On Friday, March 14th, the UH Libraries hosted a reception for members of the USS Houston Survivors Association and the Next Generations, who were visiting Houston for their annual reunion. The organization was established in 1946 to bring together surviving crew members of the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30), who had fought together in the Battle of the Java Sea, and spent 3 1/2 years together as prisoners of war. In 1981, the Survivors Association donated to the Libraries a set of historic documents, letters, photographs, and memorabilia which became known as the Cruiser Houston Collection.
In attendance this year were survivors Bill Ingram and Howard Brooks. Ingram was the second youngest crew member on the ship, having enlisted in the Navy at seventeen. Many family members of other Houston crew members were also present, as well as historian Don Kehn, author of A Blue Sea of Blood: Deciphering the Mysterious Fate of the USS Edsall. The group enjoyed the opportunity to view the USS Houston Exhibition, have some cake and lemonade, and relax in the camaraderie of longtime friends.
UH Special Collections wishes Howard Brooks a speedy recovery after his recent fall.
Main Street Theater has been an important part of Houston’s vibrant performing arts community for almost forty years. Led by founding director Rebecca Greene Udden, the company staged their first production in the summer of 1975. As the name suggests, their first home was located on Main Street at Autry House, a community center belonging to the Episcopalian Diocese. The theater has grown steadily since then, first moving into a larger 92-seat space on Times Boulevard in Rice Village in 1981, and later adding a second, even larger, Chelsea Market location. The Main Street Theater is currently in its 39th MainStage season and its 34th Theater for Youth Season.
The Main Street Theater Records provide insight into the company’s activities both on stage and behind the scenes. The first 12 boxes of the collection consist of materials like playbills, scripts, posters, flyers, and photographs, documenting the theater’s MainStage productions as well as productions that are part of its Theater for Youth program. The collection also contains substantial amounts of financial records, meeting minutes from the Board of Directors and various other committees, donor correspondence, and materials related to the planning of benefits and fundraisers.
Take some time and peruse the finding aid, or better yet come visit us at Special Collections and see the history of this Houston theater for yourself!
A new exhibition of the University of Houston’s history is now on display with last night’s grand opening of “Frontier Fiesta: The Greatest College Show on Earth” at the MD Anderson Library.
A University of Houston tradition, Frontier Fiesta began in 1940 as a mishmash of musical and theatrical performances, cook-offs, carnival booths, and concessions. Held in the spring, Fiesta volunteers transform a piece of land on campus into a western frontier-style town called Fiesta City. This year’s Fiesta will include variety shows, carnival booths, the always popular cook-off, and musical performances from a number of national acts, highlighted by the appearance of B.O.B. (see a full schedule of events here).
Last night’s opening festivities reinforced the theme of an event that unifies, as Cougars of all ages flocked to hear comments from a number of speakers including Frontier Fiesta Chairman Hunter Lewis and distinguished alumnus Welcome Wilson Sr. on the importance of the history of Frontier Fiesta to the narrative of the University of Houston.
The exhibit includes programs, jackets, photographs, and other ephemera documenting the three runs of what once known as the greatest college show on earth. Some artifacts for the exhibit have been loaned by generous individuals and organizations with ties to Frontier Fiesta while others come from our impressive University Archives and, specifically, the Frontier Fiesta Records available for study in the Special Collections Reading Room.
At last night’s opening, exhibit curator Mary Manning provided guided tours of the exhibit which traces the Fiesta’s history from the humble origins in 1940, through its heyday of the post-World War II years, and on into its revival in the 1990s and beyond. The timeline weaves together what Richard “Racehorse” Haynes (UH Law, 1956) saw as an ambitious endeavor, “a lot of kids trying to make tradition, trying to make something that would bring the city into the university and the university into the city,” in the absence of any other long-established history and tradition for such a young university.
We encourage you to visit Fiesta City this weekend on the lovely University of Houston campus and invite you to indulge in the history of the exhibit, “Frontier Fiesta: The Greatest College Show on Earth,” on display now through June 6, 2014 on the first floor of the MD Anderson Library.
On Monday afternoon, students from Dr. Eric Castillo’s “Mexican American Art and Social Change” course visited Special Collections and were the first patrons to view two newly acquired collections of art prints and posters now residing in our Hispanic Collections.
Hispanic Collections Archivist Lisa Cruces and Coordinator for Digital Projects and Instruction Julie Grob facilitated Dr. Castillo’s students in a survey of Migration Now, a limited-edition portfolio of 37 handmade prints addressing migrant issues created by Justseeds and CultureStrike as well as Con papeles o sin papeles todos tenemos derechos (With papers or without papers we all have rights), 15 posters designed to remind immigrants of their legal rights and protections by La Escuela de Cultura Popular Revolucionaria Martires del 68. Students completed an analysis of the use of specific images and text in the posters as they related to viewpoints expressed therein.
To assist in their study, Cruces compiled a list of Primary Resources for Mexican American Art and Humanities Research. In addition, in her role as the Hispanic Collections Archivist, Ms. Cruces completed a brief Q&A with the class regarding the status of the Hispanic Collections here at UH, the research potential they represent, and plans for growing the archives in the future.
We thank Dr. Castillo and his students for visiting Special Collections and look forward to their continued research in our Hispanic Collections and beyond.