The Instruction Program at the University of Houston Special Collections continues its growth and impact on teaching and learning around campus, at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
The fall 2015 semester saw our Evans Room welcome a number of first-time visits from UH professors and their classes, as well as the continuation of some long-standing partnerships that have made Special Collections a permanent fixture on the class schedules across a number of disciplines. University Archivist Mary Manning hosted Dr. Lyle McKinney’s “History and Philosophy of Education,” where students consulted with the University Archives to trace the growth of not only the University as a whole (from its origins as a junior college, through its explosive growth following WWII, and the evolution of student life into the late 20th century), but also of individual disciplines and courses offered at UH. Dr. Roberto Tejada visited Special Collections with two of his classes (“Advanced Projects in Literary Translation” and “Master Poetry Workshop”), where Hispanic Collections Archivist Lisa Cruces shared a number of artists books from North America and Latin America, and students were able to engage in the challenges of translation with these materials.
Instructors for classes held in Special Collections included archivists from Special Collections as well as specialist librarians from other departments. In an exciting outreach collaboration Porcia Vaughn, Biology & Biochemistry Librarian, visited Dr. Lawrence Williams’s “History and Philosophy of Biology” class to highlight and discuss some of the rich resources hosted among the rare books available for research in the natural sciences. Those students in turn visited our reading room to consult with science texts dating back centuries, providing an opportunity for keen and curious eyes to trace the development of the scientific revolution.
Now, the spring 2016 class schedule is in full swing. Dr. Jesse Rainbow, Dr. Leandra Zarnow, and Dr. David Mazella have already visited Special Collections this semester. In addition to what has become a very full and recurring schedule, Coordinator for Instruction Julie Grob has scheduled a number of new and interesting collaborations with the Honors College and a number of departments across the humanities. Students of Dr. Bill Monroe will visit to explore some of our resources related to literary and visual artists of the American Southwest. Also scheduled to visit Special Collections as part of their instruction are Dr. James Zebroski’s “Introduction to LGBT Literature,” Dr. Mark Allan Goldberg’s “U.S. Latina/o Histories,” and Honors College students from the “Ideology and Empire: Russia” course of Dr. David Rainbow.
As part of our mission to support the teaching and research activities of the University of Houston, Coordinator for Instruction Julie Grob works with professors to leverage the wide variety of resources in Special Collections into the everyday teaching and learning at the University of Houston. Be sure to contact Julie if you are interested in exploring future collaborations to impact your classroom.
Whether it’s a rare book printing found at long last or piece of ephemera found in an archival collection by chance, those who visit the University of Houston Special Collections almost always find something they cannot wait to share with others. Here we celebrate what makes the University of Houston Special Collections so special–our Favorite Things.
Today, one of my favorite things is also one of our newest things–the “Cocos Island Sailfish Club” decorative map.
The University of Houston Special Collections recently acquired the hand-drawn map commemorating the Cocos Island Sailfish Club, as part of the Cruiser Houston Collection. Prior to her fateful service at the outbreak of World War II, the Houston, often served as the transport of choice for its most famous passenger–President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Roosevelt set out on four cruises aboard the Houston. Presidential cruises in the Pacific during the years 1934 and 1935 included fishing expeditions to the Cocos, the Galapagos, and other Pacific isles.
The Cruiser Houston Collection contains photographs documenting these excursions, including photographs of the President with his sailfish catch. Now, the addition of this particular item will provide further context for the peacetime activities of the Houston. Depicted on the commemorative map are the Cocos, accentuated by drawings of large sailfish, bordered by drawings of other imagery and fish from the tropics, as well as a named roster of “club members”: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ross T. McIntire (Vice Admiral, personal physician of President Roosevelt), Edwin M. Watson (Major General, military aid to President Roosevelt), Daniel J. Callaghan (Rear Admiral, naval aide), Gus Gennerich (bodyguard and personal aide), Frederick B. Adams (secretary), and Basil O’Connor (legal advisor and former partner).
Those interested in getting a closer look at the Cocos Island Sailfish Club are encouraged to see it in person by visiting our reading room. Others may get a sense of the detailing of the map by viewing a digitized version, courtesy of our colleagues in Metadata and Digitization Services. Finally, those interested in more information on this item or the Cruiser Houston Collection should contact Christian Kelleher, Head of Special Collections and curator of the USS Houston & Military History collections.
Now is your last chance to catch the exhibition, Houston History: Archives, Magazine, and Oral History on the first floor of the M.D. Anderson Library. Scheduled to close on December 18, 2015, staff will begin striking the exhibition any day now as we make way for a new installation, Encuentros en Literatura | Encounters and Discoveries in Literature, scheduled to open late January 2016.
The exhibit, now ending a successful six month run, explores the impact of the Welcome Wilson Houston History Collaborative (formerly known as the Houston History Project) on research and scholarship related to Houston’s history. Dr. Tomkins-Walsh, curator of the exhibit and Archivist for the Houston History Archives, explains that in 2003 Dr. Joseph Pratt helped migrate the Houston History magazine from the Houston Public Library to the University of Houston and, in doing so, established an archive and repository of oral histories to complement the publication and help spur future research.
The Houston History magazine, published triannually, is the most prominent and publicly visible organ of the Welcome Wilson Houston History Collaborative. Students help support the day-to-day work of publishing the magazine but, even more importantly, students find a vehicle for publication of their research, often conducted in the archives and oral histories of the Houston History Archives. Dr. Tomkins-Walsh’s exhibition features prime examples of this type of student research and contributing authors even attended the exhibition’s opening, allowing them to highlight their research to a different audience and in a different context.
The Oral Histories from the Houston History Project are produced throughout the year by faculty and graduate students and prepared for online and global access by researchers via our Digital Library. The resource is constantly growing as new oral histories are produced and introduced into the existing collection. Included among the oral histories are interviews related to the energy history of Houston, the construction of the Houston Ship Channel, as well as the fallout from natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The Houston History exhibit is able to showcase the under-appreciated and under-publicized role of the oral history interviewer. Through the Center for Public History, graduate students are able to train in the skills, tools, and processes needed to research, prepare for, and conduct successful oral history interviews.
Finally, the paper archives that comprise the Houston History Project are also showcased. Representing a variety of research disciplines, highlights from the archival collections that make appearances in the exhibit include the Foley’s Department Store Records, the Thomas R. Cole Desegregation Papers, and records covering the production of the documentary film, This is Our Home, It Is Not for Sale. A number of other collections like the Bayou Preservation Association and the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC) provide a window into the peculiar push-pull relationship that developed over the years in Houston between disparate environmental groups and those interested in furthering business development.
However, all good things must come to an end, and time is running out for Houston History: Archives, Magazine, and Oral History. Be sure to catch one last glimpse of this exhibition, while you still can!
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 books for use in our reading room. Each month we will highlight an item from our collections and what makes it so special.
Book of the Month: The Handy-Volume Shakespeare (1885)
Why so Special? One hundred thirty years young, this 13 volume set of Shakespeare’s plays, poems, and sonnets are particularly, conveniently sized at a mere 12 x 8 x 2 centimeters (a mere fraction of the size of most devices jangling around in our pockets these days). Those lucky enough to be early adopters of this G. Routledge imprint could conveniently carry a copy (or two) of Mids. N. Dream, Anton. Cleo., or Romeo Ju., depending on one’s appetite. Included in the last volume is a handy glossary, so readers of the late nineteenth century could easily dive into the Bard’s rich language and find that a “lavolta” is indeed, “a spritely dance,” while “tickle-brain” is “some strong intoxicating liquor.”
Location: Anyone interested in viewing these full-course-meals masquerading as morsels of comedy, history, and tragedy are invited to visit the UH Special Collections Reading Room during our normal hours of operation. The Handy-Volume Shakespeare may be called via PR2753 .D2 1885. Magnifying glass available upon request.
The University of Houston Special Collections is pleased to announce the recent donation of the Olive M. Jenney Collection.
This collection of approximately 50 books was acquired by Jenney, a Texas native, throughout her decades spent in Latin America. The books date as far back as 1639 and cover the history of the Spanish exploration of the New World, Spanish interactions with the indigenous populations, and also include materials focusing on Spanish laws and customs relating to the Catholic Church as well as trade with Spanish colonies. The majority of the books are in Spanish and published between the 17th and 19th centuries. Highlights from the collection include a complete set of Antonio de Ulloa and Jorge Juan y Santacilia’s Relación histórica del viaje hecho de orden de su Majestad a la América Meridional (1748), Recopilación de leyes de los Reynos de las Indias (1681), as well as Gregorio Garcia’s Origen de Los Indios de El Nuevo Mundo E Indias Occidentales (1729).
The arrival of the Olive M. Jenney Collection immediately sparked interest from UH faculty. Already in the fall of 2015 we have seen the collection utilized in instruction and coursework related to Latin American environmental history. In the spring of 2016 we look forward to formally introducing the Olive M. Jenney Collection with a celebration and panel discussion, while the books themselves will continue their hard work. Ripe as this collection is with the potential to impact research and instruction, we look forward to expanding the instruction footprint into more Latin American history courses in the spring and are pleased to see Hispanic Studies faculty making early research plans with us for 2016.
Faculty members interested in utilizing these materials for instruction, or those simply interested in more information regarding the Olive M. Jenney Collection, please contact our Coordinator of Instruction, Julie Grob.