University of Houston Special Collections is pleased to announce the online publication of over 500 recently digitized videos from the KUHT Collection. These videos, accessible via the newly unveiled UHL AV Repository, were digitized with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ TexTreasures grant, administered by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Included in the project are several significant series and documentaries produced by KUHT between 1971 – 2000. One series, Almanac, tackled some of the major political and social issues facing Houston in the 1990s, including complex questions of race, gender, and economic inequality. Episodes such as those that cover the Harris County Grand Jury decision not to indict a Houston Police Department officer in the shooting of Byron Gillum and a discussion of the ban on homosexuals serving in the military exemplify the program’s willingness to pursue tough issues. Notable figures, such as Mayor Sylvester Turner, made several appearances on the program early in his political career, and even President Jimmy Carter appears alongside Dominique de Menil to discuss the Carter-Menil Human Rights Prize.
Another significant series, The Capitol Report, features interviews with Texas legislators discussing issues that remain of great importance today. Representation, prison reform, and education are just a few of the topics that are covered, and many guests will be familiar to those who follow Texas politics today.
In addition to full episodes available on the AV Repository, an online exhibit created by graduate student Carolann Madden contextualizes the many series featured online: http://exhibits.lib.uh.edu/exhibits/show/kuht-textreasures, and includes contemporary documents from the KUHT Collection.
University of Houston is excited to announce its procurement of the Zine Fest Houston Records! Consisting primarily of zines (self-published, small circulation, non-commercial booklets or magazines), ephemera, and print items, the collection documents zine culture in Gulf Coast region and throughout the country. Materials in the collection range from the 1980s to present, and focus on a range of topics, including art, feminism, LGBTQ issues, Latina/o’s, and humor.
Curator and archivist for the collection, Lisa Cruces, states, “I’m thrilled to have the ZFH records finally here! Because of their format and the perception of being disposable, zines and other smaller publications are often overlooked, but in my opinion they are valuable snapshots of communities.”
Acquired from zinester, Shane Patrick Boyle, and Zine Fest Houston organizers, Maria-Elisa Heg, Stacy Kirages, and Sarah Welch, the collection is the result of their personal collecting, as well as contributions from the annual Zine Fest Houston event. Usually held in the fall, Zine Fest is a grassroots event dedicated to promoting zines, mini-comics, and other forms of small press, alternative, underground, DIY media, and art. More information on the festival and related events can be found here at the Zine Fest Houston website.
Currently 10 linear feet in size, the Zine Fest Houston Records will continue to grow. “We agreed to donate the Zine Fest Houston Archive to University of Houston because we wanted to share and celebrate the history of the organization and the zines that have been produced by the artists, creators, and activists of South Texas from the early 1990s through today with the entire Houston community, and students, visiting scholars and professors at the University. The University of Houston is also a good fit in terms of location and archive storage facilities. We couldn’t be happier with the partnership that has formed and look forward to adding to the collection throughout the years,” state Heg, Kirages, and Welch.
The Zine Fest Houston Records are currently being processed but open to researchers. For more information, contact Lisa Cruces, email@example.com.
In Macon County, Tennessee, shortly after the discovery of natural gas in 1933, Wade Thompson founded Tenneco Gas. In 1943 Henry Gardiner Symonds became the first president of the newly established Tennessee Gas Transmission Company in Houston. The company would be rebranded as Tenneco in 1966, diversifying its business interests and acquiring assets from other industries, targeting failing companies for rehabilitation and profit. Eventually, Tenneco’s holdings included manufacturing, construction, agriculture, shipbuilding, automotive, a chemical company, and, yes, the transmission of natural gas.
As the price of oil dropped and the energy economy contracted in the 1980s, financial strains prompted Tenneco to break up the Tenneco Oil Exploration Company and sell off oil and gas assets to multiple suitors including Chevron, Amoco, Mobil, and Conoco in 1988. In the 1990s, Tenneco further reorganized around their automotive and packaging business, selling off their other diffused businesses.
Now, thanks to the generosity of Gary Cheatham, the contributions of Joe B. Foster, and the efforts of many others, the Tenneco Energy History Records are available for research at the University of Houston, in the heart of the nation’s Energy Capital. Foster held a number of positions with Tenneco following his graduation from Texas A&M University in 1957. He was named Chief of Planning and Economic Analysis for Tenneco Oil Exploration and Production in 1968, assumed the role of president of Tenneco Oil in 1978, and retired after 31 years of service to Tenneco as the company altered their strategic direction in 1988. Included in the records are Foster’s notes, speeches, and research over the years, providing some fascinating insight into the energy industry that goes well beyond a simple “boom” or “bust” understanding of decades of tumult in the energy industry. Materials date back to policy documents from the 1970s, exploration reports in the 1980s, and plans related to the reorganization and sell-offs of Tenneco’s various assets in the late 1980s and 1990s.
The Tenneco Energy History Records serve as a critical piece of our larger Energy & Sustainability collections. Thanks to the assistance of Dr. Joseph Allen Pratt, UH Special Collections has pooled a number of archives, books, and journals that document the history of energy production and its relation to the environment. We encourage researchers to visit our reading room to sample the Tenneco Energy History Records as well as other resources like our Joseph S. Cullinan Papers, the Terry Tarlton Hershey Papers, or the H. David Kaplan Schlumberger Well Services Collection.
When I arrived at the University of Houston Special Collections a year and a half ago as the first dedicated Audiovisual Archivist in the department, I was delighted to discover that UH was home to the KUHT Collection. I personally have a long-time love of public broadcasting, and KUHT holds the notable, and perhaps surprising, title of the “first educational non-profit television” in the country. Educational television was championed in the 1950s as a way to turn every living room into a classroom and would eventually evolve into what we know today as the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
One of my first tasks was to gain better intellectual control of the collection in order to help set preservation priorities and ensure access to researchers. Under the guidance of Special Collections Program Manager Matt Richardson, several dedicated and hardworking student workers shifted over 2,000 films and 10,000 videos out of boxes and to new dedicated AV shelving. This new shelving meant that videos could be stored standing up on edge, rather than stacked in boxes, which put the fragile tapes at risk of damage.
The improved storage method also allowed for easier access to tapes for inventory purposes. Working on and off on the inventory over the past year, I am now nearing completion, with just a handful of shelves left to go. Over the year, I have learned a lot about the programming of KUHT over their sixty-three-year history. I’ve come across such curious titles as “Heartbreak Turtle” and “Teenager: A Disease of What?” as well as moments of historical significance captured on film, such as an early 1960s interview with Houston civil rights leader Rev. William A. Lawson. One of my personal favorites from the collection is the series, “People are Taught to Be Different,” available to view on the UH Digital Library. This series, a 1956 collaboration between KUHT and Dr. Henry Allen Bullock from TSU, utilizes interpretive dance and narration to describe the universality of emotion across race, nationality, and culture.
In an effort to make these materials more readily accessible to the public, the KUHT Collection finding aid has been updated to note the extent of the audiovisual holdings, and now includes an abridged list of collection titles, with an eventual eye at making the entire inventory available online. Furthermore, we have digitized and posted one pre-existing Rolodex-style catalog of 1″ Video for researchers to use. Our hope is that this resource will be a valuable asset to those with an interest in the history of public television, Houston, and the many other topics touched upon in six decades of non-profit television productions.
Last week we lost a Houston basketball icon in Dwight Elmo Jones, who passed away on July 25, 2016 after battling a heart ailment over a number of years.
Before Clyde Drexler dunked his way to H-Town fame at Sterling High School, helped establish Texas’ Tallest Fraternity, and claimed an NBA title with his hometown Houston Rockets, Dwight Jones had already established himself as arguably the greatest high school basketball player in Houston history. Born in 1952 in Houston, Jones led Wheatley High School to three straight state championships from 1968 to 1970, played for the Cougars from 1971 to 1973, and even contributed to the Houston Rockets, from 1976 to 1979.
Coaches and teammates of Jones remember him being a special talent from a young age. Playing as a man among boys, playground lore suggests he was already dunking a basketball in the seventh grade. In high school, his Wheatley Wildcats racked up a remarkable 102-2 record and as a senior he averaged 28 points and 24 rebounds a game for the Wildcats in the newly desegregated University Interscholastic League. Recruited by the legendary Guy V. Lewis, Jones played on two NCAA Tournament teams for the Cougars while also leading the 1972 USA Olympic team in scoring before being ejected in the infamous gold medal game, as the Americans fell to the Soviets. Jones was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1973 before joining the Rockets in 1976. His career in the NBA would run through the early 1980s and include stops with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.
A fierce competitor, his resolve was no doubt tested when he heard himself declared dead prematurely in an emergency room in 2012. Yet, to everyone’s surprise (except perhaps those closest to him), he survived the surgery and battled his illness with a fervent spirit for nearly four more years. In remembering Jones, current University of Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said, “Dwight was a tremendous competitor, who represented the University of Houston and his nation well during his playing career. While his health declined in recent years, he faced those challenges with the same courage and spirit that made him one of our program’s greats. Tonight, our hearts go out to Dwight’s family and friends and all those who knew and loved him.” The Jones family has established a gofundme page to help defray the expenses they now face.