University of Houston is excited to announce its procurement of the Zine Fest Houston Records! Consisting primarily of zines (self-published, small circulation, non-commercial booklets or magazines), ephemera, and print items, the collection documents zine culture in Gulf Coast region and throughout the country. Materials in the collection range from the 1980s to present, and focus on a range of topics, including art, feminism, LGBTQ issues, Latina/o’s, and humor.
Curator and archivist for the collection, Lisa Cruces, states, “I’m thrilled to have the ZFH records finally here! Because of their format and the perception of being disposable, zines and other smaller publications are often overlooked, but in my opinion they are valuable snapshots of communities.”
Acquired from zinester, Shane Patrick Boyle, and Zine Fest Houston organizers, Maria-Elisa Heg, Stacy Kirages, and Sarah Welch, the collection is the result of their personal collecting, as well as contributions from the annual Zine Fest Houston event. Usually held in the fall, Zine Fest is a grassroots event dedicated to promoting zines, mini-comics, and other forms of small press, alternative, underground, DIY media, and art. More information on the festival and related events can be found here at the Zine Fest Houston website.
Currently 10 linear feet in size, the Zine Fest Houston Records will continue to grow. “We agreed to donate the Zine Fest Houston Archive to University of Houston because we wanted to share and celebrate the history of the organization and the zines that have been produced by the artists, creators, and activists of South Texas from the early 1990s through today with the entire Houston community, and students, visiting scholars and professors at the University. The University of Houston is also a good fit in terms of location and archive storage facilities. We couldn’t be happier with the partnership that has formed and look forward to adding to the collection throughout the years,” state Heg, Kirages, and Welch.
The Zine Fest Houston Records are currently being processed but open to researchers. For more information, contact Lisa Cruces, firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I arrived at the University of Houston Special Collections a year and a half ago as the first dedicated Audiovisual Archivist in the department, I was delighted to discover that UH was home to the KUHT Collection. I personally have a long-time love of public broadcasting, and KUHT holds the notable, and perhaps surprising, title of the “first educational non-profit television” in the country. Educational television was championed in the 1950s as a way to turn every living room into a classroom and would eventually evolve into what we know today as the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
One of my first tasks was to gain better intellectual control of the collection in order to help set preservation priorities and ensure access to researchers. Under the guidance of Special Collections Program Manager Matt Richardson, several dedicated and hardworking student workers shifted over 2,000 films and 10,000 videos out of boxes and to new dedicated AV shelving. This new shelving meant that videos could be stored standing up on edge, rather than stacked in boxes, which put the fragile tapes at risk of damage.
The improved storage method also allowed for easier access to tapes for inventory purposes. Working on and off on the inventory over the past year, I am now nearing completion, with just a handful of shelves left to go. Over the year, I have learned a lot about the programming of KUHT over their sixty-three-year history. I’ve come across such curious titles as “Heartbreak Turtle” and “Teenager: A Disease of What?” as well as moments of historical significance captured on film, such as an early 1960s interview with Houston civil rights leader Rev. William A. Lawson. One of my personal favorites from the collection is the series, “People are Taught to Be Different,” available to view on the UH Digital Library. This series, a 1956 collaboration between KUHT and Dr. Henry Allen Bullock from TSU, utilizes interpretive dance and narration to describe the universality of emotion across race, nationality, and culture.
In an effort to make these materials more readily accessible to the public, the KUHT Collection finding aid has been updated to note the extent of the audiovisual holdings, and now includes an abridged list of collection titles, with an eventual eye at making the entire inventory available online. Furthermore, we have digitized and posted one pre-existing Rolodex-style catalog of 1″ Video for researchers to use. Our hope is that this resource will be a valuable asset to those with an interest in the history of public television, Houston, and the many other topics touched upon in six decades of non-profit television productions.
Each summer the Immanuel & Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival provides an opportunity for talented young musicians to come together and learn from professional musicians as well as faculty from the Moores School of Music. This year’s festival performances kicked off June 11 and run through July 2.
In 2013, the University Archives acquired records documenting the history of this distinctive program. The recently processed Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival Records contain concert programs, publicity and press materials, a scrapbook, as well as concert recordings covering the history of the festival from 1985 to 2013.
In addition to documenting a vital part of the city and the University’s musical landscape, the Immanuel & Helen Olshan Texas Music Records also exemplify the changing nature of the archival record, and the challenges repositories face along with it. While the paper portion of the TMF records is comparatively small, the records also include over 200 digital recordings. These recordings arrived on CDs, an unstable media not suitable for long-term archival storage. The TMF records arrived just as the department was beginning to explore in earnest methods for accessioning born digital materials and transferring files to secure digital archival storage. As Special Collections has continued to acquire collections containing a variety of digital media formats, we continue to improve our processes for preserving, describing, and providing access to these materials.
For now, the digital concert recordings are minimally described in the finding aid with an overview of what is available, including the date range of recordings. Researchers, performers, or fans wanting to get more detail on the recordings—including dates, soloists and conductors, and pieces played for specific concerts—are encouraged to contact University Archivist Mary Manning with inquiries. With advance request, the concert recordings can be made available for listening on a computer in our reading room.
As they record a dynamic cultural and educational event, it is only appropriate that the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival Records also help orchestrate a transition in the archives to a new era in collecting, preserving, and making accessible our cultural heritage.
The Instruction Program at the University of Houston Special Collections continues its growth and impact on teaching and learning around campus, at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
The fall 2015 semester saw our Evans Room welcome a number of first-time visits from UH professors and their classes, as well as the continuation of some long-standing partnerships that have made Special Collections a permanent fixture on the class schedules across a number of disciplines. University Archivist Mary Manning hosted Dr. Lyle McKinney’s “History and Philosophy of Education,” where students consulted with the University Archives to trace the growth of not only the University as a whole (from its origins as a junior college, through its explosive growth following WWII, and the evolution of student life into the late 20th century), but also of individual disciplines and courses offered at UH. Dr. Roberto Tejada visited Special Collections with two of his classes (“Advanced Projects in Literary Translation” and “Master Poetry Workshop”), where Hispanic Collections Archivist Lisa Cruces shared a number of artists books from North America and Latin America, and students were able to engage in the challenges of translation with these materials.
Instructors for classes held in Special Collections included archivists from Special Collections as well as specialist librarians from other departments. In an exciting outreach collaboration Porcia Vaughn, Biology & Biochemistry Librarian, visited Dr. Lawrence Williams’s “History and Philosophy of Biology” class to highlight and discuss some of the rich resources hosted among the rare books available for research in the natural sciences. Those students in turn visited our reading room to consult with science texts dating back centuries, providing an opportunity for keen and curious eyes to trace the development of the scientific revolution.
Now, the spring 2016 class schedule is in full swing. Dr. Jesse Rainbow, Dr. Leandra Zarnow, and Dr. David Mazella have already visited Special Collections this semester. In addition to what has become a very full and recurring schedule, Coordinator for Instruction Julie Grob has scheduled a number of new and interesting collaborations with the Honors College and a number of departments across the humanities. Students of Dr. Bill Monroe will visit to explore some of our resources related to literary and visual artists of the American Southwest. Also scheduled to visit Special Collections as part of their instruction are Dr. James Zebroski’s “Introduction to LGBT Literature,” Dr. Mark Allan Goldberg’s “U.S. Latina/o Histories,” and Honors College students from the “Ideology and Empire: Russia” course of Dr. David Rainbow.
As part of our mission to support the teaching and research activities of the University of Houston, Coordinator for Instruction Julie Grob works with professors to leverage the wide variety of resources in Special Collections into the everyday teaching and learning at the University of Houston. Be sure to contact Julie if you are interested in exploring future collaborations to impact your classroom.
Cynthia Macdonald, acclaimed poet and co-founder of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston, died last month at the age of 87.
Macdonald began her career intending to be an opera singer, then switched to writing poetry. She published seven books of poetry, including Amputations (1972), Transplants (1976), W(holes) (1980), and I Can’t Remember (1997). Her work revealed an interest in the artistic, the freakish, and the domestic, a preference for pithy language, a dark wit, and delight in playing with form. She was honored with a 1983 Guggenheim Fellowship among other writing awards.
Macdonald came to the University of Houston after previously teaching at Sarah Lawrence College and Johns Hopkins University. In 1979, she founded the renowned Creative Writing Program along with fellow poet Stanley Plumly. Macdonald was considered an extremely knowledgeable and supportive instructor and mentor. In 1989 she received the Esther Farfel Award, the University of Houston’s highest faculty award.
In addition to writing and teaching, Macdonald was a practicing psychotherapist who specialized in helping people with writer’s block.
Also a mother, she leaves behind two children, Jennifer Macdonald and Scott Macdonald.
In 2010, the University of Houston Libraries acquired the Cynthia Macdonald Papers, a sprawling collection of manuscripts, correspondence, and materials from the writer’s teaching and psychoanalytical careers. Special Collections also holds the Library of Cynthia Macdonald, a collection of over 3000 books, primarily contemporary American poetry, many of which were inscribed to Macdonald by her literary friends.
See also, “The Writer’s Life.”