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Lucian T. Hood Architectural Papers

source blog: Special Collections Blog


Lucian Hood, House on Sandy Cove Drive, Houston,1961, Digital Collection

The Lucian T. Hood Architectural Papers have joined the UH Library’s Digital Library collections.  Lucian Hood (1916 – 2001) was an important Houston architect who made his reputation as a house designer for the rich and famous. During the 1970s and 1980s he had one of the largest and best-known residential design practices in the city.

Hood earned his architecture degree from the University of Houston in 1952. He studied under such prominent architects as Donald Barthelme, Sr. and Howard Barnstone. Among his classmates were Burdette Keeland, Jr. (UH 1950) and Kenneth E. Bentsen (UH 1952), both of whom went on to distinguished architectural careers. The Barthelme, Keeland, and Bentsen papers are among the important Architecture and Planning collections held by the library’s Special Collections Department.


Lucian Hood, Memorial Creole Apartments, Houston, 1966, Digital Collection

Early in his career Hood designed both commercial and residential buildings but by the late 1960s had switched to residential architecture exclusively. His work is well represented in the affluent River Oaks, Memorial, and Tanglewood neighborhoods of Houston. His houses were usually traditional in style and were notable for his attention to the many traditional details that brought the designs to life.

The Lucian T. Hood Architectural Papers are the largest of Special Collections’ Architecture and Planning collections. Covering the four decades from 1961 to 2001, the collection encompasses approximately 900 projects. Unfortunately, most of Hood’s early work from the 1950s was lost before the library acquired the materials.

Lucian Hood, second floor plan of residence, Houston, 1983, Lucian T. Hood Architectural Collection

Special Collections often receives requests for copies of the Hood drawings—usually from patrons who own a Lucian Hood-designed house and want copies of the architect’s original plans. The department welcomes the chance to make the Hood drawings accessible online, but because of the enormous size of the collection, only a small part has been digitized. The Digital Library has the projects from the 1960s, but more may be added in the future. Until then, patrons seeking copies from the Lucian T. Hood Architectural Papers should contact the Special Collections Department for assistance.

Photographs from the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers

source blog: Special Collections Blog

Leonor Villegas de Magnón and Aracelito Garcia with flag of La Cruz Blanca (Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers, 1914)

Leonor Villegas de Magnón and Aracelito Garcia with flag of La Cruz Blanca (Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers, 1914)

Another on the list of recently published digital collections–Photographs from the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers.

Previously, we have written about the larger Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers and how pleased we are that our partnership with Arte Público has made available for study the papers of such a trailblazing, radical Latina.  The recent publication of this digital collection, featuring select photographs, will provide prospective researchers a new window into a figure much obscured from our predominant Texana narrative.

Born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico in 1876, Leonor Villegas de Magnón would lead a life that, for a woman of her time, place, and disposition, found her pushing headlong into a fierce, at times unfriendly current of history in the American Southwest.  Educated in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, Magnón would take up permanent residence in Laredo and is remembered today as an educator, journalist, activist, and the founder of La Cruz Blanca (The White Cross) during the Mexican Revolution in 1913 (following in the tradition of other voluntary relief organizations being established to nurse the wounded of war).  Her remarkable life is documented in her autobiography, La Rebelde (the Lady Rebel).

Included in this new digital collection are portraits, landscapes, and photographs showcasing her work in the Mexican Revolution as well as candid photographs featuring her family and friends.  Notable figures like Porfirio Díaz, Jovita Idar, and Pancho Villa, can be found throughout the collection.

We hope you enjoy this new digital collection of photographs and invite you to visit the Special Collections Reading Room should you wish to further explore the Leonor Villegas de Magnón Papers.

University of Houston Integration Records

source blog: Special Collections Blog

"I would'nt think of attending an all White school there.  Please pardon me." (detail of a letter from Merdis L.B. Holyfield to UH President, from the University of Houston Integration Records)

“I would’nt think of attending an all White school there. Please pardon me.” (detail of a letter from Merdis L.B. Holyfield to UH President, 1958, from the University of Houston Integration Records)

A number of new digital collections have been rolling out over at our Digital Library and if you blink, it’s been tough to keep up.  Over the coming days we will publish some highlights, showcasing these new and exciting primary sources now made available to researchers, free from the constraints of reading room hours or the patron’s locale.

One collection new and of note?  Check out the University of Houston Integration Records.

The University of Houston is rightly proud of its gender and ethnic diversity.  Often touted as one of the most ethnically diverse research universities in the nation, Cougars come in all colors and creeds.  The integration of the University’s athletics programs under coaches Guy V. Lewis and Bill Yeoman changed the face of collegiate athletics in the South and is thoroughly documented in Katherine Lopez’s Cougars of Any Color.  The image of Lynn Eusan’s beaming smile in 1968, as she became the first black homecoming queen at a predominantly white university in the South, still looms large in our history and marked another step in UH’s legacy of integrated and equal.

However, this diversity and legacy did not happen by accident or overnight.

The University of Houston Integration Records document the early days of hand-wringing and  tiptoeing around an issue that still confounded so much of the nation and, unresolved, threatened to tear communities apart.  While violent opposition to integration plumbed new depths for history, particularly throughout the South, what resulted at UH were steady, incremental, and quiet steps, spearheaded by University Presidents Clanton C. Williams, A.D. Bruce, and Phillip G. Hoffman.  Working with community leaders, University Administration would eventually oversee an admissions process that resulted in twenty black students being enrolled at UH in the spring of 1963.

By 1964, football and basketball illustrated the importance of intercollegiate athletics, as Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney were dominating the hardwood for Coach Guy V. Lewis and Warren McVea was gearing up to revolutionize the game in Coach Yeoman’s veer offense (all while enduring merciless and ugly epithets from fans of programs in the Deep South).  The nation had been put on notice.  A university, in the South and striving to become colorblind, was not only surviving but thriving by serving all the sons and daughters of Houston, and ultimately scholars the world over.  In doing so, they have left us an inheritance of a virtual global village doing remarkable work on Cullen Boulevard.

Included in these University of Houston Integration Records are documents from the 1940s through the 1960s, with an emphasis on the ’50s and ’60s.  Correspondence and internal memoranda from University Administration, as well as documents and letters related to the applications of prospective black students (both domestic and international) highlight the poignancy of the collection.  The sheer absurdity of segregation laws and practices in the United States hits home as one reads President Williams’ flailing attempt in 1958 at an explanation to a Ghanaian student regarding the particulars of his denial of admission:

"I regret very much to state that there has been a misunderstanding on your part." (detail of letter from UH President Clanton W. Williams to prospective student, E.K. Aboagye, 1958, from the University of Houston Integration Records)

“I regret very much to state that there has been a misunderstanding on your part.” (detail of letter from UH President Clanton W. Williams to prospective student, E.K. Aboagye, 1958, from the University of Houston Integration Records)

I regret very much to state that there has been a misunderstanding on your part.

The University of Houston has not yet reached a decision as to when it will admit Negro students.  As of this date I must advise you, therefore, not to plan to enter this institution in 1959.

I strongly suggest to you that your desires might be realized should you apply to an institution which does not have the integration problem unresolved.  I presume that you are in contact with the American diplomatic authorities in Accra.

Needless to say, the University of Houston has come a long way since then, now embracing its diversity as a core value and strength.

Selections in the University of Houston Integration Records are pulled from the President’s Office Records in our University Archives.  Original documents may be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room during our normal research hours or on the Digital Library at your leisure.

Guest Post: A Pithy Reflection of Spec Coll, Riots, and Gratitude (with a splash of humor)

source blog: Special Collections Blog

Today we have a goodbye post from Bryan Bishop ’14, the department’s first Instruction Support Student Worker. During his year in the position, he prepared rare materials for class visits, maintained the Evans Room (our classroom and function space), input student learning assessment data, digitized materials requested by patrons, and created descriptive metadata for a collection of World War II photographs.

A graduate of the UH Honors College in History and Political Science, Bryan is heading to Fonville Middle School in H.I.S.D. to teach U.S. History for the 2014-15 school year. He has also been accepted into the John W. Draper Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought at NYU with a deferred start date. All of us will miss Bryan’s intellectual curiousity, “can do” attitude, and sense of humor. Heeeeeere’s Bryan!

Student worker Bryan Bishop working in the stacks

Student worker Bryan Bishop working in the stacks

When I happened upon the Instruction Support position available in Special Collections last August, I had no idea what “instruction support” was, or that it would be the best job I ever had. As an older student worker I had had a few jobs prior to arriving at UH. But those jobs levied tremendous pressure, rarely yielding pleasure. This job was different. All that would be asked of me was to show up ready to work, complete thoroughly what was asked of me, and display passion for my projects, most of which involved research relating to my studies and interests: humanities and social sciences. Strange as it may sound, in 20 years of working this was the first time I was unconditionally happy.

Performing tasks around the department was a riot. True, I too have never associated riots with libraries. If anything, life surrounding a library is the complete opposite, serene. So how was working in Special Collections a riot? It was a riot in the sense of how I felt while and after performing my duties; that everything I did was significant for our university community and a team I hold in the highest regard—my co-workers, my friends. This, admittedly, is a peculiar illustration; however, I find that the more idiosyncratic a description is, the more unique, and in this case, special, the experience was.

I could utilize more space than the Interwebs have allotted to express my gratitude vis-à-vis the projects on which I was allowed to work. Ergo, I must devote my closing thoughts to my peers and managers in the department.

Okay, done.

See the 2014 Student Art Exhibit online

source blog: Architecture & Art Library

The 2014 Student Art in the Library is now available in the UH Digital Library!

 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.  The 2014 selections have been added to the Student Art Exhibit collection, which includes artwork and ephemera from all but the first two mounted exhibits.

See the architectural drawings of one of Houston’s greatest Modernists

source blog: Architecture & Art Library

The Lucian T. Hood Architectural Drawings are now available in the UH Digital 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. 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.

Book of the Month: The Great Gatsby (illustrated by Michael Graves)

source blog: Special Collections Blog

In addition to the over 7,000 linear feet of archival collections made available for study at the University of Houston Special Collections, we are also proud to offer over 100,000 rare and antique books for use in our reading room.  Each month we will highlight a text from our collections.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, featuring artwork by Michael Graves

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, featuring artwork by Michael Graves

Book of the Month:  The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald; illustrated by Michael Graves (San Francisco : Arion Press, 1984)

Why So Special?:  Required reading for just about every high school student as they come of age, Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus is as American as Francis Scott Key’s offering.  Routinely re-imagined every few decades on our collective silver screens to reflect our contemporary hopes and fears, Gatsby is often hailed as the novel on the subject of the American Dream, as amorphous an idea as that remains, full of all of our longing, anguish, confusion, desire, and “romantic readiness.” From Francis Cugat’s cover (commissioned and completed in the impatient haste of Scribners, seven months before the novel would even be ready–those eyes floating in the night, hinting at the enveloping darkness amid the carnival and light), to the sheer audacity and imagination of one James Gatz (convinced he cannot only reinvent himself of his own design, but he can will time to his bidding should he simply desire it enough), and on through the final words of the narrative, crystallizing our longing for and obsession with the illusory and the intangible (“So we beat on, boats against the current…”), The Great Gatsby has remained uniquely American.

Sometimes deceptively so.

For some it remains a pseudo-documentary of what Fitzgerald christened as “The Jazz Age,” The Roaring Twenties, “the most expensive orgy in history,” an American decade that found no proper suitor throughout her flirtations, and decided to stay on for the remainder of the century.  To others it is a love story that sees desire run amok as it flies too close to a blazing white sun.  Still others would present it as a cornerstone for the so-called “New York City novel,” an homage and tragic love story for Our New Paris; a story of The City that does not simply resign itself to the towering icons and alleyways of Manhattan, but also peers back behind the kitchen curtain windows of Long Island, revealing a complex web work of symbiotic and predatory class relations.

But Nick Carraway, our faithful and reliable narrator, would insist it has nothing to do with the New World’s metropolitan jewel, after all.  He reflects on his “middle-west,” against the backdrop of that fateful summer of 1922:

That’s my middle-west–not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns but the thrilling, returning trains of my youth and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow. . . I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all–Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.

If the story of the American Dream is not rooted in the narrative of the so-called New World in the last handful of centuries leading up to that frenetic decade, full of all their blood and loss, then from where else does it originate?  As if to underscore the point, it finally occurs to Nick while flailing about for his lost Eden at the tale’s conclusion, preparing to flee the corruption of the east, bound for his old, familiar home, he sprawls out on the Long Island beach and broods “on the old unknown world”:

And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes–a fresh, green breast of the new world.  Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And so it has remained for all of us, as we come of age in the New World, chasing the siren songs of phantasmal green lights hovering on our horizons.

inside detail of The Great Gatsby

inside detail of The Great Gatsby

This Arion Press imprint is limited to 400 copies and features the artwork of Michael Graves, of the New York Five fame, on the binding and throughout Fitzgerald’s prose.  The text hops and springs over and around the illustrations of Graves, not unlike that running Buchanan lawn, “jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens.”  This particular volume also includes the signature of Graves below the colophon.  Types used are Goudy Light and Piehler Capitals and the paper is French mould-made Rives, with a deckle edge.

Location:  Available for study in the University of Houston Special Collections Reading Room (sorry, no beach reading with this one), Monday through Friday 9am-5pm.  Bibliophiles or the simply curious should request call number PS3511.I9 G7 1984.

High School Students Explore the Wonder of Larry McMurtry’s Writing

source blog: Special Collections Blog

Martin & students

Zach Martin of Wonderworks shows manuscript to Houston high school students

Some high school students spend their summer vacations soaking up the sun or playing computer games. But Houston-area students enrolled in the Wonderworks academic enrichment program spend five weeks of their summer intensively studying art, architecture, film, or literature. In early July, Wonderworks students in a class called Story Lines visited Special Collections to get up close and personal with one of author Larry McMurtry’s manuscripts.

The students had already read McMurtry’s novel The Last Picture Show, a coming-of-age story set in a small Texas town, and viewed the classic film of the same name. But their instructors Zachary Martin and Daniel Wallace, PhD students in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, also wanted them to see first-hand the process McMurtry used in shaping his novel.

Larry McMurtry's typed notes and outline for The Last Picture Show (from the Larry McMurtry Papers)

Larry McMurtry’s typed notes and outline for The Last Picture Show (from the Larry McMurtry Papers)

Students examined the original typewritten first draft, noting McMurtry’s handwritten word changes and replacements of characters’ names. (Would the beautiful Jaycee have been as alluring if she were still named Lavetta?) Martin led the class through a typed outline of the plot points McMurtry originally intended his story to follow, encouraging them to identify which ones stayed in the novel and which ones were discarded by the author.

Martin used McMurtry’s draft as a springboard to talk to the students about their own writing, and the necessity of building up their prose and ruthlessly editing it into something stronger. Perhaps viewing the original words of one Houston-related writer has inspired the next generation of Houston writers.

To be inspired yourself, please visit the Special Collections reading room Our summer hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

From Our Collections…

source blog: Special Collections Blog

a new rotating, mini-exhibition of publications and projects produced in conjunction with research from the University of Houston Special Collections is now on display

a new rotating, mini-exhibition of publications and projects produced in conjunction with research from the University of Houston Special Collections is now on display

The University of Houston Special Collections has begun a rotating exhibition showcasing highlights of publications and projects produced in conjunction with research from our collections.  Located in the exhibit space adjacent to the Special Collections front door, in the Aristotle J. Economon, Hanneke Faber & Andrew J. Economon Elevator Lobby, “From Our Collections… Publications & Projects Featuring Research from the UH Libraries’ Special Collections,” shines a light on the fruits of research gathered from the rare books and archival collections preserved, safeguarded, and made available for study at the University of Houston.

With more than 7,000 linear feet of archival collections and over 100,000 rare books, the UH Special Collections provides daily research assistance to authors, filmmakers, artists, and patrons of all varieties.  What they produce and share with us, enlightens, often breaks new ground, and rarely fails to astound.

Works and research currently featured include:

In the Governor’s Shadow: The True Story of Ma and Pa Ferguson, Carol O’Keefe Wilson (2014); featuring research from the Claude Elliott Texana Collection.

Houston Baseball: The Early Years 1861-1961, Mike Vance, editor (2014); featuring research from the George Fuermann “Texas and Houston” Collection and Houstonian Yearbooks.

‘For the Relief of the Texians’: A Theatrical Benefit to Aid the Texas Revolution,” Pat Bozeman (2012); from Southwestern Historical Quarterly, featuring research from the Governor James V. Allred Papers.

The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs, The New Yorker Magazine (2012); featuring the short story “Chablis” by Donald Barthelme and research from the Donald Barthelme Literary Papers.

In addition to this new mini-exhibit, we pass along a gentle reminder to catch “LGBTQI Literature: Celebrated Classics and Contemporary Works,” currently viewing on the first floor of the M.D. Anderson Library.  We hope you enjoy both of these exhibitions and look forward to sharing more in the future.

The Hole in PGH

source blog: Special Collections Blog

The portal or breezeway in the center bay of Philip G. HoffmanHall. Photo by the author

The breezeway in the center bay of Philip G. Hoffman Hall. Photo by the author

The recent post about Philip G. Hoffman Hall (PGH) failed to answer an important question:  Why does it have a big hole in it?  As with most cosmic questions, the answer to this one is that “it’s all connected.”  In this case, PGH and its hole are connected to the change in the university’s master plan in the mid 1960s.

1967 aerial view shows UH buildings arranged around several formal axes [UH Photographs Collection]

UH Campus looking east (1967). Note street between Anderson Library and Ezekiel Cullen Building.  UH Photographs Collection

The university’s original 1930s master plan provided for the buildings to be laid out very formally at right angles along a series of axes and esplanaded streets.  From important buildings like Ezekiel Cullen and M.D, Anderson Library, this offered unobstructed views to Cullen Boulevard. The university redesigned its master plan in the 1960s to replace these long vistas with smaller, people-oriented places.  The result was Anne Garrett Butler Plaza and the nearby Cullen Family Plaza.

Before the change in the master plan, a street ran through what is now Butler Plaza and passed between the Ezekiel Cullen Building and Anderson Library. See the 1967 aerial view of the campus. University planners decided to remove the street to create the plaza, and this required a new building opposite the library to provide a sense of enclosure.

Philip G. Hoffman Hall, Section view. Kenneth E. Bentsen Architectural Papers

PGH, section view. Agnes Arnold Hall in background. Note storm drain below breezeway. Kenneth E. Bentsen Architectural Papers

But below the street was a major city storm sewer, and an easement prevented them from placing a building over it.  Their solution was a building with a large hole in the center that left the area over the storm sewer open, providing access if it is ever needed. In the construction view below, looking to the southeast, excavation for a basement stops short of the center of the building.

Philip G. Hoffman Hall Construction [UH Photographs Collection]

Construction of Philip G. Hoffman Hall (c. 1972) UH Photographs Collection

Most people think the breezeway in the center bay of PGH is just a cool design feature—and it is—but that’s not why it’s there. Necessity is the mother of invention. The Kenneth E. Bentsen Architectural Papers are housed in the library’s Special Collections department and are currently being processed. Pictures of PGH and other campus buildings are available in the University of Houston Buildings collection of the UH Digital Library.