As work ramps up on the organization, arrangement, and description of the recently accessioned Tatcho Mindiola Papers, Hispanic Collections Archivist Lisa Cruces sat down with PhD candidate Carlos L. Cantú to discuss his early impressions this new collection.
Lisa Cruces: What made you interested in working with Tatcho’s Collection?
Carlos L. Cantú: As a former CMAS fellowship alumni and supporter of the work Tatcho Mindiola has done for the Mexican American community, on and off campus, it was exciting to hear that he was donating his papers to the Hispanic Collections at UH. He has a long reputation of helping underserved Mexican Americans achieve academic success. When I learned this was the collection to be processed, I thought it was quite an honor to be a part of it. Playing any role, no matter how small, in helping to make his collection available for the community is a true pleasure for me.
Why do you think it’s valuable to make this material accessible?
Because Tatcho has such a long history of political and activist involvement and has touched so many lives in the process – he really has been involved in many aspects of Mexican American struggles – researchers will find a rich collection of sources including rare documents and pamphlets; and extensive materials on the people, events, and organizations he has worked with in large and small roles. Although the collection will provide great insight on Tatcho’s work, his collection will also provide a rich perspective on the roles, experiences, and contributions of the Mexican American community in not only Houston but around the state and nation.
As a historian, what do you find enjoyable about processing work and working in the archives?
The best part is seeing the collection before anyone else does! And the most enjoyable part is seeing how some of my professors dressed and wore their hair in the 1980s and 90s! But at a more serious level, understanding the process and evolution of a collection provides me more appreciation of the work done behind the scenes. Just as historians search for patterns, develop a chronology, conceptualize an argument, and present their ideas, archivists similarly tell a story; however, it is in its most rawest form – it really is a thoughtful process – which I kind of understood, but I had never been a part of before now.
Anything else you would like to add?
It’s great that he donated his collection to UH. He started his academic career here and he retired here. He is well-known on campus, and around the city and state; hopefully this addition of his paper will garner more attention to the new and growing Hispanic Collections.
Carlos L. Cantú is a PhD candidate in the History Department at the University of Houston, currently working on his dissertation. Cantú is an alum graduate-fellow for the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in History in 2006 and he received his Master’s in History in 2008, both from the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. His research examines the social history of education for ethnic groups in the U.S., and primarily looks at their struggles to create and shape community-controlled institutions of higher learning during the late 1960s and 1970s. His dissertation is a comparative history of three community-controlled institutions of higher education, Colegio Jacinto Treviño, a Chicana/o college in South Texas, the Navajo Community College in Arizona, and Hostos Community College in New York City. Preliminary research from his dissertation has appeared in published form and presented at academic conferences.
Homecoming Week is upon the University of Houston, and the University Archives and Special Collections are joining in the celebration. Last year, you may recall, the archives worked with other library partners to launch a virtual exhibit, UH Homecoming through the Years. This year, the Homecoming Board, Council of Ethnic Organizations, and University Archives have partnered to produce a collaborative Homecoming exhibit entitled “A Look Back at UH Homecoming.” Representatives from these groups have been meeting for months, brainstorming ideas, coordinating research in the archives, and planning for the exhibit and related events. University Archives staff have provided guidance on using the archives and shared resources on the history of homecoming and the University. Meanwhile, the students brought their energy and vision of a Varsity Red Homecoming and selected the materials and stories they wanted to highlight in the exhibit. Homecoming marked a perfect opportunity for this sort of collaboration, and the new exhibit looks great!
The exhibit focuses on the early days of homecoming at UH, and covers events ranging from the first Homecoming in 1946 to the crowning of UH’s first African-American homecoming queen in 1968. In keeping with the Homecoming Board’s theme for the year, the exhibit seeks to inform students about the origins of homecoming at UH, instill Cougar pride, and highlight some of the traditions that have been a part of this campus celebration over the years.
The exhibit is currently on display in front of Special Collections on the second floor of the M.D. Anderson Library. It will be there throughout Homecoming Week, with one very special exception. As a part of the week’s festivities, the exhibit will be hitting the road! Making a rare trip outside of Special Collections, these University Archives materials included in the exhibit will be featured during the Homecoming Board’s Mum-Making 101 event, which takes place Legacy Lounge in the Student Center on Thursday, November 5. The artifacts will be on display there from 7-8pm, while the event goes on till 10pm. The next day, the exhibit will pop back up in front of Special Collections, where it will remain on display through November 13th.
The following comes to us courtesy of Julia Taylor, Graduate Fellow for the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive & Research Collection.
This week marks the opening of three new collections from the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection, highlighting the lives and accomplishments of three Houston women—Betty C. Jukes, Claudia Kolker, and Marcella Perry. The University of Houston is proud to feature these diverse collections surrounding these very different, historically significant women.
The first finding aid belongs to the Betty C. Jukes Papers. Jukes worked for more than fifty years as an event planner, philanthropic fundraiser, and patron of the arts in Houston and beyond. She founded the Houston Junior Woman’s Club in 1968, and is a lifelong member of The Woman’s Club of Houston. Betty served as president of both organizations, and was also involved in the West Point Cadet Glee Club’s Houston performances. Betty even coordinated a World Wildlife Event where Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was the guest of honor!
The Claudia Kolker Papers, the second collection to be released to the public this week, catalogues the journalism and authorship of a Claudia Kolker, a Mexican-American journalist who has served on editorial boards for the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, and more. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Economist, O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate, and Salon. She has reported from El Salvador, Mexico, India, and the Caribbean on politics, religion, and more. In 2011, she published her first book, titled The Immigrant Advantage: What We Can Learn from Newcomers to America about Health, Happiness and Hope. The collection contains Kolker’s research material and drafts of her book and an extensive catalogue of her published articles.
The papers of Marcella Perry are now also available to the public. Perry, a Houston Heights resident, was appointed to the board of directors of Reagan State Bank in 1950, making her one of the first female bank executives in Houston. In 1973, Marcella was appointed by Houston City Council to serve as the city’s first female commissioner of the Port of Houston Authority. She also served on the board of regents for Texas Woman’s University and was politically active for much of her life. Perry’s collection includes photographs, correspondence, and press clippings related to her work as a bank executive and Port of Houston commissioner.
Come by the reading room (located on the second floor of MD Anderson Library) to view these exciting new additions to the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archives and Research Collection! For any inquiries about these collections, please contact archivist Vince Lee.
The recent retirement of Tatcho Mindiola from the University of Houston is accompanied by the exciting announcement of the newest accession to our Hispanic Collections, the Tatcho Mindiola Papers.
As we were reminded by those who spoke in tribute of Mindiola, his legacy has been forged at the University of Houston through hard work and relationships built through mentoring and collaboration. Born and raised in Houston, Mindiola grew up in Sunset Heights where he graduated from John H. Reagan High School in 1957 and was witness to both the overt and subtle racism of the day. After graduation a meandering path through the 1960s and early 70s included a false start in higher education, enlistment in the army, and an eventual degree in business from the University of Houston, before giving way to a study of sociology, graduate school, an MA from UH, and a PhD from Brown. In 1974 he would accept a dual appointment at his alma mater in sociology and Mexican American Studies.
Mindiola’s return to Houston and appointment as director of the UH Center for Mexican American Studies in 1980 mark the beginning of three and a half decades of service and scholarship that gave rise to the educator and mentor so many revere. Under his leadership, CMAS has attracted top researchers via their Visiting Scholars Program, assisted rising scholars through their Graduate Fellowship Program, supported undergraduate academic success through the Academic Achievers Program, and published scholarly works on Latinos in Houston, Texas and the Southwest.
Not only does our campus community bear the imprint of Mindiola’s impact, the City of Houston has benefited from his exchanges with local organizations and mentoring of area high school students. The Austin High School Academic Achievers Program he helped pioneer through CMAS mentors at-risk high school students as they seek to become first-generation college graduates in their families. Extremely approachable and a consummate diplomat, Mindiola’s influence also extends to national organizations, like the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies, that have benefited from his insight and counsel.
Work is now underway as Lisa Cruces, assisted by PhD candidate Carlos L. Cantú from the UH History Department, oversees the organization and arrangement of the Tatcho Mindiola Papers for future scholarship. This undertaking will no doubt provide more insight into their research potential and we look forward to sharing updates as processing of this new collection moves forward.
Until then, researchers interested in more information regarding the Tatcho Mindiola Papers may contact our Hispanic Collections Archivist, Lisa Cruces.
Cynthia Macdonald, acclaimed poet and co-founder of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, died last month at the age of 87.
Macdonald began her career intending to be an opera singer, then switched to writing poetry. She published seven books of poetry, including Amputations (1972), Transplants (1976), W(holes) (1980), and I Can’t Remember (1997). Her work revealed an interest in the artistic, the freakish, and the domestic, a preference for pithy language, a dark wit, and delight in playing with form. She was honored with a 1983 Guggenheim Fellowship among other writing awards.
Macdonald came to the University of Houston after previously teaching at Sarah Lawrence College and Johns Hopkins University. In 1979, she founded the renowned Creative Writing Program along with fellow poet Stanley Plumly. Macdonald was considered an extremely knowledgeable and supportive instructor and mentor. In 1989 she received the Esther Farfel Award, the University of Houston’s highest faculty award.
In addition to writing and teaching, Macdonald was a practicing psychotherapist who specialized in helping people with writer’s block.
Also a mother, she leaves behind two children, Jennifer Macdonald and Scott Macdonald.
In 2010, the University of Houston Libraries acquired the Cynthia Macdonald Papers, a sprawling collection of manuscripts, correspondence, and materials from the writer’s teaching and psychoanalytical careers. Special Collections also holds the Library of Cynthia Macdonald, a collection of over 3000 books, primarily contemporary American poetry, many of which were inscribed to Macdonald by her literary friends.
See also, “The Writer’s Life.”