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Introducing our new Audiovisual Archivist

November 21, 2022

We are excited to introduce our new audiovisual archivist, Graeme Martin. Graeme was hired for our two year grant-funded project to catalog the Institute of Texan Cultures’ AV collection. The ITC audiovisual collection includes audio tapes, U-Matic and Betacam videocassettes, video reels, and 16mm and 35 mm motion picture films produced by the ITC from 1968 to the 2000s. With grant-funding we’ll also be able to send out 250 of the most at-risk audiovisual items to be digitized. As the grant project progresses we will share updates here on the Top Shelf.

Tell us a bit about your background 

I recently graduated with my MLIS from UCLA with a specialization in media archival studies. I have previously gone to school for and worked as an audio engineer, but have always been interested in film and other older AV formats, so moving into archives/preservation spaces made sense to me.  

What excites you about being the Audiovisual Archivist for this grant project? 

I am excited about helping preserve a piece of Texas’ audiovisual heritage. I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge on the variety of AV formats included in the collection and am interested in the unique challenges that this collection may exhibit. I hope that my work with the collection will help facilitate future digitization efforts and use of the materials.   

What’s your favorite thing about working with obsolete audiovisual formats and equipment? 

My favorite thing about working with obsolete audiovisual formats and equipment is the unique challenges and problems solving involved in the work. I am a big proponent of experiencing AV content on its original format, so preserving both the materials and playback equipment is very important to me.  

How are you liking San Antonio so far? 

So far San Antonio has been great. I’ve been able to take my bike out to some local trails which has been awesome. I’m definitely a foodie so being somewhere with a lot of interesting restaurants is great, and I’m looking forward to exploring more of the city.   

Welcome Graeme!

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services

We are now in the Digital Public Library of America!

November 9, 2022

We are proud to announce that through the Texas Digital Library’s Aggregation Service our digitized content is now discoverable in the Digital Public Library of America! The Digital Public Library of America is a free online platform that brings together collections of digitized content from archives, libraries, and museums across the United States.

“The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) amplifies the value of libraries and cultural organizations as Americans’ most trusted sources of shared knowledge. We do this by collaborating with partners to accelerate innovative tools and ideas that empower and equip libraries to make information more accessible.”

DPLA not only provides a way to search millions of photographs, texts, videos, and audio from around the country, it provides curated exhibits and primary source sets drawn from materials in the DPLA. These exhibits and primary source sets showcase content in the collections around various themes and topics such as “Women in Science”, “Aviation”, “The Equal Rights Amendment”, “and Food.”

Participation in the DPLA is possible through our membership in the Texas Digital Library (TDL). TDL and the Portal to Texas History form the TXHub service hub.  TDL works with members who take advantage of the service by gathering and standardizing the descriptive information for digitized content so that it can be submitted to DPLA. You can explore TDL members’ TxHub content in the DPLA here:

Join us for a conversation about corn!

September 15, 2022

On Monday, September 19th, 2022, please join us for book signing of the newly released Masa: Techniques, Recipes, and Reflections on a Timeless Staple, by author Jorge Gaviria. Jorge is the founder of Masienda, a chef-trusted resource and supplier of high-quality masa products.

The event will include a panel discussion, Masa: Then and Now, with Jorge Gaviria, Rico Torres of Mixtli restaurant, and Jose Ralat, Texas Monthly taco editor. The panel discussion will be a conversation around corn, cookbooks, and the growing masa movement.

Special Collections will be on site with a pop-up exhibit of historic cookbooks from our collections featuring corn and masa, and light bites will be provided by Naco 210 Mexican Eatery and Patio.

Purchase tickets and a copy of the book here. The event is free for students with UTSA ID.

Escape to Camp Flaming Arrow in Hunt, Texas

August 11, 2022

The YMCA San Antonio and Hill Country Records contain a treasure trove of photographs. Among this cache, there are thousands of images that capture idyllic summers spent at Camp Flaming Arrow in Hunt, Texas. Sadly, the Camp closed in 2021 after nearly a century of hosting thousands of children across the decades. I wanted to share some of these wonderful images with our readers.

The decade before the opening of Camp Flaming Arrow, boy campers boarded a special coach bound for Kerrville in 1914.
This image captures the pastoral landscape surrounding Camp Flaming Arrow in 1942.

Enjoy the slideshows below that capture life at Camp Flaming Arrow from the 1940s through the 1970s.

1966 Camp Flaming Arrow Summer Campers
1973 CFA Summer Campers

Preserving the UTSA Office of Facilities records

July 15, 2022

By Isabella Briseño, UTSA Special Collections intern summer 2022

From June to July of 2022, I was lucky to fulfill my master’s program’s practicum requirement at UTSA Special Collections. The main project I worked on involved the physical processing of oversized architectural documents belonging to UTSA’s Office of Facilities Records, as well as the digitization of select items from the same collection.

These items were mostly blueprints of UTSA Main Campus buildings, but there were also many architectural documents pertaining to the Hemisfair Campus and the Institute of Texan Cultures. The existing finding aid did not have a clear space for the latter set of items to be organized under, so I also got the experience of adding a new series to the finding aid. The Main Campus items were simple to weave into the existing hierarchical structure but starting a section from scratch was a small challenge for me.

The physical items were at first overwhelming to handle while I inventoried them, as they were large and, in many cases, already torn or damaged, but once the roughly 600 items were accounted for and logically placed into folders, it became more digestible to me, an organizer at heart.

Floor plans for the Multidisciplinary Studies Building (previously, as the items are labelled, named “classroom-office”), in the process of being put into folders

As a UTSA alumnus, it was super interesting getting to look at blueprints and other documents that reveal a lot about the University’s history and early planning. It was also interesting to learn about, and to visit for the first time, the Institute of Texan Cultures (which I had become semi-familiar with by going through all its blueprints), where these items are now stored along with the rest of their collection. There, I was able to comb through all the collection’s materials, determining what items should be preserved digitally. Most of the regular-sized items were correspondence relating to the construction of buildings, or inconsequential things such as several letters and blueprints checking what size organ would fit on the Arts Building stage. Many items did not make the cut when determining what was worth digitally preserving.

A set of aerial photographs, site model pictures, and several enlightening planning guides pertaining to both main and downtown campus were selected. Getting to work with several different scanning machines made for a good learning experience and getting to work through the full process of uploading the materials to UTSA’s Digital Collections shed light for me on how much work, trial, and error go into digitizing even such a small assortment of items.

View of screen while using the overhead scanner to capture the aerial photographs

Getting hands-on practice with updating finding aids, using different archival programs, and processing items in a collection has been an amazing experience and I appreciate the support and knowledge that staff has shared. When I was getting my first degree here at UTSA, I had often enjoyed looking at the Special Collections display on the JPL fourth floor, and I am glad to have now gotten an in-depth and immersive look at how such items are organized and preserved for future scholars to enjoy and learn from.

Ven A Comer 2022: A Taste of Yucatán

June 21, 2022

On the evening of Friday, June 17, 2022, more than 100 diners gathered at Hotel Emma in San Antonio for Ven A Comer 2022. This was the first time UTSA Special Collections has been able to hold its annual fundraising dinner since 2019. Guest chef Roberto Solís traveled from Mérida, Yucatán to treat attendees to a Yucatecan-themed menu inspired by UTSA’s Mexican Cookbook Collection. Mezonte’s Curator of Agave Distilled Spirits, Pedro Jiménez Gurría, traveled from Guadalajara, Jalisco to provide patrons with a taste of Jalisco’s finest elixirs. The result was a night filled with love for Yucatán’s culinary delights and Jalisco’s A1 alcohols.

Nestled in Cellar J, away from the food and drinks, UTSA Special Collections staff presented materials from the Mexican Cookbook Collection. The chosen titles highlighted the last century of cuisine throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. Early examples include Hortensia Rendón de García’s 1926 Antiguo manual de cocina yucateca: fórmulas para condimentar los platos más usuales en la península, Manuel Ferrer Berrón’s 1925 Libro de cocina: estilo campechano, as well as a set of Dr. Narciso Novelo-Souza’s pamphlets describing Maya legends on various plants.

Overall, patrons and staff enjoyed the evening and many valuable connections were made. The night wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of our partners: the Historic Pearl Brewery, Hotel Emma, Mexican Consulate of San Antonio, and Mexican Cultural Institute; and signature sponsors HEB, Gambrinus Company, San Antonio Mexico Friendship Council, San Antonio World Heritage Office, and San Antonio Creative City of Gastronomy. Proceeds from the dinner will support the continued expansion and conservation of the Mexican Cookbook Collection. Readers interested in contributing to these efforts are welcome to donate via the UTSA Special Collections website. The complete list of books on display will be provided below.

  • Ferrer Berrón, Manuel. Libro de cocina: estilo campechano. Campeche, 1925.
    • The earliest Campeche cookbook in the Mexican Cookbook Collection, Libro de cocina was published in 1925 with the intent of teaching anyone how to cook. Recipes include sopa de camarones, mondongo en puchero, and cazón a la campechana. 
  • Rendón de García, Hortensia. Antiguo manual de cocina yucateca: fórmulas para condimentar los platos más usuales en la península. Tomos I, II, y III, refundidos con numerosas adiciones y reformas. 6. ed. Mérida, Yucatán, México: Compañía Tipográfica Yucateca, 1926.
    • The earliest Yucatan book in the Mexican Cookbook Collection, Antiguo manual de cocina yucateca was published in 1926 in Mérida. UTSA’s copy is the 6th edition and combines all three original volumes into a single book. Recipes include arroz con ostiones, robalo en crema, and estofado Yucateca. 
  • Sosa de Zapata, Adda. Libro práctico de gustadas recetas de cocina yucateca e internacional. México 15, D.F., 1935.
    • Sosa de Zapata’s Libro práctico de gustadas recetas de cocina yucateca e internacional was published in Mexico City in 1935. It presents Yucatecan recipes for soups, stews, sauces, salads, sweets, breads, as well as egg, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood dishes. The international recipes include syrups and Arab dishes. 
  • Lavalle de Hernández M., Faustina. La exquisita cocina de Campeche: 400 recetas experimentadas. México: Imprenta “Londres,” 1939.
    • The second earliest Campeche title in the Mexican Cookbook Collection features a staggering 400 recipes, including pan de cazón, pulpo en su tinto, and tamales de pámpano. 
  • México: tierra de antojitos. México, D. F.?: [publisher not identified], 1950.
    • This small booklet of recipes is arranged by regions: México, Guadalajara, Veracruz, Puebla, El Norte, Yucatán. 
  • Novo, Salvador and Alberto Beltrán. Las senadoras suelen guisar. 1a. ed. [Mexico City?], México: Instituto Nacional de Protección a la Infancia, 1964.
    • Alberto Beltrán’s 1964 cookbook features more than 300 recipes from 28 states in Mexico as well as delightful illustrations by Alberto Beltrán. 
  • Diana Kennedy Papers, MS 512, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections.
    • The eight folders and four binders selected contain Diana Kennedy’s research on Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatán. The research materials date from 1969-2003, but also includes many undated items.     
  • León de Gutiérrez, Luz and José Díaz Bolio. El libro de los guisos de chaya. Segundo volumen, Chaya, planta maravillosa: alimenticia y medicinal. Mérida, Yucatán, Méjico: Area Mayan, 1974.
    • This book of stews also serves as an ethnobotanical chronicle of chaya, or tree spinach. Cooking this plant is essential as it contains a high content of hydrocyanic acid, which is toxic, and must be cooked out. 
  • Díaz Bolio, José. El libro de los guisos de maíz: (cocina jach yucateca). Mérida, Yucatán, México: Editorial Area Maya, 1985.
    • José Díaz Bolio’s collection of Maya corn-based recipes. 
  • Marks, Copeland. False Tongues and Sunday Bread: a Guatemalan and Mayan Cookbook. New York, N.Y: Donald I. Fine, 1985.
    • Copeland Marks’ cookbook collects 300 Maya recipes from Guatemala. 
  • Gerlach, Nancy and Jeffrey Gerlach. Foods of the Maya: a Taste of the Yucatan. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1994.
    • This title represents years of travel and research on the part of its authors. In addition to recipes like pompano tamales, shrimp enchiladas, and candied sweet papaya, Foods of the Maya includes cooking tips and techniques as well as a glossary of terms. 
  • Hamman, Cherry. Mayan Cooking: Recipes from the Sun Kingdoms of Mexico. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1998.
    • Within this title, Hamman includes 200 recipes, including piquant chili spice paste, empanadas de platano, joroches de chaya, pebre, and xka bi kuum. In addition to recipes, Mayan Cooking also describes the traditions in the remote Yucatecan village Acabchen, where the food is prepared with care and first presented to the gods. 
  • Ferrer García, José C. Recetario maya de Quintana Roo. 1. ed. en la Colección Cocina indígena y popular. México, D.F: CONACULTA, 1999.
    • Ferrer Garcia’s CONACULTA-published book focuses on Maya food in Quintana Roo, specifically beverages, meals, as well as Holbox island foods. Recipes include buut negro de caracol, albóndiga de lisa, chilmole de bagre, and tzacol de langosta y empanadas de raya. 
  • Maldonado Castro, Roberto. Recetario maya del estado de Yucatán. 1. ed. México: CONACULTA, 2000.
    • CONACULTA was founded in 1988 as an effort to coordinate cultural and artistic policies, organizations, and agencies in Mexico. Part of their efforts has been focused on preserving Mexico’s culinary heritage by publishing cookbooks on each region’s cuisine. 
  • Hoyer, Daniel. Mayan Cuisine: Recipes from the Yucatan Region. 1st ed. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2008.
    • Hoyer’s book walks readers through the basics of Maya cuisine, such as recado as well as salpicón de venado, pavo en chilimole, and cochinita pibil. 
  • Sánchez, Ivonne, Estrada Lugo, Erin Ingrid Jane, and Té Saida, Velasco. Alimentos de los mayas de Quintana Roo, México. 1a ed. San Cristóbal de Las Casas, México: El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, 2012.
    • This cookbook reflects the peninsular Maya gastronomic world. 
  • Sterling, David. Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition. First edition. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2014.
    • This gastronomic tour of the Yucatán peninsula features more than 275 unique recipes from major cities and small towns alike. In addition to recipes, Sterling’s book includes recommended pantry staples, advice on measurements, as well as basic preparation techniques. 

The following set of pamphlets was published in Mérida, Yucatán between 1939-1949 by Dr. Narciso Souza Novelo and was donated by Michaele Haynes. Each pamphlet focuses on a specific Yucatán plant and describes local uses as well as Maya legends and traditions around its use. 

  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. El zicilte. Merida, Yucatán, México: Compania Tipografica Yucateca, S.A., 1939.
    • El zicilte, Jatropha curcas, is a flowering, semi-evergreen shrub that can reach heights of 6 feet or more. Its oil is used as a lubricant, in soaps and candles, and medicinally as a purgative or to treat edema. The toxic elements in le zicilte oil can be cooked out. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Pochote. Mérida, Yucatan, Mexico: “Impresora Popular,” 1939.
    • Pochote, Ceiba aesculifolia, is a deciduous tree that can grow to up to 82 feet. The name pochote is derived from the Nahuatl work “pochotl”. This pamphlet describes the cultivation of pochote as well as uses for the hairs of its fruits and seeds and its bark and wood. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Sábila o zábila. Mérida, Yucatán, México: Compañía Tipográfica Yucateca, S.A., 1940.
    • Aloe vera is known by many names, including sábila or zábila in Spanish; the Maya call this botanical Humpets’k’in-ki. Though originally from Africa, aloe vera has been cultivated across the world for its medicinal benefits. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Matzab-citám. Mérida: “Impresora Popular,” 1940.
    • Known to the Maya as matzab-citám, the Spanish needle, Bidens pilosa, is an annual species of herbaceous flowering plant. Matzab-citám is a member of the daisy family that can be found throughout the American tropics and is a favorite of butterflies. The Maya use this medicinal plant to treat an assortment of conditions, such as toothache and bronchitis, and as it is not poisonous, it is safe for consumption.  
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. K’anlol (planta medicinal). Mérida, Yucatán, México: “Henequeneros de Yucatán,” 1945.
    • This pamphlet details the medicinal uses of k’anlol or tecoma stans. Tecoma stans are a flowering perennial shrub native to the southwest of North America as well as throughout Central and South America. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Tsapa: leyenda maya. Mérida, Yuc: Imp. Oriente, 1945.
    • This pamphlet covers Itza Maya legends from the ancient city of Uxmal and describes some of the city’s animal inhabitants like frogs, turtles, and crickets. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. X-háil: leyenda maya. Mérida, Yuc., Méx: Imp. Oriente, 1946.
    • The X-hail flower comes in a wide variety of sizes and corolla colors. This book focuses on the Maya legend of dt lk’il-Ik, high priest and doctor for the Maya town Uxmal, and his daughters Sauink’-ux and Suyá. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Plantas utiles de Yucatan. Akits (campanilla amarilla). Mérida, Yuc: Talleres Gráficos y Editorial “Zamna,” 1946.
    • Akits is the Maya name for Thevetia, a flowering plant with poisonous seeds and secretions. The Maya used Akits to treat dental pain, fever, and ingested poison. The toxicity of Akits’ secretions can be neutralized with heat. The oils from the seeds are used as a lubricant and used in paint and soaps. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Ch’it-Kúuk: leyenda maya. Tercera edición. Mérida, Yuc: Editorial Yikal Maya Than, 1947.
    • This pamphlet details legends such as the founding of the Yucatec Maya town Peto, the love story of NIK-CHUIL and AH KECH, as well as how the plant the Maya named CH’IT-KUUK fits into these tales. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. Plantas utiles de Yucatan. Akits (campanilla amarilla). Mérida, Yuc: Talleres Gráficos y Editorial “Zamna,” 1946.
    • Akits is the Maya name for Thevetia, a flowering plant with poisonous seeds and secretions. The Maya used Akits to treat dental pain, fever, and ingested poison. The toxicity of Akits’ secretions can be neutralized with heat. The oils from the seeds are used as a lubricant and used in paint and soaps. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. El balché: leyenda maya. Mérida, Yuc: Impr. Oriente, 1946.
    • Balché is a fermented beverage composed of bark from a lilac tree, Lonchocarpus violaceus, steeped in honey water and fermented. This pamphlet describes the Maya legend of the lovers WAY-KOL and SAK-NIKTE’ and how they came upon this beverage. 
  • Souza Novelo, Narciso. La X-tabay: leyenda maya, inédita. Mérida, Yuc: [Tall. Gráficos y Editorial “Zamana”], 1949.
    • This pamphlet details the legend of the Maya princess Suluay and the sorceress. The sorceress is referred to as the X-pulyaah. X-tabay refers to an apparition of a young woman who appears in Yucatán who seduces young men. 

The following cookbooks were written and published by TV chef, radio host, publisher, author, and teacher, Josefina Velázquez de León. Velázquez de León was one of the earliest writers researching regional Mexican cuisines. Throughout her career, Velázquez de León visited at least 16 states to teach classes and collect local recipes and she would even credit the recipe authors in the subsequent regional cookbooks. 

  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Platillos regionales de la República Mexicana. 1. ed. México, D.F: Ediciones J. Velázquez de León, 1946. 
    • Platillos regionales de la República Mexicana features recipes from 29 states, many including indigenous ingredients like achiote, agave, cacahuazintle, chipilín, expelon, jocoqui, nopales, tequesquite, and xoconoxtles. 
  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Mexican Cook Book Devoted to the American Homes: Recipes of Mexican Cookery of Each Region of the Mexican Country, Adopting Its Ingredients, to the Elements That Can Be Substituted in the Northern Part of the United States, Central Republic and South America, Written in Two Languages: English and Spanish. Mexico City: [Escuela de Cocina “Velázquez de León”], 68 Abraham Gonzalez Street, 1947.
    • This is Velázquez de León’s sole bilingual cookbook, first published in 1947 followed by at least 11 later editions. Mexican Cook Book Devoted to the American Homes was translated by Concepción Silva Garcia and illustrated by Guadalupe Mutiozabal Velazquez de León. In addition to recipes, this book includes instructional sections on preparation methods as well as ingredients. 
  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Cocina de Campeche: selección de las principales recetas regionales, de cocina y repostería campechana, experimentadas y garantizadas por la Academia de Cocina Velázquez de León. 1. ed. México, D.F: Ediciones J. Velázquez de León, 1953.
    • Cocina de Campeche features a selection of regional recipes, including recipes containing expelon, ibes, pavo de monte, and pepita de calabaza. 
  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Cocina yucateca. 2. ed. México, D.F: [Academia de Cocina Velázquez de León], 1955.
    • Cocina yucateca features a selection of regional recipes, including recipes containing el cazón, epazote, and expelon. 
  • Velázquez de León, Josefina. Cocina de América: selección de las principales recetas de cocina regionales de las 24 naciones de América ; recetas de los mejores platillos de cocina y repostería de los 30 estados de la República Mexicana. 1a. ed. México, D.F: Ediciones J. Velázquez de Léon, n.d.
    • Cocina de América features recipes of the best cooking and pastry dishes of the 24 countries in the Americas and the 30 states of the Mexican Republic. The recipes in this book were provided by Velázquez de León’s cooking class students. Also included are cakes decorated with the shield of each country. 

Announcing the Sterling Houston Festival!

May 27, 2022

Special Collections is proud to be a participant and partner in the inaugural Sterling Houston Festival taking place June 4 – June 19, 2022, at various venues throughout San Antonio. The Festival will include performances of Houston’s plays, workshops, panels, social events, and a week-long playwriting camp for teens. Special Collections will curate special pop-up exhibits of material from Sterling Houston’s archives throughout the two-week festival. The Sterling Houston Papers, housed at UTSA Special Collections, document Houston’s involvement in San Antonio theater through his scripts, screenplays, programs, and press materials. Also included are correspondence, research materials, project files, photographs, and audiovisual materials.

Sterling Houston, Houston, TX 1998.

Sterling Houston (1945-2006) was an African American playwright, actor, author, and musician for more than thirty years. His work explored themes of Black and gay identity and gave voice to marginalized communities. Throughout his career, he wrote over thirty plays and four novels/novellas.

The organizations comprising the Sterling Houston Planning Collective are Carver Community Cultural Center, Creative Circuit Studios, Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Gemini Ink Writing Arts Center, Jump Start Performance Co., Magik Theatre, Teatro Anasi, The Classic Theatre, UTSA Libraries Special Collections and Urban-15.

The festival line-up includes:

June 4 at 7:00 pm–Carver Community Cultural Center: Opening reception and a performance of Black Lily/White Lily, one of Houston’s shorter plays examining racial and social inequities in the 1950’s. Immediately following the play, there will be a conversation with friend and creative collaborator, Steve Bailey, partner Arnold April, and Sterling’s brother, Gary Houston. The conversation will be moderated by writer Cary Clack. Visit www.thecarver.org for more information. The event is free and open to the public.

June 9 at 7:00 pm – Gemini Ink will present a dramatic reading of Black and Blue: 400 Years of Struggle and Transcendence at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. One of Houston’s seminal works chronicling the African American journey pairs historical figures and moments, words of Dr. Martin Luther King, vocals and music. After the reading, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A exploring the significance and impact of Houston and his body of work. Panelists include Dr. Sandra Mayo, Antoinette Winstead, Nan Cuba and Danielle King. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Charles Gentry. Visit Gemini Ink for more information. The event is free and open to the public.

June 11 at 7:00 pm – The Classic Theatre of San Antonio will produce TheatreNOW, a 24-hour play festival-within-the-festival, inspired by Sterling Houston’s participation with the Theatre ASAP project formerly hosted by San Antonio Theatre Coalition. TheatreNOW will engage close to 40 different artists to present 5 ten-minute plays that will be written, rehearsed, and presented to a live audience within one, fast-paced, 24-hour period. TheatreNOW will be held at Northeast Lakeview College Performing Arts Center at 1202 Kitty Hawk Rd, 78148. Please visit www.ClassicTheatre.org for more information and event reservations. The event is free and open to the public but requires registration.

June 13-17 – Magik Theatre will host a week-long playwriting camp for teens entitled “Myth, Magic, and Farce: The Vision of Sterling Houston”. Drawing upon themes and inspiration in Houston’s body of work, students will share their unique voices and stories through the creation of short, original pieces. Selected works will be showcased at pre-show readings prior to performances of Le Griffon. Camp runs June 13-17, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. Tuition is $300 per student. Scholarships are available. For more information or to register, visit http://www.magiktheatre.org.

June 17-18 at 8:00 pm, 3p.m. matinee June 19 – Jump Start Performance Company will mount a revival of Sterling Houston’s play Le Griffon. Based on Houston’s novella of the same title, Le Griffon is set in early 1800s New Orleans and reinterprets the classic tale of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. A “creature” is created by a white doctor using body parts from free and enslaved men of color. Steve Bailey, who directed the premiere of Le Griffon at Jump-Start Theatre in 2000, returns to San Antonio to direct and reimagine this feature production of the festival. Performances are at the Little Carver Theatre located at the Carver Community Cultural Center on June 17-19, 2022. Ticketing information and more detail available at http://www.jump-start.org.

Visit www.sterlinghoustonfestival.com to stay up-to-date on these featured events and other festival offerings.

Joan Suarez Collection of Farah Manufacturing Strike Materials, 1972-1990

May 9, 2022

Joan Suarez went to work for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America as an Education Director in 1962. Suarez arrived in St. Louis in 1964 where she met and married her husband, Joseph Suarez, and, in 1971 the union sent them to organize in Texas. A “wildcat walkout” at the Farah Manufacturing Company in the midst of an organizing campaign in 1972 escalated into a twenty-two month strike and boycott during which Suarez had the opportunity to put into action the community coalition building skills she had been teaching at central labor bodies in West Virginia a decade earlier. Farah workers, almost all of whom were first and second-generation Latino, succeeded in gaining union recognition and a collective bargaining contract in 1974.

In June 2021, UTSA Special Collections acquired materials from Joan Suarez including photographs, scrapbooks, print materials, and ephemera that depict labor organizing and actions in San Antonio, Texas and elsewhere.

Picketing in the hot sun, Farah workers demonstrated their commitment to their cause. Suarez collected and saved photographs in scrapbooks which trace the path of the strikes, labor meetings, and other events that brought attention to the plight of Farah workers across Texas. Individuals who crossed the picket lines were identified as “scabs.” The Farah strike was a family affair as illustrated in the photographs. Children accompanied parents to events and walked beside each other on the picket lines.

Buttons and pins in the collection encapsulate fights for change across labor organizations, community groups, and politics.

The inventory to the Joan Suarez Collection of Farah Manufacturing Site Materials can be found here:
https://txarchives.org/utsa/finding_aids/00442.xml

Other related items held by UTSA Special Collections include:

Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS)/Metro Alliance https://txarchives.org/utsa/finding_aids/00283.xml and Fuerza Unida records https://txarchives.org/utsa/finding_aids/00440.xml

Other related material includes: Women at Farah: an unfinished story,

https://utsa.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01UTXSANT_INST/k74a8h/alma9938532080604621 and The People vs. Willie Farah, 1973 film held at Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) https://texasarchive.org/2011_02871

Photographs of Los Voladores de Papantla at HemisFair’68 added to the General Photograph Collection

April 22, 2022

Special Collections recently acquired photographs by San Antonio CPA and hobbyist photographer James F. Bartlett (1920-2004), gift of Gerron Hite.  Bartlett made the photographic prints, dating from the 1960s and 1970s, in his darkroom.  Subjects include the missions and other local tourist sites, North Star Mall, and HemisFair’68.  Of special interest is a series of images of the performance of Los Voladores de Papantla at HemisFair’68.

Totonac men from Papantla, Veracruz, Mexico, performed the ancient Mesoamerican Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers) as part of the Frito-Lay / Pepsi-Cola entry at the fair.  The ritual took place in an amphitheater with a 410-foot pole from which four of the participants, with ropes tied to themselves, descended headfirst to the ground in a ceremony created to appease the gods and bring rain.  In addition to Los Voladores, there was a reenactment of an Aztec ritual human sacrifice by another group.

Jose Villanueva de la Cruz, el caporal (chief) of
Los Voladores de Papantla, with the flute and small
drum he used while dancing on top of the pole.  (122-0050-01)

The Frito-Lay / Pepsi-Cola “Aztec Amphitheater” as seen from the Tower of the Americas. 
(122-0049-04)
Voladores, wearing embroidered Totonac clothing with intricate symbols and sun headdresses, perform a dance to bless their flight before four of them and the chief climb the pole. 
(122-0051-01)
One of the voladores climbs to the top of the pole (122-0051-02)
As the captain performs the “Son del Vuelo” (Flight Song) at the top of the pole, four voladores, with one foot tied to a rope and another around their waist, prepare to jump backward in unison to begin their descent.  (122-0051-03)

The voladores spin round and round to the ground in a representation of the
recreation of the world and regeneration of life (122-0051-04) 
Other Papantla dancers give thanks for the safe return of the flying men by
creating a human whirlwind on pinwheel spokes (122-0051-14)

Reenactment of an Aztec sacrifice of a maiden princess following the
Danza de Los Voladores de Papantla. (122-0052-07)

Reenactor in Aztec inspired costume.  (122-0052-10)

Sanborn Maps of San Antonio at the Institute of Texan Cultures

February 9, 2022
Set of Sanborn maps in the ITC Reading Room

UTSA Special Collections is home to millions of items, including maps by the biggest name in U.S. fire insurance maps: the Sanborn Map Company. Founded in 1867 by D. A. Sanborn, the Sanborn Map Company produced detailed maps of around 12,000 U.S. cities and towns. The bound volumes of Sanborn San Antonio fire insurance maps held by UTSA Special Collections were originally published in 1924 and 1952, but each volume was also revised as San Antonio was developed and altered. These hand-colored maps show industrial, commercial, and non-commercial buildings as well as:

  • building entry points
  • dwellings
  • fire fighting facilities
  • property boundaries
  • roof type
  • street widths and names
  • water

Sanborn maps are available digitally, both online via resources like ProQuest’s library database Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867–1970 and the Library of Congress digital Sanborn maps collection as well as offline via the computers in our Reading Room at the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC). The latter digital files were created via a 2017 San Antonio Conservation Society grant-funded effort to digitize the Sanborn map holdings across San Antonio, specifically those at:

The Sanborn Map Company published San Antonio fire insurance maps from 1877-1971, all of which are represented in this digitization effort. Michael Carroll and his assistant Jessica Mitchell were tasked with creating digital surrogates of approximately 10,000 maps during the spring and summer in 2018. At 21″ x 25″, the 1924 volumes are quite large, so digital surrogates can be easier to browse than the analog materials. UTSA’s San Antonio Sanborn maps digitization project also includes a master index of every address represented in these scans and in which maps they appear.

Digital scans do not capture all of the information present in a physical object, so visitors to the ITC Reading Room have the benefit of access to both physical and digital Sanborn maps. With ITC’s neighbor, UTSA’s downtown campus, specializing in programs like architecture and urban planning, Special Collections keeps these volumes accessible for researchers who will appreciate all these maps have to offer. Exciting details in these books can include periodic corrections as well as surprises like the below poster advertising this Olmos Park development.

1920s advertisement for Olmos Park Estates pasted into a 1924 Sanborn maps volume

Corrections in these bound volumes can span decades and the city of San Antonio changed many times over that period. A single city block on a Sanborn map can have six corrections pasted over it in its lifetime. Researchers are able to use this information to learn about the history of new construction, street name changes, as well as neighborhood developments.

This wealth of resources on the history of San Antonio’s development will inform researchers for years to come. Whether users are looking for the names of businesses that inhabited an address or the lists of original Olmos Park and Terrell Hills property owners that are pasted on the endpapers of one volume, these maps have something for everyone. To visit UTSA’s Sanborn maps in person, be sure to set up an appointment for ITC’s Reading Room.

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