre Dame and shortly after embarked on a journey through Europe where he studied at Paris’s Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and Academie Colarossi under renowned artists Emile Antoine Bourdelle and Boris Israelevich Anisfeld. After returning to the States, Compton attended the Art Institute of Chicago where he not only received his Bachelors of Fine Arts but also met the love of his life and fellow artist Mildred Norris. The pair were married on June 24, 1935.

After returning to Notre Dame to accomplish some graduate study in education, Compton and his wife moved to Georgetown, Texas where they would live for more than seven years. Compton was welcomed into Southwestern University’s newly developed art program where he not only served as a professor, but also as Head of the Art Department. Compton developed many interests during his time at Southwestern. The artist joined the Associated Art Instructors of Texas and became editor of the organization’s Texas Art Teacher journal. In addition, Compton was an avid member of the Texas Sculptor Group and later even joined the Texas Archaeological Society. However, it was when Carl Compton and his wife decided to lead a field school for art students in Mexico that he found his true inspiration. On their first trip south of the United States’ border in 1937, Compton became enraptured by the history and culture of the Tarascans, the ancient group who served as the main antagonists of the Aztecs. Compton’s art work was deeply influenced by his experiences in Mexico. The Comptons continued to visit Mexico as often as possible in the next few years, and in 1943 Carl Compton received his Masters of Fine Arts from La Escuela Universitaria de Belle Artes and Del Miguel Allende.

In 1944, Carl Benton Compton traded in Georgetown for Denton and became an art professor and Director of the Institute for Inter-American Studies at North Texas State Teachers College (NTSTC). Compton soon developed deep ties to the students and faculty as well as the Denton community as a whole and he chose to make North Texas his permanent home. Compton was involved in many aspects of the Denton art scene; he was a widely respected artist and his work was featured in countless exhibits.

An often overlooked aspect of Carl Compton’s life was his interest in archaeology. Through his ties with the Texas Archaeological Society, Compton aided in field expeditions on Lake Lewisville to study hearth sites and in 1953 became part of the North Texas excavation team to extract one of the most intact mammoth skeletons in the state. The artist would prove very vocal in his archaeological observations, going so far as to write several articles on field methodology (one in particular was published in The Ohio Archaeologist: “Radiocarbon Dating: Myth and Folklore.”) Undoubtedly however, Carl Compton’s true calling was his art.

Inspired by artists like Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso, Compton’s art is celebrated as a surreal insight to the regions he studied and loved. Paintings such as “Rooster,” “Woman with Nautilus,” and “Blue cow” introduced vibrant colors and modernism to the Southern art scene Compton inhabited. “These works have, I hope, the element of humor, though they are not intended to be strictly humorous. Like the environment which inspired them and in which they were produced—Mexico, Texas, and the great Southwest—they have sometimes the element of crudity and uncivilized emotion. These are the things as I see and feel them.”(Compton, The Campus Chat Vol. 28, No. 1, pg. 2)

Carl Benton Compton served at North Texas for 25 years before retiring in 1969. He passed away in Denton County in 1981. At the time of his death, Compton had well over 53 recognized and published works and had been featured in over 60 exhibits. Today his artwork is still utilized in current exhibits (The University of North Texas recently hosted a UNT on the Square exhibit from March 4-March 26, 2016; The Comptons of Texas: Rediscovered Work by Carl Benton and Mildred Norris Compton) and Compton has permanent collections in The Heritage Center, San Diego and Harvard University. Carl Benton Compton’s artistic legacy is continued on by his granddaughter, Eden Compton.

The University of North Texas Portal to Texas History and Special Collections house both digital and physical material on Carl Benton Compton including, but not limited to; newspaper articles and clippings, journal entries, personal and professional correspondence and handwritten notes included in the Carl Benton Compton Collection.

— by Hailey LaRock, Special Collections Student Assistant

Posted by & filed under 1890's, 1900's, 1910's, 1920's, 1930's, 1950's.

The student body at the University of North Texas grew to a whopping 37,000 during the 2015-2016 school year. Considering our humble beginnings offering courses to 70 students in a rented space above a hardware store in downtown Denton over a hundred years ago, our journey from the Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute to the largest public University in the North Texas region has always relied on the amazing students that make up our growing student body. As we welcome a new class of “Mean Green” freshman, let’s look back on our history of first-year experiences and traditions.

At the turn of the 20th century, the number of students enrolled in long-sessions at North Texas State Normal College hovered around 500. In 1908, President Bruce set a goal to enroll 666 students before the end of the year. An almost 12% jump in the student body seemed unattainable at first, but J.N. Simmons from Mississippi enrolled as the 666th student on April 21, 1909. Bruce pinned a sign on the freshman’s lapel that read “I am 666” and sent him out into the yard as a display of pride. In those days, students lived in privately-run boarding houses; the first on-campus dormitory structure built by the school to house enrolled students, Marquis Hall, wasn’t erected until 1936.

Almost 50 years later, President Matthews set a similar goal: to enroll 6,666 students for Fall term. In 1958, Ronald Cox became the 6,666th student to register for classes. As a nod to his predecessor, President Matthews hung a sign around the freshman’s neck that read “I am 6666,” and they both posed for photographs.

In the 1920s, freshmen (or “fish,” as they were called by upper-classmen) sponsored “Freshmen Day,” a day of celebration and competition between under and upper-classmen. Classes were canceled for the festivities; in 1926 that included a parade highlighting “the different periods of history form the age of uncivilized man to present time” featuring older cars decorated to resemble roman chariots and a king’s litter. Students also participated in athletic activities, pitting freshman against their older classmates in games of push ball and tug of war. In later years, freshman day became a student-supported carnival including hot-dog stands and sides-show booths.

Orientation is an important introduction to campus resources, but it’s also a good way to meet new friends. Many campus organizations lead activities throughout the year to encourage new friendships. In our earlier days as a Teacher’s College, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) hosted a “Get-Acquainted Party” for incoming students during the summer session. At the time, a number of students attended classes during the summer session only. In 1924, students attending the Get-Acquainted party were instructed to bring a piece of strong and a paper sack. Once there, the students fashioned a glove using their sack (tied at the wrist with string). The winner of the game was the first to completely wear out their “glove” from shaking hands with their new classmates.

Our current freshman class is comprised of mostly digital natives, for whom the idea of the internet is ubiquitous. They might be surprised to know online registration has only been available for a little over a decade, but UNT has a long history of facilitating the often-times complicated process of paper registration. Today the office of University Registrar spans an entire department of the University, employing over 63 staff and students. In 1932, students were treated to a much more personal experience. P.E. McDonald was the university registrar for more than two decades in the 20’s and 30’s, the sole person tasked with arranging course schedules, filing credits, awarding diplomas, and documenting transcripts. McDonald began his tenure in 1910 teaching Physics and Latin for a decade before taking over as registrar in 1922. He was credited with having a remarkable memory for names and faces of past students, able to recall many of them years after they’d left North Texas.

The Green Jackets were also often on hand to assist with registration under the direction of Beulah Harriss, the first female faculty member hired to the athletics department. In addition to her duties supervising the women’s athletic program, Harriss coached women’s basketball and served as faculty advisor for the Green Jackets Club, a female-only spirit and service organization she founded in 1926. The Green Jackets gave directions, helped students determined which lines to stand in to schedule specific classes, and (most importantly), they passed out the all-important freshman beanie. Purchased during registration, freshmen purchased a beanie with their expected date of graduation and were expected to wear them at the season’s first football game and throughout the beginning of the fall semester. The beanies were bright green with white lettering and were made of boiled wool. Most of the students who see them in Special Collections are glad the freshman beanie tradition died out.

We’re happy to welcome the class of 2020 to the University of North Texas and hope our current freshmen class has a historic first year!

by Courtney Jacobs, Special Collections Librarian

Posted by & filed under 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's.

“I hope to be remembered for my loyalty and respect for the university. That’s all I can hope for.” – Fred McCain

With a population of just over 16,000, Gainesville, Texas is by no means a well-known city but it is the birthplace of Fred Noel McCain, former North Texas football star, coach, and Director of the NTSU Coliseum and Athletics Department. Born on January 7, 1923, McCain began his football playing career in high school where his talent as a quarterback was rewarded in the form of multiple scholarships to universities like Harden-Simmons, Baylor, and of course, North Texas. McCain chose to play for the best.

In 1941 McCain played under North Texas State College head coach Jack Sisco for two seasons until his football aspirations were put on hold as a result of World War II. McCain joined the Navy in 1943 and served as an officer until 1946 where he returned to North Texas to not only continue playing football, but also lead the Eagles to victory as a quarterback and captain in the 1946 Optimist Bowl. The next year McCain helped earn the team a 10-2 record breaking season and an appearance in the grueling 1947 Salad Bowl. However, McCain’s college life did not solely revolve around sports. As an undergraduate, McCain served three years on the North Texas Athletic Council, held the title of Vice-President of the “T” Club in 1942, functioned as the sheriff for the Talons Fraternity and was an avid member of the NTSC football squad. In 1948, McCain graduated with a major in Physical Education and a minor in Mathematics. In 1949, he received his Master’s degree in Administrative Education and married his long time sweetheart and fellow NTSC graduate Mary Lou Ray.

Knowing full well that he wanted to make a name for himself coaching football, but also realizing he lacked experience, McCain returned to his hometown as an assistant coach for the Gainesville High School team. His first learning experience was short lived; after only two seasons in Gainesville, McCain was recruited by his alma mater in 1950 to coach the freshmen and offensive teams under Odus Mitchell. McCain aided in the making of history in 1956 when he played a central role in recruiting African-American students Abner Haynes and Leon King to the North Texas team. In a period where collegiate integration was just beginning to take hold in Texas, McCain helped the university to become one of the first in the state to integrate a collegiate athletic program. Further accomplishments were made possible through McCain’s charisma and aptitude as a coach. In addition to being an inspiring and effective role model for the team, he had no problem drawing future professional footballers such as Vernon Cole and Joe Greene into the fold of North Texas alumni. Read more

Posted by & filed under 1960's, 1970's, 1980's.

“Being a regent is the most difficult and frustrating, and at the same time personally satisfying, of any job I’ve ever had.”  — Achille Murat Willis, Jr.

Archille Murat Willis, Jr., known casually as A.M. Willis, Jr. or A.M. “Monk” Willis was born on October 9, 1916 in Richmond, Virginia. In 1938, he attended Washington & Lee University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Economics. Willis attended Harvard Business School from 1938-1939 before deciding to leave to accept a position at Johns-Manville, an insulation and roofing manufacturer based in New York City. At Johns-Manville Willis helped to run the company’s exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. After the exhibit, Willis worked on Wendell Willkie’s presidential campaign. In 1942, after Willkie lost the election, Willis joined the U.S. Navy during World War II and served until 1946. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander while stationed in the Pacific. Willis moved to New York City following the war. It was in New York City that he met his wife, Frances Maxine Hundahl. The Willises moved to Longview, Texas where Archille was a district manger for Mutual of Omaha from the late 1940s to 1976. He also worked for Lyndon B. Johnson’s Senate Campaign. He remained active as a staff of 4th District U.S. Rep. Ray Roberts of McKinney until 1972. He would serve as administrative assistant until 1976. Willis also worked as a staff director of the U.S. House of Representatives Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

In 1965, Governor John Connally appointed Willis as one of nine Regents at North Texas. Willis was reappointed in 1972 by Governor Preston Smith and again in 1979 by Governor Dolph Briscoe. Willis served as a member of the North Texas Board of Regents until 1983. Willis was elected Chairman of the Board of Regents in 1969, a role he was reelected annually to for nine years, until 1979. Willis was regarded as highly active regent who drew both praise and criticism. Willis’ tenure as a member of the Board of Regents was marked by the turmoil of a changing society. Willis led the board during an era of student activism in civil rights, anti-Vietnam War protests, free speech, academic policies. Among the campus needs that he addressed was the demand for a new library. The previous North Texas library had doubled its size in ten years and there was an increase in the amount of students checking out books and an increase in the usage of interlibrary loans.

Willis, a rapid reader with a large personal library, felt building a large centrally located facility for current and future collections was a high priority. He saw it as a fundamental building-block priority for the advancement of the university. His view of the future and willingness to work for it earned him the honor to have the new library named after him.

The new building was originally designed to be erected in three phases on the athletic field behind the Administration Building. The central part of the structure was built first. The building was designed by Caudill Rowlett Scott. The first phase cost a total of 4.5 million dollars. One third of the cost was covered by a grant from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare for $1,456,783. The costs of phases two and three were to be covered from the sale of bonds but were never built.The new library known was originally called the “new library” and opened up in the summer 1971. The building was formally dedicated on April 25, 1972 and named Willis Library. It was the third of four university buildings named after a regent after Wooten Hall, Kerr Hall, and Murchison Performing Arts Center.

Willis lived in Washington, D. C. until his retirement in 1983 when he relocated to Longview, Texas. He died at the age of 94 on January 14, 2011.

— by Amanda Montgomery, Assistant Processing Archivist


Posted by & filed under 1970's, 2000's, 2010's.

Today’s post will introduce two notable UNT alumni on Capitol Hill: Congressman Michael C. Burgess and former Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives Lorraine C. Miller.

Congressman Burgess graduated from North Texas State University in 1972. He graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston in 1977 and spent the next several years as a practicing OB/GYN.

In 2002, Burgess ran to succeed the retiring incumbent Dick Armey as the representative from Texas’s 26th Congressional district, which includes most of Denton County. Burgess faced a tough primary race against Congressman Armey’s son, Scott. After defeating Scott Armey in the primary, Burgess went on to win the general election by a handy margin. He has been re-elected six times since then by wide margins.

His achievements in Congress include introducing legislation to adjust Medicare payment rates for physician services, to authorize federal funding for public and private trauma care, and to repeal efficiency standards for incandescent light bulbs. He is also known as a staunch pro-life advocate, having spoken in favor of a complete ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Lorraine Miller, who graduated from North Texas State University in 1975 with a degree in political science, is most well-known for being the 35th Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives (2007-2011). She is the first African-American to hold the position of House Clerk, and only the third woman to serve as an officer of the House. View a 2007 State of Texas Senate Resolution congratulating Miller on her appointment to US House Clerk in the Portal to Texas History.

The House clerk is a position of enormous responsibility. The clerk is one of the nonpartisan officers of the House, primarily responsible for keeping records of legislative proceedings to preserve continuity between the adjourned Congress and the newly-sitting Congress. As such, the Clerk opens the first meeting of each new Congress and presides over the body while the House adopts rules and elects a new Speaker. The Clerk also keeps the roll, notes questions of order, prepares the House Journal after each session, certifies bills and resolutions passed by House members, delivers messages from the House to the Senate, and manages the offices of any Member whose seat is vacant (for instance, if the Member resigned, died while in office, or was expelled from Congress for some reason).

Prior to her tenure as House Clerk, Miller served in various advisory positions for members of the House. She was director of intergovernmental relations for then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She also served under Speakers Tom Foley and Jim Wright, and worked for Congressman John Lewis. During the 1990s she held a number of positions in the Executive Branch: Deputy Assistant for Legislative Affairs to President Clinton, Director of Government Relations for the Federal Trade Commission, and later Bureau Chief of Consumer Information for the Federal Communications Commission.

Her public service has not just been limited to Capitol Hill, though. She has previously served as president of the Washington D.C. chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In 2008 she became a member of the national board of directors of the NAACP and served as interim president of the organization from 2013-2014. Miller’s tenure as House Clerk came to an end in 2011, and she now works as a commercial real estate broker.

— by Robert Lay, Special Projects Archivist

Posted by & filed under 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1960's, 1980's, 2010's.

For many students, dorm living is an integral part of the college experience. Some make friends during their dorm years that stick for life. Others fondly recall their early years of college as a time of increased freedom, responsibility, and ownership over their academic and social lives in their “home away from home.” When Rawlins Hall opened in 2015, The University of North Texas raised its dorm count to fourteen, but did you know our University didn’t even have its own dormitory until it was 45 years old?

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Posted by & filed under 1940's, 1950's.

From 1949 to 1952 the North Texas Golf Team accomplished a string of wins at the NCAA Championships, defeating larger schools with more established golfing programs. The four man team won this golf tournament for four years and put larger schools on notice that the Eagles competed to win. The team’s winning streak placed them alongside schools like Yale, Princeton, and University of Houston, where each school’s team won more than three tournaments in a row.

A large part of the success of the golf team was due to the thoughtful coaching of Fred Rayzor Cobb. Coach Cobb originally joined North Texas State Teachers College as an assistant football coach in 1940. He began working with the golf team that same year. His golf teams would go on to win all three of the major college golf tournaments: the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the Southern Intercollegiate, and the Rocky Mountain Collegiate.

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Posted by & filed under 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1980's.

Francis Edwin Stroup attended North Texas State Teachers College from 1925 to 1929, when he earned a degree in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. During those 4 years, Stroup lettered in basketball, ran track, and played football. He was also an accomplished swimmer and diver. Besides his athletic talents, Stroup came from a family known for their music, and he began writing music for fun as a student at NTSC.

After graduating in 1929, Stroup landed his first teaching job in Golden, Texas. In 1939, Stroup had moved on to other teaching jobs in the Denton area, including working on campus as a swim coach.

One Saturday night, Stroup attended the movie and Stage Show on campus. During the stage show, Floyd Graham, known as ‘Fessor Graham, announced a contest for a marching song. The contest was for the lyrics to match a melody Graham had composed a few years earlier. It was normal for a small college to adopt a well-known tune and provide the words in order to enhance spirit and school identification. For example, North Texas, along with Harvard, Rice and others adapted FE Bigelow’s “Our Director March” as a spirit song, with each college providing unique identifying words. However, Graham envisioned NTSTC with its very own song and hoped the 1939 contest would provide one.

At the time Stroup had been out of school for a decade and during that time he had been writing songs. Stroup entered his song after a couple of weeks of other entries being sung. One night his song was played with a band arrangement by Gene Hall. After the band finished, Graham stated, “Can’t you just imagine the band marching down the field playing that.” Stroup thought: “Oh, boy, I think he likes it.”

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Posted by & filed under 1970's, 2010's.

“Art is one of the things that might save us, save humanity.” -Jesús Moroles

Born on September 22, 1950 to poor Corpus Christi cotton farmers, renowned sculptor Jesús Bautista Moroles created a name for himself through expert manipulation of granite and a unique perspective on humanistic and natural harmonies within the world. He passed away in June 2015.

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