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.
The University of Houston Special Collections is pleased to announce the recent donation of the Olive M. Jenney Collection.
This collection of approximately 50 books was acquired by Jenney, a Texas native, throughout her decades spent in Latin America. The books date as far back as 1639 and cover the history of the Spanish exploration of the New World, Spanish interactions with the indigenous populations, and also include materials focusing on Spanish laws and customs relating to the Catholic Church as well as trade with Spanish colonies. The majority of the books are in Spanish and published between the 17th and 19th centuries. Highlights from the collection include a complete set of Antonio de Ulloa and Jorge Juan y Santacilia’s Relación histórica del viaje hecho de orden de su Majestad a la América Meridional (1748), Recopilación de leyes de los Reynos de las Indias (1681), as well as Gregorio Garcia’s Origen de Los Indios de El Nuevo Mundo E Indias Occidentales (1729).
The arrival of the Olive M. Jenney Collection immediately sparked interest from UH faculty. Already in the fall of 2015 we have seen the collection utilized in instruction and coursework related to Latin American environmental history. In the spring of 2016 we look forward to formally introducing the Olive M. Jenney Collection with a celebration and panel discussion, while the books themselves will continue their hard work. Ripe as this collection is with the potential to impact research and instruction, we look forward to expanding the instruction footprint into more Latin American history courses in the spring and are pleased to see Hispanic Studies faculty making early research plans with us for 2016.
Faculty members interested in utilizing these materials for instruction, or those simply interested in more information regarding the Olive M. Jenney Collection, please contact our Coordinator of Instruction, Julie Grob.
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.
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
Today we have a goodbye post from Bryan Bishop ’14, the department’s first Instruction Support Student Worker. During his year in the position, he prepared rare materials for class visits, maintained the Evans Room (our classroom and function space), input student learning assessment data, digitized materials requested by patrons, and created descriptive metadata for a collection of World War II photographs.
A graduate of the UH Honors College in History and Political Science, Bryan is heading to Fonville Middle School in H.I.S.D. to teach U.S. History for the 2014-15 school year. He has also been accepted into the John W. Draper Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought at NYU with a deferred start date. All of us will miss Bryan’s intellectual curiousity, “can do” attitude, and sense of humor. Heeeeeere’s Bryan!
When I happened upon the Instruction Support position available in Special Collections last August, I had no idea what “instruction support” was, or that it would be the best job I ever had. As an older student worker I had had a few jobs prior to arriving at UH. But those jobs levied tremendous pressure, rarely yielding pleasure. This job was different. All that would be asked of me was to show up ready to work, complete thoroughly what was asked of me, and display passion for my projects, most of which involved research relating to my studies and interests: humanities and social sciences. Strange as it may sound, in 20 years of working this was the first time I was unconditionally happy.
Performing tasks around the department was a riot. True, I too have never associated riots with libraries. If anything, life surrounding a library is the complete opposite, serene. So how was working in Special Collections a riot? It was a riot in the sense of how I felt while and after performing my duties; that everything I did was significant for our university community and a team I hold in the highest regard—my co-workers, my friends. This, admittedly, is a peculiar illustration; however, I find that the more idiosyncratic a description is, the more unique, and in this case, special, the experience was.
I could utilize more space than the Interwebs have allotted to express my gratitude vis-à-vis the projects on which I was allowed to work. Ergo, I must devote my closing thoughts to my peers and managers in the department.