This Monday, hundreds of thousands of San Antonians are participating in what has grown to be the nation’s largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day March. I have participated in the march in previous years, and I’m always impressed by the magnitude of it. Marching in solidarity for peace, equality, justice, and the remembrance of Dr. King with a quarter of a million people is a truly awesome experience.
Despite these previous experiences, nothing ever totally prepared me for the “real thing.” Participating in a present-day march is a very different experience from walking around the neighborhood where Dr. King lived and worked. This past August I traveled to Atlanta, GA, and had the opportunity to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“the King Center”). The King Center is a National Historic Site that includes a museum, archives, community/exhibition center, the childhood home of Dr. King, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King.
While in Atlanta, I also visited the Atlanta University Center, where I enjoyed a tour of the Robert Woodruff Library’s Archives Research Center, which holds the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Collection, and the Atlanta Voter Education Project Collection (a directly related counterpart to UTSA’s Southwest Voter Registration Education Project Collection). Photography was not allowed at the Woodruff Library’s Archives, but complete collection inventories and select digitized content can be seen by following the provided links.
One of the fundamental principles of archives is provenance – basically, the origin or source of archival materials. It drives much of what we do as archivists, including ensuring authenticity of our records, making decisions on how to organize collections, and aiding in greater understanding of collection content. It allows archivists and researchers to quite literally touch history and engage with it in a way that is unique and meaningful.So, with the concept of provenance in mind, it was particularly poignant to visit the King Center and see Dr. King’s personal papers firsthand. I was a bit awestruck and excited, but also felt the immense gravity of the past and its impact on our world today.
“The King Center is dedicated to educating the world on the life, legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., inspiring new generations to carry forward his unfinished work, strengthen causes and empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today.” Visiting birthplaces of historical figures and reading the words that they themselves wrote on the very piece of paper you hold in your hand can be powerful experiences that allow us to create intimate connections to the past. Places like the King Center and Archives are places of sustained memories that help us understand the present. How we act and what we do in the present helps keep the work of Dr. King alive.
For a brief history of San Antonio’s MLK Day March, please see this blog post from 2016.
For our first photography blog in 2017, we look back 100 years through images in our General Photograph Collection. The photos give us an idea of how Texans lived in 1917. With horses and buggies visible on the streets and farms, it shows that the modern era had not completely arrived. Yet significant changes in the lives of many Texans would come that year with the United States entry into World War I on April 6th. Young men who had never ventured out from Texas would go far away to the battlefields in France.
This post covers a recent addition to the Jacinto Quirarte Papers and is written by former archives student assistant, Marissa Del Toro.
Did you ever have that moment when everything you have been working on comes full circle? I had one of those moments earlier in May, when I serendipitously met Mrs. Sara Quirarte. She is the wife of the late Dr. Jacinto Quirarte, who was professor emeritus of Art History. While working in Special Collections this past year, I have helped process additions to the Jacinto Quirarte Papers. As a student who studies Latino and Latin American Art, and after becoming immersed in Quirarte’s collection, I have grown fond of the acclaimed art historian.
Dr. Jacinto Quirarte was a leading expert of pre-Columbian, Latin American, and Chicano art history. Born in 1931 in the small mining town of Jerome, Arizona, Quirarte lived with his family in an area and neighborhood known as “El Barrio Méxicano” or “El Barrio Chicano.” Quirarte received his B.A. and M.A. from San Francisco State College in 1954 and 1958. He later moved to Mexico City, where he received his doctorate from the National University of Mexico in 1964. Afterwards, Quirarte taught at the Colegio Americano in Mexico City, the University of the Americas in Mexico City, Yale University, and the University of Texas at Austin. He also worked with the U.S. State Department as the director of the Centro Venezolano in Caracas, Venezuela, where he developed a cultural exchange program to help introduce pop art from artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to South America.
At the request of Tomas Rivera, Quirarte was invited to teach at the newly established University of Texas at San Antonio. In 1972, Quirarte became the founding Dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, serving as one of the first academic officials charged with building the new institution. By 1979, he became director of UTSA’s Research Center for the Arts (RCA), a multidisciplinary program that explored Hispanic and Colonial influences in art and culture. In the early 1990s, Quirarte returned to full time teaching and research in the Art History Department. He became a professor emeritus in 2008 and passed away in 2012.
The Jacinto Quirarte collection consists of scholarly papers, research articles, correspondence, and images that present the scholar’s professional interests and administrative roles. His materials document his position as a key figure in the early days of UTSA, building curriculum plans, establishing the RCA, and writing grant proposals for the Art and Art History Department and the College of Fine and Applied Arts (now known as COLFA).
Quirarte worked with several local and national organizations, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Task Force on Hispanic American Arts, the San Antonio Arts Council, and the Harvard Journal on Chicano Affairs. The materials in his collection also show his process of writing, editing and publishing. Quirarte was a prolific writer whose books covered a broad range of topics, from the Izapan Style of Art (1973), to The Art and Architecture of Texas Missions (2002), and How to Look at a Masterpiece: Europe and the Americas (6th ed., 2003).
The Jacinto Quirarte Papers showcase his distinguished legacy, but they also highlight his rich collection of documents and materials on the early formation of the Chicano Art Movement. He was one of the first scholars to research and discuss the influence of Chicano and Mexican American art within the United States. His interest in the Chicano Art Movement of the 1960s and 70s began when he noticed a connection between borderland identity and the incorporation of pre-Columbian elements. In an interview with the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art, Quirarte noted that it was during his time in 1960s Mexico that he became interested in the “confluences of culture” and “fascinated with the outsider and the insider relationship in terms of culture and civilization.”
Photo: (Box 23: Santa Barraza)
In 1972, Quirarte and his wife drove across the U.S. to interview as many artists as they could meet. During this one year expedition, they traveled from the Southwest to the East Coast, searching for and talking with artists who identified as Mexican American or Chicana/o, such as Luis Jiménez, Michael Ponce de León, Melesio Casas, and Chelo González Amézcua. This research trip led to one of his first books, Mexican American Artists (1973), which further developed into A History and Appreciation of Chicano Art (1984).
According to the renowned scholar Alicia Gaspar de Alba, the Chicano Art movement coincided and grew out of the mid-1960s Chicano Civil Rights Movement, which formed as a resistance “to the hegemonic structures of mainstream America” and instead looked to affirm a “multilingual, multicultural heritage as expressed in the concepts of mestizaje and la Raza.” Quirarte’s early research of the Chicano Art movement recognized that many of the artists were “trying to deal with their own experience, their own background” while using pre-Columbian language and signifiers, such as the glyphs and statue of Coatlicue seen in Santa Barraza’s work. These artists operated in a context that explored their contemporary identity and pre-Columbian ancestry, but also publicly raised important social issues. They called for equal opportunity and representation, as well as acknowledgement of their collective histories and cultures.
Jacinto Quirarte’s research bridged a relationship between the ancient styles of pre-Columbia with the contemporary works of artists, making the past relevant while providing an ancestral context for the modern Chicana/o identity. His papers are evidence of his life and his pioneering spirit, which established a foundation for future generations—like myself—to pick up and continue.
Alicia Gaspar de Alba. Chicano Art Inside/outside the Master’s House: Cultural Politics and the CARA Exhibition. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.
Elaine Ayala, “Historian a founding father of UTSA,” San Antonio Express-News (http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Historian-a-founding-father-of-UTSA-3743465.php), accessed May 12, 2016. Originally published and updated by the San Antonio Express-News online on July 28, 2012.
“Jacinto Quirarte,” Legacy.com (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sanantonio/obituary.aspx?pid=158797465), accessed May 12, 2016. Originally published by Express-News on July 29, 2012.
Oral history interview with Jacinto Quirarte, 1996 Aug. 15-16, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Available: http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/oralhistories/transcripts/quirar96.htm (Accessed May 12, 2016).
Rebecca Luther, Communications Coordinator Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, “UTSA professor emeritus, art historian Jacinto Quirarte dies at age 80,” UTSA Today (http://www.utsa.edu/today/2012/07/quirarte.html), accessed May 12, 2016. Originally published by UTSA Today on July 27, 2012.
The month of December marked my six month anniversary here at UTSA working with the Southwest Voter Registration Project. Since then, I have met so many wonderful people that had once worked with Willie or had a lasting impact in his life. It has been an amazing adventure organizing and looking through the documents, and yet our team has so much left to discover as we continue processing the collection. We are proud that we have accomplished so much in a short amount of time, especially the video that was completed and posted last month. If you missed it, here is the link:
Also, if you haven’t already please watch the amazing documentary that aired on PBS earlier this year!
This month is also bittersweet as we say congratulations and goodbye to out student worker, Karina Franco. Karina was a tremendous help with the project and everyone appreciated her enthusiasm. We will miss her and wish her the best of luck! As a way to wind down the year, Jenn, Karina, and I have picked out some artifacts and documents that have caught our eye so far. Although some of you might recognize some of these materials from our table exhibit from the documentary screening, we have since found other gems while going back through and organizing each series. We were excited that Karina was even able to incorporate a few legal documents she found for her class final:
“I found this as I was looking for my primary sources for my upcoming research paper regarding SVREP and MALDEF’s litigation efforts in the late 1970’s for rural counties who were violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 of its Mexican communities. It is a researcher’s goldmine because it is a legal document with census research from SVREP and maps that offer an insight to the actual trial efforts.” -Karina Franco
This has been a productive year for SVREP and we are excited at all we have accomplished so far. Please follow us starting next year as we continue to provide updates on the collection!
***This project is generously funded by the NHPRC**
UTSA Special Collections at Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara/ International Book Fair in Guadalajara
On November 27, 2016 I traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to participate in the 30th International Book Fair, commonly referred to as FIL Guadalajara.
The fair is one of the most important annual events of its kind in the Spanish-speaking world, and only second in attendance after the equally famous Buenos Aires book fair. FIL provides a one stop shop for publishers, dealers, authors, librarians, reading public, and other book industry folks to meet each other, conduct business, and sign publishing deals. Most importantly for librarians, however, it offers an amazing opportunity to pick up latest publications from both international, national, university, and independent publishing houses, network with old and new colleagues, get some serious indoor walking exercise (4 miles a day for me) and to explore Guadalajara’s rich culture, art, food and…tequila.
FIL was created in 1987 by the University of Guadalajara. It it hosted at the Expo Guadalajara convention center, a building with 40,000 m2 of floor space. Each year, the fair hosts a guest of honor (a country, a region), providing each guest with the opportunity to display the best of its cultural and literary heritage. This year Latin America was the guest of honor, with a variety of writers, poets and activists participating in readings, panels, interviews and book signings. Although I did miss the opening ceremonies with Mario Vargas Llosa and a panel discussion with Rigoberta Menchú, I did get a chance to meet Guadalajara’s most famous grandson and printer, Clemente Orozco, and see his grandfather’s (José Clemente Orozco) murals. I also bought a lot of books, both cookbooks and artists books to add to our Rare Books Collection. More about the new acquisitions in the next blog. So stay tuned and enjoy the images from the fair and Guadalajara.