You Never Know What You’ll Find…

2AFL1388Each of the thousands of collections housed at the SWC contains its share of unique material, but some are so bizarrely diverse that they deserve a closer look. Take for example the recently-processed Earnest Langley Papers. Earnest Lee Langley, Jr., was born in 1920, which set him up not only to attend Texas Technological College during the 1930s, but also to enlist in the Army following the United States’ entry into World War II. After the war, Earnest graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and subsequently built a prominent West Texas law career. As a result, we have stacks of day books and appoint books, legal documents, and correspondence related to his law practice. But we also have an alarmingly sharp World War II era bayonet!

Depicted in the photo above, this item was found among boxes full of more mundane material. Needless to say, we were surprised (and inordinately excited) to discover it. The blade has since been inventoried among the many other artifacts in his collection…many of which seem equally out of place. langley campfire001For example, several boxes were full of Campfire Girls booklets, pamphlets, uniforms, and t-shirts. Most prominent among the items was this charter incorporating the Hereford Council of Campfire Girls. What did all this have to do with Ernest Langley? Had we confused this with another collection (note: we have never done that.) It was time for research! It turned out that after Langley moved to Hereford, Texas, his wife became an active supporter and leader of the Camp Fire Girls and was integral to their presence in that region. Mystery solved.langley stamps002

In retrospect, maybe the Campfire Girls items weren’t really that odd, but the three linear feet of stamps that we found produced a lot of head-scratching. There were thousands upon thousands of stamps, some loose, some attached, and some cut off of envelopes. In a typical collection you might find evidence of a hobby or two that a person enjoyed, but three boxes packed full of postage is pretty rare. Earnest Langley: philologist!2AFL1393

Finally, we found a simple and unadorned jewelry box. Its piles of lapel pins, most of them Army rank insignias, jived with what we knew about him. Some pins were difficult to identify…until we pulled out the Shriner’s fez (not pictured, sadly) that had been tucked below the jewelry box. A quick survey of his other materials unearthed a box full of papers about his membership in the Masons! Masonic materials are always fascinating, and would probably make for some good reading for interested researchers. Also, the fez is cool (although nobody tried it on, we promise.)

So, after sorting this stuff out, we now knew that Earnest Lee Langley, Jr.: stashed weaponry; helped establish some Panhandle Campfire Girls; loved stamps; and spent his free time practicing Freemasonry. Not pictured are the awards he received from over a dozen state and national law organizations, documentation of his efforts to found a local Methodist Church, and scrapbooks full of wine labels. Oh, and according to a plaque we found, he was also Hereford Citizen of the Year in 1969.

The Earnest Langley Papers were a fun one with which to work. There are other eccentric collections in our stacks as well, and if you’re interested in tracking some down then don’t hesitate to contact our Reference Department.

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A Short History of the Lubbock Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

awards banquetflyerCinco de Mayo, coming up this Tuesday, has got us thinking about Latino history, which in turn got us looking into our collections related to that subject locall and regionally. Our El Editor newspapers and the papers of Bidal Aguero, for example, are used regularly by our patrons. A more recent addition is the records of the Lubbock Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (LHCC). While neither as fulsome as El Editor and Aguero collections, nor full of eye-popping photographs like some of our collections, it nonetheless offers insight into this facet of Lubbock, Texas’ history. Local Chambers of Commerce are critical to many communities, not just financially, but as a socially unifying force. Take for example this flyer for the LHCC’s 2007 award banquet. This event is held every year, and on that occasion featured such luminaries as Congressman Randy Neugebauer and prominent Texas Tech Univeristy figures such as former senator and then-Chancellor Kent Hance.COMA008

The LHCC had its genesis in the early 1970s when a group of local Hispanic business leaders formed Comerciantes Organizados Mexico America (COMA), a roster of which can be seen here. In fact, business leader Bidal Aguero (founder of the aforementioned El Editor and long-time organizer in local politics ranging from the La Raza Unida party to lawsuits against LISD) was key to starting both the COMA and the LHCC. COMA actually ceased operations during the handful of years Aguero was not present in Lubbock in the mid-1970s, but returned strong until its slow metamorphosis into the LHCC.Census combo

While the LHCC was helping businesses to grow and develop over the course of decades, its own growth and development expanded noticeably in 2001 when it was named as the Small Chamber of the Year in statewide and national competitions. The term “small chamber” refers to cities below 200,000 in population (a level that Lubbock has since surpassed.) The LHCC’s success was based on its close involvement with a growing Lubbock Hispanic population. Just look at these portions of a study they conducted using the 2000 U.S. Census (part of reams of such documents in the LHCC Records.) Fully 27.5% of Lubbock’s population was Hispanic at that time. Latinos were present in every neighborhood in the city limits, and the population has only increased over the intervening 15 years.step up pamphlet cover

Events such as the LHCC’s “Step up to Success” in 2005, seen above and below, were also successful. The LHCC had become a significant force for the promotion of Latino business by that time, so much so that by 2008 the organization was ready to take its next big step. That April, its membership voted to become a part of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce, thereby expanding their influence. The Lubbock Chamber’s membership was quick to approve the merger, and subsequently the Hispanic Business Division of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce was formed.step up pamphlet interior

The LHCC’s story is much fuller than that presented here, of course. But if you’d like to get an idea of the larger picture (or if you’re curious about this or any of the other collections mentioned above), our Reference Staff would be happy to arrange a chance for you to peruse the records. So head on over!