Southern Methodist University

Collection on Alyene Porter

A Guide to the Collection



Overview

Creator: Bridwell Library
Title: Collection on Alyene Porter
Inclusive Dates: 1934-1997
Abstract: 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.) This collection consists of Alyene Porter’s original hand-written manuscript of Papa Was a Preacher; inscribed copies of her books Papa Was a Preacher and Consider Miss Lily; a book outline for a proposed work called Come to the Party and copies of newspaper articles concerning the Porter family.
Accession No: BridArch 303.40
Extent: 1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Language: Material is in English
Repository Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

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.

Sources:

"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]


Scope and Contents of the Collection

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.


 

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection has been organized into four series:
Series 1: Book manuscript, 1940-1944
Series 2: Inscribed books, 1944, 1962
Series 3:Book outline and sampling, circa 1960-1980
Series 4: Newspaper articles, 1934-1997

Restrictions

Access to Collection:

The collection is open for research use. Patrons must sign the Acknowledgement of Legal Responsibility and Privacy Rights form before using this collection.

Publication Rights:

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

Copyright Statement:

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


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.
Porter, Alyene.
Women authors, American -- Texas.
Manuscripts for publication.
Chappell, Eleanor.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Collection on Alyene Porter, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

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.

Processing Information

This collection was arranged and described in 2010 by Timothy Binkley with assistance from Heather M. Oglevie.

Encoded by

Lara Corazalla, 2011.


Detailed Description of the Collection

 

Series 1:
Book manuscript, 1940-1944

The first series includes thirteen folders. Each folder contains pages of the Papa was a Preacher manuscript that were previously paper-clipped together. The folders are in the order in which they were received, not the final published order.
Box Folder
1785A 1 To the memory of my mother 1940-1944
2 Papa was a preacher 1940-1944
3 Vengeance is mine, I will repay 1940-1944
4 Papa’s joy was unconfined 1940-1944
5 Remember the Sabbath Day 1940-1944
6 Those whom God hath joined together 1940-1944
7 Love 1940-1944
8 Revive us again 1940-1944
9 The family observes an anniversary 1940-1944
10 Saturday 1940-1944
11 Pray without ceasing 1940-1944
12 A family conducts a revival 1940-1944
13 Papa’s contemporaries in the ministry 1940-1944



 

Series 2:
Inscribed books, 1944, 1962

The second series consists of two items: a copy of Papa was a Preacher inscribed to Dr. Horace M. and Ann Collier King by the author and given to Bridwell Library in 1976 by Ann Collier King and a copy of Consider Miss Lily inscribed to Dan Ferguson by the author and given to Bridwell Library by Mr. Ferguson. Of special note, the Consider Miss Lily inscription indicates that Alyene Porter wrote her second novel in Bridwell Library’s Ferguson Room.
Box Folder
1785A 14 Papa was a Preacher 1944
15 Consider Miss Lily 1962



 

Series 3:
Book outline and sampling, circa 1960-1980

The third series comprises two folders of typed and photocopied pages from a book envisioned by Alyene Porter and Eleanor Chappell: Come to the Party.
Box Folder
1785A 16-17 Come to the Party, circa 1960-1980



 

Series 4:
Newspaper articles, 1934-1997

The final series contains a single folder of copies of newspaper articles about Alyene Porter and her family. All articles were photocopied or printed in 2010.
Box Folder
1785A 18 Family articles 1934-1997