The first official UTSA celebration honoring African-American history and cultural contributions took place on February 14, 1977. UTSA President Flawn declared the week of February 13-19 to be a period of observance of the history and accomplishments of Black/African-Americans to American culture, contributing to “a common good for all.”
The week of February 13 featured several events organized by the Black Student Caucus under the theme “Black Achievements: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” Highlights of the week included a fashion show at UTSA featuring members of the Spurs basketball team, readings of poetry selections, a fund-raising dance for the first annual G.J. Sutton Memorial Scholarship, a gallery display, and film showings. A panel discussion took place on February 16, which included UTSA faculty Dr. Richard Gambitta (then Assistant Professor of Political Science) and Dr. John Hollomon (then Associate Professor of Early Childhood and Elementary Education). The panelists discussed progress in areas such as education, legal matters, economics, politics, and science in the Black community.
The concept of a Black Heritage Week was celebrated as early as February 1925, when historian Carter G. Woodson announced “Negro History Week” to be the week in which both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass had been born.¹ In years to come Negro History Week, later referred to as Black Heritage Week, was celebrated across America in municipalities, organizations, and universities. During the 1976 United States Bicentennial celebrations, President Gerald Ford declared the month of February to be Black History Month, a time to “honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every endeavor throughout our history.”
Celebrations for both Black Heritage Week and Black History Month have since taken place at UTSA annually, with many different people and organizations coming together to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black/African Americans as part of the American experience.
- MS 421 Grohe Family papers, 5 linear feet of assorted family papers including correspondence and photographs
- MS 422 Pals Social Club records, 1 box (1 foot) of photographs, news clippings, programs and assorted materials documenting Pals Club social events and presentations
- MS 005 League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area records, 5.25 feet comprised of administrative records, including subject files, planning materials and meeting minutes
- MS 154 Carl Lahser papers, 8GB (2 thumbdrives) containing images, short stories, and poetry from travel trips
- UA 19.03.01 UTSA. Admissions Office, .5 linear feet of 4 VHS casettes of recruitment videos, 1 unlabeled Zip disk
Rare Books: 34 Titles [January Title List]
Book of homes 1923 / compiled with the assistance of J. Sarsfield Kennedy, H. Silverstein, R. C. Hunter & Bro., including specimens by the American Home Builders Corpor’n.
25 floor plans with cost and info including the architect of the design, illustrations, photos of exteriors with several interior shots, and articles by various authors that include: Beautifying and protecting homes – new development in the treatment of building exteriors; How to buy or build a home; Waterproofing protects investment value; The importance of rust-proofing your house; Beautiful homes built of ashes; Finding the means to own a home; and The development of wall paper.
Cuisine at the Hacienda de los Morales / collaborators, Diana Kennedy … [et al. ; translation, Carole Castelli].
English-language edition of a profusely-illustrated cookbook derived from the cuisine of the noted restaurant established in the hacienda in 1967. With much on actual preparation. [booksellers description]
Each year over 3,000 participants, on horseback or in wagons, travel from various locations and make their way to the annual San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. The tradition began in February 1955 when about 150 people traveled from Altair, in Colorado County, to San Antonio in order to publicize the sixth annual stock show and to help preserve the ways of the Old West. The 135 mile journey was sponsored by the Old Spanish Trail Riders Association, with Colorado County residents Ed Johnson and Elbert Tait serving as co-chairman of the event.
Zintgraff Studio, the official photographers of the stock show, took numerous publicity photos before and during the trail ride. Several of these images were published in the two San Antonio newspapers, neither of which sent photographers to the rural areas to record the event. Zintgraff continued to photograph the trail rides through the 1960s. These photographs are also housed in Special Collections.
These are some of the photographs taken during the Old Spanish Trail Ride in 1955.
Bill Sinkin was many things: banker, civil rights advocate, political and civic activist, community and World’s Fair organizer, philanthropist, promoter of alternative energy, and bow-tie aficionado. Above all, Bill Sinkin was a champion of San Antonio.
Throughout his life, Mr. Sinkin has worked to improve the community by opening opportunities for those traditionally denied. In 1946, he co-founded Goodwill Industries in San Antonio to help those with physical and mental challenges find work. He was involved in public housing issues and chaired the board of the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) from 1949-1953. He also conscientiously worked to increase the participation of minorities in local governmental agencies. He hired the first woman executive director of SAHA. He is known for his role as an advocate and catalyst for minority business development. When Mr. Sinkin bought control of Texas State Bank in the late 1960s, the bank started an aggressive program of minority representation and small business lending. -Solar San Antonio website
Sinkin’s love for his hometown can also be seen in the work he did to ensure that the World’s Fair took place in San Antonio. HemisFair ’68, the first World’s Fair to be held in Texas, was the vision of a handful of San Antonio businessmen. In 1962, they formed San Antonio, Fair, Inc. as the corporate body of HemisFair ’68 with Bill Sinkin as the organization’s first president. As recently as 2005 Sinkin claimed to “regard HemisFair ’68 as my greatest contribution to the community.” He made several donations of archival material to UTSA Libraries Special Collections San Antonio Fair, Inc. records collection over the years. Most recently, in 2010, he donated several original HemisFair ’68 posters and a small reception was held in his honor.
After retiring from banking in 1987, Sinkin became a business consultant. He eventually founded Solar San Antonio in 1999, a nonprofit organization committed to making solar energy a major contributor to the creation of the new energy economy. Bill Sinkin passed away on Monday February 2 at home and surrounded by family. The funeral and memorial services were held Friday February 7 at Temple Beth-El.
Related archival sources at UTSA:
- William and Fay Sinkin papers: The William and Fay Sinkin Papers document the Sinkin’s longstanding commitment to civic issues and include correspondence, clippings, articles, scrapbooks, photographs, videotapes, and datebooks.
- San Antonio Fair, Inc. records. Executive Officers: The records of the San Antonio Fair, Inc. span the years 1962 through 1995 and document the planning, lobbying, financing and construction that resulted in HemisFair ’68. This series consists of correspondence of executive officers, general administrative papers, minutes of meetings, and oral history transcripts.
- Oral history interviews:
- William Sinkin, 1980 - William Sinkin describes the political and economic history of Hemisfair from the first proposal in 1957, the impetus from Congresssman Henry B. Gonzalez in 1962, through its completion.
- William Sinkin, 1995 - Describing Hemisfair as “a watershed for San Antonio’s growth and development”, Sinkin explains the role of Congressman Henry B. Gonzalez, political and business leaders that shows the effect of their efforts on civil rights, culture, tourism, the economy and politics in San Antonio.
- William Sinkin, 2005 - A series of interviews with William “Bill” Sinkin, son of Russian immigrants, concerning his family, personal, and professional history also includes his observations on the politics and economy of San Antonio, which was edited by Sterlin Holmesly for a newspaper article.
- The Life of William R. Sinkin [Special to the San Antonio Express-News, September 2005], William and Fay Sinkin papers, MS 64, UTSA Libraries Special Collections
- Bill Sinkin: Founder and Chairman, Solar San Antonio website, retried February 6, 2014
- San Antonio Loses a Pioneer and Friend: Bill Sinkin 1913 – 2014, Iris Dimmick, February 4, 2013, The Rivard Report
As we begin Black History Month, today’s post highlights some of the published sources on African American history in Texas that are available in UTSA Libraries Special Collections. For more resources, try an advanced search in UCAT, the Libraries’ catalog, for subject “African Americans” and location “Special Collections.”
General Texas History
- Historical and pictorial souvenir of the Negro in Texas history, in celebration of the Texas Centennial, 1836-1936, Central Exposition Center, Dallas, June-December, 1936 : one hundred years of Negro progress in Texas – J. Mason Br (1935)
- Negro legislators of Texas and their descendants; a history of the Negro in Texas politics from reconstruction to disfranchisement – J. Mason Brewer.
- African Texans – Alwyn Barr. (2004)
Military and Law Enforcement
- History of the negro troops in the war of the rebellion, 1861-1865, preceded by a review of the military services of negroes in ancient and modern times – George W. Williams. (1888)
- Brief history of the Seminole-Negro Indian scouts / Thomas A. Britten. (1999)
- Black badge : deputy United States marshal Bass Reeves from slave to heroic lawman – Paul L. Brady. (2005)
- The Bell Rings at Four: A Black Teacher’s Chronicle of Change – Robinson, Dorothy Redus. (1978)
- The Gracious Gift: The Negro Fine Arts School, 1946-66: Easing the Transition From Segregation to Integration – Allen, Martha Mitten (1998)
- Advancing Democracy: African Americans and the Struggle for Access and Equity in Higher Education in Texas – Shabazz, Amilcar (2004)
Music and Folklore
Coming to UTSA as the newest University Archivist means I have had to jump into some key collections to get a very fast feel of the history of UTSA (especially so I can answer all the interesting questions I get from patrons). One collection that has been invaluable—both in searching and general browsing—is the Gil Barrera Photographs of the University of Texas at San Antonio.
This collection is made up of photographic negatives and contact sheets Gil Barrera created from 1972-1978 while he was employed by UTSA to document activities and buildings around campus. His photographs capture the inception of the University, with images of the first buildings that held classes and the progress of construction phases as the main campus was built; as well as photos of people at UTSA attending classes, at ceremonies and conferences, and taking part in campus life. As an official campus photographer he also took photos of early administrators and staff, with some great action shots of faculty and students engaged in learning. Many of the photographs Barrera took were featured in the campus newsletter The Bulletin (UA 1.02.01), which gives further context to the photographs that appear in it.
Special Collections acquired the Gil Barrera collection in 1997, and since then we have added many of the digitized images to our Digital Collections portal. The fastest way to make this collection available online is to scan the many contact sheets Barrera printed from his negatives.
Contact sheets (or “contact prints”) are prints photographers make to aid in selection of images for full printing or for identification of subjects. Nearly all of his contact sheets have hand-written identification notes on the back, which we have transcribed into keyword-searchable descriptions.
Users can search for names of people, buildings or subjects through our portal and usually find multiple shots Barrera took (and even some examples of contact sheets he or his staff wrote on, possibly while selecting images to print). As of now half of his contact sheets have been digitized and uploaded, and we plan to have the other half uploaded in the near future.
Occasionally a severe artic front visits the city, bringing freezing rain and sleet. Freeways and schools are closed. People are encouraged to stay inside.
At the same time, these conditions present people with the a brief opportunity to enjoy winter sports. Those who learned to skate in a rink can experience outdoor skating. Others can ride on the sled they brought from a northern city.
The icy landscape also inspires photographers to record the unusual occurrence. These are a few of those images, dating from the 19th and 20th centuries.