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UTSA History in images: The Gil Barrera Photographs

January 27, 2014

Coming to UTSA as the newest University Archivist means I have had to jump into some key collections to get a very fast feel of the history of UTSA (especially so I can answer all the interesting questions I get from patrons).  One collection that has been invaluable—both in searching and general browsing—is the Gil Barrera Photographs of the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Gil Barrera Photographs of the University of Texas at San Antonio, 1972-1978

This collection is made up of photographic negatives and contact sheets Gil Barrera created from 1972-1978 while he was employed by UTSA to document activities and buildings around campus.  His photographs capture the inception of the University, with images of the first buildings that held classes and the progress of construction phases as the main campus was built; as well as photos of people at UTSA attending classes, at ceremonies and conferences, and taking part in campus life.  As an official campus photographer he also took photos of early administrators and staff, with some great action shots of faculty and students engaged in learning.  Many of the photographs Barrera took were featured in the campus newsletter The Bulletin (UA 1.02.01), which gives further context to the photographs that appear in it.

Special Collections acquired the Gil Barrera collection in 1997, and since then we have added many of the digitized images to our Digital Collections portal.  The fastest way to make this collection available online is to scan the many contact sheets Barrera printed from his negatives.

Gil Barrera contact sheets

Contact sheets (or “contact prints”) are prints photographers make to aid in selection of images for full printing or for identification of subjects.  Nearly all of his contact sheets have hand-written identification notes on the back, which we have transcribed into keyword-searchable descriptions.

Users can search for names of people, buildings or subjects through our portal and usually find multiple shots Barrera took (and even some examples of contact sheets he or his staff wrote on, possibly while selecting images to print).  As of now half of his contact sheets have been digitized and uploaded, and we plan to have the other half uploaded in the near future.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Judge Jan Krocker permalink
    November 7, 2016 5:03 pm

    Hello, Ms. Barrera-Gomez. I just wanted to let you know that I was the first person to head the News & Information Office at UTSA (1972 to 1978). I was the person who put the handwritten notes on the back of the contact sheets and I also indexed them. I was the editor of the Bulletin and did most of the writing for it. Please let me know if you ever need anything.

    Jan Smith Krocker
    Judge, 184th District Court
    1201 Franklin
    Houston, TX 77002
    713-755-6358

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