Southern Methodist University

Evelyn Oppenheimer papers

A Guide to the Collection


Creator: Oppenheimer, Evelyn
Title: Evelyn Oppenheimer papers
Dates: 1903-2000
Abstract: Evelyn Oppenheimer (1907-1998) was a book reviewer, writer, literary agent, editor, and collector of books. The Evelyn Oppenheimer papers detail Oppenheimer’s contributions to the literary scene in Texas and the Southwest from the 1930s to the 1990s. The collection contains audio reels and transcripts of her radio book reviews, book manuscripts, photographs, newspaper articles, and correspondence.
Accession No: Collection Brid Arch 2.019
Extent: 12 boxes (10.5 linear feet)
Language: Material is in English
Repository Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Evelyn Oppenheimer was born in Dallas, Texas in 1907 and graduated from Forest Avenue High School, now Madison High School. She received her Ph.B. at the University of Chicago where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1929. During her time at college, Oppenheimer began writing book reviews for local newspapers. While recovering from an emergency appendectomy, she heard a radio broadcast of New York radio reviewer Alexander Woollcott and knew she had found her calling.

In 1934, after returning to Dallas, Oppenheimer began giving oral book reviews, first at Sanger Brothers and then at A. Harris and Titche-Goettinger department stores. Due to her Dallas success, she traveled from East Texas to the Texas Panhandle speaking in various cities. In 1949, she began weekly radio book reviews, first at KRLD-AM and other local Dallas stations, and in the early 1970s at WRR-FM, where she continued to broadcast until a few months before her death. Her radio program was the longest running radio book review show in the United States and could be heard in Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Oppenheimer served as a literary agent for over twenty-five years to many authors including Elithe Hamilton Kirkand, Ramon Adams, Frank Tolbert, Fred Lowery, Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller, and Stanley Marcus, among others. She also taught contemporary literature at Southern Methodist University’s School of Continuing Education (1976) and was an instructor in literary criticism at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Tech University, University of Dallas, University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Wisconsin Extension.

Oppenheimer’s published books included: Legend and Other Poems (1951); Book Reviewing for an Audience (1962); The Articulate Woman: Public Speaking for Women (1968); Red River Dust (co-author, 1968); Texas in Color (1971); Oral Book Reviewing to Stimulate Reading (1980); Tilli Comes to Texas (1986); Gilbert Onderdonk: The Nurseryman of Mission Valley, Pioneer Horticulturist (1991); and A Book Lover in Texas (1995). She wrote the introduction for Heroes of Texas: Featuring Oil Portraits from the Summerfield G. Roberts Collection (1964). She was editor for The Book of Dallas (1976) and Tolbert of Texas: The Man and His Work (1986).

An avid collector of books, Oppenheimer donated 800 first-editions to Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University, many of them signed by their authors, as well as her personal archive of hand-corrected transcripts and tape recordings of her broadcast reviews. She donated her collection of rare children’s books to the University of North Texas and the remainder of her library to Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch in Tascosa, TX after her death.

Evelyn Oppenheimer died at the age of 90 in September 1998.


Compton, Robert. "Oppenheimer Scholarships Continue Evvie’s Good Work."Dallas Morning News, April 16, 2000.

Nomination form, Evelyn Oppenheimer papers, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University (BridArch 208.12).

Simnacher, Joe. "Book Critic Oppenheimer Dies of Cancer…"Dallas Morning News, September 4, 2000.

Vick, Frances B. "Books Were Her Life, and She Passed it on to Writers."Dallas Morning News, September 20, 1998.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Evelyn Oppenheimer papers chronicle Oppenheimer’s career as a pioneer book reviewer, author, and Texas literary agent. The collection features 10.5 linear feet of book review audio reels and transcripts, book manuscripts, photographs, newspaper articles, and correspondence. The materials in the collection document Oppenheimer’s influence on and contributions to the literary scene in Dallas, Texas, and the southwestern United States over six decades (1934-1998).

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is organized into five series:
Series 1: Audio and Visual Recordings, 1971-1992
Series 2: Photographs and Accompanying Materials, 1907-2000
Series 3: Business and Personal Materials, 1945-2000
Series 4: Book Review Preparation Materials, 1903-1993
Series 5: Book Review Transcripts, 1932-1993


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 Head of Special Collections of the Bridwell Library.

Copyright Statement:

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

Sensitive Materials Statement:

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications for which Bridwell Library assumes no responsibility.

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.
Oppenheimer, Evelyn, 1907-1998.
Women critics -- Texas.
Literary agents -- Texas.
Books -- Reviews.
Sound recordings.

Related Materials

Evelyn Oppenheimer donated her correspondence with Peter Hurd regarding her position as his literary agent and her correspondence with Peter Rogers regarding work on the mural in the Texas State Archives building in Austin to DeGolyer Library: Evelyn Oppenheimer correspondence, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University (A1991.1773c)

A collection of letters to Gerald Ashford, amusements editor for the San Antonio Express News, includes correspondence from Evelyn Oppenheimer: Correspondence, photographs, 1926-1973, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University (A1990.1704c).

Evelyn Oppenheimer Papers, 1962, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.

A Book Lover in Texas: typescript and correspondence, 1993-1994, Evelyn Oppenheimer, Texana Archival Collections, Rare Book and Texana Collections, University of North Texas.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Evelyn Oppenheimer papers, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Evelyn Oppenheimer, 1988.

Processing Information

This collection was arranged and described in 2011 by Allison Osborn.

Finding aid written by

Allison Osborn, 2011.

Encoded by

Ada Negraru, 2011.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Audio and Visual Recordings, 1971-1992

The first series, Audio and Visual Recordings, contains audio reels of Oppenheimer’s radio broadcast book reviews. There are seventy folders, most of which contain two reels, organized in chronological order. Two cassette tapes and two VHS tapes are included.
Box Folder
676 01-21 Audio tapes, 1971-1976
Box Folder
677 01-21 Audio tapes, 1976-1977
Box Folder
678 01-17 Audio tapes, 1970s-1987
Box Folder
2166 01 Audio tapes, 1987-1988
02-10 Booktalk, 1988-1992
11 VHS Tapes, 1988-1995

Series 2: Photographs, 1907-2000

Series 2 contains eighteen folders of photographs. One photo album and one scrapbook were disassembled and are included in the series. The majority of photographs are from book signings and events honoring Evelyn Oppenheimer.
Box Folder
679A 01 Authors, 1943-1993
02 A Book Lover in Texas Reception, 1995
03 Book Signings at Cokesbury, 1986
04 Boys’ Ranch Dedication, 2000
05 Bridwell Library, 1985-1992
06 House of Books – Red River Dust, 1983
07 Mrs. Vick’s House – Onderdonk, 1991
08-09 Portraits, 1907-1995
10-11 Reception - 25th Year of Radio Broadcast, 1974
12-13 Scrapbooks – A Tribute to Evelyn Oppenheimer, 1994
14 SMU, 1994-1997
15-16 Texas in Color, 1968-1971
17 Tolbert, 1988
18 Address and autograph session, 1972 May 6

Series 3: Business and Personal Materials, 1945-2000

The third series contains materials related to books written by Oppenheimer, honors and awards she received, donations she made, and her education. The series includes book manuscripts and transcripts, correspondence, newspaper articles, and awards. Oppenheimer’s diploma is also included.
Box Folder
679B 01 Articles and Publicity, 1986-2000
02-04 The Articulate Woman, 1968-1976
05-06 Book Reviewing for an Audience, 1962-1970
07 Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, 2000
08 Tolbert of Texas – Manuscript, 1986
09-10 Frank Tolbert, 1945-1983
11 Tolbert of Texas – Revisions, 1985
12 Gilbert Onderdonk – Publicity, 1991
13 Honors and Awards, 1988-1998
Box Folder
680 01 Red River Dust, 1959-1970
07 Stories and Speeches, [1950-1960]
08-12 Texas in Color, 1969-1972
13 Thesis on Oral Book Review, 1968
14 University of Chicago, 1929-1979
Box Folder
683 01-02 She Made Him, undated, circa 1940-1990
03-04 If I Go First, 1950s
05 Poem “At Elizabeth Browning’s Grave,” July 1956
06 Tilli Comes to Texas, 1976
07-08 A Book Lover in Texas, 1995
09 Frans Masereel exhibition at Bridwell Library, 1993
Drawer Folder
2 Flat File 7 Newspaper Articles, 1971-2000

Series 4: Book Review Preparation Materials, 1903-1993

Series 4 contains sixty-eight folders of newspaper articles, correspondence, book reviews, and hand-written notes related to books reviewed by Oppenheimer. This series remains in original order with the exception of the last four folders and the oversize materials. Letters from Chaim Potok and Margaret Mitchell are of particular interest.
Box Folder
680 15 Chaim Potok, Andrew Carnegie, 1964-1983
16 Wallace Stegner, Glenway Wescott, T.H. White, 1942-1969
17 Leon Uris, The Life of Mahatma Ghandi, 1950-1983
18 Henry C. Pitz, Rex Smith, 1953-1969
19 Paul I. Wellman, Gladys Schmitt, 1954-1969
20 William Shirer, Frank Tolbert, 1943-1964
21 William A. Owens, Barbara W. Tuchman, 1966-1971
22 William C. Westmoreland, Robert Morss Lovett, 1948-1985
23 Elizabeth Borton de Trevino, 1966-1977
24 Elizabeth Borton de Trevino, Mary Lasswell, 1958-1978
25 Charles Higham, Marianne Moore, 1948-1976
26 William Humphrey, 1954-1984
27 Willie Morris, Peter Hurd, 1964-1992
28 Helen Hayes, 1965-1987
29 Renata Scotto, Helen Sheehy, 1953-1990
30 William Humphrey, Margaret Mitchell, 1903-1978
31 William A. Owens, 1962-1987
32 Shine Philips, Chaim Potok, 1960-1973
33 Olga Ivinskaya, Harnett Kane, 1947-1981
34 C. Northcote Parkinson, Harnett Kane, 1948-1968
35 Justin Kaplan, Elithe Hamilton Kirkland, 1952-1990
36 Georgia O’Keefe, 1947
37 Georgia O’Keefe, Priscilla and William Proctor, 1970-1976
38 Peter Hurd, The American Cowboy, 1968-1983
39 Robert St. John, 1965-1972
40 Marion K. Sanders, David Schoenbrun, 1939-1973
41 Nevil Shute, William Shirer, 1957-1980
42 Frank Tolbert, 1965-1966
43 Anna Lee Waldo, Paul I. Wellman, Henri Troyat, 1953-1979
44 Elizabeth Stevenson, G. B. Stern, 1944-1961
45 Elizabeth B. de Trevino, Barbara W. Tuchman, 1962-1981
46 Elizabeth B. de Trevino, Frank Tolbert, -1986
Box Folder
681 01 Wallace Stegner, Sloan Wilson, Edith Wharton, 1935-1976
02 Elizabeth Wharton, N.C. Wyeth, Virginia Woolf, 1960-1971
03 News from American History, 1961-1966
04-05 News from Horizon, 1958-1968
06 Correspondence from Authors, 1937-1988
07 Newspaper Articles, 1948-1982
08 Publicity Materials, 1952-1980
09 Brassai, Stephen Birmingham, 1953-1974
10 Randolph S. Churchill, 1942-1990
11 Leon Hale, Clay Reynolds, Helen Hayes, 1978-1993
12 William Barrett, Bernard Baruch, Sholem Asch, 1942-1977
13 "Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church," 1991-1993
14 Alex Haley, Lawrence Thompson, 1948-1980
15 Alistair Cooke, Joe Frantz, 1974-1990
16 Robin Hill, 1978
17-18 Show Preparation Notes, 1932-1966
19 Frank Tolbert, Louis Auchincloss, 1966-1986
20 Levi A. Olan, Richard L. Evans, 1953-1969
Drawer Folder
2 Flat File 08-14 Newspaper Articles, 1947-1986
Drawer Folder
3 Flat File 11-12 Newspaper Articles, 1956-1989
Flat File 13 Fliers, 1942-1964
Flat File 14 Maps, 1964
Flat File 15-19 Newspaper Articles, 1934-1966

Series 5: Book Review Transcripts, 1932-1993

The fifth series contains twenty-eight folders and eleven bound books of transcripts for Evelyn Oppenheimer’s radio book review program. The transcripts are arranged in chronological order within each subsection (loose and bound).
Box Folder
681 21-32 Book reviews, 1932-1972
Box Folder
682 01-16 Book Reviews, 1973-1993
Box Folder
2167 01-06 Bound book reviews, 1934-1961
Box Folder
2168 01-05 Bound book reviews, 1962-1972