I haven’t been to the library since the first of the year. Are there any new exhibits on the 7th floor of the Central Library, and if so, what are they?

Beginning with Black History Month in February and continuing with Women’s History Month in March, the Dallas History & Archives Division has curated new exhibits, which will be on display throughout the month of March on the 7th floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, with more to come.

Dallas Women – Then & Now

Then: Southern Methodist University Student Protest; January 10, 1961. SMU students picket University Pharmacy over racial discrimination.

Now: The Dallas Women’s March; January 21, 2017. A birds-eye view of the crowd gathering in front of Dallas City Hall. Photograph by Priscilla Escobedo.










For Women’s History Month, there are multiple exhibits on the 7th floor highlighting Dallas and Texas women in history.  Located by the elevators is an exhibition titled, “Then & Now: Women in Action for Social Justice,” which shows photographs of women’s social activism from the past and present including photographs from the Women’s March on January 21, 2017, that were donated by attendees of this historic event. (We are still accepting photographs, signs, hats, and any other ephemera related to the march.  If you’d like to contribute, please email texas@dallaslibrary.org with digital image files or to request further information.)

Marty Bundschuh Models Cashier Uniform, Centennial Exposition, State Fair of Texas, 1936 – DeGolyer Library, SMU

 In the exhibit cases outside of O’Hara Exhibit Hall is a Women’s History Month exhibition titled, “Celebrating Women’s Clubs in Dallas,” which focuses on the achievements of some of Dallas’ well-known clubs and the women who worked together to reach those achievements.  Items on display include photographs, scrapbooks, and more.

At the end of the hallway is the special Digital Interactive Gallery (DIG) with six interactive touch screens. In honor of Women’s History Month, the Dallas History & Archives Division collaborated with the DeGolyer Library, SMU to create a digital exhibit in the “Photographs” section of the DIG titled, “Women’s History: Texas Photographs from the DeGolyer Library, SMU.”  All images in this exhibit depict historical images of women in Texas and are from the photograph collections of the DeGolyer Library.

Celebrating Black Dallas

Currently on display in exhibit cases near and inside the reading room entrance as well as outside the Kenneth B. Jonsson Gallery are items from the “Celebrating Black Dallas” exhibition, which is in collaboration with collections of the Genealogy and History Division of the Dallas Public Library.

Each case in the “Celebrating Black Dallas” exhibition has a unique focus.   For example, one of the larger cases focuses on Alto & Georgia McGowan.  Mr. McGowan owned and operated multiple businesses in Dallas, including a record shop, café, a bond business, drug and liquor store, and the iconic McGowan Funeral Home.  His wife, Georgia McGowan became one of the first black women to graduate from the Dallas School of Mortuary Science and was the manager and funeral director for the McGowan Funeral Home. The Genealogy and History Division holds the McGowan Funeral Home records in their collection.

Another case focuses on African American civic leaders in Dallas, featuring political campaign materials of Juanita Craft (1902-1985), member of the Dallas City Council from 1975 to 1979 and Civil Rights pioneer; Eddie Bernice Johnson (b. 1935), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving District 30; and Elsie Faye Heggins (1934-2000) who was a Dallas councilwoman and a Civil Rights activist.

C.A. Walton Jr. and Ruth Walton, C.A. Walton Collection (MA02-4)

Outside the reading room is an exhibit case containing photographs and ephemera pertaining to Cedar Anthony (C.A.) Walton Jr. (1934-2013) who was born and raised in Dallas by his parents, C.A. Walton Sr. and Ruth Walton. C.A. Walton Jr. is still celebrated in the jazz community and known for being an influential hard bop jazz pianist.  Exhibit items also contain a vinyl LP record, articles, and more.

Other cases focus on Booker T. Washington High School, and Dr. John Chisum (1895-1979), a practicing optometrist and his wife, Ethelyn, who was a teacher and counselor at the high school.

Visitors can view an update to our continuing exhibition outside our reading room, featuring a new selection of Dallas Police Memorial items currently housed at the Central Library.  The memorial items originally began in front of Dallas Police Headquarters on July 8th in honor of the five officers were killed in the line of duty in downtown Dallas, Texas on July 7, 2016.  Thousands of citizens and law enforcement from all over the world visited to leave messages of support, and when rain threatened to destroy the mementos and messages the Dallas Public Library mobilized to collect and preserve them.

As always, our Declaration of Independence, Shakespeare’s First Folio, and Frank Reaugh’s Scene on the Brazos remain prominent permanent exhibits on the 7th floor.

History is a dynamic thing that begins with current events.  We accept donations of photographs and materials of not only the past but also contemporary items depicting Dallas and Texas.  After all, what is new today is history tomorrow.  Stop by today, and explore your local history!

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