TABLE OF CONTENTS
The lives of John Oscar and Ethelyn Mildred Taylor Chisum were dedicated to improving the quality of Dallas life for more than fifty years, especially for the African American community. Dr. John Chisum served as a practicing optometrist, while Mrs. Ethelyn Chisum worked as teacher and counselor for the Dallas Public Schools.
A native of Dallas County, Texas, Dr. John Chisum was born 12 December 1895, to Benjamin Chisum and Rosa Pauline White. Following his 1916 graduation as salutatorian of Dallas Colored High School, Chisum worked as a mortician prior to military service in France during World War I. Chisum was first married to Goldie Belle Ramage in 1920, then to Ethelyn Mildred Taylor in September of 1923, a union which lasted fifty-five years.
John Chisum graduated in 1925 from the Northern Illinois College of Otology and Optometry in Chicago, Illinois, becoming a registered optometrist in both Illinois and Texas, his profession until retirement. As a veteran of World War I, Chisum was a member of Tommy Robinson American Legion Post No. 802. John Chisum was an active member of Bethel A.M.E. Church for many years, serving on the Steward Board as well as being superintendent of the Sunday School; he later united with the Knight Chapel A.M.E. Church.
In addition to his professional and religious life, Dr. John Chisum was involved in Dallas civic life, being one of the founders of Moorland Branch Y.M.C.A., and in 1952 leading Love Field area residents in a fight against enlargement of the airfield.
Dr. John Oscar Chisum died 9 September 1979, being survived by his wife, Mrs. Ethelyn M. Chisum, and a foster niece, Mrs. Ouida Parham, Bethesda, Maryland.
Ethelyn Mildred Taylor Chisum was born 9 June 1895 to William Henry and Virgie Collins Taylor in Dallas, Texas, where she spent her formative years. Following graduation from Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College 19 May 1913, Where Ethelyn M. Taylor was senior class historian, she began her teaching career in the Rock Creek community of Smith County, Texas. Almost three years later she returned to Dallas and a lifetime as an educator, thirty-two years of which were spent as counselor at Booker T. Washington High School.
Community service was an integral part of life for Mrs. Chisum, with membership in Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, as well as the Priscilla Art Club, oldest club for African American women in Dallas. She was a long time member and active worker of the New Hope Baptist Church while Rev. A. S. Jackson, Sr. was pastor; later Dr. and Mrs. Chisum joined Knight's Chapel A.M.E. Church.
Mrs. Chisum was often chosen as a leader of Dallas organizations such as the Dallas Teachers Council, serving the group as president for ten years. Realizing the need for a YWCA to serve the black community, Mrs. Chisum was one of the founders in 1927 of the Maria Morgan Branch of YWCA. She was repeatedly honored by local organizations for community service as well as being listed in Who's Who in Education in America.
In 1967, two years after retirement from the Dallas Independent School District, Mrs. Chisum joined the staff of Southern Methodist University to work with the Upward Bound program jointly sponsored by the university and the United States Department of Education. She continued her association with SMU until failing health forced her retirement in November of 1982.
In an effort to upgrade the teaching profession, Mrs. Chisum often worked as an appointed committee member for the National Education Association as well as the Texas Education Association.
Working alongside Dr. John Chisum, her husband of more than fifty years, Ethelyn Chisum strove to improve educational opportunities as well as the quality of life for the youth of Dallas until her death, 27 January 1983.
The John Oscar and Ethelyn M. Chisum collection, circa 1895 to 1983, consists of 4 cubic feet of correspondence, diplomas, awards, photographs, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks reflecting the lives of a black optometrist and his wife, a Dallas, Texas educator. The collection was donated to the Dallas Public Library in 1983 by a foster niece, Mrs. Ouida H. Parham.
The Chisum collection is outstanding as a resource of information pertaining to the life of black Dallas citizens during the early twentieth century. Of special significance in Box 1 are the personal records kept by Ethelyn Chisum while a student at Prairie View Normal, in Waller County, as well as records from her subsequent personal and professional life in Dallas.
Dr. Chisum was a student of Texas African American history, collecting local information regarding Dallas fraternal and religious groups, as well as information pertaining to black life throughout the state. The African American history collection is in Box 2. As John Chisum was a leader of neighborhood home owners opposed to the expansion of Love Field in 1952 through 1954, Box 3 contains records of the legal and political effort to contain the airfield to existing boundaries. A copy of the May 1953 Dallas Voters League By-Laws is included in folder 19, Box 3.
The photographs, which were preserved by John and Ethelyn Chisum are visual documentation of their lives from infancy to retirement, and are contained in Box 4 of the collection. Of additional importance in Box 4 are newspaper clippings pertaining to the life of Maynard Jackson while pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church of Dallas.
Diplomas, awards, and certificates awarded John and Ethelyn Chisum comprise the remainder of the collection.