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.
Beginning Spring 2015, UTSA Special Collections has installed new exhibits in the John Peace Library reading room. Each exhibit represents a different unit within Special Collections: City of San Antonio (Photograph Collections), Southwestern Chromolithographs (Rare Books), Eugene Whitmore Collection (Manuscripts), and the Gil Barrera Collection (University Archives).
Photograph Collections Highlight Bird’s-Eye Views of San Antonio
From 1884-1940, this photograph collection illustrates the progression of downtown San Antonio’s growth. Each photograph captures iconic streets, buildings, and architecture unique to San Antonio. A Bird’s-Eye View of San Antonio allows the viewer to see the changes in the downtown area of San Antonio.This exhibit showcases the vast array of photographs available through UTSA Special Collections.
Picturesque Southwest. Chromolithographs of the Southwestern U.S. Compliments of the Missouri Pacific Railway Passenger Department. Ca. 1870.
The expansion of railroads revolutionized American life in the mid-19th century, largely replacing stagecoaches and canals as the dominant modes of transportation and supporting economic growth in the West. Additionally, railroads facilitated and encouraged the rise of leisure travel. Railway companies published numerous viewbooks and travel accounts to advertise the natural, cultural, and economic attractions of their routes. Picturesque Southwest. 78 Chromolithographs of the Southwestern U.S. is a particularly lavish example of this type of publication, and somewhat unusual in that it includes images provided by several different companies.
Picturesque Southwest features chromolithograph plates of scenes in Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, and Mexico: 29 of the views are provided by the International & Great Northern Railroad, 9 are provided by the Texas & Railroad, 9 are provided by the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad, 1 is provided by the St. Louis, Ft. Scott & Wichita Railroad, and 14 views of Mexico are provided with no mention of a railroad affiliation.
Views of Texas in the portfolio include scenes around San Antonio, the Sierra Blanco Mountains, Colorado, Texas, the area around Waco, the Colorado River near Austin, a cattle ranch in Brushy Creek, a view from Cedar Mountain, Galveston Bay, bird hunting in Houston, Fort Bliss, and many more. A selection of the views that chronicle what a rail traveler through Texas in the 1870’s might have enjoyed are on display in the JPL reading room.
Historic San Antonio: The Mission City
In 1941, Eugene Whitmore completed a manuscript draft with the working title of Historic San Antonio: The Mission City. As stated in the foreword, his intent was to “capture in print only a partial record of San Antonio, emphasizing the old, the historic, and the unusual features of the modern city which set it apart and give it an atmosphere and individuality found in no other city on this continent.”
Special Collections acquired the Eugene Whitmore Collection in March 2011. The collection consists of 11 chapters on historic San Antonio landmarks, as well as, 29 black and white photographs depicting the landmarks.
UTSA’s Library: Scenes of the Early Years, 1973-1975
UTSA’s earliest students and librarians had their first dedicated library space at the Koger Center’s Goliad Building. This area provided space for department offices, a library reading room, and limited circulation materials while construction was ongoing at the permanent campus. This exhibit showcases the various places and spaces the Library called home as students and staff anxiously awaited the completion of what would be the John Peace Library.
Photographs come from the Gil Barrera Photographs of the University of Texas at San Antonio (MS 27); publications are from the UTSA Office of University Communications Publications Collection (UA 1.02).
Carlos Cortéz has been working at Special Collections for eight months. Before working at UTSA Libraries Special Collections, he began his academic career at Palo Alto College and then transferred to UTSA where he double majored in History and Physics. Carlos decided to work on his History degree first and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from UTSA where he concentrated on European history, particularly the history of Spain. As an undergraduate his research seminar paper was on Late Roman/Medieval Spain and as graduate student focused on the Spanish Civil War. He did support work in Anthropology with an emphasis on Mayan archaeology. Carlos’ studies in Spanish history lead him to study the history of the Spanish language and the history of colonial Texas and San Antonio. Fascination with Spanish history and culture motivated Carlos to travel to Spain where he visited Madrid and Toledo.
Carlos’ experience at Special Collections began as a graduate student. As a work-study, he had the opportunity to learn from the rare books librarian, university archivist, and photo curator, Tom Shelton. It was during this time he learned how archives worked. Carlos was involved on various projects, such as digitization, basic preservation, translation, and organizing the Zintgraff and The Texas Folk Life Festival collections.
As a Library Assistant II, Carlos works mostly with the massive photograph collection processing photo orders for customers and helping patrons with their research in the Special Collections reading room located at the Institute of Texan Cultures. When not at Special Collections, Carlos can be found working out at the gym. He enjoys watching movies, painting, reading, traveling, sports and taking selfies. He writes short stories and is currently working on a novel and hopes to become a published author.
Will Kell is the new Library Assistant II in Special Collections at the John Peace Library. He is a graduate student in the history program at UTSA and his area of interest is in Latin American history, primarily Guatemala during the Ríos Montt administration. Will is working on a master’s thesis entitled “Heavenly Discourse: FUNDAPI and Guatemala’s Attempt to Change Public Perception.” His thesis examines the relationship between the non-governmental organization Fundación de Ayuda al Pueblo Indígena (FUNDAPI) and Ríos Montt. Will has conducted research at the Tulane University Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the University of Texas at Austin Benson Latin America Collection, the Archivo General de Centro América, and the Biblioteca Nacional de Guatemala. Additionally, Will conducted several interviews throughout Guatemala. Aside from school and his research, he enjoys reading, writing, running, and traveling. He looks forward to working in Special Collections and assisting the scholarly community.
Celebrities have entertained audiences since the early days of the annual livestock show and rodeo. In recent times, about 20 different entertainers come for one or two shows. During the first few years, only a couple of well-known performers were featured. These hardy individuals would usually stay throughout the event, participating in a variety of ancillary activities: a public welcoming ceremony at the airport, the western parade, presentation of the livestock winners, receptions– and visits to schools and hospitals between formal events.
These are photographs from the Zintgraff Studio Collection (MS 355) that provide glimpses of those celebrity visits from the 1950s through the 1970s.