- MS 460 Pan American Round Table of Houston Records: 6 boxes (7 linear feet) of organizational papers of PART of Houston, dating back to about 1940.
- UA 99.0028 UTSA. Papers of Faculty and Staff: Martinello, Marian: 1 box ( .5 linear feet) consisting of certificates and photos related to the work of Dr. Martinello, former Professor in the College of Education and Human Development.
Dr. Marian Martinello held a significant role in the development of UTSA and its College of Education and Human Development. Dr. Marinello was enthusiastic about history, especially San Antonio history, and wrote several historical inquiry books. UTSA Special Collections is honored to have her papers added to the University Archives.
- UA 99.0016 UTSA. Papers of Faculty and Staff: Gelo, Daniel: 1 box (.5 linear feet) of faculty papers of College of Liberal and Fine Arts Dean and Department of Anthropology Professor Daniel J. Gelo.
- 20 titles [February Title List]
“Examines the religion, family, economics, and material culture of women’s lives in the late Spanish and Mexican colonial communities in 1750-1846 through women’s wills. The wills help to explain the workings of the patriarchal system in the Spanish and Mexican borderland communities”–
UTSA Special Collections staff was sad to learn of the recent passing of Helen Cloud Austin on February 22, 2016. Special Collections had a long relationship with Austin, beginning in 1997 when she donated the first portion of her papers to the University. However, prior to 1997, Austin had already completed a prolific career in social work in San Antonio and beyond, earning local and national recognition for her dedication.
Austin was born in 1925 in Kentucky, and earned her Masters of Science degree in 1953 from the University of Louisville’s Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work, where she was only the second African-American to attend. After graduation she began work in Chicago at Cook County Hospital. In 1957 she moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she became Chief of the Outpatient Department at Longview State Hospital. Her husband’s civil service work led the couple to San Antonio in 1962, where she had trouble finding professional work in the public sector due to Texas’ racial segregation laws. These laws were thankfully overturned in 1965, and Austin was finally able to secure employment that matched her qualifications. That year she was hired by the San Antonio State Hospital; she was the first African-American professional to work there.
Austin spent nearly 23 years at the San Antonio State Hospital before retiring in 1987. During her career she was responsible for implementing several new programs, including orientation for newly admitted patients, transportation services for family and friends of patients, and encouraging short-term patients to register and vote. In 1983 she was recognized as San Antonio Social Worker of the Year, as well as Texas Social Worker of the Year. In 1984 she was honored as the nation’s Social Worker of the Year, making her the only Texas to receive all three awards.
After retirement Austin remained active in the San Antonio community. She served as a volunteer at the State Hospital, participated in Delta Sigma Theta sorority activities (member since 1945), and began the Senior Citizen Ministry at St. Paul United Methodist Church. She also served on the boards of San Antonio area mental health and community organizations, and was a life member of the NAACP. Her impact on the community, as well as her absence from it, will be felt for many years to come.
Helen Cloud Austin’s Papers are housed at UTSA’s Main Campus and can be viewed by appointment in the John Peace Library Special Collections Reading Room. The collection guide for her papers is available online, and the majority of her papers are also available to view online through the collection guide.
(Sterling Houston Papers) Sterling Houston had a thirty-year career in professional theater as an actor, musician and writer in San Antonio, New York and San Francisco. The Sterling Houston Papers primarily document Houston’s involvement in San Antonio theater through scripts, screenplays, programs, and press materials. Also included are correspondence, research materials, project files, photographs, and audiovisual materials.
Sterling Houston was born in San Antonio in 1945. Houston attended Los Angeles City College before dropping out in 1964 to study acting in New York. He worked as an actor Off-Broadway and was involved with the Playhouse of Ridiculous theater. In 1968 Houston moved to San Francisco with Larry Neal, his partner and collaborator. For the next seven years they performed as the rock and roll band, Fleshtones. In 1978, Houston returned to theater and began working at the Magic Theatre as a stage technician, staff technician, actor and advisor on issues of African-American and gay sensitivity. In 1981, panicked by health issues, Houston returned to San Antonio to join the family real estate business.
After returning to San Antonio, Houston became involved with the local community and professional theater companies as an actor, director and producer. In 1983, encouraged by a residency with George C. Wolfe, Houston began to write plays. In 1985 he was commissioned by the San Antonio Museum of Art to create a work about the Harlem Renaissance, which became the musical, A’Lelia. Houston joined Jump-Start Performance Company, a not-for-profit presenting and producing theater company, dedicated to the exploration of alternative viewpoints in performance, in 1988 and worked as performer, writer-in-residence, administrative director and artistic director over the next 18 years, premiering 30 plays in that time. His theatrical works in that time include: Relationships: Good and Not So Good, a collaboration with dancer Blondell Cummings, which toured nationally; La Frontera, about a Latino family moving into San Antonio’s historically black East Side; High Yello’ Rose, an all-female musical retelling of the myths of traditional Texas history toured to Austin, after a successful run in San Antonio; Isis in Nubia , an epic re-telling of the myths of ancient Egypt; Santo Negro, a mixed-media musical around events in the life of 16th century African saint, Martin de Porres; On the Pulse of the Morning , a collaboration with poet Maya Angelou for a cast of nine speakers and four singers; Black Lily, White Lily a domestic farce chosen to open Cleveland Public Theatre’s Festival of New Plays; The Alien Show/Kool Jams ‘99 , a play with music dealing with aliens, alienation, and the coming millennium; Message Sent , a short play commissioned by the Actor’s Theater of Louisville’s Humana Festival; Cameoland , a musical history of San Antonio’s African American community before integration; Miranda Rites, a surrealistic tragicomedy. His plays are known for their biting social commentary, burlesque humor, and intensive musical ideas.
Sterling Houston received numerous honors and accolades throughout his theatrical career. He earned the Individual Artist Grant from the Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs, City of San Antonio three times, and was one of only a few Texans to receive a commissioning grant from the Mid-America Arts Alliance. He was chosen “Artist of the Year” in 1991 by the San Antonio Business Committee for the Arts and in 1992 by the San Antonio Light. In 1997, Houston was the recipient of the prestigious Arts and Letters Award from the San Antonio Public Library, given for outstanding contributions to the arts and cultural life of San Antonio. High Yello’ Rose was nominated for seven Alamo Theater Arts Council Globe awards in 1993, winning two, for Best Original Score, and Best New Script. Houston was one of two local recipients of a New Forms Regional Initiative Grant (NFRIG) funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, for the commissioning of Santo Negro, which also received a grant from Art Matters, Inc., and was selected by The Art Institute of Chicago to be a part of The Americas: Zones of Contact series in spring of 1995. In 1997 the State of Texas Legislature recognized Sterling Houston with a citation for his outstanding contributions to the cultural life of the state. Houston received a Rockefeller MAP (Multi-Arts Production fund) grant for research and development of Cameoland, which was presented in collaboration with the Carver Community Cultural Center in 2003 and was cited by the San Antonio Express News as one of the ten best plays of that year.
Houston lectured and presented on his work in theater at colleges and institutions in Chicago, New York, London, Boston, Cleveland, New Orleans, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. He served as a peer review panelist for the states of Nevada, Georgia and Texas, and presented on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, Grantmakers in the Arts, Outwrite, College Art Association, and The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Association of Theater in Higher Education. Houston was also involved in community projects, including the clean-up of Ellis Alley in east San Antonio and the Founding Mothers Mural and the McCreless Library Project. He died in November 2006.
The Sterling Houston Papers can be viewed online through the collection guide. Select the “view contents” links. Access the physical materials can be obtained by submitting a “request access to a collection” online form. The collection is housed at UTSA’s main campus and can be accessed at the John Peace Library Special Collections reading room.
Sources: Sterling Houston Biography 1945-2006. Jump-Start Blog, http://jump-start.org/?p=191; Hennessy, Keith. “Jump-Start Performance Co.: Interview with Sterling Houston.” Community Arts Network; and Paddie, Dennis. Sterling Houston Walkin’ His Blues. The Gay and Lesbian Review, vol. 14, no. 2.
This month we continue “Names and Places of UTSA,” a blog series on university history, with a post by archives student assistant, Marissa Del Toro.
One of the central hubs of the university, the McKinney Humanities building sees hundreds of students, staff, and faculty pass through its halls on a daily basis. Posters line the walls, students wait around for their next class to begin, and organizations set out tables to recruit new members. While the name McKinney may not be easily recognizable to many, the person behind the eponym is a kindred soul who understood the value of education.
The McKinney Humanities building was named after Mary E. McKinney (1930-2009), a San Antonio native, who was born and raised on the Southside. Her father and mother, a Southern Pacific railroad engineer and a homemaker, never had the opportunity to attend college, but they made it a priority for their daughter. She attended Trinity University, earned her bachelor’s degree in 1950, and later earned her master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin. She became a teacher, serving the public and private schools in San Antonio for 25 years, retiring from St. Margaret Mary Catholic School on the Southeast Side.
McKinney continued her education by taking additional classes at UTSA. According to Lydia Lum, McKinney enrolled in postgraduate courses from 1992 to 1996, taking classes ranging from Latin and philosophy to ancient history and Dante. It was during this time that McKinney learned about the student struggle to cover rising tuition costs. While standing in line for registration, she overheard a student conversation about the need for two or more jobs to afford tuition. Resolute with this revelation, McKinney went to the development office and insisted on starting a scholarship fund to assist low-income students. Known as the Felix and Elizabeth McKinney Memorial Scholarship Fund, it is named in honor of her parents.
Ms. McKinney’s generosity towards UTSA continued even beyond her death in 2009. McKinney’s will revealed that she bequeathed the remainder of her estate—which included $22 million of personal property, stocks, and bonds—to UTSA. Part of this donation, valued at $13 million, comes from three South Texas ranches in Atascosa and Frio counties on the Eagle Ford Shale. McKinney inherited most of this land from her parents, including part of her mother’s family inheritance and an investment made by her father when land was still $10 an acre. This donation ensures that the Felix and Elizabeth McKinney Memorial Scholarship Fund will continue as a full-ride scholarship for low-income new students, as well as smaller scholarships for upper-division students.
McKinney was an advocate of education, who also donated personal items to UTSA. Our Rare Books collection includes her cache of titles on Texas and San Antonio history. These volumes range from Fabulous San Antonio to After Half Moon: A History of Shiner, Texas, 1887-1975. Evident from her personal book collection and tremendous support of UTSA, McKinney was proud to be a Texan and San Antonian. Dr. Romo once described McKinney as “an outstanding, humble Texan who did not care for fame or recognition.” He also noted that through her donation she would “help generations of UTSA students achieve their education goals.”
UTSA honored the memory and legacy of McKinney by renaming the former Humanities Social Science building in 2011. The McKinney Humanities building, also known as the MH building, is one of the seven original buildings and was also the first building to open at the main campus. When the building opened in 1975 it was known as the Humanities Business building, housing the offices of the faculty and staff for the humanities and business programs as well as nine lecture halls and 51 classrooms. According to the May 1975 UTSA Bulletin, the building—designed by campus architects Ford, Powell & Carson and Bartlett Cocke & Association—was made to convey a feeling of “simplicity and flexibility” but with a “sense of style.”
The building is a massive four story enclave, which is now home to the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, including offices for 23 of COLFA’s undergraduate degree programs and its 13 graduate degrees, along with the Veterans Certification Office. There are numerous niches, interior patios, and skylight roofs that create an ideal atmosphere for students studying but also for social gatherings. On any given day, a stroll through MH reveals numerous scenes of students frantically studying outside of their classroom, organizations fundraising for their next big event, and professors gliding towards their offices in anticipation of the line of students waiting to discuss their grade. Filled with students, staff, and faculty who are encouraged to pursue and lead an education with integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration, and innovation, this is the best environment to honor the legacy of Mary E. McKinney. So the next time you walk (or run) to your class in the McKinney building, give a little smile to the woman who helped UTSA.
Lorna Stafford, “HSS Building renamed McKinney Humanities Building in honor of benefactor,” UTSA Today (http://www.utsa.edu/today/2011/02/mckinneybuilding.html), accessed January 31, 2015. Originally published by UTSA Today on February 9, 2011.
Lydia Lum, “Former Texas Public School Teacher Leaves Millions to UT-San Antonio,” Diverse: Issues in Higher Education (http://diverseeducation.com/article/14243/), accessed January 31, 2015. Originally published by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education on October 8, 2010.
Greta Kaul, “UTSA capital campaign wraps up with a cool $180 million,” San Antonio Express-News (http://www.expressnews.com/news/education/article/UTSA-capital-campaign-wraps-up-with-a-cool-180-6552589.php), accessed January 31, 2015. Originally published by San Antonio Express-News on October 5, 2015.
Maria Di Mento, “No. 41 (tied): Mary E. McKinney,” The Chronicle of Philanthropy (https://philanthropy.com/article/No-41-tied-Mary-E/159133), accessed January 31, 2015. Originally published by San Antonio Express-News on February 06, 2011.
Christi Fish, “Mary E. McKinney bequeaths $22 million estate for UTSA student scholarships,” UTSA Today (http://www.utsa.edu/today/2010/10/mckinneygift.html), accessed January 31, 2015. Originally published by UTSA Today on October 6, 2010.
Melissa Ludwig, “Ex-teacher gives $22 million to UTSA,” mySA (http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Ex-teacher-gives-22-million-to-UTSA-689360.php#photo-356176), accessed January 31, 2015. Originally published by mySA on October 5, 2010.
Advertising agencies regularly hired Zintgraff Photography studio to take photographs to promote the mission of the agency’s clients. These photographs were published in newspapers, consumer and business magazines, annual reports, product catalogs, and brochures.
One of these firms was Fraser-Wiggins-Collins and Steckly Advertising Agency, with offices at the corner of Mistletoe and McCullough Avenues in the Monte Vista. Clients of the agency included Oak Hills Country Club, local automobile dealerships, Interstate Theaters, and numerous other businesses in San Antonio.
These are some of the photographs, recently digitized, that were taken for Fraser-Wiggins-Collins and Steckly.
In honor of Black History Month, Top Shelf is featuring a look at the early life and educational accomplishments of Hattie Elam Briscoe.
Hattie Ruth Elam Briscoe was born to Cloral Burton Elam and Willy Perry Elam in Shreveport, Louisiana on November 13, 1916. She was the second of five children. Hattie’s mother taught her children to read and write before entering school, which resulted in Hattie skipping a grade level upon entering elementary school. Her mother also encouraged and inspired Hattie to go to college. Sadly, her mother suffered a stroke and passed away at the age of thirty-three. Hattie was just nine years old. After her mother’s passing, her father moved the family to Marshall, Texas. Her father remarried, but unfortunately Hattie’s new stepmother was not terribly kind to her. When she was sixteen, her father “whipped” her at her stepmother’s request, and she decided to run away from home. She stayed with friends initially, but then began working as a cook for another family in exchange for room, board, and other necessities.
Upon graduating from high school, Hattie won a scholarship to Wylie College, where she majored in education and minored in German. While attending Wylie, Hattie met her future husband, William Briscoe, a San Antonio native. After college, she began teaching fourth grade in Wichita Falls, Texas. She and William married in secret (due to her teaching job) on October 12, 1940. In 1941 Hattie left her teaching job in Wichita Falls and moved with William to San Antonio.
William had previously attended cosmetology school in Austin, and opened his own seven chair beauty shop in San Antonio on the corner of Pine and Alabama Streets. He passed his skills on to Hattie, who was then able to take and pass the state board without attending cosmetology school. After working with William in their shop, she attended Hicks Beauty School to obtain her instructor’s license, and began working for the same school afterwards. She also taught cosmetology at Wheatley School (now Brackenridge High School) for six years.
While teaching at Wheatley, William encouraged Hattie to return to school for her master’s degree. However, upon obtaining her master’s degree in administration and supervision from Prairie View A&M University, she was fired from her job at Wheatley. Hattie speculated that it may have been due to jealousy from the superintendent (he had the same degree), but never found out for certain why she had been fired. She had wanted to be the first black state supervisor in cosmetology, though this did not come to fruition.
Hattie began looking for work, and was able to find employment with Kelly Air Force Base as a secretary. In the meantime, her friend, Dr. Ruth Ann Bellinger, encouraged her to go to law school. Hattie applied to St. Mary’s University School of Law and was accepted. She managed to work full time throughout school and performed at the top of her class. In 1956, she became the first black woman to graduate from St. Mary’s School of Law. She was the only black female attorney in Bexar County for the next 27 years, earning numerous awards and honors. She passed away on October 17, 2002.
“Well, if you’re determined to do something, you just do it.” – Hattie Elam Briscoe, 1997.
The Hattie Elam Briscoe Papers are housed at UTSA’s Main Campus and can be viewed by appointment in the John Peace Library Special Collections Reading Room. The collection guide for the papers is available online. Additionally, items from the collection have been scanned and can be viewed online.
In May 2015 we announced the acquisition of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project/William C. Velásquez Records. The collection–one of the largest archival acquisitions in UTSA Libraries’ history—consists of 500 linear feet of documents and 154 pieces of audiovisual material. The collection covers the organization’s first 20 years, from 1974 to 1994, and includes redistricting maps, voter exit surveys, GOTV campaign planning materials, pre-election surveys, office files, research files, research publications, and newsletters.
We are very excited to announce that The National Archives of the United States has awarded the UTSA Libraries a $145,650 grant to process the records and digitize the audiovisual material in the collection.
The grant is one of the largest awarded by the National Archives this year, and will cover the additional staff needed to process the collection so it can be used for research. The work is expected to take approximately two years.
Not only is this grant a huge honor of distinction for UTSA, but it commemorates the legacy of Willie Velásquez and recognizes the continued hard work and dedication of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and the William C. Velásquez Institute staff.
Be on the lookout for regular Top Shelf posts on the progress of this project!