The University of Houston Special Collections is excited to announce the publication of the Literary Manuscripts and Correspondence finding aid. Items in this collection, which include letters, notes, and writings by several major literary figures, were previously housed separately in our A-Z files, but have now been gathered into one place to provide easier access for researchers interested in contemporary literature.
In this collection you’ll find items from many recognizable writers, such as Henry James, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Charles Bukowski, and Eugene O’Neill. The materials also cover a wide range of time periods and locales. The oldest item, a letter from English poet Richard Braithewate, was written in 1634, while the newest, an article written by James Thurber for the magazine Adirondack Life, is from 1991. The collection also contains materials both from close to home, including letters written by Texas’ own Katherine Anne Porter, and abroad, such as letters written by Irish novelist Norah Hoult and an autograph from Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco.
Take a closer look at the finding aid to see which of your favorite authors make an appearance, or better yet, come visit us at Special Collections and see these unique and interesting materials in person!
We are very pleased to announce the recent publication of the Olive Hershey Papers finding aid.
Born in Houston, Texas in 1941, Olive Hershey was educated at Connecticut College and the University of Texas at Austin before attending the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. Studying under trailblazing postmodernist Donald Barthelme and alongside the likes of Tracy Daugherty, Hershey earned her M.A. from UH in 1987. Her published works include a collection of poems entitled Floating Face Up and her novel Truck Dance (originally her thesis while studying at UH).
The Olive Hershey Papers contain drafts, revisions, editorial notes, and writings from a handful of Hershey’s projects, however the bulk of materials are related to Truck Dance. Particularly noteworthy are the drafts of the various chapters filled with the edits and suggested revisions of Daugherty and the unmistakable scrawl and insight of Barthelme.
A fine complement to our Contemporary Literature collections, the Olive Hershey Papers help provide even more context for a community of authors that established the University of Houston as a destination for emerging and talented literary voices. For more information on the life and work of Olive Hershey we invite you to consult this newly published finding aid. The original materials of the Olive Hershey Papers can be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room.
The UH Digital Library recently announced its newest addition—the Donald Barthelme Sr. Architectural Papers and Photographs. The Digital Library makes accessible online important holdings of the University of Houston libraries and archives. These new items illustrate the work of noted architect Donald Barthelme through pencil sketches, photographs, and the detailed working drawings used to construct his buildings. They are only a small part of the total found in the Donald Barthelme Sr. Architectural Papers, but they illustrate his most important projects.
The earliest is Barthelme’s own residence (1939), a small flat-roof modernist house on Wynden Drive. The open plan created the illusion of a larger space within. A grid of Japanese tatami mats covering the floor met a similar grid of windows facing the patio. He filled the living room with iconic modernist furniture by Alvar Aalto, Charles Eames, and Eero Saarinen. In an unusual feature, the parents’ bedroom was open to the living room; a folding screen provided privacy from the children.
St. Rose of Lima Church and School won an award of merit from the American Institute of Architects in 1948 for its simple and austere brick forms. But Barthelme’s most important building was the award-winning West Columbia Elementary School,
completed in 1951. Its innovative design departed from the traditional practice of placing classrooms along both sides of a long corridor. Instead, he arranged the building around two large courtyards; classrooms opened to the courts through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The picture of a teacher and her students captures the cheerful atmosphere of Barthelme’s light-filled classrooms.
In the mid-1950s, the Adams Petroleum Company hired Barthelme to design its new office building on Fannin Street. The company hoped to develop the large site as an office park, with the APC building to be followed by other office buildings. Barthelme spent hundreds of hours planning the large complex before Adams abandoned the scheme. The Digital Library contains a selection of rarely seen studies for this ambitious unbuilt project.
Through the UH Digital Library the public now has easy access to these images, some of which have never been published. As usual, the Donald Barthelme Sr. Architectural Papers are available to researchers at the UH Libraries’ Special Collections department.
This fall semester UH Special Collections hosted Edward Lukasek and Dr. Natalie Houston in a panel discussion, “Life With Books: Collecting, Reading, and Teaching LGBTQI Literature.” If you could not make the event or if you would like to remember that very special conversation, please enjoy the recently published video below courtesy of University of Houston Libraries.
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 highlight a text from our collections and what makes it so special. This month’s selection is contributed by Library Specialist for Liaison Services and Curator for the new Unique Holdings brown bag lecture series, Kristine Greive.
George Ade’s Fables in Slang is a collection of satirical fables with titles like “The Fable of the Martyr who Liked the Job” and “The Fable of the Professor who Wanted to be Alone.” Originally published in a Chicago newspaper, these tales mock all the personality types of late nineteenth century America. Even better, the fables are thoroughly illustrated in a bold, exaggerated style, and each ends with a sarcastic moral. In “The Fable of the Man who Didn’t Care for Story-Books,” for example, a man decides that contemporary literature is “all a mockery,” describing all the literature he has read and found lacking. The story concludes with the moral that “Only the more Rugged Mortals should attempt to Keep Up on Current Literature.”
Read a few of Ade’s fables and you’ll join a group of admirers that stretches back over a hundred years. Ade was enormously popular in the early twentieth century; in fact, the advertisement for his other books in the back of Fables in Slang asserts that “Mr. Ade’s books are too well known to require comment here.” He had influential fans, too: Taft held his first presidential campaign rally at Ade’s home, and Theodore Dreiser so admired Ade’s gift for description he even lifted a passage from his fables for use in the original edition of Sister Carrie. In his book on Ade, Lee Coyle locates a passage in the letters of Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh calling Ade “the greatest living American writer, ” an assertion that, while controversial even then, illustrates the name recognition Ade enjoyed in his time. He may not be as well known today, but Ade is forever being rediscovered, with periodic new editions of his works.
Fables in Slang was also recently discussed in The Last Untapped Resource in Houston, the first brown bag lecture in the Unique Holdings series highlighting rare books in our collection. The next event is April 22 and will feature life science books, ranging from centuries old illustrations of mythological animals to contemporary fine press books. In the meantime, why not come to the Special Collections Reading Room and read some fables? Just ask for call number PS1006.A6 F3 1900.