The following piece appears courtesy of Dan Johnson, 2013 Mosaic Fellow, wherein he provides a look at a sampling of projects benefiting from his internship with the University of Houston Special Collections.
I was selected as a Mosaic Fellow in the Fall of 2013 by the Association of Research Libraries and the Society of American Archivists. I’m presently a MSLS student at the University of North Texas, studying Archival Studies and Digital Image Management. The Mosaic Fellowship included an internship component, pairing up fellows with host ARL institutions; I was glad to have the opportunity to intern here at UH Special Collections since September 2014. I’ve since had the pleasure of working on a variety of special projects, working hands on with archival materials.
I first started a digital audit of the Ewing Family Papers, comparing the physical archival collection to its finding aid and existing digital collection. In that review of the Ewing family scrapbooks, I worked with Valerie Prilop, Digital Collections Librarian, and we discovered that the finding aid for one of the scrapbooks provided descriptions for only the front side of each scrapbook page, but did not describe the reverse side, while the digital collection had page-level descriptions for both front and back sides of the pages. Ultimately, we were able to identify places where the finding aid could be improved, and we made some recommendations to combine two digital collections, one per scrapbook, into a single consolidated digital collection, a project for a later date.
I then started a project under the guidance of University Archivist Mary Manning, processing and describing additions to the William C. Moffit Papers. The collection was originally donated by Dr. Moffit himself, but several additions were later donated by his wife and family after he passed away. I was able to process and describe some additional manuscript parts, published musical arrangements, and Patterns of Motion training materials, among other things. Working with a member of the faculty from the School of Music who was intimately familiar with Dr. Moffit’s work helped me better describe and arrange the materials in a way that will make the most sense to researchers using this collection.
I started work on a third project with Hispanic Collections Archivist Lisa Cruces, auditing the physical material of the Alonso S. Perales Papers and comparing the physical archival collection to the finding aid. There were a handful of items in the physical collection that were not reflected in the finding aid, and I have been correcting the finding aid to more faithfully represent the collection.
Most recently, I’ve been given the opportunity to work with Librarian Emerita Pat Bozeman on a project transcribing and contextualizing some handwritten letters. Two of these items were taken from the Early Texas Documents collection. One item is a letter from Sam Houston written after he was wounded in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. It documents his request to be transferred from New Orleans to a more northern location upon the advice of several physicians. Another item is a letter that highlights Stephen F. Austin’s efforts to gather support from the United States government and people for Texas Independence and was written in Nashville, Tennessee days before Texas declared independence from Mexico. Working intimately with historical documents such as these has been a very exciting and rewarding experience.
On this San Jacinto Day, the University of Houston Special Collections is happy to share more exciting developments on the digitization front with the recent publication of the Mexico Documents Collection on the UH Digital Library.
Originally combined from several smaller collections, the Mexico Documents Collection contains government orders, announcements, decrees, pamphlets, and correspondence (both personal and official) dating as far back as 1570 (manuscript on vellum) on into the 20th century. Many of the materials in the collection date from Mexican Independence (1821) through the end of the Mexican-American War (1849), but scholars with research interests in the Mexican Colonial Period or the Mexican Revolution are also likely to find some fertile ground in this collection. Researchers with limited experience in the Spanish language will also be pleased to find a number of the documents accompanied by English translations.
Thanks to this new level of access, scholars around the globe and around the clock browsing through the online collection will turn up the names of Santa Anna de Lopez, Porfirio Diaz, and Jose Joaquin de Hererra. A closer look reveals materials related to American military actions as part of the Mexican-American War, business and land transactions, as well as documents chronicling religion in Mexico.
While nothing can replicate working with a physical copy of a petition from the Barefoot Monks to Philip V of Spain in the Special Collections Reading Room, the opportunity to share online these types of centuries-old documents alongside more recent materials highlighting distinct periods of Mexican history marks another exciting step for our larger Hispanic Collections. We invite you to enjoy the Mexico Documents Collection and look forward to assisting you in your research, whether online via the Digital Library or offline next time you are able to pay us a visit.
The University of Houston Special Collections is happy to announce both the recent publication of the Houston Saengerbund Records in the UH Digital Library and significant additions and revisions made to the finding aid for the related physical collection housed here in Special Collections!
The Houston Saengerbund is a German singing society that has been active in Houston for more than a century and continues to perform at public events throughout Houston and Texas to this day. It was founded in 1883 and was one of many all-male singing organizations which formed in the German communities of Texas during the last half of the 19th century. These local groups were united under Der Deutsch-Texanische Saengerbund (the German-Texan Singers’ League), a regional organization that held biennial meetings and Saengerfeste (Singing Festivals) in various Texas cities. Both the digital collection and physical materials provide insight not only into the activities, performances, membership, and administration of this group, but also into its responses to major events and social changes throughout the last century of American history.
The digital collection consists of five bound ledgers covering the years 1874-1937. In these ledgers you’ll find meeting minutes, financial statements, programs, clippings, and correspondence between the Houston Saengerbund and other German organizations. The materials span the time from the group’s inception, through its growth to over 1000 members in the years before World War I, and to the formation of the Ladies Auxiliary and the Damenchor (Women’s Chorus) in 1937.
The updated finding aid describes physical materials dating from 1874 to present. Here you’ll find songbooks and event materials, administrative records, legal files, financial records, and publications from all points in the group’s history. Of particular interest is the effect of anti-German sentiment that developed during the World Wars. With the onset of World War II, the Saengerbund members changed the name of the group to “The Houston Singing Society,” quit their primary activity of singing German songs, and began keeping minutes in English due to their concern about arousing anti-German sentiment. It wasn’t until after the war ended that the club members restored both their singing and their name.
The events mentioned above are just a couple of the points of interest to be found in the rich and storied history of The Houston Saengerbund. Check out the digital collection or visit us here in Special Collections to find out more!
The UH Digital Library recently announced its newest addition—the Donald Barthelme Sr. Architectural Papers and Photographs. The Digital Library makes accessible online important holdings of the University of Houston libraries and archives. These new items illustrate the work of noted architect Donald Barthelme through pencil sketches, photographs, and the detailed working drawings used to construct his buildings. They are only a small part of the total found in the Donald Barthelme Sr. Architectural Papers, but they illustrate his most important projects.
The earliest is Barthelme’s own residence (1939), a small flat-roof modernist house on Wynden Drive. The open plan created the illusion of a larger space within. A grid of Japanese tatami mats covering the floor met a similar grid of windows facing the patio. He filled the living room with iconic modernist furniture by Alvar Aalto, Charles Eames, and Eero Saarinen. In an unusual feature, the parents’ bedroom was open to the living room; a folding screen provided privacy from the children.
St. Rose of Lima Church and School won an award of merit from the American Institute of Architects in 1948 for its simple and austere brick forms. But Barthelme’s most important building was the award-winning West Columbia Elementary School,
completed in 1951. Its innovative design departed from the traditional practice of placing classrooms along both sides of a long corridor. Instead, he arranged the building around two large courtyards; classrooms opened to the courts through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The picture of a teacher and her students captures the cheerful atmosphere of Barthelme’s light-filled classrooms.
In the mid-1950s, the Adams Petroleum Company hired Barthelme to design its new office building on Fannin Street. The company hoped to develop the large site as an office park, with the APC building to be followed by other office buildings. Barthelme spent hundreds of hours planning the large complex before Adams abandoned the scheme. The Digital Library contains a selection of rarely seen studies for this ambitious unbuilt project.
Through the UH Digital Library the public now has easy access to these images, some of which have never been published. As usual, the Donald Barthelme Sr. Architectural Papers are available to researchers at the UH Libraries’ Special Collections department.
The recent publication of the USS Houston (CA-30) Photographs, adding to the growing Military History Collections at our Digital Library, marks another major milestone and means even more research potential for remote scholars unable to visit our rich USS Houston physical archives and materials.
Pulled from the photographs of the Cruiser Houston Collection, this new digital collection highlights the history of the heavy cruiser and her crew–the survivors, prisoners of war, and those who gave all. The flagship of the Asiatic Fleet during World War II, the Houston fought in the Battle of the Java Sea and to her bitter end at the Battle of Sunda Strait, sinking just after midnight as February turned into March, 1942. Highlights in the collection date back to the naming campaign that gave her our city’s name, include documentation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s affinity for the Houston as his vessel of choice for sea voyages and deep sea diversions during his presidency, show haunting scenes from those infamous POW camps, and testify to the resolve of 1,000 “Houston Volunteers” who answered the call sent out by the sinking of the Houston.If these recently published photographs barely scratch your research itch, be sure to also visit the Lt. Robert B. Fulton USS Houston Letters, the William Slough USS Houston Letters, and the USS Houston Blue Bonnet Newsletters, also available for study in our Digital Library. Or, better yet, visit the permanent exhibition of the USS Houston on the second floor of the M.D. Anderson Library and continue your research with a closer look at the larger USS Houston & Military History Collections in the Special Collections Reading Room.