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Digital Collections

GCI online exhibition – Octavio Medellin: Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings

The Bywaters Special Collections staff are happy to announce that SMU’s Central University Libraries is now a part of the Google Cultural Institute. BSC staff, Ellen Buie Niewyk, curated the first GCI exhibition with archivist, Emily George Grubbs. Octavio Medellin: Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings, 1938 is an exhibition curated from the holdings of photographs and documents of the artist from Bywaters Special Collections. Take a look!


Thank you to Emily George Grubbs, Archivist, Bywaters Special Collections, for this post!

Image: Courtesy of Octavio Medellin Art work and Papers, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University

WFAA Newsfilm Collection: Look what I found this week!

Greetings. My name is Jeremy Spracklen, and I am the moving image curator of the G. William Jones Film and Video Archive inside the Hamon Arts Library. One of my current projects is the digitization of the Library’s WFAA Newsfilm footage spanning from 1960 to 1977. Every other week I’m going to share a set of clips that I’ve found while working on the collection. They may not all be significant about the history of Dallas, but I still find them each fascinating for what they reveal about life in Dallas-Fort Worth 40-50 years ago. Continue reading “WFAA Newsfilm Collection: Look what I found this week!”

Pioneers of African-American Cinema

Kino Lorber recently released Pioneers of African-American Cinema, a five DVD set with extensive film notes.  An announcement of the collection’s release appeared in The New York Times (August 10, 2016), in which the film critic, J. Hoberman, stated that “there has never been a more significant video release” in cinema history.  This set includes films discovered and collected by the late SMU professor G. William Jones, which are part of the Tyler, Texas “race films” in the collection. It includes approximately 20 hours of feature films, shorts, interviews, trailers, and fragments.  Many of these films have only been circulated and seen in 16mm versions of inferior quality or have never been available for home video.  Each film has been digitally restored and reflects a wide-range of subject matter and styles.  Accompanying the set is an 80-page booklet with contributions from scholars.

Continue reading “Pioneers of African-American Cinema”

Janet Turner: Texas Printmaker

The current exhibition at Meadows Museum at SMU, Process and Innovation: Carlotta Corpron and Janet Turner, is a welcome reminder of earlier showings of Janet Turner’s prints in Dallas and elsewhere in Texas.  Don’t miss Turner’s remarkable prints now on loan from Hamon’s Bywaters Special Collections, along with other private lenders, including Jack and Beverly Wilgus -donors who have generously pledged their historic photographic collection to DeGolyer Library. Images by Beverly Wilgus, a former student of Corpron, will also be on view.

Continue reading “Janet Turner: Texas Printmaker”

Gems from the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection

The Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection is one of the signature collections of the G. William Jones Film & Video Collection. This collection of race films from the 1930s and 1940s were discovered in an East Texas warehouse in 1983 on miraculously well-preserved nitrate stock and transferred to safety film in 1985. With the advent of digital technology, this important collection of film history has been digitally restored and made available in the SMU Digital Collections. We’ve written before about the travels of the collection’s most well-know title, The Blood of Jesus. Here are three lesser-known gems of the collection with clips.

Continue reading “Gems from the Tyler, Texas Black Film Collection”

The travels of The Blood of Jesus

One of the most significant of the Tyler Race Films is The Blood of Jesus, written by and starring Spencer Williams.  As with many of Williams’ films, this is a study of the continuing conflict between good and evil, holiness and godlessness, church and juke joint.  Williams filmed it with a largely amateur cast and with a minimal budget in 1941 for distribution to the 1200 or so movie houses that catered to all-black audiences at that time.   Despite the limitations imposed by its restrictively small budget, “The Blood of Jesus” was a financial success. Continue reading “The travels of The Blood of Jesus”

Octavio Medellin: Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings, 1938 on display

Please stop by the second-floor gallery outside of Bywaters Special Collections and view how the portfolio XTOL by Octavio Medellin was researched by the artist in 1938 and later published in 1947 by the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, which preceded the Dallas Museum of Art. Work began in 1938 when Octavio Medellin spent six months studying the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, located on the Yucatán in Mexico, and documented his travels with 181 black and white photographs that he compiled into a scrapbook entitled Maya – Toltec, Temples and Carvings, 1938 [all photographs in the exhibition are reproductions]. Continue reading “Octavio Medellin: Maya-Toltec Temples and Carvings, 1938 on display”

Texas Artists digital collection recognized by global library collaborative

The Texas Artists: Paintings, Sculpture, and Works on Paper (“Texas Artists”) digital collection was recently featured the global library collaborative OCLC’s website. Texas Artists is one of Central University Libraries’ (CUL) 48 digital collections, available on the CUL Digital Collections website. CUL Digital Collections contain some 50,000 digitized images of works of art, manuscripts, imprints, and audio-visual materials from CUL’s special collections. OCLC.org, a global library cooperative of academic and public libraries, selected Texas Artists as one of its CONTENTdm Featured Collections for November.

Continue reading “Texas Artists digital collection recognized by global library collaborative”

Pictorial: Collecting the macabre, Part 2

Does Fondren have ghosts? Some say yes. As far as we know, the only entities haunting Hamon late at night are SMU students. Let’s get on with the second installment of Collecting the macabre. Continue reading “Pictorial: Collecting the macabre, Part 2”

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