Southern Methodist University

Joseph Zeppa collection of correspondence and ephemera:

A Guide

Collection Summary

Creator: Zeppa, Joseph, 1893-
Title: Joseph Zeppa collection of correspondence and ephemera
Dates: 1899-1970s
Abstract: This collection mostly contains letters written by twentieth century military and political figures regarding books in the Joseph Zeppa collection at DeGolyer Library. Photographs and ephemera found in books are also included. Most of the letters are addressed to George Keating, who curated the book collection. Highlights include letters from Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman; a letter and drawing from Joseph Conrad (1925); and a letter from T.E. Lawrence regarding his annotations in his book returned to Keating (1925).
Identification: MSS 117
Quantity: 2 boxes (1 linear foot)
Language: English
Repository: DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Historical Note

Joseph Zeppa (1893-1975) was an Italian immigrant who arrived in New York in 1906. He left New York to form the Delta Drilling Company with two other partners, and later became the president of the company based in Tyler, Texas. The successful oil businessman’s lifelong friend, George Keating (1892-1976) was a book collector who gave his Joseph Conrad collection to Yale. When Keating was ready to sell his collection of books about World War I and World War II, Zeppa agreed to purchase them as gift to Southern Methodist University. Keating and Zeppa continued to fund additional purchases for the collection until their deaths in the mid-1970s.

The Joseph Zeppa book collection curated by George Keating contains volumes on war, diplomacy, and peace, and are frequently signed by historical figures. Autographs include Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence, Jawaharlal Nehru, Albert Schweitzer, Chiang Kai-Shek, and Josip Tito. There are a few books collected by Keating that are out of scope in the Zeppa collection, but they are important additions to DeGolyer Library. These include a signed first edition of The Rover by Joseph Conrad; a signed first edition of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity; and a signed first edition of L’Etui de Narce by Anatole France. Each book purchased between 1965 and the mid-1970s is cataloged separately and is shelved in DeGolyer Library.


Handbook of Texas Online, James Presley, "Delta Drilling Company," accessed September 07, 2016,

Ritcheson, Charles R. “Statement by Charles R. Ritcheson, Chairman, Department of History, Southern Methodist University on the Zeppa Collection.” Undated, from DeGolyer Library accession file.

Scope and Contents Note

This manuscript collection contains letters written by twentieth century military and political figures found in books in the Joseph Zeppa collection at Southern Methodist University. Highlights of this collection include letters from Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman; a letter and drawing from Joseph Conrad (1925); a letter from T.E. Lawrence regarding his annotations in a book returned to Keating (1925); and the friendly correspondence of German General Franz Halder and American General Paul Robinett after World War II.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into 2 series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1899-1975
Series 2: Ephemera and photographs, 1934-1970s


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library. It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.

Index 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.
Subjects (Persons)
Zeppa, Joseph, 1893-, donor.
Keating, George T.
Halder, Franz, 1884-1972.
Robinett, Paul M. (Paul McDonald), 1893-1975.
Conrad, Joseph, 1857-1924.
Lawrence, T. E. (Thomas Edward), 1888-1935.
World War, 1914-1918.
World War, 1939-1945.
Military history, Modern.
Document Types

Related Material

To view a list of over 700 titles purchased by Joseph Zeppa as a gift to Southern Methodist University, search the SMU library catalog with the exact phrase “part of the Joseph Zeppa collection.”

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Joseph Zeppa collection of correspondence and ephemera, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift, Joseph Zeppa.

Processing Information

Letters, photographs, and ephemera were removed from books. The archivist placed in acid free folders, and arranged them by author name.

The collection was processed and encoded by Cynthia Franco, 2016.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Letters, 1899-1975
106 Folders

This series contains letters from authors and historical military figures of the twentieth century, most addressed to George Keating. The oldest item in this series is a note written by Theodore Martin in 1899 regarding his book, The life of His Royal highness the Prince consort. Researchers should take note of letters from Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman; a letter and drawing from Joseph Conrad (1925); and a letter from T.E. Lawrence regarding his annotations in a book returned to Keating (1925). Also included is the friendly correspondence between Franz Halder and Paul Robinett, which shows a mutual respect between the two generals from opposing sides of World War II.
Box Folder
1 1 K. Abedje, 1964
2 Viscount Alanbrooke, 1957-1960
3 Lord Allenby’s private secretary, 1923
4 Lord Alexander’s private secretary, 1953
5 Earl Attlee, 1961
6 Sir Claude Auchinleck, 1965
7 Douglas Bader, 1963
8 Newton D. Baker, 1934
9 Bernard Baruch, 1951
10 Earl of Birkenhead, 1962
11 A.R. Bolling, 1963
12 A.D. Bruce, 1963
13 James Carne, 1964
14 Mark Clark, 1951
15 Dudley Clarke, 1961
16 Ralph Cochrane
17 Joseph Conrad, 1922
18 John B. Coulter
19 Henry D.G. Crerar, 1964
20 A.C. Critchley, 1962
21 Cunningham of Hyndhope, 1950?
22 Armando Diaz, 1922
23 Sholto Douglas, Baron Douglas of Kirtleside, 1963
24 William Dean, 1955
25 Eamon de Valera, ; letter from his secretary, 1961 1971
26 Karl Donitz, 1962
27 Lord Dowding, 1963
28 Robert Eichelberger, 1951
29 William Elliot, 1962
30 James Gordon Elliott, 1966
31 Harry Fosdick, 1956
32 Louis Franchet d’Esperey, 1924
33 Bernard Freyberg, 1925
34 Albert Gleaves, 1923
35 Barry Goldwater, 1963
36 Leslie Groves, 1963
37 Viscount R.B. Haldane, 1921
38 Franz Halder, 1944-1967
39 Franz Halder and Paul Robinett correspondence, with inscribed photograph of Halder, 1957-1975
40 Earl of Halifax, 1950-1958
41 Lord Harding, 1963
42 John Ernest Troyte Harper, 1939
43 Edouard Herriot, 1954
44 Leslie Hollis, 1961
45 Herbert Hoover, 1950-1952
46 Brian Horrocks, 1961
47 Frank Howley, 1950
48 Viscount Portal of Hungerford, 1962
49 Bahjat Talhouni for King Hussein of Jordan, with postal stamps, 1963
50 John Jellicoe, 1920
51 R.S. Johnson
52 John Kennedy, 1960
53 Alexander Kerensky, 1965
54 Walter Krueger, 1961
55 Robert Lansing, 1921
Box Folder
2 1 T.E. Lawrence, 1925
2 Hunter Liggett, 1926
3 Frank Lipscomb
4 Richard McCreery, 1963
5 Donald Macintyre, 1972
6 Lady Maud Martel, 1961
7 Theodore Martin, 1899
8 Frank Messervy, 1962
9 Sir Eugen Millington, 1962
10 Archibald Milne
11 Marc Mitscher, 1973
12 F.E. Morgan, 1962
13 Samuel E. Morison, 1962
14 Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 1953
15 Paul Mueller, 1963
16 N.K. Seshan for Jawaharlal Nehru, 1956
17 Chester Nimitz, 1952
18 Sir Percy Noble, 1951
19 V.S. Orlando, 1923
20 Ronald C. Penney, 1963
21 Svetlana Peters, 1973
22 Count Raczynski, 1964
23 Sir Bertram Ramsay, 1944
24 Carlos Romulo, 1965
25 S.W. Roskill, 1965
26 Viscount Samuel, 1961
27 William Slim, 1968
28 Nathan Twining, 1963
29 William Edward Sanders, 1965
30 Robert Saundby, 1962
31 Reinhard Scheer, 1921
32 L.C. Shepherd, 1963-1965
33 John Slessor
34 James Somerville, 1940
35 R.A. and Margaret Spruance, 1964-1974
36 Kenneth Strong, 1968
37 Harry Truman, 1965
38 R.E. Urquhart, 1963
39 A.A. Vandergrift, 1962
40 Nathan Van Patten, 1953
41 G.L. Verney, 1956
42 Sir Philip Vian, 1963
43 Christopher Vokes, 1964
44 George Weyler, 1964
45 Brand Whitlock, 1919
46 C.A. Willoughby, 1963
47 Sir Ronald Wingate, 1961
48 Llewelyn Woodward, 1963
49 Correspondence found in The War at Sea, 1939-1945 by S.W. Roskill. Includes letters by A.U. Willis and other unidentified authors, 1941-1949
50 Unidentified, 1920s-1960s
51 Unidentified note to Thomas Kincaid regarding General Krueger and General Kenney

Series 2: Ephemera and photographs, 1934-1970s
7 folders

This series contains various items that were previously laid in books.
Box Folder
2 52 Clippings regarding Winston Churchill, and receipt for George Keating’s donation to the South African War Veterans Association, 1934-1963
53 Clippings of book reviews
54 Comments and corrections to T. Kase’s Journey to the Missouri
55 Obituaries and biographical notes
56 Unidentified postcards
57 Ephemera – mailing labels, stationery, bookseller’s advertisement, church program for Aspen Community Church
58 Photographs and printed images – Ian Hamilton, Lord Jellicoe, Joseph Joffre, King Peter of Yugoslavia, William Sowden Sims, unidentified color portrait of woman in New York City souvenir card