We are once again offering grants to faculty interested in designing or invigorating their courses with unique content from UTSA’s Special Collections.
Four faculty grant recipients will receive $1,000 each to supplement their annual departmental travel allowance, providing additional flexibility to attend professional conferences.
Grant application deadline:
March 20, 2017
Visit lib.utsa.edu/FTIAgrants for all the details!
As work continues on the SVREP collection, one thing that is clear (no matter what category of documents you are working on) is that SVREP rarely worked alone. As an organization that stretched thousands of miles across the Southwest, they coordinated with and worked parallel to hundreds of organizations to achieve the same goals.
Figuring out why they worked together is much easier than figuring out how. As Latino numbers began to grow in the United States community advocates began to harness the power of the sheer number of people willing to get involved. One of the first newsletters I found when I started to inventory the SVREP Collection was a United Farm Workers newsletter from 1969. From there the partnerships (and acronyms) continued to grow.
From Organizations like Atlanta VEP (Voter Education Project) to MALDEF (The Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund), community organizers always found strength in numbers. Using networks to communicate, plan and organize, SVREP spread its message and its power. In fact, MALDEF is one of my favorite examples of SVREP’s cooperation with another organization to achieve results. Our archival material documents years of their work together to study representation in predominantly Hispanic school districts and took local school boards to court if they refused to provide representation for their minority students.
So much of this can seem like old news, but living in San Antonio offers us a unique chance to run into that history every day. Last Spring, I had the chance to meet local activist, Rosie Castro, at a voter registration event at The Esquire Tavern. I introduced myself and told her a little bit about my opportunity to work on SVREP archives. I knew she’d known Willie Velasquez but was unprepared for her response. “Are you kidding me” she smiled, “Southwest Voters and MALDEF hung out here at The Esquire all the time. Right here at this bar.” She pointed to a few stools a few feet away. To hear that members of two historic organizations planned strategy in the a bar that is now a popular downtown spot made me wonder about all the other stories our city would have to tell of partnerships, and civic alliances that stand as examples for us today.
In my own time as a community organizer, I have often seen how powerful connecting organizations can be. Whether it was for amplification, strategic alignment or just solidarity, SVREP used it’s ability to work with others without the advantage of the internet to strengthen their community.
SVREP and MALDEF filed 81 lawsuits with school boards to make sure students across Texas got the representation they deserved. While some local boards initially resisted, eventually all 81 complied.
**This project is generously funded by the NHPRC**
This month we continue “Names and Places of UTSA,” a blog series on university history, with a post by archives student assistant, Kira Sandoval.
On the south side of UTSA’s Main Campus, George Brackenridge Avenue connects Ximenes Avenue to the Child Development Center, University Oaks, and several parking lots. The street is named in honor of an important historical figure of San Antonio and UTSA’s history, George W. Brackenridge. He was a busy philanthropist and businessman who largely influenced the central Texas region. Though he lived and died before UTSA came into existence, he played an important role in shaping Texas education. Brackenridge Avenue was named after this figure because of his service as a San Antonian on the UT System Board of Regents for over 27 years. However, his legacy as a Texan has contributed much more to UTSA and the city of San Antonio than just his membership on the board.
San Antonians have been enjoying George W. Brackenridge’s generosity for over one hundred years. People might already be familiar with his name from leisurely time spent at Brackenridge Park. He donated his land for the park in 1899. He also donated Mahncke and Funston Park to the City of San Antonio.
George W. Brackenridge was born in Indiana on January 14, 1832. He attended Hanover College, Indiana University, and Harvard University. He moved to Texas with his parents in 1853 where he spent the majority of his life, except for a three year period when he was forced to leave Texas after claiming Union sympathies and escaping a close call with a lynching party. During this time, he was appointed by Abraham Lincoln, a close friend of his father’s, to work for the US Treasury Department. He briefly worked in Washington and then in New Orleans under Union forces. Guests to his home in San Antonio and friendships included U.S. General Grant and Mexican Presidents Porfírio Díaz and Francisco Madero. He died on December 28, 1920, and was buried as a 32nd degree Mason in the Brackenridge family’s cemetery near Edna in Jackson County.
George W. Brackenridge had an impressive résumé and had his hand in many pots. During his time in the war, he began amassing his fortune by smuggling cotton across Confederate lines for sale in the North, taking advantage of the law of supply and demand. The Confederacy had cut off the export of cotton in hopes to gain alliances with England and France, in exchange for their imports of the crop. This wartime endeavor led to the formation of the cotton firm Brackenridge, Bates and Company, which he organized with family and friends. With this business experience under his belt, in 1866 he returned from New Orleans to organize the San Antonio National Bank, for which he served a long 46 years as president. From 1883 to 1906, he was appointed president of the San Antonio Water Works company. Additionally, he served as president of the San Antonio Loan and Trust Company, director of the San Antonio Express Publishing Company, president of the San Antonio School Board, and president of the San Antonio Gas Light Company.
Another important figure and contributor to the historical importance of the Brackenridge family name was one of George’s sisters, Mary Eleanor Brackenridge. Mary Eleanor was a strong advocate and pioneer for women’s rights in Texas and the United States. She was one of the first women in the country to serve as a bank director. She founded the Woman’s Club of San Antonio and published a pamphlet in 1911, “The Legal Status of Texas Women,” which led to her involvement with San Antonio’s suffrage movement. She was the first woman to register to vote in Bexar County in 1918. Mary Eleanor also had a hand in establishing the College of Industrial Arts (now known as Texas Woman’s University) in Denton where she became one of the first females to sit on a board of regents in Texas.
Brackenridge’s own educational experience enlightened him to the importance of higher education. He believed that the “greatest way to assist a man was to enable him to help himself” and rise above ignorance through education. Many of his donations were given to educational facilities and universities. He donated large sums to educational institutions in San Antonio, to the Guadalupe College for African Americans in Seguin, the University of Texas, and the University Hall for women medical students at Galveston.
Brackenridge had a particular interest in funding African American and women’s education in the 19th and 20th centuries. Despite the fact that his father owned slaves, George believed that slavery was wrong. After emancipation he “calculated the value of the labor of the family slaves during their servitude, and determined to spend that amount of money on the race.” He spent over $65,000 on African American education in Texas, as well as donating land and buildings for the Prairie View Normal School for Negroes. He allocated an additional $50,000 to the school after his death. Perhaps due to his sister’s activism with women’s rights, George Brackenridge also took an interest in funding women’s education. He funded women’s halls at universities, including the College of Industrial Arts for which Mary Eleanor was a regent, and supported the employment of women instructors in the UT university system.
Brackenridge was estimated to have donated over 2 million dollars in his lifetime to educational purposes, but the exact amount is unknown as he often favored making anonymous donations to avoid public praise. The majority of his fortune after his death went towards the George W. Brackenridge Foundation for education, which still exists today. The Foundation continues to support education in honor of Brackenridge’s values at UTSA and in the San Antonio area. In fact, thanks to an endowment from the George W. Brackenridge Foundation, the Department of Philosophy and Classics at UTSA organized the Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series to bring guests to the university to speak to undergraduates on topics in multiple disciplines.
George W. Brackenridge’s philanthropic pursuits were the crux of his ambitions in life. He wished to provide funding and opportunities for underprivileged students in order to better their education and pursue a career of their choice outside of the limits of poverty. His incredible involvement in Texas’ educational institutions and San Antonio’s history make him an appropriate name to proudly represent on campus.
Belasco, Jessica. “Brackenridge Worked for Women’s Rights.” San Antonio Express-News, March, 18, 2015.
Handbook of Texas Online, A. Elizabeth Taylor, “Brackenridge, Mary Eleanor,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbr04.
Handbook of Texas Online, “Brackenridge, George Washington,” http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbr02
Holland, Richard. The Texas book: profiles, history, and reminiscences of the university. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006. (pp. 86-87)
Morgan , Bobbie Whitten. George W. Brackenridge and His Control of San Antonio’s Water Supply, 1869-1905. Master’s thesis, Trinity, 1961. (http://www.edwardsaquifer.net/pdf/Morgan_1961.pdf)
“Roadrunner Focus.” The Roadrunner, February 19, 1977, 5th ed., 6 sec. http://digital.utsa.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p15125coll7/id/218/rec/6.
San Antonio Express-News, “Brackenridge worked for women’s rights,” http://www.expressnews.com/150years/people/article/Brackenridge-worked-for-women-s-rights-6132717.php
The University of Texas at San Antonio, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Department of Philosophy and Classics, “Brackenridge Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series,” http://colfa.utsa.edu/philosophy-classics/brackenridge
The University of Texas System, “George Washington Brackenridge,” https://www.utsystem.edu/board-of-regents/former-regents/george-washington-brackenridge
This Monday, hundreds of thousands of San Antonians are participating in what has grown to be the nation’s largest Martin Luther King Jr. Day March. I have participated in the march in previous years, and I’m always impressed by the magnitude of it. Marching in solidarity for peace, equality, justice, and the remembrance of Dr. King with a quarter of a million people is a truly awesome experience.
Despite these previous experiences, nothing ever totally prepared me for the “real thing.” Participating in a present-day march is a very different experience from walking around the neighborhood where Dr. King lived and worked. This past August I traveled to Atlanta, GA, and had the opportunity to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“the King Center”). The King Center is a National Historic Site that includes a museum, archives, community/exhibition center, the childhood home of Dr. King, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King.
While in Atlanta, I also visited the Atlanta University Center, where I enjoyed a tour of the Robert Woodruff Library’s Archives Research Center, which holds the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Collection, and the Atlanta Voter Education Project Collection (a directly related counterpart to UTSA’s Southwest Voter Registration Education Project Collection). Photography was not allowed at the Woodruff Library’s Archives, but complete collection inventories and select digitized content can be seen by following the provided links.
One of the fundamental principles of archives is provenance – basically, the origin or source of archival materials. It drives much of what we do as archivists, including ensuring authenticity of our records, making decisions on how to organize collections, and aiding in greater understanding of collection content. It allows archivists and researchers to quite literally touch history and engage with it in a way that is unique and meaningful.So, with the concept of provenance in mind, it was particularly poignant to visit the King Center and see Dr. King’s personal papers firsthand. I was a bit awestruck and excited, but also felt the immense gravity of the past and its impact on our world today.
“The King Center is dedicated to educating the world on the life, legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., inspiring new generations to carry forward his unfinished work, strengthen causes and empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today.” Visiting birthplaces of historical figures and reading the words that they themselves wrote on the very piece of paper you hold in your hand can be powerful experiences that allow us to create intimate connections to the past. Places like the King Center and Archives are places of sustained memories that help us understand the present. How we act and what we do in the present helps keep the work of Dr. King alive.
For a brief history of San Antonio’s MLK Day March, please see this blog post from 2016.
For our first photography blog in 2017, we look back 100 years through images in our General Photograph Collection. The photos give us an idea of how Texans lived in 1917. With horses and buggies visible on the streets and farms, it shows that the modern era had not completely arrived. Yet significant changes in the lives of many Texans would come that year with the United States entry into World War I on April 6th. Young men who had never ventured out from Texas would go far away to the battlefields in France.
This post covers a recent addition to the Jacinto Quirarte Papers and is written by former archives student assistant, Marissa Del Toro.
Did you ever have that moment when everything you have been working on comes full circle? I had one of those moments earlier in May, when I serendipitously met Mrs. Sara Quirarte. She is the wife of the late Dr. Jacinto Quirarte, who was professor emeritus of Art History. While working in Special Collections this past year, I have helped process additions to the Jacinto Quirarte Papers. As a student who studies Latino and Latin American Art, and after becoming immersed in Quirarte’s collection, I have grown fond of the acclaimed art historian.
Dr. Jacinto Quirarte was a leading expert of pre-Columbian, Latin American, and Chicano art history. Born in 1931 in the small mining town of Jerome, Arizona, Quirarte lived with his family in an area and neighborhood known as “El Barrio Méxicano” or “El Barrio Chicano.” Quirarte received his B.A. and M.A. from San Francisco State College in 1954 and 1958. He later moved to Mexico City, where he received his doctorate from the National University of Mexico in 1964. Afterwards, Quirarte taught at the Colegio Americano in Mexico City, the University of the Americas in Mexico City, Yale University, and the University of Texas at Austin. He also worked with the U.S. State Department as the director of the Centro Venezolano in Caracas, Venezuela, where he developed a cultural exchange program to help introduce pop art from artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein to South America.
At the request of Tomas Rivera, Quirarte was invited to teach at the newly established University of Texas at San Antonio. In 1972, Quirarte became the founding Dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts, serving as one of the first academic officials charged with building the new institution. By 1979, he became director of UTSA’s Research Center for the Arts (RCA), a multidisciplinary program that explored Hispanic and Colonial influences in art and culture. In the early 1990s, Quirarte returned to full time teaching and research in the Art History Department. He became a professor emeritus in 2008 and passed away in 2012.
The Jacinto Quirarte collection consists of scholarly papers, research articles, correspondence, and images that present the scholar’s professional interests and administrative roles. His materials document his position as a key figure in the early days of UTSA, building curriculum plans, establishing the RCA, and writing grant proposals for the Art and Art History Department and the College of Fine and Applied Arts (now known as COLFA).
Quirarte worked with several local and national organizations, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Task Force on Hispanic American Arts, the San Antonio Arts Council, and the Harvard Journal on Chicano Affairs. The materials in his collection also show his process of writing, editing and publishing. Quirarte was a prolific writer whose books covered a broad range of topics, from the Izapan Style of Art (1973), to The Art and Architecture of Texas Missions (2002), and How to Look at a Masterpiece: Europe and the Americas (6th ed., 2003).
The Jacinto Quirarte Papers showcase his distinguished legacy, but they also highlight his rich collection of documents and materials on the early formation of the Chicano Art Movement. He was one of the first scholars to research and discuss the influence of Chicano and Mexican American art within the United States. His interest in the Chicano Art Movement of the 1960s and 70s began when he noticed a connection between borderland identity and the incorporation of pre-Columbian elements. In an interview with the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art, Quirarte noted that it was during his time in 1960s Mexico that he became interested in the “confluences of culture” and “fascinated with the outsider and the insider relationship in terms of culture and civilization.”
Photo: (Box 23: Santa Barraza)
In 1972, Quirarte and his wife drove across the U.S. to interview as many artists as they could meet. During this one year expedition, they traveled from the Southwest to the East Coast, searching for and talking with artists who identified as Mexican American or Chicana/o, such as Luis Jiménez, Michael Ponce de León, Melesio Casas, and Chelo González Amézcua. This research trip led to one of his first books, Mexican American Artists (1973), which further developed into A History and Appreciation of Chicano Art (1984).
According to the renowned scholar Alicia Gaspar de Alba, the Chicano Art movement coincided and grew out of the mid-1960s Chicano Civil Rights Movement, which formed as a resistance “to the hegemonic structures of mainstream America” and instead looked to affirm a “multilingual, multicultural heritage as expressed in the concepts of mestizaje and la Raza.” Quirarte’s early research of the Chicano Art movement recognized that many of the artists were “trying to deal with their own experience, their own background” while using pre-Columbian language and signifiers, such as the glyphs and statue of Coatlicue seen in Santa Barraza’s work. These artists operated in a context that explored their contemporary identity and pre-Columbian ancestry, but also publicly raised important social issues. They called for equal opportunity and representation, as well as acknowledgement of their collective histories and cultures.
Jacinto Quirarte’s research bridged a relationship between the ancient styles of pre-Columbia with the contemporary works of artists, making the past relevant while providing an ancestral context for the modern Chicana/o identity. His papers are evidence of his life and his pioneering spirit, which established a foundation for future generations—like myself—to pick up and continue.
Alicia Gaspar de Alba. Chicano Art Inside/outside the Master’s House: Cultural Politics and the CARA Exhibition. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.
Elaine Ayala, “Historian a founding father of UTSA,” San Antonio Express-News (http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Historian-a-founding-father-of-UTSA-3743465.php), accessed May 12, 2016. Originally published and updated by the San Antonio Express-News online on July 28, 2012.
“Jacinto Quirarte,” Legacy.com (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sanantonio/obituary.aspx?pid=158797465), accessed May 12, 2016. Originally published by Express-News on July 29, 2012.
Oral history interview with Jacinto Quirarte, 1996 Aug. 15-16, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Available: http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/oralhistories/transcripts/quirar96.htm (Accessed May 12, 2016).
Rebecca Luther, Communications Coordinator Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, “UTSA professor emeritus, art historian Jacinto Quirarte dies at age 80,” UTSA Today (http://www.utsa.edu/today/2012/07/quirarte.html), accessed May 12, 2016. Originally published by UTSA Today on July 27, 2012.