Degolyer Library

By: David Farmer

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: October 16, 2020

The DeGolyer Foundation Library was established in 1957 as the result of a gift by Everette Lee and Nell V. DeGolyer, and by a bequest under the will of Everette DeGolyer. In 1974 the collection was officially donated to Southern Methodist University, its name was changed to the DeGolyer Library, and it was moved into the Fondren Library West, where space was renovated with support from the Leland Fikes Foundation. The DeGolyer Library in 1995 consisted of more than 90,000 volumes on the history of the Trans-Mississippi West and the Spanish borderlands, as well as railroad history. A substantial collection of rare books on early voyages and travel is also housed in the Degolyer Library, helping to make its collection one of the finest in the world-especially for the history of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and California. Under Everett DeGolyer, Jr., the library's first director (1958–77), the library was transformed from a private collection to a public research library. The cataloging of materials was begun in 1960 by Dr. James Phillips. In addition to its printed materials, the DeGolyer Library has acquired by gift and by purchase a number of important groups of manuscripts. Chief among these are the papers of DeGolyer; the archives of Horton Foote; the personal and business papers of Stanley Marcus; the manuscripts and correspondence of Paul Horgan; the business papers of John Insley Blair, capitalist; the papers of Samuel M. Vauclain, longtime president of the Baldwin Locomotive Works; the specification records of the Baldwin Locomotive Works; the papers of the Muskogee Corporation, a railroad holding company; and the motive power files of the Burlington Railroad and the Fort Worth and Denver Railway. In recent years it has also formed the Archives of Women of the Southwest. The library also holds a photographic collection of more than 300,000 items on the West, Mexico, and railroads. A geology collection formed by Mr. DeGolyer is located in the Science Engineering Library of Southern Methodist University. Beginning in the 1980s, the catalog of printed books at DeGolyer was converted to machine-readable form, and in the 1990s it could be consulted on the Internet. Subject guides for nonbook materials have been published for library users, and beginning in the mid-1980s a series of interpretive exhibition catalogs were written and published, to make more widely known the results of two generations of private collectors in Texas.

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

David Farmer, “Degolyer Library,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 16, 2020

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