Surfaces ranging from stone, clay tablets, pieces of wood, bone, ivory, tortoise shell, linen, and palm leaves have been used to inscribe words or images by ancient civilizations. Around 2600 B.C.E, a new writing surface, a predecessor to a printed page/book appeared, serving the needs of ancient scribes and writers for centuries. Or, at least until the first century, C.E. when parchment (untanned leather) became the writing surface or technology of choice for ancient literati.
The papyrus plant (Cyperus papyrus) grew in abundance along the bank of the Nile River and the ancient Egyptians developed a process of turning the reeds into paper. Once processed, pressed and dried, sheets of papyrus proved durable and smooth enough to write on, using reeds, quills and ink made from charcoal and water. A typical papyrus sheet was 12 inches in height, and multiple sheets were often glued together to create a much larger writing surface. Thus joined, the papyrus scrolls could reach fifty to one hundred feet long.
Because of the durability of papyrus, a number of scrolls containing ancient legal, medical, moral, and scientific texts have survived over the centuries at libraries and museums around the world. At UTSA Special Collections we are especially lucky to have uncovered three distinct fragments of writing on papyrus in the Perine-Deitert Manuscript, Early Print and Bible Collection, MS 269.
The earliest papyrus fragment in our collections appears to be from 300/200 B.C.E and is written in the ancient Egyptian script called Demotic, or popular script used for writing for documents. The second fragment, from 300 C.E, is written in Greek, and the last piece, written in Coptic can be dated to 500-600 C.E. [i]
The three fragments are accompanied by research notes and correspondence, which highlight the difficulties in working with fragmentary evidence and deciphering the meaning behind these mysterious pieces of ancient technology and history.
[i] Howard, Nicole. 2005. The Book: The Life Story of a Technology. Greenwood Technographies. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
This post was written archives student assistant Kira Sandoval.
Love, for some, can blossom while pursuing higher education. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we collected love stories, campus activities, and legends from UTSA’s history. Here are some of the university’s most notable Roadrunner love stories.
1975: The First Roadrunners to Fall in Love at UTSA
The Binghams were the first students to meet, fall in love at UTSA, and get married. They fell into Love’s clutches rapidly; classes started on June 5, 1973, and by December 1974 they had gotten married.
Elizabeth and Joe were the second set of students to meet, fall in love at UTSA, and get married. As tradition goes, the rice showering their heads in this photograph represents well-wishes for their marriage.
1970’s: Bridge of Love
You may know that the short bridge that connects the Art Building and the Flawn Sciences Building, adjacent to the swooping awnings, is sometimes known as the Bridge of Love. The nickname dates back to the 1970s, when main campus was still in its infancy. According to UTSA legend, two students, Julie and Jason, fell in love while enrolled in a drawing class at UTSA. The two were separated when Jason left for the Vietnam War. When the pair reunited, it is rumored that these two Roadrunners saw each other—for the first time since Jason’s departure—in the middle of the Bridge of Love and reconnected with a kiss.
1978 A Sweet Fiesta Fundraiser
In 1978, the university’s Young Leaders Society sold candy and carnations to students to raise money for a Fiesta float.
1979: Ms. Sweetheart and Mr. Cupid
In 1979, UTSA held a Valentine’s Day Dance and students voted on a Ms. Sweetheart and Mr. Cupid. This photo was taken a couple of days before the dance. We do not know if the couple was in the running for Ms. Sweetheart and Mr. Cupid, or if they were just posing for promotional photos, but they sure do make a handsome late-70’s couple.
1989: An Educated Valentine
One of the more controversial Valentine’s days at UTSA arose from an issue of the Paisano student newspaper. The late 80s and early 90s were a time of heightened concern about the AIDS epidemic and education on safe sex was essential to keeping people healthy. UTSA students voiced their desire for the Paisano to write about AIDS education and the Paisano responded. The Paisano printed an issue on February 14th that included a condom, donated by the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, glued to each educational pamphlet insert. This risqué Valentine’s issue of the Paisano received local and national media attention.
1990: Kissing Booth
Public Displays of Affection aren’t only for February! In 1990 and 1991, Sigma Phi Epsilon members puckered up for their kissing booth on campus to raise money for the fraternity. The booth was part of Best Fest, a UTSA fall annual tradition organized by the Campus Activities Board to raise money for campus organizations.
2009: UTSA’s First Wedding Reception
Ashley Starkweather of the class of 2009 and Tim Mazzanti of the class of 2005 met on campus at UTSA. During Ashley’s first semester and Tim’s last, they met in a class that Tim had delayed taking until the end of his program. They attended basketball games in the Convocation Center together and were both actively involved on campus. Ashley was a member of the UTSA Dance Team and Tim was a founding member of the Blue Crew, a group that paints themselves blue and shows their UTSA spirit at games. In 2009, the new University Center addition was open to students and Ashley was able to sneak a peek of the ballroom during a study session. The couple used the ballroom as the location of their wedding reception and became the first Roadrunners to celebrate their marriage on campus.
2014: Revisiting Love Origins
In 2014, Sonia M. Moncayo Marroquin, UTSA class of 2000, and Armando Marroquin, UTSA class of 1998, visited UTSA accompanied by their three sons. Now married, Sonia and Armando first met through friends at UTSA in 1998. Sonia was a pre-med student and Armando was a business major. They began to date in 2002, a few years after they had first met. Perhaps the next generation of Marroquins will be Roadrunners as well!
We are once again offering grants to faculty interested in designing or invigorating their courses with unique content from UTSA’s Special Collections.
Four faculty grant recipients will receive $1,000 each to supplement their annual departmental travel allowance, providing additional flexibility to attend professional conferences.
Grant application deadline:
March 20, 2017
Visit lib.utsa.edu/FTIAgrants for all the details!
As work continues on the SVREP collection, one thing that is clear (no matter what category of documents you are working on) is that SVREP rarely worked alone. As an organization that stretched thousands of miles across the Southwest, they coordinated with and worked parallel to hundreds of organizations to achieve the same goals.
Figuring out why they worked together is much easier than figuring out how. As Latino numbers began to grow in the United States community advocates began to harness the power of the sheer number of people willing to get involved. One of the first newsletters I found when I started to inventory the SVREP Collection was a United Farm Workers newsletter from 1969. From there the partnerships (and acronyms) continued to grow.
From Organizations like Atlanta VEP (Voter Education Project) to MALDEF (The Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund), community organizers always found strength in numbers. Using networks to communicate, plan and organize, SVREP spread its message and its power. In fact, MALDEF is one of my favorite examples of SVREP’s cooperation with another organization to achieve results. Our archival material documents years of their work together to study representation in predominantly Hispanic school districts and took local school boards to court if they refused to provide representation for their minority students.
So much of this can seem like old news, but living in San Antonio offers us a unique chance to run into that history every day. Last Spring, I had the chance to meet local activist, Rosie Castro, at a voter registration event at The Esquire Tavern. I introduced myself and told her a little bit about my opportunity to work on SVREP archives. I knew she’d known Willie Velasquez but was unprepared for her response. “Are you kidding me” she smiled, “Southwest Voters and MALDEF hung out here at The Esquire all the time. Right here at this bar.” She pointed to a few stools a few feet away. To hear that members of two historic organizations planned strategy in the a bar that is now a popular downtown spot made me wonder about all the other stories our city would have to tell of partnerships, and civic alliances that stand as examples for us today.
In my own time as a community organizer, I have often seen how powerful connecting organizations can be. Whether it was for amplification, strategic alignment or just solidarity, SVREP used it’s ability to work with others without the advantage of the internet to strengthen their community.
SVREP and MALDEF filed 81 lawsuits with school boards to make sure students across Texas got the representation they deserved. While some local boards initially resisted, eventually all 81 complied.
**This project is generously funded by the NHPRC**
This month we continue “Names and Places of UTSA,” a blog series on university history, with a post by archives student assistant, Kira Sandoval.
On the south side of UTSA’s Main Campus, George Brackenridge Avenue connects Ximenes Avenue to the Child Development Center, University Oaks, and several parking lots. The street is named in honor of an important historical figure of San Antonio and UTSA’s history, George W. Brackenridge. He was a busy philanthropist and businessman who largely influenced the central Texas region. Though he lived and died before UTSA came into existence, he played an important role in shaping Texas education. Brackenridge Avenue was named after this figure because of his service as a San Antonian on the UT System Board of Regents for over 27 years. However, his legacy as a Texan has contributed much more to UTSA and the city of San Antonio than just his membership on the board.
San Antonians have been enjoying George W. Brackenridge’s generosity for over one hundred years. People might already be familiar with his name from leisurely time spent at Brackenridge Park. He donated his land for the park in 1899. He also donated Mahncke and Funston Park to the City of San Antonio.
George W. Brackenridge was born in Indiana on January 14, 1832. He attended Hanover College, Indiana University, and Harvard University. He moved to Texas with his parents in 1853 where he spent the majority of his life, except for a three year period when he was forced to leave Texas after claiming Union sympathies and escaping a close call with a lynching party. During this time, he was appointed by Abraham Lincoln, a close friend of his father’s, to work for the US Treasury Department. He briefly worked in Washington and then in New Orleans under Union forces. Guests to his home in San Antonio and friendships included U.S. General Grant and Mexican Presidents Porfírio Díaz and Francisco Madero. He died on December 28, 1920, and was buried as a 32nd degree Mason in the Brackenridge family’s cemetery near Edna in Jackson County.
George W. Brackenridge had an impressive résumé and had his hand in many pots. During his time in the war, he began amassing his fortune by smuggling cotton across Confederate lines for sale in the North, taking advantage of the law of supply and demand. The Confederacy had cut off the export of cotton in hopes to gain alliances with England and France, in exchange for their imports of the crop. This wartime endeavor led to the formation of the cotton firm Brackenridge, Bates and Company, which he organized with family and friends. With this business experience under his belt, in 1866 he returned from New Orleans to organize the San Antonio National Bank, for which he served a long 46 years as president. From 1883 to 1906, he was appointed president of the San Antonio Water Works company. Additionally, he served as president of the San Antonio Loan and Trust Company, director of the San Antonio Express Publishing Company, president of the San Antonio School Board, and president of the San Antonio Gas Light Company.
Another important figure and contributor to the historical importance of the Brackenridge family name was one of George’s sisters, Mary Eleanor Brackenridge. Mary Eleanor was a strong advocate and pioneer for women’s rights in Texas and the United States. She was one of the first women in the country to serve as a bank director. She founded the Woman’s Club of San Antonio and published a pamphlet in 1911, “The Legal Status of Texas Women,” which led to her involvement with San Antonio’s suffrage movement. She was the first woman to register to vote in Bexar County in 1918. Mary Eleanor also had a hand in establishing the College of Industrial Arts (now known as Texas Woman’s University) in Denton where she became one of the first females to sit on a board of regents in Texas.
Brackenridge’s own educational experience enlightened him to the importance of higher education. He believed that the “greatest way to assist a man was to enable him to help himself” and rise above ignorance through education. Many of his donations were given to educational facilities and universities. He donated large sums to educational institutions in San Antonio, to the Guadalupe College for African Americans in Seguin, the University of Texas, and the University Hall for women medical students at Galveston.
Brackenridge had a particular interest in funding African American and women’s education in the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite the fact that his father owned slaves, George believed that slavery was wrong. After emancipation he “calculated the value of the labor of the family slaves during their servitude, and determined to spend that amount of money on the race.” He spent over $65,000 on African American education in Texas, as well as donating land and buildings for the Prairie View Normal School for Negroes. He allocated an additional $50,000 to the school after his death. Perhaps due to his sister’s activism with women’s rights, George Brackenridge also took an interest in funding women’s education. He funded women’s halls at universities, including the College of Industrial Arts for which Mary Eleanor was a regent, and supported the employment of women instructors in the UT university system.
Brackenridge was estimated to have donated over 2 million dollars in his lifetime to educational purposes, but the exact amount is unknown as he often favored making anonymous donations to avoid public praise. The majority of his fortune after his death went towards the George W. Brackenridge Foundation for education, which still exists today. The Foundation continues to support education in honor of Brackenridge’s values at UTSA and in the San Antonio area. In fact, thanks to an endowment from the George W. Brackenridge Foundation, the Department of Philosophy and Classics at UTSA organized the Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series to bring guests to the university to speak to undergraduates on topics in multiple disciplines.
George W. Brackenridge’s philanthropic pursuits were the crux of his ambitions in life. He wished to provide funding and opportunities for underprivileged students in order to better their education and pursue a career of their choice outside of the limits of poverty. His incredible involvement in Texas’ educational institutions and San Antonio’s history make him an appropriate name to proudly represent on campus.
Belasco, Jessica. “Brackenridge Worked for Women’s Rights.” San Antonio Express-News, March, 18, 2015.
Handbook of Texas Online, A. Elizabeth Taylor, “Brackenridge, Mary Eleanor,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbr04.
Handbook of Texas Online, “Brackenridge, George Washington,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbr02
Holland, Richard. The Texas book: profiles, history, and reminiscences of the university. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006. (pp. 86-87)
Morgan , Bobbie Whitten. George W. Brackenridge and His Control of San Antonio’s Water Supply, 1869-1905. Master’s thesis, Trinity, 1961. (http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/pdf/Morgan_1961.pdf)
“Roadrunner Focus.” The Roadrunner, February 19, 1977, 5th ed., 6 sec. http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15125coll7/id/218/rec/6.
San Antonio Express-News, “Brackenridge worked for women’s rights,” http://www.expressnews.com/150years/people/article/Brackenridge-worked-for-women-s-rights-6132717.php
The University of Texas at San Antonio, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Department of Philosophy and Classics, “Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series,” http://colfa.utsa.edu/philosophy-classics/brackenridge
The University of Texas System, “George Washington Brackenridge,” https://www.utsystem.edu/board-of-regents/former-regents/george-washington-brackenridge
This Monday, hundreds of thousands of San Antonians are participating in what has grown to be the nation’s largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day March. I have participated in the march in previous years, and I’m always impressed by the magnitude of it. Marching in solidarity for peace, equality, justice, and the remembrance of Dr. King with a quarter of a million people is a truly awesome experience.
Despite these previous experiences, nothing ever totally prepared me for the “real thing.” Participating in a present-day march is a very different experience from walking around the neighborhood where Dr. King lived and worked. This past August I traveled to Atlanta, GA, and had the opportunity to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“the King Center”). The King Center is a National Historic Site that includes a museum, archives, community/exhibition center, the childhood home of Dr. King, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King.
While in Atlanta, I also visited the Atlanta University Center, where I enjoyed a tour of the Robert Woodruff Library’s Archives Research Center, which holds the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Collection, and the Atlanta Voter Education Project Collection (a directly related counterpart to UTSA’s Southwest Voter Registration Education Project Collection). Photography was not allowed at the Woodruff Library’s Archives, but complete collection inventories and select digitized content can be seen by following the provided links.
One of the fundamental principles of archives is provenance – basically, the origin or source of archival materials. It drives much of what we do as archivists, including ensuring authenticity of our records, making decisions on how to organize collections, and aiding in greater understanding of collection content. It allows archivists and researchers to quite literally touch history and engage with it in a way that is unique and meaningful.So, with the concept of provenance in mind, it was particularly poignant to visit the King Center and see Dr. King’s personal papers firsthand. I was a bit awestruck and excited, but also felt the immense gravity of the past and its impact on our world today.
“The King Center is dedicated to educating the world on the life, legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., inspiring new generations to carry forward his unfinished work, strengthen causes and empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today.” Visiting birthplaces of historical figures and reading the words that they themselves wrote on the very piece of paper you hold in your hand can be powerful experiences that allow us to create intimate connections to the past. Places like the King Center and Archives are places of sustained memories that help us understand the present. How we act and what we do in the present helps keep the work of Dr. King alive.
For a brief history of San Antonio’s MLK Day March, please see this blog post from 2016.