Guy Caldwell Lecture to Feature Dr. Jason Mellard

Mellard will give talk on Texas Music and the Lone Star Sense of Place


The 2016 Guy Caldwell Western Heritage Lecture will take place on Friday, January 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Johnson Building Multipurpose Room on the Hardin-Simmons University campus.  Featured scholar Dr. Jason Mellard will deliver a presentation based upon new research and entitled, “Western Swing and Global Pop: Texas Music and the Lone Star Sense of Place.”

This is the eleventh year for the lecture series, organized by Dr. Tiffany Fink, Professor of History at HSU.  The lecture is free and open to the public.  

While working at the Center for Texas Music History, directing publication of the Journal for Texas Music History, and serving as lecturer in the History Department at Texas State University, Dr. Mellard’s presence reflects an appreciation of the arts, public history, teaching and community involvement.  He works with the weekly radio program, This Week in Texas Music History.  In addition, Dr. Mellard is connected with Foodways Texas, an organization which studies and documents the cultural, popular and historical foundations of food and diet in Texas.  He has worked with Humanities Texas, the South Austin Popular Culture Center, and the visual artist Bob Wade.  Abilenians will recognize Mr. Wade as the creator of the beloved Dinosaur Bob sculpture, created for the 20th Annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit in 2000 which now greets visitors across from the NCCIL year-round.

A cultural historian of the American South and Southwest, Dr. Mellard’s credentials provide the academic support for his many interests and activities.  He earned both his Ph. D. in American Studies as well as his B. A. in History and Government at the University of Texas at Austin.  Dr. Mellard completed his M. A. in History at Texas A & M University.  Additionally, he holds a certificate as a social studies teacher for the State of Texas.

Dr. Mellard’s award-winning book, Progressive Country: How the 1970s Transformed the Texan in Popular Culture (2013) published by University of Texas Press will be available for purchase at the lecture on January 29, thanks to HSU Bookstore Manager, J. T. Box.  The Texas State Historical Association awarded Dr. Mellard the 2013 Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize for Best Book on Texas History in 2013.   

The Guy Caldwell Western Heritage Lecture Series began in 2006 in order to promote and preserve the western legacy so closely tied to Hardin-Simmons University, the Abilene area and West Texas.  The series is funded by the Guy Caldwell Endowment.

Guy and Jeanette Caldwell, both HSU alums, remained active with Hardin-Simmons University and the Abilene community as well as the Albany community where they ran a 25,000 acre ranch and farm for many years.  Both Guy and Jeanette served in church and civic leadership positions in the Abilene community as well as worked diligently to support their alma mater. 

Henry Guy Caldwell was born in Breckenridge Sept., 24, 1904, the only son of C. M. "Judge" and Cora Belle Caldwell.  He graduate from Breckenridge High School in 1922, at which time the Caldwell family moved to Abilene, in part so that he could attend what was then known as Simmons College.  He graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 1927 with a major in economics and a minor in history.  

Guy Caldwell and Jeanette Tippit were married in Alpine on May 1, 1928.  They moved to Abilene in 1948, but spent a great deal of time on their ranch northeast of Albany. 

Like his father before him, Guy Caldwell was a strong supporter of HSU, serving on HSU's Board of Development, with the Academic Foundation and as a member of the Board of Trustees at different times.  According to Dr. Rupert N. Richardson, during the Great Depression of the 1930s Guy Caldwell worked with a few other Simmons College alumni to establish the dollar-a-month club.  The alumni proposed that alumni give a dollar of their earnings to Simmons College each month during the economic calamity in order to help keep the institution open.  Dr. Richardson noted that the dollar-a-month club proved very inspirational to the faculty, staff and administrators who took as much as 50% pay cuts during the 1930s. 

In the early 1950s, Guy and Jeanette Caldwell in conjunction with the Cowboy Band and some of the HSU faculty worked with evangelist Billy Graham on the campus and at the Caldwell ranch to produce a motion picture designed to carry a gospel message.  To repay the Caldwells and HSU for their support and assistance, Dr. Graham spent a day on the Forty Acres, visiting with students, faculty and staff and delivering an evangelical message to the largest crowd ever gathered in Rose Field House.

In 1958, Guy Caldwell received the John J. Keeter, Jr. Alumni Award, the highest honor that can be bestowed on an HSU graduate.  In 1981, he and his wife, Jeanette, were the first couple to receive jointly the Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Dr. Jesse Fletcher knew Guy and Jeanette Caldwell well and is still close to the Caldwell family. 

"Guy Caldwell was the son of pioneers and the consummate West Texan.  With the deep faith that so often characterized the founding fathers, he could be counted on as a rancher, a family man, a churchman, a citizen, and a friend.  Few graduates of HSU have been more consistently supportive than Guy Caldwell.  That spirit so beautifully practiced by Guy and his college sweetheart and wife, Jeanette, will be reflected on the campus throughout its years," Fletcher said.

The objective of the Guy Caldwell Western Heritage Lecture is to promote the legacy that Guy Caldwell left to Hardin-Simmons, Abilene, and West Texas.  It is our goal to continue to preserve the western heritage of HSU, Abilene and West Texas.


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