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.

Posted by & filed under 1960's.

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

Posted by & filed under 1920's.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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Posted by & filed under 1970's.

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.

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