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Finding Aid Available for Kenneth W. Kennedy World War II Letters

categories: Finding Aids, USS Houston & Military History

A finding aid is now available for the Kenneth W. Kennedy World War II Letters.  The correspondence of Brigadier General Kennedy and his family provide an intimate glimpse of World War II life, both behind the curtain and on the stage of the North Africa Campaign.

Kenneth W. Kennedy played the role of a young Shore Party Commander in Operation Torch as part of the invasion of Northern Africa.  After the war, his engineering projects at home were numerous and included maintenance of the Mississippi River navigation channels as well as work on the early space launch facilities at Cape Canaveral.  This collection of letters home during World War II not only give insight and analysis of operations in the North Africa Campaign, but also (as much as secrecy would allow) the lengthy and meticulous preparations, both in the U.S. and abroad, leading up to the invasion.

The collection dates back to Kennedy’s days at West Point and as a whole provide a telling look at the transition of an officer from peacetime to the perils of war.  Letters from a number of family members, including his brother Joseph William Kennedy, are also included in the collection.  Joseph William Kennedy was a member of the team to first produce and isolate plutonium at the University of California, Berkley and he would later head the Chemistry and Metallurgy division at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as work proceeded on the first atomic bombs.  His letters include correspondence from both his time spent at Berkley as well as Los Alamos.

This collection, providing insights into the family and work of two brothers so critical to the war effort of the Allies, is sure to be a delight to anyone interested in the history of World War II.  Curious?  Take a detailed look at the finding aid or drop by the Special Collections Reading Room to view the entire collection.

Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove Named Top Texas Love Story

categories: Collections, Contemporary Literature, In the News

The University of Houston Special Collections, home of the Larry McMurtry Papers, was pleased to see that Amazon.com has named McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove Texas’ top love story. Amazon writes, “Part love story, part adventure, this Pulitzer Prize winner is as ambitious and mythic as the Lone Star State itself.” Indeed, Lonesome Dove is a brilliant novel centering around the fictional border town of Lonesome Dove, where former Texas Rangers endeavor to drive cattle north into Montana.

The McMurtry Papers include a plethora of material documenting McMurtry’s writing, including notes, typescript drafts, and copyedited typescripts. If you’d like to take a look at the original material that lead to Texas’ top love story, come see us in Special Collections!

Remembering Dr. Sidney Berger

categories: In the News

The University of Houston lost one of its visionary pioneers recently when Dr. Sidney Berger, longtime director of the School of Theatre and Dance, passed away at the age of 77.  He leaves behind a legacy rich in contributions to education and the arts.

In over four decades with the University of Houston, Dr. Berger was integral in growing the School of Theatre and Dance  to the preeminent program it has become, adding award-winning playwrights to its faculty and forging unique relationships with the larger, thriving Houston theatre community.  Among his accomplishments Dr. Berger founded and served as director for the Houston Shakespeare Festival, co-founded and served as producer for the Children’s Theatre Festival, and directed at the Alley Theatre as an Associate Artist.

In his contributions to research, Dr. Berger was responsible for helping the UH Libraries acquire the papers of Cheryl Crawford, co-founder of the Group Theatre and Broadway director, and Jose Quintero, co-founder of Circle in the Square Theatre and the director who helmed the Eugene O’Neill revival.

In 1999-2000, Dr. Berger and Pat Bozeman, Head of Special Collections, co-curated the exhibition Long Day’s Journey Into Light: Theatre Master, Jose Quintero at M.D. Anderson Library.  He was a cherished friend and colleague in education and will certainly be missed.

The More Things Change. . .

categories: Collections, In the News, University Archives

Crowned by the groundbreaking of the new football stadium last Friday, the rapidly changing University of Houston campus is ushering in a new era on Cullen Boulevard. Improved academic facilities, an improved University Center, and a dozen other projects around campus—crowned with a new state-of-the-art football stadium—play a key role in the development of UH into a Tier One institution. The development of the UH campus has been made possible by President Khator’s outreach to the state legislature, Houstonians, and the city of Houston. 76 years ago, a young University of Houston made a similar appeal to the city and its residents to create a first-class campus on previously undeveloped land southeast of Houston.

The document “Greater Houston Needs the University of Houston” is a fascinating look at the three year-old university, its ambition, and how it presented itself to Houstonians. Founded in 1927 by the Houston Independent School District as a junior college, the institution gained university status in 1934. Three years later, the campaign for a new campus began under the leadership of President Edwin E. Oberholtzer. While the language and specifics of the university have changed over 76 years (particularly in regards to student housing), the core message that the university plays an important role in the city educationally, economically, and culturally remains largely the same.

Below are selected pages from the booklet which may be viewed in the Special Collections reading room in its entirety. Additionally, numerous images of the early UH campus and buildings are available online in the Digital Library.

The Civil Rights Movement in Houston

categories: Collections, Houston History Archives

During the University’s recognition of African American History Month, students and visitors might wish to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement as it took place on a local level here in Houston. A good place to start is with the Thomas R. Cole Desegregation Papers in Special Collections.

Thomas R. Cole was Creator and Executive Producer of a 1997 film documentary called The Strange Demise of Jim Crow, which traces the unique desegregation process and civil rights struggles that occurred in Houston in the 1950s-1960s. Part of the Houston History Archives, the Cole collection consists of 19 boxes of very rich material, including drafts of film scripts, topical files on significant segregation issues, film project proposals, correspondence, publicity material, and a photocopy of Negro Politics and the Rise of the Civil Rights Movement in Houston, Texas (1968), a dissertation by Franklin Chandler Davidson.

The 57-minute DVD The Strange Demise of Jim Crow is available for checkout in the main library and for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room.

For more information about what is contained in the Thomas R. Cole Desegregation Papers, be sure to take a look at the finding aid. The original materials can be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room.

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