Norman Gambill Papers

Identity elements

Reference code

UA 006.09.02

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Norman Gambill Papers


  • 1934-2013 (Creation)


7.42 linear feet [7 record boxes, 1 document case]

Name of creator


Biographical history

Norman Paul Gambill was born April 3, 1941 in Dade City, FL, to George Washington Gambill IV and Dorcas (Darling) Gambill. He grew up in Florida and Georgia. / He was a scholar in art history and film studies with degrees from Emory University, the University of Iowa and Syracuse University. His also graduated from Emory at Oxford prep school in Atlanta. / He was an art history professor at the University of Illinois and South Dakota State University where he headed the Visual Arts Department for 26 years, retiring in 2010. / During his 48-year career, he taught thousands of undergraduate students to love art and understand its importance in world history. He also worked with graduate students on courses in Asian art, film art and design, women artists, and international films. / He was an ardent fan of Oscar Wilde and Orson Welles. His lectures and writings about Welles’s groundbreaking film “Citizen Kane” inspired many to take up film studies. His work as a scholar took him around the country giving lectures and around the world sharing his expertise with academics, particularly those who attended the Oxford Roundtable in 2010. / He published articles in scholarly journals and respected film magazines. His work on 1930s films and their importance in the cultural history of the United States is being published in his book, “Ritz and American Mediocrity.” He was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi, the national honor society for those with notable academic accomplishments, in 2006. / His innovative fund-raising events raised money for his department and the Brookings community. With the help of the Visual Arts Group of local volunteers, he founded the annual Evening for the Arts dinner and art auction. The yearly Chocolate Auction held on or around Valentine’s Day raised funds by with an auction of chocolate desserts donated by restaurants and local bakers. Proceeds provided scholarships for art students. / He also co-founded the annual DVAGI, Design and Visual Arts Group Inc., fundraiser in collaboration with the SDSU departments of Visual Arts, Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design, and Horticulture, Forestry and Landscape Design. Money from an auction of designers’ services raised money for students to travel to art and design events across the country. / His reputation for lavish parties carried over to his private life where he served abundant food and wine to friends from Brookings and across the country in his 19th Century house, a showplace for his extensive art collection. / He is survived by his brother Stephen, Palmetto FL; his sister, Janine Dover, Camilla, GA.; two nieces and a nephew. Hundreds of friends also survive and will miss his quick wit and impeccable sense of style. / Dr. Norman P. Gambill, died from heart failure on July 12, 2016, at the Neighborhoods at Brookview in Brookings.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection consists of administrative files, curriculum materials, events and conferences, facilities, teaching, grants and fundraising materials, meeting files, personal and professional research and activities, and manuscripts.

The Administrative files includes general correspondence, memos, Norman Gambill's calendars and appointment books and documents on department and course staffing, enrollment, and general planning. Some materials pre-date Gambill's arrival at South Dakota State University.

The curriculum material consists of Institutional Program Reviews, general education, liberal studies, and visual arts core review, and various curricular issues and concerns. This subseries focuses on curriculum work at a campus level, through visual arts curriculum work discussed at campus-level meetings. For course-level curriculum planning and staffing, see the General Administrative subseries.

The events and conferences material is composed of records on department art shows and exhibitions, the TechSigns conference, Design and Visual Arts Group, Inc. (DVAGI) events, and other departmental activities. Some materials pre-date Gambill's arrival at South Dakota State University.

The facilities files include material on the Fine Arts Auditorium (not called the Performing Arts Center), the Visual Arts Department site including the Industrial Arts building and Grove Hall, facility studies, planning and remodeling, and facility maintenance and health concerns. Some materials pre-date Gambill's arrival at South Dakota State University.

The teaching material consists of Dr. Gambill's personal files and includes course outlines, teaching research, course study guide packets, and VHS video of three course lectures. Some teaching materials pre-date Gambill's arrival at South Dakota State University.

The grants and fundraising material includes records on grant applications, awarded grants, and fundraising for programs and publications. Some materials pre-date Gambill's arrival at South Dakota State University.

The meeting files are composed of meeting agenda, minutes, and corresponding documents related to Visual Arts Department faculty meetings, Deans and Department Heads meetings, Academic Senate, and various other campus committees. Memoirs, correspondence, reports, and notes are included within these files and were likely discussed and/or distributed during the meetings. The arrived in disarray with only some bearing folder titles. Additionally, the term "Faculty Meetings" was broadly used and may refer to meetings beyond only Visual Arts Department meetings. For example, "Dean's and Departments Heads" meeting agendas may be found in "Faculty Meetings" folders, possibly for facilitating announcements at department faculty meetings. Some materials pre-date Gambill's arrival at South Dakota State University.

Personal and professional research and activities materials Include Gambill's research and correspondence regarding his writings, files regarding membership and participation in local organizations, and professional recognition and thank-you correspondence. Also included is some personal correspondence, recognition material, a resume, and photographs. Some materials pre-date Gambill's arrival at South Dakota State University.

The manuscript files are composed of unpublished manuscripts and Gambill’s Ph.D. thesis. Included are several revisions of “Ritz and American Mediocrity,” and “Designing Hollywood: Productions of Harry Horner, 1940-1980,” and “Citizen Kane: An Art Historical Analysis,” which was Gambills Ph.D. thesis from Syracuse University.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

This collection is open to researchers without restrictions. The materials in the Archives do not circulate and may be used in-house only.
Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

Physical access

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Languages of the material

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Related descriptions

Notes element

Specialized notes

Alternative identifier(s)


UA 6.9.2

Description control element

Rules or conventions

Sources used

Access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Accession area

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places