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Graduate Library Student Experience: Raishell Williams

January 29, 2018

Raishell Williams is a Library Services Assistant IV for Access Services with UTSA Libraries. She earned her Master of Library Science degree from Texas Woman’s University in December 2017. She completed her practicum with Special Collections in the fall, and has written this blog post about her experience.

Confucius once said,

“If all I do is hear, I will forget

If I hear and see, I will remember

If I hear, see and do, I will understand”

Raishell Williams stands in front of the John Peace Library.

I had the pleasure of competing my Practicum at The University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections (Rowdy Birds!). The significance of this practicum site is that I began my higher education journey at UTSA in 2004, I met my husband at UTSA, and it was while attending UTSA that I joined the United States Army. Though the road was long and enlightening I have longed to get back to San Antonio; San Antonio is home for me. The University of Texas at San Antonio is not quite 50 years old (established 1969) but boast two stunning and technologically advanced campuses in San Antonio. As of fall 2017, UTSA serves more than 31,000 students including 4,200 graduate students and more than 119,000 alumni; 167-degree programs and created a 1.2-billion-dollar impact on the local economy. San Antonio is known to the world as Military City USA, but it is rapidly gaining notice for its cultural diversity, technology, cyber-security, and research; all of which shape the mission and vision of UTSA. UTSA strives to become San Antonio’s University of the Future through these six themes: i. a great multicultural discovery enterprise, ii. An exemplary urban-serving University of the Future, iii. World Engaged, iv. UTSA will foster exceptional student experiences, v. cultivating the excellence of our people, vi. operational and infrastructure excellence.

In the process of medically retiring from the Army after ten years of service I firmly set forth to pursue my passion, of continued education, knowledge and library studies and so I began the Master of Library Science program with Texas Woman’s University. TWU made the transition from military career to full-time student seamless. In the spring of 2016, I took advantage of my new-found retirement to be a stay at home mom to my young children and began the Master of Library Science program. In August 2017 I began my final course in the MLS program; LS 5843 Practicum.

Before the start date, I met with the head of Special Collections, Mrs. Amy Rushing, the University Archivist Ms. Kristin Law, and the Manuscripts Archivist Mrs. Katie Rojas to discuss my interest and learning objectives I wanted to complete for the semester as well as the requirements set by the MLS program.  I began the Practicum on Tuesday, Aug 28, 2017, and I was still unsure of how the semester was going to run and even if I had enough work to complete for 4.5 months. Over the course of the semester, I worked daily with Katie Rojas, learned XML and technology aspects of archives with Kristin Law.

Raishell spent her practicum working among the stacks where Special Collections stores archival collections.

I began Practicum with readings: Understanding Archives and Manuscripts by James O’Toole and Richard Cox, Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts by Kathleen D. Roe, Disrespecting Original Order by Frank Boles, and More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing by Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner. My first week was primarily meeting the staff and orienting myself with the department (who, what, when, where and how), getting a basic understanding through readings of what Archives are, including the many professional societies you can join as an Archivist. I also learned about continuing education opportunities, as well as the different certifications and ways to obtain them for archival work. I learned the infamous phrase “It Depends,” which seems to plague the Archives world and is subsequently the answer to so many situations!

After the Labor Day Holiday, I began a review of finding aids at UTSA’s Special Collections department. September 6-7th were spent developing finding aids and exploring the Library of Congress authorities subject headings for a small collection. September 11-14th was spent processing and writing the official finding aid for the Edward Necker Scrapbook. September 18-20th I began my work on the HemisFair ’68 Memorabilia Collection (primarily rearranging and categorizing content). Sept 25-26th and Oct 2-3rd were spent reviewing additional readings for further comprehension and understanding of Archives. I began to process the HemisFair ’68 Memorabilia Collection on Oct 10, 2017, officially. October 12th was a review of my progress and my mid-semester evaluation. October 16th, I resumed the work of processing the HemisFair Memorabilia. November 29th, I began to work on the XML writing for the HemisFair Memorabilia finding aid, and on December 5-7th I concluded my time with the Special Collections department while in preparation for graduation. My final assignment was a reflection of the work I had completed and rumination over all of the special individuals that helped me get to this point, this blogpost.  This practicum has been an experience of a lifetime. I started this practicum with the objectives of learning “basic infrastructure of the special collections department at a public University”, a goal of finding “a special collections project that I could fully immerse myself in for the course of the semester and see it to completion”, and finally “tackle a unique project that would allow me to follow a passion as well as contribute to the goal of UTSA’s mission.” Unequivocally, I can say that my objectives and goals have been met and surpass my expectations.

The Edward Necker Scrapbook finding aid is available online for your viewing pleasure at

The HemisFair ’68 Memorabilia Collection is available online for your viewing pleasure at


With affection and gratitude, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the following persons and departments who shared their time, expertise, assistance, guidance, moral support and inspiration for the realization of my Practicum:

I am so grateful to Mrs. Amy Rushing, Head of Special Collections, who graciously accepted me as a trainee in the Special Collections department.

To Mrs. Katie Rojas, Manuscripts Archivist, for the continued assistance and for sharing her wisdom. Thank you for teaching and believing in my ability to handle the tasks you gave without any doubt or hesitation. I also thank you for your patience and kindness that you shared.

To Ms. Kristin Law, University Archivist, who accepted me as a trainee and sharing her knowledge of XML and data coding.

To Ms. Julianna Barrera-Gomez, Digital Archivist, whose support was integral to my success and completion of the Master of Library Science program.

Why We March

January 15, 2018

As I was preparing for this blog post, I reviewed some materials in the Mario Marcel Salas papers on the history of the MLK Day March in San Antonio. One of the items I came across stated, “Know Why You Are Marching.” This made me think about the broad cross section of materials housed in Special Collections with images depicting many marches over the years. These photographs capture the reasons we march in a way that mere words never could. I share them today in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who inspired us all to march for a more equitable, just, and peaceful world.

Mario Marcel Salas leading San Antonio’s MLK Day March, undated, Mario Marcel Salas Papers, MS 142


Cesar Chavez marching in San Antonio during the Grape Boycott, Jaime Martinez scrapbook, MS 490


AIDS quilt Names Project, Washington D.C., 1987, Happy Foundation Archives Collection, MS 394

AIDS quilt square in memory of Hap Veltman, San Antonio business entrepreneur, Happy Foundation Archives Collection, MS 394


March on Austin for Gay Rights, 1993, Marquise Collection, MS 418

March on Austin for gay rights, 1993, Marquise Collection, MS 418


International Women’s Day March, San Antonio, late 1990s, Marquise Collection, MS 418


Activist signs and ephemera, International Women’s Day March, 2017, Activism Signs and Ephemera Collection, MS 483

My mother at the International Women’s Day March, 2017, San Antonio, Photograph by Melissa Gohlke

At 79 years old, my mom had never participated in a march. She was so determined to be a part of the International Women’s Day march (as was I) that we endured hours of pouring rain as we walked with hundreds of other people through the flooded streets of downtown San Antonio. I will never forget the feeling of solidarity as the crowd chanted, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.” I will never forget the privilege of walking with my mother by my side.

Why do we march? We march for change. We march for equality. We march for a better world. We march for peace. Today, I will join hundreds of thousands who gather on San Antonio’s east side to march to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, we march because the truths he stated decades ago are unfortunately still true today.

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. . . We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. This may well be mankind’s last chance to choose between chaos and community.

MLK Day March, Mario Marcel Salas Papers, MS 142


SVREP: Coming To A Close

January 10, 2018

As the SVREP Collection is nearly complete, it has been quite a journey and a great learning experience. Looking back on my first day on the project and in San Antonio, I was both excited and nervous to begin such a large project. As I have told anyone who listens, San Antonio has such a welcoming and tight community that made me feel at home right away. I am thankful to have been able to participate in many community activities in order to promote and educate the public about his work and honored to have played an important role in preserving Willie’s legacy by providing accessibility to his work. 


Creating this zine was one of my favorite SVREP Projects

I could not have successfully completed this project without my colleagues at UTSA who always have offered their help and guidance. Jennifer Longoria, the Assistant Archivist on the project was a wealth of knowledge of San Antonio politics and campaigning. Without her, my learning curve would have been much higher and I am thankful that she was able to provide such key information and history that was needed to properly organize the collection. As Jennifer continues on to her future endeavors, we wish her the best of luck and appreciate all her hard work, positive energy and other invaluable contributions she has given to the project. She will be greatly missed!


As we draw near to opening the collection to the public, we all are excited at the type of research that will be conducted and how this work will provide useful insight into Latino political participation, more specifically how voter registration exists today and how it has changed. The documents in the SVREP records are a constant reminder that the issues Willie fought so desperately to bring to recognition still remain relevant in today’s politics. The UTSA Special Collections team hopes that the SVREP collection will draw visitors from the community and academia in order for a larger audience to recognize and appreciate the work and vision of Willie Velasquez, including all the individuals and other organizations he worked with and influenced. 


***This project is generously funded by the NHPRC**

From Vault to Table: Mexican Fritters (Buñuelos de Molde)

December 25, 2017

Blog post by Paige Hayhurst, rare books student assistant.

To celebrate the holidays and New Year, I thought I would attempt to make a traditional holiday recipe according to the queen of Mexican cookbooks, Josefina Velázquez de León. Josefina began her career as a chef and teacher after taking culinary classes in Mexico City. She started by submitting recipes to magazines and eventually founded her own cooking school and publishing house, Ediciones Josefina Velázquez de León.

Over the course of her life, she published nearly 140 titles, over 130 of which can be found in Special Collections’ 1800 volume Mexican Cookbook Collection. For this occasion, I chose a recipe for buñuelos de molde out of her 1946 cookbook Especialidades para Navidad, Fin de Año y día de Reyes Mexico, D.F.: Academia de Cocina, 1946. [TX739.2.C45 V45 1946]

Displaying especialidades para navidad-cover.jpg

Josefina’s recipe (number 59–Buñuelos de Molde) is a traditional one that calls for deep frying and special molds. I have heard many stories of failed attempts at making buñuelos this way so, naturally, I had to try it out for myself.



To begin, I made sure to have appropriately festive rosettes. I found this set of six molds and a handle at a specialty foods store, though I chose to only use the traditional rosette until I had mastered the technique.


Following the instructions, beat the three egg yolks and then whisk in the milk and enough flour to form a thin paste similar in consistency to atole (or pancake batter, as my roommate’s mom advised).

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Next, the instructions call for gold yeast. I, being an inexperienced baker, chose instant yeast in my baking aisle-induced panic. Although I am inexperienced, I did not notice any significant rise or bubbling of the batter. I trust Josefina’s expertise, so surely this was related to my choice of yeast. While waiting for a reaction from the yeast, heat the shortening in a deep skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot enough, dip the mold into the oil to heat it and to coat it with the oil.

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I then dipped the mold into the batter which sizzled and cooked a flower-shaped depression into the batter. As the instructions explain, this means the batter is too thick and should be thinned out with milk. I made sure to scoop out any cooked batter before trying again.

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One of many failed attempts at coating the mold.

I tried again, this time with thinner batter and with a slightly cooler mold. When you coat the mold with batter, be sure to only submerge it about three quarters of the way. Then dip the coated mold into the oil and hold it for just a few seconds. The buñuelo should release from the mold after a few moments. When it turns a deep brown color, flip it and let it fry for a few more seconds. After it is golden brown, take out the buñuelo and place it on paper towels and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar.

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One smoke-filled kitchen, one oil spill, and several minor burns later and I had successfully fried five buñuelos (though I attempted a dozen).  Even though this recipe is straightforward, I still found that I managed to deviate. My buñuelos are more cake than crisp, which might be caused by a too-thick batter or too-cool oil. However, considering the simplicity of the instructions and the fact that I have never made these before, I think that this was a successful trial run. If you are willing to put in the practice hours and enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, then I would recommend this recipe and other pastry recipes in Especialidades para Navidad, Fin de Año y día de Reyes.

This particular recipe book and all titles in the Mexican Cookbook Collection  can be viewed by appointment  in the UTSA Libraries Special Collections reading room located on the fourth floor of the UTSA Library.

A family portrait: the testamento of Lic. D. Manuel Lozano

December 18, 2017

As the digitization process of the Sons of the Republic of Texas Mexican Manuscript Collection continues, I often encounter groups of documents that tell compelling stories. One such example is the will, or testamento, of Señor Lic. D. Manuel Lozano. Although this collection contains numerous examples of last wills and testaments encompassing several centuries in Mexico, folder 5375 tells a particularly intriguing story.

page 5

Manuel’s will was notarized with his brother Lic. D. Juan Bautista Lozano as a witness in 1866.

Lic. Manuel Lozano’s testamento contains a intriguing mix of official documents and personal letters. This wide variety of items offers glimpses into the process of dealing with a loved one’s passing in nineteenth century Mexico, both legally and personally. It reveals the close relationship the Lozano brothers must have had–as Juan Bautista seems to have solely managed his brother’s final affairs both up to his passing, and for decades afterwards. Official documents, such as this receipt below for a notary’s services, dated February 6, 1885, are intermingled with personal items that offer a glimpse into the Lozano brothers’ personal lives.

pg 21

This itemized receipt includes a 5 peso charge for “rights” (derechos), and a 7.5 peso charge for official stamps. This page is dated February 6, 1885, roughly 14 months before Manuel Lozano’s passing.

Although it appears Manuel’s affairs were in order with his brother Juan as witness on multiple occasions, well before his passing, the story evolves into one of a contested estate. No other information about the court proceedings is contained in the folder, so the reader only gets a glimpse at this chapter in the Lozano estate’s story.


A page from the Boletin Judicial, an official periodical, has the civil case relating to Manuel Lozano’s contested estate underlined and emphasized with red markings: item 2 under “juzgado Segundo de lo civil.”

Personal touches, like this note written by Juan Bautista are intermingled throughout. These notes reflect Jaun’s meticulous attention to detail while revealing a closeness between the two brothers.

my brother's will

“Costs of illness, burial, and testamentary of my brother,”

Juan’s continuous support of his Manuel’s memory is evidenced by several alms donation receipts, two of which were made on the first and second anniversaries of Manuel’s death.

alms 1

alms 2

Costs of burial written out by Manuel’s brother, in an unsteady ink handwriting with additional notes added in pencil.

costs of burial

The costs of the town hall (ayuntamiento), parish (parroquia), hospice (hospicio), coachman (cochero), and several additional expenses are meticulously recorded in Juan Bautista’s shaky writing.

A few years after Juan organized Manuel’s funeral, and his estate was contested in court, all of Manuel Lozano’s assets were liquidated. Juan again meticulously kept record of every detail. Each item that was part of Manuel’s estate, down the individual books in his library, were recorded and valued by an outside assessor. Juan even had multiple copies drawn up of these reports. The Lozano’s were university educated men, as evidenced by their official prefixes “Lic.” short for Licenciado, a designation of being a professional in a field, most often a lawyer. This abbreviated list features some highlighted volumes in Manuel’s personal library.


Interestingly, Manuel owned a copy of William H. Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico, which is still a foundational text for historians studying Mexico. It has been translated into 10 languages.

Fragmentary narratives are not uncommon in archival holdings. At first glance, the Lozano estate’s story seemed to be fully expressed thanks to Juan’s meticulous note-keeping. Gaps in the story (like the results of the Boletin case) are not filled by folder 5375’s contents. Even with an incomplete narrative, this folder reveals a closeness between two siblings. Its contents offer a glimpse into nineteenth century Mexican life.

Several thousand documents from the Sons of the Republic of Texas Collection are already available online, with several more added each month:


Sneak peak at the Wendell Potter Joske’s Collection

December 11, 2017

As we are on the cusp of the holiday season, I thought our readers might enjoy indulging in a little nostalgia. Earlier this year, Special Collections received a donation of Joske’s materials collected by Wendell Potter, the department store’s Display Director. The collection contains many photographs of events held by Joske’s including seasonal fashion shows and in-store promotional events.

Fall Fashion models, 1955

Wendell Potter’s display expertise is undeniable when one looks at the photos of merchandising at the downtown store. His talent and direction were most evident in his holiday creations. In the late 1950s, during the holiday shopping season Joske’s Santa took up residence in the Fairyland Castle designed by Potter.[1]

In 1960, Potter took his design skills to new levels with the creation of the much loved Fantasy Land-a Christmas wonderland situated on the 4th floor of Joske’s.

Wendell Potter with the Fantasy Land train, 1960


A miniature train transported children through the winter scenes where animated figures populated the snow covered dreamscapes and enchanted visitors young and old.

To a child the village is credibly life-sized, and utterly fascinating. To a grown up it is almost incredible that such a delightful and tremendous land of fantasy could be brought alive on Joske’s Fourth Floor.

The annual attraction was so popular, Joske’s management devised strategies to control traffic within the store. Wait times to enter Fantasy Land were often long but the train and talking creatures kept waiting children and adults entertained.[2]

The images offer a tantalizing glimpse backward into the stuff that many childhood memories were made of during Christmas in San Antonio. The Wendell Potter Joske’s Collection is currently being processed and will be open to researchers early next year.


[1] “Paula Allen: Joske’s Santa Tradition Began in the 1950’s,” [http://, accessed December 6, 2017.

[2] Ibid.


A Month in Special Collections: November

December 4, 2017
  • Please click below image to enlarge and access links.



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