Collection on Alyene Porter
A Guide to the Collection
Alyene Porter was born in 1903 in Texas to the Rev. Robert Edwin Porter (1871-1969) and his wife Pearl (d.1938); the second-youngest of nine surviving children. She is best known for her book, Papa Was a Preacher (1944), which was adapted into a play in 1954 and a film in 1985. The book tells the story of her father’s "truly typical career as an itinerant" minister in the North Texas Conference of the Methodist Church. Among his pastoral charges were Greenville, Garland, Bonham, Frisco, Valley View, Bogota, Plano, and Dallas.
The Porter family had close ties to Southern Methodist University (SMU). As one of the founders of SMU, Rev. Robert Edwin Porter placed pictures of Alyene and his other children into the cornerstone of Dallas Hall. Alyene Porter attended the Cocke School of Expression, Northwestern University in Evanston, and the Irvine School of the Theater in New York. She led drama and writing workshops at SMU and wrote her second novel, the loosely autobiographical Consider Miss Lily, at Bridwell Library in 1962.
Porter was a teacher as well as a writer. She had a flair for the dramatic even as a child (a fact she admits in Papa); as an adult she taught drama and writing classes in Montreal, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Dallas. She was head of the drama department at the Cocke School of Expression and of the Southwestern School of the Theater; she also directed the Oak Cliff Children’s Theater in Dallas. She married Marion C. Storm of Boston in 1935.
Alyene Porter spent most of her later years in Dallas. In the early 1950s, she and her father appeared on a television quiz, answering questions on Texas history, and won enough money for him to purchase a house in Plano. Porter died in Dallas on October 25, 1997, at the age of 94.
"Massachusetts Man and Dallas Girl Wed at New York Church." Dallas Morning News 03-17-1935.
"Methodist Leader, Rev. Porter, Dies." Dallas Morning News 01-07-1969.
"Services Held for Best-Selling Author Alyene Porter." Dallas Morning News 10-29-1997.
Imm, Val. "Consider Miss Porter Might Well Be Title." Dallas Times Herald 04-24-1962.
Palmer, J. B. "Reverend Robert Edwin Porter." Journal of the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church (1969): 157.
Porter, Alyene. Papa Was a Preacher. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1944. [Call number: 253 P844p]
Vernon, Walter N. Methodism Moves across North Texas. Dallas: The Historical Society, North Texas Conference, The Methodist Church, 1967. [Call number: 287.6764 T3554Z V]
The Collection on Alyene Porter documents the life and literary works of a twentieth century author who drew on her life experiences as the daughter of a Methodist minister in Texas to produce two popular novels: Papa was a Preacher (published in 1944) and Consider Miss Lily (published in 1962.) The collection features Ms. Porter’s hand-written manuscript for Papa was a Preacher, which she gave to Bridwell Library; an inscribed copy of each of her books given to Bridwell Library by the recipients; and copies of newspaper articles about Alyene Porter and her family. All items are from between 1934 and 1997, the year of Ms. Porter’s death.
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[Identification of item], Collection on Alyene Porter, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
Manuscript acquired through Decherd Turner; book Papa Was a Preacher given to Bridwell Library by Ann Collier King in May 1976; book Consider Miss Lily and a newspaper clipping given to Bridwell Library by Dan Ferguson; other newspaper articles printed in 2010 from digital newspaper repositories.
This collection was arranged and described in 2010 by Timothy Binkley with assistance from Heather M. Oglevie.
Lara Corazalla, 2011.
Detailed Description of the Collection