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A Research Recap

Collections, Department News
James E. Ferguson presidential candidate broadside, from the C.E. Texana Collection

James E. Ferguson presidential candidate broadside, from the C.E. Texana Collection

Summertime, and the researchin’ is easy.

With apologies to George Gershwin, summer means research steps with a more urgent gait, attempting to make use of the dwindling days prior to the academic responsibilities of the fall semester.  Today we take a look at some of the popular archives thus far in the summer of 2013 and, in doing so, hopefully spark some renewal of research projects of your own.

Popular collections which we have highlighted here recently include the Cheryl Crawford Papers and the Alonso S. Perales Papers.  However, here are four collections with a little less limelight, yet brimming with potential, recently tapped by researchers:

1) Oral Histories – Houston History Project – Part of the Houston History Archives, this collection of interviews with history’s witnesses, produced in conjunction with the Center for Public History, documents the evolution of the greater Gulf Coast.  Interviews with Houstonians provide first-hand accounts of the city’s civil rights, cultural, and political past.

2) President’s Office Records – Maybe not as glamorous as some of our other collections, the President’s Office Records from the University Archives dates back to the University’s founding in 1927 and is the starting point for anyone interested in the history of this great experiment in higher education that is the University of Houston.

3) Claude Elliott Texana Collection – Assembled as part of the Houston and Texas History collecting area, the C.E. Texana Collection represents the accumulation of materials from a writer, historian, and scholar specializing in Texas history.

4) Donald Barthelme Literary Papers and the Donald Barthelme “Forum” Collection – A name that has become synonymous with the experimental, short fiction of postmodernism, Donald Barthelme was instrumental in the establishment and growth of one of the most prestigious creative writing programs in the nation here at UH.  Also of interest may be the Helen Moore Barthelme Papers and the Donald Barthelme, Sr. Architectural Papers in Architecture and Planning.

These collections and more are available for study in our Reading Room.  Be sure to comb through some of our finding aids and hurry down before autumn leaves have you chasing other interests and obligations.

Digital Library Redesign

Department News, Digitization
a quick peak behind the curtain of the new UH Digital Library website

a quick peak behind the curtain of the new UH Digital Library website

Mark your calendars fans of metadata and digitization!

The University of Houston Digital Library website is undergoing a redesign and will be unavailable beginning Thursday, July 18, 2013.  The site is scheduled for relaunch, with full functionality, on Monday, July 22, 2013.

It is difficult not to fall in love with the University of Houston Digital Library.  There are just not a whole slew of resources on this web of ours that offer the rich, deep selection of digitized materials to be found there.  From high resolution reproductions of historic photographs and maps, to personal correspondence of prominent figures, as well as digitized audio and video resources, the Digital Library offers all of this, 24/7, gratis, as it provides wider and broader access for research and scholarship related to the University of Houston, the city of Houston itself, as well as the state of Texas.

Besides, where else can one find a photograph of that collegiate ice hockey power that was the University of Houston?  The Digital Library is full of these hidden gems.

UH Men's Ice Hockey Team, 1936, from the UH Photographs Collection, available in the Digital Library

UH Men’s Ice Hockey Team, 1936, from the UH Photographs Collection, available for high resolution download in the Digital Library

As great as all of that is, it’s about to get better.

The redesign of the Digital Library has been ongoing, behind the scenes, for some time now (you can track the project’s arc and read more about it here).  When they pull back the curtain we will be treated to a number of improvements based directly on patron feedback.  Included in the redesign is a cleaner appearance, improved interface, and more flexibility in browsing and discovery of materials.

Want more information?  A schedule of the website’s downtime, as well as anticipated improvements to the site, can be found at the Digital Library’s announcement here.

Statue of Four Lies (Spoiler Alert!)

Performing & Visual Arts
The Codex of the Statue of the Four Lies (available at the University of Houston Special Collections)

The Codex of the Statue of Four Lies (available at the University of Houston Special Collections)

Here at Special Collections, we just love The Art Guys.  That is, we love them until they start to hurt our brains by making us think.

Since 2010, when “The Statue of Four Lies” was added to the hundreds of other pieces of art that adorn our fine campus, a certain rite of passage seems to have been established.  Each fall semester, green undergraduate freshmen stumble by the piece, full of double takes and perplexed head scratching.  In time, they transform into jaundiced sophomores who long ago gave up trying to apply meaning to the statue and, instead, have retreated back into their academia in hopes of finding meaning.  Now, almost four years later, the occasional graduate student still stroll by with a scoff and roll of her eyes at those who continue to stand next to the statue in bewilderment.

open drawer of the Codex

open drawer of the Codex

Over these years the public has not been at a loss of ideas and theories as to “what it all means,” anyway and countless theories have surfaced.  Some argue it is a treatise on the nature of truth vs. Truth.  Others will put forward the theory that the statue is a critique on the ubiquitous and acceptable nature of lies as the basis of our day-to-day existence.  Here in Special Collections, of course, we knew all along that the statue was really… well…

contentsWe don’t want to ruin it for you.

However, the loyal Cougars that they are, The Art Guys made sure to house the Codex of the Statue of Four Lies here in Special Collections.  Particularly observant visitors to the statue’s website will note in the fine print that the, “CODEX SPECIALIBUS IN COLLECTIONIBUS BIBLIOTHECAE INVENITUR.”  So, don’t you want all the answers?  Don’t you want to know what it all means?  Just take a trip up to the second floor of the M.D. Anderson Library and ask to see the Codex Specialibus to have the Truth truth revealed.

Or, is that a lie?

Knowing The Art Guys and their proclivity for playfulness and ambiguity, you may walk away with more questions and, really, is that such a bad thing?

We Don’t Mind If You Stare

Department News

warc_portalThe worker bees are hard at work.

If you have not noticed, the coders, designers, and librarians are toiling away, under the hood of our website.  The result?  A brand spanking new look for a handful of our collection pages, with more to come.

The Performing Arts, Contemporary Literature, USS Houston & Military History, as well as the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive and Research Collection are all sporting fantastic new looks.  The redesigned “portal pages” (as we have been calling them around the stacks) offer up-to-date finding aids, easy access to Digital Library collections, related resources, contact information for our collection librarians, as well as stunning visuals from each collection.  Altogether, these dynamic portals make a great landing page for any related research needs.

Fans of Houston Hip Hop, our Hispanic Collections, University Archives, et al, have no fear.  We did not forget about you.  The work to create a more beautiful and useful website to aid you in your research continues.  Look for more updates from us in the future.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the new pages and let us know what you think.  While we love anonymous, faceless messages from the depths of the web, we love it even more when you drop by to see us.

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