The UH Public History Program prepares graduate students interested in history for positions in various historical venues, government agencies, business enterprises, and educational institutions. This fall, students enrolled in Dr. Kairn Klieman’s course “Archival Practice and Organizational Histories” spent three weeks immersed in the theory behind archives and the work of professional archivists. Coordinator for Instruction Julie Grob welcomed the students to Special Collections, where they focused their learning on the fascinating collections that make make up the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive & Research Collection (WARC). The goal of the unit was to encourage students to consider archives as a potential career, introduce them to the riches of WARC, and lead them to understand how archivists and institutions make collecting decisions which may perpetuate the dominant narrative or fill in gaps in the historical record.
Students in the course read a variety of journal articles about archival theory and practice, attended lectures and discussions led by Grob, toured Special Collections, and completed a project in which they arranged a photocopied version of an archival collection in order to duplicate the work on an archivist. Their favorite activity was probably exploring some of the WARC archival collections related to local organizations such as the Hispanic Women in Leadership Records, Women in Action Records, and Women in the Visual and Literary Arts Records. One pair of students was excited to find correspondence between the Houston Council of Texas Garden Clubs and (then Senator) Lyndon B. Johnson, related to an environmental cause. Students also enjoyed a visit from Vince Lee, curator for WARC, who spoke to the class about his background and career path to the field of archives, and his work with donors and incoming collections.
Following the archives unit, the students went on to work extensively with the local nonprofit Voices Breaking Boundaries, recording oral histories and writing an organizational history to document the organization. The records of Voices Breaking Boundaries, and the oral histories created by Dr. Kairn’s students, will be added to WARC.
If you are interested in exploring the collections yourself, you may visit the WARC website to view finding aids (guides to the collections) and digital collections, or stop by Special Collections during our open hours. If you are a faculty member interested in having a unit developed around archival practice or our primary source collections, please e-mail Julie Grob.
“Archival Practice and Organizational Histories” Course Visits Special Collections
This week marks the final days of the installation and exhibition, Living Lines by Lynn Randolph, a piece commissioned by Arts Brookfield and on view through October 9th at Total Plaza. The 16-foot long oil pastel mural pulls from the sketchbooks of Randolph, providing a window into the creative process of not only the individual artist, but artists as a whole. Curated by Sally Reynolds, the exhibition is held in cooperation with the artist and also features a number of Randolph’s individual paintings.
Lynn Randolph is probably best known as an artist. Or, is it writer? Or, maybe activist. Labels can be tricky. Throughout her life she has seen her art and/or her writing intermingled with her passion for women’s rights and human rights. Originally from Port Arthur, TX, Randolph attended the University of Texas where she received her BFA before returning to Houston and establishing an impressive artistic legacy. Her works have been reproduced in a number of books, academic papers, and journals (including Coronation of St. George, which was reproduced for The Nation) as well as widely exhibited throughout the United States and are part of permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Menil Collection, and The National Museum of Women in the Arts, among others.
Her work with women’s rights and human rights was far reaching and art became a natural conduit for her work in these areas as well. In 1984 she and her friend Suzanne Bloom organized in Houston for the Artist Call Against U.S. intervention in Central America, a broad umbrella of artists, activists, and others seeking to bring attention to the crimes being committed as part of U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere. In 1992 Randolph joined the Women’s Action Coalition and helped the New York based group organize protests of the Republican National Convention held in Houston. Prominent in the protests were the use of drum corps. Born from this experience were the Ilusas (or “deluded women”), a Houston-based drum corps that continued to perform until they disbanded in 1997. In 1993 Randolph and Marilyn Zeitlin traveled to El Salvador and helped organize an exhibition of Salvadorian artists entitled, Art Under Duress, El Salvador from 1980 to Present, which was mounted at the Arizona State University Art Museum and also traveled to Houston with an exhibition at the Lawndale Art Center.
For those interested in the artist’s process, the University of Houston Special Collections is pleased to offer the Lynn Randolph Papers for study. Included in this collection are documents and materials related to her artistic and literary career, as well as her activism and public service, and research and personal papers. In addition, a number of items and works by the author have been individually cataloged to facilitate discovery. The Lynn Randolph Papers are available for study, along with the other collections comprising our Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection, during our normal research hours. We encourage you to catch Living Lines in these final days and be sure to visit Special Collections for further study with the artist’s papers.
New and varied content continues to be published via the Digital Library on a regular basis. Thanks to these efforts, researchers unable to visit the Special Collections Reading Room in person benefit from remote access to critical primary resources. Last week some new additions went live and Vince Lee, Archivist for the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection, provides us with the details below.
Who knew that oral histories could be so much fun and attract such a star-studded lineup? The University of Houston Special Collections is pleased to announce six new additions to the Barbara Karkabi Living Archives Series. You’ll meet Houston women who impacted the environmental movement, allowing us to enjoy Houston’s green spaces, women who had a hand in designing the architecture you see all around you, and women whose dishes you may have savored in the culinary world. If that wasn’t enough, watch an interview with Joanne King Herring as she recounts her role in charities and assisting Afghan resistance fighters (as depicted by Julia Roberts in Charlie Wilson’s War). Or, if pop culture grabs your interest, Tina Knowles talks about her early life and career in establishing her brand in the fashion industry (yes that “Knowles,” the mother of Beyoncé–who attended the original interview recording, by the way, and drew huge crowds on campus). Finally, we have our very own President Khator as she recounts her own personal life and journey which took her from India, to the United States, to ultimately being confirmed as the President and Chancellor of the University of Houston.
Visit the Barbara Karkabi Living Archives Series or Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection for more information.
The exhibit, “Collective HER-story, A Mosaic Masterpiece: Exploring the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archives” comes to a close this week.
This ambitious exhibit, featuring a broad and eclectic range of history representative of the Shuart Archives, opened on October 14, 2013 and enjoys its final weekend at the M.D. Anderson Library, running through Sunday March 2nd. From Mayor Annise Parker to the Gorilla Girls, from former Mayor Kathy Whitmire to the WNBA’s first dynasty, the Houston Comets, the “Collective HER-story” exhibit has a little something for everyone.
UH Moment: HER-story Celebrates Accomplishments of Women in Houston
The M.D. Anderson Library and exhibit are open to the public over the weekend. The “Collective HER-story” exhibit can be viewed on the first and second floors of UH’s M.D. Anderson Library (Exit 1 off Calhoun Road). Come catch it (one last time) before it closes. The exhibit may close, but the legacy of these women and study of their history will endure.
Archivist Vince Lee of the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection will showcase artifacts from the recently acquired Toni Beauchamp Papers at Table Talk 2014, presented by the University of Houston Friends of Women’s Studies on Thursday, February 27th.
Defining Toni Beauchamp’s legacy in Houston is an exciting challenge. The term “patron” was often applied to her during her lifetime and certainly remains today. However, her involvement with art went beyond mere patronage, and we may find that word to be too narrow, now. The role of art was exemplified into two spheres in her life, civic duty and personal advocacy. Her involvement and leadership on such public projects involving the renovation of Buffalo Bayou and Market Square Park fulfilled a vision that art, thoughtfully integrated with urban design, results in beautification, preservation, and forging an identity for the community. Art was also very personal for Toni. Art provided her a means to shape and influence the community, forge friendships, and most importantly it was an opportunity for her to educate and share information with others.
Her connection to the University of Houston dates back to 1973, when she earned her BA in Art and where she would later serve as assistant director of the Blaffer Gallery. The acquisition of her papers, thanks to the generosity of her husband Jeff Beauchamp, has us very excited to begin the work of processing, arranging, and making these materials available for study to scholars both local and abroad. These papers complement other offerings in Special Collections like her collection of essays, Good, and “Remembrances of Toni” (a collection of reflections on Toni’s life) compiled by her husband Jeff. The spirit and legacy of Beauchamp make her papers a natural fit amongst the other bold women at the vanguard, whose collections grace the stacks of the Shuart Women’s Archive.
At Table Talk 2014 Vince Lee will have artifacts from Toni Beauchamp’s work on Good, as well as her involvement with the “Buffalo Bayou Master Plan” and “Market Square Park Project.” Friends of Women Studies hosts the annual Table Talk series, “a fascinating combination of conversations over lunch, led by dynamic women of various cultures, professions and experience at each table,” benefiting Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of Houston. A list of Conversationalists attending this 17th annual Table Talk can be found here.
Time permitting, be sure to attend Table Talk 2014 and visit with Vince Lee for more information regarding the legacy of Toni Beauchamp, the research potential her papers will offer, and their new home in the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection.