UNT Libraries acquires photo of university’s earliest students

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 11:12

DENTON (UNT), Texas —The University of North Texas Special Collections has deepened its University Archive with a new photo portraying some of the university’s earliest students.

Donated by Marilyn Showalter, the granddaughter of UNT alum John Virgil McReynolds (marked as No. 14), the card-mounted photo features 15 men posed in front of a photographer’s backdrop. It is dated 1891, just a year after the university’s founding as Texas Normal College and Teacher Training Institute.

It’s now the oldest photograph available in the University Archive and one of the first known photos to include any of the 28 members of the Muscogee Creek Nation who were students in 1890-91. Three of the students are pictured: J.H. Alexander (2), S.W. LaFavor (3) and J.A. McKinney (8). Also in the photo is one of the first faculty members, Professor J.A. Sanders (4), who taught business courses.

“Until this recent donation, there were no photographs in the University Archive depicting and identifying these early Native American students. This wonderful addition to the collection enriches our knowledge of university history as we continue building the story of our community through contributions to the collection from UNT’s founding, 130 years ago through present day,” said Morgan Gieringer, head of UNT Special Collections.

Along with the photo, Showalter donated biographical information about McReynolds with photocopies of family photographs and news clippings. After attending UNT, McReynolds worked as a teacher’s helper for no pay before he began working for the Railway Mail Service in Denison. He transferred to Fort Worth in 1896 and continued to work with the Railway Mail Service for nearly 40 years. He died of a prolonged illness in 1936.

The finding aid for this collection is available in the Finding Aids Database, and the photograph is available to view online in the Portal to Texas History and the UNT Digital Library.

UNT News Service
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