The University of Houston Special Collections is proud to announce the publication of a new finding aid for the Herman George Eiden Papers. Sara Wheeler, graduate student intern from the Simmons School of Library and Information Science, has recently completed the processing of the papers, penned the new finding aid, was generous enough to share her thoughts on the new collection below, as well as present some highlights from the collection via a small exhibition currently on display at the entrance to Special Collections, near the Morrie & Rolaine Abramson Grand Staircase.
In 1939, 18-year-old Herman George Eiden joined the United States Navy. Like many his age, Eiden had the opportunity to see the world through his service. Eiden was able to take photographs of his travels, send letters home, and even film some of his travels. He was able to do this all while aboard the USS Lexington and then USS Houston (CA-30). The University of Houston Special Collections recently received the donation of these photo albums, scrapbooks, films, and letters of Eiden’s for inclusion among the USS Houston & Military History collections.
The Herman George Eiden Papers include three photo albums, memorabilia, and clippings that Eiden put together and sent home to his family in Louisville, Kentucky. In the photos, Eiden captured his travels to Panama, Hawaiʻi, Guam, China, and the Philippines. Most of his time was spent in the Philippines, where he and his shipmates were able to take in the local color, enjoying sightseeing trips to places such as Old Manila, Pasig River, and Pagsanjan Falls.
The photos include life aboard the USS Houston (CA-30). There are images of Navy sailors swimming off the side of the ship, boxing matches, as well as pictures of the ship’s band. Also included are photos of the changing of command, as Captain Rooks takes over for Captain Oldendorf.
Eiden also sent six film reels home. These film reels have all been digitized to allow quick and easy access for contemporary scholars. Along with the reels, Eiden included a narrative log that provides details to correspond with each part of the film.
While serving in the Navy, Eiden achieved the rank of Fireman First Class. He was aboard the ship during the Battle of the Java Sea and the USS Houston’s final battle, the Battle of Sunda Strait. Eiden, alongside 692 of his comrades, perished during this attack on March 1, 1942.
After the sinking of the USS Houston, it took almost nine months for news of the fate of the ship and her crew to reach home. Eiden’s family saved his obituary and news articles about the sinking of the USS Houston (CA-30) that were published in their local newspaper, The Courier-Journal of Louisville.
One of his sisters, Clara Imelda Eiden Sivori, also received the USS Houston (CA-30) Survivors Association and Next Generations newsletters, which are a part of the collection. She and other relatives were able to attend the 60th commemorative ceremony in Houston for the USS Houston (CA-30) and those photos are also included in the collection.
Those interested in getting a closer look at the Herman George Eiden Papers are encouraged to see it in person by visiting our reading room, as well as visiting the two exhibit cases just outside of the entrance to Special Collections where select materials are on display for a limited time. Finally, those interested in more information on this collection or the Cruiser Houston Collection should contact Christian Kelleher, Head of Special Collections and curator of the USS Houston & Military History collections.
Whether it’s a rare book printing found at long last or piece of ephemera found in an archival collection by chance, those who visit the University of Houston Special Collections almost always find something they cannot wait to share with others. Here we celebrate what makes the University of Houston Special Collections so special–our Favorite Things.
Today, one of my favorite things is also one of our newest things–the “Cocos Island Sailfish Club” decorative map.
The University of Houston Special Collections recently acquired the hand-drawn map commemorating the Cocos Island Sailfish Club, as part of the Cruiser Houston Collection. Prior to her fateful service at the outbreak of World War II, the Houston, often served as the transport of choice for its most famous passenger–President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Roosevelt set out on four cruises aboard the Houston. Presidential cruises in the Pacific during the years 1934 and 1935 included fishing expeditions to the Cocos, the Galapagos, and other Pacific isles.
The Cruiser Houston Collection contains photographs documenting these excursions, including photographs of the President with his sailfish catch. Now, the addition of this particular item will provide further context for the peacetime activities of the Houston. Depicted on the commemorative map are the Cocos, accentuated by drawings of large sailfish, bordered by drawings of other imagery and fish from the tropics, as well as a named roster of “club members”: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ross T. McIntire (Vice Admiral, personal physician of President Roosevelt), Edwin M. Watson (Major General, military aid to President Roosevelt), Daniel J. Callaghan (Rear Admiral, naval aide), Gus Gennerich (bodyguard and personal aide), Frederick B. Adams (secretary), and Basil O’Connor (legal advisor and former partner).
Those interested in getting a closer look at the Cocos Island Sailfish Club are encouraged to see it in person by visiting our reading room. Others may get a sense of the detailing of the map by viewing a digitized version, courtesy of our colleagues in Metadata and Digitization Services. Finally, those interested in more information on this item or the Cruiser Houston Collection should contact Christian Kelleher, Head of Special Collections and curator of the USS Houston & Military History collections.
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.
In remembrance of a dark centennial, those opening days of the Great War, the University of Houston Special Collections is proud to offer “1914-2014: Commemorating One Hundred Years — World War I,” a small exhibition of materials held by Special Collections relating to World War I and curated by our own Pat Bozeman, Head of Special Collections.
On November 11, 1918 Germany and the Allies of World War I met in a rail carriage in Compiègne and agreed to a cease fire to take effect on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month,” ending major hostilities of the world’s first, great war. It had begun a little over four years prior, in the summer of 1914, and promised a quick and decisive shift in the fault lines of Europe. Instead, this four year meat grinder would cast a long shadow that rewrote our maps, crumbled our empires, redefined our relationships with one another, and, far from teaching humanity a final and humbling lesson, it ushered in the great and awful maw of man that would be warfare in this new century and our next millennium.
However, for just a brief window beginning that autumn morning in November of 1918, the world was allowed to collectively sigh and reach for rest. Armistice Day, a day celebrating that longing for calm and peace in the aftermath of war, was born.
As you remember those lost and celebrate the peace they helped bring, we invite you to view this exhibit of original materials produced among the storm and in its wake. “1914-2014: Commemorating One Hundred Years — World War I” is available for viewing on the first floor of the M.D. Anderson Library at the foot of the Morrie & Rolaine Abramson Grand Staircase. Highlights include writings from George Bernard Shaw (who saw the wasted lives of youth suffering through the death throes of empires and for capital’s immorality), Rudyard Kipling’s France at War (“They come and fill the trenches and they die… They send more and those die.”), and remarkable examples of WWI propaganda.
If reflections on today have you interested in researching more, remember that in addition to the rare works highlighted above, UH Special Collections is also proud to offer the USS Houston & Military History Collections for study in our Reading Room during normal hours or you can review our Military History Collections via our Digital Library, 24/7, 365 days a year.