The Marie “Mimi” Litschauer Papers at the Southwest Collection


The Marie “Mimi” Litschauer Papers at the Southwest Collection showcase the creative process of Big Bend area plein air painter Mimi Litschauer. Born in Wisconsin in 1957, Litschauer developed an interest in art at a young age and later in her life relocated to West Texas where she immersed herself in the scenery of Big Bend. The Mimi Litschuaer Papers contain several of Litschauer’s journals, thumbnail sketches, and field sketches in various mediums including oil, pastels, Conté crayons, and charcoal.




The papers group together photographs of the scenery Litschauer painted along with both Litschuaer’s initial thumbnail sketches and her field sketches in oil. As such, the papers allow researchers to observe firsthand the manner in which Litschauer refined and perfected her artwork. Furthermore, researchers can see how Litschauer captured the scenes around her at each stage of her process.




The Mimi Litschauer Papers also include several of Litschuaer’s journals, providing further insight into her creative process.



The journals contain several sketches by Litschuaer, cutouts of noteworthy poems and quotes, and pages of handwritten notes by Litschauer regarding her artistic technique as well as her philosophical observations about the world around her.


Want to see the Litschauer Papers in their entirety? Contact the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library’s Reference Department and they will arrange to get them into your hands.


“From Here It’s Possible: West Texas Goes to the Stars” – A New Exhibit at the SWC

Willie McCool portrait

The Southwest Collection has created a new exhibit entitled “From Here It’s Possible: West Texas Goes to the Stars,” featuring items from our many aerospace collections, as well as oral histories conducted with astronauts and NASA employees with West Texas and Texas Tech connections. This blog shares a few examples of featured individuals, but the exhibit displays many more. It will be installed by mid-February, and will be up until mid-June. Make sure to stop by and check it out!

William “Willie” McCool (above) was a graduate of Coronado High School in Lubbock, Texas. From there he attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1983. During his naval tenure he earned a master’s in computer science from the University of Maryland, and in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Commander McCool served as a test pilot for the U.S. Navy, flying over 24 different types of aircraft. He joined NASA in 1996, and was the pilot of the Space Shuttle Columbia on the STS-107 mission.

Ginger K.Portrait BEST

Ginger Kerrick was born in El Paso, Texas, and spent her youth dreaming of a future career in space and athletics. A knee injury early in her college years led her to focus full-time on science education, and she transferred to Texas Tech where she earned her B.S. in 1991 and M.S. in 1993, both in the field of physics. She has now been employed for over two decades with NASA, holding multiple positions, most notably the first non-astronaut capsule communicator in 2001 and flight director in 2005, making her the first Hispanic female to hold that position.

Bernard Harris signed BEST-ADJ

Bernard Harris was an Astronaut, Mission Specialist, and EVA space walker on Space Shuttle Missions STS-55 and STS-63. He received his medical degree from Texas Tech School of Medicine in 1982, then later served on the Board of Regents of Texas Tech University.

Albert SaccoADJ

Albert Sacco was an Astronaut and Payload Specialist on Space Shuttle Mission STS-73. He is currently Dean of the College of Engineering, Texas Tech University.

Rick Husband1portraitBEST

Rick Husband graduated from Texas Tech in 1980 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Soon after, he joined the U.S. Air Force where he flew F-4 Phantoms, served as an instructor pilot and academic instructor at postings in the U.S. and Great Britain, and became an accomplished test pilot, flying over 40 different types of aircraft during his career. In 1994 NASA selected Col. Husband as an astronaut candidate, eventually assigning him the role of pilot on the space shuttle Discovery during its 10-day journey to the International Space Station on the STS-96 mission in 1999. He served as Commander of the space shuttle Columbia on the STS-107 mission.

But y’all – there are so many more West Texans and Texas Tech alumni featured in the exhibit. We encourage you to visit us and learn all about them!

The Field Diary of Union Lieutenant Austin Wiswall

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The Southwest Collection is home to a number of remarkable Civil War collections, including our Confederate veterans’ handwritten accounts and our massive registry of almost every veteran, from both sides of the war, who was buried in Texas. But unique among all of our holdings is the field diary of Lieutenant Austin Wiswall.


Wiswall was the nephew of the famous abolitionist publisher and martyr Elijah Parish Lovejoy, and of U.S. Senator Owen Lovejoy. He served as a lieutenant in the 9th United States Colored Infantry, 3rd Division, 10th Corps, United States Army during the Civil War.


The 9th remained on duty in Maryland until March 1864, when they began to see more dangerous service in South Carolina. One of their conflicts was the Ashepoo Expedition the following May. The journal entries above document Wiswall’s thoughts during that time.


Wiswall was captured by Confederate forces later that year, and was held at Andersonville and Libby prisons. As a result, there are a large number of blank pages in the diary until his August release by prisoner exchange. On August 8th, 1864, he wrote “here we are with the glorious Army of the Potomac once more.” The diary contains no further entries.




The last several dozen pages of the diary contain memoranda like those above. They consist of financial accounts and similar material, but no in-depth descriptions of his service or how these figures related to it. But don’t take this blog’s word for it! Read the whole thing, as well as correspondence and other materials documenting Austin Wiswall’s life, right here.

“President Grover E. Murray: A Decade of Progress” – An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection

G.Murray Big Bend Framed

The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library is proud to be the home of former Texas Tech University President Grover E. Murray’s archival collection. We’ve recently installed an exhibit honoring his professional and personal accomplishments entitled “President Grover E. Murray: A Decade of Progress.” Below are some images from the exhibit, but we encourage y’all to come out and take a look at it yourselves!

G Murray Natl Science swearing in

This 1966 image is the swearing in of the National Science Board (NSB) members in Washington, D.C. Dr. Murray is fourth from the left.

Grover Elmer Murray was born in 1916, in Maiden, North Carolina. After receiving his undergraduate degree in geology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, he attended Louisiana State University where he completed his Ph.D. in 1941. Dr. Murray worked in exploration with the Magnolia Petroleum Company, but in 1948 he was asked to return to LSU as a professor. He remained in Baton Rouge for 18 years in the Department of Geology and also served as the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs.G Murray top+ newspaper

On November 1, 1966, Dr. Grover E. Murray was inaugurated as Texas Technological College’s eighth president, with a host of dignitaries in attendance, such as Stewart Udall and Governor John Connally. During his tenure, he oversaw the transition of Texas Technological College to Texas Tech University. He also brought about the creation of the International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land Studies (ICASALS). Both the medical and law schools were formed during his presidency, and he oversaw the construction of numerous campus buildings. Yet, Dr. Murray remained humble and gave credit to all involved. He stepped down from the presidency in 1976.

Dr. Murray-South Pole

Dr. Murray continued to teach, participate in his academic discipline, and remained active in a host of other endeavors. He served on various boards, as a consultant, and won numerous awards. Aside from the SWC’s Grover E. Murray Papers, our University Archives holds papers from his tenure as president. Dr. Murray passed away in May 2003. At his memorial tribute, Dr. Idris Traylor referred to him as a Renaissance man “who was always ‘doing,’ and his great legacy to us is what has been ‘done.’”

G.Murray + Georgia OKeefe BESTMurray with artist Georgia O’Keeffe.

Preserving the Past: Celebrating 20 Years in our New Home

Building Plans 11x17

20 years ago, the Southwest Collection moved out of the depths of the Texas Tech University Math Building and into its current palatial home at 15th and Detroit. From September 2017 through February 2018, we’re exhibiting photographs and artifacts from that journey in an exhibit entitled “Preserving our Past: Celebrating 20 Years in Our New Home.” It also chronicles the many exhibits created over those decades that showcased the many amazing archival treasures housed here.

It all started with the architectural plans above. Drafted in 1994, they were the first step taken toward building our state-of-the art facility.


The rapidly deteriorating TTU Speech Building occupied some of the space where the SWC now stands. Although the Agricultural Pavilion remains, the Speech building’s foundations were transformed into one-part exterior flower bed, and one-part eastern SWC Rotunda.


The photo above documents the 1995 groundbreaking. SWC Director David Murrah, as well as the TTU President, members of the Board of Regents, and other luminaries attended the event. By late ’95 and early ’96, the land had been scraped clean. By the summer 1996, the skeleton of the building had risen over the site, as you can see below.


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This final photo is of the ribbon cutting that officially opened the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library in 1997. Director Bill Tydeman, long-time archivist Janet Neugebauer, and TTU’s President, Chancellor, and other officials all took a swipe at the ribbon with ceremonial scissors. Directly behind the bow stands Frances Holden, whose husband William C. Holden was a professor at TTU for many decades. Our Reading Room, where the ribbon cutting took place, is named after her and her husband.

So, y’all, drop on by and check out our exhibit, please! There are many other excellent photos to look over, including some of moving day, when thousands of boxes were laboriously transported to the new building to be housed in perpetuity.

The Papers of Captain Robert G. Carter: Frontier Soldier


The Southwest Collection is located on the Llano Estacado, also known as the South Plains. Folks have been visiting the region for more than a century in a half, which in those early years resulted in no small amount of conflict. One, the Battle of Blanco Canyon near the Brazos River in 1871, occurred between U.S. Soldiers and a Comanche raiding party. A survivor of that conflict, Captain Robert G. Carter, was awarded a Medal of Honor for his conduct in the fight. The Southwest Collection is fortunate to have his correspondence and related materials dating from the years after the fight, and we’re going to share some of it with you in this very blog!

The image at the top of this post is of a letter from Carter’s extensive correspondence with fellow veterans of the “Indian Wars.” Carter had served under Ranald Mackenzie both in that conflict and later along the Mexican border at the end of the 19th century. So, too, did this letter’s recipient, Col. R. P. Smyth. In this letter, Carter regales Smyth with some of the facts. Sadly, we do not have Smyth’s original or subsequent letters.


Carter became well-known through his published memoirs, such as On the Border with Mackenzie (1935). He also sold maps of the conflict, such as the one referenced by renowned Texas historian J. Evetts Haley in the letter above. In another collection, we even have a copy of the map, which you can see below.

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History was Carter’s passion, and he promoted it not only through his publications, but also through participation in various organizations dedicated to preserving it. The 1932 newspaper clipping above (culled from a newspaper we unfortunately haven’t been able to identify) celebrating his elevation to commander of the Order of Indian Wars, an organization serving veterans of that conflict.


And yet some of his papers are banal. Here we have a dispute with a bank over miscalculated interest. It rings as true then as it does for some of us today. In fact, Carter’s papers contain at least 14 pages of his back and forth with the Union Trust Company, full of pithy responses to their incorrect claims: “According to the mathematics taught me, two items of the same amount, one subtracted from the other, leaves 0.” Carter, telling it like it is!

The Robert G. Carter Papers comprise only a single archival box, but are packed with unique material like this, documenting Carter’s recollections of service, as well as his day-to-day life in the years following. They’re available in their entirety among our digital collections, and we’d love for any interested researchers (or the generally curious) to take a look through them.

The Diaries of William DeLoach, A West Texas Farmer


“Years are the milestones that tell us the distance we have traveled…” These words, the first to appear in the diaries of William G. DeLoach (, were not a platitude. DeLoach noted daily events in his diary from 1914 to 1964, often documenting the mundane life of a West Texas farmer, but at times exploring the emotional and philosophical depth of a man whose daily accounts spanned two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.


This is the first full page of his diary, written Wednesday, March 24th, 1914. It is a simple series of notes. He visited Ralls and Crosbyton, Texas, signed a cotton contract, and saw one of his laborers complete the maize harvest. Such entries comprise the bulk of his notes.


This page includes October 29th, 1929, also known as Black Tuesday, when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Yet the crash’s effect took its time crossing the country, so all he described that day was cutting feed until a rain began that lasted well into the night.


The Depression, and more importantly the Dust Bowl, haunt the background of his diaries, but DeLoach coloring his stories of day-to-day life. On July 23rd, 1937, however, its effects came to the fore. “I hurt all day. Not with much heart. I can’t do any thing with any heart with such surroundings. I even can’t write any more. My (?) are all shot. Just to be the paying teller and nothing more is bad.” But then, as always: “Bill finished the feed plowing.”


Some entries are punctuated by tragic or amusing local news. Early November 1937 saw a man lose an arm in a cotton gin: “That is bad…. They take too many chances.” The next day, DeLoach heard about an acquaintance who was “pinched for drunk.” He mused, “Too bad to get sauced in Sudan [Texas] if one is a stranger. Homeguard can.”


“This is March 28th, 1964. My first entry was made on March 28th, 1914.” Infirm “in more ways than one,” William DeLoach set down his pen. “Goodbye, Diary. You have been lots of help in lots of ways.”

(An abbreviated version of the diaries was edited by Janet M. Neugebauer, former archivist at the Southwest Collection, and published as Plains Farmer: The Diary of William G. DeLoach, 1914-1964.)

The Dust Bowl, Photographically


Over 80 years ago, fierce winds and sky-high clouds of dirt assaulted the Great Plains in a decade-long disaster known as the Dust Bowl. Texas’ Panhandle was not spared, as the stark reality of these photos from the Southwest Collection prove.


Caused by a combination of overfarming in the 1920s and severe droughts throughout the 1930s, the Dust Storms blacked out the sky and covered whole towns in dirt. News accounts and oral histories conducted with survivors claim that oftentimes the air was so thick with dust that nothing was visible five feet away. There were even accounts of people choking to death on the dust.

12Some consider Black Sunday one of the worst events of the Dust Bowl. On April 14, 1935, over a dozen storms—called by some survivors “black blizzards”—scoured the Great Plains from the Dakotas to Texas. Its dust traveled as far as New York and Washington, D.C., where lawmakers were attempting to juggle Dust Bowl relief solutions alongside numerous other New Deal programs. John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) told the tale of this intersection of nature, the economy, politics, and the realities of those who fled the storms—in this case, the Okies that traveled to California en masse to find work in a land that wasn’t actively trying to kill them.03

Over one hundred million acres of land in Oklahoma, Texas, and several nearby states were affected by the Dust Bowl over the course of the 1930s. This included towns and cities, of course, but farmlands were the primary victim. It would be many years before the Great Plains recovered. The land values and agricultural production of the 1920s would not return for decades.


The Sowell Collection Conference – 2017

cadillac desert front

Thursday April 20th through Saturday the 22nd, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library will host the Sowell Collection Conference. Created through the generous support of former Texas Tech University Regent James Sowell, the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World contains the personal papers of some of the most prominent writers on the natural world. The Conference will include scholarly papers and panels on many of the Sowell writers, a handful of which are featured below. The Conference is free, and open to the public.

Marc Reisner was an environmental writer and advocate. He is best known for Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (1986), a National Book Critic’s Circle Award finalist. It describes the role of water rights and water use in the history and development of the Western United States. Reisner has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and served as a staff writer and communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He continued his activism and writing until his death in California in July 2000. His final book, A Dangerous Place (2004), was published posthumously.

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Lisa Couturier is an essayist, poet, and animal advocate. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Journalism and a certificate in Women’s Studies, then earned a Master’s degree from the Gallatin School at New York University. Her book The Hopes of Snakes explores the wild in urban spaces and the connections between the human and the nonhuman. Couturier’s work has appeared in Orion, Isotope, the American Nature Writing series, and National Geographic’s Heart of a Nation, among other publications. Her essay “Dark Horse” won the 2012 Pushcart Prize, and was nominated for the Grantham Prize for Environmental Writing. Her collection of poems, Animals/Bodies, won the 2015 Chapbook Award from the New England Poetry Club.

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Andrea Peacock is a Montana journalist covering Western politics and environmental news, and is the former editor of the Missoula Independent. She wrote Libby, Montana: Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of an American Corporation, and co-authored The Essential Grizzly with her husband Doug Peacock, another Sowell author. Her work has appeared in Mother Jones, High Country News, Denver Westword, Austin Chronicle, and In 2010 she received a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation for her work on oil and gas development in communities of the Rocky Mountain West.

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Paul Gruchow was raised on a small, subsistence farm near Montevideo, Minnesota. He is the author of six published books on subjects ranging from the culture of the tall grass prairie, to what we teach (and fail to teach) rural children–work widely acclaimed for its lyrical prose and eloquence. A respected and inspiring educator, Paul’s writer-in-residence involvements included numerous institutions, among them the University of Minnesota and the Lake Superior Studies Program. He won the Minnesota Book Award for three books, including Boundary Water: The Grace of the Wild and Grass Roots: The Universe of Home. He also edited The Worthington Globe–an award winning newspaper.

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Starting at age 20, Paul Hawken dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. His books include: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World,  Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (co-authored with Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins), The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Growing a Business, and The Next Economy.