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Nineteenth Century Studio Portraits Donated to Special Collections

May 17, 2019

Special Collections recently received a gift of mid to late nineteenth century portraits representing the work of 21 Texas studios.  The prints, mounted on cardstock, are in the popular forms of presentation at that time, either carte de visite (4 ¼ x 2 ½ inches) or cabinet card (4 ½ x 6 ¼ inches).  Most are albumen prints, but a few are gelatin silver prints.  Many of the reverse sides include the photographer’s logo and an advertisement for the studio.  These card photographs were often displayed in albums in the family parlor and extra copies were traded among friends and relatives.  The photographs, a gift from Mary Eck, are mostly of unknown subjects who were friends of the Creaton, Eck, Hoffstetter, and Sutor families in Austin.

The images provide information about both the photographer and the subjects.  We see the hair styles and clothing, probably their “Sunday-best,” worn by middle class Texans during those decades.  Likewise, we see the way photographers positioned their subjects in idealized environments among painted backdrops that were conveniently rolled into place. [1]

These are a few examples of the photographs.


Albumen carte de visite by William James Oliphant (1845-1930), who operated a studio in Austin from 1866 until 1880. The photograph, taken around the late 1860s, shows girls wearing identical dresses and similar pantalettes. (119-0003-01)




Albumen cartes de visite by Mrs. Martin, late 1860s. Although she placed an ad in an Austin newspaper in 1868, her full name is unknown. (119-0002)

Albumen cartes de visite by George Schuwirth (1843-1906), a native of Hesse, Germany, who operated a studio in Austin from the late 1870s to the early 1900s. These composite images have a backstamp with cherub and camera, a common motif in studio logos in the 1870s and 1880s. (119-0006)

Albumen carte de visite by Samuel B. Hill (1840-1917). Hill gained notoriety for his photographs of the fire that destroyed the State Capitol in 1881 and he incorporated an engraving of one of them in his logo. (119-0012)

Albumen cabinet cards by Samuel B. Hill. These double portraits of men, taken in the 1880s, have the studio name in the lower margins, but no backstamps. (119-0013)

Albumen cabinet cards by Harvey R. Marx (1821-1902), who had a studio in Austin from about 1870 until shortly before his death. These portraits, from the 1880s, show some of the picturesque hats worn by both younger and older women at that time. (119-0015)

Albumen cabinet card by Maximillian T. Jesse (1842-1929), who was born in Russia. The portrait of “Daisy” wearing a velvet bonnet was taken about 1888, based on the various locations of Jesse’s studio in the San Antonio City Directories. (119-0030)

Albumen cabinet cards by F. G. Mills, with studio in Bastrop.  The subjects are Celestine Prokop Schuelke and her twins, Olive and Frank Schuelke, born in 1889.  No advertisements or other information about the studio has been located.  (119-0023)

Albumen cabinet card by David P. Barr (1839-1925), who operated a studio in San Antonio from about 1880 until the early 1920s. The subject, wearing knickerbockers with cap on the floor beside him, is posed with a cane that is probably a studio prop.


[1] For information about Texas photographers see Haynes, David.  Catching Shadows:  A Directory of 19th Century Texas Photographers.  Austin:  Texas State Historical Association, 1993.


Goodbye to Fellow Archivist and Good Friend, Gene Elder

May 3, 2019

On Sunday, April 28, 2019, artist and activist Gene Elder passed away quietly after a battle with cancer. The impact Gene had on San Antonio was profound in many ways. His artwork was multi-faceted, at times organic and flowing, at other times powerfully political. He challenged the status quo on a daily basis often dispatching missives to the local paper. For those of us on Gene’s email listserv, daily updates came from Gene on multitude of issues, items of interest, and his thoughts on pretty much everything. We will probably continue to receive emails from Gene from the other side. 

For me, Gene’s most compelling contribution to San Antonio is the Happy Foundation Archives. I served as an intern at the archives in fall of 2009 and collaborated with Gene on projects over the course of the last 10 years. 


Gene taught me how important it is to collect and preserve our LGBTQ history. For four decades, he amassed an invaluable collection of materials that are of great importance to researchers as well as local community members. Thanks to Gene, I came to work at UTSA Special Collections and as an Assistant Archivist, I am able to carry on his work by collecting and preserving queer history for San Antonio and South Texas.

I am honored to be one of seven people Gene selected to serve on a committee dedicated to the continuation of the Happy Foundation Archives. We will strive to continue his legacy and ensure that the rich archival treasures Gene cared for will be preserved and accessible for research as he intended.

For more information on Gene Elder, please visit the online guide for the Gene Elder papers. His papers can be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections Reading Room after submitting a visit request form.

Related posts: San Antonio Artist and Activist Donated Journals to UTSA Special Collections, New Exhibits in Special Collections, LGBTQ Pride Month-Remembering Queer Activism in San Antonio, 1978, San Antonio LGBTQ Publications now online

A Month in Special Collections: March

April 8, 2019

Please click on the image below to enlarge and access links:

A Day of Fools and Fun

April 1, 2019

No jokes or hoaxes here! However, in the spirit of April Fool’s Day we are delighted to share these images of whimsy, mischief, tomfoolery, and fun from the archives.


“Human fly” Babe White hanging from balcony of the Bexar County Courthouse overlooking Main Plaza, 1925. (L-0238-A, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359)


Buster and Sissie, chimpanzees named for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s grandchildren, posed with Paramount newsreel camera at the Brackenridge Park Zoo, 1934. (L-0196-A, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359)


Boots Eckles and a cucumber “with every appearance of being a real snake” from a Bexar County farm near Martinez, Texas, 1928. (L-1039-C, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359)


A. W. Koenig, a slingshot expert from La Grange, TX, poses with part of his collection, 1948. (L-2438-A, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359)


Andrew Boss, Jr., with two young skunks who are eating an ice-cream cone, 1948. (L-3611-P, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359)


Wedding engagement photo of the two Verstuyft sisters who will marry the twin Aelvoet brothers, 1948. (L-3624-F, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359)


Bill Kimbrel feeding his pet alligator, 1948. (L-3681-A, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359)

Z-0673-I-05 copy

Human in gorilla suit looking at gorilla in cage at the San Antonio Zoo, 1940. (Z-0673-I-05, Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, MS 355)


Actors from the motion picture “Its a Joke, Son.” Jimmy Cross and Steve Brody sip coffee. Peggy Ryan, Dorothy Douglas and Lois Andrews (L-R) chat, 1947. (L-3347-A, San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359)

You can view these images and others like it in UTSA Special Collections’ online photo exhibit celebrating San Antonio’s Tricentennial: La Puerta, and in our digital collections.

Introducing our new Public Services and Outreach Archivist, Moira Mackay

March 25, 2019

We are excited to introduce our new Public Services and Outreach Archivist, Moira Mackay. Moira is responsible for managing and directing all aspects of Special Collections’ reading room and reference services, curating virtual and physical exhibits, assisting with tours and outreach events, and providing instruction support.

MoiraHSHello! I am thrilled to begin work here at Special Collections and honored to be joining the UTSA community. I hope in my new position as the public services and outreach archivist that I can continue to integrate Special Collections into the UTSA and South Texas community. I am eager to see how our collections can be applied to innovative research with the help of social media and excellent reference service. 

From Juniata College in Pennsylvania, I received a dual B.A. in Museum Studies and History, skills I can put to good use in promoting collections through exhibition. I received my MLIS in Archives Management and an M.A. in History from Simmons College in Boston. My historical focus has largely been on women’s studies in the 1860s and the 1960s with an emphasis on civil rights and grassroots organizing. My M.A. thesis involved several oral histories with a radical feminist group in Cambridge, MA. I worked at a number of institutions in the Boston area including the French Cultural Center, the Schlesinger Library and Cambridge Public Library where I did mostly reference and research work with Special Collections. My most recent position was with the Harvard Coop bookstore, where I worked with much newer materials and their social media.  

I am excited to return to the dynamic world of archives and special collections here at UTSA and eager to begin work. I am fortunate to have this opportunity to promote and open up such important and fascinating collections.  

Book Additions

March 18, 2019

Even though the focus of the Special Collections Library is Texas history and culture, other subjects are added to complement and support the current collection.  Here are a few of the latest acquisitions on Spanish colonial history.  The books are non-circulating but can be read in the Special Collections reading room located at the Institute of Texan Cultures.

Hernan Cortes: Letters from Mexico, Translated and edited by A. R. Pagden.

Friar Bringas Reports To The King: Methods of Indoctrination on the Frontier of New Spain, 1796-97, Translated and Edited by Daniel S. Matson and Bernard L. Fontana.













Pintura Colonial en Mexico by Manuel Toussaint.

Estado general de las fundaciones hechas por D. José de Escandón en la colonía del Nuevo Santander. Tomo l y ll.












The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519-1810 by Charles Gibson.

Justice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aides of the Half-Real by Woodrow Borah.












Conquest of New Spain: 1585 Revision, Translated by Howard F. Cline.

Los Cuatro Viajes de Colon y las Islas Canarias (1492-1502) by Antonio Tejera Gaspar.


“Viva Max!” in San Antonio

March 11, 2019

Looking back 50 years, the filming of “Viva Max!” in downtown San Antonio was the big event of 1969.  The comedic film tells the story of an eccentric Mexican general who, in an attempt to impress his girlfriend, marches his army north to retake the Alamo.  The Commonwealth United Entertainment movie was based on a novel by Jim Lehrer, journalist and former resident of San Antonio. The production crew arrived in the city in early March, establishing their headquarters in El Tropicano Hotel.  From there they traveled first to a rural area near Laredo and then to Von Ormy before shooting the main scenes in San Antonio.

The movie was controversial from the beginning.  In December 1967, producer Mark Carliner announced that the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, custodians of the Alamo, refused to allow filming on the Alamo grounds.   The DRT officers felt that the comedy was a desecration of the heroes of the Alamo.  Consequently, the company constructed a replica of the Alamo interior and courtyard at Cinecitta Studios in Rome.  The City of San Antonio allowed filming on city property outside the Alamo.  After completion, Mexican officials barred the movie in Mexico.

Nevertheless, the San Antonio establishment considered the film a success for the city.   It gave the city national publicity and added about a million dollars to the local economy.  At the release of the movie in December of 1969, an appreciative city organized a multi-event world premiere.

These are a few of the images related to the movie in our San Antonio Express-News and San Antonio Light photograph collections


Publicity photo with Peter Ustinov (in the lead role of General Maximilian Rodrigues De Santos) and Pamela Tiffin (as Alamo gift shop clerk Paula Whitland), April 1969. (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-068-B-3-1)















Singer Rosita Fernandez is among the local celebrities welcoming Peter Ustinov to the city at a gala reception at the airport, March 5, 1969. (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-042-41)

Local men who responded to the invitation for “military-type” males to portray soldiers at a casting session in HemisFair Plaza, March 4, 1969. (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-040-14)

Director Jerry Paris, wearing a recently acquired Texas hat, coaches those chosen for non-speaking parts. (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-045-40)

Crew constructs movie prop gates on city property after the DRT locked and covered the actual gates (in background). (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-059-12)

Harry Morgan (as Police Chief George Sylvester), seated at desk on the left, in one of the minor scenes filmed in various locations in the city, March 16, 1969. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-6412-H-30)

General Max and his troops arrive in Alamo Plaza shortly before seizing control of the Alamo, April 1, 1969. (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-059-01)

A right-wing militia confronts General Max shortly after he leaves the Alamo. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-6412-K-10)

A helicopter with a U.S. Army general arrives at the climax of the movie. (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-059-01)

Keenan Wynn (as U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Barney La Comber) and Kenneth Mars (as Dr. Sam Gilleson, leader of the private militia). (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-067-49)

Mark Carliner, the producer, and Jonathan Winters (as Billy Joe Hallson, brigadier general of the Texas National Guard). (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-067-10)

John Astin (as Valdez, first sergeant in Gen. Max’s brigade). (San Antonio Express-News Collection MS 360: E-0018-068-C-16)

Camera crew at work during the climactic scene, then considered the largest one to be filmed in the downtown area of an American City. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-6412-I-19)

City sponsored event launching the world premiere activities with members of the film cast, Governor Preston Smith, and Mayor Walter McAllister as special guests, December 18, 1969. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-6412-L-06)






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