Long before Houston was the fourth-largest city in the United States and referred to as the Energy Capital of the World, up until the twentieth century, it was simply called the Magnolia City for its natural magnolia groves found flourishing in east Houston. Although it was a simpler time, Houston was still a city on the move beginning to transform itself into the metropolis we know today, and many historical documents illustrate this shift as the City of Houston began to initiate efforts to expand commerce and transportation networks.
A selection of 247 items, including drafts and published versions of Houston’s charters and codes of ordinance are included. These documents from 1847 to 1897 were the founding documents establishing Houston as a municipality along with enacted laws that would govern the city at this time. Many of the documents are from the Reconstruction period in Houston after the Civil War between 1865 and 1877. During this period, Houston became a global hub of commerce through its shipping port, initially transporting cotton and lumber, and later oil. Railroads were also built to connect the Port of Houston with rail lines to transport goods and resources to and from the Port of Houston to all parts of the country.
Also included are documents from the Engineer’s Office and Streets and Bridges department concerning the city’s infrastructure, and letters and memos from city council members, mayors, and aldermen discussing policy and legislation. Other noteworthy items include payrolls and other documents relating to the activities of the Houston Police, Fire Department, and Public Schools that provide emergency and educational services to the citizens of the community.
This digital collection provides insight into Houston’s music history, particularly into the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, and soul. Publicity photographs from the Duke and Peacock record labels depict artists, musical groups, and performances, while master books from Houston’s Audio Company of America document recordings that took place at ACA Studios. In all, the collection contains 90 photographs and 4 master books.
Most of the publicity photographs feature artists on the Duke and/or Peacock labels, both of which were owned by Don Robey, a Houston nightclub owner and businessman. These photographs date from the 1950s and 1960s, and feature artists including Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, B.B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and many others. Most are headshots or posed group photos, but several capture artists as they perform. A small number of photographs contain handwritten inscriptions by the artist.
The master books contain handwritten logs of recordings cut at the Audio Company of America Studios, with entries that often include songs titles, artists, record labels, and dates. Many Duke and Peacock artists recorded at ACA Studios, and this is reflected in the master books. Three of the books contain entries from the 1950s only, while the fourth begins in the 1950s and continues all the way up through the 1990s.
The original materials are available in UH Libraries Special Collections in the Texas Music Collection.
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.
Related to the history of oil and gas, Facts Forum News is a fascinating glimpse into the growth of ultraconservatism funded by Texas oil. Facts Forum News was an ultraconservative anti-communist publication funded by oil baron H. L. Hunt, a Texas oil tycoon and Republican political activist who was at the time perhaps the richest man in the world. A wildcatter known for purchasing oil properties with his gambling winnings, later in life Hunt also promoted conservative “constructive” politics in two radio shows, Facts Forum and Life Line, which he supported from 1951 to 1963.
This collection includes two volumes of the Facts Forum News journal publication, dating from 1955 and 1956. Articles and op-eds in these volumes depict both domestic political issues and global geopolitical tensions during the first phase of the Cold War. The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections.
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 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 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.
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 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.
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 Mexico Documents Collection contains 162 documents (personal and official correspondence, government orders, decrees, pamphlets, and government announcements), varying from a parchment document with elaborate signature to official typed decrees from the Office of the President. Chronicling Mexico from 1570-1913, the collection spans four distinct periods of Mexican history: the Colonial Period, Mexican Independence, the Mexican-American War, and the Mexican Revolution.
A large portion of the collection is from the years between Mexican Independence (1821) and the end of the Mexican-American War (1849). Nearly all of the items are in Spanish but many have accompanying English translations. Notable individuals found in the collection include Mexican Presidents, Santa Anna de Lopez and Porfirio Diaz, and Jose Joaquin de Hererra. Additionally, some materials document American military actions in Mexico during the Mexican-American War. Lastly, there are an assortment of documents chronicling religion in Mexico as well as business and land transactions.
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.
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.
Joseph Heiser founded the Outdoor Nature Club in 1923, with the aim of strengthening bonds among nature lovers, studying local flora and fauna, and working with local initiatives aimed at civic improvement through beautification. The ornithology group, who produced the Spoonbill newsletter, was the ONC’s most active study group. Although the Texas Gulf Coast region is abundant in birdlife and significant wilderness resources, Texas is rarely known for its environmental stewardship. Articles in the Spoonbill span nearly a century and cover an array of wilderness preservation topics, demonstrating the dedication of Houston and Texas residents to environmental and wildlife issues during the 20th century.
Joseph Heiser, often labeled Houston’s John Muir, was synonymous with the ONC for the first half of the twentieth century and produced a number of the early newsletters. In the 1930s, Heiser, along with other members of the ONC, spearheaded preservation of a wildlife sanctuary on Vingt-et-un Islands in Trinity Bay, where ONC birders discovered one of the largest colonies of nesting roseate spoonbills in America. Working with the National Audubon Society, ONC members proposed to lease the island from the state of Texas and hire a warden. By 1931, the ONC had successfully established the sanctuary, banded the roseate spoonbills, and adopted the spoonbill as their organizational symbol.
For the environmental historian, the Spoonbill and ONC history offer parallels between the evolving ethos of the Sierra Club, established originally as a wilderness recreation group in California, and the ONC, the first wilderness recreation group founded in Texas. The newsletters of the Outdoor Nature Club include several publications: Zephyr (1924-1926), The Bulletin (1931-1937), Trailblazer (1948-1950), and Spoonbill (1952-2007). The original materials are available in UH Libraries’ Special Collections in the Outdoor Nature Club Records.
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.
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.
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.