University of Houston Libraries welcomes visitors to the new exhibit Collective HER-story, A Mosaic Masterpiece: Exploring the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archives.
The Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archives and Research Collection was named in honor of Shuart, a well-known Houston philanthropist who has not only provided generous support for the collection, but has initiated many positive endeavors benefitting art, education, and women’s causes throughout the region. Shuart currently serves on the advisory board of UH Friends of Women’s Studies.
The archives emerged to capture the lives of women and women’s organizations in the Houston area, and the collection continues to grow. “It’s been very vibrant,” said Vince Lee, archivist in the UH Libraries Special Collections. “We have about 60 collections thus far and we have many more prospective donors in the pipeline.”
The collection illustrates the importance of women’s roles in the history and future of Houston and the state of Texas, making those stories available to scholars and the general public. It covers an important cross section of women in politics, philanthropy, social services, the arts, health and education, science and religion.
Some of the more illuminating materials include photos, organizational records and papers on trailblazers like Minnie Fisher Cunningham, a suffrage leader; former Houston mayor Kathy Whitmire; former Women’s Advocate and Executive Director of the Houston Area Women’s Center Nikki Van Hightower; and records from the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Other notable items include records, writings and photographs of the Houston Gorilla Girls, an anonymous women’s art collective, and memorabilia from the Houston Comets.
The physical exhibit, which opens on October 14 in the M.D. Anderson Library, includes a touchscreen component, as well as an online mosaic of various tiles that represent the breadth of the collection, and highlight how the women’s movement has evolved from the past and present to the future.
The multimedia component includes clickable images and video interviews of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Carey C. Shuart, Dr. Elizabeth Gregory, director of the UH Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies program, and Cynthia Freeland, founding director of the program.
Viewers may also test their knowledge of Houston women’s history with an interactive quiz that provides a comprehensive overview of the collections, and, as such, will inform further research and teaching topics in women’s studies.
Lee noted that one of the more intriguing aspects of the collection is the realization that, through history, women were driven to forge their way in society to address their own needs and achieve their goals, and in so doing, had significant impact on the world. “Their collective voice became so loud that the rest of society had to take notice,” Lee said.
The UH Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies interdisciplinary program will host a panel discussion on women’s activism as part of The Barbara Karkabi Living Archives series in the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion in the M.D. Anderson Library on October 14. Following the discussion, curator Vince Lee will guide guests from that event to the exhibit for a tour and narrative overview.