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.