Each summer many companies hold an outdoor gathering for employees and their families. It is a time for coworkers and managers to mingle in an informal setting as they participate in various activities and share a meal.
Pearl Brewing Company, located in San Antonio until 2001, held its annual company picnics in local parks. The Pearl picnic followed the traditional pattern of organized games in the afternoon, followed by dinner and dancing in the evening. Often, a photographer was hired to record the events of the day.
These images are from the Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection (MS 355). They document some of the Pearl picnics held during the late 1950s to the late 1960s.
During the 1980s, John Shown was an integral part of San Antonio’s art scene. As an artist, Shown specialized in collages and stitchery wall hangings, his creations collected by patrons across the United States and abroad. Shown’s eccletic collages and stitched tapestries graced the homes of playwright Sterling Houston, actors Rex Reed, and Geoffrey Holder as well glamour guru, Vidal Sassoon. Shown was commissioned by many San Antonio residents to create stitchery murals and wall-hangings depicting their residences and gardens. Shown’s collages were displayed in galleries in New York and San Antonio.
Shown not only participated in and contributed to the robust art culture of the River City in the 1980s, he chronicled all aspects of San Antonio’s art scene in Forum magazine, an Artists Forum of Texas publication. The pages of the publication stand as an homage to the fashions, events, and unique creativity of the decade. Models are clad in geometric, shoulder-padded couture and heads are coiffed in over-the-top hairstyles so indicative of the 80s. Interviews with local artists, writers, theater folk, and photographers captured the pulse of artistic energy that flowed through San Antonio’s urban environment.
Prior to offering a publication platform for the city’s artsy crowd, Shown along with Don Davenport opened the Shown-Davenport Gallery, a venue for artists struggling to gain exposure. The gallery offered space to any who could pay the nominal fee and served as a censorship free zone where open expression took flight. A plug for the gallery summed up its purpose:
Unknown, offbeat San Antonio artists don’t have to starve anymore, thanks to the recently opened Austin Street Gallery. Called an “alternative” by its creators, transplanted Manhattanites Don Davenport and John Shown, the Bohemian-flavored gallery, with its white-washed high walls and blue wooden floor, welcomes the absure, the rejected, and the conventional in art with open arms: for $30 a week anybody can show his work. And artists of every ilk are doing just that.
In the two years that the gallery was open, the venue hosted 497 exhibits and 262 artists. The most popular show drew 500 guests to the space-the “Butt” exhibit featured various forms of artistic interpretations of derrieres and was quite a crowd pleaser. Despite the popularity of the space with the local art crowd, Shown and Davenport called it quits in 1982 having exhausted their financial resources trying to keep the gallery afloat.
The John Shown Collection, recently donated by Happy Foundation archivist, Gene Elder, contains slides, photographs, and inventories of Shown’s artwork. Many inventories include snapshots of individual creations with notes about the date the work was created, the patron who commissioned or purchased the work, and the city in which the patron resided. Forum magazine is an important component of the collection, covering happenings in the city’s arts community between 1985-1987. Also included are correspondence, fliers, and photographs related to the publication. A centerpiece of the collection is a journal created by Shown that contains personal daily entries combined with invitations and artwork. While most of the items in the John Shown collection primarily document the artist’s years in San Antonio, some materials provide insight into Shown’s work as a scenic designer, photographer, and film maker while living in New York. The collection is housed on UTSA main campus and can be accessed by submitting a request access to a collection form.
 The Shown-Davenport Gallery originally opened under the name Austin Street Gallery. Due to confusion about the location of the gallery, Shown and Davenport changed the name. Author and source of this mini-ad are unknown.
 John Shown, “Goodbye to an Era in Art,” San Antonio Express-News, August 8, 1982.
Boerne was the third German settlement to be established in the Hill Country north of San Antonio, just a few years after New Braunfels and Fredericksburg. When the community was first formed in 1849, it was called Tusculum, after Cicero’s home in ancient Rome. However, in 1852 the town was re-christened Boerne after Ludwig Boerne, a German author whose work criticized the German hierarchy and advocated reforms to increase religious, political, and economic freedom.
Garland Perry’s Historic Images of Boerne, Texas (1982) and Historic Images of Boerne and Kendall County, Texas (1998) are indispensable resources for studying Boerne’s development. Both books include not only a wealth of photographs from 19th and early 20th centuries, but also extensive text describing the history, architecture, and people of Boerne. The latter publication also includes transcripts of several interviews with long-time residents.
Boerne pioneers produced cotton, tobacco, sheep, and cattle. Cypress shingles were also an important source of income for many families and both wagon freighting and longhorn cattle drives played important roles in the local economy. By the end of the century, Boerne also became a vacation destination and health resort. An 1894 San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway timetable includes a one-page description of Boerne that highlights it’s healthful climate:
The reason the air is so conducive to the cure of diseased lungs is described as being caused by the trade winds, which, for a period of perhaps eight months in the year blow from the coast passing over a wide stretch of country, mostly dry, but covered with the mesquite, a species of the mimosa, the odors from which, as from the pine, the trees or bushes being resinous, have a curative effect in all diseases of the lungs, which with the bracing mountain air found on reaching Kendall County, restores the wasted tissues and brings new life to the wasted form and red blood to the cheeks.
Boerne’s cotton and tourism sectors suffered badly during the Great Depression – so much so that the population dropped from 2,000 in 1928 to 1,117 in 1931 and still hovered just under 1,300 in the 1940s. However, the town’s 1949 centennial publication Boerne: Key to the Hills makes no mention of depopulation or economic ills. Instead, it focuses on Boerne’s idyllic landscape:
Boerne nestles among the hills that are covered by friendly oak and cedar trees. There are many small streams, and clear creeks for pleasant living and hiking. All the while your ears are filled with the musical songs of many birds.
Advertisements in this publication highlight Boerne’s pastoral economy: Deer Springs Ranch’s Quarter Horses, Circle K Ranch Sufolk Sheep and Hereford Cattle, and Prospect Ranch Orchids. Tourism is represented through ads from the Hi Hill Ranch Resort (with a “luxuriously inviting swimming pool filled with pure artesian water”) and Lucian’s Bar-K Ranch Hotel “The Health Resort of America.”
Following WWII, Boerne became a popular bedroom community for people working in San Antonio and its population grew steadily, reaching 6,178 in 2000.  However, many residents continued to value Boerne’s rural past – a past colorfully described in Frankie Davis Glenn’s Reminiscences: Stories of a Country Girl (1994). Glenn recalls the tasks and amusements of her childhood: tending the gas-powered irrigation system on her family’s small farm, washing clothes by hand, celebrating Christmas with a Cedar tree, and attending community dances. She also recounts the history of her German immigrant forefathers and their early days on the frontier, providing a rambling, but informative family memoir that nicely complements Garland Perry’s more general historical studies.
 Garland A. Perry, Historic Images of Boerne and Kendall County, Texas: A Sesquincentennial Project 1849-1999 (Boerne, TX: Perry Publications), 1998: 3.
 Ibid.: 5-9.
 Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “BOERNE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgb09), accessed July 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
This summer Special Collections was able to benefit from the help of Dawn Shedd, a graduate student intern who worked with a collection from University Archives. Below she shares her comments on what the experience was like. We’re grateful for Dawn’s hard work this summer!
As a graduate student in history, I decided to pursue a career as an archivist and my internship this summer gave me hands-on experience of what the life of an archivist is like. I thought the career would be fitting to me, since I am a fairly organized and detail-oriented person, but the job ended up being a lot of fun also. I never realized how much work goes into processing a collection. I always thought that archivists just looked into the box, summed up what was in it, and put it away on a shelf until someone came looking for information from it. Instead, I learned that it takes a lot of effort and time to organize a collection and arrange it in a way that will benefit researchers. At all points of the process, I had to keep in mind how researchers would utilize this collection in the future and do my best to include information in the finding aid that would ensure I did not cause important information to be left out. Putting together a collection was challenging and rewarding.
I worked on the collection of Dean Dwight F. Henderson’s papers, which included four boxes of papers and photographs detailing an impressive academic career that spanned over 40 years. As I looked through the materials and developed the finding aid for the collection, I learned a lot about Dr. Henderson’s career and his life. I realized that there is so much to be learned from Dr. Henderson, as well as from other individuals who donate their papers to University Archives. It was interesting to see how UTSA had progressed and changed since 1980 when Dr. Henderson became Dean, and how college life has changed. It was also interesting to see what has stayed the same. I found myself talking to family and friends about the information that Dr. Henderson chose to share with the University, and I have gained a new respect for University Archives. It is important to remember the people who made a difference, and continue to make a difference, at our college.
For more information on this collection, check out the Guide to the Dwight F. Henderson Papers. This collection includes correspondence, newspaper articles concerning his career, personal cards and letters, photographs, academic research, certificates of accomplishment, information on organizations he worked with, information on attended conferences and seminars, book reviews, course evaluations, annual reports, faculty evaluations, and published works. This collection is open for research.
With the abundance of salt and freshwater fish in Texas waters, recreational fishing has long been a popular leisure activity. People of all ages have enjoyed this tranquil sport out in nature, away from the distractions of everyday life.
Photographs of 19th century fishing excursions are uncommon. Before the Kodak camera, few people were willing to hire a professional photographer to venture out to water’s edge. Occasionally fishermen would visit a studio and pose with their catch in front of a painted backdrop. By the early 1900s, people were routinely taking their camera along to record their summer activities, including fishing.
These images are the work of both professional and amateur photographers. They record fishing trips and fishing trophies: some taken for family albums, others for newspaper features.
- MS 142 Salas (Mario Marcel) papers, .33 feet of research materials and thesis
- MS 330 A La Nueva Business and Professional Woman’s Clubs records, 4 feet of assorted administrative materials from folded organization
- UA 99.0025 UTSA. Papers of Faculty and Staff: Clark, Ellen Riojas, assorted electronic records
Earlier this year Special Collections staff was fortunate enough to meet with Dwight Henderson and receive the donation of two groups of records. Dr. Henderson, former UTSA Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, donated his faculty papers to the UTSA University Archives, as well as records related to the Mitchell Lake Wetlands Society, a group that assisted San Antonio Water System in protecting and developing Mitchell Lake as a bird and wildlife sanctuary.
Just south of downtown San Antonio, Mitchell Lake is part of the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, which is on a 1200-acre natural area. The bird refuge consists of the 600-acre Mitchell Lake and there are an additional 215 acres of wetlands and ponds and 385 acres of upland habitat. The Leeper House, a restored 1910 home is now the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center headquarters. National Audubon Society has partnered with the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) to showcase this natural area and welcomes nature enthusiasts as well as schoolchildren and families. The best way to learn more about the history of Mitchell Lake, and the Mitchell Lake Wetlands Society, are through the words of Dwight Henderson and Ruth Lofgren in their book Mitchell Lake Wildlife Refuge: an illustrated history:
Thousands of years ago a small lake formed in a natural drainage area south of the city of South Antonio. Migrating birds flocked to this natural wetland on their way south. Early Spanish residents named it Laguna de los Patos (Lake of the Ducks). After Asa Mitchell purchased 14,000 acres in 1839 which included the little lake, it became known as Mitchell’s Lake. Until the end of the century a few birders visited the lake, and duck hunters found it an ideal spot for their sport.
All of this changed in the 1890s when San Antonio developed both a water and a sewage system. Gravity carried the sewage initially to a 500 acre sewer farm near Stinson Field. Seeking a larger site, the city contracted with The San Antonio Irrigation Company to construct a dam at Mitchell Lake to create a larger lake where the sewage could be sent. From 1901 until 1987 sewage-both raw until 1930 and treated thereafter, flowed into the lake area.
The larger lake continued to attract birds along with birders and hunters. As more people moved to the vicinity of the lake after World War II, residents began complaining about the odors emanating from the lake. The Texas legislature stepped in in 1972 requiring the city to cease using the lake for the sewage. Concerned with what might happen to the lake, the San Antonio Audubon Society suggested that the area become a refuge. City Council agreed and passed an ordinance in 1973 designating Mitchell Lake as a refuge for shore birds and water fowl.
Although the site was officially a refuge, no one knew what might happen to it in the future. From 1987 to 2004 a number of organizations and individuals maintained a careful vigilance over the lake, beginning with the 201 Wastewater Advisory Committee. Other key organizations were the Junior League, the League ofWomen Voters, and the Mitchell Lake Wetlands Society (MLWS).
In 2000 the SAWS Trustees and the City Council approved the Mitchell Lake Master Implementation Plan which would provide a blue print for the development of the lake as a refuge and an educational natural classroom. In order to carry out the plan, SAWS began the process to find an organization to manage the site. While that was underway, the Mitchell Lake Wetlands Society proposed moving the Leeper House, which was at the McNay Art Museum, to Mitchell Lake to serve as a nature center at the refuge.
A combination of money from a 1994 bond issue, SAWS, and the MLWS resulted in the house being moved in 2003 to Mitchell Lake. SAWS also provided a number of infrastructure improvements including roads and bridges at the site.
SAWS solved the management issue in 2004 when it contracted with National Audubon Society to operate the Mitchell Lake Wildlife Refuge for 25 years, with the possibility of a renewal. The Mitchell Lake Audubon Center opened to the public in September 2004.
The Mitchell Lake Wetlands Society Records consist of administrative records, including correspondence, minutes, reports and financial records as well as typescript drafts, research materials and photographs. The bulk of the materials were collected by Dwight Henderson and Ruth Lofgren.
- Mitchell Lake Wildlife Refuge: an illustrated history, 2nd edition – http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15125coll2/id/3959
- San Antonio Water System: Mitchell Lake – http://www.saws.org/environment/mitchelllake/
- Sharpe, Patricia. Lost & Found. January-February 2005 – http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/features0603/lake.html