Through the Lens of Bill Weaks: An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection

1949-Unknown-f1-300dpi

Each fall, the Southwest Collection installs a new exhibit highlighting one of its unique collections. In the past we’ve shared the history of women at Texas Tech University, women in Texas Music, and a host of other topics from outer space to terrifying tornadoes. This season, it’s time to take a peek “Through the Lens of Bill Weaks.”

1958-JoBethStubblefield f1aLong-time Plainview, Texas photographer Bill Weaks bought his first camera—a 127-film Falcon—when he was a senior at Plainview High School. After selling a few photographs he realized the potential of turning his hobby into a profitable business. Photography quickly became his life’s work.  1971-Cherry Chatham-BESTWhile attending West Texas State College in Canyon, Weaks worked as a stringer for the Amarillo Globe and the Amarillo Times, selling them photographs of campus activities. He also served as a student photographer, earning $40 a month. Later he attended the University of Houston where he earned a Master’s degree in photography. After serving a two-year stint in the Navy, he returned to Plainview and opened Bill Weaks Photography on September 4, 1955. Four months later, the studio already showed a profit through photographing weddings and community events. He produced portraits of many brides who purchased their gowns at Margaret’s specialty shop or Hemphill-Wells department store in Lubbock. These photographs appeared in the Sunday newspaper announcements of their weddings.1982-Jill Rucker1 Weaks headlined numerous seminars around the country and personally trained several young photographers who later pursued their own successful careers. For thirty years, he taught courses for the Professional Photographers of America, and received awards and recognition on a national level. The Southwest Collection is pleased to present this collection for the use of scholars and researchers, so don’t hesitate to contact our Reference Department if you’d like to take a look at his many photographs.

– captions and researched information provided by Dr. David Marshall, oral historian, & Janet Neugebauer, SWC Photograph Archivist

51 Years Later: the JFK Assassination and the Congressman George Mahon Papers

JFK-Tx BreakfastLast year, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Southwest Collection installed an exhibit of our materials related to the tragedy. Although no exhibit is on display this year, we have dug up more related books, documents, photographs, and other materials from the papers of then-Texas Attorney General Waggoner Carr and Congressman George H. Mahon .Connally letter-darkened sentenceThis letter from Texas Governor John Connally and the accompanying tickets are from our George Mahon Papers. After a long legal career, in 1934 Mahon won the congressional seat for Texas’ Nineteenth Congressional District. Below is also a picture showing a White House greeting between President Kennedy and Mahon in 1962, not an uncommon sight in Washington at that time given that Mahon served as Texas’ Representative for over forty-four years. Because he ranked as one of the most influential Texas Democrats, Mahon joined the Texas delegation that traveled with the President throughout Texas and attended the event held the night before the assassination, for which the tickets above provided admission.  JFK + Mahon cropt

Ntbk p.1+++On November 22, 1963, Mahon found himself riding through Dealey Plaza only five cars behind the President. During the flight back to Washington, D.C. after the assassination, Mahon recorded his recollections of the event. “I heard the shots fired which killed the President of the United States,” begin these notes, a sample of which can be seen above. Correspondence and other documents related to the event are a significant part of our collection of his papers.Jackie Kennedy note 12.17.63Lastly, we have this thank you from Jacqueline Kennedy that was mailed to Mahon after he had provided to her and her family his condolences. Although it is a small, simple item, it was one that Mahon kept for the rest of his life and was generously included among his papers as a unique token of this pivotal moment in United States history.

Those interested in other archival collections related to the JFK assassination might also take a look at our Waggoner Carr Papers. The Attorney General of Texas in 1963, Carr was a key figure in the early days of the assassination investigation. For a look at his papers, Mahon’s, or any of our other many collections, feel free to contact our Reference Department. They are always happy to get you set up.