Dirk West: Sports Cartoonist

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It’s time for a new exhibit at the Southwest Collection! This fall we’re sharing a tribute to Dirk West, a Texas Tech alum and famed sports cartoonist of the Southwest Athletic Conference (among many other accomplishments.) On the evening of Friday, October 14th, we’ll be hosting a reception celebrating the exhibit’s opening. Come on by and visit! Or at least check out some of the exhibit’s fabulous images below.

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Gerald Glynn “Dirk” West (October 23, 1928-July 26, 1996) was a businessman, television personality, and former mayor of the City of Lubbock, Texas. Shortly after his birth in Littlefield, Texas, Dirk’s family moved to Lubbock, Texas. There, while attending Lubbock High School, Dirk created “Westerner Willie” for the school’s Westerner World. Dirk’s widow, Mary Ruth West, recalls Dirk stating that this was also the beginning of his nom de plume. After graduating high school Dirk continued cartooning at Texas Tech University (TTU).

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At TTU, Dirk created an oafish character named “Smedley” (above) for the Toreador, the Texas Tech student newspaper. Mary Ruth believes “Smedley” served as the precursor to “Ol’ Red,” the grizzled version of Raider Red that decorates the image below. The figure graced the Toreador’s pages until Dirk’s graduation in 1954 with a degree in Advertising.

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Some years later Burle Pettit, sports editor of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, asked Dirk to consider drawing a Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC) cartoon for the paper. And so it was that on September 24, 1964, the first SWC cartoon appeared therein. It featured Texas Tech Football Head Coach J. T. King and his men preparing for the arduous task of playing the defending National Football Champions, the Texas Longhorns. He would go on to develop the mascots of all the SWC schools into recognizable caricatures, such as UT’s Bevo, below.

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So come on by and check out our exhibit! And if you’d like to see more of Dirk West’s work, as well as his archival papers, don’t hesitate to get ahold of our Reference Staff. They’re always ready to help you out however they can. We also hold the records of the Southwest Conference, the Big XII Conference, and a host of other sports organizations. They too are available to interested researchers.

The Tale of Thomas “Red Tom” Hickey

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Thomas Hickey’s papers aren’t the only records of early 20th-century socialism that we house at the Southwest Collection, nor are they the first we’ve talked about on this blog, but they have proven to be some of the most colorful. Situated among correspondence, financial records, and similar items are several periodicals and posters that we hadn’t yet seen anywhere else.

Thomas Aloysius Hickey was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1869. In the 1890s he emigrated to the U.S., and within a year he had joined the Socialist labor Party, eventually serving as private secretary to none other than notorious International Workers of the World (IWW) founder Eugene V. Debs. Hickey left the east coast after being blacklisted by the bosses, and soon found work in Montana on behalf of its miners. That failed to pan out, too, so he ambled off to Texas in 1904. That’s where, from humble Hallettsville, he arranged speaking engagements on behalf of the Socialist Party all over the state, such as the one promoted in this bill.

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In 1916 Hickey supported Dallas U.S. senatorial candidate John Davis. Trounced in the election by former Texas governor and Senate incumbent Charles A. Culberson by a margin of 8 to 1, Davis nonetheless fared better than every other socialist who ran for office at the state or federal level in Texas that year. This was small consolation to Hickey, who was about to face still more adversity. In 1911 he had become editor of The Rebel, a weekly newspaper published in Hallettsville. “The great appear great to us only because we are on our knees. Let us arise,” was its slogan, which was adopted by Texas’ Socialist Party. That may have had something to do with the government’s suppression of the paper in 1917 via the Espionage Act.

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Hickey was one to collect national socialist publications, as well. Wilshire’s was among them, and Hickey’s Papers teem with issues of the periodical. Gaylord Wilshire, after whom the Boulevard in Los Angeles is named, was a nationally prominent socialist. Before being chased from California as an outspoken Red, he began publication of Wilshire’s (previously known as The Challenge, Wilshire’s Monthly Magazine, and Wilshire’s Magazine) in 1900. When he moved to New York, the magazine grew in circulation, eventually evolving into a tabloid newspaper (and, subsequently, discontinuing publication in 1915.) Check out the covers of Wilshire’s above and below: top-notch examples of early 20th century political cartoonery!

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Not least among Hickey’s causes was women’s suffrage. In the poster that began this blog, you might have noticed that women were encouraged to attend his lectures. This was by design. Hickey had copies of (and may well have facilitated the distribution of) numerous magazines about women’s enfranchisement. New York’s The Suffragist and Chicago’s The Progressive Woman are just two among several in the Papers.

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Hickey passed away in 1925, but not before publishing his own Tom Hickey’s Magazine for several years. We have more than a few of those in our holdings, each a fascinating look into an often-forgotten aspect of Texas political thought. Those, as well as all of Hickey’s other papers, are made available to visiting patrons by our excellent Reference Staff.

Texas Independence Day: In the (19th Century) News…Again!

Every year in anticipation of Texas Independence Day (March 2nd, for those who aren’t from around here) we dig into our collection of Texas Revolutionary-era newspapers to see what folks of the early 19th century had to say about the soon-to-be Lone Star State. It turns out, they said a lot!

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Texas’ independence can trace its origins to a number of sources, one of the most significant of which was the Mexican Revolution (1810-1821) and the creation of the Republic of Mexico. That conflict was reported worldwide, including under somewhat misleading heading “South America” in this copy of the Aberdeen (Scotland) Chronicle from November 9, 1816. Only a small portion of the conflict took place in Texas, but the province does get mentioned in this early report. It was also on the mind of the United States, as the revolutionary forces frequently petitioned for legitimacy (and funds) from their northern neighbor.

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During these tumultuous revolutionary years, opportunistic men from the States kept their eye on the millions of acres of land that Mexico had to offer in the province of Tejas. The National Journal on August 6, 1825, reported an instance of attempts to purchase such territory. “Captain Leftwich” of Kentucky had recently moseyed into New Orleans claiming to have snatched up enough land for 800 families. Six to eight million acres of land, in fact! More importantly, speculation about adding Texas to the United States was also well underway in the paper.

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As an aside, have you ever wondered where some of the names of Texas’ counties and cities come from? Houston and Crockett are fairly obvious, named for heroes of San Jacinto and the Alamo, respectively. But Milam County is somewhat lesser-known. It’s named after Colonel Ben Milam, about which the Niles Weekly Register of Baltimore, Maryland, had a lot to share on July 19, 1828. He was a Kentuckian, but his status as a self-proclaimed “citizen of the world”–a world in which he bought up a whole lot of Mexican land (as had Stephen F. Austin, also mentioned in the article, and who is now the namesake of Texas’ capital.)

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By 1835, revolution was in the air! Texian rebels had risen, determined to free themselves from Mexican rule (and, not coincidentally, to ensure that Mexico was no longer going to tax all that land mentioned above…) The New Yorker on October 31, 1835, offered a glimpse of the excitement. Retaliation by Mexico’s President, “that Chief” Santa Anna “and his myrmidons (was) hourly expected.” Further flowered loquacions followed, including a letter written by General Sam Houston himself asking all patriotic Americans to volunteer to aid his people’s cause (and get a generous grant of land to boot.)

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The first battle of the Texas Revolution occurred at Gonzales on October 2nd, 1835. News traveled slowly in the 19th century, and so it was November 9, nearly a month after the skirmish, that Rhode Island’s Manufacturers and Farmers Journal, and Providence and Pawtucket Advertiser reported it. The numbers of combatants and casualties was exaggerated, turning two hours of desultory exchanges into a much larger conflict…but story probably wouldn’t have sold many newspapers.

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The Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836, effectively ended the Texas Revolution in favor of the Texians. And despite what the August 17th, 1836, issue of the National Intelligencer would have you believe in these excerpts, Mexican forces never reentered Texas after the capture of President and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna during that fight. In fact, thousands of settlers swarmed Texas, eager for a fight (which was not forthcoming) and for a chance to settle in the newly liberated area (which definitely forthcame.)

These newspapers in their entirety, along with many of their contemporaries, can be found among our numerous digitized archival collections. For interested researchers who make the journey to us in Lubbock, some can even be viewed in person, along with our many other collections related to Texas history. Just give our cheerful Reference Staff a call and they’ll see what they can set up for you.

Elmer Kelton’s Papers at the Southwest Collection

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The Southwest Collection is home to the papers of a number of prominent fiction and non-fiction writers, but few among them were as prolific as Western fiction writer Elmer Kelton. Born in 1926 in Horse Camp, Texas (a name that destined him to do something related to West Texas…), Kelton was raised on the McElroy Ranch near Crane, Texas, where his father worked for over thirty years. This experience among a host of others throughout his life shaped the ensuing five decades of non-stop composition.

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After a stint at the University of Texas at Austin from 1942 to 1944, then 1946 to 1948 (sandwiching two years of service in the army during World War 2), he acquired a journalism degree and returned to West Texas where he spent over a decade writing for local newspapers. Kelton’s work appeared primarily the San Angelo Standard-Times, but pieces appeared throughout the region, such the one above from the Big Spring Daily Herald.

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But it was the authorship of more than 30 novels that made his reputation. The resulting accolades are almost too many to list (but we’ll try). 3 Western Heritage Awards, given by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center; 7 Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America; the Barbara McCombs/Lon Tinkle Award from the Institute of Texas Letters; a lifetime achievement award from the National Cowboy Symposium; and the first Lone Star award for lifetime Achievement from the Larry McMurtry Center for Arts and Humanities at Midwestern State University. Oh, and in April 1997 the Texas Legislature declared an Elmer Kelton Day.

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Novel-writing and award receptions had to be scheduled around his other career. Kelton spent five years as Sheep and Goat Raiser Magazine’s editor, twenty-two as associate editor of Livestock Weekly, and of course, the diligent newspaper work that he continued until the 1990s. The excerpt above is an excellent example both of his prose and the sense of humor that permeated it (as well as a host of entertaining ads for the upcoming local rodeo).

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As a longstanding member (over 40 years) of the Western Writers of America, Kelton often found himself collaborating with other writers. The letters below and above, dating from 1972, concern a project wherein several writers would compose a story by passing it from writer to writer, each of whom would add to it before giving it to the next. Although the outcome of this project wasn’t apparent from a brief search through the boxes of correspondence in his Papers, we suspect a dedicated researcher might find the answer someday.

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Elmer Kelton’s catalog continued to grow even after his passing in 2009, with Texas Standoff, a novel in his Texas Rangers series, appearing posthumously in 2010. But honestly, our 500 words of description are hardly able to do justice to the man’s colossal body of work. His novels are widely available in libraries (including ours) and you’d do well to pick one up and read it through. Or, if you’d like to research further into the nuts and bolts of a famed Western writer’s process, our helpful Reference staff would be happy to get Kelton’s papers into your hands.

 

The American Agriculture Movement: Part 2

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Last year, the Southwest Collection shared our American Agricultural Movement (AAM) Records in an exhibit entitled Tractorcade! commemorating the 35th anniversary of the AAM’s last great Tractorcade in 1979. It featured oral histories, photographs, newspaper articles, and artifacts that allowed our curators to tell this unique story of authentic U.S. grassroots activism.

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We told you back then about the AAM’s formation in Campo, Colorado, in 1977, and its focus on “Parity”—economic balance between agriculture, other industries, and the U.S. government. It organized farmer’s strikes throughout the U.S., using pamphlets such as the one above to get them going. And it worked: in 1977 around 5,000 farmers held a tractor rally in Lincoln, Nebraska. Farmers in other states soon followed with their own rallies.

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Unfortunately, the AAM’s activism sometimes led to violence. On March 1st, 1978, a large group of protesting farmers was trapped on the International Bridge south of McAllen, Texas. U.S. police and Mexican Federal troops tear-gassed and beat some of the protestors, later arresting and jailing 200 of them. But this wasn’t typically the case. At almost the same time, numerous farmers found themselves peacefully gathering in Washington, D.C., in opposition to the 1977 Farm Bill. All of these events and many others were chronicled in local publications such as the American Agricultural News, of which we have dozens of issues. The above article and poems are examples of such, written by supporters–but not necessarily protest participants–from Oklahoma and Kansas, not just Texas or the AAM’s birth-state, Colorado.

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Combinations of strikes, protests, and legal opposition would later lead to massive Tractorcades in 1978 and 79. January of the former saw around 3,000 farmers driving their tractors to Washington, D.C. 1979 proved even more successful on a second trip to D.C., although traffic across the nation found itself stuck behind slow moving tractors festooned with protest signs. Washington was practically shut down as they drove through the city, and when at last they stopped at the National Mall, the police quickly penned them in with squad cars and city dump trucks. Surprisingly, there were only a few scuffles between farmers and police. Most interactions were friendly, although national public opinion was split on the farmer’s stated issues. But the Tractorcade can, in some part, be summed up by their emotional visit to the Lincoln Memorial documented in the photo above. It was a peaceful affair, generating unity within the AAM and fond memories for all of the participants that they’ve shared with SWC staff during every visit.

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There are many other tales of the Tractorcade and the AAM available at the Southwest Collection, many found in oral histories of participants and opposition members alike. They explain to interested researchers how the AAM metamorphosed into the guardian of farmers and lobby-er of politicians that it is today. These materials, and the many newspapers, documents, and artifacts in the AAM collection, are always available for research. And our helpful Reference Staff shows up when the rooster crows every day to make sure they can help you find them.

Mad Trends 2: Even Madder

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We love poring through old issues of Texas Tech’s student newspaper, The Toreador (or the University Daily, depending on the vintage.) We already told you a bit about this obsession not long ago, particularly about our love for vintage advertisements (not to mention the TTU student body’s obsession with streaking.) Truly the 1970s held a wealth of advertisory entertainment, and we’ve come across a few more to keep you entertained. Incidentally, these can all be found in an exhibit currently on display at the Southwest Collection. Come on by and check that out, too!

As for the mustache ad above…there’s very little to say about this ad that it doesn’t say for itself, so let’s move on.

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KTXT is TTU’s college radio station, and has been since the 1950s when it was known as KTTC on AM radio, and later KTXT at 91.9 FM. It’s now 88.1, and continues to “stick things in your ear,” primarily music and student talk radio.

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Town Draw seems like a fairly innocuous local bar, given this ad. Just look at the cheerful cartoon folk strolling its wood floors, blissfully unaware of how hard they’re violating copyright. And that wasn’t the only lawbreaking that went down at the Town Draw. In one interview (which we sadly haven’t been able to track down in the archive again before posting this,) a musician who long-since left Lubbock, Texas, claimed that “everyone (he) knew had a story about that they almost got killed there.” It is remembered fondly by some of the bands played there, however, so it couldn’t have been all that bad…

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We told the tale a while back of streaking’s tremendous popularity on the TTU campus in 1974. Some of the more diplomatic among the University Daily’s staff used this trend to defuse a growing controversy in 1974 over the first female Masked Rider (TTU’s black-clad horseman (or woman) who races the sidelines of every home game.) Why not discard the horse entirely, they proposed, and have someone streak the field before every game? A handy ballot was provided, and while we’re not sure what the precise tally was, the fact is the Masked Rider still rides today.

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In March 1976 some Red Raiders were getting excited about a TV show that had ended its run 7 years before: Star Trek. Its creator, Gene Roddenberry, was about to visit the Student Union Building (still called the University Center, or “UC,” at that time – hence the logo.) By all accounts, the room was packed.

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Yum-yum. Yum-yum. Yum-yum, yum-yum, yum-yum, yum-yum. That’s our attempt at a hamburger-y Jaws theme. It is not only a lesser copyright infringement than The Brittany’s September 1975 advertisement, it might also be a less-groan-worthy pun than “treat your jaws.” It might be…

So come on by the ol’ Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library and check out this exhibit (or any of its very fine neighbors.) And if you need to see some other newspapers, or just get some research done in general, our always-on-point Reference Staff would be happy to get you all set up.

“Mad Trends: Found Ads of the 1970s” – An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection

We love poring through old issues of Texas Tech’s student newspaper, The Toreador (or the University Daily, depending on the vintage.) In blogs past, we shared the phenomenon of streaking that overtook campus, and therefore its newspapers, during the 1970s. But naked folks weren’t the only entertainment on the Toreador’s pages. Newspaper advertisements got pretty innovative, and we’ve installed an exhibit full of examples to prove it. Check these samples out.

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In February 1974 The Comix Club bar was a popular institution. Students and locals gathered there regularly to drink and carouse, yea like unto the fallen warriors of Valhalla. Now, we won’t delve deep into the details of their storied parties, but we can confirm that Norse god of thunder and Marvel Comics staple, Thor, endorsed their neverending parade of ladies’ nights.

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Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels were hugely popular in the 1960s and 70s. It’s unsurprising therefore that stores such as Gandalf’s Staff would take advantage of that popularity to sell items that featured prominently in the books. Such as…water beds? Note also that, just in case you struggle to identify wizards on sight, or were confused by the name of the store, they captioned the picture of Gandalf.

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King Kong debuted in theaters in 1933, and after a two-decade hiatus got an original, uncut screening in February 1974 at Lubbock’s Backstage Theater. We love that the woman is screaming the title of the movie, rather than for, you know, help. Stylistically, though, it made sense, as the poster was drawn in the style of Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix of the late 1960s. Those were the cartoons that proclaimed “Keep on Truckin’” – another fad appropriated by the Toreador from time to time.

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In 1974, you could rest assured that the universe was safe from Ming, Mars, and planets full of outlaws. Featuring “the latest in modern electronic space equipment,” the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers films had been wowing audiences for over 40 years, and did so again in December 1974 at the Backstage Theater. Buck and Flash were true heroes, the kind that save maidens from deaths worse than fate! Whatever that means. Heroes don’t have time to keep clichés straight.

Enjoy these? You might also enjoy the rest of our exhibit, which features 1970s mustache products, Gene Roddenberry, plagiarism from Jaws intended to sell hamburgers, and a Martian death ray! Or just check out issues of the University Daily/Toreador among our digital collections. Either way, you’ll be entertained.

2nd Year Anniversary!

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The Southwest Collection’s blog, Tumblr, and Facebook have been around for a full 2 years now. Thousands of blog visitors later (not to mention 8,500 Tumblr followers! Thank you all!) we are still going strong. It’s an honor (and really, really fun) to share all sorts of oddities from our interesting collections. To celebrate this accomplishment (and to give us time to dig up more cool stuff…) for the next two weeks (June 8 through June 19) we’re going to be sharing one highlight per day from our last year of entertaining you. There’s some good stuff, from parakeet-powered cars to Texas Tech football victories, maps of Snake Country to the itinerant toy tractors that roam our archival stacks (and every other place they can devise that might annoy us.)

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Thanks for all your support! And don’t hesitate to click around through all our images weeks, months, and years to see if there’s something in there that enlightens you. Or, more likely, holds your interest long enough to look it over. That’s why we do this!

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Ads Laid Bare: Streakin’ through TTU’s “University Daily”!

keep on streakin UD_1974_03_01-1We see many bizarre stories and advertisements in our newspapers here at the SWC, but few are as wacky as the obsession with streaking we observed in Texas Tech University’s University Daily during the spring of 1974. No one knows how it all started. Some say that streaking had been popular on campus for a few years already. Others claim that Ray Stevens’ hit, “The Streak,” which debuted in March 1974, was responsible. All that we know for sure is that by the time the campus got good and warm, t-shirts featuring the logo above were widely available. full color streaker shirt ad - also van heusen UD_1974_04_17-4Illicitly sold t-shirts weren’t the only clothes to cover up streakers before their antics, or so this April 1974 ad for Van Heusen dress shirts would have you believe. “For revealing your colors in a most original way, streaking can hardly be overlooked!” But go ahead and buy a stylish, daring, and adventurous Van Heusen anyway. Perhaps to look good for your court date. streaker burger brittany UD_1974_03_15-5According to this ad from The Brittany, there was even a 1974 Streak Week from March 14th to the 17th. Although University Daily accounts are spotty on that matter, they didn’t shy away from letting The Brittany advertise its Streaker Burger, a hamburger with “just ‘Meat and Buns.’” We’re not sure about the quality of their burgers, but the litany of puns in their description are fairly tasteless. That’s right, Brittany – we can pun, too! streaker punch UD_1974_04_24-4Sometimes streakers needed to build up some courage, and warmth, before they could run the streets. Fortunately, Montezuma tequila had the solution: Streaker Punch, made by mixing their booze in a wash tub with some fruit, then chugging it out of a paper cup. Whatever works, we suppose? Anyway, these freewheeling issues of the University Daily (also sometimes called The Toreador or The Daily Toreador) can be found among our many digital collections. Head on over and browse through them!

Texas Independence Day in the (19th Century) News!

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March 2nd : birthday of Mikhail Gorbachev, Jon Bon Jovi, Dr. Seuss, and the author of this blog. Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in one game on March 2nd, 1962. President of the Republic of Texas, Governor of Texas, and later U.S. Senator Sam Houston was born on that day, too. That last one is fitting, because March 2nd is also Texas Independence Day, celebrated statewide since 1836. With that in mind, we’re once again sharing the best of our newspapers dating from that era!

Here’s page 3 of March 24, 1836’s Staunton Spectator, sharing all the news out of Virginia. They knew all about the Mexican army headed by former President of Mexico General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. But news traveled slowly back then: by the time this issue was published the Battle of the Alamo had occurred nearly three weeks earlier.

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Two weeks later in the Albany Journal of Albany, New York, related the tale of the Battle of the Alamo. 150 men killed, their bodies thrown into a heap! Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie: dead! Commander William Travis committing suicide rather than surrender! Every Texian inflamed with a passion to fight until “every Mexican east of the Rio del Norte should be exterminated!” (Texian, by the way, was the name for residents of Mexican Texas and, later, the Republic of Texas.)

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Here’s May 12th’s Staunton Spectator, reminding its readers that the Texas Revolution was doomed. As we’ve seen two times already, 19th-century newspaper information had a habit of being out of date. Sam Houston’s army had defeated a portion of general Santa Anna’s forces at San Jacinto, Texas back on April 21st, forcing the end of the conflict. The most entertaining part of this article, however, is the lionizing of Davy Crockett. Check it out: “Crockett was found (within the Alamo)…on his back, a frown on his brow, a smile of scorn on his lips–his knife in his hand, a dead Mexican lying across his body, and twenty-two more lying pell-mell before him….” Wow.

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Word finally caught up with the east coast by the end of May 1836, as we can see here in Exeter, New Hampshire’s Exeter News-Letter. We have the Battle of San Jacinto, the routing of Mexican forces, and the capture of Santa Anna, which came along with its own dubious tale. After over 600 Mexican troops laid down their arms, mounted riflemen began chasing a few attempted escapees. Only one continued to elude them, a chase that lasted 15 miles and ended when one pursuer guessed that “like a hard pressed bear, (Santa Anna might) have taken a tree. The tree tops were then examined when lo, the game was discovered snugly ensconced in the forks of a large live oak.” The captors allegedly didn’t even know who they’d nabbed until the Mexican troops began hailing their commander as his captors walked him through the camp.

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We’re ending this with a more sedate piece, free of the melodrama of Davy Crockett, generals in trees, and Texans hell-bent on exterminating every last one of their enemies. The Bennington Vermont Gazette instead describes events as they transpired from San Jacinto onward, culled from other news sources such as the New York Courier & Enquirer. Nope, no melodrama at all…oh, wait: “The poor devils…would hold up their hands, cross themselves, and sing out ‘me no alamo,’ but nothing could save them; the blood of our countrymen was too was too fresh in the memory of our people our people to let one Mexican escape, until worn down with pursuit and slaughter, they commenced making prisoners.” Perhaps the real magic of these papers was not so much facts about the Texas Revolution as it was the histrionics of 19th-century newspapers!

We have a vast newspaper collection here at the Southwest Collection, some of which can be found in digital form. We also have manuscript materials about the Texas Revolution and its participants, most notably the Temple Houston Morrow Papers    , a series of letters and documents collected by Sam Houston’s grandson, many of which were items composed by Houston himself. And, as always, our Reference Staff would be happy to help you peruse these or any of our other fine collections.