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New Additions to the San Antonio Black History Collection

February 11, 2019

The San Antonio Black History Collection is rich in materials that reflect African-American Life in the 20th century. Many materials come from San Antonio funeral homes, schools, and churches. The collection has been arranged into the following series: businesses, churches, clubs and organizations, education, history, military, newspapers and magazines, and photographs.

Highlights of the collection include paper fans (or church fans), several African-American church records, and an incomplete run of SNAP magazine. The paper fans are undated, but reflect advertising for several San Antonio, Texas, mortuaries and funeral homes. Church materials include programs for Sunday services, yearbooks, and newsletters. Of note is a ledger for Ephesus Church of Seventh-Day Adventists (1873-1928) that lists church members names and addresses, and in some cases, the dates of death (bulk dates for the records are 1923-1928). The ledger also contains brief synopses of meetings among the reverend, church staff, and elders for the years spanning 1923-1928. A large but incomplete run of SNAP magazine covers the years 1955-1966. SNAP was a weekly local publication that covered San Antonio politics, social events, and current events in Civil Rights-era San Antonio from an African-American perspective.

Photographs, an invitation and program from local social groups, invitations for commencement ceremonies at Douglass and Harlandale High Schools, an annual bulletin for St. Philip’s Junior College (1946), and fans advertising Hicks Beauty School round out the collection.

These photos are some of the most recent additions to this small but compelling collection.

Portrait of unidentified man, Delfraisse Studio, undated

Unidentified group photograph, 1926

Lewis Funeral Home under construction, circa 1960s

Carrie L. Elmore portrait, Scalp Specialist, Elmore Beauty Parlor, circa 1940s

Unidentified woman, circa 1940s


Jesse Alexander – San Antonio Country Club maitre d’ retirement portrait, 1990

All items in the San Antonio Black History Collection have been digitized and can be accessed online. The physical items can be accessed via the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room after completing a “schedule your visit” form.



A Month in Special Collections: January

February 4, 2019
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Spaghetti Day

January 28, 2019

January 4th was National Spaghetti Day.  In honor of that day, we present photos documenting the preparation, serving and enjoyment of people eating spaghetti.  The images come from the San Antonio Express and the San Antonio Light Collections. Buon appetito!


Christopher Columbus Society, 09/08/91 (San Antonio Light, L-7334-069-19)

Christopher Columbus Society, 09/08/91 (San Antonio Light, L-7334-069-15)


Spaghetti Dinner Columbus Hall, 01/29/84 (San Antonio Express News, E-0211-021-22)


UNICO Italian Spaghetti Dinner, 01/22/85 (San Antonio Express News, E-0276-119-031)


Italian Spaghetti Dinner, 10/06/90 (San Antonio Light, L-7369-067)


Columbus Hall Annual Spaghetti Dinner, 10/10/82 (San Antonio Express News, E-0121-091-32)


San Antonio Missions Eating Spaghetti, 06/02/39 (San Antonio Light, L-2189-B)


Spaghetti Dinner Columbus Hall, 01/29/84 (San Antonio Express News, E-0211-021-16)

Raucous, Rambunctious, & Rowdy: A History of UTSA’s Mascot

January 18, 2019

On June 5, 1969, the University of Texas at San Antonio was officially formed when Governor Preston Smith signed House Bill 42 in front of the Alamo. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this momentous occasion, the University is spending the duration of 2019 reflecting on its history and celebrating this milestone.

Special Collections has joined in the festivities with an exhibit curated by Kristin Law, University Archivist, and myself, currently on display outside the Special Collections reading room in the John Peace Library. Our quest: to find out how UTSA’s mascot eventually morphed into Rowdy the Roadrunner whom we all know today. Tackling this topic meant taking on five decades worth of University publications in the University Archives to search for clues.  The results of our investigation are highlighted below, with more extensive coverage in the exhibit itself.

The first section of the exhibit, Dillos vs Stars, tells the story of initial debates in the late 1970’s over what symbol would best represent the University. By the fall semester of 1977, the SRA (Student Representative Assembly, the precursor to the Student Government Association) was organizing an election for the future mascot of UTSA. By November of that year, the ballot was narrowed down via student vote to the top nine contenders: armadillo, eagle, el conquistador, jaguar, puma, roadrunner, star, toro, and vaquero.

dillos poster

UTSA Dillos poster (reproduction), 1977. University Artifacts and Memorabilia Collection, UA 98.

The armadillos (also known as Dillos) and stars won the election, knocking the roadrunner from the running. However, the SRA declared the November election void because of failure to adhere to the election rules. A new election was held and on December 12, 1977; the winning UTSA mascot was announced at a bonfire rally on Main Campus. The roadrunner emerged victorious.

The exhibit then delves into the various iterations of the roadrunner’s look with The First Roadrunner Mascot. The first mascot and cheerleading squad tryouts were held in the fall of 1981,  following the University’s announcement the previous year to join intercollegiate athletics. Antonio Gonzalez III, a senior majoring in Business Management, was chosen to be the first Roadrunner Mascot.

The Roadrunner Hatches features the mascot’s first-ever appearance at a pep rally to celebrate the kickoff of the University’s inaugural basketball season on November 24, 1981.

“I got in the egg before the game started,” Antonio Gonzalez recalled. He remembers hoping he would pop out of the egg at the right time and how gratifying it was for fans to see their first game, complete with a mascot. “It was hot,” he said of the costume. “But I was so excited about being out on the floor that it didn’t really matter.”

When did he become Rowdy? Next, the exhibit explores when the Roadrunner officially became known as Rowdy. This question ended up being difficult to answer explicitly, but we found a general timeline encompassing the transition.

A March 1984 article in The Roadrunner newsletter advertised upcoming cheerleader and mascot tryouts. “Raucous, rambunctious rowdies” were sought to encourage “Roadrunner Rage.” Clearly “rowdy” was a desired attribute for UTSA spirit leaders. The first documented use of the name Rowdy (that we could find) is in a January 22, 1992 article in The Roadrunner newsletter.


Rowdy waving a UTSA flag at the Howdy Rowdy Bash, October 2009.

The exhibit closes with an exploration of Roadrunner Pride showcased by a variety of novelty items created to express school pride. Donated to the University Archives by former faculty and staff members, these objects (such as metal statues and a megaphone) illustrate different incarnations of the roadrunner from the first two decades of UTSA.

All materials for this exhibit are from the University Archives, which is a part of UTSA Libraries Special Collections. All photographs are from UTSA: Office of University Communications Photographs.


A Month in Special Collections: December

January 15, 2019
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A Year in Review — Special Collections in 2018

January 7, 2019

2018 was an eventful year for Special Collections! In looking back at this last year I was overwhelmed by our accomplishments. Listing them all would make for a very long blog post, so here are just some of the highlights.

San Antonio celebrated two major milestones in 2018: San Antonio’s 300th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the 1968 World’s Fair, Hemisfair. We took advantage of these anniversaries to showcase material from our archives through exhibits.

To celebrate Pride month, we were invited to install an exhibit at the San Antonio Public Library Central Branch highlighting San Antonio’s LGBTQ history. Queer Collections: A Portal to San Antonio’s LGBTQ Past showcased materials from the Lollie Johnson Papers. Johnson, a local business entrepreneur, owned and operated several queer clubs from the 1970s to the 1990s in San Antonio.

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2018 was a stellar year for instruction thanks to the hard work and dedication of Special Collections librarian Agnes Czeblakow. By working closely with faculty to integrate primary source assignments into the curriculum, Agnes taught a whopping 70 classes to 1,218 students!

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Community Outreach

We attended many events where we brought material out into the community.

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(Featured Above:)
Founders Day
Dia de la Raza
50th Anniversary Civil Rights Hearing
History and Genealogy Day at Mission San Jose
Graduate Student Appreciation Week Night at the Archives

The Conference Circuit

We participated in a variety of conferences, giving presentations, networking with and learning from colleagues, and helping the regional archivists conference be successful.

gemini_ink_logo_swish-1At the Gemini Ink Writers Conference, Agnieszka Czeblakow, Julianna Barrera-Gomez, and Kristin Law presented Archiving the New Century: Strategies for Preserving Self-Taught, Local, and Regional Writers’ Archives

ssa_2018_papel_600x800Kristin Law and Katie Rojas were members of the Society of Southwest Archivists Conference Local Arrangements Committee, and during the conference, Julianna Barrera-Gomez presented on processing and providing access to hybrid collections.


ven-a-comer340We held our second annual Ven a Comer fundraising dinner at the Hotel Emma. Proceeds from Ven a Comer support the development and preservation of our Mexican Cookbook Collection.



We did all of this and SO MUCH MORE and it could not have been done without the amazing folks in Special Collections. I’d like to thank them all for their continued hard work, dedication, and commitment to preserving and providing access to our collections.

Warm Wishes

December 24, 2018

As another busy year comes to a close, those of us in Special Collections hope that during this holiday season you have a chance to connect with friends and family who live far away…

Francis Austin, Shirley Austin, and Freddy McNeal with a pile of holiday cards. December 1950.

Francis Austin, Shirley Austin, and Freddy McNeal with a pile of holiday cards. December 1950. San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359.

to enjoy the festive holiday lights…

Christmas decorations on Houston Street. View looking East between St. Mary's and Navarro Streets. December 1947.

Christmas decorations on Houston Street. View looking East between St. Mary’s and Navarro Streets. December 1947. Zintgraff Studios Photograph Collection, MS 355.

and to spend quality time with loved ones.

Three children and a dog looking at a Christmas tree. Undated.

Three children and a dog looking at a Christmas tree. Undated. San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359.

May you have a merry and bright holiday season!

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