The SWC Staff, Working from Home

With our archival work all being done from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have asked our staff members to reflect on their work and the role of archives in this time. They are supplying with their response a photo of their new coworker(s), a laptop selfie, and other photos of their WFH set up.

This blog post will be updated weekly, aggregating our staff profile posts.

WFH [Work from Home] Archives Edition

We hope this blog finds you feeling safe and healthy. We have broken into our already-scheduled social media posts to bring this update from the Southwest Collection regarding how our archive is continuing to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library on a sunny spring day, March 26, 2020.

The South Plains of Texas was operating under cautious but somewhat normal circumstances in early March. A handful of our Southwest Collection employees judged area schools’ history day projects on March 7th. However, the next week, with conditions worsening across the United States, our administration began to ask department heads to prepare contingency plans for working from home. All of this was done in hypotheticals until late on Monday March 16th. We received an email from the President of Texas Tech University, who told all employees that starting at the end of the day March 17, as many employees as possible should start working from home. This was implementing Phase III of the university’s COVID-19 response plan (for more on this, see http://www.texastech.edu/downloads/ttus-memorandum-operational-phases-march-16-2020.pdf ). The rest of the week was spent methodically ensuring that all of our full-time employees had plenty of work to do at home and the resources with which they could work successfully. Friday March 20th was always a staff holiday, but it was also a time for us to catch our breath. The vast majority of our building was now working remotely.

We write this on the week of March 30; our archive is now officially closed. On the week of March 23, only a skeleton crew remained at the Southwest Collection. Our registrar worked fervently to get all accessions and paperwork sent out. Our Associate Dean, along with our reference staff, remained on duty to handle last minute patrons to our Reading Room by appointment only. A few of our staff popped in and out of the building as needed for technical support that could not be done remotely. Phase IV of the university’s plans began Friday March 27. And so we will begin the month of April with our entire building working from home.

With that in mind, we wanted to make our patrons, donors, and virtual community aware of some of the projects we’ll be working on while we are home. We will be posting photos our staff members share of their home office set up (and, of course, highlighting their furry coworkers).

A few of the projects we are currently working on remotely (and that our staff will explain more about in future posts):

  • Uploading EAD finding aids to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO).
  • Categorizing reference file materials and updating comprehensive lists.
  • Transcribing oral history interviews and uploading transcripts to dspace.
  • Cataloging books.
  • Expanding metadata on our dspace holdings.
  • Cleaning up and organizing our digital file systems.

A couple of housekeeping notes for interested individuals:

  • The Reading Room will be closed to researchers until the campus reopens. Phase IV of Texas Tech’s operational phases designates our department (and the main library) as non-essential.
  • Our reference department can still field queries and requests, but no duplications can be completed at this time (since we lack an infrastructure for payment or physical copies to be made and mailed). Please be aware that our reference staff has very limited digital resources and does not have ready access to any physical manuscript materials. They will keep a running list of duplication requests to complete when we return to campus. Patrons should feel free to email regarding our digital holdings, finding aids, or oral history abstracts. Contact information can be found here: https://swco.ttu.edu/Reference/policies.php
  • The West Texas Historical Association annual conference (April 4-5) has been cancelled, as well as the 50th anniversary Lubbock tornado symposium (May 8-9).
  • Our exhibit commemorating Texas Tech and the 1970 Lubbock tornado has been delayed but will be completed and on display once we return to campus.
  • We are still available to connect with researchers remotely—you can still call or email individuals directly with questions. Fortunately, our phone systems are tied to our computers now, and so even working on laptops and at home, staff members can answer calls as needed. If you are unsure who to contact, our main lines are 806-742-3749 and 806-742-9070.

We thank you for your continued support during this time of uncertainty. We will be here virtually and back physically whenever it is safe to do so. In this time, we look forward to slowing down and expanding our digital offerings for our remote patrons. So look to this space as we update you on new developments from the Southwest Collection!

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The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library Reading Room is closed for the foreseeable future. Please contact us for further information. http://swco.ttu.edu

Women’s History Month – featuring Hermine Tobolowsky

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It’s Women’s History Month, and we have few collections more appropriate to that celebration than the papers of Hermine Tobolowsky. Sometimes called the “Mother of the Texas Equal Rights Amendment,” Hermine Dalkowitz Tobolowsky, among many other accomplishments, successfully coordinated the Equal Legal Rights Amendment (ERA) passage to the Texas Constitution in 1972.

2TobolowskyHermine was born on January 13, 1921, in San Antonio, Texas, and after her primary education attended Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, and the University of San Antonio (now Trinity University.) She went on to obtain her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. Soon after graduation, despite repeated instances of facing blatant discrimination, she opened a private law practice in San Antonio.

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After marrying Hyman Tobolowsky, a Dallas retail executive in 1951, Hermine moved to Dallas where she had to re-establish her legal practice. By 1957, she had begun to craft her statewide legacy of activism, becoming the leader of Texas’ campaign for equal legal rights for men and women. This culminated in passage of the Texas Equal Legal Rights Amendment (ERA) fifteen years later in 1972.8tobo

She didn’t slow down there, remaining active in the Women’s Rights Movement, delivering innumerable speeches and workshops on women’s issues. She also served as a legal advisor for numerous women’s organizations up to the time of her death on July 25, 1995.

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Tobolowsky’s collection is replete with materials about the ERA, as well as pamphlets and directories from women’s organizations throughout Texas. There are also curious ephemera in there, such as this handwritten musical excerpt endorsing a favored political candidate. If you want to see more of Tobolowsky’s accumulated material, here you go! And if you want to take the next step and see them in person, give our ever-helpful Reference Staff a call.

The Newcomb Diaries of the Anne Watts Baker Papers

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In this blog entry, we’re taking a look at our Anne Watts Baker Papers, which you can find in their entirety over here: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ttusw/00458/tsw-00458.html. Baker principally collected diaries and other materials pertaining to the Reynolds and Matthews families of Shackelford County, Texas. But the choicest cuts come from the journals, letters, and scrapbooks of Samuel and Susan Newcomb, dating from the mid- to late-19th century. For example, the page above is from a handwritten draft of “A Journal of a Trip from Clear Fork in Stephens Co. to the San Saba River” by the Newcombs. It was later published, and we have that printed version in our collection as well.

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Not all of Newcomb’s items revolved around the “Journal.” The two halves of the letter above, dating from February 6th, 1865, tell the tale of a hastily dashed off plan about a fort, an ‘indian rade’, and other events around the Fort Davis, Texas, area.

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Here is another letter dating from around the beginning of the Civil War, which was not at all affecting the life of Mr. Newcomb. He was more into having dinner, then heading on out to hunt for more game, perhaps for a second dinner. The man was hungry, no question.

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This letter is virtually impossible to read in this image (although you can get a larger version of it among our digital collections over here: http://hdl.handle.net/10605/352417) But what’s interesting about it is that the parts that are water stained have made the rapidly-fading ink more legible. The peculiarities of paper and ink could, and often do, make up entire college courses.

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Susan E. Reynolds Newcomb left plenty of her materials in the collection as well. This is a diary entry from New Year’s Day, 1896. She expresses a positive outlook for the new year, despite the “perfect gale from the northwest” that was “very disagreeable.”

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And to add something completely different to the collection, the Newcombs created a scrapbook full of poems and odd little cartoons like this one. There’s a 100% chance that the baby went ahead and at that food anyway, y’all.

 

Want more Newcomb books, letters, and diaries? Have at them over here among our digital collections: http://hdl.handle.net/10605/352417  And if you’d like to see the real deal, contact our ever helpful Reference Staff and they’ll see what they can arrange.

New Mexico’s “Lincoln Independent” – 1890

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Did you know we have over 200,000 digitized volumes of newspapers from throughout Texas and New Mexico available online? Well, you do now! And one of this author’s personal favorites is the Lincoln Independent from Lincoln, New Mexico. The paper was founded in 1880, but the only run we’ve got our hands on is the entirety of 1890, beginning with the issue above dating from January 3rd. The remaining issues can be found here, but here are a few of our favorites below.

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With Halloween coming up, we chose the issue above from October 31, 1890. Sadly, although Halloween is a ‘holiday’ of sorts was celebrated in the 1890s, with pushes from various groups to make it a community-oriented celebration. But it didn’t resemble today’s celebrations, or even those of the 1920s and 30s. Also, Lincoln County was absolutely the U.S. frontier (New Mexico would not become a state until 1912), so costumed frivolity may not have been their top priority.

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One thing we were excited to find here at the Southwest Collection was this ad for the Angus VV Ranch. We have an archival collection related to the owners of the ranch, Charles M. and James E. Cree. It has been digitized and placed online, and contains information that the Lincoln Independent doesn’t share: a rash of cattle rustling that was occurring at the time!

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Another tidbit we enjoyed was this advertisement for the Agricultural College of New Mexico in Las Cruces. This would later become New Mexico State University. And we want you to know that, in our opinion, it still has a very good library.

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This all ends, as it probably should, with the final issue in our possession, dating from December 12, 1890. A comparison between the first and final issue reveals only one significant difference: the paper was begging readers to subscribe to the Independent. Here’s to hoping that their please worked.

If you’d like to read more of these papers, the many others we have from Eastern New Mexico, or the hundreds of thousands of others from throughout Texas, head over to our digital collections and dig in!

The Adams Family Papers – No, not THAT Addams Family!

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It is time once again to dig among our little-used collections to find something to share with y’all. This time it’s a handful of turn-of-the-century (nineteenth to twentieth centuries, that is!) photographs from Horace F. Adams and his family. Adams was a farmer, carpenter, and certified “public weigher,” as well as one of the first settlers of Terry County, Texas. If you’ve never been out that way, it’s the home of scenic Brownsville, cotton farms, and a good stretch of highway that points you toward New Mexico. The Adams family used a plain old “F” as its cattle brand, which it continued to use well after Horace’s death in 1925.

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Papers include financial records such as promissory notes, bills of sale, deeds, and receipts, all filed alongside genealogies of the “Franklin and Hull families” from 1798 to 1883. But most interesting are its photo albums, where we found the man in military uniform that headlined this blog. It is unlabeled, so his identity remains a mystery, but the photo of a snowy home, above, has the words “My first yard a four of us! Feb. 6 1923” scrawled on the back.

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Sadly, many of these photographs are mysterious. The family in the snow, below, are identified as “front of my home. My wife and Kiddies. Feb 6. 1923 – J. K. Knight.” Clearly they are the same folks from the other wintry photo. But the baby in a car, above? We have no caption or notes, even on nearby papers in the collection. The kiddos on the bull, below, are described as “Roy & Ethel, a bull, and Babie Ethel.” Are there two Ethels? Is that the same child from the car? We can’t tell, and they didn’t say.

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Our final image is no mystery. Adams was a livestock weigher, so he had a large number of calendars provided, we assume, compliments of the cattle industry. This 1913 example extols the success of the National Live Stock Commission Co.  They just had just sold the highest priced drove of cattle ever shipped out of Washington County, Iowa!

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We end with a bit of trivia that had us laughing. Before they moved to Brownfield, the Adams family lived in Gomez, Texas.  You can’t make that up. Anyway, this is a small collection, filling only one archival box, and it is infrequently used. But if you want to take a look at it, or any of the rest of our treasures, contact our Reference staff at randy.vance@ttu.edu and they’ll set you up.

Texas Tech University – History in Pictures

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It’s that time of year again at Texas Tech University when students old and new make their pilgrimage back to campus. Because TTU is approaching its hundredth year (in 2025! So close!), we thought we’d share a few photographs from its early decades. The photo above, for example, is a shot of the laying of the cornerstone for Tech’s Administration Building in 1924.

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This photo is not just a house on the Texas Technological College campus. You see, it was supposed to serve as the home of then-Texas Technological College (TTC) president, Paul W. Horn. But he rejected it, then removed it from campus to make way for a residence he found more suitable. The structure was removed to what is now 1611 Avenue Y where it stood until 2018, when it burned down.

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Texas Technological College initially focused heavily on agriculture education. Some of its student body raised livestock (typically dairy cows) on campus to pay their way through school. And some of their beasts spent time in the Agriculture Livestock Pavilion–otherwise known as the Aggie Pavilion–seen above shortly after its opening in 1925. It now rests not a half-dozen yards from the Southwest Collection itself!

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But you know what else went on in the Ag Pavilion? Basketball! There were no other facilities in which to play the game, so the 1927 basketball squad (seen here in a composite photo made for the La Ventana yearbook) had to handle their business Pavilion-style. Their first game, in 1926, ended in an 18-9 victory over West Texas State Teachers College (now West Texas A&M University, just up Interstate 27 in Canyon).

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This bucolic scene dates from 1925, with cattle grazing in a fenced pen near the Dairy Barn and Silo. Also featured: the Administration Building, the Agricultural Pavilion, the Agriculture Building, and in the far distance the Home Economics Building.

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In the spirit of the upcoming football season, we also dug out this photo of the University’s first football team in 1926. Then known as the “Matadors,” they had played their first game the previous year against McMurry College at the South Plains Fairgrounds in Lubbock. Final score? 0-0.

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The Red Raiders only had to play across town for one season and one game before a small field and bleachers were built on campus. Then, in 1947, the Clifford B. and Audry Jones stadium was completed. Its first bleachers are seen in this photo. The stadium could seat 16,500 students, although it boasted that it could do a full 20,000 if portable bleachers where wheeled in.

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The Jones wasn’t the only sports facility on campus in the 40s. Above you can see the TTC gymnasium and field house circa 1945. There was clearly something going on inside when this photo was taken, because these taxi drivers weren’t waiting around for nothing.

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This aerial shot of the campus was taken in 1950. The photographer was looking northeast across Memorial Circle, with the Administration Building to the right and what was soon to be the West Texas Museum (and is now Holden Hall) on the center-left. It’s fair to say that things have changed just a little bit.

Presentation of honorary Texas Tech degrees to President

Our final photograph shows TTU President Grover Murray conferring honorary degrees upon President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. Congressman George Mahon, who represented the region in Congress for over forty years, is standing behind President Johnson.

These images are but the smallest sample of the treasure trove of Texas Tech history in our holdings. Need more? Then look no further than our University Archives digital collections or our other photograph collections!

Two Collections, Two Perspectives

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Today we’re contemplating two new-ish, seemingly unrelated collections that each portray wildly opposite views on the same topics. In this case: socialism and communism. One collection–the papers of early 20th-century activist Thomas Hickey–was chock full of cartoons like the one above, as well as pamphlets and letters advocating for labor unions, socialism, and similar propositions.

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The other collection came from Texas women’s rights activist Hermine Tobolowsky. Her primary focus was on the Texas Equal Legal Rights Amendment for women. 99% of the boxes and folders in her collection are had nothing to do with Hickey’s raison d’etre. But that 1% was anti-communism through and through. Items such as the image above suggest she was dead-set on educating the population against the communists.

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Hickey was the private secretary to Eugene V. Debs, who was a founder of the IWW, found himself before the Supreme Court on one occasion, and more than a few times ran for the office of U.S. President. As a result of their close connection, Hickey’s papers contain many pamphlets published by Debs, his family members, and others.

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It’s a fairly safe bet that Tobolowsky would not have been a Debs fan. While socialism and communism are two distinctly different philosophies, Tobolowsky’s papers don’t bother with the distinction. Teaching materials for K-12 students, anti-communist mailings and pamphlets, and a host of other items testify to that fact. The above warning from J. Edgar Hoover is the most classic of its kind, however. Vintage Red Scare!

Both collections also contain a whole lot more about the rest of their lives and careers. You can find Tobolowsky’s finding aid here, while Hickey’s materials have been digitized in their entirety over here.  Take a look through them, and if you see something you want to see more of, give us a call!

The “American Agriculture News” – 1978 to 1983

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Several years ago, the Southwest Collection began collaborating with members of the American Agriculture Movement (AAM) to document their, and other farmers’, decades of hard work and activism. We have received many archival items from AAM members, not the least of which was a couple hundred American Agriculture News volumes dating from 1978 to 1983. Those volumes can now be found among our digital collections.

 

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Published every other Tuesday in Iredell, Texas, for nearly a decade (and perhaps longer?) by Micki Nellis and a handful of others, the News first appeared in early 1978. Sadly, we don’t possess the first two issues. Our set starts with issue 3, printed on February 28th, 1978, with a front page proclaiming that the News had been endorsed by AAM delegates during one of their meetings in Washington, D.C.

 

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The most recent issue we own–volume 6, issue 22–dates from December 13, 1983, just shy of six years after the first one. The front page was run-of-the-mill news, but page 2, above, told a wilder tale: “Farm women will raise more hell and fewer dahlias.”

 

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One of the AAM’s finest moments came in 1979, when its “Tractorcade” set off for Washington, DC. The Tractorcade was a grassroots activism campaign demanding “parity” for farmers throughout the U.S. In 2014 we curated an exhibit about that event, and even wrote two more detailed histories of that watershed moment here and here, so be sure to check those articles out to find out a little more.

 

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An inventory of the full archival collection of AAM materials covering the years 1968-1997 can be found among our other archival finding aids. We’ve also conducted many oral histories with AAM members over the years. To get your hands on any of those resources, please email or call our ever-helpful Reference Department and they’ll happily help you out!

Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years

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On April 4, 2019, the Texas Tech Museum will host a screening of Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years, a documentary highlighting the life of acclaimed western writer Max Evans directed by Paul Barnes and Lorene Mills. The film’s directors drew upon the Max Evans Papers housed at the Southwest Collection in making the documentary. The papers contain a number of drafts, short stories, screenplays, and other ephemera.

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Born in Ropes, Texas, in 1925, Max Evans later moved to northern New Mexico, which would serve as the setting for many of his works.

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The Max Evans Papers document Evans’ career as a writer from his first published short story in the Denver Post to his more recent works.

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They also provide insight into Evan’s creative process by showing the trajectory of the author’s thoughts, oftentimes beginning with scribbled notes on napkins and scratch paper. The collection also contains noteworthy correspondence between Evans and other creative figures such as Rudolfo Anaya and Martin Scorsese.

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The Hi-Lo Country is arguably Evan’s most popular work and was later made into a feature film starring Woody Harrelson and Patricia Arquette. The screenplay for the film went through several iterations including an early draft by Sam Peckinpah (the screenwriter of the popular film The Wild Bunch).

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While many of Evan’s works focus heavily on cowboy culture in northeastern New Mexico, Evans also wrote a work about Mildred Clark, a prostitute and entrepreneur in Silver City, New Mexico. Drawing upon several hours of interviews with Clark, Madam Millie: Bordellos from Silver City to Ketchikan tells Clark’s story from her humble beginnings as an orphan to her eventual success running a brothel in Silver City, New Mexico.

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The Max Evans Papers contain several reels of interviews between Millie Clark and Max Evans, as well as several other items including original call girl credit cards, above.

If you’re interested in learning more about Max Evans, his various projects, and his career as a writer, come browse his papers at the Southwest Collection!