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

The second Union was not yet ten years old when the university started to plan an expansion of the building. The new structure would encircle part of the 1960s structure and more than double the space. According to Dr. Dorothy Pijan, the Union director at the time of the planning and construction of the 1976 facility, “As a union we provide for the social, educational, and recreational life for the members of the university community.”

The plan to expand the Union Building was approved by the Board of Regents in 1973 and the work on the expansion started in May 1973. However, the opening of the third union, planned for Fall 1975, was delayed due to labor strikes. It would was dedicated on March 7, 1976 and was called the North Texas State University Union. Built on four levels the new structure included new dining facilities, meeting rooms, a 300 seat theater, and a suite of offices for student services. An arts and crafts room was provided on the lower level. Instructors were on hand to provide expertise on ceramics, metalworking, and other creative pursuits.

One of the striking visual elements in the new union was the fiber art that hung on the wall in the main indoor courtyard. The work, Tensile Ten, was the creation of artist Francoise Grossen. It combined over 1,500 pounds of rope. The sculpture was built using one over hand knot as the only structural element to create the 30 feet by 16 foot fiber work. It was named Tensile Ten because there were five points at the top and five at the bottom where the artwork was attached to the wall of the Union. This was the second work Ms. Grossen created for an institution in Texas. The first was for the Bank of Texas in San Antonio.

The rooms in the new union received names that reflected the history of the university:

The Campus Chat was named after the first campus newspaper, first published in 1916. This area served as a food service area. There were two lines of options for dining: The Station which served breakfast and lunch and the Grill which was open for lunch and dinner.

The Corner was named after the shopping area on Hickory Street and Avenue A (known to today’s students as the Fry Street area). Although the original corner was the place for students to go to buy text books, art supplies, have a meal, or buy a new outfit, the Union’s Corner provided snacks to hungry students. The food options included ice cream, soft drinks, fruit, sandwiches, and candy.

The Rock Bottom Lounge was a part of the second Union. Both areas provided a bar/pub atmosphere in a gathering space for the members of the university.

One O’Clock Lounge was named after the premiere lab band in the College of Music. It was an open lounge with terraced seating that was located next to the south east door. The space was used by speakers, bands, events, and as a place to meet by students.

The Syndicate was named after the group of Denton businessmen who organized the founding and acquired the land for UNT in 1890 – 1891. This area was a game room with billiards, eight ball tables, foosball, table tennis, pinball machines and table games.

The Avesta was named for a student literary publication that was first published in 1917. Originally the Avesta was the name of a first floor lounge for study and music listening. The lounge was altered into seating for a food court and the name was moved to a dining facility on the second floor of the Union.

The Lyceum, the theater in the Union, was named for the first fine arts programs presented by UNT in the early part of the 20th century which were known as “lyceum numbers.” The theater was equipped to show movies as well as have live performances.

The Golden Eagle Suite was named for the alumni of the university. The Golden Eagles, alumni of 50 years, meet every year at Homecoming. This was a banquet and meeting room which would accommodate up to 140 people.

The Silver Eagle Room honored the alumni that had reached their 25th anniversary.

The Denton Suite, a cluster of three rooms, were named for men important in the early history of the University. These individuals were part of the Syndicate. The rooms were named after: W. A. Ponder, John A. Hann, and T. W. Abney.

The Studio was an arts and crafts studio that provided tools and work areas for ceramics, metal-working, and leather work. Courses and workshops were also available.

The Balcony was formal dining facility on the second floor. The room was decorated with cane back chairs, oak wood and thick carpets.

— by Perri Hamilton, Assistant to the Archivist

For more information about the North Texas University Union, see the University Union Collection, 1947 – Present.

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

In 1949, when the first Union was dedicated, the student population was 5,282. By 1961, the student population had grown to 8,835 and the first Union was no longer large enough to comfortably accommodate the growing student population. Plans were made to build the new Union in two stages. By the time the structure was complete the student population had grown to 11,878.

The Slab was broken up and removed in 1963 to make way for the construction of the first wing of the new Union. When that wing opened in 1964 the first Union was torn down to make way for the construction of the second wing of the new Union. The limited space and services due to the construction caused some frustration as can be seen in this entry in the 1964-1965 Student Handbook:

“The Union Building is the center of relaxation at North Texas State. In 1964-65 it’s also the site of construction and overcrowding. The south wing of a new structure has been built, and the old building site will become the location of the main front section of the new union. In its incomplete stages the student may find some features a little inconvenient, but he’ll have access to the University Post Office, the University Store, a snack bar and lounge.”

The building was a three stories with a brick veneer. The Post Office was the first part of the Union to open. The Post Office boasted 7,621 mail boxes. The Union had a trophy room, a lounge, a cafeteria, and the University Bookstore. By 1969, six pool tables moved into the main lounge on the third floor. This was also the time when the trophy room was altered into a TV lounge.

— by Perri Hamilton, Assistant to the Archivist

For more information about the North Texas University Union, see the University Union Collection, 1947 – Present.

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

A central place to rest, meet friends, and have fun was the wish of students for many years. This wish was delayed due to the Great Depression and the Second World War. Following the war the UNT campus entered a building boom to better serve the increased enrollment due to the returning soldiers. A union building was one of the structures added to the campus. The structure filled the need for a gathering place. The Union also served a more somber function as a memorial to the students who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars. It was named the Student Memorial Union Building.

The structure was first used as an army service center at Camp Bowie, before being moved to campus and rebuilt into a student union building. The building was financed with the proceeds of the Building Revenue Bonds Series in 1948 and local funds. The structure faced West Chestnut and was two stories with a brick veneer. The building had a large veranda in the center of the south (back) side. The interior had a mezzanine floor. The building boasted a snack bar, cafeteria, dance-lounge area, club rooms, an auditorium, game rooms, a U. S. Post Office, and offices for the director and staff.

The Union was dedicated on March 31, 1949, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the legislation that made UNT a state institution in 1899. UNT Alumnus Lieutenant General Roger M. Ramey, U. S. Air Force, spoke to the gathering of administrators, faculty, and students at the ceremony. A bronze plaque was erected in the main foyer. It listed the names of the former students who died in military service.

The main gathering space, The Howdy Room, was in the center of the Union. It was decorated in a western theme with wagon wheels, ropes, and barrel shaped lamp bodies. Students would gather to play the piano, listen to the One O’clock Lab Band, dance, and watch TV.

A cement slab was adjacent to the Union. It served as the location for classes, a place to hold dances, and an informal gathering spot for students. Alumni still recall Wednesday night dances, the Howdy Dance, and other events held outside on the Slab.

— by Perri Hamilton, Assistant to the Archivist

For more information about the North Texas University Union, see the University Union Collection, 1947 – Present.

Posted by & filed under 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's.

You may hear her work every day and not even know it: Julia Smith composed the University of North Texas’ alma mater, “Glory to the Green,” which rings out from the clock tower every day at noon.

Born in the town of Caldwell in Burleson County, Texas on January 25, 1905, young Julia Smith took piano lessons with Mary Anderson, a graduate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Leipzig, Germany, and an instructor at what was then North Texas State Normal College. In her teens, Smith studied with Harold von Mickwitz at St. Mary’s Institute of Musical Art in Dallas. Her father, James Willis Smith, was a professor of mathematics at North Texas, and an amateur musician. Smith herself graduated from North Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, but was clearly active as a musician during her undergraduate years.

She earned a master’s degree from New York University in 1933, and continued her studies in piano, composition, and orchestration at the Juilliard School of Music, studying under Carl Friedberg and Virgil Thomson, among others. She credited Friedberg with advising her that “the woods are full of good pianists,” but “there are few really good American composers.”

She served as pianist for the all-women’s ensemble Orchestrette Classique of New York, and took on ambitious composition projects, including her first opera, Cynthia Parker. She intended for that work to coincide with the Texas centennial celebrations of 1936, but the work was finished in 1939. That opera, and another, The Stranger of Manzano, were premiered at North Texas.

Smith composed a number of works on Texan themes, including Cynthia Parker, and Remember the Alamo!, which was inspired by William B. Travis’ famed “Victory or Death!” letter of 1836, and composed for the inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Her compositions are said to “incorporate folk melodies and dance idioms within a relatively conservative, tonal harmonic palette, although she was not afraid of dissonance.”

She also became known as an early biographer of composer Aaron Copland through the 1955 publication of her doctoral dissertation (Ph.D., NYU, 1952), Aaron Copland: His Work and Contribution to American Music. The Julia Smith Collection at the UNT Music Library also contains a number of scores of Copland’s compositions which she had copied by hand.

Julia Smith died in 1989 after a career as a composer, writer, and advocate for women in music which covered most of the 20th century, and is buried in the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) Cemetery in Denton.

— by Maristella Feustle, Music Special Collections Librarian


Buehner, Katie. Accessibility and Authenticity in Julia Smith’s “Cynthia Parker.” MM thesis, University of North Texas, 2007.

Buehner, Katie, and Maristella Feustle. Julia Smith Papers Finding Aid. University of North Texas Music Library.

“A Guide to the Julia Smith Papers, 1965-1967.” Texas Archival Resources Online.

Duffie, Bruce. “Composer Julia Smith: A Conversation with Bruce Duffie.”

Taubman, Harold. “Scored for Americans” The New York Times, January 1, 1956.

Wolz, Larry. “Julia Frances Smith.” Handbook of Texas Online.


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

A mere glance at the webpage of UNT international reveals the vast scope of our University’s engagement on the international scene. For the past few decades, UNT has been deeply involved in global academic and cultural exchanges and has been committed to providing a wealth of opportunities and services for American students who wish to study abroad and to facilitate their exposure to international organizations and businesses. Equally important for this international engagement is the recruitment of international students and scholars, and the securing of the environment in which they can feel at home and successfully carry out their academic plans. That means assisting prospective international students with applications, helping them with living arrangements, offering programs to improve their English and to hone their study skills, and providing them with information about on-campus employment and future job opportunities abroad. It also means counseling the students, sponsoring their extra-curricular activities, exposing them to American culture on and off-campus, and making them feel part of the campus community. The result of these efforts is clear: with over 3,000 international students from over 120 countries currently enrolled at UNT, and 20 very active student organizations of international interest, international student life at UNT is rich and vibrant.

But what was it like forty, fifty years ago, in the pre-Internet age, when North Texas was still a local rather than a regional and national academic institution?

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Posted by & filed under 1950's.

Abner Haynes and Leon King became symbols of “North Texas integration and ambassadors of good will” in 1956 when they were the first two African-American football players to play for the University of North Texas football team.

Abner Haynes grew up the son a well-known Denton minister and attended Lincoln High School in Dallas where he became friends with teammate Leon King. North Texas State College (NTSC, now the University of North Texas) had integrated several years before but had no black athletes. NTSC President James Carl Matthews told Coach Odus Mitchell that any African American students who showed interest in the football team should be given a fair chance. Haynes and King were given a tryout and awarded a half scholarship at North Texas to play on the freshman football team. They were not allowed to live on campus, or eat in the dining halls for the first two years they were at North Texas, in spite of the fact that female African American students had been allowed to live in the dorms and eat in the dining halls for the last two years.

The pivotal event that cemented them as a team was when they faced overt racism during their second game of the 1956 season against Navarro Junior College in Corsicana. As Haynes said later, “We were scared to death, but that team became a family that day in Corsicana.” Before the game they went out to eat at a restaurant and King and Haynes were told they had to eat in the kitchen. The team stood behind them and said they would not eat there unless they could eat together. They ended up eating baloney sandwiches, and the restaurant was out of the price of their meals that they had prepared in advance for the team.

When they arrived at the game the crowd was hostile, yelling racial epithets and death threats, not just against the black players, but also against their white teammates for allowing them to play. This hostility spurred the team into playing harder, and North Texas tackle Joe Mack Pryor went out of his way to knock down any other player who treated the two black players badly. They defeated the favored Navarro 39-21, with Haynes running four touchdowns and King catching a pass for a score. At the end of the game Coach Ken Bahnsen told the bus driver to park close and ordered the players to run for the bus as soon as the game ended. The white team players surrounded King and Haynes and ran to the waiting bus.  Haynes said in a later oral history interview that the angry crowd did them a favor because it brought the team together and if it hadn’t happened the team players might have fought among themselves. In his own oral history King said, “We became blood brothers…What affected one of us, affected all of us.”

For more information:

Jones, Jimmy. “Linemen ‘Do Hardest Work’ According to Star Halfback.” The Campus Chat. October 5, 1956.

MartinCharles H. Benching Jim Crow: The Rise and Fall of the Color Line in Southern College Sports, 1890-1980. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2010.

Marcello, Ronald E. “The Integration of Intercollegiate Athletics in Texas: North Texas State College as a Test Case, 1956.”  Journal of Sport History, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Winter, 1987).

Rogers, James L. The Story of North Texas: From Texas Normal College, 1890, to the University of North Texas System, 2001. Denton, Texas: The University of North Texas Press, 2001.

— by Lisa Brown


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

The UNT Media Library began its exploration of UNT’s Hollywood history with a look at one of our first motion picture stars—the lovely and talented Joan “Rosebud” Blondell. Though the Media Library is certainly proud to claim Joan as one of our own, we now turn our attention to another alumna who, unlike Blondell, spent her formative years in Denton and seemed to never lose touch with her hometown. We are, of course, speaking of our beloved glamour girl Clara Lou “Ann” Sheridan (1915-1967).

Born in Dallas and raised in Denton, TX, Clara Lou attended North Texas State Teacher’s College (now the University of North Texas) from 1932-1933. Though she only attended NTSTC for one year she was an active participant in university life and left her mark on the community. While at NTSTC, Ann performed with the university dramatic club, sang in Kiwanis Minstrel shows, and was locally famous for her “Harlem torch song” style as performed in Floyd ‘Fessor Graham’s Saturday night stage shows. Ann was surprised to learn she’d been discovered after her sister, Kitty Sheridan, entered her in Paramount Studio’s international “Search for Beauty” contest in 1933 (sponsored locally by the Palace Theater and Dallas Journal). Another North Texan, Alfred Delcambre, was also a winner.

As part of her prize, Ann had a bit role in Paramount’s 1934 film, Search for Beauty. In 1935 she changed her name to ‘Ann’ and continued to act in mostly minor roles, struggling to make her way in Hollywood. Ann’s luck began to change in 1936 when she signed with Warner Bros. Studios. By 1938 she had landed her first starring role in an A-list picture, Angels with Dirty Faces opposite James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and Pat O’Brien. It was around this time that journalist Walter Winchell and Warner Bros. head of publicity Bob Taplinger began referring to Ann as the “Umph” or “Oomph Girl”—a nickname that was awarded to her by a jury of 25 men and which Ann reportedly loathed all her life. Denton residents remained loyal to their girl Ann and claimed that they had discovered this “oomph” quality back when she performed her torch songs on stage with Fessor Graham. In fact, a 1939 Campus Chat article reads: “Red-aired Ann Sheridan even then, had that indefinable something that commands male interest. Oomph!”

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

Walk by the fountain of the Environmental Education, Science and Technology building, and you will encounter a bronze figure sitting on the side of the pond. You are coming face to face with “Doc” Joseph Kean Gwynn Silvey, a nationally and internationally recognized limnologist and a former UNT faculty member who served as the chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from 1952 to 1973.

Dr. J.K.G. Silvey joined the faculty of North Texas State Teachers College in 1935. From 1971 to 1975, in addition to his work at UNT, he served as associate dean of basic sciences for Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. He retired in 1977 with the title of Distinguished Professor Emeritus.

Highly regarded in his field, Dr. Silvey established in the course of his tenure a nationally and internationally recognized water research program, and, in 1970, founded the Center for Environmental Studies, which became the Institute of Applied Sciences in 1973.

A dedicated educator and student advocate, Dr. Silvey taught and mentored legions of students. As a chair of the University’s pre-medical and pre-dental advisory committee, he guided students in their career choices, and wrote recommendations that helped many gain entrance to medical and dental schools. In recognition of the profound effect Dr. Silvey had on their lives, his students and colleagues established in 1965 J.K.G. Silvey Society. Today, 26 years after Dr. Silvey’s passing, the Silvey Honor Society continues to provide assistance to many future scientists and doctors.

If you would like to find details of Dr. Silvey’s water quality research, materials relating to his teaching, his work as an administrator, and his professional affiliations, please consult the Joseph Kean Gwynn Silvey Papers, 1941 – 1975 housed in the UNT Libraries Special Collections.

In various issues of the UNT campus newspapers, you will find some interesting articles pertaining to Dr. Silvey’s activities as a researcher and educator. Digitized images of these newspapers can be found in The Portal to Texas History. Here are a few examples:

“Biologists Get $35,402 Grant to Study H20.” The Campus Chat. June 12, 1969.

Ball, John. “Departments Select Honor Professors for Yucca; 10 Chosen On Faculty Excellence.” The North Texas Daily. October 13, 1971.

Greene, Sally. “Swallowing Difficulty Sends Parisian Stateside for Help.” The North Texas Daily. September 2, 1976.

UNT Libraries also hold Dr. Silvey’s publications and theses and dissertations of his students.

— by Marta Hoffman-Wodnicka, Special Collections Cataloger

Other resources:

“UNT dedicates statue April 25 to honor longtime biology professor.” University of North Texas News. April 18, 2008.

Posted by & filed under 2010's, Uncategorized.

On September 10, 2011, the University of North Texas Mean Green took the field against the University of Houston Cougars. It would mark UNT’s first home game at the newly constructed Apogee Stadium. Over 28,000 fans were in attendance that day; the game marked the third highest attendance for a UNT on-campus home game.[1]

Construction on the new stadium started in November 2009 along the side of Interstate Highway 35. Prior to the completion of Apogee Stadium, the home of UNT football had been Fouts Field since 1952. Fouts Field had cost around $1 million to build, its only amenities including two restrooms and two concession stands. The new stadium, designed by HKS Sports and Entertainment Group, cost $78 million. Its amenities include seating for more than 30,000 fans, twenty-seven bathrooms, sixteen concession stands, and the Mean Green team store.

Apogee stadium’s association with green goes beyond football, though. The new stadium’s most remarkable achievement is that it is the first collegiate stadium to receive platinum level LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Apogee’s design features the use of non-toxic paints, recycled and locally manufactured construction materials, landscaping with plants and trees native to north Texas, permeable pavers to reduce stormwater runoff, and has around 10% of its energy generated by three wind turbines. UNT President V. Lane Rawlins said that the new stadium “underscores our commitment to sustainability.”[2]

Freshman quarterback Austin McNulty scored the first touchdown in the new stadium. Unfortunately, the Mean Green lost to the Cougars that day, 48-23. They finished the season 5-7, 4-4 in conference play.

— by Robert Lay, Special Collections Librarian

[1] NT Daily (Denton, TX), vol. 98, No. 11, Ed. 1 Tuesday, September 13, 2011.



Photo Credits: 

[Aerial View of Fouts Field], Photograph, n.d.; ( : accessed September 25, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections, Denton, Texas.

Clark, Junebug. [Football players entering stadium], Photograph, November 9, 2013; ( : accessed September 25, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections, Denton, Texas.

Pherigo, Josh, editor. North Texas Daily (Denton, Tex.), Vol. 98, No. 10, Ed. 1 Friday, September 9, 2011, Newspaper, September 9, 2011; ( : accessed September 25, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.


Posted by & filed under 1960's, 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, 2000's, 2010's.

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:

  • 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.

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

Photo credits:

[Fred Moore School Classroom], Photograph, [1961…1962]; ( : accessed September 11, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting UNTOHP, [No City Listed], Texas.

McCann, Connie Ford. [Connie McCann’s CCC Tent Crew 1933], Photograph, ca. 1933-1934; ( : accessed July 06, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections, Denton, Texas.
[Photograph of Quakertown Residents]. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed September 11, 2015.

McCann, Connie Ford. [Group photograph for CCC camp members], Photograph, ca. 1933-1934; ( : accessed July 06, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; UNT Libraries Special Collections, Denton, Texas.

Stoughton, Cecil. [Lyndon B. Johnson taking oath of office from Sarah T. Hughes], Photograph, November 22, 1963; ( : accessed July 29, 2015), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections, Denton, Texas.