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Guest Blog: Summer Intern LeyAnne Ward

Department News, Hispanic Collections

In the second installment of our intern guest blogs, LeyAnne Ward describes her experiences working with University Archives. We’re very pleased to have Alison and LeyAnne here for the fall semester as well.

I have always found libraries and, therefore, research to be fascinating, and was quite thrilled when I was given the opportunity to enroll in the English 4390: Professional Internship course, and secure a position at the M.D. Anderson Library where my main responsibility was to organize and compile a preliminary inventory of the Arte Público (a Hispanic press located at the University of Houston) Collection. My internship proved to be an extremely rewarding experience that I will cherish for years to come.

I eagerly began my first day as an intern in the Special Collections Department. From the beginning, I was graciously welcomed by librarian Julie Grob , who after a brief orientation, took me on a tour of the stack room, which houses all archival materials: historical documents, paintings, and ancient writings. Another facet to the stack room that I found interesting was the shelving. I had worked at a library before, but had never heard of nor seen mechanical shelves. Mrs. Grob allowed me to operate them, and I was amazed at how each shelf moved with the simple push of a button.

As mentioned earlier, my main responsibility was to organize the Arte Público collection and put together a preliminary inventory, a list of contents created upon receipt of a collection to provide a basic physical and intellectual description of the materials to aid researchers in their work. As a student intern, my other duties included learning about the founding of Arte Público Press and receiving instruction about the inventory as a step in the archival process. Most of the materials I dealt with were published drafts and manuscripts of works ranging from many categories and genres such as adult fiction, picture books, juvenile fiction, and much more.

My project supervisor Dick Dickerson (University Archivist) explained the process of how a Special Collections inventory is developed, including the various revisions it must undergo before it is complete. Mr. Dickerson then directed me to the Arte Público Press’ website. It proved to be beneficial avenue to learning about the press and I was very impressed with their goals and achievements.

After browsing through Arte Público’s online biographical page, I decided to research some of the titles I had come across in the stack room and read the synopsis for each one. About half of the titles belonged to Piñata Press, a branch of Arte Público, which publishes children’s and young adult novels. Most of the stories serve as character building tools that both educate and entertain young readers of Hispanic heritage.

Judging the entire scope of the internship, I would say that it has been a positive experience for me. Working in Special Collections was quite a treat, and I was able to see how an archival department was run, as well as the role that each staff member plays in the successful functioning of a library. As my internship came to a close, I realized that I had gained much satisfaction from the work I was doing and I decided that if the opportunity should arise, I would again intern in Special Collections as it would give me great pleasure to see the Arte Público project to its completion, and learn more about archival processing.

Literary, Women’s Archives Collections Finding Aids

Carey C. Shuart Women's Archive and Research Collection, Contemporary Literature, Finding Aids

New finding aids up on TARO this week:

John Lehmann : An Inventory of his Collection

Called "the greatest British literary editor of his time" by New York Times Book Review, UH holds a small collection of Lehmann’s papers, including three manuscripts, drafts of book reviews, and other writings. Princeton University’s Rare Books and Special Collections holds the Lehmann Family Papers.

Peggy Hall NOW Collection, 1970-1996

This Women’s Archives collection contains materials concerning the activities of the Houston chapter of National Organization for Women and other items of interest related to women’s issues and other chapters from the 1970s to 1990s.


In addition, these finding aids have been updated to reflect new additions to the collections: 

Women in the Visual and Literary Arts (WIVLA) Records, 1994-2001

Women’s Fund for Health, Education and Research (HER) Records, 1979-2000


USS Houston Scholarship Open to UH Students

Collections, USS Houston & Military History

The USS Houston Survivors Association and the Next Generation welcome applicants from the University of Houston student body for their Scholarship Program. The scholarship is open to any university undergraduate with a keen interest in the story of the USS Houston (CA-30). The scholarship amount typically ranges from $1000.00 to $1500.00.

The USS Houston (CA-30), a heavy cruiser named for the city of Houston, was both the favorite ship of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet during World War II. Following the Houston’s sinking by the Japanese in 1942, her surviving crew members became prisoners-of-war. For more details, see the USS Houston (CA-30) Exhibit on the second floor of the library, the online Cruiser Houston exhibit, or the archival Cruiser Houston Collection available for use in Special Collections at M.D. Anderson Library.

Those eligible to apply include students entering the final year of high school with anticipation of going to college, as well as all college and university undergraduates up through the final year of study. Previous applicants and winners may reapply. Applicants are required to present grades and evidence of other personal attributes, and to write an essay about the crew of the USS Houston.

Applications are accepted beginning June 1 with the deadline for submission extending to November 1.  Applications and specific information about applying may be obtained any time by mailing a request to:

John Keith Schwarz

2500 Clarendon Blvd  Apt 121

Arlington, VA 22201


Cullinan, Whitmire, Heights Woman’s Club Finding Aids

Carey C. Shuart Women's Archive and Research Collection, Finding Aids, Houston History Archives

Several new finding aids are up on TARO this week, each representing a unique part of Houston history:

Joseph Stephen Cullinan Collection

Back at UH after their long term loan to the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the collection documents the life and work of Joseph Cullinan, founder of the Texas Company and one of Houston’s most influential citizens. 

Kathryn J. Whitmire Papers 

The papers of former Houston mayor Kathy Whitmire, the first woman elected to Houston City government, are now housed in the Women’s Archives. 

Houston Heights Woman’s Club Records

Founded in 1906 by some of the founding women residents of the Houston Heights, the records of this organization document civic, cultural and literary activities.


Guest Blog: Summer Intern Alison Ward

Department News

 UH student Alison Ward served as an intern in Special Collections this summer. She agreed to write a blog post about her experiences with us. Thanks to Alison and all our interns for their hard work!

     When I first heard about this internship opportunity, I was both intrigued and excited. I chose Special Collections because it proved to be a great occasion to discover whether or not library science was a plausible graduate degree for me to pursue. My internship began the first day of the Summer IV session, July 5-August 4, 2006.

      After meeting my supervisor Amelia Abreu, the Archivist/History librarian in this department, I began training for my main summer project. It consisted of updating departmental Finding Aids (documents that provide access to archival collections) to ensure consistency and accuracy. Over the next few days, Amelia did an excellent job explaining the importance of Finding Aids, as well as the new inputting requirements. 

      The Finding Aids themselves first had to be transferred onto official Templates which include the following information: the name and dates of the collection, a detailed biography of the collector (if applicable), copyright information, a detailed description of the collection, and more. This description is divided by boxes and subdivided into folders, the entire contents of which are delineated. Librarians organize the boxes by topics such as correspondence, articles, scrapbooks, photographs, art, manuscripts, plays, and miscellaneous items. I completed over fifteen Literature Finding Aids files, some larger and more extensive than others, which included the Aldous Huxley Papers, Vassar Miller Papers, Kenneth Patchen, Fritz Leiber, and Sylvan Karchmer to name some prominent ones.

      As a culminating project for my internship, Ms. Abreu asked me to create my own Finding Aid for a rather important collection. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to call upon the skills that I had acquired while transferring ready-made documents onto official Templates. The designated collection was by William B. Shrimplin, an Ohio barber who was an avid collector of Mark Twain works. While making an itinerary, I discovered some priceless finds among this collection. There are letters written by prominent figures such as Jack London, James Whitcomb Riley, Carl Sandburg, and President Calvin Coolidge! He also owned two letters written by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) in 1891 and 1894. 

      There were many other wonderful collections that I discovered while working in Special collections. For instance, Ms. Grob allowed me to touch an original copy of the King James Version Bible printed in 1611! There is a collection (Colonel Israel Shreves Revolutionary Papers) which contains letters by George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Special Collections even owns a Sumerian cuneiform tablet. All of these artifacts fascinated me and made me all the more eager to learn about the documents and other items housed here.

      Many of the collections are one-of-a-kind; I was privileged to be able to record and handle these valuable documents, artifacts that connect one with the past. Whenever I held a letter by Mark Twain or the King James Bible, it gave me goose bumps to think that I was touching documents handled by people that I have only read about. That, I can honestly say, was the most rewarding experience that I had during my internship here in the Special Collections Department-the continuity of past in this present day and age.

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