Fredericksburg was founded close on the heels of New Braunfels. After the first Adelsverein settlement was established in the spring of 1845, John O. Meusebach left New Braunfels in August to establish a second settlement sixty miles to the northwest, named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. 120 settlers arrived in spring of 1846, each receiving one town lot and ten acres of nearby farmland.
Planners anticipated that farmers would reside in town and travel daily to their fields, as was the custom in Europe, but instead residents quickly adopted the Anglo-American model of isolated homesteads on their farmland. The town lots did not go to waste, however. Many families constructed what became known as “Sunday Houses” – simple one or two-room houses with lean-to kitchens that could be used during weekend trips to town for shopping, business, and church-going. Information about
Sunday Houses and other historic structures may be found in Old Homes and Buildings of Fredericksburg (1977) by Elise Kowert, compiled from a weekly series in the Fredericksburg Standard. The General Photograph Collection includes three images of Sunday Houses in Fredericksburg.
Perhaps the most iconic building in Fredericksburg is the Verein’s Kirche (Community Church). This octagonal structure was one of the first buildings constructed by settlers in 1847 and served as inter-denominational church, school, community hall, and fortress. The original structure was demolished in 1897, but an exact replica was constructed in 1934-35, which has since been used for a variety of purposes, including library, museum, and archives.
Fredericksburg is also the home of the National Museum of the Pacific War, which grew out of the Chester W. Nimitz Naval Museum, originally opened in 1967 to celebrate the WWII accomplishments of Admiral Nimitz, a Fredericksburg native. Even before the museum opened, Nimitz was beloved and honored in Fredericksburg, as evidenced by Fredericksburg’s Tribute to Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, a 1945 spiral-bound booklet from the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce documenting an Oct. 13, 1945 welcome home celebration following the end of WWII.
Donell Kohout, Martin. “FREDERICKSBURG, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hff03), accessed July 07, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. Jordan, Terry G. “SUNDAY HOUSES,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/cfs01), accessed July 07, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Have you ever wondered what goes into digitizing archival materials? We have an impressive amount of material digitized and available online in our digital repository UTSA Digital Collections. At last count, we had around 59,700 items!
Digitization is an integral part of what we do in Special Collections, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not as simple as “just scanning.” A lot of time, effort, resources, and decision-making goes into the digitization process. And while we may never be able to digitize everything in our holdings, we have a few guiding principles and objectives to help us prioritize what gets digitized.
Our main objectives for digitizing materials are: to increase access to our most heavily used collections or those with high research value; to promote our collections; to enhance preservation of heavily used materials by reducing wear and tear on the originals; and to provide access to those materials that may not be accessible in their original format (because of fragility or format degradation).
Digitization encompasses a series of activities. Among them, we must:
- Identify and select material for digitization
- Prepare documents for digitization (including locating, paging, and refiling)
- Create basic descriptive information about the documents to provide contextual information for the user and to allow for searching in our online repository.
- Perform quality control of digital copies
- Upload digital copies and basic descriptive information to our online repository
- Update finding aids to include links to the digital copies
So how do we decide what collections to digitize? Because our material must be paged for our users, it is easy for us to keep track of which collections get used. We maintain an Access database and we run reports to determine which collections have been used the most throughout the year. We also keep track of what collections users search for on our website. We do this because we want to make sure that we’re putting our resources into digitizing resources that patrons actually want to see. With nearly 7,500 linear feet of archival materials, 3.5 million photographic prints and negatives, and 28,000 rare books, it’s hard to imagine that we would ever be able to digitize everything, and it probably wouldn’t make sense to. We want to digitize the material that’s the most useful for our patrons.
Other times, we identify a collection that is at-risk because of format degradation or fragility and digitizing it will enhance the preservation of it. For example, our 3.5 million historic photo collection housed at the Institute of Texan Cultures presents unique preservation and access challenges. The preservation of photographs and photographic negatives is particularly complex and requires special humidity and climate control to slow down the inevitable degradation. Providing access to negatives is a challenge in that it requires special viewing equipment and the very act of handling the negative too much makes the negative vulnerable. This makes for a very strong digitization case.
In short, we are constantly assessing, analyzing, and prioritizing. We pride ourselves on our strong – and smart! – digitization program. So be sure to check our Digital Collections repository regularly because it is growing every month!
When you think of the records documenting UTSA’s history Special Collections maintain, you might think of boxes of old papers sitting on a shelf in our stacks. If you’re reading this blog, it might occur to you that this text is a type of record produced by the University—our department within UTSA Libraries created this blog as a means of sharing what we are and what we do with members of the University and the general public. Similarly, much of the content on our website is updated through time, and many of the documents we create and post online may never be printed onto paper. Increasingly, departments and groups at UTSA are embracing the ubiquity of the web, relying on HTML pages and social media accounts to spread information and content about themselves, often rapidly updating and deleting the “old” content without much thought about preservation.
Recognizing that the University has been actively creating and publishing content online, Special Collections partnered with the Internet Archive back in 2009 to collect and preserve web content produced by UTSA as a new method of archiving material. We use the tools available through the Internet Archive’s Archive-It system to capture relevant web content, which is preserved and made publicly accessible through our Archive-It partner page.
For our University Archives collections on the web, we maintain three collections produced by or about UTSA, which we’ve broken into the following groups: Academic Departments, University Administration, and Student Organizations. These are made up of official (utsa.edu) websites, as well as a large portion of social media sites that departments, faculty, staff and UTSA organizations have adopted to post and share information about their activities. *
While this information is invaluable for documenting the goings-on of the University, capturing it involves a lot of work. It begins with our team (in this case, the University Archivist) searching for and maintaining lists of websites that document UTSA. We load these into our Archive-It collections and administer web crawls (using a tool that ‘crawls’ through the links of pages, like Google crawls the web) taking care to monitor our results and change crawl settings as needed to capture the sites to the fullest extent possible. We also provide metadata—information about each webpage—that enables users to find and access our web collections.
You can view past captures of UTSA’s websites, along with other web collections the Special Collections team has curated, on our UTSA Archive-It partner page. Click on a collection to see a list of our archived pages, click on the page URL, and you can see past captures via the Wayback Machine (Archive-It’s tool for displaying web pages from the past). As you travel through the internet timeline, consider just how fragile and ephemeral this type of record can be. We hope you find these web archives useful.
*The University Archivist is busily preparing for the spring crawls of the websites in these collections—new crawls will be completed soon after this blog publishes. If you have suggestions for UTSA websites that we might not be aware of, please let us know. Many of our social media websites come from the UTSA University Communications & Marketing Social Media Directory.
- MS 426 John Shown collection, 2 boxes (1.5 linear feet) comprised of one personal journal, inventories, slides, and photographs of artwork, vertical files, 9 issues of Forum magazine
- UA 14.01 UTSA. Center for Archaeological Research publications collection, 29 boxes (29 linear feet) of books and serials
Rare Books: 2 Titles
June is “National Homeownership Month” and this year’s theme is “Bringing Rural America Home.” Accordingly, we use the occasion to showcase some of our photographs of Texans posed proudly outside their homes in small towns and rural areas.
Primarily the work of itinerant photographers, these images are not just a record of an ancestor’s appearance, but also where they lived. As portable photography became less complicated in the late 1870s, commercial photographers regularly traveled to rural areas where they found customers that were eager for family portraits. For those not willing to commission individual portraits, the photographer could take a picture of the whole family with their house as a backdrop. Sometimes the subjects changed into their Sunday clothes and gathered some of their favorite possessions, including pets, farm animals, bicycles, and even indoor furniture. Family outside the house was a recurring photographic theme from the early 1880s until the 1910s, when Kodak cameras became more common.
Most of these photographs, from our General Photograph Collection, were copied from family collections representative of the different ethnic groups that settled in Texas. Unlike studio portraits, these images provide the viewer with insights into the lifestyles of the subjects. Likewise, they document the building and landscaping traditions used in the various areas of the state.
Pierre Duval Hair Studio-Hairdressers to the Stars. Fabulous new addition to UTSA Special Collections.
“Hair dressers to the stars!” A phrase one would expect to see in Hollywood but not in San Antonio, Texas. In the early 1970s Robert Pierre Teander and Jesse Duval Arrambide arrived in San Antonio, opened Pierre Duval Hair Studio and built a reputation as celebrity stylists. Known as the “hairdressers to the stars, Robert and Jesse crafted this reputation on their work at the Fiesta Dinner Playhouse, a dinner theater opened in San Antonio by actor Earl Holliman and director Patrick Baldauff in 1977.
Jesse and Robert met while dancing at Arthur Murray dance studio in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1960s. Moving back to Jesse’s boyhood home San Antonio, Arrambide and Teander opened Pierre Duval Hair Studio in the city’s upscale Alamo Heights area in the mid-70s. In 1976, a year before the opening of the Fiesta Dinner Playhouse, Pierre Duval’s styles graced the heads of the members of the Fiesta royal court and those of local socialites. Robert and Jesse would soon expand from coiffing the heads of San Antonio’s elite to dressing the locks of Hollywood legends.
It is unclear how and when the collaboration between Pierre Duval and Fiesta Playhouse began, but by 1979, Jesse and Robert were an integral part of the theater’s production preparations. The talented duo tended the tresses and rouged the cheeks of many glamorous Hollywood icons performing at the Fiesta like Joan Fontaine, Lana Turner, Dorothy Lamour, and Eve Arden.
Fiesta Dinner Playhouse offered a wide variety of productions from plays like Arsenic and Old Lace, Harvey, and Butterflies are Free (including the Spanish version) to musicals such as Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, and South Pacific. These productions and many others attracted famous actors from stage and screen: Don Ameche, Cyd Charisse, Gary Burghoff, Roddy McDowell, Van Johnson, Joanne Worley, and Forrest Tucker were just a few of the notables that performed on the stage at the Fiesta Playhouse.
Scrapbooks created by Jesse and Robert capture the magic of the Fiesta. Autographed photos of stars populate the pages of these scrapbooks as do photos of dinners at Arrambide and Teander’s home where celebs and cast members gathered to enjoy the hospitality of their hosts. Photographs of Fiesta sets and group shots of casts and crews offer a glimpse into exciting behind-the-scene moments and convey the special bonds formed during preparation for each performance. The Pierre Duval Hair Studio collection is housed at main campus and can be accessed by submitting a request access to a collection form.
In addition to documenting San Antonio’s history, UTSA Libraries Special Collections collects resources about nearby communities. Over the next few months, our monthly rare books post will highlight materials on some of these surrounding towns and cities. We begin today with New Braunfels, a city of approximately 60,000 located thirty miles northeast of San Antonio.
New Braunfels was first established as a German settlement in the spring of 1845 under the auspices of the Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas. The Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas, also known as the Adelsverein was organized in the 1840s by German noblemen to encourage mass emigration, both as a means of providing new opportunities to economically hard-pressed commoners and of establishing foreign markets for German industry. Oscar Haas’ History of New Braunfels and Comal County, Texas [F392 .C7 H3 1968]offers researchers an extensive study of the area’s history.
Due to its strategic location between San Antonio and Austin, as well as the water power provided by Comal Springs, New Braunfels quickly became a commercial center and reportedly the fourth largest town in Texas in 1850. By the turn of the century, New Braunfels was an important stop for both the International-Great Northern and the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railroads.
A German language newspaper, Neu Braunfelser Zeitung, was published from 1852-1957. Although not held by UTSA, the first two years of this publication are available through The Portal to Texas History. Also of interest are the annual chronicles published by the newspaper in 1936 and 1939 [AY73 .N47 N4], and an almanac for 1916 [AY73 .N47 K3], which includes a poem to accompany each calendar month.
The area’s German heritage remained influential for generations, nurtured by various social clubs, such as the Germania Singing Society. A Chronological History of the Singers of German Songs in Texas [ML28.T4 H33 1948] (1948) by Oscar Haas offers a detailed history of this and other German singing clubs throughout Texas, with particular focus on the early days of the New Braunfels club as the first singing society established in Texas and the host club of the first Säengerfest, held Oct. 15-16, 1853. Special Collections also holds the program for the 1953 Song Festival of the Texas Hill Singers [ML38 .N43Z4 1953], which includes photographs of participating choirs, the performance schedule, and advertisements for local businesses.
In addition to print resources, images of New Braunfels from the General Photograph Collection may be viewed in UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. Included are photographs of characteristic architecture, parks and parades, and the 1926 flood.
Additional information about New Braunfels specifically and German immigration to Texas generally may be found in The History of the German Settlements in Texas, 1831-1861 (1930) by Rudolph Leopald Biesele [F395.G3 B47 1930] ; Texas: With Particular Reference to German Immigration… (1967 ) by Ferdinand Roemer [F391 .R71 1967] ; and Die Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika… (1853) by Gottfried Menzel [E166 .M55 1853].
Brister, Louis E. “ADELSVEREIN,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ufa01), accessed June 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Greene, Daniel P. “NEW BRAUNFELS, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hen02), accessed June 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Haas, Oscar. A Chronological History of the Singers of German Songs in Texas. New Braunfels, TX: New Braunfels Zeitung, 1948.