Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Arrangement of the Collection

Restrictions

Access Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Biographical Data

Selecman’s Articles and Speeches

Correspondence (1923-1937)

Faculty and Staff Notices (1925-1938)

SMU Administrative Materials

Methodist Church Publications

Texas Colleges

Miscellaneous (Personal Items)

Southern Methodist University

Charles C. Selecman papers

A Guide to the Collection



Overview

Creator: Selecman, Charles Claude, 1874-1958
Title: Charles C. Selecman papers
Inclusive Dates: 1890-1989
Bulk Dates: 1923-1938
Abstract: This collection holds the papers of Charles C. Selecman, the third president of Southern Methodist University. Selecman, a Methodist minister, served as university president from 1923 to 1938, and the bulk of the material comes from that period. The papers include biographical material on Selecman, essays and speeches, correspondence with SMU faculty members, administrative records, SMU publications, material on Methodist and African American colleges in Texas, and Methodist church-related pamphlets.
Accession No: SMU 1995.0247
Extent: 2 boxes (1 linear foot)
Language: Material is in English
Repository Southern Methodist University Archives, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Charles C. Selecman

Born on October 13, 1874 on a farm near Savannah, Missouri to Isaac Henry and Josephine Smith Selecman, Charles Selecman entered Central College in Fayette, Missouri in 1892. He quarterbacked the school’s football team for four seasons and was undefeated as a sprinter on the track team. In 1898, at the age of 24, Selecman began pastoring in a church in Pattensburg, Missouri, dropping out of college two months before graduation to do so. Here he met Bess Kyle Beckner, whom he married on April 27, 1899. They subsequently had two children: Frank and Josephine. After serving in several locations in Missouri as pastor and circuit rider, Selecman engaged in "home mission work" in Louisiana and Missouri before being appointed pastor of a church in Los Angeles, California in 1913. In 1920 he was called to the First Methodist Church, South, in Dallas, Texas. He became president of Southern Methodist University in March 1923.

During Selecman’s fifteen years at the helm of SMU, the school grew despite the financial struggle brought on by the Great Depression. At the beginning of his term the campus had two permanent buildings and an endowment of $883,000. By 1938 the school had eleven buildings and an endowment of $2,300,000. In 1923 SMU was a liberal arts college with a seminary and music school. A decade and a half later the university boasted schools of engineering, law, education, and business, as well as graduate programs. Research and scholarly output also increased during the period. In 1924 the university acquired the Southwest Review, a literary magazine, from the University of Texas. In 1932 the departments of geology, geography, physics, biology, and chemistry began publishing Field and Laboratory, a semiannual journal. In 1937 the school established its own publishing press.

Early in his tenure, Selecman outlined his vision for SMU. He desired a high standard of scholarship, a "warm religious atmosphere," and a "conservative, yet progressive, business policy." The school, he said, needed to maintain an atmosphere that would enable students to develop "Christian faith," a chaste character, and the quality of selfless service. "We shall make our largest contribution to civilization," he said, "by training men and women who will be leaders in Christian thought." A short time later, he explained that all the work of SMU is "aimed to prepare trained leadership for the social, commercial, and religious life of the Southwest."

During the Selecman administration, relations between the faculty and the president were often tense. Professors expressed uncertainty about Selecman as a university president because he did not possess a bachelor’s degree, and their vision of what SMU should become often differed from his. Selecman also found himself thrown in to the church-wide controversy between religious fundamentalism and modernism as it played out at the university among faculty members. Controversy also swirled around athletics, especially football, as well as the question of who should control the school: the Methodist Church, or Dallas businessmen. But perhaps the most controversial aspect of Selecman’s tenure was the reduction in staff personnel and the salary cuts prompted by the onset of the Great Depression. In May 1931, 41 professors signed a petition opposing Selecman in what subsequently became known as "The Faculty Rebellion of 1931."

In May 1938, Selecman was elected to the office of Bishop in the Methodist Church. He resigned as university president, effective the following September, to take up his position as the bishop in charge of the Oklahoma Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1943, while the Selecmans resided in Oklahoma City, headquarters of the conference, Bishop Selecman’s wife Bess died. In 1944 Selecman returned to Dallas to head the North Texas Conference. In 1945, he was elected president of the Council of Bishops of the Methodist Church, the denomination’s highest ranking office. He held this position for one year. Two months after this appointment, in July 1945, Selecman married "Mrs. Pierre D. Mason of Hollywood, California," according to the newspapers. Selecman simply called her Jackie. In June 1948 Bishop Selecman retired from the episcopacy. In 1951, he was elected to the Methodist Hall of Fame in philanthropy. He died on March 27, 1958 at age 83.

Sources:

Agnew, Peter W. "C. C. Selecman and SMU: The ‘Perils’ of Methodist Higher Education, 1923-1938." Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas 17 no. 2 (Fall 2005): 12-24.

"Bishop Elected to New Post." Dallas Morning News November 16, 1952.

"Bishop Selecman Gets High Methodist Post." Dallas Morning News April 27, 1945.

Cawood, Richard A. "Dr. Charles C. Selecman and His First Year." (1989).

Craig, Joan Dunning. "Southern Methodist University under the Leadership of Dr. Charles C. Selecman (1923-1925)." M.A. Thesis, SMU, 1979.

"Death Takes Former SMU Head’s Wife." Dallas Morning News December 29, 1943.

"Dr. C. C. Selecman, Methodist Bishop and Educator, Dies." Dallas Morning News March 28, 1958.

"Dr. Selecman Will Marry Californian." Dallas Morning News July 7, 1945.

"Selecman is for Southern Ideals." Dallas Morning News August 12, 1923.

"Selecman Tells Plans for SMU." Dallas Morning News February 23, 1925.

Terry, Marshall. "From High on the Hilltop..." A Brief History of SMU. Dallas: SMU Press, 1993.

Thomas, Mary Martha Hosford. Southern Methodist University: Founding and Early Years. Dallas: SMU Press, 1974.

"Young Layman Choice Urged to Head SMU." Dallas Morning News May 4, 1938.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Selecman papers consist of biographical material, articles and addresses by Selecman, correspondence between President Selecman and university personnel, presidential reports, issues of the alumni magazine circa. 1920s, a ledger containing a list of individuals who applied to SMU for graduate work, essays and printed programs honoring Selecman, financial and fundraising records, an African American student’s application to attend SMU coupled with a rejection notice, pamphlets produced by the Methodist Church, printed programs from Church conferences, correspondence between Selecman and administrators of Texas College, Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College, Texas Women’s College, and Texas Wesleyan College, with a printed program from Southwestern University dated 1942. The collection also contains newspaper clippings and personal items unrelated to his career.

According to retired history professor Herbert P. Gambrell, Selecman’s secretary – a Mrs. Hawkins – informed him that, upon retiring as bishop in 1948, Selecman removed from his files almost everything regarding his term as president of SMU.

Jackie Selecman, Charles Selecman’s widow, donated "scrapbooks and other memorabilia" relating to his tenure as SMU president to the university in 1967. Months after her death in 1968, university archivist Ronald C. Knickerbocker wrote to Frank Selecman and Josephine Selecman Forbes soliciting additional donations of their father’s papers. At the time, according to Frank, President Selecman’s files were in the possession of Josephine.

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Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into 8 series:
Series 1: Biographical Data
Series 2: Selecman’s Articles and Speeches
Series 3: Correspondence (1923-1937)
Series 4: Notices from Selecman to Faculty and Staff, 1925-1938
Series 5: SMU Administrative Materials
Series 6: Methodist Church Publications
Series 7: Texas Colleges
Series 8: Miscellaneous (Personal Items)

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Restrictions

Access to Collection:

Collection is open for research use.

Publication Rights:

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.

Copyright Statement:

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

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Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following terms in the Southern Methodist University Libraries' online catalog. Researchers desiring related materials may search the catalog using these terms.
Selecman, Charles Claude, 1874-1958.
Southern Methodist University -- Administration -- History.
Southern Methodist University -- Presidents.
Methodist Church -- Texas -- Clergy.
Colleges and universities -- Texas.

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Related Material

Charles C. Selecman, "Papers." Bridwell Library Archives. 24 boxes.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Charles C. Selecman papers, Southern Methodist University Archives, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift, Jackie Selecman, 1967.

Jackie Selecman, Charles Selecman’s widow, donated "scrapbooks and other memorabilia" relating to his tenure as SMU president to the university in 1967. Months after her death in 1968, university archivist Ronald C. Knickerbocker wrote to Frank Selecman and Josephine Selecman Forbes soliciting additional donations of their father’s papers. At the time, according to Frank, President Selecman’s files were in the possession of Josephine.

Processed by

Dale Topham, June 2007.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2007.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1:
Biographical Data
4 folders

Box Folder
1 1 Biographical Essays
2 Draft of Joan D. Craig’s "Southern Methodist University under the Leadership of Dr. Charles C. Selecman, March 21, 1923 – June 14, 1923."
3 Draft of Joan D. Craig’s "Southern Methodist University under the Leadership of Dr. Charles C. Selecman, 1923-1924," History Seminar Paper (January 1964).
4 Joan Craig’s Collection of "Letters and Interviews with People Connected with SMU History (1923-1927)"

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Series 2:
Selecman’s Articles and Speeches
1 folder

Box Folder
1 5 Addresses by Selecman (1926-1938)

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Series 3:
Correspondence (1923-1937)
5 folders

Box Folder
1 6 Correspondence, General (1925-1937)
7 Correspondence, Dr. Herbert P. Gambrell and Selecman (1923-1931)
8 Correspondence, Dr. Ellis W. Shuler and Selecman (1923-1932)
9 Correspondence, Layton Bailey and Selecman (1926-1927)
10 Correspondence, Ronald C. Knickerbocker and Selecman (1937)

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Series 4:
Faculty and Staff Notices (1925-1938)
1 folder

Box Folder
1 11 Faculty and Staff Notices from Selecman (1925-1938)

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Series 5:
SMU Administrative Materials
7 folders

Box Folder
2 1 SMU Publications (circa. 1924-1936), and Ledger Titled "Application to Southern Methodist University for Graduate Work."
2 Charles C. Selecman’s Expense Account, 1930
3 Articles, Papers Honoring President Selecman (1930-1938)
4 Faculty Rebellion, 1931
5 African American Student Application to SMU, 1934
6 SMU Fundraising Notices, 1944
7 Correspondence, Ronald C. Knickerbocker, 1968

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Series 6:
Methodist Church Publications
1 folder

Box Folder
2 8 Methodist Church Publications (1919-1936)

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Series 7:
Texas Colleges
2 folders

Box Folder
2 9 Methodist Schools: Texas Women’s College, 1890-1934; Texas Wesleyan College, 1935; and Southwestern University, 1942
10 African American Schools: Texas College, 1931-1933; and Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College

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Series 8:
Miscellaneous (Personal Items)
1 folder

Box Folder
2 11 Miscellaneous (Personal Items: newspaper clippings, booklets)

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