Southern Methodist University

Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. papers, 1900-1996


Creator: Dixon, Ernest T., Jr.
Title: Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. papers
Dates: 1900-1996
Dates (Bulk): 1940-1990
Abstract: The papers of Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. document the life of the first African American bishop to serve the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Dixon (1922-1996) had a long and distinguished career as a clergyman, educator, college president, denominational administrator, and ecumenical leader. Throughout his nearly fifty years of active ministry, Dixon emphasized education and evangelism, advocated for the economic conditions and civil rights of minority groups, and worked to improve race relations both within and beyond the church.
Identification: BridArch 3.004
Quantity: 20 boxes (10 linear feet)
Language: Material is in English
Repository: Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Biographical Note

Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. was born in San Antonio, Texas on October 13, 1922. A popular sportsman and scholar, Dixon was elected president of the 1939 senior class of Phyllis Wheatley High School, San Antonio. He attended Samuel Huston College, Austin, Texas, (B.A., Magna Cum Laude, 1943) and continued his studies at Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, New Jersey (B.D., 1945). Dixon later received honorary degrees from Huston-Tillotson College (D.D., 1962), Southwestern College (L.H.D., 1973), Baker University (LL.D., 1973), Westmar College (Litt.D., 1978), and Kansas Wesleyan College (H.H.D., 1980).

Rev.Dixon received his first preaching license in 1943 while serving as Sunday School Superintendent at Jacob’s Chapel Methodist Church in San Antonio. In 1945 he was ordained deacon in the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Church. The following year he received his elder’s orders. Dixon’s ministerial appointments included Brackettville, Texas, Mission (Pastor, 1943); East Calvary Methodist Church, Harlem, New York (Assistant Minister, 1943-1944); Wallace Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, Summit, New Jersey (Assistant Minister, 1944-1945); and Bowen Methodist Church, Tuskegee, Alabama (organizing Pastor, 1950-1951).

From 1945 to 1951 Dixon worked for Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) as the Director of Religious Extension Service. Concurrently, he served Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia, as visiting instructor in the field of Rural Church Work (1949-1951). In 1951 he became the travelling secretary of the Student Volunteer Movement for Christian Missions.

Dixon’s career included employment as executive secretary of the West Texas Conference Board of Education (1951-1952) and as a staff member of the Board of Education of The Methodist Church (1952-1964). From 1965 to 1969 Dixon led Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas as president. He then served as assistant general secretary of the United Methodist Program Council Division of Coordination, Research and Planning (1969-1972).

In July 1972 Dixon became the first African American elected to the office of bishop in the South Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church (UMC). His episcopal appointments comprised eight years in Kansas (1972-1980) and twelve years in San Antonio (1980-1992), including a term as president of the Council of Bishops (1988-1989).

Dixon served on many church, community, and educational boards. In 1950 he attended the Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth as a delegate from the State of Alabama. In 1967 he became the first African American elected to the Board of Directors of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. Other leadership positions included president of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the UMC (1972-1976), chairman of the UMC Continuing Commission on the Black Colleges (1972-1980), member of the executive committee of the World Methodist Conference (1976-1992), president of the board of trustees of Gulfside Assembly, Waveland, Mississippi (1978-1992), and president of the Texas Conference of Churches (1984-1986).

Dixon was the son of Ernest Thomas Dixon and Ethel Louise Reese Dixon. He married Lois F. Brown in 1943. Following her death in 1977, Dixon married Ernestine Gray Clark in 1979. Bishop Dixon retired from the ministry in 1992. He died in San Antonio on June 29, 1996.


“Retired Methodist Bishop Ernest Dixon Dies at 73.” The Dallas Morning News, July 7, 1996.

Funeral program for Bishop Ernest Thomas Dixon, Jr. San Antonio, July 3, 1996. Pamphlet from the collections of San Antonio Public Library (

Biographical statement concerning Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. President, Philander Smith College. Little Rock, Arkansas, July 15, 1967. Ernest T. Dixon, Jr., papers, Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

An Introduction to Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. Resident Bishop of the San Antonio Area The United Methodist Church, 1980. Ernest T. Dixon, Jr., papers, Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

San Antonio Ecumenical Group Retirement Banquet program. San Antonio, Texas, August 29, 1992. Ernest T. Dixon, Jr., papers, Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

Scope and Contents Note

The Ernest R. Dixon, Jr. papers comprise ten linear feet of biographical materials, family documents, photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, event programs, speech and sermon notes, research materials (topical booklets, articles, and reports), and general office records. This collection documents the life and work of Dixon (1922-1996), a twentieth-century African American minister, educator, administrator, and race relations leader who served twenty years as an active United Methodist Bishop.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection contains three series:
Series 1: Personal and family records, 1920-1996
Series 2: Ministerial papers, 1939-1972
Series 3: Episcopal papers, 1972-1996


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research use.

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 Material 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.

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)
Dixon, Ernest T., Jr., 1922-1996.
Subjects (Organizations)
United Methodist Church (U.S.). South Central Jurisdiction.
African American Methodists -- United States.
Methodist Church -- United States -- Clergy.
Document Types

Related Material

Collection on the Council of Bishops, Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Ernest T. Dixon, Jr. papers, Bridwell Library Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ernest T. Dixon, 1995-1996

Processing Information

Processed by Timothy S. G. Binkley, 2017.

Encoded by Ada Negraru, 2017.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Personal and Family Records, 1920-1996
37 folders

The first series, Personal and Family Records, comprises thirty-seven folders of resumes, obituaries, newspaper clippings, school records, correspondence, and photographs. These items summarize Bishop Dixon’s life and document his educational background and family relationships. Notable among the photographs (Box 786B) are images of Dixon’s economic development work with rural churches including The Lord’s Acre program and the Harris Barnett Community.
Box Folder
785A 01 Biographical data, 1941-1996
02 News clippings, 1950-1995
03 Phyllis Wheatley High School, San Antonio, 1939
04 Samuel Huston College, Austin, 1941-1943
05 Drew Theological Seminary, Drew University, 1942-1945
06 Drew Theological Seminary – Preaching, 1943-1946
07 Drew Theological Seminary – Wednesday Chapel Talks, 1946 October
08 Drew Theological Seminary – Home Missions, 1944
09 Drew Theological Seminary – History of Missionary Expansion, 1944
10-11 Drew Theological Seminary – Parish Supervision, 1944-1945
Box Folder
785B 01 Drew Theological Seminary – History of the Christian Church, 1944
02 Drew Theological Seminary – Old Testament, 1944
03 Drew Theological Seminary – New Testament, 1945
04 Drew Theological Seminary – The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul, 1944-1945
05 Drew Theological Seminary – Philosophical Classics, 1944-1945
06 Drew Theological Seminary – Interpretation of Life and Religion, 1945
07 Drew Theological Seminary – The Minister and His Responsibility, 1945
Box Folder
786A 01-02 Drew Theological Seminary – Public Worship / Worship in the Rural Church, 1943-1949
03 Huston-Tillotson College – Doctor of Divinity degree, 1962
04 Family – Ethel Louise Reese Dixon and Ernest T. Dixon, 1920-1964
Box Folder
2021 (Large format) 01 High School diploma of Louise Reese, San Antonio, 1920
Box Folder
786A 05 Family – Lois Freddie Brown Dixon, 1977
06 Family – Freddie Brown Dixon, 1962-1964
Box Folder
786B 01 Family photographs, circa 1900-1964
02 Portraits of Ernest T. Dixon, Jr., circa 1925-1990
03 Drew University post cards, circa 1945
04 Tuskegee Institute post cards, circa 1950
05 Lord’s Acre Project / Tuskegee rural church work photographs, circa 1950
06 Harris Barnett Community photographs, circa 1950
07 J. K. Mathews, Hugh C. Stuntz, and Ernest T. Dixon, Jr., at Scarritt College, 1954 June 3
08 Philander Smith College event photographs, 1965-1969
09 Kansas photographs, circa 1972-1995
10 Picture of Bishop Dixon with Billy Graham, circa 1990
11 St. Paul / Garwood Church renovation, Southwest Texas Conference, 1991
12 Signed photograph of President Bill Clinton, 1995

Series 2: Ministerial Papers, 1939-1972
59 folders

The second series comprises fifty-eight folders of documents produced or collected during Dixon’s work between his graduation from seminary in 1945 and his election to the episcopacy in 1980. During these years he filled leadership roles of increasing responsibility at Tuskegee Institute, Gammon Theological Seminary, the Student Volunteer Movement, the West Texas Annual Conference (Central Jurisdiction), the Board of Education of the Methodist Church, Philander Smith College, and the Program Council of the United Methodist Church. Materials of special note include files on segregation, racism, and the Black Power movement.
Box Folder
786A 07-08 Tuskegee Institute, 1947-1959
09 Tuskegee Institute – Lord’s Acre Plan, 1946-1963
Box Folder
786C 01 Tuskegee Institute – Lord’s Acre Plan, 1946-1963
02 Recreation in the church, 1939-1947
03 Religious education and evangelism resources, 1942-1953
04-06 Race relations / Integration / Civil Rights, 1945-1959
07 Memorial Day talks, 1950
Box Folder
787A 01 Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth, 1950
02 Gammon Theological Seminary, 1950-1951
03 Student Volunteer Movement for Christian Missions, 1951
04-05 West Texas Annual Conference, 1951-1956
06 West Texas Annual Conference youth retreat, 1951-1956
07 West Texas Annual Conference Woman’s Society of Christian Service, 1949-1956
08 Meeting of Conference Executive Secretaries, Nashville, 1952 December
09 Methodist Higher Education, 1951-1952
10 Bible study resources, 1951-1952
11 General Board of Evangelism / Upper Room Chapel, 1951-1953
12 Armed Forces Preaching Mission, 1952
Box Folder
787B 01-02 Board of Education of the Methodist Church, 1952-1963
03 Research materials on the United Nations, 1948-1963
04 Research materials on communism and the church, 1952-1963
05 Your Church Can Win and Hold Young People, 1953
06 Speaking notes and event programs, 1953-1962
07 Leadership development, 1955-1963
08 School of Missions and Christian Service, Gulfside Assembly, 1958
Box Folder
787C 01-02 Philander Smith College, Little Rock, Arkansas, 1960-1969
03 Breakthru and Talk Back television programs, 1961
04 Automation and society, 1961-1971
05 A Proposed Solution to the Central Jurisdiction Problem, 1962, 1971
06 Baldwin Wallace College, Berea, Ohio, 1965, 1970
07 Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination demonstrations, 1968 April
08 South Central Jurisdictional Conference, 1968 July
09-10 Commission on Religion and Race, 1968-1971
11 Southwest Texas Conference, 1968-1971
Box Folder
788A 01 School of Christian Mission, Lakeview Assembly, 1969 July
02 General Conference Committee to Study the Methodist Publishing House, 1969 November
03 Southern Africa – A Time for Change, Friendship Press, 1969
04 The Black Manifesto / Fund for Reconciliation, 1969-1970
05-06 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, Atlanta, 1970
07 Virginia Annual Conference, 1970
08 Correspondence, 1970-1972
09 Program Council of the United Methodist Church, 1971-1972
Box Folder
788B 01 Resources on Black Higher Education, 1971-1974
02 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, St. Louis, 1971-1972
Box Folder
2021 (Large format) 02 The Lord’s Acre poster, Famer’s Federation, Asheville, North Carolina, circa 1950
“Begin the Day with God” poster, Famer’s Federation, Asheville, North Carolina, circa 1950
03 “20th Century: The Century of the Color Line” article by W. E. B. DuBois, The Pittsburgh Courier, 1950 January 14
“The Negro in the Next 50 Years” articles, The Chicago Defender, 1950 September
04 Editorial excerpts from the nation’s press on segregation ruling, 1954 May 18
05 Black Power Statement by National Committee of Negro Churchmen, The New York Times, 1966 July 31
Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc. poster, 1970
06 Submarine Church Press newspaper, 1968 April
07 The Black Ultimatum, Now magazine, Black Methodists for Church Renewal, 1971
The Sign of the Times, Now magazine, Black Methodists for Church Renewal, 1972
08 Black College Fund poster featuring statement by Albert Outler, circa 1972

Series 3: Episcopal Papers, 1972-1996
104 folders

The third series includes 104 folders of documents generated or collected during Dixon’s work as a United Methodist bishop, beginning in the Kansas Episcopal Area (1972-1980, nineteen folders), and concluding in the San Antonio Episcopal Area (1980-1992, seventy-seven folders). The final eight folders in this series reflect his retirement interests and activities. Items of special note in series three include an exchange of letters with author Alex Haley (Box 790A, file 07).
Box Folder
788B 03 South Central Jurisdiction Conference, Houston, 1972
04 Office papers, 1972
05 Kansas Area of the United Methodist Church, 1972-1980
06 Baker University, Baldwin, Kansas, 1973, 1977
07 Episcopal visitation to Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, 1973-1975
08 Rio Grande Annual Conference reports, 1975
09 Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 1975-1979
Box Folder
789A 01 Continuing Commission on the Black Colleges / Black College Fund, 1976-1979
02 Vivian Wilson Henderson, 1976 January 31
03 United Methodist Higher Education in Kansas report, 1977 February
04 Africa Task Force report, 1978
05 Iglesia Metodista de México, 1978 August
06 Board of Discipleship, 1978-1979
07 Kansas Area Convocation on Evangelism, 1978-1980
08 United Methodist Rural Fellowship, 1978-1980
09 Inter-ethnic Minority Consultation, San Antonio, 1979 February
10 Pacific Homes litigation (Frank T. Barr vs. The United Methodist Church), 1979
11 Iranian Revolution / American hostage crisis, 1979-1980
12 First United Methodist Church, Topeka, Kansas, 1979-1980
Box Folder
789B 01 Office papers, 1980
02 South Central Jurisdictional Conference, 1980
03 Michael Hernandez funeral, La Trinidad UMC, San Antonio, 1980 October 29
04 College of Bishops, 1980-1981
05 Texas Methodist College Association, 1980-1981
06 Southwest Texas Conference churches, 1980-1990
07 Office papers, 1981
08 Fourteenth World Methodist Conference, 1980-1981
09 Gulfside Association reunion address by Julius S. Scott, Jr., 1981 September 12
10 Small membership church resources, 1981-1984
11 Office papers, 1982
Box Folder
790A 01 Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 1982
02 General Commission on Religion and Race, 1982
03 Conference Board of Church and Society controversy, 1982
04 Pax: Our Choice, 1982-1983
05 Office papers, 1983
06 Lima, Peru CIEMAL consultation, 1983
07 Alex Haley correspondence, 1983-1984
08 Sierra Leone visitation, 1983-1986
09 General office files, 1984
10 Conference of Methodist Bishops and Presidents, Baltimore, 1984 April
11 Inter-conference Committee on Mexican-American Ministries, 1984-1985
12 American Methodist bicentennial cacheted covers, 1984-1985
Box Folder
790B 01 Rio Grande Annual Conference, 1984
02 Rio Grande Conference history album created by Antonio M. Riojas, 1984
03 Methodist World Council, 1984-1986
04 United Negro College Fund, 1984-1991
05 Office papers, 1985-1986
06 The Seven Churches of Methodism, 1985
07 Southwest Texas Annual Conference, 1985-1986
08 Communities in Schools, Inc., 1985-1986
09 The Texas Response Governor’s citizen task force for Mexican relief, 1986
10 Liberia visitation, 1986-1987
11 Bishop’s Mission to Africa, 1986-1989
12 Office papers, 1987
Box Folder
791A 01 In Defense of Creation pastoral letter, 1987
02 Disciple, 1987
03 General Conference of the A.M.E. Church, 1987-1988
04 Border ministry / Refugee crisis, 1987-1989
05 Kerrville Methodist Assembly / Mt. Wesley Conference Center, 1987-1994
06-07 Office papers, 1988
08 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, St. Louis, 1988
09 Alamo Area Council Boy Scouts of America, 1988-1992
Box Folder
791B 01 South Central Jurisdictional Conference, 1988 July
02 British Methodist Conference, 1988
03 Council of Bishops orientation, 1988 September
04 Nicaragua, 1988-1989
05 Poland, 1988-1989
06 Israel, 1988-1990
07 Office papers, 1989
08 San Antonio Area, 1989
09 Mozambique, 1989
10 Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, San Francisco / Rev. Cecil Williams, 1989
Box Folder
792A 01 General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 1989-1990
02 San Antonio Education Partnership, 1989-1991
03 San Antonio Commission on Literacy, 1989-1991
04 Office papers, 1990
05 San Antonio Area, 1990
06 La Trinidad United Methodist Church, Laredo, Texas, 1990-1991
07 San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, 1990-1991
08 Office papers, 1991
Box Folder
792B 01 Fifth Consultation of Methodist Bishops, 1991 March
02 South Central Jurisdiction Council of Bishops, 1991-1993
03 Pastor C. B. T. Smith, Golden Gate Missionary Baptist Church, Dallas, 1991
04 Southwest Texas Annual Conference retirement planning seminar, 1991
05 Communities in Schools, San Antonio, 1991-1992
06 Black Church Think Tank Assembly / National Black Cabinet Convocation, 1991-1993
07-08 Office papers, 1992
09 South Central Jurisdictional Conference, 1992 July
10 United Methodist Border Ministries, 1992
Box Folder
792C 01 City of San Antonio letter of congratulations, 1992 June 14
02-03 Methodist Home, Waco, Texas, 1992-1993
04 Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation, 1992-1993
05 Jacob’s Chapel United Methodist Church, San Antonio, 1992-1994
06 Correspondence, 1993
07 ConnecTexas, 1993
08 Southwestern College choral tours, 1993-1995
09 Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm, Austin, 1994
10 Uganda relief appeals, 1994-1995
11 Correspondence, 1995-1996
12 Society of St. Andrew, 1995
13 The Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health, San Antonio, 1995-1996