Fifty years ago UNT’s Oral History Program began capturing the stories of the “man on the street” in their own words, giving voice to those that are often neglected by history because they are less likely to leave a written record. The program is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2015 by posting audio clips and photos highlighting important portions of the collection. The goal of the program is to “preserve, through recorded interviews, the memoirs of Texans who have been eyewitnesses to or participants in historic events,” and to make transcripts of these oral interviews available to scholars and the general public.
It all began in 1964 when H.W. Decamp called the first organizational meeting, with the intention of preserving the recollections of Texas politicians and business leaders. By 1968 the leadership was taken over by Dr. Ronald E. Marcello, a History professor, who started expanding beyond the original scope, to include those who served in World War II, New Deal projects participants, and memoirs of Holocaust survivors. Dr. Todd Moye, another UNT History professor, took over in 2005 and continued to expand the scope of the collection.
In 2015 the collection includes more than 1,800 oral histories consisting of 150,000 pages of transcribed oral interviews not just from the original areas, but expanding to include local African American, entrepreneurial, LGBTQ, women’s, and community history. Some of the highlights in the collection include:
The oral histories are available to scholars, students, genealogists and anyone with an interest in history. For more information on the Oral History Program and information on what interviews are available visit the Oral History Program page.
— Lisa Brown
- Interviews with Sarah T. Hughes who served as a federal district judge in 1961 and swore in Lyndon Johnson after the Kennedy assassination. Listen to Hughes’ recollections of swearing in President Johnson and other sound bites.
- Interviews with Senator Barbara Jordan, who served as the first African–American member of the Texas Legislature since Reconstruction in 1883.
- Interviews with Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics as she discussed many topics including her business philosophy and the role of women in her company.
- Interviews with Denton Quakertown residents about their forced removal to the southeast part of town.
- The recollections of Joe Atkins, the African American man who’s action brought about the desegregation of UNT in 1956. Listen to sound bites of Atkins’ interview, including an intimidating visit from the Texas Rangers.
- LGBTQ interviews, including those of Cece Cox, the CEO of the Dallas Resource Center and an advocate in the LGBTQ community for more than 30 years.
- Interviews with men who served in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a project of the New Deal under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
- World War II reminiscences, including those of Charles Lindberg, a WWII marine veteran, who shared his memories of his service in the Pacific Theater and how the war has been remembered. Listen to Lindberg’s memory of the amphibious landing at Iwo Jima.
[Fred Moore School Classroom], Photograph, [1961…1962]; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth388199/ : accessed September 11, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNTOHP, [No City Listed], Texas.
McCann, Connie Ford. [Connie McCann’s CCC Tent Crew 1933], Photograph, ca. 1933-1934; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth121772/ : accessed July 06, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections, Denton, Texas.
[Photograph of Quakertown Residents]. The Portal to Texas History.http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth388189/. Accessed September 11, 2015.
McCann, Connie Ford. [Group photograph for CCC camp members], Photograph, ca. 1933-1934; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth121793/ : accessed July 06, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; UNT Libraries Special Collections, Denton, Texas.
Stoughton, Cecil. [Lyndon B. Johnson taking oath of office from Sarah T. Hughes], Photograph, November 22, 1963; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc177458/ : accessed July 29, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections, Denton, Texas.
Two weeks after the Woodstock Music Festival in New York, another history making concert, the Texas International Pop Festival, took place in Lewisville, Texas. Over Labor Day Weekend in 1969, over 100,000 people converged on a site located a short distance from Denton at IH-35 and Round Grove Road near Lake Lewisville to hear some of top performing artists of the day, including Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and B.B. King.
Students at North Texas State University were among the attendees who were described in newspaper accounts as “hippies,” “flower children” and “long hairs.” Advertisements in the NTSU student newspaper, Campus Chat, advertised advance ticket sales for $6 per day. Bob Anderson was a reporter for the Campus Chat who wrote about his experience at the festival. Anderson said he made the 30 minute drive from Denton each day of the three day festival to experience the festivities, although some attendees took advantage of free camping provided by the festival. Read more
As part of the University of North Texas’ 125th anniversary celebration, the Media Library presents the first in a series of posts paying tribute to our university’s motion picture history. While many may be aware of our starring role in the 1991 comedy, Necessary Roughness, Denton’s relationship with motion picture production actually began in 1913 when the Denton Chamber of Commerce and a local movie theater owner collaborated to produce their own film, Denton City of Education. Denton continued to play a role in motion picture history by hosting the Southwestern Premiere of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) at the Campus Theater. The University itself has been an incubator for Hollywood talent and counts among its alumni numerous actors, writers, and directors.
One of our University’s first stars, Joan “Rosebud” Blondell (1906-1979), attended North Texas State Teacher’s College from 1926-1927. Born in New York, Joan spent most of her childhood traveling the world and performing with her family’s vaudeville troupe before settling on Oakland Ave. in Denton in 1926. In Denton her parents opened a dress shop, “La Mode,” and her mother acted in Denton Little Theater productions. After enrolling at NTSTC in 1926, Joan (then known as Rosebud) began entering local beauty pageants. According to her biography, Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes, Joan even faked a Southern dialect and invented a Texas ancestry so that she could compete in the 1926 Miss Dallas pageant. After winning the title of Miss Dallas, she placed fourth in the 1926 Miss America Pageant. In November 1926 she was crowned Queen of the A&M College Rodeo and Pageant where she was escorted by 2,000 cadets. According to some reports, the cadets found Joan so appealing that they hid her luggage to delay her return to Denton.
During President McConnell’s tenure (1934-1951) the campus needed to expand due to the growing enrollment. Development was held back by a shortage of funds due to the Great Depression. Starting in 1933, with the passage of the New Deal program the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works, funds became available. By 1935 the program was renamed the Public Works Administration. The program funded large scale public works construction, such as dams, hospitals and schools. McConnell was able to apply for federal funds to aid in the construction of needed buildings after the Board of Regents gave their authorization.
PWA funds made it possible for UNT to provided better academic and residential facilities. In 1936 a new band and orchestra hall was constructed using a PWA grant and a bond issue from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. This was the first use of a dormitory funding opportunity to finance a classroom building without cost to the taxpayers of Texas. The Orchestra Hall provided classroom space as well as rooms on the top floor for thirty-six men to live in. The men had to be members of the band and orchestra. During World War II the living quarters were used by the women of the college. After World War II the structure was used for classroom and office space. Read more
Photograph of Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson taking the presidential oath of office from U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes of Dallas, Texas (back to camera), aboard Air Force One at Love Field Airport, two hours and eight minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
The photograph pictures more than a dozen people in the Air Force One cabin, including former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (right of LBJ), imminent First Lady Lady Bird Johnson (left of LBJ), Texas Congressman Albert Thomas (in bowtie left of Lady Bird), Jack Valenti (left of Thomas), and Texas Congressman Jack Brooks (on right, behind Mrs. Kennedy’s left shoulder).
Connie McCann’s C.C.C. tent crew pose with their cleaning supplies for a photograph in Pineland, Texas. The man in the rear of the line workers is John Hennesy George, a friend of Connie F. McCann. The photograph was taken during one of McCann’s two six-month tours in the Civilian Conservation Corps located in Pineland, Texas during the Great Depression and shows a typical CCC scene as described in numerous reminiscences captured in the Oral History program.
Photograph of a classroom at Fred Moore School in Denton around 1961-62. The adults are identified as Miss Eva Courtney (a volunteer) at the far right, Jewel Logan (another volunteer) at the far left, and the teacher, Lucille Nix. Several of the students are also identified: Drucilla Kimble (back right, wearing a plaid jacket), Archie Hicks (standing behind Drucilla), Joyce Young (seated at the far right), Shiela Bell (seated at a desk in the middle front), and Gwen (standing in front of Miss Nix on the left). The Fred Moore School was named for a well-known Denton African-American educator.
This image was digitized as part of the North Texas History Harvest, held November 2, 2013 at the MLK Jr. Rec Center in Denton, Texas.
This photograph shows a woman and girl walking through Denton’s Quakertown as a large group of men look on. The racial tension is reflected in a number of the reminiscences of Quakertown residents.
This panoramic group photograph of members of the Pineland Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in 1933 shows a typical CCC camp as described in numerous reminiscences captured in the Oral History program. The photograph was taken during one of Connie Ford McCann’s two six-month tours in the Civilian Conservation Corps located in Pineland, Texas during the Great Depression.
UNTA_UO458-147-4748-01 Dr. Ronald Marcello, a UNT History professor who was in charge of the Oral History Program from 1968 to 2005 at a table on the third floor of Willis Library demonstrating the use of the reel to reel recording equipment in January of 1975.
UNTA_U0458-147-4807-23 Dr. Ronald Marcello on the left with Texas Senator Oscar Mauzy, second from the right, along with several other people, celebrating the completion of the 500th oral history added to the collection in January 16, 1981. Senator Mauzy, a Democratic senator from Dallas, has 12 interviews in the collection discussing his role in the 60th through 68th Texas Legislatures.
Dr. Vela’s contributions to UNT
Dr. Gerard Roland Vela Múzquiz, UNT Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and prominent community leader, was one of the first Latino faculty members at UNT (North Texas State University at the time he was hired), and the first Latino to be granted tenure; he arrived at UNT at a time when our University had no adequate science laboratories in which to conduct serious research, no funding, and no investment in building science programs of regional or national significance. It was only thanks to Dr. Vela’s passion for science, his love of teaching, his inexhaustible energy, and single-minded determination that he succeeded in laying the foundations of the NT microbiology program.
A nationally and internationally recognized scientist, Dr. Vela tirelessly mentored his students, and over the period of his career at UNT supervised 45 master and 19 doctoral theses and dissertations. Himself a sought-after visiting professor at American and foreign universities, a member of prestigious professional organizations and frequent participant at national and international conferences, he introduced his students to regional and national science organizations, and encouraged them to attend professional conferences. Dr. Vela’s remarkable achievements as a UNT administrator are truly a testament to his never flagging preoccupation with the welfare of NT students. Concerned as he was by the small representation of minorities in the student body at UNT, Dr. Vela also led initiatives to improve minority students’ academic performance at the elementary and high school levels.
Once upon a time women wore dresses and men wore pants. Before the late 1960s women could wear pants to work in their garden, around the house, or at the beach, but pants were still considered unprofessional for work in an office or school. Previous standards had been relaxed because of the obvious functionality of men’s clothing for vigorous activity, but women’s clothing was primarily ornamental. That all began to change during the upheaval of the 1960s when women wearing slacks in public became more acceptable. Fashionable women of the early 1970s wore miniskirts that were hard to bend over or move in, and longer skirts could look dowdy or old fashioned. Women found the idea of wearing pantsuits much more practical and comfortable. There was just one problem: they were not considered professional attire for women employees at North Texas State University until 1971.
Hello out there in radio land! In the spotlight today, it’s the smooth sounds of KNTU, FM 88.1. On the agenda, a bit of history for you.
Did you know our university station was started many moons ago on Halloween of ’69? With a FCC license in hand and broadcasting at 440 watts, the dream of a real radio station was realized on that day. The first program aired was Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds. The voice of the North Texas Eagles during basketball and football seasons, Bill Mercer, became the first station manager.
After coming to North Texas to work on his master’s degree, Dr. Reg Holland, professor emeritus of Speech, Communication and Drama, approached Mercer in hopes of persuading him into teaching communication classes. These communication classes would become the foundation for a campus radio station.
In the first twenty-two years of collegiate presence, North Texas State Normal College operated without a mascot; the students were coined the “Normalites.” During this time, the college was preparing to transition its name to North Texas State Teacher’s College. With the name change groundwork in process, the college’s administration also recognized an imperative need for a mascot which was voiced by the student body via a circulated petition in the fall of 1921.
A mascot was selected to promote a unified identity amongst the college’s students and athletes. Most of the athletic clubs on campus were named the “Normal Boys” or the “Normal Girls,” except for a few rebellious women’s basketball clubs who named themselves. The “Dandy Doers,” “Haughty Hits,” “Limber Lassies,” “Militants,” and the “Suffragettes” dribbled their way to glory (or, hopefully not, to doom) on old dirt courts with their self-appointed monikers.
The mascot election was held in January 1922. It was a battle of the ages between four animals the students believed encompassed the college’s character: lions, hawks, eagles, and dragons. What a difficult decision for the Normal College students! And in February of 1922, the eagle mascot won the election with 17 more votes than the runner-up, the dragons.
In 1990 the University of North Texas was celebrating its 100th anniversary. In addition to exhibits, parades, and parties it was decided that the Industrial Technology Department (now the College of Engineering) would participate in the design and construction of a solar car. The car, named Centennial, took part is an eleven day race of solar cars sponsored by General Motors. The UNT team had the fewest team members, the least expensive car ($70,000), and went up against 32 other teams. For comparison, the University of Michigan team had an $800,000 car. Faculty advisor John Dobson and team leader Lee Palmer supervised the two years of design and building that it took to create UNT’s solar car. Other team members were Greg Mitchel and Jeff Curtis.
Did you know that the University of North Texas was the backdrop for the greatest football comedy of all time? A film so great it includes this scene of Jason Bateman and Sinbad doing a touchdown boogie?
Curious? Read on!