Where we have been: Notes on the history of the family of Alan and Erika Sawyer

This is really just a beginning, some disorganized notes about places in Dana's childhood, probably mostly of interest to family members.  But some day it might become a book!

Denton, Texas

Alan R. Sawyer, Dana's father, began his teaching career at Texas State College for Women (TSCW) around 1949 in the Department of Fine Arts.  Dana was two years old.  TSCW is also still around, but is now Texas Woman's University (TWU).  While the TWU web site can be a bit confusing to navigate, it has a lot of interesting information.  The best way to find stuff is to use the "TWU Quick Links" at the top of the page, which are organized alphabetically.  For example, under "A" you will find "Arts, School of the", which has a picture of the same Fine Arts building where Alan taught.  Or if you can't find it in A to Z, you can use the Search window in the upper right, which will get you to the archives, among other places.  From there, under Faculty Publications, you can download all or part of an electronic copy of Marking a Trail: A History of the Texas Woman's University by Joyce Thompson.  Rather than downloading the whole thing at once (159 megabytes!), you may want to download individual sections of the book.  Chapter 8 covers the 1940s (plus a section of color illustrations of the campus as it looks today), and Chapter 9 most of the 1950s.

Mary Macomber Leu has written a memoir about her experiences in Denton: she and her husband moved from Massachusetts to Denton in 1952 when he accepted a teaching position at TSCW -- about the same time the Sawyer family was moving to Illinois.  The Denton part of her story begins in Chapter 21, and in Chapter 22 we find some familiar names including Ruth Steidinger and Fanny Vanderkooi, together with the beginnings of a Unitarian Fellowship.

Park Forest, Illinois

The Park Forest Public Library barely existed in our day, but their web site is an excellent place to begin.   One of the most interesting things I've found is the oral history project, part of which is in the Illinois Digital Archives.  See especially their interview with architect Richard Bennett.  The archives also contain many interesting photographs and scanned documents.

More about the architects of Park Forest, especially Richard Bennett, can be found at the Chicago Architects Oral History Project.

Books about Park Forest avalable from Amazon and other booksellers:

America's Original GI Town: Park Forest, Illinois (Creating the North American Landscape) by Gregory C. Randall

America's Original GI Town: Park Forest, Illinois (Creating the North American Landscape) by Gregory C. Randall.
Permalink: http://amzn.com/0801877520

Park Forest:  Dreams and Challenges   (IL)  (Images of America) by Jerry Shnay

Park Forest: Dreams and Challenges (IL) (Images of America) by Jerry Shnay.
Permalink: http://amzn.com/0738519502

The Organization Man by William Hollingsworth Whyte

The Organization Man by William Hollingsworth Whyte.
Permalink: http://amzn.com/0812218191

Last updated January 1, 2010