Now is your last chance to catch the exhibition, Houston History: Archives, Magazine, and Oral History on the first floor of the M.D. Anderson Library. Scheduled to close on December 18, 2015, staff will begin striking the exhibition any day now as we make way for a new installation, Encuentros en Literatura | Encounters and Discoveries in Literature, scheduled to open late January 2016.
The exhibit, now ending a successful six month run, explores the impact of the Welcome Wilson Houston History Collaborative (formerly known as the Houston History Project) on research and scholarship related to Houston’s history. Dr. Tomkins-Walsh, curator of the exhibit and Archivist for the Houston History Archives, explains that in 2003 Dr. Joseph Pratt helped migrate the Houston History magazine from the Houston Public Library to the University of Houston and, in doing so, established an archive and repository of oral histories to complement the publication and help spur future research.
The Houston History magazine, published triannually, is the most prominent and publicly visible organ of the Welcome Wilson Houston History Collaborative. Students help support the day-to-day work of publishing the magazine but, even more importantly, students find a vehicle for publication of their research, often conducted in the archives and oral histories of the Houston History Archives. Dr. Tomkins-Walsh’s exhibition features prime examples of this type of student research and contributing authors even attended the exhibition’s opening, allowing them to highlight their research to a different audience and in a different context.
The Oral Histories from the Houston History Project are produced throughout the year by faculty and graduate students and prepared for online and global access by researchers via our Digital Library. The resource is constantly growing as new oral histories are produced and introduced into the existing collection. Included among the oral histories are interviews related to the energy history of Houston, the construction of the Houston Ship Channel, as well as the fallout from natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. The Houston History exhibit is able to showcase the under-appreciated and under-publicized role of the oral history interviewer. Through the Center for Public History, graduate students are able to train in the skills, tools, and processes needed to research, prepare for, and conduct successful oral history interviews.
Finally, the paper archives that comprise the Houston History Project are also showcased. Representing a variety of research disciplines, highlights from the archival collections that make appearances in the exhibit include the Foley’s Department Store Records, the Thomas R. Cole Desegregation Papers, and records covering the production of the documentary film, This is Our Home, It Is Not for Sale. A number of other collections like the Bayou Preservation Association and the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition (CEC) provide a window into the peculiar push-pull relationship that developed over the years in Houston between disparate environmental groups and those interested in furthering business development.
However, all good things must come to an end, and time is running out for Houston History: Archives, Magazine, and Oral History. Be sure to catch one last glimpse of this exhibition, while you still can!
Homecoming Week is upon the University of Houston, and the University Archives and Special Collections are joining in the celebration. Last year, you may recall, the archives worked with other library partners to launch a virtual exhibit, UH Homecoming through the Years. This year, the Homecoming Board, Council of Ethnic Organizations, and University Archives have partnered to produce a collaborative Homecoming exhibit entitled “A Look Back at UH Homecoming.” Representatives from these groups have been meeting for months, brainstorming ideas, coordinating research in the archives, and planning for the exhibit and related events. University Archives staff have provided guidance on using the archives and shared resources on the history of homecoming and the University. Meanwhile, the students brought their energy and vision of a Varsity Red Homecoming and selected the materials and stories they wanted to highlight in the exhibit. Homecoming marked a perfect opportunity for this sort of collaboration, and the new exhibit looks great!
The exhibit focuses on the early days of homecoming at UH, and covers events ranging from the first Homecoming in 1946 to the crowning of UH’s first African-American homecoming queen in 1968. In keeping with the Homecoming Board’s theme for the year, the exhibit seeks to inform students about the origins of homecoming at UH, instill Cougar pride, and highlight some of the traditions that have been a part of this campus celebration over the years.
The exhibit is currently on display in front of Special Collections on the second floor of the M.D. Anderson Library. It will be there throughout Homecoming Week, with one very special exception. As a part of the week’s festivities, the exhibit will be hitting the road! Making a rare trip outside of Special Collections, these University Archives materials included in the exhibit will be featured during the Homecoming Board’s Mum-Making 101 event, which takes place Legacy Lounge in the Student Center on Thursday, November 5. The artifacts will be on display there from 7-8pm, while the event goes on till 10pm. The next day, the exhibit will pop back up in front of Special Collections, where it will remain on display through November 13th.
If you have not visited the M.D. Anderson Library recently, you should know that right now we have quite a bit we would like to show you.
Here at the University of Houston Special Collections we continue to shine light on the fruits of research’s labor. Our mini-exhibition, “From Our Collections…” is currently featuring a rotation of three new works that may be viewed at the entrance to Special Collections in the Aristotle J. Economon, Hanneke Faber & Andrew J. Economon Elevator Lobby exhibit space on the second floor. Now highlighting the breadth and variety of research potential contained in our collections are the following:
Incredible Tretchikoff: Life of an Artist and Adventurer, Boris Gorelik (2013); featuring research from the Cruiser Houston Collection.
The Other Great Migration: The Movement of Rural African Americans to Houston, 1900-1941, Bernadette Pruitt (2013); featuring research from the Oral Histories – Houston History Project.
In addition, Pat Bozeman’s exhibit, “1914-2014: Commemorating One Hundred Years — World War I,” continues it’s run at the foot of the Morrie & Rolaine Abramson Grand Staircase on the first floor of the M.D. Anderson Library. Timed in part to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the armistice, the exhibit features maps, poetry, prose, and propaganda representing a number of the Great War’s belligerent nations.
Also on the first floor you can find the celebrated “Nina Vance and The Alley Theatre: A Life’s Work,” a collaborative curatorial effort carried out by our own Stacey Lavender along with Catherine Essinger, Librarian for UH’s Architecture & Art Library. The exhibit chronicles the people, plays, and places that have made the Alley Theatre what it is today.
Finally, if you have visited us before here on the second floor, you have no doubt experienced our USS Houston permanent exhibition. Pulling letters, photographs, artifacts, and more from our popular Cruiser Houston Collection, the exhibit illustrates the long peacetime and wartime history of a ship that earned the nickname the “Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast” and the sailors who served on her.
But wait, there’s more! Can’t make the trip to campus? I’d be remiss if I failed to mention our growing list of online exhibitions, open 24/7, 365 days a year. A couple of my favorites are UH Homecoming Through the Years, where curators Matt Richardson and Sara Craig draw from our rich University Archives to tell the story of our homecoming traditions, and From American Football to ZZ Top: A History of Robertson Stadium, that highlights the history of the 70 year old stadium that was demolished in 2012 to make way for the new TDECU Stadium.
More information regarding our exhibits, past and present, can be found online here. Hope to see you soon!
The University of Houston Special Collections recently hosted the Sea Cadet Corps Katy Division for a day of discovery and insight into the history of the USS Houston. The Sea Cadets are a non-profit youth program for Americans ages 11 through 17, committed to teaching leadership abilities to young people while broadening their horizons through hands-on military training. Cadets in attendance included new members as well as veterans of the Corps.
Julie Grob, Coordinator for Instruction and longtime caretaker of our USS Houston archival collections, invited the cadets to participate in a scavenger hunt to locate special items in the library’s USS Houston permanent exhibit and then shared the story of the USS Houston (CA-30) and her crew with them. The cadets were fascinated to learn about the hardy volunteer crew who served on the Houston during World War II, many of them tragically becoming prisoners-of-war under the Japanese for three and a half years.
We are so pleased to be able to host the Sea Cadets and provide this look into the Navy’s history and look forward to doing more of the same in the future. Those interested in naval history or the story of the USS Houston are encouraged to visit and experience the exhibit for themselves. While here, be sure to check out our archival collections. Unable to make it to campus? Remember that we continue to grow our online access for researchers through our Digital Library collections, including the USS Houston (CA-30) Photographs, the Lt. Robert B. Fulton USS Houston Letters, the William Slough USS Houston Letters, and the USS Houston Blue Bonnet Newsletters.
This fall semester UH Special Collections hosted Edward Lukasek and Dr. Natalie Houston in a panel discussion, “Life With Books: Collecting, Reading, and Teaching LGBTQI Literature.” If you could not make the event or if you would like to remember that very special conversation, please enjoy the recently published video below courtesy of University of Houston Libraries.