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Juan Nepomuceno Cortina

July 13, 2020

Today in Texas history, marks the beginning of what is known as the first Cortina War.  On July 13, 1859, Juan Nepomuceno Cortina, shot Brownsville marshal, Robert Shears, after watching Shears violently drag to jail one of Cortina’s former ranch employees.  This conflict came after much racial tension between Anglo and Mexican Texans.  Here are two images of Juan Nepomuceno Cortina from the General Photograph Collection.

(General Photograph Collection: 073-0842b)

(General Photograph Collection: 092-0193)

Pride presentations during a pandemic

July 1, 2020

For the last couple of years, I have had the good fortune to partner with the San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) during Pride month. In 2018 and 2019, I curated a Pride exhibit at the Central Branch and had hoped to do so this year. Unfortunately, the exhibit did not happen due to the pandemic. However, we were able to pivot and coordinate three virtual presentations on San Antonio’s LGBTQ history which were hosted by three branches of SAPL.

Delivering presentations online was definitely a learning curve for me. I love presenting in person, interacting with the audience, being able to read their expressions as I speak. I don’t have that luxury during a Zoom presentation. Instead, I peer into blocks with names, initials, or avatars. Despite the weirdness of speaking to blocks, I enjoyed giving the presentations. I recognize that for many months to come, this will be our “new normal” and I need to find ways to engage a virtual audience just as I would in-person participants. I am always delighted to talk about San Antonio’s LGBTQ history and using a virtual platform facilitates reaching a broader audience. 

There a so many nuances to San Antonio’s queer past and UTSA Special Collections has a wealth of materials that document those subtle layers. Fortunately, our LGBTQ collections don’t only get trotted out once a year during the month of June. Pride is celebrated all year long and there are many opportunities for us to share our queer materials with students and our community. Last year from June to September, UTSA Special Collections participated in the creation of an award winning exhibition at the McNay Art Museum: TransAmerica/n. I wrote three blog posts for the McNay during the exhibition, each exploring a different facet of San Antonio’s queer history and highlighting many of the LGBTQ materials held by UTSA Special Collections. 

Media coverage of our queer collections gets the word out beyond the confines of the archives and into the public sphere. As we work to grow our LGBTQ collections, reaching out to the public is imperative as there are unique materials in private collections that might one day need a permanent home. Additionally, queer history is one layer of San Antonio’s cultural heritage that deserves exploration and recognition, an important thread in the city’s historical fabric, one that many San Antonians might not be aware of. 

Urban-15 Pride presentation, Images, UTSA Special Collections. View this presentation at  http://Pride, Proud, Present. Collecting San Antonio’s Queer Memorias

 

Juneteenth Celebrations

June 22, 2020

Last Friday, we celebrated Juneteenth. Juneteenth (June + nineteenth), is the “most popular annual celebration of emancipation from slavery in the United States”, as defined by Henry Louis Gates Jr. It commemorates Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, on June 19th, 1885, bringing the order to reestablish Union control over Texas and thus the news of the 13th Amendment and the abolition of slavery to the state, two and a half years after it had taken affect. Juneteenth Day as a holiday started the year after. This holiday has managed to endure through Reconstruction and Jim Crow, gaining strength due in part to migration, freedman colonies and the Civil Rights Movement. While it has particular significance in Texas because of it’s origins, Juneteenth is a symbol of total  freedom from the slave trade across all states, including Texas.

For a more thorough history, check out this PBS history written by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

San Antonio has celebrated Juneteenth throughout the years. The San Antonio Express News covered the celebration in 1982 to 1984, which took place on E. Commerce Street and other locations. Larger celebrations took place in other Texas towns, as described in a couple oral history interviews from the Institute of Texan Cultures oral history collection. Included are Dr. I.J. Lamothe’s oral history, from Marshall, TX, as well as Marian and A.L. Holbert interviews, from Palestine, TX. Their conversations on Juneteenth can be found on pages 85-87 and 32-34, respectively.

Every year, UTSA holds a Juneteenth Day celebration. Including poetry and musical performances as well as a performance by the African American Studies students, it is a lively event.juneteenth Last year, Special Collections tabled at the event to show materials from the Peyton Colony Records, a freedman’s colony (just north of San Antonio), as well as the Washington Family papers, of which a large portion are digitized and can be accessed here. There was also a bill of sale for a slave from the Israel Worsham papers from before 1885, which was read aloud by Dr. Karla Broadus to a very powerful and somber effect. UTSA Libraries also tabled to provide more than 60 books and DVDs for check out to students and faculty that attended the celebration. This year, with the spread of COVID-19, UTSA still held the celebration virtually on rowdy link. It was recorded and can be experienced here.

 

 

Wish to learn more about Juneteenth? 

Check out this list of materials from UTSA Libraries:

Online Access:

Juneteenth Texas : essays in African-American folklore by Abernethy, Francis Edward

Available through UTSA libraries:

Juneteenth : a celebration of freedom by Taylor, Charles A

Juneteenth, unique heritage : an historical analysis of the origin and evolution of the 19th of June celebration in Texas by Williams, David A

Juneteenth : a novel by Ellison, Ralph

Black Lives Matter 2020 by Brodie Harmon, they/them

June 15, 2020

Brodie Harmon, they/them, is a graduate student in the Art History department and works with public services, outreach and digital content here at Special Collections. 

“We cannot let the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor go unnoticed or unaddressed. Nor can we ignore the countless other Black people and other people of color who have lost their lives to senseless acts of violence. We must call out and condemn these racist acts, stand together in the fight for justice, speak out and enact change. On behalf of UTSA’s entire leadership team I want to convey to Black students, faculty and staff in the Roadrunner community that we see you and we will continue to fight alongside you. Black Lives Matter.”

UTSA President Eighmy released these words of support amidst the growing protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.  As a student, it is reassuring to know that I attend a school that is not afraid to speak up and show their support against racism and police brutality.  At the same time, I know many who feel very frustrated and want to show public support despite the equally growing Covid-19 pandemic.  In response, we the graduate students of Special Collections, are considering and creating projects that reflect not only the support of UTSA Library’s Special Collections, but also our own personal support. My fellow grad student, China Whitby, has a planned digital exhibition that includes black history and activism in the works, and I am creating this blog post to share resources for students interested in educating themselves more about how UTSA has taught Black Lives Matter in the past. 

In researching how UTSA has supported BLM, I discovered this:

Front page of class website showing class title in white superimposed over photo of black students laying down on the ground holding protest signs

#BlackLivesMatter: Critical Perspectives

This page has been archived by Special Collections here, and is a collection that includes physical collection material (such as the poster shown at the end of this post) as well as material in the Internet Archive.  According to the introductory page, “This course was first offered in the spring of 2016. After the semester finished, archivists from UTSA Libraries Special Collections gathered class materials and student work, then created this site in order to make the content available for further study and research.”  Looking under the Guiding Principles, you can find quotes and student project links about many facets that include Black families, justice, women, queer and transgender topics.  For those of you interested in finding more materials on critical race theory and the discourses covered in the class, the syllabus is posted along with the textbooks (most of which are available as ebooks through the UTSA Library), as well as the Learning Modules list of the online articles and videos.  This is like a gold mine, and gives people the opportunity to educate themselves with the plethora of academic and community-driven information in their own homes.  Another page that we have archived as a part of our preservation of UTSA Black Lives Matter material is #wematter, a blog created by black female students in the class in order to give a voice to intersectional feminism and personal experiences as black women in the STEM fields.

#wematter opening page showing a drawing of a black woman with natural hair with the hashtag superimposed in white over her face.

#wematter front page in the internet archive.

With the current covid-19 restrictions, some people may not feel comfortable going out in public and protest, but there are so many different ways to show support, with the first step being education.  I know I will read all of the materials provided by these fantastic sources, and I appreciate the Special Collections Librarians of yesteryear who gathered this course material and publicized it for future students and the community.  We must remember in these tense and emotional times, that one of the simplest things we can do is to create a discourse, understand that there is a problem with racism in this country, and learn to educate and better ourselves as a community.  We can continue to be silent no longer.  We at UTSA support Black Lives Matter, and here in Special Collections, we wanted to reiterate our support and help the spread of information by sharing this one-of-a-kind course material that our professors and students created in a handy blog post to give everyone a chance to virtually explore literature and materials about Black Lives Matter.  We also encourage students and friends who are curious about what else Special Collections has to offer to check out our archives of African American History and Activism.  We also have a completely digitized Guide to the San Antonio Black History Collection that consists of archived material including businesses, churches, schools and newspapers from our city’s black community.  While we are not physically open at this time, know that we are still here, and we support all of our students and hope for your safety as you navigate these tense times.

 

Stress Reduction with Special Collections

June 1, 2020

There is no shortage of stressors these days and folks are finding all sorts of ways to reduce tension. Some people are baking up a storm while others are decluttering their homes. Other popular de-stressing activities include coloring and puzzles.

Header from our now-defunct blog, La Cocina Histórica.

No matter how you choose to reduce stress, Special Collections will try to be there for you, even when we are working from home. For the cooks: though much of the collection is locked up tight on campus, there are still a few ways to access our cookbooks. First, check out our digitized cookbooks! These are mostly handwritten recipes with some typed options and even a few recipes in English. Also be sure to check out our now-defunct blog La Cocina Histórica for plenty of recipe ideas! Our previous rare books librarian, Juli McLoone transcribed, translated, and tested dozens of recipes and wrote all about her experiences on the blog, so there are plenty of options.

For the declutterers: as you tidy up your home, keep an eye out for materials you could donate to us! Typical items of interest to our researchers include letters, diaries, scrapbooks, legal documents, meeting minutes, brochures/fliers, and videos/audio. Our department is especially interested in materials that document the diverse histories and development of San Antonio and South Texas, with a particular emphasis on Mexican Americans, African Americans, LGBTQ communities, San Antonio authors, women’s groups, and activism/activists. Though we are not able to accept physical materials while we are working from home, we would love it if you could set those materials aside for when we are back on campus. If you have any questions, email us.

This 1993 image of Dolores Huerta is our most popular puzzle thus far.

Our staff have also come up with a few activities using our collections and we hope you enjoy them. First, we have digital puzzles! Head on over to our Jigsaw Planet page to put together digital puzzles featuring images from our archives. If coloring is more your speed, we have a few printable coloring pages for you. Download them by clicking the links at the bottom of this article.

No matter what, we hope you are staying safe and healthy and we look forward to seeing our patrons again in person when campus opens back up. For information on when that might be, keep an eye on the UTSA Coronavirus Updates page.

Student Appreciation: work from home edition

May 5, 2020

This week on the blog, we are taking a moment to show our team of student workers our appreciation. Even with our rapidly changing reality, our students remain an integral part of Special Collections. Their ability to quickly adjust to working from home, taking online classes, and handling rapidly changing living situations and schedules is more than admirable-it’s amazing!

Here’s a glimpse into each of our students’ new realities:

China Whitby:

Hello Everyone, my name is China Whitby, and I am a first-year Graduate Student in the Art history and Criticism department. When I am not swamped by schoolwork, I love to spend my time reading, play video games, board games, and arguing with my friends over the DC Multiverse. Working from home these past few weeks has been a significant adjustment, but I am determined to make the most of my forced staycation. 20200305_105915The hardest part about this transition has been getting myself into the mindset of working on my homework at home rather than on campus, I only use my house to eat, sleep, and relax so actually doing homework here has been a bit challenging. But, now I have a mostly stable routine that balances my health and responsibility

I recently finished transcribing a magazine called “SNAP.” The articles are charming and do a fantastic job of capturing events and celebrations that affected the San Antonio community. I highly recommend this magazine to anyone interested in learning about how national events like desegregation and integration affected San Antonio and Texas at a local level.

Carson Crouch:

CarsonI’ve been working from home on my back patio enjoying the beautiful sunshine! I always make a cup of coffee before settling in and getting to work. I’m currently doing research on setting up a digital exhibition and I can’t wait to see it come to fruition!

(Carson is an undergraduate Art History student. She has worked in the Special Collections reading room at the JPL assisting patrons. She is graduating later this month, and we while we are sad to see her go, we are very excited for her!)

 

Carla Burgos:

carla

It has been a difficult transition working at home from the workplace. At work, I only focus on one thing at my desk: transcribing, pulling books from the shelves, making mylar covers for the antique books, or little boxes to put these books in. At home, the biggest challenges were adjusting on many happenings going on such as my job duties, homework, children’s online schooling, and my husband’s job as he is working at home, too. My husband and I have to ensure we take turns to preparing meals for breakfast and lunch to feed them as each of us had very different lunch times.

As the weeks went by, the chaotic confusion calmed down to become more routine, as we familiarized with our places and our work/school performance improved. We are still adjusting though.

I am now transcribing the new cookbook, Cocinera Mexicana written in 1888. It is fascinating to explore the ingredients used in each recipe, see how these meals were prepared, and compare how differently words were spelled back then.

(Carla is an Art History graduate student. To learn more about Carla’s transcription work, check out her blog post: On Transcribing Recipe Books.)

Brodie Harmon:

My experience moving from school to home has had its ups and downs.  Before the quarantine, I worked at the front desk of Special Collections, answering the phone and helping students and patrons who come in to do research at the Reading Room.  I also transported carts of materials to and from the vaults at GSR to the JPL, and had side projects such as scanning documents and re-shelving in the book vault.  I definitely miss the quiet days of sitting in the Reading Room and working with the other great students and librarians in our corner of the library.

Brodie

Since the self-isolation has begun, I have had to juggle wrapping up my final grad classes, getting all of my thesis preparation done, and figuring out how to work from home for the first time in my life.  I also have plenty of distractions to keep me busy (with two dogs, five rats and a roommate), and finding ways to distinguish ‘work time’ from ‘regular home time’ has been quite a journey.  It has definitely tested my self-discipline, haha, but I have found a way to designate a desk in my room and quiet time to work throughout the week.  Weekly Zoom meetings with the librarians have also been a big help in keeping up with each other and retaining a bit of structure!

What I have been working on during this quarantine has been editing video transcriptions from our Media Library.  I started off with vintage UTSA commercials from the 1970s, listening and taking notes of my edits for the transcription file, then fixing them so that they match the original audio to the best of my ability.  I have enjoyed working on these and have learned a lot about how to format transcriptions and the way captions are broken up with the progressing time stamps.  It’s also nice to know we are working hard to make these videos more accurate and accessible!  My latest video that has been uploaded is an interview clip with Ruben Bonilla as he discusses Willie Velasquez and their activist work as a part of our Southwest Voter Registration Project archives.  Check it out here! https://digital.utsa.edu/digital/collection/p16018coll10/id/53

Everything has been different from one week to the last, with unexpected family issues and ever-changing due dates.  I know we are all trying our best in these uncertain times, and my biggest advice is to take it one day at a time.  If we just take it day by day, we can get through this!

Arianna Borazjanian:

Transitioning to working at home instead of on campus has had its fair share of difficulties. One of the issues I’ve faced while trying to work from home has been balancing a good schedule between my class assignments, work for Special Collections, and things in my personal life. I’m very appreciative of how everyone has been so understanding and flexible, since this is my first semester working for Special collections.

ariannaOne of the things I miss about working on campus was getting to interact with everyone else who works in Special Collections, while we still have weekly Zoom meetings they aren’t the same. Everyone was so welcoming and getting to chat with them in between tasks was always really nice.

Since some of the work has been limited due to the transition I’ve been working more on rare book transcripts on San Antonio’s history and oral history transcripts of the The La Jita Girl Scout group. The video transcripts I’ve been working on have been quite interesting, I don’t know that much about Girl Scouts in general since I’ve never been one but learning that most of the camp was built by young women back in the 1950s and 60s was really inspiring. With that being said I look forward to continuing to work for Special collections as long as I can!

(Arianna is a Studio Art undergraduate student.)

On Transcribing the Recipe Books by Carla Burgos

April 20, 2020

This blog post was written by one of our student clerks, Carla Burgos.

I am a graduate student at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), working in the John Peace Library’s Special Collections Department. Currently, I am transcribing a few of UTSA’s vast and impressive collection of cookbooks; numbering in the thousands. I transcribe word-by-word being careful to keep the recipes as close as possible to the original. The few I have been lucky to read and even touch are the lovely, tiny bound journals. Some are lined in faint blue or pencil to guide where to write on, and some have faint, striped watermarks which are noticeable on the pages inside books written in the eighteenth century. The pages have elegant penmanship; handwritten in calligraphic cursive with black or brown ink, or pencil. Sometimes I would notice two or three different handwriting styles in a recipe book: rounded, spidery, or surprisingly like modern block. I think recipe books kept in the families hold  different women’s penmanship over the years. The spelling and handwriting styles are typical of the era in which the book was written according to what was taught and was popular at that time. Some examples of words are cilantro that is written as culantro, revuelve (stir) written as rebuelber, aceitunas (olives) as aceytunas, zanahoria (carrot) as zanaoria, harina (flour) as arina, and so on.

I am currently transcribing a recipe book written by Manuela Heredia y Cervantes in 1886.  I included an image of one of the recipes, “Relleno del Pastel,” below to observe how the lovely penmanship is so well executed.

A close up of text on a white background

Description automatically generated
Image 1 of a recipe, “Relleno del Pastel.”

Another fascinating observation is about the richly decorative and colorful inside covers of the tiny journals. The inside covers are called double-side endsheets which are folded and pasted in place. The beautiful patterns of the endsheets are created by dipping the paper in ink baths. These bound and decorative journals are made by local printing companies in Mexico. Some of these books still have the little stickers to indicate where these journals were bought. I added two images of lovely blue marbled end sheets found in a Mexican family cookbook written by a mother with love for her daughters in 1888.

I would like to think a journal, newly bonded, freshly-dried end sheets with crispy white pages was purchased by the Señora of the house, wrapped in brown paper and tied tightly with a string to be taken home for the cook to painstakingly record hundreds of family recipes, handed down by generations. Some recipe books have 100 pages and sometimes more than 250 pages with hundreds of recipes painstakingly and meticulously written as recipes of delicious meat dishes such as Guisado de Albondigones (Meatball Stew) or Croquitas de Carnero (Mutton Croquettes). Some of the recipes have the family member’s name added in with a particular favorite recipe to the Señor (patriarch) of the house or to the Señorita, his daughter.

The careful labeling of each ingredient such as  green peppers, tomatillos, saffron, toasted sesame seeds, ginger and plenty of butter to fry or sauté shows the culinary influences from Spain and the Middle East.  The cooking instructions are careful to keep the recipes consistent on how to cook the savory dishes ranging from head of a tender calf, pork loins, chorizos, rice, and the ubiquitous jitomate, a popular fruit that is used in most dishes. Sugar is also a very popular ingredient and is used in almost every dish.

These elaborate recipes seem to come from wealthy households with large and fully-equipped kitchens because these ingredients are exotic, expensive and not easily found in typical marketplaces. Some recipes for special feasts call for enormous quantities. One hundred eggs, ten pounds of flour to six pounds of sugar, for example. The large amounts could leave enough leftovers to feed a large family for several days. This wealth of information shows fascinating glimpses of a bygone era in Mexico.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog about my transcribing job and what I experience in reading those lovely journals. They are certainly significant in the history of the UTSA’s collection of cookbooks. I included resources at the end of the blog on two cookbooks I am transcribing and about paper marbling for further reading.

Further Reading:

Mexican Family Cookbook Manuscript: Recipes that my mother wrote with love for her daughters in 1888: https://digital.utsa.edu/digital/collection/p15125coll10/id/16107

Mexican Cooking Notebook: Manuscript Manuela Heredia y Cervantes: https://digital.utsa.edu/digital/collection/p15125coll10/id/12094/rec/1

Suggested resources to look up on the subject of marbled endpapers:

The Unsung Delight of a Well-Designed Endpaper: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/best-endpapers-design-history

New Exhibit at Westside Community Center!

April 14, 2020

On March 20th, we installed a new exhibit that was all set to coincide with the 24th Annual Cesar Chavez March for Justice on March 28th, 2020. It was, unfortunately, cancelled and the posters will not be seen for a while, but our exhibit hangs in the UTSA Westside Community Center which will hopefully be open for viewing soon!

A view out the front door of the UTSA Westside Community Center.

A view out the front door of the UTSA Westside Community Center.

Since we do not get to debut this exhibit with the city’s current state of self-isolation, we thought we’d give you a preview of it here and to give you a little bit of a behind the scenes tour of how we put together this sort of exhibit!

1. Choosing the posters is an important first step and one that can be more time consuming than you would initially think. For this exhibit, we had a clear idea that it would come from three different collections:

The José Angel Gutiérrez Papers (MS 024): Dr. Gutiérrez is an activist, attorney and professor. He was a founding member of the Mexican American Youth Organization (MAYO) in San Antonio in 1967, and a founding member and past president of the Raza Unida Party, a Chicano third party movement that supported candidates for elective office in Texas, California, and other areas of the Southwestern and Midwestern United States. We knew he had a number of posters in his collection.

IMG_9936

A Farm Workers Theater poster from the Fred R. Garza Political Poster Collection (MS 497). This poster was chosen to be in this exhibit. 

The Fred R. Garza Political Posters Collection [MS 497]: Fred R. Garza is a Chicano activist who lives in San Antonio, Texas. He has been active in organizations such as La Raza Unida Party, the Texas Farm Workers Union, and Teatro de los Barrios and he donated a large amount of political posters!

 

The Serie Print Project Collection (MS 341): The Serie Project is an Austin, Texas based, non-profit organization that promotes the production of affordable fine art through a type of screen printing called serigraphy. This is a large project, but has many Chicanx based works that we thought would align well with original UFW posters. They are also, fortunately, fully digitized.

Once we’d been through these collections and chosen a few that we thought would work well, we had to have them digitized!

2. Scanning and digitizing the posters

We do not yet have an in-house scanned that is large enough to digitize posters of this size. Therefore, once a month, the Center for Archaeological Research at UTSA (CAR) let us use their scanner for projects just like this one! 

txsau_ms0497_f16_001

Viva La Revolucion” from the Fred R Garza Political Poster Collection (MS 497). A good example of leaving the tattered corners and other wear and tear.

Scanning can take a lot of space, especially since we wanted them in a TIFF format, which will give us a better image when we blow it up for printing. We were also careful about wanting to keep certain details of the posters, such as tears, folds and some obvious staple marks at the corners to show that these posters were actually used and viewed on the street. They were not meant as gallery prints like the Serie Project artwork was. 

 

3. Printing and mounting the posters

In order to get full color and full size posters, there are a few different places we can have this done for us. Sometimes, the library can do it in-house, sometimes we pay to have UPS print them for us. Both cost the department money, so we are very careful about our final decisions before printing so as to avoid any mistakes! We made sure to print out the corners and all the imperfections to make the reproductions as faithful to the originals as possible so our audience can experience them as near originals. We also made sure to keep their original sizes and dimensions!

Usually, we mount these posters on foamcore. This is difficult to do ourselves when they’re such large posters, so this is another job for the on-campus UPS! However, as we learned, the paper we print the posters on can be difficult to put on foamcore and tends to wrinkle and make the foamcore bend a little. 

Creating exhibits can be a lot of learning as you go, and in this case, we learned that it’s easier to print directly onto the foamcore! It would be nice, perhaps in the future, to have the materials to have them framed instead of mounted on foamcore. Stretch goals!

4. Hanging and installation

IMG_0191

Amy Rushing hanging a poster from the Fred R. Garza Collection (MS 497)

 

IMG_0193

Amy Rushing hanging “Sun Raid” by Esther Hernandez from the Serie Print Project Collection (MS 341). 

Hanging and installing the exhibit required some math skills on our part (neither of our strong suits)!  We had decided to use sticky strips to put up the foamcore on the wall. This worked well for the most part, but we ran into some trouble with them staying up because of their weight. In the future, we might try using wire instead! 

In order to hang the materials at the correct height, there are a couple of steps to follow. First, measure up from the floor 60 inches (which should be average eye height, but depending on the space, you can use your best judgement as long as they are the same!). Next, measure the height of the piece you are hanging and divide that by half to get the middle point. Line up the middle point of the piece with the eye-level point. We used pencil markings on the wall to keep track of these. The final step is putting the adhesive on the back of the poster (we put ours on all four corners and a couple in the middle as well), and then sticking it to the wall using your measuring lines. We used, and we would recommend, using a level at this point when you adhere it to the wall. Then lean your full weight on the corners and it will be well-stuck to the wall!

Now that you have an idea of how we put up this exhibit, please enjoy the exhibit as we can show it here! We hope to open it to the public soon so that we can commemorate the memory and work of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers together!

IMG_0188

The finished product at the Westside Community Center! The exhibit spans all four walls and another wall towards the kitchen!

 

 

 

César E. Chávez in San Antonio

March 19, 2020

Beginning in 2014 on March 31, César E. Chávez Day has been designated a federal commemorative holiday in honor of the civil rights activist and labor leader.  Cities across the country celebrate his legacy through community service and educational programs. Since 1997, the City of San Antonio has memorialized Chávez’s work with the annual César E. Chávez March for Justice.

While Chávez began working in California in the 1950s to improve the conditions and pay of agricultural workers, it was not until 1968 that he received national attention.  It was then that Chávez, as leader of the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), called for a national boycott of California table grape growers.  The following year, Chávez made his first public appearance in San Antonio to enlist local support.  From then until a year before his death in 1993, Chávez made return visits to speak, lead marches, and participate in strikes to bring attention to the plight of workers.  These are photographs of some of those visits in our San Antonio Express-News and the San Antonio Light Collections.

 

César E. Chávez announces to a crowd in the Kennedy High School gymnasium that Centeno Supermarkets will take part in the California grape boycott, November 29, 1969. (San Antonio Express-News Collection: E-0018-197)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chávez is applauded before a talk sponsored by the San Antonio Friends of the Farm Workers. Among those in attendance, standing to the right of him, are Judge Albert Peña, Jr., and Bishop Raymundo Peña, July 26, 1979. (San Antonio Express-News Collection: E-0056-027-08)

 

Chávez pickets beside West Commerce Street, a short distance from City Hall, December 10, 1979.  (San Antonio Express-News Collection: E-0059-031-36)

Chávez pickets beside West Commerce Street, a short distance from City Hall, December 10, 1979.  (San Antonio Express-News Collection: E-0059-031-36)

Marchers of all ages move along city streets to a NFWA rally, July 30, 1990. (San Antonio Light Collection: L-7183-23-10)

 

Crowd waits for Chávez to speak at a rally outside H-E-B Headquarters on South Main Avenue, July 30, 1990.  (San Antonio Light Collection:  L-7183-23-03)

 

Chávez speaks to a crowd gathered a block from the boulevard that now bears his name, July 30, 1990.  (San Antonio Light Collection:  L-7183-23-07)

 

Processing the Diana Kennedy Papers, Part 2

March 9, 2020

Welcome to another update on processing the Diana Kennedy Papers! If you missed the first blog post on this topic, you can read it here.

I spent the majority of November-January processing the print photographs in the collection. The photos were unfortunately in a disarray, but thankfully many of these were labeled by Diana, which helped me greatly. I sorted through nearly 1,000 prints many times over, discerning relationships between images, learning the faces of persons named in one photo but not another, and identifying logical groupings to which the photos might belong. Once these groupings were largely determined, I was able to place the photos in chronological order and sleeve them in archival photo sheets to protect against dust and fingerprints. The sheets have been placed in archival binders, which will help researchers look through the photographs easily.

Just a few of the photographs (and negatives) in the collection prior to being processed. The photos depict Diana and her life from the 1940s to the present, including her WWII service, life with husband Paul Kennedy, her travels, activities with friends, cooking classes, and publicity photos.

While processing nearly 1,000 prints was quite a task, I would be really swamped if I didn’t have the help of my student worker, China Whitby. I mentioned in the last post that there were many 35mm slide images in the collection – 3,800 of them! China has spent long hours meticulously placing these sleeves into protective sheets (emulsion-side down and image oriented right-side-up, no less), carefully hand-labeling each sheet, placing these sheets into archival binders, and typing an inventory of the slides. Did I mention she did it all with a smile on her face? Three cheers for China!

Student worker China Whitby uses a light box to easily see slides.
A close-up of the slides from the light box. Note the labeling at the top – this stuff really takes time to do!

The next task that China will be helping out with is preservation work. Since the previous post, I’ve completed the vast majority of the organization and re-foldering of the papers in the collection, and the materials are now housed in their forever home: archival document boxes. Now that this step is complete, China will be working through the collection to make preservation photocopies of acidic paper (like newsprint) and fading thermal fax paper, removing paper clips and staples (many of which are rusty), and placing some of the more fragile papers into protective mylar sleeves.

One of the most satisfying sights for an Archivist: tidy, clean boxes with neatly printed labels, with contents all in order inside. Boxes like these may look simple, but they represent the culmination of many months (sometimes years) of meticulous hard work!

While China makes her way through the preservation work, I’ll be tying up loose ends, filing miscellaneous items that don’t have a designated folder yet, and working on the finding aid for the collection. Once this work is complete we’ll be able to open the collection for research, hooray!

Access to the collection is currently closed while processing is ongoing, but Special Collections will make an announcement as soon as the collection is open for research. If you would like to be notified directly when the collection becomes available, please let us know: specialcollections@utsa.edu

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