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.
Castroville is well-known for its old-world charm, complete with picturesque nineteenth century stone structures. Many of the town’s citizens are descendants of the original Alsatian settlers. A few still speak the Alsatian dialect of their ancestors.
Earlier this month, the town of Castroville celebrated the 170th anniversary of its founding. Speakers, at five historic sites, recounted the story of the people from Alsace who arrived at the site of present-day Castroville in September 1844. In addition to the presentations, the Alsatian Dancers of Texas and local bands performed for visitors. There were also numerous booths with arts, crafts, and historical displays.
UTSA Libraries Special Collections was among the exhibitors, showcasing copies of over 100 photographs of Castroville found in our collections. These are some of those images.
UTSA Libraries Special Collections is seeking one student clerk to assist with department operations at the HemisFair Park/ITC Campus. Interested students may apply by submitting a resume and cover letter to email@example.com.
Job Title: Student Clerk
Job Description: With training from the Photo Curator and the University Archivist, carry out basic tasks in the Special Collections department. Activities may include paging archival boxes, photocopying, and re-shelving materials; scanning and entering basic metadata for digital collections; re-housing and creating inventories of collections; and other duties as determined.
Qualifications: Strong attention to detail and willingness to perform repetitive tasks. Some lifting required. Willingness and ability to work in conditions with occasional exposure to dust and mold needed. Familiarity with Excel, scanners and image editing software a plus.
Work Schedule: Flexible during office hours Tuesday-Thursday.
Hours per Week: 15
How to Apply: Submit resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions regarding the position, please contact Special Collections at email@example.com.
There were several attempts to invigorate the San Antonio River Walk before it became the bustling attraction it is today. After World War II, there was very little commercial development along the River Walk, which consisted of a small collection of river-level restaurants near the Houston Street and Market Street bridges. The River Walk had few visitors and became unsafe enough to be declared off-limits for the city’s military personnel.
In 1959, feeling that the city had an unrecognized asset in the River Walk, appliance wholesaler David J. Straus encouraged the chamber of commerce to commission the designer of Disneyland to come up with a way to fix the River Walk. The proposed plan, however, was similar to an amusement park and was shelved. Following the proposal, San Antonio’s Chapter of the American Institute of Architects formed a committee to make renderings for careful renovations of facades of buildings visible from the river and created a Paseo del Rio Master Plan. David Straus began lobbying building owners on the value of opening businesses at the river level. All of this was occurring at the same time as HemisFair ’68, which was being constructed downtown beyond the easternmost leg of the Great Bend. An extension of the bend dug a third of a mile east ended as a lagoon beside the fair’s exhibition hall and theater. When the fair ended, the exhibition hall, theater, and nearby arena became a convention center that dramatically revitalized the city’s convention industry. Fair visitors and convention goers could follow the River Walk to the first major hotels built in San Antonio since the Great Depression. This development brought enough pedestrian traffic to the River Walk to sustain commercial development.
The San Antonio River Walk Commission, a board appointed by the City Council of San Antonio, was formed in May 1962 and dissolved in November 1992. David Straus, along with others including Arthur “Hap” Veltman, served on the Commission. The job of the San Antonio River Walk Commission was to review development plans along the River Walk (Paseo Del Rio) and La Villita. The Commission worked with the Tourist Attractions Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects to create a master plan for the development of the River Walk area. The provisions of the master plan called for a pedestrian link between Alamo Plaza, La Villita and Main Plaza. The commission also helped to implement improvements to the River Walk for HemisFair in 1968, including expansion to the convention center and a system of lights along the River Walk. One of the Commission’s goal from the outset was to protect the River Walk from over development.
For additional information on the San Antonio River Walk Commission or the Paseo del Rio, see the San Antonio River Walk Commission. David Straus Papers and the San Antonio River Authority Records.
Lewis F. Fisher, “SAN ANTONIO RIVER WALK [PASEO DEL RIO],” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hps02), accessed September 8, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Helen Rojas, “River Walk a Big Hit in Texas,” Sun Sentinel (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1985-05-12/news/8501180895_1_san-antonio-river-new-river-river-cuts), accessed September 9, 2014.
Located northwest of Boerne, Kerrville is known for its distinctive karst landscape and prosperous businesses. Originally established as a shinglemakers’ camp, Kerrsville (later Kerrville) was platted in 1856 after Kerr County was organized, and narrowly won the designation of county seat. The community was named after James Kerr (1790-1850), an member of Austin’s Colony who was involved in the establishment of Gonzales and served as the Lavaca delegate at the Conventions of 1832 and 1833.
Kerr County Texas 1856-1956 by Bob Bennet is a celebratory account of Kerrville’s history from from the time that Kentucky settler Joshua D. Brown journeyed up the Guadalupe River in search of giant cypress trees suitable for shingles, to the ideological (and physical) battles between pro-Union and pro-Confederacy residents, to the arrival of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railway in 1887, to Kerrville’s mid-century “boom” as summer camp destination: Presbyterian, Methodist, YMCA, Lion’s Club, and various non-religiously-affiliated camps for girls and boys.
Special Collections also holds a publication by an earlier Kerrville booster: an issue of Grinstead’s Magazine, circa 1915. With a writing style that is “folksy” almost to the point of caricature (and at some points offensive to modern readers), his introduction compares Kerrville to the land of Canaan, and encourages readers:
[R]ead this magazine. Then, if you need a change, for any reason except theft and murder, come on up and help us possess some of the good things of the Hill Country of Southwest Texas.
The remainder of this issue consists of detailed descriptions and illustrations of Kerrville’s climate, architecture, industries, and local leaders. One of the town’s leading men highlighted in this section is Captain Charles Schreiner, whose mercantile business established after the Civil War grew into a local business empire continued by several generations of the family.
More detailed information on the Schreiner family and its rise to fortune is found in the biography Charles Schreiner, General Merchandise: The Story of a Country Store. Having come to Texas from France as a child, Schreiner grew up in San Antonio and served for three years in the Texas Rangers before establishing a ranch in Kerr County in 1857. Following a stint in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Schreiner entered the mercantile business in Kerrville, gradually expanding its interests to banking, ranching, and wool.
Glen E. Lich, “KERRVILLE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hek01), accessed August 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
W. Eugene Hollon, “SCHREINER, CHARLES ARMAND,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsc15), accessed August 28, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.