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Newly Digitized KUHT Films Now Online

Digitization, KUHT Collection, University Archives

Dr. H. Burr Roney teaches telecourse in Biology, 1953.

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections is pleased to announce the recent addition of 112 digitized films from the KUHT Film and Video Collection to the Audio/Video Repository. The films, dating between 1953 and the 1970s were digitized with the generous support of the CLIR Recordings at Risk grant. These films represent some of KUHT-TV’s earliest productions and include examples of the United State’s nascent educational and public television system.

After twelve years experience in Hollywood Arnold Bergene joined KUHT as an editor.

KUHT’s first aircheck took place on May 25, 1953. The station began broadcasting the following month, making it the United States’ first educational, non-profit television station to go on air. KUHT was a pioneering influence in the field of “tele-education,” creating for-credit college courses. Included in these recently digitized materials are several of Dr. H. Burr Roney’s biology courses, which went on the air in the station’s first year. By 1958, the freshman biology telecourse “had the greatest enrollment of any standard college course given by television at any school in the nation.” ¹

In the 1960s, KUHT moved away from the production of for-credit college courses but continued to produce elementary education programs in partnership with the Houston Independent School District, as well as content for the enrichment of all viewers. Many KUHT productions documented the activities of the University of Houston and the Gulf Coast region.

Highlights include from the recently digitized materials include:

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Eleanor Roosevelt Stops By KUHT

KUHT Collection, University Archives

Eleanor Roosevelt appears on KUHT’s University Forum (1955)

In 1955 KUHT welcomed a very special guest to their studio on the University of Houston campus. Eleanor Roosevelt, who had stepped down from her role as the first United States Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights two years earlier,¹ was visiting Houston to speak at a luncheon sponsored by the American Association of the United Nations Association. During her brief visit, Roosevelt found time to make an appearance on KUHT’s University Forum, a panel discussion show that was simulcasted on television and KUHF-FM on Friday evenings to a typical audience of 120,000 – almost 20% of the Houston population. Hosted by KUHT founder John C. Schwarzwalder, the show was the only local affairs show that discussed international affairs.²

Roosevelt’s stop in Houston was featured in her daily newspaper column, My Day, which was syndicated six days a week from 1935 to 1962. She comments on the merits of the University of Houston’s television program, the prominence of beef on the dinner menu, and the landscape around Houston.

Jan 12: After the television program on which we appeared at the University in Houston on Saturday we came back to the hotel and had a steak dinner because that seemed to be expected of us. They put on the menu four different kinds of beef.
It was interesting to see the program at the university directed by a girl student. The cameras and all other equipment also were managed by students. A faculty advisor was there and, of course, our moderator was the head of the department. This is very good training and the authorities at the university are proud that they sent 76 of their graduates into commercial positions this past year.
The country just outside Houston is rather gloomy, I thought, flat and very unattractive. As you progress on your journey (Added: toward Dallas), however, you find a little more rolling country and it looks more friendly. Most of the land which is not occupied by oil fields is grazing ground for cattle.

To learn more about Roosevelt’s trip to Houston, check out the Rice History Corner blog posts (and comments!), The Great Eleanor Roosevelt Mystery Solved! and “our day in Houston was a very successful one, 1955”.
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¹ “United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council,” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Ambassador_to_the_United_Nations_Human_Rights_Council

² Hawes, W. (1996). Public television: Americas first station: An intimate account. Santa Fe (N.M.): Sunstone Press. pg. 44.

True We’ll Ever Be!

Guest Posts, University Archives

Karla A. Lira is a Ph.D. History student at the University of Houston. Lira’s research focuses on multi-racial dynamics of Latinos and Blacks in the space of Basketball during the 1960s. Her current project, “True We’ll Ever Be,” sheds light on the social relations Latinos and Blacks had in the city of Houston and the University of Houston Basketball Program through oral interviews. She was kind enough to share some of her research with us below.

“And to thy memory cherished, True we’ll ever be.”

HOUSTON, March 2019 — After the Spirit of Houston band finished the last stanza, first comes Galen Robinson Jr., then Armoni Brooks, followed by Corey Davis Jr., and the rest of the Men’s Basketball team to “The Cage,” the specially designated courtside student seating section, to high five all the student fans in a new cougar tradition. Black, Latino, Asian, all races celebrate together at the Fertitta Center as the University of Houston, one of the most diverse universities in the nation, celebrates another victory.

This freedom of celebration, race inclusion, and community was not always the case.

from the UH Alumni Federation Basketball Appreciation Dinner program (1966), Athletics Department Records

from the UH Alumni Federation Basketball Appreciation Dinner program (1966), Athletics Department Records

In 1962, the university integrated and signed the first African-Americans, Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney to play basketball. The social transition was eased by various people including Coach Guy V. Lewis, Harvey Pate, and student manager Howard Lorch. These individuals challenged the societal prejudice against the Black community. As Elvin “BIG E” Hayes recalled, student athletes such as Don Chaney, Warren McVea, and others helped create this integrated environment which everyone can enjoy.

Because of Houston’s unique history of desegregation and racial dynamics, I am researching Latinos in the basketball sphere. I am building my research on Katherine Lopez’s Cougars of Any Color: The Integration of University of Houston Athletics, 1964-1968, which emphasizes the many facets of racial integration at the university’s athletics program in the 1960s. I am also using The University of Houston Athletics Department Records in Special Collections where I have found pamphlets, donor records, and program guides that have uncovered race relations during the Civil Rights Era at University of Houston. My research breaks the Black and white racial dynamics by adding Latinos into the conversation.

The hardships of Hayes, Chaney, and McVea’s experience have set the pathway for diverse athletes to be here. This 2019 season is special. The UH Men’s Basketball Team won the regular season American Athletic conference championship, were the first to make it to the NCAA Sweet 16 since the Phi Slama Jama reign, were the first in the history of the institution to host ESPN’s College Game Day, and were one of the seven teams chosen by the NCAA to be part of their March Madness Confidential Series. The Cougars broke several records; Corey Davis Jr. has scored more than 1,000 points, making him the 48th player to accomplish this at the institution. The eccentric senior, Galen Robinson Jr. has triumphed in over 100 victories during his time in the Cougar uniform and is still counting.

With March Madness reaching its crescendo, it is important to give credit and acknowledge those that broke the racial barrier and made it possible for student athletes, coaches, staff, and students to come together and enjoy this communal winning moment.  Go Coogs!

Special thanks to Elvin Hayes and Howard Lorch. Your kindness is felt.