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

Claudia Webb Betti (née Mary Claudia Webb) was a Professor Emeritus of Art at North Texas State University from 1967 to 1989. She was a prolific artist and a beloved professor.

black and white photograph of woman sitting with legs crossed on a couch. She wears a white dress, and a table with lamp is beside her with a geometric painting hanging on the wall behind her.

Claudia Webb Betti, 1959.

Betti grew up in Abilene, TX, and began practicing art at a young age. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Texas State College for Women in 1945, and went on to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. At the end of her Master’s Degree program she won the Bryan Lathrop Foreign Travel Fellowship, allowing her to travel to France and Italy to study painting between 1955 and 1957. While in Italy, she met and married her first husband, Franco Betti.

Betti taught art throughout her career, beginning by teaching adult art classes while studying in Chicago. She returned to teaching at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, TX in 1963, where she stayed until 1967, when she became a professor at North Texas State University. In 1975, Betti took on the role of Undergraduate Coordinator in the art department, and in 1977 she took on the role of Co-Coordinator for the Core Program. Betti is well known in the art education world for co-authoring one of the top instructional drawing books in the U.S., Drawing: A Contemporary Approach. She co-authored this text with noted North Texas State University Art Professor Teel Sale.

Betti was a prolific artist, and continued to work and show her work throughout her time teaching. She participated in many faculty and group exhibitions, as well as curated solo exhibitions. Her work focused on abstractions, line and color, examples of which can be seen in these black and yellow paintings from a series she created for an NTSU research grant.

small newspaper clipping with a single column of text.

“Painting Exhibit Evolves At NT” clipping from The Denton Record Chronicle, n.d..

color photograph of a rectangular painting with wide black boarders at he top and bottom. the center is yellow with abstract black painting throughout. on a black section in the middle a square of black has been removed to reveal yellow beneath.

Photo of painting from Black and Yellow Series, 1974.

photo of black and yellow painting. there are wide black borders at the top and bottom on the canvas. an amorphous black shape is painted beginning within the top border and extending three tenticles into the bottom border. the background in the center is yellow, with a large yellow square in the center of the black shape.

Photo of painting from Black and Yellow Series, 1974.

Other series of her work include the Duat Series and the Numinous Word Series.

white paper with a rectangle at the center where lines of cursive handwriting are filled in with black and dark blue colors to create a water like effect. two small red oval shapes are in the top right corner of the colored section.

Photo of Journey into the Duat: Cycle 1, n.d.

photograph of painting. the canvas has abstract shapes created by large loops of handwriting around the surface. the handwriting is outlined with white, while the much of the lower and upper empty sections of the painting are filled with black, and the more centered open areas filled with a reddish brown.

Photograph of Numinous Word VI, 1975

See the full contents of the Claudia Webb Betti Collection on The Portal to Texas History.

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

UNT Special Collections recently acquired the papers of Paul Kruse, a former professor of
Library Science here when UNT was still called North Texas State University. Kruse was a
professor, a Fulbright Scholar, an actor, a bibliographer, and a librarian. His papers give insight
into his full life including his stint in North Texas and his wider influence in the library world —
and can maybe help us appreciate all the incredible work librarians do a little more.

black and white photo of an older man from waist up standing outside holding books and folders in one hand. He wears a blazer, tie, large glasses, and a black beret.

Paul Kruse, c. 1968.


Kruse was quite accomplished in his career. After a few years as a reference librarian at the
Library of Congress, in 1945 he established the library of the United Nations National
Convention in San Francisco. He then was invited to become a bibliographer of the
Encyclopedia Britannica, and went on to write his doctoral thesis at the University of Chicago
about the history of the Encyclopedia Britannica. In addition to his many teaching positions over
his career, he also served a term as president of the Special Libraries Association, was listed in
Who’s Who in America, and was twice a Fulbright Scholar which took him to the University of
Iran in Tehran and the University of Ceylon in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.


Outside his robust career as a librarian, bibliographer, and professor, Kruse was passionate
about the arts. A supporter of community theater, Kruse spent his free time at NTSU in the
1960s and 70s acting in several Denton Community Theater productions and was profiled in the
local paper for one of his roles.


Kruse was also a collector and lover of books and often wrote to authors he admired.
Sometimes those authors even responded. One of the writers that returned Kruse’s letters was
Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind. Two of her signed responses to Kruse are
included in his papers.

A typed letter addressed to Margaret Mitchell, signed by Paul Kruze.

Letter from Paul Kruse to Margaret Mitchell, March 25, 1937.


Kruse wrote to Mitchell in 1937 just before the film adaptation of Gone with the Wind began
production. He expressed his affection for the book and asked Mitchell to sign his copy (noting
his frustration that he could not obtain a first edition anywhere).


In one of her responses to Kruse, Mitchell gushes over librarians. She says Kruse’s kind words
mean a lot to her coming from someone in his profession and that the librarians in her
hometown of Atlanta were crucially helpful during her research. Mitchell politely refused to sign
Kruse’s copy of Gone with the Wind though. Because the demand for autographs rose in
proportion with the book’s wild popularity, Mitchell vowed not to sign any more books after sales
reached a million copies, not even making an exception for a librarian.

typed letter from Margaret Mitchell to Paul Kruze. A minor correction is hand written in the first paragraph.

Letter from Margaret Mitchell to Paul Kruse, p.1, July, 20, 1937.

a single typed line and signature ending the letter from Margaret Mitchell to Paul Kruze.

Letter from Margaret Mitchell to Paul Kruse, p.2, July, 20, 1937.


While Kruse didn’t get an autographed copy of Gone with the Wind, it may be just as valuable to
have received praise for librarians from such an acclaimed and beloved author.

 

Presently the correspondence between Paul Kruse and Margaret Mitchell, along with select photographs of Kruse, are available in the UNT Digital Library and the Portal to Texas History. The full Paul Kruse Papers will be digitized and available online soon.

Posted by & filed under 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, 2000's, 2010's.

The mission of UNT’s Multicultural Center is to cultivate a campus environment where people of all identities and experiences can thrive. They foster the success and awareness of historically underrepresented student populations with an emphasis on disability, ethnicity, gender, interfaith, race and sexual orientation. The Center’s programs and activities are developed to increase the awareness, understanding, and intersectionality of the various identities in the UNT community.

uneven grid of partial images, one has a chinese dragon head, another a colorful serape, text Multicultural Center in green, "Your window to the world" in black below

Multicultural Center logo, 2006.

The Center for Ethnic Affairs was established at North Texas State University, in 1973. The idea to establish this department was brought to the Board of Regents for a vote, and the vote was split. With North Texas having the largest concentration of “multi-ethnic” students at any Texas public university at the time, many members of the board saw the creation of this department as essential. Members opposed to creating the department thought that it would only further separate segments of the student body. Because the vote was split, the deciding vote was cast by the Chairman of the Board of Regents, A.M. Willis Jr.

black and white photograph of an African-American women from the waist up, with a sleeveless button-down top

Alma Ayers, 1970.

The first Director of the Center for Ethnic Affairs was Alma Ayers, the Assistant Dean of Students at the time. The foundational objectives she created were:

  • Assist minority students in the development of special programs to help them in the understanding of their cultural backgrounds.
  • Organize a team of professional and students in order that proper research and sources of program funding be established.
  • Act as a clearing house and action center where all organizations, departments or individuals can receive support relevant to their ethnicity.
  • Identity and propose solutions for problems unique to minority populations at North Texas.
  • Concentrate on programs and processes that will place students from minority populations in the mainstream of university affairs.
newspaper article title "Ethnic Groups Unite"

“Ethnic Groups Unite,” The North Texas Daily, Vol. 57, No. 16, Ed. 1 Friday, September 28, 1973, pg 1.

Ayers resigned from her position after a year filled with successes and difficulties. She discussed funding issues, not allowing her to create all of the programming that students desired, and the Mexican-American Student’s Association made public their concerns about the Center allocating more funding to Black Emphasis Week than it did for Mexican-American Emphasis Week.

In 1975, after another short lived Director resigned, North Texas decided to change the department’s name and focus. The new Intercultural Center would focus on minority students as well as international students. Minority students were dissatisfied with their already minimal funding being split with international students, whom they believed deserved their own department as the issues that affect each group are different. This unrest amounted to little, and the department was successfully run by a number of directors under this name from 1975 through 1995.

Directors during this time period began to refocus on retaining students and helping them to succeed. In 1981, the I Care program was created to help black and Hispanic students adjust to college life for the first time, including navigating academic issues and personal skills like budgeting. Other major initiatives during this time involved expanding Black Emphasis and Hispanic Heritage Weeks into month long experiences for students to learn and share their cultures across campus.

newspaper article titled " Program teaches students excellence"

“Program teaches student excellence,” The North Texas Daily, Vol. 68, No. 60, Ed. 1 Wednesday, January 23, 1985, pg. 5.

In 1995, after a series of racially motivated incidents on campus, and little reaction from the North Texas administrations, student leaders from the UNT NAACP formed the Blue Ribbon Committee, and called for the creation of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, which was created in 1995. This office was quickly combined with the existing Intercultural Services Office, and renamed Center for Cultural Diversity.

Up until this point, all Directors of the department held other positions on campus, but with the creation of the Center for Cultural Diversity came the understanding that this department should expand and have a full time staff member to direct it.

In 1999, the department would again be renamed to Student Ethnic Enrichment Center, which helped to distinguish it as a student focused department. As the Center for Cultural Diversity and Student Ethnic Enrichment Center, the focus of the department was on helping students create connections through programming such as seminars, and through community service both on and off campus.

In 2002, the department was again renamed Multicultural Center. By this point the department was working with over 30 student organizations each year to create programming for all of the various minority populations on campus, as well as working with other departments under the Department of Equity and Diversity Division umbrella.

From the Multicultural Center’s earliest iteration they have worked to create a sense of community for students where they could thrive. The Center evolved over the years to become an indispensable partner for student organizations looking to share their culture and create greater connections on campus.

Digitized materials from the UNT Multicultural Center can be found on the Portal to Texas History. A full description of materials in this collection can be found on the Multicultural Center Records Finding Aid. An a more in depth look at the history of the Multicultural Center can be found through the UNT Multicultural Center Through the Years digital exhibit.

Posted by & filed under 2020's.

In these wildly uncertain times, it can be difficult to think too far beyond “when will things get
back to normal?” But archivists are also wondering how this unique moment might be
remembered years from now. UNT’s University Archivist is working to save materials that
UNT produces to communicate information about the pandemic. But there’s still more to be
done to preserve this history, and students can help.

Yellow bar with text stating that UNT's on-campus operations are closed until further notice, above a green page menu and a photo banner with a picture of the Union and text celebrating UNT as a top 10 public university on the rise.

COVID-19 alert on UNT website homepage, March 2020.


What is already being added to the archive is the official response to the pandemic: campus-wide
email announcements, the UNT health alerts website, news articles. It is much harder to
capture how something like this truly effects the people in our campus community. This is where
students and other community members come in. By recording how you experience this crisis
and contributing to the archive, you can help to tell the full story of how COVID-19 impacted the
UNT community to future generations.

Email window with email subject "COVID-19 Update" from UNT's Official Notice account. Email has green header with COVID-19 Update and UNT logo, with text below reading "Today, we went live with more than 7,700 classes that transitioned from face-to-face to online."

Official Notice COVID-19 Update email regarding face-to-face classes going online, March 23, 2020.


There are many ways you can record how you experience our present time of social distancing
and quarantine. If you haven’t kept a journal before, now is as a good a time as any to start. Or
maybe you can communicate your experience of the pandemic better another way – visual art,
songwriting, zine making, podcasting, even taking a photo on your phone of empty grocery store
shelves is documentation of what is happening in our community in 2020. All these ways of
documenting your experiences can be therapeutic in processing your own thoughts right now
and can also help future generations understand just what it was like to be alive in this moment.


However you record your experience of this time, the University Archive at UNT can provide a
long term home to your voice. In the archive, your story can be revisited when we look back on
the cultural impact of the pandemic once this is all over. Even if you don’t want to part with your
physical journal or artwork or zine, the University Archive can accept digital versions of
whatever you create either through our web application Keeper or a more traditional donation
process. Digital items live online in our Digital Library and the Portal to Texas History for anyone
with Internet access to discover, and physical materials stay in our vault where they can be
requested by visitors to view in person in our reading room, so a year from now or 100 years
from now people can see how COVID-19 impacted UNT and you.


So, please, think about keeping some record of your personal experience during this
unprecedented time – it will be incredibly important later. Here is a guide with tips on how to create that record and how to submit it to the University Archive.


If you have any questions about the University Archive or potential donations, please contact
Rachael Zipperer at rachael.zipperer@unt.edu

Posted by & filed under 1930's.

This is a guest post, adapted from an essay commissioned by the UNT Art in Public Places Program. 

1935 Mural represents a specific historic and cultural moment for the University of North Texas, known in 1935 as North Texas State Teachers College. The campus, then part of the rural community of Denton, was greatly impacted by the economic and political climate of the period, which was dominated by the economic crises known as The Great Depression. The mural portrays campus life in the 1930s from the perspective of North Texas students, and the style shows influence from the contemporary art movements of American Regionalism and Social Realism.

The Great Depression began with the Wall Street Market Crash in 1929 and had devastating effects across the globe.[i] While this did likely result in great personal hardship, and even an increase in State tuition in March of 1935, it also benefitted the college in a unique way.[ii] In response to The Great Depression, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration created the New Deal program, which stemmed from economic theories and policies created in hopes of relieving a broken economic system.[iii] The New Deal distributed federal funds through a variety of public endeavors, including the Public Works Administration or the PWA, which was founded in 1933 and spent around “$4 billion in construction” on educational buildings across the nation.[iv] This Program funded seven new buildings on North Texas State Teachers College, including the first dormitory, Marquis Hall, where 1935 Mural originally hung.[v]

Completed in 1936, Marquis Hall housed 100 women students and featured “two large dining rooms, two banquet halls, a grill and a large reception room.”[vi] The creation of Marquis Hall, was an empowering step for women students. An all-female dorm allowed women to more easily convince their families to let them attend college, since this was considered safer and more proper housing for the period’s standards than previous accommodations in off campus boarding houses.[vii] Women are thus featured prominently in the mural, shown seated at the front of class, student teaching, learning alongside men, and participating in campus activities such as buying books and dancing. However, women are minimally represented in the graduation composition and are not shown participating in athletics. Women were not permitted to participate in inter-collegiate athletics and instead created teams in variety of sports that competed with one another through the college’s Women’s Athletic Association.[viii]

Read more

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

 

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