Collections Showcase

Our collections showcases are prepared by SMU undergraduate students and highlight collections that they have studied in the ARC.

Dallas County Administrative Building

~ Barrett Stout (SMU 2020) and
Christina Donovan (SMU 2021)

From December 1987 to February 1988, SMU’s Archaeology Research Program excavated portions of the Dallas County Administration Building (formerly the Texas School Book Depository). This was done in preparation for the construction of the Sixth Floor Museum addition.  These investigations revealed that significant historic and prehistoric archaeological deposits are preserved under urban fills in Dallas.  Among the discoveries were the foundation remains of original block subdivision fences and ditches dating to approximately 1844; at least two dwellings and a well dating to ca. 1853-1856; the back yards and privies of African American former slaves, tenants and laundresses; and three fences separating the lots occupied by these individuals.

This map shows Dallas in 1872, with the Trinity River on the left-hand side. Drawn by Herman Brosius, the map was made into a color lithograph through paid subscriptions from the people of Dallas. This portion of the map includes the Baird house, on the northwest corner of Houston and Elm.

Fort Richardson

~ Hillary Barron (SMU 2021) and
Katie Davis (SMU 2023)

Fort Richardson, located near Jacksboro, Texas, was an active United States Army station from 1867 to 1878.  The fort was one of a system of installations along the Texas frontier, intended to promote Anglo settlement in north central and west Texas.  Units that occupied Fort Richardson were active in the American Indian Wars and involved in conflicts with the Kiowa and Comanche primarily in the Texas Panhandle.  The site is now designated as the Fort Richardson State Historic Park.

Buildings at Fort Richardson.

The Gaines-McGowan House

~ Jordan Hardin (SMU 2020)

The Gaines-McGowan house was built in 1819 by James Gaines and occupied by various owners from 1819 to 1966. Gaines built several structures on his property, including this story-and-a-half dog-trot house. He was a key player in Texas history through serving as a signatory to the Texas Declaration of Independence and helping to write the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. The Texas Historical Commission excavated the house in 1968 as a part of salvage efforts prior to the inundation of the Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Photograph of the Gains-McGowan house.

San Xavier Missions

~ Christina Donovan (SMU 2021)

The San Xavier Missions National Historic District, excavated in 1968, is located along the San Gabriel River in Milam County, Texas. This complex of three Spanish missions and a presidio was occupied from 1746 to 1755. Though they were intended to move Spanish controlled territory northward, residents soon abandoned the sites due to prolonged drought and epidemics. The excavation of these sites served as the basis for Kathleen Gilmore’s (SMU 1973) Masters thesis. Building on this early work, Gilmore became the authority on Spanish colonial archaeology in the United States and was the first female president of both the Society for Historical Archaeology and the Texas Archaeological Society.

Map of the San Xavier missions from The San Xavier Missions: A Study in Historical Site Identification, by Kathleen Gilmore (1969)