Burdette Keeland, Jr. was an influential Houston architect who left a legacy as a designer, an educator, and a member of the Houston Planning Commission. At the peak of his practice, from 1950 to 1980, Keeland produced some of the city’s best modernist architectural design. Yet he will also be remembered for his four decades on the faculty of the University of Houston, where he dedicated himself to mentoring the next generation of architects. This digital collection provides a sample of five of his imaginative works, including architectural drawings and renderings, photographs, clippings, and audio interviews.
A 1950 graduate of the University of Houston, Keeland quickly developed a successful architectural practice. As with many architects of the period, his work of the 1950s reflected the influence of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. Keeland’s innovative design for the Fred Winchell Studio and Apartments (with Harwood Taylor, 1953) combined a professional office with rental apartments on a small city lot. Two years later he produced his best-known work, a steel-frame residence for homebuilder W. K. King, featured in the 1955 Meyerland Parade of Homes.
In the 1960s Keeland’s work expressed other trends in architectural design. He interpreted the Brutalist aesthetic in the Essex-Houck Office Building (with Herman F. Goeters, 1962), where his tight grouping of masonry towers gave this small office building a sense of the monumental. In the Williams Beach House of 1967 (with Alan Rice), his crisp, shed-roofed volumes evoked the barnlike structures of California’s iconic Sea Ranch development.
Keeland experimented with new ideas in his own house on Ferndale Street. In 1976 he transformed a modest 1930s house into an urban retreat for his family. He made further changes in the 1980s and 1990s, but the rear courtyard received the most attention. He showed his flair for artistic and whimsical details in the over-scaled metal column that supports a second floor overhang; a few feet away a vine-covered spiral staircase offered access to a roof-top office and observation deck.
This collection highlights the career of Donald Barthelme (1907–1996), the first Houston architect to gain national prominence in the years after World War II. These 57 items illustrate his work through pencil sketches, photographs, and the detailed working drawings used to construct his buildings.
Barthelme first gained attention in 1936 as the lead designer for the Hall of State, the principal building of the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. In 1948 he won an award from the American Institute of Architects for Houston’s St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, applauded for its simple Scandinavian modern forms. Yet he made his reputation with the West Columbia Elementary School of 1951, which won many awards and was published internationally. Its innovative design departed from the traditional practice of placing classrooms along both sides of a long corridor. Instead, Barthelme arranged the building around two large courtyards; classrooms opened to the courts through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. This flooded the rooms with light while providing a sheltered environment for the students. At the main entrance a flamboyant scalloped canopy greeted visitors.
In addition to the St. Rose and West Columbia buildings, the collection includes Barthelme’s own residence. He built this small modernist house for his family about 1939. The original drawings are lost, but he enlarged it slightly a decade later, and the collection preserves his 1949 drawings for this remodeling.
Of particular interest, and rarely seen, are a few of his studies for the Adams Petroleum Center (1954–58), his largest and most ambitious project. The Ada Oil Company, owned by K.S. "Bud" Adams Jr., wanted to develop its large site as an office park. Barthelme planned to build the complex in four phases, beginning with the client’s own building. He spent hundreds of hours studying different designs for the APC tower and preparing a dramatic aerial view. The company later abandoned the scheme and constructed only a modest building without the tower.
Barthelme helped shaped the look of Houston during its postwar boom. Today only the church buildings still stand, but the West Columbia school district has preserved his entrance canopy at the original site of the elementary school.
Several of Barthelme’s children became prominent writers, and the works of his eldest son, Donald Barthelme, Jr., are preserved in the Donald Barthelme Literary Papers.
The original materials are available in the UH Libraries' Special Collections in the Donald Barthelme, Sr. Architectural Papers.
This collection is now available at the new UH Digital Collections site! See Duke-Peacock Records Publicity Photos and ACA Master Books at UHDC.
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 Houston Earlier Texas Art Group (HETAG) was founded in 2002. In conjunction with other organizations -- including CASETA, the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art, and TACO, the Texas Art Collectors Organization (Dallas) -- HETAG promotes the preservation, study, and appreciation of Texas visual arts and its history.
Randy Tibbits, one of the founding members of HETAG and its program coordinator, also serves as editor for its newsletter, which began in 2016. The newsletters archived here highlight related exhibitions in the Houston area, research notes on Houston and Texas art history topics, and news and current events for HETAG.
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.
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 Houston Saengerbund Records contain five bound volumes covering the activities of the organization and related associations from 1874 to 1937. Three of the ledgers contain minutes of various Houston Saengerbund meetings, financial statements, and the occasional printed program. A fourth volume contains similar materials for the Houston German Day Association, and the final volume contains the records, programs, clippings and correspondence of the German Texas Saengerbunds.
The Houston Saengerbund (Singing Society) was founded on Oct. 6, 1883, as an organization through which German immigrants in Houston could join with their countrymen to sing songs in the German language. The Saengerbund was one of a number of all-male singing organizations that formed in the German communities of Texas during the last half of the 19th century. These local groups were united under Der Deutsch-Texanische Saengerbund (the German-Texan Singers' League, or DTSB), a regional organization that held biennial meetings and Saengerfeste (Singing Festivals) in various Texas cities.
The Houston Saengerbund swelled to over 1,000 members before World War One, and in 1913 Houston played host to a particularly elaborate DTSB Saengerfest which featured a full orchestra and world-class opera singers. But during the war years membership fell as Germans became reluctant to draw attention to their nationality.
After the war, membership increased and the group flourished. The Saengerbund bought their first in a series of clubhouses, and introduced new activities such as dancing, children's plays, and beach excursions. The club officially began admitting women as members in 1937 with the formation of the Ladies Auxiliary and the Damenchor (Women's Chorus) a year later.
With the onset of World War II, the Saengerbund members changed the name of the group to "The Houston Singing Society,” stopped their primary activity of singing German songs, and began keeping minutes in English because of their concern about arousing anti-German sentiment. After the war, the club members restored both their German-language singing and their name, but membership declined, partly owing to a drop in German immigration.
The Houston Saengerbund is still in existence more than 100 years after its founding, and the Saengerbund and Damenchor continue to perform at the Saengerfeste of the DTSB, the International Festival, Lights in the Heights, and other public events.
The original materials are available in UH Libraries' Special Collections in the Houston Saengerbund Records.
Source: The History of the Houston Saengerbund (1990), Theodore G. Gish
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.
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.
John F. Staub (1892-1981) practiced architecture in Houston for nearly sixty years and became one of the region's best-known domestic architects. An MIT graduate from Tennessee, he began his architectural career in New York City under residential architect Harrie T. Lindeberg. In 1921, Staub came to Texas to oversee the construction of three Lindeberg houses in Houston. Staub then decided to settle in Houston and would eventually start his own architectural practice in 1923. He quickly became known for his domestic architecture and substantially contributed to the desirable neighborhoods of River Oaks, Broadacres and others. He designed 31 houses in River Oaks alone, thereby helping to establish the architectural flavor of that neighborhood during its first three decades. He is best known for Bayou Bend, which is now a house museum containing the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's American decorative arts collection. Staub also designed notable non-residential buildings, including the Junior League Building, the original River Oaks Country Club, the Bayou Club, and the original library at the University of Houston (which is now the blue wing of the M.D. Anderson Library). He remains best known for his residential architecture, however.
Staub amassed a collection of books on architectural types, regions and styles, which he referenced when designing his vernacular-styled houses. In the late seventies he made notes in these books in order to assist scholar and architect Howard Barnstone, who was then engaged in writing The Architecture of John F. Staub: Houston and the South. In these notes, Staub identifies books and images that influenced his own designs. This exhibit allows viewers to compare this marginalia and images from the books with photographs of his finished houses.
Near the end of his life Staub donated his book collection to the University of Houston Libraries. It may be viewed in the Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Books Room of the William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library.
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. The hand-drawn pencil 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 Oral Histories from the Houston History Project digital collection contains more than 500 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 to 2012, 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.
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 is now available at the new UH Digital Collections site! See Selections from the Marjorie Randal National Women’s Conference Collection at UHDC.
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 world’s first indoor, air-conditioned sports stadium, the Houston Astrodome was nicknamed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened in 1965. The construction of the Astrodome was instrumental in bringing Major League Baseball to Houston, and the Dome would also host the NFL’s Houston Oilers and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. A selection of over 100 items, including promotional photographs, newsletters and brochures, and documents on the creation of the Astrodome, illustrates the history of the stadium and the key individuals who brought this vision to life.
The bulk of the items in the digital collection are derived from the George Kirksey Papers. Kirksey was a well-known sportswriter who became a baseball promoter. In the late 1940s, he began his work to bring major league baseball to Houston. Eventually he would join with several other men, including Houston oilman and civic leader R. E. “Bob” Smith and Houston mayor Roy Hofheinz, to form the Houston Sports Association. This group would become the owners of the Colt .45s, later known as the Houston Astros, and would advocate for the construction of the Astrodome.
The selection of items for this project includes Houston Sports Association and Astrodome promotional materials and ephemera, photographs of the Dome and of Colt .45 and Astros players and staff, Astros and Colt .45s press releases, and other documents relating to the creation and operations of the Astrodome in the 1960s.
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.
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.