The Brown and Lane Family Papers span the years 1853 through 1992 and include the correspondence of several generations. Correspondence consists of exchanges between family members recalling daily activities, travels, work, relationships, and illness. The close ties between family are evident in the frequency and tone of the letters which were often written daily or weekly when family members were apart and served to keep husbands and wives, parents and children, and siblings emotionally connected when separated geographically. News from loved ones was impatiently anticipated while mail slowly made its way to anxious recipients. Family members were often chastised or apologetic when weeks instead of days passed before responding to a correspondent’s latest offering. Reciprocity was expected and the frequent exchange of letters was part of one’s weekly if not daily to-do list.
Henry Denison Brown was one of the most prolific correspondents in the family. When courting his future wife, Jeanie Valliant Brahan, Henry wrote love letters to her daily and grew frantic when she did not hear from her as frequently. All it took was a letter from Jeanie to transform Henry’s day while he was away. Henry married Jeanie in 1881 and they eventually moved to San Antonio where Henry worked as the head teller at Breckenridge Bank. In 1884, Jeanie and Henry had their first child, a daughter Elise Denison Brown. As Elise grew and went off to school, Henry continued his passion for writing letters, corresponding with Elise frequently while she was away at school. Henry often included notes from Martha, Elise’s sister. The affectionate tone of the letters speaks to the strong bonds that existed between father and daughter and connected older and younger sister.
Elise Denison Brown attended the University of Texas at Austin and was the first member of the Iota Chapter of Chi Omega Sorority. While in college, Elise studied Spanish, earning a Master of Arts degree. She put her proficiency in Spanish to good use, working as an interpreter in Mexico City for several years before making her way back home to Texas. Elise turned her attention to entrepreneurial pursuits, becoming one of the first women home builders in San Antonio. Elise and her husband Barton George Lane, Sr. had four children, the eldest Elise Lila Lane and Henry Lane carried on the family tradition of keeping close through letters while living in different parts of the country.
When Henry moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1930s, he shared details of this new chapter of his life with his sister Elise. Studying accounting and law, Henry was a dedicated student who earned his degree as a Certified Public Accountant. Despite his grueling academic schedule, he found time to keep Elise up to date on his life in the city by the bay. Henry had an apartment on Nob Hill from which he could see the lights of the ferries as they glided from the city to the shores of Marin County. Henry described the city in wonderful detail, proclaiming there was simply no where else on earth as beautiful proclamiing that anyone residing elsewhere was being “gipped.” Henry’s love for the Bay Area never waned; he anchored his life there after marrying Sally Brown who hailed from one of San Francisco’s founding families.
While correspondence forms the foundation of the Brown and Lane Family Papers, other items in the collection include Elise Brown Lane’s Chi Omega materials and financial records. Also in the collection are assorted print materials including two handwritten recipe books which contain favorite recipes and homemade concoctions used to remedy common ailments such as rheumatism. The collection is housed at UTSA Libraries Special Collections on main campus and can be accessed by submitting a Request Access to a Collection Form.
San Antonio photographers have included dogs in their photographs since at least the 1860s. A well-known photograph, from around 1868, shows a sleeping hound beneath a covered wagon parked in front of the Alamo. In another one, also from the 1860s, three dogs have wandered into the frames of a stereograph of San Fernando Church and Main Plaza. However, the three dogs are not in sharp focus due to the long exposure times required in those days.
By the late 19th century, the required camera exposures were reduced to such an extent that close views of dogs could be taken. Owners could take their canine friends to photography studios. Sometimes pet and owner would be placed in positions of equal prominence. At about the same, amateurs began taking pictures of their pets with a Kodak camera.
In late 1924, the San Antonio Light newspaper hired their first staff photographer. Within a few months, the first feature photo of a dog appeared in the paper. Many more appeared in subsequent years. From pampered pets to sporting dogs, these images provide a record of the various roles dogs have played in the lives of San Antonio residents.
- MS 22. Women’s Overseas Service League Records – 7 linear feet of records and artifacts from the Washington, DC unit
- UA 15.01.15 UTSA. ITC. Research and Collections Department, .33 feet of items deposited by Sarah Gould, Lead Curatorial Researcher
- UA 99.0020 UTSA. Papers of Faculty and Staff: Perry, George, 1 linear foot of correspondence
- UA 14.01 UTSA. Center for Archaeological Research Publications Collection, 25 pdfs
Seguin is located east and slightly north of San Antonio in Guadalupe County. At the time of Martín de Alarcón’s explorations in 1718-19, the area was inhabited by migratory Lipan Apache and Tonkawa tribes. Subsequently, several Mexican and Anglo land titles were established in the region, including that of José Antonio Navarro’s ranch, just north of present-day Seguin. The town became the county seat of Guadalupe County when it was formed in 1846 and was incorporated in 1853.
In 1831 Umphries Branch, arguably the first Anglo settler in the area, received a league of land on the northeast bank of the Guadalupe. Initially called Walnut Springs when it was laid out in 1838 by thirty-three shareholders, the town was re-named in 1839 in honor of Juan N. Seguín, an important political and military figure in he Texas Revolution and its aftermath.
An Authentic History of Guadalupe County (1951) by Willie Mae Weinert may be somewhat lacking in narrative flow, but provides a wealth of details about dates, names, and legislation relating to Seguin’s 19th and early 20th century history. This book also includes several one-page illustrated features on unique aspects of Seguin’s history. One of these highlights the City’s care in preserving its many ancient live oak trees, including several on the Court House lawn. According to local lore, a generous hunter in the mid-19th century hung a slaughtered buffalo from one of the live oaks in Central Park, accompanied by a knife for passersby to cut off steaks, and a sign reading “Take what meat you need, but woe to him who takes the knife.”
The residents of Seguin have a long-standing tradition of founding and supporting educational institutions. Seguin’s first schoolhouse was established around 1845 by Methodist Minister Reverend David Evans Thompson and his wfe Elizabeth Ann Thompson. By 1850, a high school had been established that offered a Male Acadmy and a Female Academy. Other religious denominations also pursued educational efforts, and in conjunction with the Second Baptist Church, the Freedman’s Bureau established a school for African Americans in 1871. Further details of Seguin’s educational history (as well as more general history and details of the community’s civil war involvement) may be found in Under the Live Oak Tree: A History of Seguin (1988) by E. John Gesick, Jr.
A recent memoir entitled Crossing Guadalupe Street: Growing Up Hispanic & Protestant (2001) by David Maldonado, Jr. looks at some more difficult aspects of Seguin’s history. While Maldonado recounts many happy memories of growing up in the security of his extended family and the Methodist Church that they attended, he also recalls the social, ethnic, and religious divisions that fragmented Seguin and many other small Texas towns in the pre-civil rights and pre-Vatican II era.
In addition to these volumes, other materials relating to Seguin in Special Collections include an Inventory of the County Archives of Texas. No. 94 Guadalupe County (1939), Slave Transactions of Guadalupe County (2009), and MS 221, a general store ledger from Seguin, TX including transactions between 1867-1870. A number of photographs of the community are available in UTSA Libraries Digital Collections.
John Gesick, “SEGUIN, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hes03), accessed September 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Starting this fall, UTSA Special Collections has installed new exhibits in the John Peace Library reading room. Each exhibit case represents a different unit within Special Collections: Manuscripts, Photograph Collections, Rare Books and University Archives.
Manuscripts and Photograph Collections
Soon after World War I, a colony of Belgian immigrants established truck farms on the southwestern outskirts of San Antonio with the first farm being established along the San Antonio River not far from the Spanish mission, Concepcion. Derived from the French word “troquer” meaning to trade or barter, truck farms grew and sold an extensive variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and pecans in the markets of central San Antonio, particularly Military and Haymarket Plazas.
This most recent exhibit showcases materials from the Bexar County Truck Farmer’s Association, founded in 1939 as a co-operative, was organized to engage in activities in connection with the marketing or selling of the agricultural products of its members. As a complement to the manuscript material, photographs from the Belgian farmers that made up association are also on display. Images include materials from the Aelvoet, Bauwens, Persyn, and Verstuyft family farms. Additional images from Belgian Texans can be found in our digital collections.
The Mexican Cookbook Collection contains more than forty manuscript cookbooks. These handwritten recipes provide an intimate view of household cuisine over the course of more than two hundred years. They also show traces of other dimensions of family life. Most are recorded in small, lined notebooks, sometimes annotated with doodles, or written between (or over) school exercises. Six manuscript cookbooks will be on display during Fall 2014. Additional volumes are available in our digital collections.
The University Archives exhibit case contains highlights of the University of Texas at San Antonio Serials and Journals Collection, 1973-2009. The University Serials and Journals Collection (UA 1.02.01) includes newsletters and magazines produced by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) News and Information Office, which later became the Office of Communications. The publications were produced to distribute information among faculty and staff and share information about UTSA’s growth and activities with alumni, the community, and the larger public. Researchers can use these collections to search for news announcements and calendar postings, to find information about faculty and staff, and to review broader articles about UTSA that were produced by staff writers. Special Collections staff have digitized hundreds of issues, which are available and full-text searchable as part of the UTSA Publications collection.
On August 26, amidst fanfare and appearances of the Spirit of San Antonio Marching Band, the UTSA Cheerleaders, Mr. & Ms. UTSA, and President Romo, the official opening of the “UTSA Traditions” exhibit was launched at the University Center’s Gallery 23 exhibit space. The exhibit, which hosts many photographs and printed materials from Special Collections, was brought together as a “community effort” led by Jana Schwartz, Associate Director for University Center Communications & Programs. This summer, Schwartz and a team of student assistants spent hours looking through photographs and digital collections from our University Archives unit, which holds records documenting the history and culture of UTSA.
Jana Schwartz’ description of the exhibit:
The exhibit includes photographs, images, and artifacts provided from the UTSA community. As you explore the exhibit you will hear UTSA students talk about their favorite traditions and why they are important to our campus culture. This showcase of UTSA spirit and pride is an effort to bring together the entire UTSA community including students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This entire community has contributed to the various traditions that have added to our vibrant campus culture. In addition to our graduates’ proven academic excellence and contributions to the world, these traditions also bring positive attention to our university.
A central theme of the exhibit is a time capsule buried on campus in celebration of 10 years of classes at UTSA. Included in the time capsule is a list of five wishes students had for UTSA back in 1983: to become a major university with the facilities of a large university; to provide campus housing to students; to have student union building; to offer doctoral and expanded master’s programs; and to have football and soccer teams. Using our collections and material from other UTSA offices, Schwartz and her team pulled together photographs documenting the achievement of these goals at UTSA well in advance of 2023, when the capsule will be exhumed.
The exhibit will run until December 12, 2014. Gallery 23 is located on the lower level of the University Center (UC 1.02.23) and is open 11am – 7pm, Monday – Thursday and 11am – 5pm Friday. For more information about the exhibit, including contact information, visit the event calendar page, and the University Center’s Facebook page. For more information on where you can find resources documenting UTSA’s history, view the Library research guide History of UTSA, and check out our digital collections on UTSA History and UTSA Publications.