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KUHT’s Progressive Programming Now Available Online

categories: Department News, Digitization, Exhibits, KUHT Collection, University Archives

Almanac hosts Betty Ann Bowser and J. D. Houston.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services generously funds a “grants to state program,” which uses a population-based formula to distribute funds to State Library Administrative Agencies across the country. In Texas, these funds are distributed via several different types of competitive grants, including TexTreasures, which is designed to help libraries make their special collections more accessible for the people of Texas and beyond.

University of Houston Special Collections is pleased to announce the online publication of over 500 recently digitized videos from the KUHT Collection. These videos, accessible via the newly unveiled UHL AV Repository, were digitized with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ TexTreasures grant, administered by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Included in the project are several significant series and documentaries produced by KUHT between 1971 – 2000. One series, Almanac, tackled some of the major political and social issues facing Houston in the 1990s, including complex questions of race, gender, and economic inequality. Episodes such as those that cover the Harris County Grand Jury decision not to indict a Houston Police Department officer in the shooting of Byron Gillum and a discussion of the ban on homosexuals serving in the military exemplify the program’s willingness to pursue tough issues.  Notable figures, such as Mayor Sylvester Turner, made several appearances on the program early in his political career, and even President Jimmy Carter appears alongside Dominique de Menil to discuss the Carter-Menil Human Rights Prize.

All materials digitized were previously inaccessible due to their obsolete video formats, such as this U-matic video.

Another significant series, The Capitol Report, features interviews with Texas legislators discussing issues that remain of great importance today. Representation, prison reform, and education are just a few of the topics that are covered, and many guests will be familiar to those who follow Texas politics today.

Several noteworthy documentaries and feature programs were also digitized under the TexTreasures grant, such as Houston in the Age of AIDs (1985) and Wetlands (1991).

In addition to full episodes available on the AV Repository, an online exhibit created by graduate student Carolann Madden contextualizes the many series featured online:, and includes contemporary documents from the KUHT Collection.

The KUHT series The Writer in Society featured guests such as Maya Angelou.

Improving Access to the KUHT Collection AV Holdings

categories: Department News, KUHT Collection, University Archives

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).

1" Open Reel Video

1″ Open Reel Video

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.

KUHT videos

KUHT videos

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.


Remembering Dwight Jones

categories: In the News, University Archives

Jones tips it in against the University of Southwestern Louisiana (Houstonian, 1973)

Dwight Jones tips it in against the University of Southwestern Louisiana (Houstonian, 1973)

Last week we lost a Houston basketball icon in Dwight Elmo Jones, who passed away on July 25, 2016 after battling a heart ailment over a number of years.

Before Clyde Drexler dunked his way to H-Town fame at Sterling High School, helped establish Texas’ Tallest Fraternity, and claimed an NBA title with his hometown Houston Rockets, Dwight Jones had already established himself as arguably the greatest high school basketball player in Houston history. Born in 1952 in Houston, Jones led Wheatley High School to three straight state championships from 1968 to 1970, played for the Cougars from 1971 to 1973, and even contributed to the Houston Rockets, from 1976 to 1979.

Coaches and teammates of Jones remember him being a special talent from a young age. Playing as a man among boys, playground lore suggests he was already dunking a basketball in the seventh grade. In high school, his Wheatley Wildcats racked up a remarkable 102-2 record and as a senior he averaged 28 points and 24 rebounds a game for the Wildcats in the newly desegregated University Interscholastic League. Recruited by the legendary Guy V. Lewis, Jones played on two NCAA Tournament teams for the Cougars while also leading the 1972 USA Olympic team in scoring before being ejected in the infamous gold medal game, as the Americans fell to the Soviets. Jones was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1973 before joining the Rockets in 1976. His career in the NBA would run through the early 1980s and include stops with the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.

A fierce competitor, his resolve was no doubt tested when he heard himself declared dead prematurely in an emergency room in 2012. Yet, to everyone’s surprise (except perhaps those closest to him), he survived the surgery and battled his illness with a fervent spirit for nearly four more years. In remembering Jones, current University of Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said, “Dwight was a tremendous competitor, who represented the University of Houston and his nation well during his playing career. While his health declined in recent years, he faced those challenges with the same courage and spirit that made him one of our program’s greats. Tonight, our hearts go out to Dwight’s family and friends and all those who knew and loved him.” The Jones family has established a gofundme page to help defray the expenses they now face.

Dwight Jones (#12) and his freshman teammates pause for an impromptu team photo of the Cougar Kittens (Houstonian, 1971)

Dwight Jones (#12) and his freshman teammates pause for an impromptu team photo of the Cougar Kittens (Houstonian, 1971)

Jones showed his potential early as a freshman, scrimmaging against the Cougars' varsity team (Houstonian, 1971)

Jones showed his potential early as a freshman, scrimmaging against the Cougars’ varsity team (Houstonian, 1971)

Jones awaits the inbound pass (Houstonian, 1973)

Jones awaits the inbound pass (Houstonian, 1973)

Jones scores two against tough defense (Houstonian, 1973)

Jones scores two against tough defense (Houstonian, 1973)

"Sweet" Lou Dunbar and Dwight Jones share a lighter moment during the pregame (Houstonian, 1973)

“Sweet Lou” Dunbar and Dwight Jones share a lighter moment during the pregame (Houstonian, 1973)

Introducing the Professor Jay K. Kochi Papers

categories: Finding Aids, University Archives

Professor Jay K. Kochi (1962, Professor Jay K. Kochi Papers)

Professor Jay K. Kochi (1962, Professor Jay K. Kochi Papers)

The University of Houston Special Collections and University Archives are proud to announce the publication of the finding aid for the Professor Jay K. Kochi Papers.

Known as a leader in the field of organic chemistry, Dr. Jay Kazuo Kochi (1927-2008) was born May 17, 1927 in Los Angeles, California.  As WWII raged, Kochi’s family was relocated to an internment camp in Arizona when he was 15.  Kochi would graduate high school in the camp before studying at UCLA (Bachelor of Science, 1949) and Iowa State (Doctorate, 1952).  He worked as an instructor at Harvard (1952-55) and completed a fellowship at Cambridge (1955-56) before going to work as a research scientist in exploratory chemistry for Shell Development Co. (1956-1962).  Kochi would later return to academia, holding positions at Case Institute of Technology (or Case Western Reserve), Indiana University, and finally arriving at the University of Houston in 1984.

Best known for developing a one-carbon oxidative degradation of carboxylic acids known as the Kochi Reaction, his career is marked by accolades and recognition.  A member of National Academy of Sciences, Professor Kochi was also a recipient of the Alexander Von Humbolt U.S. Senior Scientist Award, the American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and the James Flack Norris Award.  Inquisitive to the end, Kochi’s continued to contribute his research findings in the field of organic chemistry until his death in 2008 at the age of 81.

Prof. Kochi and others at work in the lab (undated, Professor Jay K. Kochi Papers)

Prof. Kochi and others at work in the lab (undated, Professor Jay K. Kochi Papers)

The University of Houston Special Collections is honored to offer a home for Dr. Kochi’s papers.  As a part of our larger University Archives, the Professor Jay K. Kochi Papers will stand beside the collections of other professors and luminaries who have helped define and guide the University.  Spanning over 120 linear feet, the collection includes research, correspondence, photographs, and publications penned by Kochi.  Those interested in learning more about the life and career of Dr. Kochi should visit our new finding aid for a detailed inventory of the materials included in the collection.  When you are ready to visit, we look forward to assisting you with your research.

The Demise of the Underground Campus

categories: Architecture & Planning, University Archives


Canopy at PGH covers stairs to abandoned underground office suite. Photo by author.

Stairs at PGH lead to now abandoned underground office suite. Photo by author.

Stairs at PGH lead to now abandoned underground office suite. Photo by author.

Have you noticed the stairs to nowhere?  Hiding in plain sight, in the center of the University of Houston campus, next to Philip G. Hoffman Hall, a concrete canopy protects the entrance to what looks like a Cold War bomb shelter. Now abandoned and gathering debris, this is a relic of the university’s soured love affair with underground buildings.

In the 1960s, the campus assumed a more suburban look; new buildings were widely-spaced, separated by expansive lawns and groves of trees. To preserve this park-like setting, university planners tried to hide new buildings beneath lawns or plazas. It was all very logical: A plot of land did double-duty, allowing the university to capture usable space for activities without losing precious open space outdoors.

During this period four buildings and parts of others were placed underground, but by 1980 this fad had run its course.  What happened? Public tastes changed as Modern architecture, which brought us the underground buildings, lost favor to more traditional styles.  More importantly, university planners recognized the dangers of flooding in low-lying Houston. Flooded streets have always been a nuisance, but flooding from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 was unprecedented and caused millions of dollars in damage to campus buildings. Today the university does not put buildings underground, and new buildings do not have basements.

But in case you missed them, here are the present and former structures beneath our feet:

University Computing Center (early 1960s)

Buried a few yards north of the Ezekiel Cullen building is a facility that began life in the 1960s as the University Computing Center. When the university moved its mainframe computers to a new building on Elgin Street in 1976, this area became an office annex for E. Cullen. Allison filled it with water. Rather than repair the damage, the university locked the doors and abandoned it.

University Center Annex (1965)

In the mid-1960s the university spent a lot of money to dig a huge hole next to the University Center for an underground annex topped by a plaza. Fifty years later, as part of the UC renovations, the university spent a lot of money to fill in the hole and build the replacement structure on top of it. It has no basement level.

Architectural rendering of University Center with underground annex in foreground. Photo courtesy of UH Buildings Collection, Digital Library.

Architectural rendering of University Center with underground annex in foreground, mid 1960s. Photo courtesy of UH Buildings Collection, Digital Library.

Agnes Arnold Hall (1968)

From the south, Agnes Arnold Hall, a mid-rise tower, appears to rise from a large open courtyard located below street level. The building is reached by a bridge, which spans the courtyard below. In Allison the courtyard, a basement-level lecture hall, as well as elevators and escalators, were all flooded.

UH Law Center

UH Law Center. Large plaza in background covers underground library. Central courtyards in classroom buildings on right also cover underground libraries. Photo courtesy UH Buildings Collection, Digital Library.

Law Center (1970)

The UH Law Center opened in the early 1970s with a group of two-story classroom buildings clustered around a large plaza. Beneath the plaza was the law library. Each of the classroom buildings had an atrium-courtyard; below it was a satellite library in the basement. In Allison the entire lower level flooded, causing catastrophic damage to the library collections.

University Center Satellite (1973)

As the campus expanded to the northwest, university planners grouped the new science and fine arts buildings around a grassy quadrangle. Beneath this lawn was the new University Center Satellite, which provided dining and recreational facilities for students on this end of the campus. This building was inundated in Allison and remained closed for repairs for more than a year.

Hilton Hotel Parking Garage (early 1970s)

When the University Hilton and the adjoining School of Hotel and Restaurant Management were built in the 1970s, the complex included a parking garage. The garage is under the building, reached by a steep ramp from the street. Like all of the other underground structures, it flooded in Allison.

Students lounge outside UC Satellite, circa 1980. Photo courtesy UH Buildings Collection, UH Digital Library.

Students lounge outside UC Satellite, circa 1980. Sloped lawn directs water toward entrance. Photo courtesy UH Buildings Collection, Digital Library.

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