Once again during Fiesta San Antonio we present photographs of a former Fiesta event. The Trades Display Parade was a regular feature during most of the annual celebrations from 1900 to 1949. The parade was an opportunity for local merchants and manufacturers to display their products. City leaders and Fiesta officials saw the parade as a way to showcase San Antonio’s business and industrial expansion. Nearly all sizable businesses entered a vehicle or float, sometimes lavishly decorated. Participants would often distribute literature and miniature products to the crowds lining the streets. News articles describe the parade as comparable to the Battle of Flowers Parade in terms of the number of entries and attendance.
In 1948 an illuminated parade, soon to be named Fiesta Flambeau, was added to the Fiesta calendar. It was an immediate success. Two years later, the Fiesta Association decided that it was not practical to have three large street parades. The Trades Display Parade was cancelled and merged into the commercial section of the more popular Fiesta Flambeau.
Rare Books: 2 Titles
- Perspectives on women’s archives / edited by Tanya Zanish-Belcher, with Anke Voss. Chicago, Illinois : Society of American Archivists, 
- Rights in the digital era / edited by Menzi L. Behrnd-Klodt and Christopher J. Prom ; with an introduction by Peter B. Hirtle. Chicago : Society of American Archivists, 
On May 23, 1853, Alfred Giles was born in Hillingdon, Middlesex, England. Giles finished school at the age of 17 and began an appreticeship with the architectural firm Giles and Bivens in London. After his apprenticeship, Giles immigrated to the United States and settled in Texas. By 1876, Giles had established his own firm in San Antonio, Texas and Monterrey, Mexico. Over the years, Giles produced designs for over 90 structures. In 1881, Giles married Annie Laura James; they raised 8 children in their Hillingdon Ranch, near Comfort, Texas where Alfred resided until his death in 1920.
The Alfred Giles Family Papers contain artwork, essays, correspondence, personal notes, diaries, and other personal items. Artistic exchanges between Alfred and Laura Giles illustrate the strong, common bond between the couple.
Nature, the homestead, and the beauty of Texas played prominent roles in the Giles’ artwork.
Personal correspondence between Alfred Giles, his family, and friends are prominent in the collection.
Letters from Alfred Giles to Laura Giles:
Letters from Alfred Giles to his daughters:
Letters from Alfred Giles to Mrs. Albert Maverick detailing the struggle of his wife’s death:
Letters from Alfred Giles to Palmer Giles checking on him while he attends MIT:
Letter from Alfred Giles regarding his buggy:
The Alfred Giles Family Papers help researchers understand the daily activities of a prominent family in San Antonio. Furthermore, the collection illustrates the domestic and international connections of the time. While Alfred Giles lived and worked in San Antonio, he conducted business in Monterrey as well. His affairs in Monterrey brought him face-to-face with the Mexican Revolution. In a letter to Milby Giles, Alfred Giles voices his concern over the Revolution.
Researchers are granted access to the world as seen through the eyes of the Giles Family. From letters to yearbooks, the Giles Family Papers illuminate the 19th and 20th centuries through the multiple perspectives of an influential San Antonio family.
The Alfred Giles Family Papers are housed on UTSA’s main campus and can be accessed in the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room. To view the materials, submit a request to access a collection.
Gene Elder, local artist and activist, donated 21 volumes of his journals to UTSA Special Collections in 2014. The journals span three decades, beginning with 1970s and continuing through the 1990s. Elder explains his reasons for creating the journals:
I started keeping these after I was the manager and part owner with Arthur Veltman of the gay disco, San Antonio Country, in 1974. They are really as much about the art community and gay concerns in San Antonio as about my thoughts on these matters. My writings are interspersed with collages of art notices and pictures. I also kept an ongoing history of the gay movement in the United Sates. . . . I collected art invitations from a lot of artists and galleries. It isn’t just my own history. . . . art events and gay civil rights were so interwoven in my life.
Elder, seen in these photographs at the Happy Foundation GLBT Archives where he serves as Archivist, assembled a unique chronicle of many aspects of his life including his activism and passion for art. Gene’s love of collecting is evident in his journals which contain original artwork, invitations, exhibit cards, slides, photographs, clippings, personal papers, and correspondence. Nestled among these many treasures are narratives by Elder which provide context for events and items preserved on the pages.
Journal pages often have multiple layers as is evident in the example below. Poetry and prose from Elder’s friends abound.
In addition to his journals, Elder donated many personal photographs chronicling the days of his youth through his adult years. Glimpsing into Elder’s past through images, one can detect that his artistic aspirations were quite apparent even in his youth. Who knew Gene concocted the idea for the Wedding Cake Liberation Front at the tender age of four . . . so creative for one so young! It may have taken him several decades to see his vision for this tasty art meets activism creation become reality, but the wait was worth it. Elder explains:
The wedding cake has become the chosen method of protest by the action-packed, thrill-seeking GayBLTQDFI? communities to stop the anti-gay marriage amendments plaguing America. Never has a battle tasted so good or a wedding cake been so fierce.
Gene Elder can be reached at email@example.com.
Readers who follow our University Archives Twitter account, @UTSA Yesterday, may have seen a tweet earlier this year that came from a January 1978 press release about UTSA history students completing a 2 year cataloging project at the Bexar County Election Center. Below is more information about this unique endeavor and the impact it has had on Bexar County public records.
The project spanned 4 semesters of Texas history courses, in which undergraduates took part in the inventory as their class assignment. History professors supervising the project included Dr. Félix D. Almaráz, Jr., the project’s director, and Dr. Lionel V. Patenaude. The Bexar County Historical Commission sponsored the project.
At that point in time, there was no reference file for the public records held by Bexar County. The purpose of the project, according to Dr. Almaráz’ comments in this article in the May 1977 issue of UTSA’s Bulletin newsletter, was “to find out what is available in what condition and where.” Students worked 20 hours a week, sorting through shelves and stacks of bound volumes—which included deeds, contracts, cattle brand registrations, court cases and tax records—dating from the early Republic period to the early 20th century. Working carefully in often dusty environments, students noted the condition of the bound volumes, measured them, and recorded the title and information about the volume and its place among related records.
By the end of the project, students had helped inventory over 10,000 volumes of Bexar County records. But benefits went beyond the inventory. Dr. Almaráz commented to Bulletin staff that he felt this project was important because all history students should be familiar with archives. “Some students go all the way through graduate school and don’t even know what an archive is,” he said. “It’s important to know the material out of which history is written.”
Inventory sheets were sent to the Texas State Library (now the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, or TSLAC) for inclusion in the state’s registry. Later, selected volumes were microfilmed and the film has been available at the TSLAC for research.
Currently, these historical records are stored in the Bexar County Spanish Archives, an advanced archival facility that opened in 2006 (read this press release for more information). The Spanish Archives are housed in the Bexar County Courthouse. The reading room is open to the public for research Monday – Friday, 1-5 PM, and mornings by special appointment.
- MS 428 Elder (Gene) papers, .5 linear feet of articles, artwork, handmade paper journal, correspondence, cds (videos of SALGA meetings, Blue Birds of Happiness interviews, Cornyation)
- Papers of Faculty and Staff: Davis, Dewey and Ruth, 2 linear feet of Photographs and memorabilia documenting the involvement of Professor Dewey D. Davis and Ruth M. Davis with UTSA.
Rare Books: 19 Titles [February Title List]
A collection of vegetarian Mexican cuisine recipes. The recipe section is preceded by two sections devoted to general aspects of diet and nutrition, dietary advice for children and youth, and medical recommendations.
During this Women’s History Month, we show photographs of some of the local women who contributed to the field of music during the period after World War I through the 1940s. These women shared their musical talents through various activities, from classical music performances to radio broadcasting. Some are remembered only by the local community. Others achieved international fame and their recordings are still commercially available.
These photographs, from our San Antonio Light Photograph Collection (MS 359), were all taken by the newspaper’s staff photographers.