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1850s and 1860s Hotel and Restaurant Menus

Number of Items: 80 items

These mid nineteenth century menus located in the Hospitality Industry Archives, at the Hilton College of the University of Houston reveal a treasure trove of historical information. The menus relate not only the regional cuisine of the particular restaurant but also show some of the cultural and social norms of society. The menus are from hotel restaurants, stand-alone restaurants and steamships.

1911 Houston Society with Gladys Ewing

Number of Items: 95 items

Get into the swing of high society with Houston debutante Gladys Ewing in 1911. This digital collection represents Miss Ewing’s own scrapbook, commemorating social events and personal engagements through ornate invitations, gift cards, handwritten diary entries, and news clippings from the society pages. Created when she was 18 years old, her scrapbook contains 95 pages of material dated mostly from November 1911 to February 1912.

The daughter of Judge Presley Kittredge Ewing and philanthropist/activist Mary Ellen Ewing, Gladys Ewing served as Maid of Honor to the Queen of the No-Tsu-Oh Carnival, an annual festival in Houston that featured formal balls and parades. (The word No-Tsu-Oh is Houston spelled backwards.) The scrapbook includes telegrams congratulating her on this crowning appointment, as well as newspaper photos, beautifully graphic notecards with ribbons and pressed flowers still intact, and Miss Ewing’s explanatory notes written on the pages.

Some of the brief diary entries recall trips out of town, swim parties, automobile rides, dinners, and other social events – almost always including the names of other guests. One such entry comprises a list of Miss Ewing’s many gentleman callers on Christmas Eve. The scrapbook also contains a four-page “gift registry” of sorts, in which Miss Ewing wrote little poetic rhymes about gifts received and the people who sent them.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in The Ewing Family Papers.

Architecture Retail Pamphlet Collection

Number of Items: 38 items

The UH Libraries’ Architecture Retail Pamphlet Collection is comprised of a diverse array of historic retail brochures, pamphlets and catalogs from the William R. Jenkins Architecture & Art Library’s Rare Books Room. The collection spans 45 years, from a Jap-A-Lac Varnish pamphlet published by Glidden in 1890, to a 1935 Homestead Fires catalog of “truly appropriate fireplace heaters.” In addition to these, the collection also features various other paint and varnish pamphlets as well as brochures from companies dealing in plumbing fixtures, fireplace heaters, lace curtains, cedar shingles, furniture and more. Beyond product illustration, the images herein capture descriptive text, specifications and price lists. The collection includes: Jap-A-Lac, The Home Beautifier (1890), A.W. Faber's Price-List of Superior Lead and Colored Pencils: Writing and Copying Inks, Slate Manufactures, Rulers, Penholders and Erasive Rubber (1897), three volumes from Red Cedar Shingles (1910-1912), How to Paint, from Sears, Roebuck & Co. (unknown), Slumber Davenports (1911), Sectional Come-Pakt Furniture (1912),  Modern Plumbing #10 from J. L. Mott Iron Works (1921), Scranton Laces’ New Outlooks for Every Home (1923), Peerless Built-In Furniture (1926), Architectural Varnish List from C. Schrack & Co. (ca1930) and Homestead Fires “Truly Appropriate Fireplace Heaters” (1935).

Blanche Espy Chenoweth, Her Life, Her Times

Number of Items: 68 items

This collection contains photographs documenting the life and times of Blanche Espy Chenoweth, a lecturer, writer, and voice on the radio who covered topics related to women’s social customs, homemaking, and general well-being. The photographs of Chenoweth, her family and friends, and her travels give a glimpse of American life during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The digital collection includes 67 photographs and a 48-page scrapbook.

The photographs, including those found in the scrapbook, include formal portraits and snapshots. Many of the portraits provide examples of formal dress and photographic customs from the time period, including dresses worn for graduations and weddings. In contrast, the snapshots show life unscripted. These snapshots include groups of friends and colleagues, travels across the American Southwest, and picnics, sports, and other social outings. Much of the information about the photographs comes from notes included in the archival collection that houses the materials, the Blanche Espy Chenoweth Papers.

Chenoweth was born in Iowa in 1875 and spent the last 25 years of her life in Houston, prior to her death in 1960. Throughout her adult life she lived and travelled in various cities giving lectures on women’s dress and grooming and their importance in a happy life. In the 1920s, she lectured and wrote on the problems of women at the Chautauqua Institute in New York, and in the 1930s she had a radio program in Chicago which gave advice on women’s personal problems. During this time she also wrote an advice column for a newspaper.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Blanche Espy Chenoweth Papers.

Book of Hours, Use of Reims

Number of Items: 3 items

This French devotional book from the Middle Ages invites you to leaf through its beautifully decorated and handwritten pages. View the complete book of 197 leaves, the binding only, or just the illuminated pages.  This book of hours would have been used by a wealthy individual to mark the times of day with prayers and psalms. It is illustrated with marginal images of dragons, musicians, apes, dogs, and hybrid creatures.

This Book of Hours, Use of Reims was created for the use of an individual in northern France. Its text, written on parchment, is in both Latin and Old French. The scribe has identified himself in a note as Paulinus de Sorcy.

While many medieval manuscripts feature images that are closely related to their text, this one is primarily illustrated with marginalia. These whimsical images enliven the borders of various pages. A man plays a harp. A monkey or ape inspects a vial of urine in a satire of medieval medicine. A hybrid creature wearing a habit preaches with an upraised finger from a green book. Monkeys do somersaults while a dog watches.

This manuscript was rebound in dark brown leather in the early twentieth century.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in Book of Hours, Use of Reims.

Building Houston

Number of Items: 5 items

This collection is the result of a partnership between the William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library and the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. It includes the oral histories of people who strongly impacted the built environment in the Houston Area. Architects, developers, scholars and philanthropists discuss their work, projects, and the influences that shaped Houston. Each subject is interviewed by an architect or architectural scholar who frames the discussion and provides context. The collection of oral histories is ongoing, so Building Houston's content will regularly expand to accommodate new subjects. Photographs of the Zemanek House on Bomar Street courtesy of Catherine Essinger.

Captain O.C. McDavid World War II Letters

Number of Items: 238 items

This 238-item digital collection of World War II-era correspondence, dating between 1943 and 1945, focuses on Captain O.C. McDavid’s tour of duty in the Pacific Theatre of war.  These letters consist of his letters to family members and their letters to him.  Many of his letters home are illustrated with cartoons and drawings, thus providing visual interest to Captain McDavid’s descriptions of army life.  

As with much wartime correspondence, censorship of operations and engagements with Axis forces allow only scant details for those interested in the minutiae of South Pacific strategy.  Instead, what emerges in these letters has to do with McDavid’s observations of foreign cultures and how they relate to the struggle for the South Pacific.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, McDavid was sent to the South Pacific. During his Army service he was stationed in New Guinea, the Gilbert Islands, a chain of sixteen atolls and coral islands in the South Pacific, and in the Philippines. In New Guinea, Captain McDavid was placed in charge of establishing village governments with local populations and building infrastructure to support sanitation, security, and healthcare, and his duties were similar in his other postings. The locations where Captain McDavid saw service figured directly in the Allied advance to take territory occupied by the Japanese and to gain staging areas for U.S. forces to move forward.

O.C. McDavid, born in Ruth, Mississippi in 1911, began what would become a newspaper career during his high school years by sweeping floors in the print shop at his hometown’s Enterprise Journal.  His responsibilities grew to include running the print shop as well as writing, which resulted in attending high school part-time in order to pursue his newspaper career full time.  He became the city editor and political reporter at the Jackson, Mississippi Daily News.  McDavid joined the National Guard and received his federal induction prior to America’s entry into the war.  Following earlier camp deployments, he was sent, in August 1943, with the 31st “Dixie” Infantry Division, for training at Fort Pickett, Virginia.  The 31st was composed of Guard soldiers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.  Earlier, McDavid had been tapped by his commanding general to edit a weekly camp newspaper, The Dixie, which bore the name of his infantry division.  The 31st left Fort Pickett in March 1944.  Sailing out of Newport (now Newport News), Virginia, the division arrived in New Guinea in late April.

Following the war, McDavid returned to the newspaper business, becoming managing editor, then managing editor emeritus of the Jackson Daily News.  Upon retirement in 1981, he devoted his time to painting and metal sculpture.  McDavid earned the George Ohr Public Service Award, which honors Mississippians who have supported crafts as art.  He died on March 12, 1998, in Jackson, Mississippi.  The following year, the Mississippi Press Association established an annual student journalism conference in his name.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Captain O.C. McDavid World War II Letters

Civil War Letters

Number of Items: 174 items

This digital collection of more than 150 Civil War-era letters contains correspondence from the M.L. Calk, W.D. Lowther, and William W. Edgerton letters. Calk and Lowther were Confederate soldiers from Alabama and Texas, respectively, while Edgerton was a Union soldier from New York. The collection is made up of personal correspondence during the war. Calk and Edgerton both correspond with family members, while Lowther writes to his fiancée.

Martin L. Calk was a member of the 23rd Alabama Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Confederate Army. His regiment was formed under the command of Colonel Franklin K. Beck on November 19, 1861 at Camp Wilcox, near Montgomery, Alabama. Calk served with the 23rd Alabama Volunteer Infantry Regiment in both the Kentucky (September-October 1862) and Vicksburg (December 1862-July 1863) Campaigns.

W.D. Lowther, the second Confederate soldier, served in Company D, 2nd Texas Brigade, 17th Consolidated Regiment. This company was attached to Colonel George M. Fluornoy's 16th Texas Infantry Regiment of Major General John G. Walker's Texas Division when the latter officer relieved Brigadier General Henry McCullough.  During the time Lowther is writing, the 12th Texas Division, often referred to as “Walker’s Greyhounds,” was attempting to repulse Union forces in Arkansas and Louisiana in order to rout the U.S. Army’s efforts to cut off Texas from the rest of the Confederacy and interrupt its considerable supplies from reaching east into the southern states.

William Wilberforce Edgerton, a native of south central New York, was a private with the 107th New York Infantry Regiment (Campbell Guards).  Following a station at the defenses in Washington, he saw action in numerous campaigns, starting in Maryland with the Army of the Potomac’s XII Corps, 1st Division, 3rd Brigade at the 1st Battle of Antietam as part of the Maryland Campaign (September 4-20, 1862), and, in Virginia, the Chancellorsville Campaign (April 30-May 6, 1863) and as part of the reinforcements sent to aid the Army of the Tennessee for the Chattanooga Campaign (October-November 1863).  Finally,  Edgerton saw action as part of the Army of the Cumberland’s XX Corps, 1st Division, 1st Brigade in the Atlanta Campaign (May-September 1864), the Savannah Campaign (November-December 1864), and the Carolinas Campaign (January-March 1865).  The 107th New York Infantry Regiment was mustered out in Washington on June 5, 1865.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries Special Collections in the M.L. Calk Civil War Letters, the W. D. Lowther Civil War Letters, and the William W. Edgerton Civil War Letters.

DJ Screw Photographs and Memorabilia

Number of Items: 25 items

This collection includes photographs, handwritten rap lyrics and song lists for “screw tapes,” and flyers related to the late DJ Screw and his rap collective the Screwed Up Click. These materials document how DJ Screw developed the production technique known as “chopped and screwed,” which is closely associated with Houston hip hop. The collection also includes obituaries (memorial service programs) for DJ Screw.

DJ Screw was born Robert Earl Davis, Jr. in 1971. As a teenager on the South side of Houston, he began DJ-ing and making mixtapes of his favorite rap songs for friends. By the early nineties, he had begun slowing down the music on his tapes to a hypnotic crawl and emphasizing certain words and phrases by repeating them manually. Screw sold these “chopped and screwed” mixtapes directly to eager fans.

Friends and local rappers began ordering personal tapes from Screw, and he invited the rappers to freestyle, or improvise, over beats at the beginning and end of the tapes. Over time, the rappers themselves developed followings and many released successful independent solo albums. Prominent members of the Screwed Up Click included the Botany Boys, Fat Pat, HAWK, Lil’ Keke, E.S.G., Big Pokey, Big Moe, Lil’ O, Al-D, Yungstar, and Lil’ Flip.

It is estimated that DJ Screw sold hundreds of thousands of mixtapes throughout Houston and the South. He also released four studio albums on Bigtyme Recordz: All Screwed Up, 3 'N The Mornin' (Part One), 3 'N The Mornin' (Part Two), and I Wanna Get High with Da Blanksta. As a member of Dead End Alliance (D.E.A.) with Fat Pat, HAWK and Kay-K, he appeared on the album “Screwed for Life.” In 1998, he opened Screwed Up Records and Tapes, a shop that sold only his mixtapes.

On November 16, 2000, DJ Screw was found dead in his recording studio at the age of 29, his death ruled an overdose of codeine and other drugs. His legacy continues to be honored by Houston rappers and fans from around the world.

These materials were part of a larger exhibition, DJ Screw and the Rise of Houston Hip Hop, on view at the M.D. Anderson Library from March 19 through September 21, 2012.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the DJ Screw Papers.

Early Texas Documents

Number of Items: 1297 items

This digital collection chronicles the history of Texas from the Spanish Colonial Era through the turn of the 20th century. The bulk of the collection is from the Colonial, Republic, and Early Statehood eras, and in addition to materials broadly documenting the history of Texas, the activities of several prominent Texans and Americans are also documented. The digital collection contains nearly 1300 items.

Included in the collection are papers pertaining to the establishment of Austin’s Colony, including land and legal documents signed by Stephen F. Austin. Sam Houston’s role as President of Texas is extensively documented through correspondence and legal, financial, and land papers. The roles of Anson Jones and Mirabeau Lamar as President of Texas are seen in legal and land paper, and James Morgan’s role as Colonel in the Texas Army is documented through correspondence, legal, and military papers. Finally, Andrew Jackson’s role as President of the United States of America is documented in a letter detailing his decision to not send troops to Texas during the state’s revolution.

Also of interest are slave documents within the collection documenting the sale of slaves as property as well as financial and scrip documents that detail a listing of goods and services purchased by individuals. Other items include illustrations of currency and warrants paid to soldiers for their service.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Early Texas Documents Collection.

Exotic Impressions, Views of Foreign Lands

Number of Items: 16 items

This collection is comprised of a diverse array of books from the William R. Jenkins Architecture & Art Library’s Rare Books Room. Each one depicts a foreign land in etchings, photography, or sketches.  Unlike typical travel literature, these books primarily evoke an exotic, picturesque locale in imagery.  Some, like Fontainebleau, le Château: Album Artistique or Besley’s Eighteen Views of Devonshire (stamped Price One Shilling on the cover) are clearly travel souvenirs.  Others, like Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, Illustrated, are scholarly works for an audience unlikely to visit the city of their own.  The collection also includes an anonymous album of Victorian photographs taken in Edinburgh and inscribed by hand.  The collection spans most of the 19th century, beginning with H.W. Williams’ Select Views in Greece, published in 1829.

Galveston 1915 Hurricane Photographs

Number of Items: 124 items

These 124 photographs capture the devastation wrought by the hurricane that hit Galveston Island on August 17, 1915. The collection features black-and-white and sepia-toned images of destroyed buildings, streets, railroads, causeway, and beachfront, taken by Rex Dunbar Frazier in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Frazier, a representative of Stone & Webster Engineering, was called in to collect storm damage data and document the scene. Most of the photographs date from August 18, 1915, although many are undated. Some later photographs show repairs underway a month or two later. The photos were removed from a scrapbook for preservation purposes, but the text from the original captions has been retained.

The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 is well known for having killed over 10,000 people on the island, but less well known is the fact that in 1915, Galveston was again hit by a devastating hurricane. This one caused $50 million worth of property damage, yet resulted in only 275 deaths. The low loss of life has been attributed to the protection offered by the seawall, which was constructed following the 1900 hurricane.

Some information for this description was drawn from the Handbook of Texas Online.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Galveston 1915 Hurricane Photographs.

HAWK Photographs and Memorabilia

Number of Items: 67 items

This collection provides a window into the life of the late Houston rapper HAWK, a member of DJ Screw’s rap collective the Screwed Up Click (S.U.C.). Publicity photographs depict the style of HAWK and fellow rappers Fat Pat (his brother) and Big Moe, while snapshots capture HAWK, Lil’ Keke, Trae and other S.U.C. members performing or hanging out. Of special note is a handwritten notebook of HAWK’s lyrics in gold on black paper.

HAWK, also known as H.A.W.K. or Big Hawk, was born John Edward Hawkins in Houston on November 15, 1969. In the early nineties he began working with DJ Screw, an underground mixtape DJ who was developing a new style called “chopped and screwed.” Like many others, including his brother before him, HAWK ordered personal mixtapes on which he would rap. Through the popularity of these mixtapes, HAWK became locally famous. In 1998, HAWK, Fat Pat, DJ Screw, and Kay-K formed a group called Dead End Alliance (D.E.A.) and released the album Screwed for Life on Dead End Records.

HAWK released his first solo album, Under H.A.W.K.’s Wings, on Dead End Records in 2000. In 2002, he released his second album, HAWK, on Game Face Entertainment.

On April 9, 2006, HAWK married his longtime girlfriend, Meshah (Henderson) Hawkins. Shortly thereafter, in May 2006, HAWK was shot and killed. His murder remains unsolved. Another album, Endangered Species, was released posthumously on Ghetto Dreams Entertainment in 2007.

HAWK was especially respected as a writer of lyrics. In the pages of his notebook, he worked out the sixteen bars that make up a typical rap verse. Some pages of the notebook show sets of rhyming words that he was considering for a verse. Others capture the activities of HAWK’s everyday life, from phone numbers to scores for dominoes games.

The collection also includes obituaries (memorial service programs) for HAWK and his brother Fat Pat, and photographs of Fat Pat’s burial.

Some of these materials were part of the exhibition, DJ Screw and the Rise of Houston Hip Hop, on view at the M.D. Anderson Library from March 19 through September 21, 2012.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the HAWK Papers.

Harry Walker Photographs

Number of Items: 753 items

The extensive digital collection contains 753 images taken from the Harry Walker photographic negatives, covering the early 1900s to the 1940s. The pictures include snapshots of domestic life and leisure activities in Beaumont and Houston during that time, views of notable Houston landmarks, and historic images of pioneering aviatrix Katherine Stinson flying a Wright Brothers biplane.

The Harry Walker photographic negatives come from the architectural papers of Burdette Keeland. Through his wife Keeland acquired a collection of negatives owned by Harry Walker (the presumed photographer), who was married to Mrs. Keeland’s aunt. The negatives record Walker’s life growing up in Beaumont, Texas and his adult life after his move to Houston in the late 1910s.

Of particular interest are photographs of Walker’s home at 1914 Bissonnet in Houston, with views of the area that includes Poe Elementary School when the neighborhood was new in 1929. Historical shots of Houston show Rice University, Hermann Hospital, the Houston Ship Channel, the San Jacinto Monument, the San Jacinto Trust Company, and downtown Houston in the snow in 1925.

Viewers of the collection can also get a thorough immersion in the daily life of the era through scores of photographs of babies, children, families, laborers, and sailors in uniform. The images highlight the time period’s dress and furniture, interiors and exteriors of homes, and modes of transportation such as horse-drawn wagons, cars, ships, tractors, and trains. Examples of leisure activities captured on film include horseback riding, baseball, poker, swimming, fishing, bingo, hunting, picnics, and many other outdoor gatherings.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Burdette Keeland Architectural Papers.

Havana, Cuba, The Summer Land of the World

Number of Items: 23 items

This collection consists of images taken from an early 20th century promotional pamphlet encouraging Americans to visit Havana, Cuba. The color illustrations depict palaces, beaches, parks, boulevards, harbors, and other tourist attractions. All 23 pages of the booklet are represented, including the colorful front and back covers.

Titled Havana, Cuba: The Summer Land of the World, the booklet itself was published sometime in the years 1921-1939, capturing the allure of the island in the pre-Cuban Revolution era. The introduction page extols the many activities that might entice American travelers to visit Havana – especially to escape the “icy gales” of winter – such as sailing, sun bathing, deep sea fishing, golf, tennis, polo, and dancing. While trumpeting the city as a top tourist destination, the introduction also adds historical and contextual information about Havana’s harbor, architecture, commerce, and culture. Americans are assured that passports are not required and that their “personal liberty is unrestricted.” A full transcription of the page is provided beneath the image.

Highlights of the collection include colorful images of the Country Club of Havana, the Presidential Palace, City Hall, La Fuerza Fortress, the Senate Building, and the Malecon, a broad avenue and esplanade curving along the coast. Other images showcase parks, monuments, a tobacco field, and views of the water as both background scenery and a center of recreation and transportation. Titles of the images are taken directly from the booklet.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in Havana, Cuba:The Summer Land of the World.

Historic Houston Photographs

Number of Items: 236 items

The digital collection contains 236 photographs of Houston dating back to the 1800s and early 1900s, including images of downtown, monumental buildings and landmarks, and daily activities in the lives of citizens. Legendary Houston newspaperman and historian George M. Fuermann gathered these photographs over the course of two decades for his book research; most are copy prints of earlier photographs, but some are originals.

The George Fuermann Texas and Houston Collection is an extensive group of materials amassed by Fuermann between 1950 and 1971. Among the collection’s highlights are over 800 photographic prints that document Houston’s history and enterprise. A small set of images depicts other cities such as Huntsville and San Antonio. The images available in this digital collection represent only a subset of the photographs in the Fuermann Collection - those that are no longer under copyright and are in the public domain.

George Fuermann’s career with Houston daily newspaper the Houston Post spanned 49 years, beginning in 1946 as a general assignment reporter. From 1950 to 1971 he wrote a popular daily column, based on snippets of local history, called “Post Card.” Fuermann continued as Editorial Page editor from 1971 to 1983 and as “Wine Talk” columnist from 1984 to 1995, when the Houston Post closed its doors.

Fuermann also published approximately ten books, mostly on the history and people of the city of Houston. Among his best known books are Houston: Land of the Big Rich, 1951; Reluctant Empire, 1957; The Face of Houston, 1963; and Houston: The Once and Future City, 1971.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the George Fuermann "Texas and Houston" Collection.

Historic Maps

Number of Items: 28 items

The 30 historic maps in this digital collection provide a window into geo- and socio-political developments and changes within Texas, the cities of Houston (including selected sub-divisions) and Galveston, and regions beyond the state’s borders.  Map dates range approximately from the first third of the 19th century through the first half of the 20th century.

Along with the maps of the City of Houston are specific detail maps of sub-division plats, including Camp Logan (1917), Central Park, Magnolia Park, Houston Heights, Rice Court, Shadow Lawn, Shadyside, and Southampton Place.  Beyond the State of Texas itself, there are examples of Texas at the time of the 1836 revolution, a map including Indian Territory to the north (comprising present-day Oklahoma), a Map of the South West, which, besides Texas shows Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Indian Territory, the states of northeastern Mexico, and the railroads traversing this large land mass.  And depicting all the free and slave states and territories of the Union is Reynolds’s Political Map of the United States (1856) at the time of the second Missouri Compromise.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.

 

Historic Texas Postcards

Number of Items: 243 items

The 243 postcards in this collection present colorful views of historic Texas, from Houston in the east to El Paso out west, from Laredo down south to Amarillo up north. The painted, sketched, and photographed images depict historic buildings, street scenes, and landscapes to reveal Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and other locales as they were in the early 1900s.

Drawn from the larger George Fuermann Texas and Houston Collection, this group represents the subset of postcards that date from before 1925. Especially noteworthy are the postcards from the Alamo, the State Capitol, turn-of-the-century Galveston, and many of downtown Houston’s earliest commercial buildings. Also pictured are rivers, lakes, city parks, railroad bridges, hotels, churches, and court houses from all over the state. Both the front and back of each postcard are included in the digital collection, so viewers can read the personal greetings handwritten by the original senders.

Legendary Houston newspaperman and historian George M. Fuermann gathered these postcards over the course of two decades for his book research. From 1946 to 1995, Fuermann was a reporter, editor, and columnist for the Houston Post, where his work included a long-running column called “Post Card,” based on snippets of local history. Fuermann also published numerous books, mostly on the history and people of the city of Houston.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the George Fuermann "Texas and Houston" Collection.

 

Houston Fire Department

Number of Items: 193 items

Providing a panoramic history of the Houston Fire Department from the late 1800s through the 1980s, the digital collection features images of fire trucks, fire stations, firefighters in action battling blazes, and some of the department’s Fire Chiefs through the decades. The collection contains more than 190 color and black and white photographs.

Among the highlights of the collection is the 96-page Souvenir of Houston, published for the benefit of the Firemen's Relief Fund in 1897. The booklet is an early-day guidebook to the city, complete with photos of downtown streets, buildings, and fire stations in the 1890s; advertisements for local retail, manufacturing, and railroad businesses; and pages of text expounding on the many benefits of life in Houston at that time.

The collection also includes many pictures of groups of firefighters posing with their trucks, helping trace the evolution of firefighting technology over time. The department had about 50 horses to pull its wagons in 1910, but by 1921 all of the horse-drawn fire carriages had been replaced by motorcars and trucks. Action shots, meanwhile, capture firefighters combating infernos at lumber yards, restaurants, apartments, and other buildings.

As Houston grew in size through land annexations, such as that of the Houston Heights in 1918, the fire department incorporated more and more outlying stations. Anchoring the portrait of the city’s fire stations through the years is a pictorial series of 67 fire stations photographed in 1976 – illustrating how big the department had grown from its early days of only a handful of stations in the early 1900s.

The majority of the photos come from the collection of Scott Mellott, a Houston Fire Department retiree who has done extensive research on the department’s history.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Scott Mellott Houston Fire Department Collection.

Houston Negro Hospital

Number of Items: 950 items

This collection contains the documents of Joseph Cullinan related to the founding and early operation of the Houston Negro Hospital. Cullinan, a Houston businessman, helped start the hospital with a monetary donation to be used in construction of the building. The hospital was the first nonprofit hospital for African Americans in Houston, and these varied documents provide insight into the founding, construction, initial problems, and political and social forces at play during its early years.

In the early 1920s, the need for a new African American hospital became clear to the community and its physicians. Though a group of physicians had established the Union-Jeremiah Hospital to serve the community, they quickly realized the need for something larger. Cullinan, a successful oilman who had founded Texas Company (later Texaco), was impressed with the group’s work and donated $80,000 to the group in 1923.  On June 19, 1926, the building’s cornerstone was dedicated to Cullinan’s deceased son, an Army officer who led African American soldiers during World War I. Cullinan, who made additional donations to the hospital, was consulted and kept informed about hospital business.

The hospital, located in Houston’s Third Ward, opened to patients on May 14, 1927, and provided a place for African American physicians, who were not allowed to admit patients to the African American wards in Houston’s other hospitals, to practice medicine and train students and nurses. It initially operated on an “insurance” system in which individuals and families paid a yearly subscription which entitled them to treatment. The hospital’s early years were difficult, with problems that included a lack of patients and dissension among and between the hospital’s two boards, one African American and one white.

Throughout the 20th century the hospital underwent many changes, including the elimination of the insurance system. In 1961 the hospital was renamed Riverside General Hospital, and in 1984 the building underwent historical renovations. The original hospital building and the School of Nursing building are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and Riverside General Hospital still operates today, primarily as a substance abuse center.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Joseph S. Cullinan Papers.

Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters

Number of Items: 566 items

The Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters collection contains issues of newsletters and similar periodicals from thirteen feminist and lesbian organizations and community groups from Houston, Austin, and other areas of Texas. These publications highlight the political, social, and cultural interests of the various organizations and groups, primarily during the 1970s and 1980s. These groups were concerned with such topics as women’s equality, gay and lesbian rights, and sexual and domestic violence.

Among the specific topics addressed in these publications are the Equal Rights Amendment, Title IX, and a number of local and national elections. Relevant issues and events, such as appearances by popular and sometimes controversial activists and celebrities, equal rights negotiations with businesses, offensive fraternity hijinks, and the portrayal of women in popular culture, are also documented. Some periodicals provide information about networking and social opportunities.

The individual publications contained in this collection include the newsletters of various chapters of the National Organization for Women, the Texas Women’s Political Caucus, and the Houston organization Womynspace. Other Houston-area publications include Pointblank Times and Breakthrough.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.

Houston the Magnolia City

Number of Items: 20 items

The Houston Chamber of Commerce and other business entities presented the city of Houston as a center of growth, industry, opportunity, and scenic beauty in the early 20th century, and this digital collection includes several publications detailing these efforts. Complete with the covers and every page of each item, the collection comprises eight individual books and one that spans 12 volumes.

The collection’s titular item, Houston: The Magnolia City, is a 13-page pamphlet published in 1912 that features illustrations of prominent downtown buildings. The 12-volume set titled Art Work of Houston, Texas was intended to provide a pictorial, artistic perspective of the city. Published in 1904, the set contains photographs, illustrations, and textual descriptions of the neighborhoods, residences, and buildings that made up the city of Houston at the time.

Dating from 1891, Souvenir Album of Houston Texas is the oldest book in the collection, and it features more than two dozen black and white illustrations of pre-1900 buildings, including City Hall, the Opera House, the Cotton Exchange, hotels, churches, and private residences. Houston: Where Seventeen Railroads Meet the Sea, published in 1923, was one of the earliest books to contain color photographs of the area.

The longest book in the collection at 101 pages, The City of Houston aims to attract new residents and capital investors by stating a vigorous case for Houston as a bustling center of commerce; the author describes Houston as not only “the Chicago of the Southwest,” but also as “the foremost city of the grandest state of the greatest country on the face of the globe.”

Other titles in the collection include Greater Houston, Texas and the Southwest, Industrial Advantages of Houston, Niels Esperson Building, and The Gulf Building: Thirty-five Floors, One Thousand Offices.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.

Houstonian Yearbook Collection

Number of Items: 78 items

Several decades’ worth of Cougar Pride is in evidence in this comprehensive digital collection. Spanning the history of the University of Houston, the collection includes every cover and every page of every Houstonian yearbook beginning in 1934, arranged in chronological order.

Each year’s digital installment is divided into sections according to that yearbook’s actual table of contents, with titles such as Sports, Organizations, People, and Campus Life. Viewers can find individual photos of students and faculty from years gone by, as well as photographs and information highlighting sports teams, student groups, fraternities and sororities, campus events, classroom activities, musical performances, university growth, and memorable moments in school history.

The collection also provides a rich portrait of changes in fashion and graphic design through the decades, from the apparent formality of the 1930s to mid-century Mod to the more relaxed styles of the 1970s, up through current times.

The Houstonian was first published in 1934 and continued to be published by the University of Houston student yearbook staff until 2011.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections and the general collection.

India Illustrated

Number of Items: 217 items

This digital collection features fascinating photographs of early 20th century India under British rule. The 217 black and white photographs come from a rare book called India Illustrated: Being a Collection of Pictures of the Cities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, Together with a Selection of the Most Interesting Buildings and Scenes throughout India. The book was published by Bennett, Coleman, & Co., publishers of the English language newspaper Times of India, around the year 1905.

Complete with titles and descriptions taken directly from the book, the images capture the full scope of India’s scenery: from cities to farmland; from rivers and beaches to jungles and mountains; from crowded streets to idyllic countryside; from Western-style cathedrals to elaborate Indian temples. Of particular interest are photographs of the majestic Taj Mahal and the historic Chepauk Palace, which was constructed in the mid-1700s. A handful of the photographs are set in the cities of Lahore and Karachi, in what is now Pakistan.

Hallmarks of British colonialism are evident in images of the Madras Cricket Club, the Royal Bombay Yacht Club, the Adyar Club for golf and tennis, the Gymkhana Club, which hosted polo matches, and a top-coated huntsman leading a pack of hounds on a fox hunt.

The collection also shows villagers engaged in a variety of daily activities, such as fishing, basket-weaving, harvesting the fields, and washing clothes on riverbanks.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in India Illustrated: Being a Collection of Pictures of the Cities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras, Together with a Selection of the Most Interesting Buildings and Scenes throughout India.

Israel Shreve Revolutionary War Letters, 1768-1894

Number of Items: 76 items

The 76-item digital collection consists primarily of letters written to and from Colonel Israel Shreve from 1776 to 1793, with the bulk of the correspondence taking place from 1777 to 1780. Written while Shreve was Colonel of the Second Regiment of New Jersey during the Revolutionary War, the letters are between Shreve and other officers in George Washington's Continental Army – including General George Washington himself.

The collection also includes correspondence between Shreve and his family members, as well as hand-drawn maps, meeting minutes, extracts from General Orders, and handwritten legal documents.

Israel Shreve served as both Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel of the Second New Jersey Regiment in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The 2nd N.J. Regiment fought at the Battle of Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777, and at the Battle of Germantown on Oct. 4, 1777. The troop also spent the cold winter of 1777, short of clothing and food supplies, with Washington's troops at Valley Forge.

In 1779, Shreve and his regiment joined Major General John Sullivan in his campaign against the Tory-allied Iroquois Indians; Shreve was appointed commander of the expedition's base at Fort Sullivan at Tioga. Colonel Shreve retired from the army in January, 1781.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Israel Shreve Collection.

Jagdish Mehra Audio Collection

Number of Items: 12 items

Dr. Mehra's research in the history of 20th century physics has produced taped interviews with many famous scientists. The tapes compile discussions on physics, astrophysics, cosmology, quantum mechanics and quantum physics. Those interviewed include P.A.M. Dirac, W. Heisenberg, Richard Feynman, Julian Schwinger, Willis E. Lamb Jr., Murray Gell-Mann and numerous other Nobel Laureates and distinguished scientists. Other tapes record speeches by many Nobel Prize winners in physics and the humanities. The information included in these oral histories are not only vast but varied and unique.

Some of Dr. Jagdish Mehra's literary works include; The beat of a different drum: the life and science of Richard Feynman, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory, and Einstein, physics and reality.

This first digital collection to go online consists of remastered audio tapes, transcripts and speaker biographies from a small portion of this unique oral history collection. It features speakers from the annual humanities series presented at the Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute (now the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth). 

Speakers include:

Margaret Mead (anthropologist)

William Slone Coffin (clergyman and activist)

Archibald MacLeish (Poet)

Gerald Holton (engineer and physicist)

Jerome Wiesner (engineer and mathematician)

Oscar Handlin (historian)

Philip Morrison (physicist)

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Jagdish Mehra Collection.

KUHT Highlights

Number of Items: 346 items

Through images and video, this digital collection sheds light on the groundbreaking creation and dedicated running of the first public television station in the country. Hundreds of black and white photographs illustrate the work that went on both in front of the cameras and behind the scenes at KUHT-TV, while approximately 35 films provide a rich sample of the station’s diverse offerings. In all, the collection contains 336 items.

Most of the photographs date from the station’s early days in the 1950s, but later decades are also represented. The snapshots capture production staff, cameramen, set designers, and engineers, as well as on-air personalities and sets from Channel 8 News and other shows. Items of note include photos of the figures who were instrumental in getting KUHT up and running, such as University President Dr. Walter W. Kemmerer, faculty member and choral director Dr. John Schwarzwalder, and producer/director George Arms. The collection also includes images of celebrities appearing on PBS programs through the years: Mister Rogers, Julia Child, Phyllis Diller, Dustin Hoffman – and even Sesame Street’s Big Bird.

The films in this collection explore a wide array of topics of both local and national interest, including the evolution of African-American music; the blowout of an offshore oil well in the Gulf of Mexico in 1979; the controversy surrounding the proposed Equal Rights Amendment in 1977; integration in two area school districts in the 1960s; and documentaries on boxer Jack Johnson and Tejano music legend Lydia Mendoza. Of particular note is a series of programs from the 1960s called “Education for Survival – Civil Defense,” which covers Cold War-era subjects such as “Weapons in the Nuclear Age,” “Propaganda and You,” and “Radiation and Effects.” Another highlight is a press conference held by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the White House in 1960. Available for viewing in their entirety, the broadcasts generally run about 30-60 minutes each.

Located on the University of Houston campus, KUHT-TV was America's first public television station when it debuted in 1953, and became one of the founding stations of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in 1969. Today, KUHT-TV/HoustonPBS continues to produce innovative programming while serving not only the students and faculty at UH, but the greater Houston community as a whole.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the KUHT Collection.

Kenneth Franzheim Collection

Number of Items: 3 items

Significant to the architectural history of Houston was the work of architect Kenneth Franzheim (1890–1959). The Kenneth Franzheim Collection is comprised of photographs and architectural drawings and models of Franzheim’s work. In addition to Houston landmarks such as the Foley’s Building and the Gulf Building, the collection surveys a broad range of works; included are corporate offices, high-rise apartments, theaters, private residences, airport facilities and others. Beyond Houston, the works contained herein were built and/or proposed for a variety of locales within and outside Texas. Represented are Franzheim’s contributions to the architectural landscapes of New York, Boston, Chicago and elsewhere. The collection’s images comprise the collected works of Franzheim as they appear in three self-published volumes: Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, New York City (1940), Drawings and Models of Some of the Recent Work of Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, Together with Sketches of a Few Proposed Buildings (1952ca) and Drawings and Models of Some of the Recent Work of Kenneth Franzheim, Architect, Together with Sketches of a Few Proposed Buildings (1960).

Lt. Robert B. Fulton USS Houston Letters

Number of Items: 47 items

From August 17, 1941 to February 17, 1942, Lt. Robert B. Fulton corresponded regularly with his parents from aboard the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30), which was sunk on February 28, 1942. After the sinking, the USS Houston’s surviving crew members were made prisoners of war. Fulton’s letters home written prior to the sinking make up the heart of this digital collection. It also includes homefront letters and documents, and cards made in a Japanese POW camp during Fulton’s captivity from 1942-1945.

Fulton’s letters home provide insight into the experience of a naval officer on the USS Houston during the build up to war in the Pacific, and during the conflict’s early months. Fulton describes daily activities on the ship, excursions and picnics, and the mounting tension in the area. Censorship prevents him from relaying the whereabouts or engagements of the ship. Equally interesting are the colorful greeting cards he received in POW camp.

Robert B. Fulton was born in Burlington, Vermont. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy from  1928 to 1932. Following his graduation, he served on various cruisers and destroyers. Fulton attended the Naval Postgraduate School and MIT, earning an M.S. in Marine Engineering in 1941. On August 28, 1941 he became Assistant Engineer of the Houston, flagship of the Asiatic Fleet.

Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the declaration of war on Japan by the United States, the USS Houston became part of the combined American-British-Dutch-Australian force (ABDA). On February 27, 1942, the ABDA fleet caught up with a large Japanese force. During the Battle of the Java Sea, the Japanese sunk the Dutch cruisers H.M. de Ruyter and H.M. Java and three destroyers.

On February 28, 1942, as the Houston and the HMAS Perth, an Australian light cruiser, attempted to leave the Java Sea, they encountered a Japanese force in what became known as the Battle of Sunda Strait. The Perth was sunk by four Japanese torpedoes, and the Houston was sunk shortly after. Of her 1068 crew members, 700 perished. The survivors were taken prisoner by the Japanese, most sent to prison camps in Burma to become slave labor for the Burma-Thai Railway.

Along with other officers, Fulton was sent to a POW Camp in Japan in June 1942 for interrogation. Fulton spent most of the duration of the war in Zentsuji POW Camp in Japan, where conditions were less harsh than those in Burma. He was liberated from Rokuroshi POW Camp in Japan on September 7, 1945.

Following the war, Fulton continued to serve in the U.S. Navy, reaching the rank of Rear Admiral. He has been an active participant in the USS Houston Survivors Association/Next Generations for over 60 years.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Cruiser Houston Collection.

 

Source: Robert B. Fulton Collection, Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, The Library of Congress 

Lucian T. Hood Architectural Drawings

Number of Items: 13 items

Through his early drawings, this digital collection captures architect Lucian Hood’s eye for detail and exemplifies his artistry and graphic skills. These drawings, done before architects were aided by AutoCAD and other drafting software, embody the craftsmanship and sense of detail from a bygone era. In all, the collection contains 116 drawings done by hand in pencil. The drawings include floor plans, interior and exterior elevations, foundations, and plots.

Many of the drawings are from Hood’s early work on residential homes, which are representative of the architectural trends and influences of the early 1960s. These homes, located throughout the Houston neighborhoods of River Oaks, Tanglewood, and Memorial, are highly sought after in the marketplace, and owners are often interested in the original drawings in order to restore the homes to their original specifications.

Hood was a 1952 graduate of the University of Houston who studied under Donald Barthelme. He was one of Houston’s early modernist architects and his work was in great demand for more than 40 years, from the 1950s through the 1990s.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries Special Collections in the Lucian T. Hood Architectural Collection.

Luis Marquez Photographs

Number of Items: 27 items

This digital collection features historic, hand-tinted color photographs depicting the people and culture of Mexico in the 1930s. Subjects include musicians and dancers in traditional dress, vendors displaying their wares, and people posing in colorful settings. Photographer Luis Marquez signed each of the 27 prints in the collection.

Of particular interest is the elaborate clothing worn by performers, including three men demonstrating a native dance, a man in a headpiece displaying maracas, and a woman playing guitar. The richly colorful nature of the collection is further illustrated in photographs of people with painted vases, embroidered dresses, strings of flowers, decorated bowls, and woven blankets.

Titles of the digital pictures are taken directly from inscriptions on the photos themselves. The photographs reside in a 20-1/2 inch by 12-1/2 inch detailed leather album, embossed with the date 8-10-1937 and the name Mrs. S.U. Allred. The album and its contents were given as a gift to Mrs. Allred after she and Texas Governor James V. Allred visited Mexico in 1937.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Governor James V. Allred Papers.

Marine Bombing Squadron (VMB-613) Photographs

Number of Items: 141 items

This digital collection documents the daily life of members of Marine Bombing Squadron 613 (VMB-613) in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Subjects include not only crews with their planes, but also leisure activities, departments posing for photos together, and several views of the home base. In all, the collection contains 141 black and white photographs.

Marine Corps photographer and former Houstonian Clell Thorpe took the squadron’s pictures on a Pacific atoll in the Marshall Islands; the exact location was not identified due to wartime security measures, but it was probably Kwajalein Island. Thorpe served as a Marine Corps photographer documenting the activities of Marines in the South Pacific during World War II.

While a handful of aerial shots capture VMB-613 planes patrolling the skies over a convoy of warships, most of the photos provide a glimpse into the Marines’ everyday lives away from combat. Basketball, ping pong, volleyball, and baseball are just a few of the recreational activities displayed. In addition to finding images of the barracks, the officers’ club, and the mess hall, viewers might be surprised to see that the base was like its own mini-town, complete with a dentist, bakery, barber shop, carpenter shop, library, post office, and even a police shed that doubled as a laundry service. Two photos show classic horror movie star Boris Karloff, on hand to perform with one of the many USO tours.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Clell Thorpe World War II Photographs.

Mary Ellen Ewing vs the Houston School Board

Number of Items: 163 items

This digital collection contains the pages of several scrapbooks that document the social and political activities of Mary Ellen Ewing during the early 20th century. Newspaper clippings and correspondence detail Mrs. Ewing’s many endeavors on behalf of education reform, the women’s suffrage movement, child welfare programs, and improving labor conditions. The collection’s 163 items span the years 1900-1917, with the bulk of the material coming from the year 1913.

Married to Judge Presley Kittredge Ewing, who served as Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Mrs. Ewing was a successful philanthropist and activist in her own right. She served as an officer for the Harris County Equal Suffrage Association; the Child Welfare League; the State Congress of Mothers (forerunner of the Parent-Teachers Association, or PTA); and the Harris County Humane Society. She was also an inventor who was granted patents for a street sweeper to improve sanitation in the city.

Highlights of the collection include dozens of newspaper articles from the Houston Chronicle and Houston Daily Post about the push for better conditions in public schools and the addition of women to the school board. Letters to and from Mrs. Ewing further illustrate her involvement and importance in these and other social causes, both on the local and state levels. Personal mementos from the scrapbooks include postcards, birthday greeting cards, and photos of the Ewing house.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in The Ewing Family Papers.

Minnie Fisher Cunningham Papers

Number of Items: 518 items

This extensive digital collection documents the activities of Minnie Fisher Cunningham and other leading suffragists who pushed for equal voting rights for women, culminating in the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Dated mostly from 1917-1919, the materials include correspondence, pamphlets, flyers, speeches, newspaper articles, photographs, and legislative measures. Many of the 518 items in the collection contain multiple pages.

Minnie Fisher Cunningham was elected president of the Galveston Equal Suffrage Association in 1910 and toured Texas to speak for the cause. She subsequently served as president of the Texas Woman Suffrage Association, opened state suffrage headquarters near the Capitol in Austin, and successfully campaigned for the 1918 legislative approval of woman suffrage in state primary elections. In 1919, the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association persuaded Minnie Cunningham to lobby the United States Congress for the 19th Amendment.

While Minnie Cunningham was based in Texas, the scope of the materials is relevant on both state and national levels. Correspondence among the suffragists details the struggles and strategies to advance the movement; highlights include letters to and from President Woodrow Wilson, acknowledging his support. Flyers, press releases, and other printed materials illustrate the activities of groups and conferences such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the Texas Woman Suffrage Association, and the League of Women Voters.

Copies of the Texas Constitution, a Texas House bill, and a resolution by the Texas Legislature demonstrate the movement’s progress in the state. Newspaper articles, magazine essays, and printed speeches further present the many voices and opinions surrounding the issue of equal voting rights around the country.

Of particular interest are three published, one-act plays: the 32-page Back of the Ballot: A Woman Suffrage Farce in One Act by George Middleton; the 31-page Jonathan's Night Shirt: A Farce in One Act by Ferdinanda Wesselhoeft Reed; and the 17-page Uncle Sam's Daughters and What They Have Done: A Pictorial Fantasy in One Act and One Scene by Augusta Raymond Kidder.

The collection also includes wartime pamphlets regarding resource conservation as it pertains to food, complete with recipes using wheat substitutes and sugar substitutes.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Minnie Fisher Cunningham Papers.

Moderner Volkskunst Zierat

Number of Items: 1 items

From the Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Books Room at the University of Houston’s William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library comes Moderner Volkskunst Zierat (Modern Folk Art Ornaments). This undated German volume features 18 vivid color plates. Designed for use as templates in the decoration of household items (furniture, ceramic ware, and the like), these bold, ornamental motifs offer a unique glimpse of the vernacular aesthetic found in early twentieth-century German home décor.

Mrs. Anson Jones Letters

Number of Items: 191 items

Mary Smith McCrory Jones was the wife of Anson Jones, who served as the last president of the Republic of Texas from 1844 to 1846 before it joined the Union as a state. This digital collection contains mostly letters written by Mary Jones during the decades following the death of her husband. Many of the 191 items in the collection include multiple pages.

After Anson Jones died in 1858, Mrs. Jones moved the family to Galveston, then to a farm in Harris County. Spanning the latter half of the 19th century, the bulk of the letters are from Mary Jones to her son, Cromwell Anson Jones, who became a lawyer and served as a judge in Harris County. The correspondence provide a glimpse into post-Civil War life in Texas, especially legal and financial issues related to land ownership; Mrs. Jones had inherited land throughout East Texas from her husband, and frequently consulted her children in such matters.

In addition to family letters, the collection also contains legal documents, including official deeds of land from the State of Texas; a Confederate tax receipt from 1864; City of Houston and Harris County tax statements; and a court summons from the City of Houston (as plaintiff) against Mrs. Jones for taxes due in 1898.

Transcriptions of the letters are provided under the descriptions of most items.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Mary (Mrs. Anson) Jones Letters.

Oral Histories from the Houston History Project

Number of Items: 404 items

The Oral Histories from the Houston History Project digital collection contains more than 400 oral histories from the oral history collection at the University of Houston, a repository supported by the UH Center for Public History and the University Libraries’ Houston History Archives. These oral histories, collected from 1996 – 2011, discuss topics including the Houston Ship Channel, Hurricane Katrina, and energy development. Most of the interviews also include transcripts.

When the Houston History Archives was created, its mission called for an oral history repository to preserve audio files and transcripts of stories describing the growth and development of the Gulf Coast region. Graduate students and faculty document memories of cultural, political, civil rights, and women’s history, building an assemblage of recollections of the city’s past from multiple viewpoints. To support that effort, the UH Oral History Project in the Center for Public History trains history graduate students to research and interview native and relocated Houstonians.

The Offshore Energy History, a collaborative project among several UH professors and other universities, makes up a large segment of the oral history collection. It was conceived to document the growth of oil production and refining along the Gulf Coast before and after World War II.  Other intriguing oral histories include interviews with Katrina emergency responders in Houston, a series of discussions with African American generals from the Vietnam era, profiles of members of Houston's Indo-Asian population, and interviews from the Afro-American Physicians project.

Because the UH oral history project is ongoing, additional oral histories will be added to this digital collection in the future.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in Oral Histories - Houston History Project.

Pen & Pixel

Number of Items: 91 items

Stylishly dressed rappers, diamond encrusted jewelry, piles of cash, and champagne bottles epitomized the bling aesthetic associated with many 1990s hip hop artists. During this time, Houston-based firm Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. began using these visual elements to create album covers that portrayed the high life. This collection comprises 91 images related to the firm, including digital files of album cover artwork, a catalog, and photographs of offices and staff.

Pen & Pixel was innovative in its use of early Adobe Photoshop; their designers used as  many as 200 layers to build up a single images. The company typically photographed a client in the studio, then used Photoshop to surround the portrait with a collage of cars, models, and luxury items. Pen & Pixel also developed highly stylized title lettering that suggested diamonds or precious metals.

Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. was founded in September 1992 by brothers Shawn and Aaron Brauch. The Brauch brothers got their start by working for Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records before recognizing that demand for their graphic design work was high enough to enable them to start their own company. Shawn became the firm’s creative director and vice president, and Aaron served as its general manager. They worked primarily with rap musicians, including renowned artists such as Lil Wayne and Master P and record labels Cash Money Records and No Limit Records.

In addition to album covers, Pen & Pixel produced artwork for posters, logos, and videos. The firm closed in the early 2000s.

Source: http://www.abcdrduson.com/interviews/feature-vo.php?id=197 

The original materials are available in UH Libraries Special Collections in the Pen & Pixel Graphics, Inc. Records.

Photographs from the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers

Number of Items: 146 items

This collection contains 146 photographs and postcards related to Leonor Villegas de Magnón’s personal life, political activism with the international relief service La Cruz Blanca (the White Cross), and the Mexican Revolution. Photographs highlight Magnón’s pioneering work along the Mexico-Texas border as well as her relationships with fellow activists, participants of the Revolution, and friends and family.

Items in the collection are annotated in English and Spanish and include portraits, landscapes, and miscellaneous illustrations dating from 1894 to 1918. Notable individuals in the collection include Venustiano Carranza, Jovita Idar, Porfirio Díaz, Francisco Madero, and Pancho Villa.

Magnón, a Mexican citizen and life-long resident of Laredo, Texas, was a trailblazer and leading force on a variety of issues related to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Among her many accomplishments, Magnón founded and financed La Cruz Blanca to provide more organized medical assistance to soldiers wounded in the Mexican Revolution. More details on this work can be found in her autobiography, La Rebelde (the Lady Rebel). In the years after the Revolution, Magnón opened a bilingual school for children and contributed to female civic organizations in the U.S. and Mexico, traveling back and forth from Laredo until her death in 1955.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries Special Collections in the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers.

SEM Collection (1914 – 1925)

Number of Items: 4 items

SEM (1863–1934), né Georges Goursat, was a French illustrator and caricaturist who rose to fame during the Belle Époque. The Digital Library’s SEM Collection is comprised of four volumes from the UH Architecture and Art Library’s Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Books Room. Le Vrai & le Faux Chic (1914), White Bottoms (ca. 1920), the self-titled SEM (ca. 1920) and Le Nouveau Monde (1925) affectionately and mercilessly document the Parisian high society of a bygone era, and showcase the wild and whimsical work of SEM.

Scenes from the Middle East

Number of Items: 114 items

This collection of 114 images from three books provides a view of life in the Middle East during the nineteenth century through colored and tinted sketches of the people and places of Afghanistan, Constantinople, and Jerusalem. The digital collection also includes pages of printed text highlighting descriptive passages about these areas.

Of great artistic and historical interest, these illustrations have been culled from three rare books held by the University of Houston Libraries’ Special Collections: Sketches in Afghaunistan (1842), by James Atkinson; Lewis's Illustrations of Constantinople (approximately 1837), by John Frederick Lewis; and Sinai and Jerusalem; or, Scenes from Bible Lands (1870), by F.W. Holland.

During this time period, Afghanistan found itself in the middle of the British-Russian conflict known as the “Great Game,” and James Atkinson’s sketches depict troop movements and scenes of conflict amid the country’s rugged landscape.

The drawings by Royal Academy of Arts Associate John Frederick Lewis and the colorful illustrations by F.W. Holland capture a time when Constantinople and Jerusalem were part of the declining Ottoman Empire. The works offer a glimpse into the everyday lives of residents, as well as the regions’ natural beauty, ancient ruins, mosques, and other buildings.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.

Selections from the Alonso S. Perales Papers

Number of Items: 60 items

A civil rights lawyer, diplomat, political leader and soldier, Alonso S. Perales (1898-1960) was one of the most influential Mexican Americans of his time. These photographs and documents, highlighting aspects of his life and career, were part of a larger exhibition, In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals , on view at the M.D. Anderson Library from December 8, 2011 through February 29, 2012.

Perales saw himself as a defender of la raza, or race, especially battling charges that Mexicans and Latin Americans were inferior and a social problem. Perales was one of the founders of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) in 1929 and helped write LULAC’s constitution. He served as the organization’s second president.

An intellectual who firmly believed in the law, Perales wrote about civil rights, religion and racial discrimination, which he argued “had the approval of the majority.” His work included the pamphlet Are We Good Neighbors? and the two-volume set En defense de mi raza. A member of the American Legion and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Perales was also a columnist for La Prensa and other Spanish-language newspapers.

Highlighting the 2010 acquisition of the Alonso S. Perales Papers by the University of Houston Libraries’ Special Collections Department, courtesy of the Perales Family and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project,scholars presented their research on this trailblazing public intellectual at a day-long conference (January 13, 2012) bearing the same name as the exhibition. These presentations shed light on Perales’ activism and defense of Latinos, including the chronology and history of Mexican American and Latino civil rights movements, the impact of religion on Latinos, the concept of “race,” and individual versus community action to bring about social and political change.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Alonso S. Perales Papers.

Shamrock Hotel Collection

Number of Items: 86 items

The Shamrock Collection consists of menus from the many restaurants, bars and lounges in the hotel, staff newsletters, and promotional pamphlets. It chronicles the transition of ownership and highlights of the hotel’s golden years.

The Shamrock Hotel was the grandest hotel in the city of Houston from 1949 until its decline and demolition in 1987. Built by Glenn McCarthy (wildcatter and oil tycoon) between 1946 and 1949, it opened with great fanfare. Three thousand dignitaries, celebrities and the socially prominent were present for its grand opening on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1949, attended by no less than Errol Flynn, Ginger Rogers and Robert Preston. The partygoers were brought in on a customized Boeing 307 Stratoliner and by a Santa Fe Super Chief train specially chartered by McCarthy. Approximately 50,000 people gathered outside of the hotel.

While the hotel was immense, expensive and lavish, it was also considered by many to be garish and more than a little over the top.

The hotel became a destination for Houstonians and played host to numerous social events such as debutante balls, receptions, business meetings, presidential visits and visits from other heads of state.  The Shamrock hosted cattle auctions and also was a gathering spot for the Houston Rodeo.

The hotel had 1,100 rooms and many restaurants, bars and lounges. Those who swam in the hotel’s huge swimming pool, which measured 165 by 142 feet, remember it fondly. The swimming pool even hosted water skiing exhibitions, complete with motorboats.

The Hilton Hotels Corporation acquired the Shamrock Hotel in 1954. Burdened with a poor location, burgeoning competition and stagnant occupancy rates, its popularity declined. The hotel described in Edna Ferber’s novel Giant as the “Conquistador,” which saw performers such as Dorothy Lamour and Frank Sinatra grace its clubs, never fulfilled McCarthy’s vision of a destination resort, conference and shopping center.

“Let us consecrate THE SHAMROCK to friendship – the motto of the State of Texas….May that motto be alive here as long as THE SHAMROCK is privileged to serve the great city of Houston as its ambassador of good will to the world.” – Glenn McCarthy

Sheet Music of Flute and Violin Duets, 1790s-1850s

Number of Items: 27 items

This binder’s collection of sheet music contains twenty-seven duets bound in two separate volumes, the first for flute and the second for violin. The first thirteen compositions were written for flute and violin, and although undated, they were most likely published in the first two decades of the 19th century. The remaining fourteen pieces consist of operatic transcriptions arranged by Charles de Bériot (1802-1870).

Composers of the first thirteen compositions include Friedrich Ludwig Dulon (1769-1826), François Devienne (1759-1803), Jérôme Duval (fl. 1810-1830), J. Martin (no dates found), Franz Alexander Pössinger (1767-1827), Alessandro Rolla (1757-1841), F. de Salin (no dates found), Heinrich Simrock (1754-1839), Louis Vogel (fl. 1781-1798), and Eugène Walckiers (1793-1866).  Among these composers (excepting Duval and de Salin, for whom no biographical information has been found), four were flautists: Louis Vogel, Friedrich Ludwig Dulon, Eugène Walckiers, and François Devienne, who is perhaps the best known.

The Bériot arrangements feature six selections from the operas of Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), two from the operas of Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), one from Don Juan by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), three from the operas of Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), and two from the operas of Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826), as well as one composition by Charles de Bériot himself.  A violinist by training, Bériot enjoyed a successful solo career and later, in his 40s, accepted an appointment as head of the violin faculty at the Brussels Conservatory.  Failing eyesight forced his retirement by age 55, though he continued to be active as a composer for the remainder of his life.

Binder’s collections of sheet music were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries, providing the means to social entertainment in homes and other informal settings beyond concert venues.  While often unorganized, some collections are ordered according to genre, instrumentation, composer or chronology.  

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.

Ship Channel Collection

Number of Items: 147 items

A modern-day marvel of industry, the Port of Houston is an integral part of the region’s landscape and history. Through almost 150 photographs and documents, this digital collection traces the planning, construction, and ultimate success of the Ship Channel from its opening in 1914 through the 1960s. The collection also contains a handful of items that pre-date the Ship Channel itself.

Dating mostly from the 1950s, the photographs in the collection feature aerial views of the Port of Houston, cranes loading freight onto ships, interiors and exteriors of warehouses, groups of businessmen, and dockworkers in action. The photographs also include nearly 60 ships in port, complete with names (such as SS Java, SS Pygmalion, and SS Jean Lafitte) and descriptions about each ship’s cargo, destination, and/or point of origin.

In addition to the photographs, the collection also includes documents such as magazine articles, letters, pamphlets, and drawings. Among the highlights are maps from as early as 1925, bond certificates for the Houston Ship Channel Navigation District from 1911, and two illustrations of paddle steamers at port from 1859. A laudatory 20-page booklet from 1908 draws on photos and text to tout the city of Houston as a good place for business, and a nine-page pamphlet from 1915 furthers this claim by utilizing charts to compare freight costs with other ports.

Most of the items were donated by the daughter of James H. Branard, Jr. Mr. Branard served on the Board of Governors at the Port of Houston and was instrumental in its mid-century success. Several pieces were donated by the Harris County Archives to enrich the collection.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the James H. Branard Jr. Port of Houston Collection.

Ship of Fools Woodcuts

Number of Items: 118 items

In 1494, humanist Sebastian Brant published Das Narrenschiff, or The Ship of Fools, a moralistic poem that describes 110 assorted follies and vices as undertaken by different fools. Each sin or vice in the book is accompanied by a finely detailed woodcut that gives either a literal or allegorical interpretation of that particular sin or vice. Chapters are devoted to such offenses as Arrogance Toward God, Marrying for Money, and Noise in Church. The digital collection contains almost 120 items.

Originally written in German, The Ship of Fools devotes chapters to such offenses as Marrying for Money, Noise in Church, and Wanting to Escape Consequences of Evil. Most of the woodcuts depict a fool wearing the traditional jester’s cap in a variety of medieval settings, including aboard ships, in villages, in homes, and in the countryside. The majority are attributed to the artist Albrecht Dürer, with the rest attributed to the Haintz-Nar-Meister, the Gnad-Her-Meister, or two anonymous artists.

Born in Strasbourg, Germany around 1457, Sebastian Brant earned degrees in philosophy and law at the University of Basel. Brant was a devout Catholic and loyalist to the Holy Roman Empire, and he felt that in order to maintain Germany’s primacy in the Christian world, the German people would need to cast off decadence and live in a highly moral fashion. To that end, his Das Narrenschiff was an attempt to reach the German people in their own language and use satire to encourage them to discard their sins and vices.

Das Narrenschiff proved so popular that it went through multiple editions and was translated into Latin, French, English, Dutch, and Low German. The first edition of Das Narrenschiff was printed by Johann Bergmann von Olpe, a former fellow student of Brant's at the University of Basel. Bergmann also printed a number of later editions of Das Narrenschiff, including the 1498 Latin edition known as Stultifera Navis which is owned by the University of Houston Libraries. Das Narrenschiff had been translated into Latin in 1497 by a former student of Brant's named Jacob Locher, with full approval from the classicist Brant. Locher did not follow the text closely, but substantially embellished on it in the translation.

This book was a gift of the Rockwell Fund, in memory of James Wade Rockwell.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Stultifera Navis.

 

Bibliography

Brant, Sebastian. The Ship of Fools. Translated by William Gilles and with the original woodcuts. London: The Folio Society, 1971. 

The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church. New York: Encyclopedia Press, c1913-c1914. 

Die Holzschnitte zu Sebastian Brants Narrenschiff. 121 Bildtafeln Herasgegeben von Manfred Lemmer. [Leipzig] Insel-Verlag, 1964.

Heritage Book Shop (Los Angeles, Calif.). The Antiquarian Book Fair, Olympia 2, London. A Selection of Items on Display in Stand 43, June 7-10, 2001. Los Angeles, Calif.: Heritage Book Shop, 2001.

Zeydel, Edwin H. Sebastian Brant. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1967.

Student Art Exhibit

Number of Items: 5 items

Every spring the University of Houston Libraries hosts a juried exhibit of student artwork.  This competitive event is open to students of all classifications and majors.  A blind jury of arts professionals from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Menil Collection, Blaffer Museum, UH School of Art faculty, and Houston art galleries selects the work that will be included each year.  The exhibit is on display in the M.D. Anderson Library during the spring semester.  This collection includes artwork and ephemera from all but the first two mounted exhibits.

Texas City 1947 Disaster Photographs

Number of Items: 21 items

These 21 black and white photographs document the aftermath of the “Texas City Disaster,” an industrial catastrophe that killed well over 500 people on April 16, 1947. Images include aerial views, oil tanks on fire, blown-out freight cars, damaged houses and other buildings, destroyed barges, boat slips strewn with debris, and burned, wrecked cars covered with ashes.

The photographs were taken by an unknown individual between April 16 and April 21, 1947. Each digital image includes a description transcribed directly from the original photo album, complete with any misspellings. The album itself has been disbound and the photographs removed for preservation purposes. 

The Texas City Disaster has been called the worst industrial disaster in American history. The SS Grandcamp, carrying ammonium nitrate, caught fire early in the morning and exploded, wiping out the entire dock area, a nearby chemical plant, small businesses, grain warehouses, and many oil and chemical storage tanks. Flying debris ignited several smaller fires and explosions, and a fifteen-foot tidal wave caused by the blast swept the dock area. The docked SS High Flyer, which was also carrying ammonium nitrate, subsequently caught fire, was towed 100 feet out, and exploded that night.

Damage from the Texas City Disaster was devastating. Although the exact number of people killed may never be known, the ship's anchor monument records 576 persons known dead. Property damage was immense, with over 1,000 residences and buildings throughout Texas City damaged or destroyed by the concussion from the explosion.

Information for this description was drawn from the Handbook of Texas Online and the book The Texas City Disaster, 1947 by Hugh Stephens, published by the University of Texas Press.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Texas City Disaster Photographs.

The Park People Annual Awards Dinner Invitations

Number of Items: 15 items

The Park People hosted Annual Awards Dinners to honor the efforts of organizations and individuals who shared a mission. This collection includes invitations for events held from 1992 to 2005 that reflect the mission championed by The Park People: to preserve and expand green space in Houston. Because the awards event began as a simple affair in 1981 without formal invitations, a summary is included that lists awardees through 1990.

The Park People emerged in 1978 as an organization devoted to advocacy for parks and green space in the Houston area.  Following the environmental protest organizations of the 1960s, The Park People became a model for collaboration and cooperation by inviting government, business interests, non-profit organizations, and private citizens to join the effort to preserve and expand Houston’s green spaces.

The Park People relied on multiple avenues of community outreach to carry their message and expand support, and the awards ceremony became an anticipated avenue of outreach.  An innovation in 1981, the awards event grew into a gala affair welcomed by those who spearheaded community-wide efforts to promote parks and green space.

From the 1992 event that heralded publication of Sarah Emmott’s Memorial Park: A Priceless Legacy to introduction of the Green Tie Affair concept in 1996, these creative invitations reflect not only The Park People’s success but also the spirit of woodsy and easy elegance that characterized the organization.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in The Park People Records.

Theodor de Bry's America

Number of Items: 23 items

These detailed copper plate engravings depict the arrival of the Spaniards in the New World and their encounters with native peoples. They are taken from the sixteenth century book Americae, volume IV of Theodor de Bry’s Grandes Voyages series, a collection which gave many Europeans their first visual representations of North America.

The engravings highlight not only the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the West Indies, but atrocities perpetrated by the Spanish on the Native Americans. Plates show the Spaniards hanging the Native Americans on board a ship, throwing them to the dogs, and attacking them with swords and muskets. Other plates depict the Native Americans pouring molten gold down the Spaniards’ throats, and drowning one of the Spaniards in the sea. Because De Bry had never seen any Native Americans, he made them resemble idealized Greco-Roman figures.

Theodor de Bry was born in 1528 in Liège, Belgium, where he trained as a goldsmith and engraver. He fled Liège around 1570 to avoid persecution by Catholics, eventually settling in Frankfurt. He began working on the multi-volume Grandes Voyages in 1590, and completed the first six volumes before his death in 1598. The books were published in both German and Latin. His wife and son carried on the project, releasing twenty-one more volumes through the year 1634. Americae, volume IV was based on Giralamo Benzoni’s eyewitness travel account Historia del Mondo Nuovo, and most of its engravings were based on earlier illustrations by Johannes Stradanus.

The University of Houston Libraries’ copy of Americae, volume IV is a first edition printed in German, with the exception of the title page which comes from a first edition printed in Latin. This copy is missing plates 2, 3, 19, 21, and 23, as well as its original map of the West Indies and adjacent coasts.  The Libraries would like to thank Valeria Nardi for her translation of the book’s title page.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in Americae pars quarta, sive, Insignis & admiranda historia de reperta primùm Occidentalis India à Christophoro Columbo anno M. CCCCXCII.

Topsell's The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents Woodcuts

Number of Items: 174 items

Published in 1658, The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents depicts both real and fantastical creatures in detailed woodcuts. A wide swath of the animal kingdom is represented, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and marine life, as well as an array of mythical beasts. The digital collection contains 175 of these illustrations from the book, presented alphabetically by animal.

Entries in the digital collection include the original titles taken directly from Topsell’s work, as well as the modern names of the animals. For example, Topsell’s “Bear Ape Arctopithecus” is now known as the three-toed sloth. Also on display here are bees, scorpions, frogs, crocodiles, goats, apes, bison, snakes, lizards, camels, sea serpents, tortoises, and many other animals.

Topsell’s mythical creatures are particularly interesting, such as the “Hydra,” with two claws, a curled serpent’s tail, and seven small mammalian heads; the “Lamia,” with a cat-like body, hooves on the hind feet, claws on the front, and a human woman’s face and hair; and the “Mantichora,” with a lion’s body and mane, a man’s face and head of hair, and a grotesquely smiling mouth.

Born in 1572, Edward Topsell attended Cambridge before becoming a clergyman in the Church of England. He published several books on religion and other matters during his lifetime. In 1607, he published his illustrated work Historie of Foure-footed Beastes, Describing the True and Lively Figure of Every Beast. This was followed by The Historie of Serpents; Or the Second Booke of Living Creature. The illustrations that Topsell used in his books came directly from earlier works by Swiss physician, naturalist, and author Konrad Gesner. Gesner’s four volumes of the comprehensive Historiae Animalium included both real and fantastical animals, and each entry described the animal from Greek, Roman, Arab, and medieval sources, adding contemporary observations. A detailed woodcut depicted each animal.

In 1658 – some 20 years after his death – his zoological books were reissued together as part of a three-volume work called The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents (which also features The Theater of Insects by Thomas Moffet, not included in this digital collection).

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents .

 

Edward Topsell Bibliography

Curious Woodcuts of Fanciful and Real Beasts; A Selection of 190 Sixteenth-Century Woodcuts from Gesner's and Topsell's Natural Histories [by] Konrad Gesner. New York: Dover Publications, [1971].

The Dictionary of National Biography: From the Earliest Times to 1900. London: Oxford University Press, 1921-1922. [Edward Topsell entry]

Gesner, Konrad. Beasts & animals in decorative woodcuts of the Renaissance. New York: Dover Publications, 1983.

Willy Ley. Introduction to The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents and Insects. New York: Da Capo Press, 1967. 

Zeydel, Edwin H. Sebastian Brant. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1967.

 

Bibliography for Identification of Beasts and Serpents

Primary Source

The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Animals: A Visual Who's Who of the World's Creatures. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.

 

Secondary Sources

Dave's Mythical Creatures and Places

The Medieval Bestiary: Animals in the Middle Ages

 

 

USS Houston Blue Bonnet Newsletters

Number of Items: 251 items

The Blue Bonnet was the shipboard newsletter of the USS Houston (CA-30), a World War II-era heavy cruiser named for the city of Houston. The newsletters chronicle events both on and off the ship, providing an insider’s view of the lives and thoughts of the sailors on board. Although not all issues are available, the collection includes nearly 250 multi-page newsletters from 1933-1941, arranged chronologically.

Contents include ship news and general military news, sports updates for the ship’s teams, editorials, notes about the ship’s journeys and whereabouts, humor bits, sea chanteys, poems, and photos of the ship and some of its distinguished passengers, such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Published by the ship’s company, each edition specifically names its reporters and editors, customarily on page two. Interestingly, each edition also states the ship’s location at the time of publication – for example, “Asiatic Station,” “Mare Island Navy Yard, California,” and “At Sea, Hawaiian Area.”

The Houston was sunk in 1942 during the Battle of Sunda Strait, and her surviving crew members were taken as prisoners-of-war. The Blue Bonnet was revived after the war by the USS Houston Survivors Association and Next Generations, and issues from the 2000s may be viewed online at their web site.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Cruiser Houston Collection.

University of Houston Barbara Karkabi Living Archives Recordings

Number of Items: 54 items

This collection of recordings documents the University of Houston Barbara Karkabi Living Archives series. The collection provides access to the videos of the Living Archives panel discussions, which cover such diverse topics as women in sports, female politicians, women and religion, motherhood, and breast cancer survival. Individual interviews with notable Houston women, including former mayor Kathy Whitmire, women’s activist Nikki Van Hightower, and former city councilwoman Eleanor Tinsley, are also a part of the collection.

The Living Archives events are panel discussions and interviews with topics covering diverse aspects of women’s lives in Houston and the issues that affect them, and the public events are held multiple times a year. They are sponsored by the University of Houston Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and the Friends of Women’s Studies. The University of Houston Barbara Karkabi Living Archives Recordings contain recordings of events beginning in 1995, and additional recordings will be added to the collection on a regularly basis.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in Living Archive Interview Series Program.

University of Houston Buildings

Number of Items: 272 items

This digital collection documents the built environment of the University of Houston campus from the ground up, featuring maps, aerial views, architectural drawings and models, and photographs of buildings both under construction and upon completion. In all, the collection contains 272 photographs and drawings in both color and black and white, dating from the 1930s to the 1990s.

A comparison of campus maps from 1948-1950 and 1965-1969 highlights the rapid, mid-century growth of the university, while several aerial photographs taken from 1937-1980 provide a dramatic overview of the development of the campus and the surrounding city – from acres of untouched fields to miles of urban sprawl.

Dozens of architectural drawings and models illustrate the finely detailed planning process involved in creating the university’s physical appearance. These architectural works comprise both interiors and exteriors of individual buildings, as well as the campus as a whole.

Most of the university’s signature buildings are represented with photographs showing their progress from construction to completion, including Moody Towers, the Ezekiel Cullen and Roy G. Cullen Buildings, the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, the M.D. Anderson Library, and many others. Of particular interest are photographs of Veterans Village, which is no longer standing, and the University of Houston at San Jacinto High School, which predated the university’s own campus in the 1930s.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the UH Photographs Collection.

University of Houston Campus Life

Number of Items: 112 items

This collection of photographs from the larger UH Photographs Collection highlights campus scenes from throughout the history of the university. The photos of people, events, organizations and campus departments show a diverse range of activities and events, including athletic competitions, classroom gatherings, distinguished guests, and special events and exhibits.

The UH Photographs Collection in the University Archives contains photographs all aspects of the university’s history. Other digital collections from the UH Photographs include University of Houston Buildings and University of Houston People.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the UH Photographs Collection.

University of Houston Frontier Fiesta

Number of Items: 67 items

Featuring images from the heyday of the University of Houston’s annual Frontier Fiesta event, the digital collection captures all the Western-themed revelry surrounding “Fiesta City” in the 1950s. The collection contains more than 50 black and white photographs, 13 programs (1941, 1947, 1949-1959), the contents of a 35-page scrapbook, and one short silent film.

The photographs highlight all aspects of the festivities, from stage performances and students posing in Western costume to parade floats and the wooden structures making up the Wild West town of Fiesta City each year. Programs from the 50s and 60s present the calendar of events and maps of the grounds as well as name event organizers and friends, board of directors, and contest winners. Especially noteworthy are two items: the scrapbook and the silent film. The beautifully crafted cowhide scrapbook was compiled in 1954 and includes 35 pages of colorful illustrations, descriptive narrative, and dozens of photographs of the event. Titled The Great Bank Heist, the black and white silent film depicts an Old West-style bank robbery perpetrated by gunslingers who ride into town on horseback. Complete with title cards in place of dialogue, the two-minute film was recently produced from 1953 Frontier Fiesta footage.

A combination of musical and theatrical performances, cook-offs, carnival booths, and concessions set in a Western frontier-style town, Frontier Fiesta began in 1940 but was almost immediately interrupted by World War II and suspended from 1942-1945. Frontier Fiesta’s second run (from 1946-1959) saw the event grow to its greatest popularity and achieve national acclaim; Life Magazine proclaimed it the “Greatest College Show on Earth.”

The student-run, community-minded festival was revived in 1992. Every year the Frontier Fiesta Association awards 10 scholarships to deserving incoming freshman and current UH students; these scholarships reward both academic achievement and outstanding efforts in community service.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the UH Frontier Fiesta Collection.

University of Houston Integration Records

Number of Items: 109 items

Through correspondence, applications, pamphlets, and other materials, this collection documents the integration of black students into the University of Houston. The bulk of the 214 items are from the late 1950s and early 1960s, with some dated as early as 1945 and as late as 1969. The collection includes selections from the UH President’s Office Records and highlights correspondence from Presidents Clanton C. Williams, A.D. Bruce, and Phillip G. Hoffman.

UH did not admit its first black student until the early 1960s. A private college during the 1950s and ‘60s, UH was not held to the standards of Sweatt v. Painter, which forced the University of Texas to admit a black student to its law school in 1950.  Documents in the collection show black students applying to UH but being referred to nearby Texas Southern University. Phillip G. Hoffman, UH President from 1961-1977, realized that transforming UH from a private to a public school would have great financial benefits for the university and would also hold them to the legal standards of state schools. A memo in the collection from the Registrar Ramon A. Vitulli to Hoffman dated January 15, 1962, states that in 1961 the office of admissions received 175 inquiries by “negroes” in person or by phone and 33 rejection letters were sent through the mail. The registrar adds, “Based on the assumption that as a fully State supported institution the University will be required to admit qualified Negroes in the fall of 1963 and thereafter, I recommend that we admit qualified Negroes in the fall of 1962 or before.” By March 1963, the University had twenty African American students and was fully desegregated.

To avoid the unrest occurring around desegregation at other schools, Hoffman drew together community businessmen and the media to integrate the university relatively quietly. UH became a state funded university in 1963, and in 1964, it became the first major university in the South to desegregate its intercollegiate sports program. Guy Lewis recruited the school's first black athletes, including Don Chaney and future Hall-of-Famer Elvin Hayes, transforming both the basketball program and the entire campus.

The items do not present themselves in the digital collection in the same order that they do in the physical collection. Newspaper clippings were not scanned because of copyright issues.  Whenever possible, materials that were originally attached were scanned together. To see the collection in its entirety and in its original order, we encourage you to visit UH Special Collections.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries Special Collections in the UH President’s Office Records.

University of Houston People

Number of Items: 253 items

This historical photograph collection features past UH Presidents and Chancellors, members of the Board of Regents, faculty and department chairs, accomplished athletes, famous campus visitors, and distinguished alumni. Most of the photographs date from the 1980s or earlier. Alphabetized by the subjects’ first names, the collection comprises more than 250 people, many represented by more than one image.

Each person’s photograph is accompanied by her or his UH title or a descriptive paragraph. In addition to notable University figures, the collection contains several photographs of Shasta, the live cougar mascot, in different incarnations through the years (Shasta, Shasta III, and Shasta V).

Visiting dignitaries over the decades include U.S. Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George H.W. Bush; U.S. Representatives and Senators Barbara Jordan, Sheila Jackson Lee, George McGovern, and Phil Gramm; and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. State and regional politicians include Texas Governors Price Daniel, Preston Smith, and Ann Richards; Houston Mayors Oscar Holcombe, Louie Welch, Kathy Whitmire, Bob Lanier, and Lee Brown; and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros.

Some of the people representing UH’s rich athletic tradition include football coaches Bill Yeoman and Jack Pardee; Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware; track stars Jolanda Jones and Carl Lewis; and Hall of Fame basketball players Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler, and Hakeem Olajuwon.

Other famous campus visitors highlighted in this collection include actors Olympia Dukakis, Hal Holbrook, and Lynn Redgrave; local philanthropists Carolyn Farb and Dominique de Menil; playwrights Edward Albee, Ntozake Shange, and Tennessee Williams; author John Irving; hotel magnate Conrad N. Hilton; country singer Kenny Rogers; television reporters and personalities Geraldo Rivera and Marvin Zindler; groundbreaking heart surgeon Michael DeBakey; consumer advocate Ralph Nader; and longtime president of the Motion Picture Association of America (and UH alum) Jack Valenti.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the UH Photographs Collection.

University of Houston Sports Championship Publications

Number of Items: 39 items

This digital collection captures the excitement of some of the University of Houston’s finest moments in sports. Featuring images from the Championship Publications Series of the Athletic Department Records, the collection consists of playbooks and scorebooks related to University of Houston championship sports teams (1954-1996). Included are approximately forty programs and publications related to the University’s championship football, track and field, golf swimming, volleyball, and basketball teams.

The University of Houston is the home to one of the most storied athletics programs in the nation. The Cougars have won 62 NCAA individual championships and 17 NCAA team titles, been in 21 bowls, appeared in five NCAA Final Fours in men's basketball, and earned a berth to the College World Series.

In addition, UH can boast of more than 899 All-America award winners and 39 Olympic medal winners, including 20 Gold Medals. Cougars have reached elite status in several professional sports- a Master's champion, a NBA MVP, a Cy Young Award winner, and three of the NBA's Top 50 Greatest Players.

The playbooks, programs and scorebooks in this digital collection are excellent resources for statistics.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Athletic Department Records, Series 3: Championship Publications.

William Slough USS Houston Letters

Number of Items: 30 items

The William Slough USS Houston Letters contain letters sent from William Slough, S1C, to his family from 1934-1936 while he served on the USS Houston (CA-30). The collection also includes copies of Slough’s “Crossing the Line” document and subpoena, a photograph of Slough in his Navy uniform, and one letter from a shipmate to Slough’s family. These letters provide a glimpse into both the day-to-day life and the larger concerns of a sailor in the years before World War II.

William Slough was born on May 19, 1914, in Missouri but later moved to Texas, where he lived before joining the Navy. He started his service on May 15, 1934, just a few days shy of his twentieth birthday. His first letter in this collection, sent to his mother, is dated May 27, 1934. In the letters, Slough talks about spending time in the sick bay, his supplies and equipment, training, and leisure activities. He worries about his family, money, romances from home, promotion, and trouble with officers. He also talks about learning to love travel and his plans for the future, which include a career in the Navy and putting off marriage. Slough married in 1939 and had two children. He died in Victoria, Texas, on Dec. 9, 1991.

During the course of these letters, Slough is a Seaman First Class. In addition to serving on the Houston, a heavy cruiser, he also served on the USS Cowpens (CVL-25), an aircraft carrier. He served in World War II and reached the rank of Chief Warrant Officer, and after the war he continued in the Navy Reserves for 20 years. Slough was proud to say that with his service, every generation of his family had served in the United States military, beginning with Matthias Slough in the Revolutionary War.

The USS Houston was commissioned on June 17, 1930, and became the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet in 1931. In 1933 the Houston left the Asiatic and became part of the Scouting Force, based in Long Beach, California, and most of Slough’s letters originate from California. During the 1930s the Houston also hosted President Franklin D. Roosevelt, an avid fisherman, for four leisure cruises.

The Houston returned to the Asiatic in March 1941, and following the attack on Pearl Harbor served in the Pacific theater as part of a multi-national force. On February 28, 1942, as the Houston and the HMAS Perth, an Australian ship, attempted to leave the Java Sea, they encountered a Japanese force in what became known as the Battle of Sunda Strait. The Houston was struck by torpedoes and began to sink, prompting an order to abandon ship. Seven hundred of the 1068 crew members perished. The surviving crew members were taken prisoner by the Japanese and were held until they learned of the war’s end on August 16, 1945.

The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Cruiser Houston Collection.