Fall into Diversity: An Exhibit of our University Archives

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This fall, our University Archives has created “Fall into Diversity: My Story,” an exhibit showcasing individuals involved with Texas Tech University whose stories were chronicled among our many, many oral histories. In their words:

“Everyone has a story to share, a perspective that helps better round out the history of a person, place or thing. For 60 years, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library has conducted oral history interviews as a way of preserving people’s memories and views on a vast variety of subjects. ‘Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies,’ states the Oral History Association. As of 2016, the Southwest Collection has conducted over 6,500 interviews, recorded through a number of methods as technology has evolved. Many of these interviews feature Texas Tech-related faculty and alumni. This exhibit showcases a small sampling of the diverse interviews done over the past two decades.”

 

Stella Ruth Courtney Crockett (pictured above) was born on October 4, 1943, in Lubbock, Texas, and attended Dunbar High School. In the summer of 1961, after learning that Texas Tech would integrate, she was among a very small group of African Americans who decided to attend. Despite being accepted into the Texas Tech marching band, Stella found it a difficult task to be among the first to break a long-held barrier. For example, she enrolled in another section of a class because the first instructor used disparaging language toward her. Support from her family, church, and community helped her stay on course and she pointed to her mother’s encouraging words of “sticking it out” as a motivator. “It’s my right to be here. I deserve an education and I’m going to get it,” she recalled in her March 3, 2010, interview.

From the 2nd grade, Stella wanted to be a teacher. In May of 1965 she earned her bachelor’s degree and thus became the first African American to attend Lubbock schools from K-12, attend all undergraduate years at Texas Tech, and successfully graduate. Stella retired in June 2009 after 43 years of teaching.

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Anita Carmona Harrison was born on February 17, 1944, in Lubbock. Following a tour of the Texas Technological College campus with her second grade teacher, Mrs. Billie Everton, Anita decided she wanted to attend and started a piggy bank fund. In the fall of 1963 she enrolled at Texas Tech. Of her college years she fondly recalls “meeting people from diverse backgrounds,” hanging out with friends in the SUB, and being taught once again by Dr. Everton, who had become a professor at Texas Tech.

In 1967 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree, went on to teach bilingual kindergarten classes and, in 1969, helped develop Lubbock ISD’s first Curriculum Guide for Bilingual Kindergarten. She continued to teach elementary school while raising two daughters and, in 1999, she retired from LISD after almost 30 years from public teaching.

Anita is recognized as the first Lubbock-born Latina to attend Lubbock schools from K-12, attend all undergraduate years at Texas Tech, and successfully graduate. She grew up in a very tight-knit family and has proudly shared stories of her childhood, family, and community in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and Latino Lubbock magazine. Her oral history interview was conducted on December 8, 2009.

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Bernard A. Harris, Jr., was born on June 26, 1956. From ages 7 to 15 he lived with his mother on a Navajo Indian Reservation where she worked as a teacher. “She told me I could do anything,” he recalled in a 1995 University Daily interview, and it was under her positive influence that he dreamed he could reach the stars. “I knew I wanted to be an astronaut when I first saw human beings land on the moon.”

Bernard received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston in 1978 and his medical degree from Texas Tech School of Medicine in 1982. His residency at the Mayo Clinic was completed in 1985, after which he worked with NASA where he completed a research fellowship in 1987 and training as a flight surgeon in 1988. On February 3, 1995, Bernard also became the first African American to walk in space.

After his stint as a scientist and flight surgeon with NASA, he went on to serve as a professor of medicine at several Texas universities, and on the Board of Regents at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. In his December 15, 1998, oral history interview Bernard expressed that he wanted to be known as a visionary or a dreamer.

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Gary Stewart Elbow was born on November 15, 1938. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oregon State College in 1960 and his master’s degree from the University of Oregon. He came to Texas Tech in 1970 as an assistant geosciences professor and later earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburg in 1972.

In his many administrative and teaching roles over the course of 45 years at Texas Tech, Gary observed firsthand the changes the university underwent, most notably the battle over tenure and academic freedom when Texas Tech was censured by AAUP. He also saw the founding of an Honors College, where Gary continues to teach. He has held every position in the Faculty Senate and has worked for many years as a Marshall at graduation ceremonies.

In his June, 20, 2010, oral history interview, Gary reminisced about the university’s changing role under former President Grover Murray in the 1960s and 70s. “So this was an exciting place. Things were really hopping, and the idea at the time was that we were going to become more than just a regional university.” Without a doubt, Gary is one of the individuals who contributed to Texas Tech becoming a Tier One institution.

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James C. Watkins was born on May 28, 1951. In a November 20, 2009, interview he shared how his grandmother and mother encouraged his artistic development by allowing him to use old calendars as drawing pads, and supported him taking “Draw Me” art correspondence courses. James continued his education by receiving his B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute and his M.F.A. from Indiana University. He taught at Indiana University and Hampton University before coming to Texas Tech in 1983 as an assistant professor of architecture.

For over 30 years he has specialized in ceramics, particularly in the use of raku. He is a co-author of two books, Alternative Kilns & Firing Techniques and Architectural Delineation, Presentation Techniques and Projects, and is the subject of a third book, A Meditation of Fire: The Art of James C. Watkins. In 2005 he became a Fulbright Scholar, and his contributions to the field of art were recognized at Texas Tech in 2006 with his promotion to the esteemed rank of Horn Professor. Examples of his work reside in the White House Collection of American Crafts, the Shigaraki Institute of Ceramic Studies in Japan, the Texas Tech University Public Art Collection, and have also been part of two different Smithsonian exhibits.

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Lauro Fred Cavazos was born on January 4, 1927, on the King Ranch. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. Lauro taught at the Medical College of Virginia and at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, where he was also Dean from 1975 to 1980, before returning to Texas Tech in 1980 to become its tenth president. He is the first Hispanic and first graduate of the university to hold the title of president.

A recognized expert in both the field of medicine and the field of education, Lauro’s accolades were numerous. Most prominently, on September 20, 1988, he was unanimously confirmed as Secretary of Education, making him the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. He continued in that position until December of 1990.  The TTU Board of Regents bestowed an honorary degree upon him in 2016.

Cavazos grew up attending segregated schools and was the child of a ranch foreman. In his January 25, 1991, interview Lauro discussed why it was important for Mexican American families to teach their children English and prepare them for school.


Those interested in the exhibit, “Fall into Diversity: My Story” are welcome to visit it from fall until spring at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library’s Coronelli Rotunda.

Cattle Rustling in the Archives

Portions of brands found in Spence Brothers Herd

At the Southwest Collection, we acquire more materials than we can describe in a thousand of these blogs. Some collections span nearly 1,000 linear feet, some a mere wallet-sized box. The Charles M. and James E. Cree Papers are one of the latter. Ranging in type from correspondence to cattle brand identification and stock counts to financial statements, the collection might at first glance inspire little interest. A closer examination, however, reveals over a decade of cattle-rustling and vandalism on a New Mexico ranch at the end of the 19th century.

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James E. Cree was a Scotsman who owned of a distillery in Edinburgh, Scotland (his son, Charles, whose name the collection also bears, was born years after this tale.) He founded the Angus VV Ranch in the 1880’s on Little Creek near Angus in Lincoln County, New Mexico. Cree and his partner Brandon Kirby are credited with introducing the Angus breed of cattle to New Mexico. Pat Garrett, former sheriff and noted slayer of Billy the Kid, at one point served as ranch manager on the VV ranch. (Although in this context, that is just some fun trivia.) The numbers of calves on the VV and other ranches are noted in the document above, as is the certification of the VV brand, below.

Brand Certificate August 30 1886-1

Report of Agent of South Eastern New Mexico Stock Growers Association 1894-1

Why do those administrative cow counts matter? Well, according to the report above as well as several related documents, someone in the Lincoln County area had been cattle rustlin’, specifically “Slick” Miller, Allen Hightower, and the Spence Brothers. From secluded spot to secluded spot, Miller and Hightower had driven the cattle stealthily until the Spences bought them at $4-5 a head. This tale was summarized by an unnamed Agent of the South Eastern New Mexico Stock Growers Association, the report of whom can be seen above, after extensive investigation and testimony.

Statement of Louis Herrera November 12 1895 2-4

Louis Herrera, a ranch employee, provided at least four separate statements at least four separate statement to investigators, a portion of which can be seen above. In other instances, only a portion of the testimony survives. The statement of J. F. Allison, below, is one such. He was involved in the arrest of “old man Eaker,” another rustler who plundered the VV.

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The conclusion of these investigations is not immediately apparent. Some rustlers were certainly arrested; others appear only once or twice in the documents. It is also possible that because these records span over a decade, other instances of cattle rustling are being document here. Perhaps some intrepid researcher could piece the entire story together using the Charles and James Cree Papers along with other SWC collections, or even collections from other archives. So take a look through the papers for yourself, and feel free to get ahold of our Reference Staff. They’re here to herd you through the process if needs be.

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!

Lubbock, Texas’ El Editor Newspaper and the Bidal Aguero Papers

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Today is Cinco de Mayo! If you’re the festive type, we encourage you to celebrate the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (if you live in the state of Puebla, Mexico) and America’s strong connections to Mexican heritage generally (if you live in the United States.) With that in mind, we’re taking a look at a long-time Lubbock, Texas (home of the Southwest Collection!) institution: the Spanish language newspaper, El Editor.

Possibly the longest running Hispanic newspaper in Texas, El Editor was founded by Bidál Agüero (1949-2009). Agüero helped found Lubbock’s Commerciantes Organizacion Mexicano Americano (COMA), the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce, in 1972. COMA disappeared when Agüero left town, but then reappeared when he returned. At that time, he also founded El Editor. The cover of Volume 1, Number 1, published in October 1977, can be seen above.

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Agüero was also heavily involved in local politics. He joined La Raza Unida Party and ran for local offices such as county commissioner, participated in organizing protests for injustices done against Mexican Americans, and was one of those who filed a lawsuit against the Lubbock Independent School District to change its method of electing school trustees. He even traveled to the Middle East to meet with members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. After the end of the Raza Unida, he joined the Democratic Party. The first page of the December 1980 issue of El Editor mentions both La Raza Unida, as well as one of Agüero’s other causes, the protection and support of recent Latino immigrants to the United States.

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Agüero worked in several Lubbock- and West Texas-area social service organizations such as Defensa, Inc., Chicanos Unidos-Campesinos, and Llano Estacado Farmworkers of Tejas to help such groups as migrant workers. He also worked closely with governmental groups such as the South Plains Association of Governments, the State of Texas, and the City of Lubbock. You can see an extensive article about his work with the Llano Estacado Farmworkers of Tejas in this image from Volume 2, Number 25, in May 1979.

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Here is the cover is of the most recent issue of El Editor that we have digitized and placed among our online digital collections. You can see how the style and layout changed over the preceding 7 years, but the content remained the same. The newspaper is still being published, and we have a nearly complete set of them. Recent issues can also be found all over Lubbock. If you can read Spanish (although many articles are also in English) you might give it a look. In the meantime, we’ll keep working to digitize and make them available online. Please get in touch with our Reference Staff if you’d like to see the other issues in hard copy.