About Bridwell Library


Bridwell Library provides academic resources to support the educational programs of Perkins School of Theology and the Graduate Program in Religious Studies and is the principal bibliographic resource at Southern Methodist University for the fields of theology and religious studies. It offers prominent general and special collections in:

  • Theology, religion, and church history;
  • Early printing;
  • Fine press and artists’ books;
  • Methodist and Wesleyan studies;
  • Manuscript and printed devotional books, liturgy, and scripture;
  • Near eastern archaeology

The types of materials acquired by Bridwell Library include books, serials, audio/visual materials, electronic resources, and rare materials. As of 2019, the library collection includes 396,000 volumes, subscriptions to 700 periodicals, and a wealth of information available through various types of resources and formats.


The history of a theological library on the Southern Methodist University campus predates the Bridwell Library building. The School of Theology began when the university opened in 1915, and a separate theological library was established in 1925. That library was housed in Kirby Hall, the building that is now Florence Hall at the Dedman School of Law. Mrs. Kate Warnick served as the school’s first theological librarian from 1924 to 1950.

Bridwell Library is named for Joseph S. Bridwell (1885-1966), a rancher and businessman from Wichita Falls, Texas, who devoted much of his time and resources to building this Library.  In the late 1940s, Mr. Bridwell and his daughter Margaret Bridwell Bowdle donated the funds for the first library building.

On February 8, 1951, the original Georgian building designed by Dallas architect Mark Lemmon was dedicated along with the rest of the Perkins quadrangle.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Mr. Bridwell continued to support the Library, particularly in the acquisition of rare books.

After Mr. Bridwell's death in 1966, the foundation he established provided funding for the first renovation and enlargement of the Library, which was completed in 1973. The Bridwell Foundation again funded a substantial renovation and expansion of the library in 1988 and was rededicated in October 1989.

The most recent renovation completed in 2021 is the first major interior improvement project in three decades.  The project accomplishes enhancements to space use and up-to-date compliance and accommodations for ADA access, while maintaining aesthetic and design integrity to the library space.

Bridwell Directors

Decherd Turner September 1950 - April 1980
Richard P. Heitzenrater (Acting Director) May 1980 - October 1980; June 1992 - May 1993
Jerry D. Campbell October 1980 - June 1985
Roger L. Loyd (Acting Director) July 1985 - August 1987
Robert Maloy August 1987 - June 1992
Richard P. Heitzenrater (Acting Director) July 1992 - June 1993 
Valerie R. Hotchkiss July 1993 - July 2005
James A. McMillin (Interim Director) August 2005 - March 2007 
Roberta A. Schaafsma April 2007 - June 2018
Anthony Elia June 2018 - Present