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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 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 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

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

Visit 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:

Other related items held by UTSA Special Collections include:

Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS)/Metro Alliance and Fuerza Unida records

Other related material includes: Women at Farah: an unfinished story, and The People vs. Willie Farah, 1973 film held at Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI)

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. 
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. 
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.

100 Years Ago in Texas:  A Selection from the General Photograph Collection

January 3, 2022

Texas newspapers in January 1922 featured news of the oil booms in eastern areas of the state.  Oil diversified the Texas economy.  It was no longer one based primarily on agriculture.  Cities were growing, with one headline reading “Banner Year in Building Is in Sight.”  

These images, mostly from family collections, give us a glimpse of Texas in 1922.  One shows dense drilling in an East Texas oil field on land previously used by the timber industry.  Another shows people harvesting cotton by hand, a holdover the 19th century.  Others illustrate how people used their leisure time, including newer forms of entertainment. One shows a former opera house converted into a movie theater.

Oil fire among the derricks in the booming Orangefield community, Orange County. (090-0058), courtesy of H.C. Williams)
Picking cotton on the Matthes Krause farm, Northrup, Lee County. (091-0105, courtesy of Victor P. Krause)
Emil Garteiser, an elected public weigher, at weigh station beside the Southern Pacific Railroad, Hondo. (096-0426, courtesy of Cecilia Koch)
First Communion Class, Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Barrio Laredito, San Antonio. (115-0169, courtesy of Manuel H. Gonzales)
Benton City Woodmen Circle Drill Team, Atascosa County. (093-0031, courtesy of Edith Hawes Wanjura)
Grover Collins gives his sister Betty a ride in a wagon fashioned from a 20 Mule Team Borax crate, Tobin Hill, San Antonio. (103-0272, courtesy of Betty Collins)
Joe Pierson Landa, left, and Harry Landa with their catch from the Comal River, Camp Placid, Landa Park, New Braunfels. (074-1040, courtesy of Mrs. Robert Murray)
Sales room in Cardenas Bicycle Shop, 116 South Laredo Street, San Antonio. (117-0071, courtesy of Eddie Cardaway)
The Grand, a silent movie theater in the former Grand Opera House, west side of Alamo Plaza at Crockett Street. (092-0043, courtesy of City Public Service Company )

Introducing Our New Digitization Specialist

December 16, 2021

Special Collections is excited to welcome our newest team member, Digitization Specialist John Puga.  An avid photographer, John is responsible for digitizing materials for UTSA Libraries Special Collections. This includes the creation, organization and description of digital objects, and providing access to these materials in Special Collections’ Digital Collections portal.

Prior to joining UTSA, John worked at the University of Incarnate Word Mabee Library as both a student worker and library assistant, where he used his photography skills to digitize theses for inclusion in their institutional repository.  John also brings design experience, as he has a B.F.A. in Computer Graphic Arts, and an M.A. in Administration, both from the University of Incarnate Word. He also recently completed his Masters in Library Science from the University of North Texas, Denton. John has jumped into his new role quickly, learning how to operate our new Zeutschel Scan Studio to shoot the many formats we have in our holdings, including materials like 4×5 black and white negatives from the San Antonio Light Photograph collection, scrapbooks from the Joan Suarez Collection of Farah Manufacturing Strike Materials, and cookbooks from our Mexican Cookbook collection.

When asked about what he enjoys most about his job, John says he likes the visual aspects of things like the Suarez scrapbook.  “Seeing how the images related to one another–rather than seeing them as individual images in a viewer in the confines of a web page–conveys a sense of intimacy” he says of the scrapbook’s carefully arranged photographs and ephemera.  He also enjoys the opportunity to work with users and learn what matters most to them.  Recently while taking a shift supervising the JPL reading room, he spoke with a visiting researcher who was analyzing the manuscript cookbooks.  “Being from San Antonio, I was amazed that I had no idea these cookbooks were here, or that the collection is apparently the largest in the U.S.,” John admits.  “It was cool to know [the researcher] came all the way here to see these in person, and I enjoyed talking with her about what aspects of digitization would be most useful for people in her field, and how we can ensure our digital surrogates meet those needs.”  John also enjoys sharing his knowledge of the complex technical processes involved in photography and has already digitized over 2,000 of the Light’s 4×5 negatives.  He looks forward to wrangling the images he creates into digital objects and metadata to upload to our Digital Collections platform so that others can find and use these. 

Child of the Regiment

November 2, 2021
(San Antonio Light, L-0118-H)

The photo of Mrs. Fannie Youree appeared in the San Antonio Light on November 7, 1933.1  At the time of the photo, she was the widow of Capt. F. W. Youree, who had served for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Capt. Youree married Fannie on the 15th of August of 1860.   He began his military service in the Confederate army as a private in E. P. Tyree’s company, which would become Company C of the Seventh Cavalry Battalion of Tennessee and later as Company D of the Second Tennessee Cavalry.2  He rose through the ranks to become second Lieutenant and then first Lieutenant.

Fannie Youree followed her husband during the war and helped nurse wounded soldiers.  As Catherine Clinton writes, “Wives following their husbands volunteered during trying times.”3  Where would these women stay?  Mary Elizabeth Massey states that those women who wanted to be close to their husbands and were not able to stay “in camp often lived as near the installation as possible.”4  This was the case with Fannie.  The article mentions that she would find housing close to her husband’s regiment and battles.

There is no mention if she served on the field but Jane E. Schultz writes that, “Virtually all who accompanied regiments became field nurses whose chief duties consisted of providing food and relief for the sick and wounded, and foraging for supplies.”5  Fannie Youree’s service to her husband’s company and caring for wounded soldiers won the respect of the regiment.  She was nicknamed the “child of the regiment”.

Fannie returned to Tennessee in 1864, which was not without risk or danger.  After Nashville had surrendered to Union forces on February 1862, “most of Tennessee came under Union military control.” As she returned,  Fannie was captured by Union forces and was accused of being a spy.  Espionage during the Civil War was common.  As Clinton writes, “Clearly, there were scores of loyal Confederate women who gathered intelligence to convey vital information to military and political leaders.”7 After spending 10 days in prison, she was released with the help of Tennessee State Comptroller, Joseph S. Fowler.

One interesting note in Hancock’s diary is that, “She made out nearly all the muster rolls for Company D.”8  No details are given as to what additional tasks she performed with the regiment but Hancock’s note on muster rolls indicate that Fannie provided valuable service that was more than just nursing.


  1. “Civil War is Recalled by Heroine,” San Antonio Light, November 7, 1933.
  2. Richard Ramsey Hancock, Hancock’s Diary: or, A History of the Second Tennessee Confederate Cavalry, with sketches of First and Seventh Battalions; Also, Portraits and Biographical Sketches (Nashville: Brandon Printing Company, 1887), 610.
  3. Catherine Clinton, Stepdaughters of History:  Southern Women and the American Civil War (Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, 2016), 57.
  4. Mary Elizabeth Massey, Women in the Civil War (Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 1994) 66.
  5. Jane E. Schultz, Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004) 38.
  6. James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988) 403. 
  7. Clinton, Stepdaughters of History, 58.
  8. Hancock, Hancock’s Diary, 610.

Introducing Our New Collections Management Archivist

October 21, 2021

We are excited to introduce our new Collections Management Archivist, Barrett Codieck. Barrett was most recently a project archivist with Special Collections to appraise 50 years’ worth of institutional records at the Institute of Texan Cultures. He wrote about the experience on the Top Shelf in September.

Tell us a bit about your background

I come to UTSA with a lifelong fascination with history and two years of experience as a project archivist, having previously worked at St. Cloud State University, the Montana Historical Society, and Yellowstone National Park. I chose to go back to school and change my career path at age 30 to work in a field that has a societal impact and is exciting and fulfilling for me. From the first class that I took on archival studies, I knew that I had made the right decision. The archival profession is difficult to enter, especially for those of us with a background in history rather than library or information science. Fortunately, I chose an outstanding graduate training program at Western Washington University, and was able to transition smoothly from one project position to another after graduating. The position at UTSA opened up at just the right time for me and I jumped at the opportunity to apply.

What excites you about being the Collections Management Archivist at UTSA?

This position is a new direction for UTSA Special Collections, as we are moving away from the separate management of manuscript papers and university records, and towards an agile and functional-based department structure. I am able to exercise creative and strategic thinking to help define the scope of my own position within the department, which I find to be very exciting. Collections management requires a diverse skill set, some that are taught in archival studies classes and many that are not. I am constantly inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of my colleagues in Special Collections as I continue to learn and develop in this position. Not having to think about a new job search and a moving to a new state every six months is also a welcome change.  

I know you are still getting acquainted with our collections but what’s your favorite so far?

I’m cheating by picking the only collection I have worked on in detail, but the papers of Mexico’s “ethno-gastronomer” Diana Kennedy are an easy choice. The difference between Googling a recipe for tamales and holding a handwritten version that still has a whiff of the wood smoke oven from a rural town in Michoacán says a lot about the importance of archives.    

How are liking San Antonio?

It’s a cliché that San Antonio is a “big small town,” but I feel it’s appropriate. I am from Eugene, Oregon, and have since lived in cities and towns as small as 300 people. San Antonio is a great transition to living in a large city where I’m seldom stuck in traffic and can easily get to great hiking trails on the weekends. Most importantly, I love being in an area with rich cultural diversity and a long history that I am just beginning to learn about. The summers will take some getting used to, though.  

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