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UTSA Libraries Special Collections receives Brewster Photograph Collection

March 18, 2016

Realtor Robert A. Coker recently donated the photograph collection of life-long San Antonio resident Olive Nesbitt Brewster, daughter of Charles H. Brewster (1886-1955) and Olive Nesbitt Brewster (1888-1986). The collection (MS 458) contains studio portraits and snapshots of the Nesbitt and Brewster families, dating from the 1880s to the 1980s. Ms. Brewster had moved to a nursing home and the photographs were among the items left behind when the house was placed on the market. Many people would have discarded them. But Mr. Coker realized the documentary value of the collection and placed them with us so that researchers could benefit from them.

Among the late 19th century portraits in the collection are the work of San Antonio commercial photographers David P. Barr, Asa A. Brack, and Alonzo N. Callaway. But of greater interest to cultural historians are the Kodak snapshots taken by Charles and Olive Brewster and their friends, beginning around 1910. They show outings to parks in San Antonio and nearby towns. The couple’s photos record the period of their courtship and early years of their marriage, including numerous photographs of their first child, Charles Jr., at home and on family excursions. Continuing the custom of carrying a camera, the couple’s daughter, also named Olive Nesbitt Brewster, took pictures of her recreational activities. Collectively, these images help us understand the way previous generations spent their leisure time in South Central Texas.

These are a few of the photographs from the Brewster family albums.

Charles H. Brewster and Olive Nesbitt pose among the banana trees and elephant ears in Landa Park, New Braunfels, circa 1910. (MS458: 115-0371)

Charles H. Brewster and Olive Nesbitt pose among the banana trees and elephant ears in Landa Park, New Braunfels, circa 1910. (MS458: 115-0371)

 

 

Olive Nesbitt (center, wearing dark bow tie) with friends on the banks of the Guadalupe River near New Braunfels, circa 1910. (MS458: 115-0367)

Olive Nesbitt (center, wearing dark bow tie) with friends on the banks of the Guadalupe River near New Braunfels, circa 1910. (MS458: 115-0367)

Olive Nesbitt (right) and a friend on a ride in Electric Park, West Evergreen Street at San Pedro Creek, San Antonio, circa 1910. (MS458: 115-0360)

Olive Nesbitt (right) and a friend on a ride in Electric Park, West Evergreen Street at San Pedro Creek, San Antonio, circa 1910. (MS458: 115-0360)

Charles H. Brewster and Olive Nesbitt in the limestone quarry that later became the site of the San Antonio Zoo, circa 1910. (MS458: 115-0360)

Charles H. Brewster and Olive Nesbitt in the limestone quarry that later became the site of the San Antonio Zoo, circa 1910. (MS458: 115-0360)

Olive and Charles Brewster proudly pose with their son, Charles H. Brewster, Jr., on the front porch of their home at 102 Vitra Place, San Antonio, 1913. (MS458: 115-0336)

Olive and Charles Brewster proudly pose with their son, Charles H. Brewster, Jr., on the front porch of their home at 102 Vitra Place, San Antonio, 1913. (MS458: 115-0336)

Charles H. Brewster, Jr. sits at the edge of the San Antonio River, July 1914. (MS458: 115-0345)

Charles H. Brewster, Jr. sits at the edge of the San Antonio River, July 1914. (MS458: 115-0345)

Charles H. Brewster, Jr., is introduced to croquet by a friend on a farm near Lockhart, ca. 1914. (MS458: 115-0390)

Charles H. Brewster, Jr., is introduced to croquet by a friend on a farm near Lockhart, circa 1914. (MS458: 115-0390)

“Dutch,” a family friend, in his car “Pathfinder” on a road in the Texas Hill Country, 1916. (MS458: 115-0443)

“Dutch,” a family friend, in his car “Pathfinder” on a road in the Texas Hill Country, 1916. (MS458: 115-0443)

Caravan from San Antonio arrives at a campground at Junction, 1927. (MS458: 115-0400)

Caravan from San Antonio arrives at a campground at Junction, 1927. (MS458: 115-0400)

Friends of Charles H. Brewster, Sr., play poker at a camp in the Texas Hill Country, circa 1940. (MS458: 115-420)

Friends of Charles H. Brewster, Sr., play poker at a camp in the Texas Hill Country, circa 1940. (MS458: 115-420)

Olive N. Brewster II stopped to take this picture of her friends while bicycling through Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, circa 1942. (MS458: 115-0414)

Olive N. Brewster II stopped to take this picture of her friends while bicycling through Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, circa 1942. (MS458: 115-0414)

 

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Rosie permalink
    March 21, 2016 9:29 pm

    I love these old photos, how can I go about seeing the other photos.

    • Tom Shelton permalink*
      March 23, 2016 3:29 pm

      We haven’t finished digitizing and processing this collection. However, you can make an appointment to come look at the originals at the Institute of Texan Cultures Library.

  2. John Wolbrecht permalink
    March 29, 2016 9:01 am

    I understand the interest in San Antonio parks and Hill Country scenes, but what is this family’s history? Are they noted for entrepreneurship, community service, or other historical family fact?

  3. August 14, 2016 12:40 pm

    Sad today we can only see this beauty of our San Antonio HIstory in pictures. They beauty of this historic places has ended. Today the city is too busy pleasing new buildings and favors developers. As our historic buildings are being demolish or replace by square style box lofts. The so called historic society is not doing enough to preserve this buildings. So so sad.

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