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HemisFair Exhibit at the McNay Art Museum

May 14, 2018

“Synchronetic” by Fletcher Benton

UTSA Libraries Special Collections has partnered with the McNay Art Museum to present HemisFair ’68: San Antonio World’s Fair, an exhibit organized in celebration of the 50th anniversary of HemisFair ’68 and of San Antonio’s Tricentennial.  The exhibit primarily draws from the archival holdings of UTSA Special Collections.

Highlighting artists and designers who contributed to the Fair, HemisFair ’68: San Antonio’s World’s Fair features small selections of artworks, architectural drawings, conceptual site plans, costume and graphic designs, ephemera, souvenirs, and audiovisual materials, including film and sound recordings, that document the early planning for HemisFair ’68.

The exhibit runs from May 3, 2018 to July 29, 2018



The exhibition is organized by Heather Ferguson, former Archivist for the McNay Art Museum, with Amy Rushing, Head of Special Collections for UTSA Libraries.







Lead funding is most generously provided by the Elizabeth Huth Coates Exhibition Endowment and the Arthur and Jane Stieren Fund for Exhibitions.






A Month in Special Collections: April

May 7, 2018
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Clarion Call to Youth-Revolt Against the System, Join the Revolution

April 30, 2018

Youth protests have the power to change culture, reform education, agitate for legislative change, and motivate thousands to rally around a common cause. The Black Lives Matter and March For Our Lives movements reminds us that the voices of young adults have had trans formative effects on our country before, the Counter Culture and Civil Rights movements being the most notable.

While reviewing publications from the early 1970s, I came across several articles about youth protests in San Antonio schools. Substandard education, racism, and lack of access to opportunities were rampant in schools with minority students. Students took their cue from protests in other cities across the nation, staged walk-outs, and demanded change.

In 1968, students at Lanier High School participated in a revolt that was sweeping through Mexican American schools across the country. Inspired by massive Chicano student walk-outs in Los Angeles highlighting disparities in education, Lanier students took to the streets to demand improvements in their school.

Many students faced harsh consequences for their actions-some were interrogated, lost their scholarships, and were suspended. Pressure from parents, clergy, and community members bore down on the school’s principal who gave in to 9 of 11 student demands and reinstated those who were suspended.[1]

In 1971, students at Southside High School staged a walk-out after issuing a list of 27 demands for education improvements and better treatment in schools. They faced reprisals upon return to school: 150 students chose to extend the walk-out until their demands were met.[2]

Student protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s extended beyond issues of inequity in education. The Vietnam war, racism, and social injustice were on the minds of students. In Austin in 1968, Black students marched after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in 1969, to protest the Vietnam War.

Black publications such as Power to the People and The Black Panther sent out a clarion call for Black Youth to join the revolution against oppression, racism, and social injustice.[3]


The publications shown here are just a few of the many rich primary sources in the Mario Marcel Salas Papers housed at UTSA Special Collections. Salas, a lifelong activist, human rights advocate, and public servant amassed a large collection of materials covering local, regional, national, and international topics including activism and advocacy. For students and scholars researching contemporary social movements, the Salas Papers are a treasure trove of primary documents which can ground the present in the past. The collection can be accessed at the John Peace Library reading room by submitting an visit request form. The online guide for the collection is currently undergoing revision; the updated version will be available soon.


[1] M.B. Alvarado, “Lanier Students Revolt Against System,” in Inferno, May 2968.

[2] McCollum High School students, “McCollum Walk-Out,” in the Eagle Bone Whistle, 1971.

[3] “Black Students,” in Power to the People, a publication of the Austin chapter of the Student National Coordinating Committee, September 1969; “Youth of Today are Waking Up,” in The Black Panther, April 6, 1970, p. 14.

Alamo Arcade: Portal to the Alamo Gardens

April 20, 2018

With various proposals for the new Alamo Master Plan in the news today, we look back to an earlier time when there were similar efforts to redesign the area around the Alamo.  The idea for a park adjacent to the Alamo chapel received serious attention when the Alamo Mission Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the San Antonio Conservation Society presented the idea to the mayor and city commissioners in 1925.  Among the leaders was Clara Driscoll Sevier, who had provided money to preserve the Alamo Long Barrack over 20 years earlier.  Mrs. Sevier, chairman of the Alamo Park Commission, again advanced considerable money toward purchase of the property immediately south of the Alamo for what would become part of the Alamo State Park, now called the Alamo Gardens.  The long process of bringing the park to fruition is chronicled in numerous articles in the San Antonio Express and San Antonio Light newspapers.

In 1931 the San Antonio Light published a rendering of the proposed park by Harland Bartholomew and Associates, a well-known urban planning firm in St. Louis.  Principal designer was H. E. Kincaid, who had been involved with the restoration of the Spanish Governor’s Palace the previous year.  The primary entrance to the park would be through the Alamo Arcade, similar to the arcaded structure in the palace patio.  But due to a lack of funds, the plans were not carried out for another three years.  In February 1934, under the direction H. E. Kincaid, employees of the Civil Works Administration (CWA) began clearing the site, but the work was halted a few weeks later when the government dropped CWA activities.  In May work resumed, again under the supervision of Kincaid, with labor provided by the Texas Relief Commission.  In January 1935 the project was complete, in time to showcase the site during the Texas Centennial celebration.

Photographs in our collections are among the earliest views of the Alamo Arcade.  They document the appearance of the structure that has witnessed numerous events that have occurred on the site for over 80 years.


Alamo Arcade, 1936. Photograph by Bartlett Cocke, Sr. (General Photograph Collection MS362: 76-0882)









Construction of the Alamo Arcade, with arches evocative of the conventos at Missions San Jose and Conception, September 1934. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-0342-E)


Weathered limestone, salvaged from buildings previously located on the site, is used for the arcade, September 1934. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-0342-D)


Plants, contributed by Texas residents, are planted in front of the arcade and in the Alamo garden, 1934. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-1547-H)


Frank Pena, stone mason, puts finishing touches on a fountain located a short distance east of the arcade, January 1935. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: L-460-A)


Alamo Arcade serves as a backdrop for a flagpole installation ceremony attended by Admiral Richard E. Byrd, February 1936. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: Detail of L-0915-A)


Patriotic bunting adorns the Alamo Arcade during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s visit to the Alamo during the Texas Centennial, June 11, 1936. (San Antonio Light Collection MS 359: Detail of L-0959-M)

Night at the Archives

April 16, 2018

Every year, The Graduate School celebrates Graduate Student Appreciation Week — a GSAW20181week-long series of events and free offerings designed to recognize the contributions of UTSA’s graduate students. Held April 2-6, this year’s GSAW included events such as professional headshot sessions, coffee and cocoa study breaks, leadership workshops, a health and wellness fair, networking sessions, and – for the very first time – A Night at the Archives with Special Collections.

From 5:00-7:00 on Wednesday, April 4th, we opened our doors to graduate students for an exclusive, after hours, pop-up exhibit of our remarkable collections. We pulled a variety of materials for students to explore and interact with and as a special treat: the first five visitors received a behind-the scenes tour of our rare books vault.


Rare Books Librarian, Agnieszka Czeblakow, shows a music graduate student material from the Charles L. Stevens papers. Stevens was a musician, bandleader and vaudeville performer, and played with a number of musical groups including the San Antonio Band and the Beaumont Concert Band.


Photographs such as daguerreotypes, tintypes, and an albumen print from the Charles L. Stevens papers.

NITA1Research and Education Librarian, Shari Salisbury, looks on as students interact with A Guide to Higher Learning by book artist Julie Chen. The interactive book is “comprised of 8 sections of rigid pages that are hinged together in unexpected ways, giving the reader a physical reading experience that mirrors the complex meaning of the content.” (Julie Chen – Flying Fish Press). Also shown: The Tower Book designed by Beth Thielen with writings and artwork by inmates at the San Quentin State Prison and the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, California, Fortune Teller by Malini Gupta, and material from the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project records.



University Archivist, Kristin Law, shows Dr. Bruce Davis the original 1972 building guidelines and specifications for UTSA,  Building Construction: Volume I by Ford Powell & Carson and Bartlett Cocke & Associates


Special Collections’ tiniest book: Der Olympische Eid (“Olympic oath in 7 languages”)

Tom Shelton Wins Extra Mile Award

April 9, 2018

Special Collections is extremely pleased to announce that Tom Shelton, Special Collections Photographs Curator, has won UTSA’s University Excellence Extra Mile Award:

The Extra Mile Award recognizes an individual with (3) three years or more of continuous service with UTSA and who has taken the initiative to contribute to the success of UTSA through his or her outstanding contributions at work.   Extra efforts demonstrated in their accomplishments, timeliness, and follow-through, willingness to help fellow employees; provide good customer service with creativity, dedication, cooperation and reliability.  He or she has performed at a level above and beyond normal job requirements that have resulted in furthering the department’s and UTSA’s goals and mission.

Standing L-R: Kristin Law, University Archivist; Melissa Gohlke, Assistant Archivist; Amber Harmon, Library Assistant; Amy Rushing, Head of Special Collections; Carlos Cortez, Library Assistant; Tom Shelton, Photographs Curator; Dean Hendrix, Dean of Libraries; Alyssa Franklin, Digitization Specialist, Juli Favor, Volunteer; Garland Davis, Ruth Lyle, Volunteer; Volunteer. Seated L-R: Shirley Montalvo, Volunteer; Leah Rios, SVREP Project Archivist; Katie Rojas, Manuscripts Archivist; Julianna Barrera-Gomez, Digital Archivist.

Several members of Special Collections have shared their thoughts about Tom and his work:

“Tom’s approach to reference is truly outstanding—beyond outstanding.  Many patrons visiting the Special Collections Library at the HemisFair Park Campus are community researchers or people with a general interest in some aspect of our city or region’s history. Oftentimes they’re not entirely sure how to communicate what sort of material they might be looking for—they have a subject interest and want to know more, or they have a specific question but aren’t sure how they’d go about researching it. Tom calmly listens to their questions, expertly pulling out further details about their interests as they talk, and then applies what I call his ‘Tom Magic.’ He hears a name, a place, a section of town, and he walks to the card catalog and begins pulling out cards, then quickly walks to the print copy section and pulls out photos of their grandparents, their old family homes, even the gas station on the corner of St. Mary’s that they remembered getting candy from as a kid. I’ve seen patrons gasp and be moved to tears as they realize he’s found a long-lost image they were only hoping they might find.”

“Everyone knows and loves Tom, and I can see why. He is beyond helpful. He is humble, patient, kind, and quietly tenacious. Despite being the greatest walking treasure trove of local historical knowledge, he never makes anyone feel stupid or belittled for what they don’t know. He just explains things calmly and tells you what you want to know without any fuss. He serves up just the piece of history you’re looking for with a side of southern grace and charm.”

“I’m impressed with [Tom’s] patience in responding to the constant stream of requests for photographs. He is a living repository of San Antonio history, and has sharp recall for stories of the people, places, and events from our city’s past. There are several instances when I’ve spent time researching a topic, thinking I’ve uncovered something long forgotten, only to share my findings with Tom and have him add further details from his memory of a related project he worked on many years ago. He’s a marvel and a treasure.”

“Tom has a remarkable ability to listen attentively to stories of other people’s family histories. He is also a captivating storyteller—clearly drawn from his decades of service as an unofficial historian of San Antonio and South Texas—and is surprisingly funny for such a humble and unassuming individual.”

“Our department has benefitted immensely from the meticulous work he has put into creating descriptions for photographs documenting urban renewal projects, which allows patrons in the reading room and anywhere in the world (via our digital library) to locate homes and communities that were destroyed by San Antonio’s interstates.  His ability to remember details about photographs and aspects of San Antonio history and geography make him a living database.  While he, with the help of our devoted group of volunteers, has tirelessly digitized and created metadata for thousands of photos that we can now search in our photographs database, his ability to connect with patrons and understand what they’re looking for can never be replicated.”


Thank you Tom, for all that you do! We are proud of you and are lucky to have you as part of the Special Collections team.

A Month in Special Collections: March

April 2, 2018
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