Public News online

The cover of the first issue of Public News. Features a picture of Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics.
1st edition of Public News

We’re happy to announce that one of Houston’s alternative weeklies is now digitized. Last year, Craig Keyzer donated his early run of Public News. We thought it would be a great newspaper to digitize. We were able to do this with funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project “Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage” grant.

We will eventually have Public News in our repository, but now you can view 88 issues from the first three years of the publication via The Portal to Texas History

As part of the same grant, UNT has helped us digitize a variety of newsletters and papers, including:

Ads in The Aegis

In the Marguerite Johnston Barnes Research Materials for Houston, The Unknown City, 1830-1991 (MS 455), there is a box of multiple editions of The Aegis, a publication created by Houston High School, later known as Central High School, and now named Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center.

The yearly publication is filled with ads for a variety of things, many that would not appeal to high school students. Let’s take a tour of Houston ads from 1909-1911.

Big Walter’s Bullets

A couple of weeks ago Sandy Hickey and Jomonica Phoenix invited me out to a container unit that had the archives of the Houston Blues Museum. One collection in the unit belonged to Big Walter “The Thunderbird” Price. Years ago, it was retrieved by Sandy and Jomonica from a storage unit. It contained all of Price’s possession before he passed.

Leather holster with bullets

Including a holster containing handcuffs and bullets from a .38 special. In addition to being a barrel house piano player and recording artist, Price had a variety of other professions/jobs, such as: record label owner, stage and film actor, crime scene photographer, restaurant owner, and security guard.

Instead of keeping the bullets, I took them to RUPD for proper disposal. Thanks to David Anderson for assistance.

David Anderson inspecting bullets.
Forgive the crazy reflections from the protective glass.

One last note on Big Walter Price, we already had possession of part of his collection from an earlier donation by Hickey and Phoenix. Last fall, I made selections from it to be digitized as part of the grant funded Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project “Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage.” This post won’t be the last on this larger than life man.

Space City! and KPFT Books

Donors have recently given us two Houston-specific books, which we’ll be adding to our rare books collection. The first is Exploring Space City!: Houston’s Historic Underground Newspaper edited by Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, Cam Duncan, and Sherwood Bishop. The book re-prints notable articles, interviews, photography, art, and ads from Space City!, which ran from 1969-1972.

If you want to learn more about Fanny, check out a very interesting podcast episode from Lost Notes.

The other Houston book is Live on Lovett Blvd.: Portraits of Musical Guests at KPFT Radio, 2010-2018 by David Britton. The book documents the talent that has graced the radio station’s, now former (or soon to be former), funky house on Lovett Blvd.

Below are a sampling of Britton’s photographs including the late Eric Taylor, Vince Bell, and the trio of Tim Easton, Betty Soo, and Will Sexton.

Impossible Exhibits

We recently updated our exhibits around the library. One which is located in the metal hallway, in the front cases near the main entrance, and the 3rd floor next to the Kyle Morrow Room is in conjunction with Archives of the Impossible conference. If you want to read more about the archives, Wired published an article about Jacques Vallée and his papers.

Inside the Woodson is an example of Covid-related art that has been donated.

Outside Woodson and across from the central elevator are exhibits of James Fraher’s photography for the books Zydeco in Texas and Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues written by Roger Wood. The focus is on the Black women highlighted in the books.

As always, please forgive the exhibit case photos. With all of the glass and without great equipment, they are hard to make pretty.

Broom Ball

While Houston is not as cold and icy as other parts of Texas and the U.S., the fears of ice covered streets was enough to cancel in-person classes. The library closed early last night at 8pm and will reopen today at noon.

It seems fitting on this freezing Friday to highlight broom ball. In the late 1970s/early 1980s a few years before the society ended, members of the Elizabeth Baldwin Literary Society came together to play broom ball at an ice skating rink. Does anyone know the name of the rink?

Elizabeth Baldwin Literary Society members playing Broom Ball at an ice skating rink, Rice University

It seems like ice skating and wide bell bottoms would not be a good fit. It looks like an accident waiting to happen.

MS 1000

Two photographs on a table featuring John Prine and Bonnie Raitt
John Prine and Bonnie Raitt

We have officially made it to 1000 special collections. It’s such a big accomplishment that we’ll have to add a zero to all of our three digit collections.

Red satin jacket photographed on table
A very limited number of these jackets were made.

If you are wondering what MS 1000 might be, it is the Gregg Fleishman collection. It is devoted to Fleishman’s love of the Houston music scene and includes goodies like a custom Rockefeller’s jacket.

Two photographs on a table featuring Emmy Lou Harris and The Neville Brothers
Emmy Lou Harris and The Neville Brothers

The collection also has photographs of performers like Bonnie Raitt, the Neville Brothers, and more. This is a collection that will keep growing over the next few years. We’re happy that it’s 1000.

Searching for Alums

While checking the transcriptions for Hispanic oral histories conducted in 2000 by HACER, I have relied heavily on the Campaniles and Threshers to track down the appropriate spellings of names. Is it Barbara or Barbra or which of the many spellings of Christie?

Interviewee Dorothy Farrington Caram ’55 threw me for a loop with one name, Yramategui. I heard “Martequiz.” I found him in the 1943 Campanile by searching his first name “Manuel.” Manuel Armando Yramategui ’44 in his short life made a long lasting impact on the Houston region.

Head shot of Manuel Armando Yramategui
Senior photograph

He became the curator at the Burke Baker Planetarium and was president of the Texas Conservation Council. He was also the go to astronomy and paleontology expert for the Houston Chronicle. Yramategui’s quotes show up frequently in the WATCHEM section. In the 1960s, he would appear on KTRK as a nature expert, a bit like Jack Hanna.

Black and white microform image of Manuel Armando Yramategui holding a fossilized bone next to his colleague.
Yramategui and a colleague, Houston Chronicle image, May 30, 1968

In January 1970, Yramategui’s life was cut short in what appears to be a robbery gone wrong while on his way to view a comet.

A year later the Middle Bayou area that he loved was renamed Armand Bayou. In 1974, Hana Ginzbarg raised funds to start the Armand Bayou Nature Center.

To learn even more about Yramategui, please read this loving and informative blog post about him and Ginzbarg.

Pottery and a Skull

Earlier in the week, while prepping our boxes for the move from Iron Mountain to the Library Service Center, I opened up a rather light box and discovered some pottery. I decided to revisit the box later.

Here are some of cups in the box.

But there was more . . . a male human skull. While it makes sense that the artist Hannah Holliday Stewart would want a skull as a model, it is rather odd that she chose this one. There are a variety of marks on the skull, along with tape residue. If you have any other thoughts on this, please share.

human skull from front
human skull from side
human skull with top of cranium removed

In case you are intrigued by skulls and have a strong stomach, you can check out this article on how human remains were made into skeletons in centuries past.

Exhibits Around the Library

Small statue of Doc C - Dr. Gilbert Cuthbertson

August has begun and it will soon be time to welcome everyone (faculty and students) back to campus. They will be now be greeted with new exhibits. Here’s a look at some of them.

Crowdsourcing transcription of historical documents – Location: 1st floor main hallway

This exhibit reveals a new software that we have been using to help small groups and/or the general public transcribe/translate historical documents. If you’ve got time on your hands and want to transcribe William Marsh Rice’s ledgers, we’d love to have your assistance. Click through the gallery to see how you can participate.

Remembering “Doc C” through his collection – Location: 1st floor exhibit case near front entrance

This exhibit, assembled by Doc C Copy Cataloguer, Lauren DuBois, shares highlights that she has discovered while working through his book collection.

Image of exhibit case of Doc C items.

Stewart Alexander Collection: Books and original recordings of trance and physical mediumship – Location: 1st floor exhibit cases outside of Woodson

These two exhibit cases showcase items from the newly acquired Stewart Alexander collection, which makes up part of the Archives of the Impossible.

Beauty from Above: Book Covers from the Anderson Collection on the History of Aeronautics – Location: 1st floor inside Woodson

In case anyone needs a dose of pretty, this exhibit simply puts a spotlight on some of the beautiful books in the Anderson collection.

Image of Anderson book covers in an exhibit case