Daughters of the American Revolution!

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Friday is the Fourth of July, with cookouts and singing and festive fireworks exploding nationwide. That has been the case in Lubbock, Texas (home of the Southwest Collection, by the way!), throughout its history, oftentimes facilitated by the efforts of its Nancy Anderson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the records of which the SWC proudly makes available to the public.

The DAR pursues educational, historic, and patriotic objectives through programs and events, as well as collecting and caring for historic documents and artifacts. Founded in 1926, the Lubbock chapter is named for a Revolution-era ancestor of the chapter founder, Ruth E. Ford. A lengthy, handwritten account (a portion of which can be seen above) detailing more about both Nancy Anderson’s story and the history of the chapter can be found in the collection.

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The Nancy Anderson Chapter has installed a number of historic markers in the Lubbock region, including the Mackenzie Trail marker in downtown Lubbock. They also promoted good citizenship through recognition awards for high school and college students. For the Chapter’s good works, they received the honor roll citation from the National Society of the DAR seen here in a page from one of their many scrapbooks. DAR001Some of the DAR Records consists of annual reports, news clippings, and photographs of yearly events. There are also treasurer’s records, information about obtaining DAR grave markers, details regarding the historic markers installed by the chapter, and valuable compilations of early South Plains residents’ obituaries. Perhaps most informative is their Year Book, which summarizes much of this information, as well as the names of current members. We have a forty-year run of these, dating from 1961 through 2001. DAR005The women of the DAR are dedicated supporters of the armed forces, and they proved it regularly through awards given to Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) members and, of course, actively serving soldiers. This invitation was created for one of their many annual awards ceremonies, this one held in 1994 at Lubbock’s Reese Air Force Base.DAR008Finally, one of the programs of which the DAR takes the most pride is the training and recognition of immigrants aspiring to United States citizenship, emphasizing education about the United States Constitution. They even crafted pamphlets in native languages designed to help prospective citizens such as the ones seen above, which were written in German, Portuguese, and Hungarian. In our collections we also have several written in Polish, Spanish, French, Italian, and a host of other languages.

In short, the DAR, while a national organization, had a measurable presence in the local history of Lubbock and the South Plains: a fitting bit of trivia as we celebrate on this July 4th. Those interested in digging a little further into these records should get ahold of our helpful Reference Staff who are always happy to help however they can.

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The National College Baseball Hall of Fame and the Southwest Collection – 2014 Edition!

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Since 2004 the Southwest Collection (SWC) has served as repository for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (NCBHoF) on behalf of the College Baseball Foundation. We’ve been fortunate to receive a host of items documenting the event as well as the history of college baseball, from scrapbooks, photographs, and videos to media guides and artifacts. Recent donations include ball caps, bats, uniforms, and even cleats. Perhaps most impressive, the SWC downloads and archives nearly 700 emails per day during each baseball season from over 200 Division I and other schools. We’re an incredibly fortunate archive! William Clarence Matthews

As we mentioned last year, recording oral histories with Hall of Fame inductees, as well as current NCAA baseball award winners who also attend the event, are another method through which the SWC preserves the history of college baseball. To date, nearly 100 oral histories have been conducted with players and their families. The Southwest Collection is proud to claim these as part of its massive oral history collection currently comprised of thousands of interviews, with new additions every month.

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The 2014 Hall of Fame induction festivities will start early Friday, June 27th and run through late Saturday evening. This year will see the induction of seven new members:

  • Bill Bordley of the University of Southern California
  • Alex Fernandez of the University of Miami and Miami-Dade South CC
  • Mike Fiore of the University of Miami
  • Demie Mainieri, coach of Miami-Dade North CC
  • William Clarence Matthews of Tuskegee Institute and Harvard University (seen above in turn of the century gear!)
  • Gene Stephenson, coach at Wichita State University
  • Mickey Sullivan, former outfielder and coach at Baylor University

Hall of Famers’ careers are not the only ones celebrated. College baseball’s finest young athletes received awards for their on-the-field excellence. The 2014 season’s award winners are will be announced at the nationally-televised Night of Champions dinner on Saturday evening, but can also be found on their website for those who can’t attend. They and the Hall of Famers will enjoy the finest hospitality that the Southwest Collection and Lubbock, Texas have to offer. In fact, each year, both the Hall of Famers and the award winners heap praise on the commemorative posters and baseball cards produced by the Southwest Collection’s exhibit preparator Lynn Stoll. These items highlight the biography and always-impressive stats of each of the 2014 award winners.

Participation in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame festivities is but one of many ways in which the Southwest Collection preserves and makes available all aspects of sports history. Prominent among its many other sports-related collections are the records of the former Southwest Conference, the Big XII Conference, and the few remaining records of the former Big 8 Conference. For more information about the SWC’s sports and other collections please contact our Reference Staff who would be happy to guide you through them.

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Conan the Barbarian! (And Robert E. Howard and The Cross Plains Review)

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This weekend, June 13th and 14th, Cross Plains, Texas is hosting its annual Robert E. Howard Days celebration. Who was Robert E. Howard? Why, the creator of Conan the Barbarian! In honor of the legendary adventurer and his author, this week we’re sharing excerpts of Howard’s writing from 1930s editions of the Cross Plains Review, the newspaper in which many of Howard’s stories first appeared. The SWC is fortunate to have an almost complete run of the Review, almost all of which is now available digitally.  Sadly, the Howard pieces we’re about to share do not concern Conan – but rest assured, they are still entertainment of the highest quality!

The story, Drums of the Sunset, begins poetically: “Now come all you punchers and listen to my tale/When I tell you of troubles on the Chisholm Trail!” And so begins the story of Steve Harmer (and, soon enough, a host of other characters.) We’ve truncated the text here to make it more readable, and also because there is a lot of it…and of course to inspire you to read the whole first installment.

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We’ve skipped part two and are sharing this excerpt from part 3. We hope that you’ll check out its predecessor so as to make sense of why Steve demands from Murken a new hat! Also, what mine is he talking about? And who is this woman he so gallantly offers to defend? Read on!

howard part 5Once again, we’ve left you guessing about part 4, a feeling no doubt shared by folks in 1928 who had missed the previous issue of the Review. That must have been particularly painful because our hero, Steve, had apparently just fought the Edwards! Who are they? Fortunately for you, we have the issue available online with all its many answers. (Note that we’re also not posting part 6, so to follow this tale of the old west you’ll need to follow along in our digitized issues!) In the meantime, this fifth installment contains Howard’s usual mix of action, gallantry, and the inevitable cliffhanger ending.

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Drums of Sunset was published in eight parts. This is the seventh. Steve and Hard Luck, his newfound companion (or is he? The curious should check those back issues linked above!), are hot on the trail of a host of criminals ranging from ‘Navajoes’ to a ring of counterfeiters. Pieces of the mystery that have plagued Steve for six installments are starting to come together. And oh, the CLIFFHANGER! Steve and Hard Luck are locked in mortal combat with a rowdy group of Native Americans. For the thrilling details of part 8 you’ll again have to visit our digital holdings…but we regret to say that we have dire news. The story was actually published in 9 parts, the final of which we haven’t found. Organizers of the Robert E. Howard Days have similarly come up short in their search. If you should find it, you have to let us know! We’re dying to read the end of Steve’s tale!

Speaking of our staff, at least one demands – nay, commands – that you attend Robert E. Howard Days. If you can stomach his disappointment, then at the very least read through the story we’ve been linking above. It is a good one, with a pace that will be familiar to any of Howard’s fans. And as always, for an in-person view of our newspapers or any of our other collections, you can always contact our ever-diligent Reference Staff who would be happy to arrange that.

Oral History 301: Understanding Recording Formats

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For this week’s blog post on the oral history collection at the Southwest Collection (see previous entries here  and here!), we want to give you a quick overview of the various recording formats that have been utilized in recording our interviews. Since our collection spans over 60 years and more than 6,000 oral histories, historians have recorded using the technology of many eras. Today, preservation is our highest priority, so all of the older media are being converted to digital format.

reel to reel machine

The earliest interviews were recorded on ¼ inch magnetic audio tape or “reel to reel” format. Roughly 1,900 of our interviews are on this format, ranging from 1949-1985. Reels can come in a variety of sizes, but since most of our interviews were recorded at an incredibly slow speed (typically 1 7/8 inches per second), these interviews could fit on very small 3 inch reels. You can see an example of one of the portable recording devices likely used by our field historians here. These reels require extra care as we digitize them today because they tend to have tension issues on modern reel-to-reel players that are calibrated to play the larger commercial reels.

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Beginning in the mid-1970s, field historians also recorded to audio cassette. This format is utilized in about 2,000 interviews. Though many patrons are familiar with how to work a cassette player, we still ask two weeks advance notice in order to make a digital copy of an interview. The older the recording, the more likely there will be technical issues: the plastic casing might be cracked, or the springs or rollers might have quit working. Fortunately, our audio/visual staff is well versed in cassette tape repair.

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Luckily for our audio/visual department today, our oral history collection was primarily recorded on newer, more versatile audio formats. Occasionally we have worked with interviews on microcassettes, DAT tapes, and various small video tapes, but starting in the mid-2000s all oral histories are recorded on digital audio recorders, or as we phrase it, they are “born digital.” This allows us to copy the files to our servers, make patron-use copies on compact discs, and edit audio files much more easily. Our current recorders save files in .wav format, with a 44.1 kHz sample rate and 16 bit depth (which is compact disc quality). In the upcoming years, we will likely upgrade our equipment with portable recorders capable of 96 kHz/24bit and better quality microphones. It seems the future will bring us higher fidelity digital recordings, but luckily (fingers crossed!) no more unique and proprietary formats.

Now it’s time to ask our readers (especially you oral historians!): what formats have you seen oral histories recorded on? Sadly, our collection does not go far enough back to include transcription discs or wire recordings. Have you used video recordings with video backups? Our field historians began this practice almost a decade ago, but we still rely heavily upon audio recordings. Many of the unique audio formats we encounter come from small oral history collections donated by individuals in our surrounding communities. In a future blog post, we will give an overview of the work others have done to promote oral history cultivation on the South Plains. And, as always, if you’d like to listen to these oral histories or view any of our other collections, don’t hesitate to contact our Reference Staff.

by Elissa Stroman