Just in Time for the Super Bowl!


This Sunday the National Football League’s Super Bowl XLVII will be broadcast to eager fans throughout the world. Most folks probably won’t be conducting archival research during the game, but if they wanted to (and if the archive was open on a Sunday,) then they might stop by and take a look at some of the interesting things we have at the SWC. In the past we’ve shared info about our college football collections (hyperlink SWC and to NCAA) but today we’re all about our NFL goodies.

Above is something that comes, strangely enough, from our Southwest Conference Records. Created by long-time donor Bo Carter, this list documents the 1977 season of the Denver Broncos. In those days it was more difficult to keep track of the specifics of win/loss records and final scores. Even local newspapers might not provide more than information about only the local team. Carter documented this information for each NFL team from 1976 through 1980.


Artifacts are a great way to understand a collection. Tangible, physical items that aren’t just printed words on a page can bring the whole collection to life. Take this New Orleans Saints umbrella, found within the 14 box John Mecom, Jr. Papers. Mecom was a Houston, Texas oilman who owned the Saints for 18 years, eventually selling them in May 1985 to current owner Tom Benson. Umbrellas are present at many New Orleans festivities, with a history that is far too long to share here. Suffice to say that the New Orleans Saints fans, and particularly current owner Tom Benson, are never afraid to sport their gold and black umbrellas similar to the one we see here.


Umbrellas aren’t the only sports artifacts we preserve. Check out this football signed by former NFL defensive back Jerry Gray. A graduate of the University of Texas, Gray went on to play professional football for the L.A. Rams (as you can see from the signature on this ball,) Houston Oilers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers until his retirement in 1993. Gray currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. Because he played football at Lubbock Estacado High School (Lubbock is the home of the Southwest Collection, by the way,) he was generous enough to donate some of his materials to us. And so we have an awesome autographed football!


Printed material and artifacts are not the only way the SWC has been able to preserve the stories of the NFL and its players. Over the past 60 years, historians at Texas Tech have conducted over 6,000 oral history interviews found both here and here (and of course by visiting the SWC, where boxes upon boxes like those seen above await the attention of eager researchers.) Some of the earliest interviews in our holdings date from the late 1940s. One such was conducted with retired running back Duane Thomas. From 1970 to 1974 he toted the rock for the Dallas Cowboys, San Diego Chargers, and Washington Redskins. Much of the interview concerns his thoughts about being an African American professional football player both in the NFL and at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M) in Canyon, TX.

The documents, artifacts, and recordings shared above represent a small fraction of our football-related materials. Give our Reference Staff a shout and they will help you get your hands on anything else!

African American Collections at the SWC!

Daniel BensonThis Monday, January 20th, the nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. With that in mind, we’d like to share a little about our collections documenting African American history. The Southwest Collection (SWC) houses a tremendous amount of material on this topic, including books, oral histories, photographs, newspapers, and the papers and records of people and organizations. In fact, because we preserve so many items, we’re going to highlight this week only items related to the Lubbock, Texas area (where the SWC lives, in case you didn’t know yet!)

The SWC contains more than two-dozen manuscript collections that refer to African-Americans from the slave era until the present day. As an example, the image above is an excerpt from the Daniel H. Benson Records, documenting the career of the titular Lubbock area lawyer. The subject of this material was described as a “class action suit on behalf of all Black and Mexican American citizens in the City of Lubbock…(challenging) the at large election system [then] used to elect council men to the City Council.”  The original suit was filed in 1976 and the ruling was appealed in 1979. The summary shared above is just one of nearly 1,000 pages of documentation that can be viewed not only in our Reference room, but also among our digital collections.

cook at the college inn

In our files are well over 130 professionally conducted oral history interviews relating to African Americans throughout Texas spanning nearly 45 years! In addition, photographs of African Americans appear in numerous collections. The photo shared here is of a cook who worked at the College Inn, a Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) women’s dormitory.


Our newspaper collections are vast. In addition to the general run of dozens of regional and local newspapers available on microfilm and digitally, the SWC maintains a virtually complete set of issues of the West Texas Digest, published since September 1977 by Eddie Richardson and T. J. Patterson. Its goal was, among other things, to inform the world about the African American community of Lubbock, Texas, and the surrounding region. The publication went through many titles (such as the Lubbock digest, as the above image shows,) but what any researchers really needs to know is that regardless of title we have nearly 1,600 images of the publication spanning 1977 to 2010.

Manhattan Heights 2

There was another African American newspaper in Lubbock, this one active during the 1960s. The Manhattan Heights Times was created by Scott and Norman Williamson, and it began publication in 1961. The first African American newspaper in town, it briefly ceased its run in 1965. It didn’t take long for it to return with a new title, appearing as The Manhattan Heights and West Texas Times that same year. This iteration of the paper ran until the late 60s.

We can’t overstate how many materials we have on this subject. Fortunately, our Reference Staff can help any interested researcher navigate through them. Don’t hesitate to give them a shout!

Texas Tech University: Then and Now

Will rogers combo pack

(SWC HC-E168) (Texas Tech University)

This Wednesday, January 15th, Texas Tech University (TTU) will be opening its doors for the first class day of the 2014 Spring semester. The Texas Tech University Archives (UA) here at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library is full of items commemorating such events as well as other TTU occasions. Photographs comprise a large portion of their materials; so many, in fact, that UA staff were able to curate an exhibit entitled Texas Tech: Then and Now, which is now on display in the SWC’s Formby Room. Many of its sports-related photographs for this exhibit can also be seen near the main entrance of the United Spirit Arena.

The image above are included in the exhibit. To the left we see former President Dossie Wiggins accepting TTU’s iconic Will Rogers statue in 1950. A gift from the Amon G. Carter Foundation, the statue (actually entitled Riding into the Sunset) is often wrapped in red for sporting events such as the TTU football homecoming game.

admin view combo pack

(SWC HC-C2502) (Texas Tech University)

In 1924, the Texas Technological College (the  name was changed to Texas Tech University in 1969) Administration Building (left) was a lonely sight on the South Plains prairie. That is not the case any longer. As you can see from the photograph on the right (taken from the English and Philosophy building located almost a half-mile southwest of Administration), the campus has expanded into dozens of buildings amounting to the second largest contiguous university campus (1,843 acres) in the United States. The almost uniform use of Spanish Renaissance architecture is one of its highlights.

football combo pack

(SWC HC E355) (Texas Tech University)

What would modern university life be like without sports? Definitely less entertaining for many students on Saturdays during the fall. TTU’s football team is now known as the Red Raiders, but from 1925 to 1936 they were known as the Matadors. The photograph on the left shows the first Matador touchdown in 1925, scored against Montezuma College. The field of play has changed a little bit since then, as the photo of the 60,000-spectator-capacity AT&T stadium shows.

8A-First Faculty Meeting 1925 B&W

(SWC HC-P343)

Photos and documentation about buildings and statues aren’t the only thing the University Archives preserves. Faculty records are important as, as the participants in the first-ever faculty meeting at TTU, pictured above, would no doubt have agreed. They met for the first time on September 15, 1925, to discuss the purposes of the college and make plans for the upcoming year. Although in 1925 TTU clearly wasn’t swarming with faculty members, it currently boasts over 1,100.

14B-Old Computer Lab (U185.6) B&W

(HC- U185.6 Box#2 F11)

Computers factor heavily into the academic life of today’s university. The TTU Library alone currently owns and maintains more than 200 computers for student, faculty, and public use. The university has for decades striven for similar accessibility. Want proof? Check out this photo of students several decades ago enjoying then-state-of-the-art computing technology.

24A-Ransom Walker and Basketball Team

(La Ventana 1926)

Let’s end with a little bit more about sports. This is a photo of Texas Technological College’s men’s basketball team in 1926. At that time, games were played in the Agricultural Pavilion because the campus did not yet have a gym. Ransom Walker, the first captain of both the basketball team and the football team, is seated at center holding the ball. Walker was also the first Matador to play in a post-season all-star football game (the 1929 East-West Shrine Game) and as a running back was the team’s top offensive player in 1927 and 1928.

The Texas Tech Then & Now exhibit will be on display indefinitely at the SWC, and the images in the United Spirit Arena will be up at least through the spring semester. Both are open for free to all interested visitors. Our University Archives has many other items, all of which our Reference Staff are always thrilled to help you find.

–  by Amy Mire, Lynn Whitfield, & Robert Weaver

Oil! Oil! And More Oil! And a Cathedral.

land rig001

Oil is a big deal in Texas, and has been for decades. Because Texas is the focus of many of the SWC’s collections, it should come as no surprise that many of our collections relate to the oil industry. One of our largest is the Land Rig Newsletter Records. Filling 113 boxes, the collection consists not only of copies of the titular newspaper, but research material, data, maps, and artifacts related to the publication. It also contains several boxes that seem out of place relating to the collection’s author, Richard Mason’s, collaboration on an art history book entitled Mystical Themes in le Corbusier’s Architecture in the Chapel Notre Dame Du Haut at Ronchamp: The Ronchamp Riddle. More on that mouthful in a moment, but first the tale of Land Rig Newsletter.

Richard Mason, was the owner and publisher of the Newsletter, publishing his first issue in October, 1992. It soon became a standard in the industry, documenting rig counts, owners, service industry information, and a slew of technical data in each issue. He even developed metrics that provided greater transparency to the formerly opaque U.S. onshore drilling services market. These innovations would net him gigs as an oil and gas consultant, and later senior positions at various prominent oil companies

land rig research002

Mason’s story took a tragic turn on September 11, 2001. Many of The Land Rig Newsletter’s subscribers were located in the World Trade Center towers in New York City. As a result of the terrorist attacks, it lost most of its subscription base. Over the next several years it struggled to meet its costs, but in August 2009 Mason sold it to competing publisher Rig Data. Few collections come to the SWC with such a story in tow.

Land Rig firetruck

The Newsletter’s history is not all doom and gloom. Along with the boxes full of newsletters and Mason’s research material came several artifacts, including this workover (well servicing) rig/mobile drill rig. Needless to say, toys are a welcome addition to our stacks.


The last of the Richard Mason material that we processed revolved around something completely unrelated to The Land Rig Newsletter, or to the oil industry at all for that matter. Mason had received his BA in History from Ohio University, and never lost his passion for the study of that subject. As a result, he collaborated with Robert Coombs to compose Mystical Themes in le Corbusier’s Architecture in the Chapel Notre Dame Du Haut at Ronchamp: The Ronchamp Riddle.  Coombs was a scholar of art and architecture who, among other accolades, had received a Fulbright grant to help complete his work, and was also the editor of Perspecta, the Yale Architectural Journal. The Ronchamp Riddle (also found in our Robert Coombs Papers), in short, explores the themes and motifs of architect Le Corbusier’s most controversial work, the Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp.

The Land Rig Newsletter Records are a wealth of information on the oil industry. If you’re interested in diving deeper into it, our Reference Department is always happy to get them into your hands.