NASA Emblems and Snoopy Stickers

Norman Belasco in November 1977

One of our new Houston Jewish History Archive collections contains items related to the life and work of Norman Belasco. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 26, 1923. A veteran of World War II, he served his country in the Pacific theater for four years. Upon conclusion of his military service, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University. Belasco joined NASA in 1961. During his 20 year career, he helped to develop a flush toilet for zero gravity environments, shares a patent for inventing a medical subject monitoring system, and was Deputy Chief of Medical Operations. He passed in 2004.

Four silkscreened emblems
Silkscreened emblems
Close-up of Apollo 11 silkscreened emblem

Because of his work, he saved NASA-related items. At first, I thought these emblems were just unfinished patches, but they are potentially so much more. The emblems have actually been silkscreened onto glass fiber cloth, the same as the astronauts’ suits. Some of the silkscreened Apollo 11 emblems were brought on that historic voyage. It’s unclear if this one was, but it’s neat to imagine that they’ve been to the moon and back.

Silkscreened emblem reading "Borman Lovell Anders"

Belasco saved another neat treasure from his time at NASA, Snoopy-themed stickers.

5 Apollo 11 Snoopy Stickers

Democratic Fun-Fest

Paper flier from the Democratic Fun Fest, explaining activities, from July 4, 1977

Come one, come all to the Democratic Fun-Fest. The letter below sent to Billie Carr outlines logistics like how to name your booth, for example the Amy Carter Lemonade Stand. It would have been interesting to know what “fun” name Carr came up with for her fortune teller and fish pond booths.

Letter to Billie Carr from Clintine Cashion explaining to Carr how the event will work.

Lately, the Billie Carr political papers have been getting some attention. In honor of the start of Women’s History Month, let’s shine a light on the woman and her work.

Billie McClain Carr (later known as “The Godmother” for her work on behalf of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party) was born in Houston, Texas, June 1, 1928. She grew up near downtown Houston, graduated from Sam Houston High School in 1946, and married three months later; she had three sons, and over the years took courses at South Texas College and the University of Houston. 

Carr’s activities as a political organizer began in 1952, when political issues in Texas stirred her to run for Democratic chairman of her precinct and she unexpectedly won. Soon afterward she became a protégé of Frankie Randolph, a leader and benefactress of liberal causes who helped found the Harris County Democrats (a liberal precinct organization) in 1953. She taught Carr the art of grass roots political organizing, and over time Carr assumed a leadership role in Harris County Democrats and began to establish a statewide reputation as an organizer, convention strategist, and spokesperson for the statewide liberal coalition. 

In 1954 Carr was elected a member from her precinct to the Harris County Democratic Executive Committee, serving in that capacity until 1972; she was also Harris County’s member on the Texas State Democratic Executive Committee from 1964 to 1966. She was a leader in efforts to achieve proportional liberal participation in presidential conventions and became nationally known in the Democratic Party for taking a rump delegation to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, an action which helped initiate a party-wide set of reforms abolishing the use of the unit rule by which conservative Democrats had been able to minimize the election of liberals as delegates to presidential conventions. 

As a liberal activist and strategist, Carr also fought for civil rights. She protested the Vietnam War and fought for women’s rights in the 1970s, and for gay rights in the 1980s. She helped organize the 1966 campaign leading to the election of Barbara Jordan, the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate, and was later described by U. S. Rep. Mickey Leland as “the grand old lady of liberal politics” for her efforts in helping a number of minority candidates (including himself) win political office. She later established a business, Billie Carr & Associates, specializing in campaign and other political services. 

In 1972 Carr was elected to serve as a member of the Democratic National Committee (a position she held until 2000); there she was elected “whip” for the progressive-reform caucus and in June 1981 was elected chair of the newly-formed Progressive-Liberal Caucus. At various periods she also served on the Credentials Committee, the Platform Advisory Committee on Older Citizens, and the Executive Committee. She passed away in 2003.

If you’d like to hear more from Carr, check out her oral history conducted by Rice’s own Dr. Chandler Davidson from 1974.

Woodson in News from Fondren

Cover of News from Fondren issue

In case you haven’t seen it, there are quite a few articles about the Woodson’s various projects and collection in the most recent issue of News from Fondren. They include information on the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) archive, the Reginald Moore Convict Leasing research collection, the Shepherd School digitization project, the Houston Folk Music Archive’s Homecoming concert, and the Wilson Collection of Historical Cartography and Geography.

Happy New Year!

Image of Paul B. Hendrickson in uniform.
Paul B. Hendrickson, 1917

We hope everyone had a nice break. We’re back and ready for researchers, if you’re able to drag yourself in. If you’d rather stay at home, we’ve got you covered.

Our hardworking student archivist, Trevor Egerton created a new online exhibit entitled: A Soldier’s Story: WWI Letters and Diaries of Paul B. Hendrickson

Image of Paul B. Hendrickson wearing a gas mask and holding a rifle with a bayonet.
Paul B Hendrickson at Camp Logan, 1917

It tells the story of Paul B. Hendrickson and includes an interactive map about his time here in Houston and in Europe. We hope you enjoy it.

100th anniversary of the Armistice of World War I

Paul B. Hendrickson in uniform

“Will be glad to see home some time and have a good long talk. Your loving son, Paul”

Sunday, November 11 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. Armistice Day commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany, ending hostilities on the Western Front of WWI. The cessation took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. A formal peace agreement was reached at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.

We recently digitized one of our World War I collections and it is now available in our digital archive. The Paul B. Hendrickson World War I collection contains correspondence written by Hendrickson to his family back home during his time in service. There is a diary kept during the year he was in France and almost 300 postcards which were sent home.  Hendrickson was stationed in France near Saint Mihiel sector on Armistice Day and wrote to his parents: “This is a big day here. Every one is celebrating. We played quite a while, and some of our boys grabbed a couple Frenchmen and began dancing.”

Hendrickson Armistice day letter

“This is a big day here. Every one is celebrating. We played quite a while, and some of our boys grabbed a couple Frenchmen and began dancing.”

Hendrickson enlisted on April 12, 1917 in Danville, Illinois in the Band, Headquarters Co, 5th Illinois Infantry National Guard, serving in the first enlistment. The regiment initially trained at Camp Parker in Quincy, Illinois. While there, he studied bugling and map drawing. On September 14, 1917, he traveled to Camp Logan, a newly created training camp in Houston, Texas. Hendrickson arrived at Camp Logan on September 17, 1917.  While at Camp Logan, he trained in trench warfare, open formation maneuvers, and rifle range practice. He arrived in France on May 24, 1918. He served in the Amiens sector, July 21-August 18; Verdun sector, September 9 – October 17; and St. Mihiel sector, November 7-11, 1918. He returned to the U.S. on May 22, 1919. View the finding aid online.

Peter Gardner Reels

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Image courtesy of The Media Preserve

The family of Peter Gardner had a large trove of over 100 reel-to-reels that they wanted to digitize. We worked with them to send the reels to The Media Preserve and now the music on the reels is alive once again.

A little background on Peter Gardner. He arrived in Houston in 1963 with his then wife and musical partner Isabelle. She now goes by Isabelle Ganz, expect an oral history from her in the coming months. The Gardners traveled the U.S. and Europe performing unique arrangements of traditional folk songs from all over the world. In 1963, Peter became the Director of Adult Activities at the Jewish Community Center. He started the radio program “The Sampler” on KRBE in 1965, which he recorded in his home. Peter also hosted pickin’ parties there in the mid-1960s, which is where Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt met.

The reels themselves shine a light on the early days of Houston’s folk scene and also provide a glimpse into the programming at the JCC. Live performers include Frank Davis, Kay (K.T.) Oslin, Ed Badeaux, Carolyn Terry, Sara Wiggins, John Lomax, Jr., Jerry Jeff Walker, perhaps the first recording of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and other surprising discoveries like The Gospel Mellowtones.

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Image courtesy of The Media Preserve

It will be a few months until the items are reading room ready, but we wanted to give everyone a sneak peek of what is to come.

Oral Histories and Wheatfield Concert

The Houston Folk Music Archive has a couple of new oral histories that have been indexed and are ready for viewing.

spinks-oh

The first is from Walter Spinks. He tells about his teenage years going to Sand Mountain Coffee House, his duo Fat and Furry, and being a co-owner of Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant.

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The second is from Houston folk band Wheatfield. They talk about the band’s formation, becoming a regional powerhouse band, their lives post-Wheatfield, and the reformation of the band.

If you are interested in watching more oral histories about Houston’s folk music scene, you can find more here.

Wheatfield will also be playing at Fondren Library live on November 2nd at 6 p.m. If you are in town for Homecoming or just love live music, please stop by. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

 

2018 HFMA Concert Letter 1 side rev

Sugar Land Convict Leasing in the News

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“Prisoners working construction, Convict Leasing Photograph 8,” Woodson Research Center – Fondren Library – Rice University, accessed July 23, 2018, https://exhibits.library.rice.edu/items/show/2425.

The activism highlighted in our collection entitled the Reginald Moore Sugar Land Convict Leasing System Research Collection took center stage last week. Articles in/on the Washington Post, CNN, the Houston Chronicle, and many others detail the discovery of 95 bodies believed to be former slaves and black prisoners leased to work on local sugar plantations.

To learn more and see images from the collection, please read the Rice News article, visit our online exhibit, and look over Moore’s collection inventory.