Info on J.C. Penny historical papers collection
Famous retailer had beginnings in Kemmerer, Wyoming
by Pinedale Online!
June 5, 2007
J.C. Penny Company Inc donated archives related to the history of the retail company to the Southern Methodist University DeGolyer Library in Dallas, Texas, in 2004. According to SMU, the company and related families gave the materials to the university library to make them more accessible to the public.
The library recently posted information detailing the contents of this extensive collection online giving more public exposure to the existence of the J.C. Penney papers and collection.
“These significant and timeless materials will be valuable to those doing scholarly research, not only in the history of retailing but also in the broader field of American cultural studies,” says Russell Martin, director of DeGolyer Library, according to the university’s website.
J. C. Penney opened his first store in Kemmerer, Wyoming (approximately 100 miles south of Pinedale) in 1902. That one store evolved into the JC Penney Company. The original store still exists and operates in Kemmerer.
The collection includes documents from 1800 to 2000. The papers detailing the origin, growth and operations of the J.C. Penny Company and more than 1,400 stores. It includes more than 20,000 photos, advertisements from 1903 to the late 1900s. These materials include not only the business speeches and correspondence of James Cash Penney, but also information on his dairy farms, livestock interests, and philanthropies including Penney Farms, the Penney Retirement Community, and the J.C. Penney Foundation.
The collection is open for research use. Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.
Penney was married three times and had five children. Penney’s personal fortunes rose and fell and rose again. He lost an estimated $40 million in the 1930s because his own company stock was used as collateral for loans to philanthropic activities. Penney was chairman of the board of J. C. Penney Company from 1917 to 1946 and again from 1950 to 1958; he was a member of the board of directors from 1913 until his death in 1971 in New York City. Today, J.C. Penney is one of America’s largest retailers. The company has over 1,000 stores throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
The DeGolyer Library is the principal repository at Southern Methodist University for special collections in the humanities, the history of business, and the history of science and technology. Its collections include rare books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and other materials are available to all SMU students, faculty, visiting scholars, and other researchers.
J.C. Penny Papers Collection
SMU DeGolyer Library