This weekend the University of Houston campus will welcome over 30,000 visitors as we host Houston’s March for Babies, a fundraising event that has become a mainstay for the March of Dimes in their efforts to improve the health of babies. While the mission of March of Dimes has evolved over the years (having been founded as an agency by President Franklin Roosevelt to battle polio), their commitment to the health of newborns has made the March for Babies an event to rally around year after year.
However, fundraising for the March of Dimes does not begin and end in Houston on one weekend in April. The grind and grunt work of charitable fundraising is a year-round job and no name is more synonymous with that exceptional effort than the first lady of philanthropy, one Carolyn Farb. The March of Dimes as well as so many others have benefited from her tireless efforts over the years. Author of How to Raise Millions: Helping Others, Having a Ball! A Guide to Fundraising as well as The Fine Art of Fundraising: Secrets for Successful Volunteers (with an introduction from Robin Leach), Farb has been involved in fundraising in Houston since the 1970s and we are pleased to offer for study a vast treasure trove of her personal papers. It would be quite impossible to list here the number of charitable and non-profit organizations that have benefited from Farb’s efforts but, as the campus gets set to host the March for Babies, a journey into her archives sheds light on just some of her work with the March of Dimes during the 1970s and beyond.
In 1979 the old Summit sports arena hosted the March of Dimes Gourmet Gala that pitted local and national celebrities against one another as would-be chefs, preparing culinary concoctions in kitchen stations conceived by some of Houston’s top designers. Bernice and Bob Welch of Houston would take top honors with their symphony of Shrimp Crepes with Brie and Pinenut Sauce, but the Baked Alaska of Carolyn Farb and her partner, fashion designer Jimmy Galanos, held its own as it took home the second place prize. Of course, the March of Dimes and the children they serve were the real winners that evening.
Photographs, press coverage, and artifacts from the 1979 March of Dimes Gourmet Gala provide just one whimsical snapshot of Farb’s work in fundraising. For a more robust picture of the resources available related to Carolyn Farb and her charitable work, take a look at the detailed finding aid. As the spring semester winds down and students scramble to the task of final exams, opportunities for research on Saturdays are dwindling. Be sure to take some time to come see us on Saturday before you go out and March for Babies on Sunday.
On Saturday, April 20th, the Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching Band will be performing a very experimental, very groundbreaking “site specific performance,” a four-hour “deconstructed parade” at Discovery Green Houston. Beginning at 4pm, the ambitious work from Daniel Bernard Roumain, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and Troy Bennefield, En Masse, will last until 8pm.
This is not your father’s marching band.
While a deconstructed parade is a far cry from the military marching or corps style many associate historically with marching bands, this is not the first time the Spirit of Houston has pushed the boundaries of what a marching band is or what it can do. For over two decades Bill Moffit wowed audiences with his revolutionary Patterns of Motion as he served as Director of the University of Houston Marching Band. The latter half of the twentieth century saw his ideas and unique style permeate show bands of every affiliation across the country.
A prolific arranger as well, Moffit directed the Fanfare Trumpets at the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles. His hundreds of arrangements published as the immensely popular Soundpower Series, as well as patrons continuing to visit our reading room to pore over his Patterns of Motion, ensure that the unique Moffit sound and style can still be heard in stadiums across the country.
In addition to Patterns of Motion, the University of Houston Special Collections is also pleased to offer the Professor William C. Moffit Papers for study as part of our University Archives. This collection is impressive in its size and scope, offering a look into the teaching, writing, and arrangement of Professor Moffit both at the University of Houston and also his time spent working with the Spartan Marching Band of Michigan State University and the Purdue All-American Marching Band.
Of particular note, Professor Moffit’s papers also include his personal arrangements of school fight songs from the University of Houston’s days in the old Southwest Conference. So if you bleed maroon, green and gold, or your burnt orange gets boiling when you hear “Texas Fite” (pictured here), you are sure to find something to make your visit a memorable one.
Wandering Book Artists Donna and Peter Thomas visited the University of Houston Libraries today for a lecture, meet and greet, and tours of their Gypsy Wagon Bookmobile.
The artists, who have been making artists’ books together for more than 30 years, entertained and educated those in attendance with stories, songs and demonstrations of their many handmade books, including miniature books, books made of wood, and books made with unusual items, including a can, a ukulele, and an accordion. They also answered questions about their creative process and the craft of bookmaking.
Attendees were also able to get a look at the Gypsy Wagon Bookmobile that the Thomases use as they travel across the country. The bookmobile, built on a 16-foot flat bed trailer, provides a place to sleep, dine, and conduct business. Influenced by vintage pictures, it is painted in bright bold colors and uses reclaimed wood, wrought iron, and stained glass.
We had some special visitors in the Library on Thursday, led by the Australian Ambassador to the United States, the Hon Kim Beazley, AC, who was here to tour the USS Houston Exhibition. Located on the second floor of the library, the exhibition features original letters and artifacts from the World War II-era ship and POW camps, an American flag made by prisoners-of-war in Saigon, and vintage photographs of USS Houston crew members. Paintings of the ship are also on display, as well as a newly restored model, ship’s bell, two uniforms, and – of particular interest to the Ambassador – several items related to the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth. As a native of Perth, Ambassador Beazley has long had a keen interest in the story of the ship and her crew.
The Perth joined the Houston as part of an ABDA (American, British, Dutch, Australian) fleet in the Battle of the Java Sea. The two ships’ fates were tied together, as both the Perth and the Houston survived that battle but found trouble the following night when passing through Sunda Strait, where they encountered a large Japanese force. Outnumbered and outgunned, both ships were sunk.
Mr. Beazley and his party toured the exhibit with curator Julie Grob and other University representatives. Attendees included Ambassador Beazley and his wife Susie Annus; Australian Consul General to the USA, Mr. Mauro Kolobaric, and his wife Silvana Kolobaric; Australian Honorary Consul General to Houston, Ms. Nana Booker; Capt. Carter B. Conlin, USN (Ret.) of the Naval Order of the United States; Don Kehn, Jr., Historian for the USS Houston Survivors Association/Next Generations; Dr. Marshall Schott, Associate Vice Chancellor/Associate Vice President for Outreach and Planning, University of Houston; Michelle Buhr, Director of Stewardship, University of Houston; and Julie Grob, Coordinator for Digital Projects and Instruction, Special Collections/Curator of Cruiser Houston Collection.
Grob presented Ambassador Beazley with a copy of Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR’s Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of her Survivors by James D. Hornfischer on behalf of the University of Houston Libraries.
Materials for the exhibition were drawn from the Cruiser Houston Collection, which contains over 70 boxes of archival material related to the history of the ship and her crew. The collection forms part of the USS Houston and Military History Archives. For more information about what is contained in the collection, be sure to take a look at the finding aid. The original materials can be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room.
Librarians from Special Collections and the University of Houston Libraries are looking forward to attending the 16th Annual Table Talk Luncheon. Hosted by the Friends of Women’s Studies, Table Talk will take place on Wednesday, February 27th from 12-1:30pm at the Hilton Americas Hotel Downtown. The event provides a unique opportunity for guests to meet and talk with Houston women who have forged their own paths in various disciplines. Among the conversationalists at the tables will be Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker, Dr. Mae Jemison, former NASA Astronaut and the first African American woman to travel in space, and Dr. Monica Perales, UH History Professor and author of Smeltertown: Making and Remembering a Southwest Border Community. Proceeds benefit the Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at the University of Houston and the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Center in Special Collections at the University of Houston Libraries.
The Shuart Women’s Archive will once again prepare a display of highlights from the Barbara Karkabi Papers, honoring the memory of one of the Archives’ long-time supporters and journalist for the Houston Chronicle. Don’t forget to stop by our table and say hi to the Shuart Women’s Archivist, Vince Lee. We look forward to seeing you there!