Colonel Margaret M. Henderson, USMC

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March is Women’s History Month, so with that in mind we’re sharing the story of USMC Colonel Margaret Henderson (whose papers we are fortunate to house) and the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

Faced with manpower shortages in 1918, Marine Major General Commandant George Barnett asked the Secretary of the Navy’s permission to enlist women for clerical duties. That August, Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the Marines, with 305 eventually joining in 1918 and taking over stateside clerical duties from battle-ready Marines needed overseas. The women were nicknamed “Marinettes.” The vast majority of USMC Headquarters personnel—almost 85% in fact—were women by the end of World War II. The Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was officially established on February 13th, 1943. The MCWR was often referred to as the “Lady Marines.”

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Women held over hundreds of jobs: radio operator, photographer, parachute rigger, driver, aerial gunnery instructor, cook, baker, quartermaster, control tower operator, motion picture operator, auto mechanic, telegraph operator, cryptographer, laundry operator, post exchange manager, stenographer, and agriculturist. Soon they numbered over 800 officers and 17,640 enlisted troops, although by July 1946 only around 1,000 remained in service. Regardless, in 1948 Congress made women a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps, and thousands of active and reserve soldiers served actively in the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf conflicts.

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Margaret M. Henderson was one such Marine. Born in Cameron, Texas, on February 6, 1911, she received a degree in business administration from the University of Texas in 1932, and taught in Lubbock, Texas, until 1942 at which time she enlisted in the USMC. Her career began as a second lieutenant, and although her service officially ended in 1946 so that she could teach at Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University), she returned to the Corps in 1948. Ultimately, her time in the Marines spanned 21 years. She reached the pinnacle of her career when she was named the Director of the Women Marines, a post she held from 1959 to 1964.

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If you want to look deeper into Henderson’s papers, our Reference Staff would be happy to help you with that.

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.

Sowell Conference 2016 – and the Orion Society Collection!

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As we do every year around this time, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library will host the Sowell Collection Conference, which will take place this year from Thursday, April 21st to Saturday the 23rd. Created through the generous support of James Sowell, the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World contains the personal papers of some of the country’s most prominent writers who are dedicated to documenting the ways in which we interact with our world, and creating new ways of examining our world and our place within it. The list of authors whose papers we preserve is far too long to list here in its entirety, but some of the most prominent include Rick Bass, William Kittredge, Barry Lopez, Doug Peacock, Pattiann Rogers, and Annick Smith. These authors have provided published books, correspondence, research notebooks, diaries, calendars, photographs, computer files, film, and a host of other materials for our researchers to use. This year, the Collection was also fortunate to receive the records of the Orion Society!

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A group of writers, environmentalists, and activists, the Orion Society believes that “humans are morally responsible for the world in which we live, and that the individual comes to sense this responsibility as he or she develops a personal bond with nature.”  The Orion Society focuses on teaching how nature and communities might be healed.  Their publication, Orion, is a respected journal which highlights global efforts to achieve sustainable communities. And it has incredible cover photos, as you can see throughout this blog.

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The Myrin Institute began publishing Orion Nature Quarterly (now simply Orion) in 1982. Ten years later, Myrin established the Orion Society to conduct writing workshops, secondary education initiatives, and grassroots networking. But at its core, the Society focuses on teaching how nature and communities might be healed. Many writers whose papers are housed in the Sowell Collection have been regular contributors to the journal–including Barry Lopez, Priscilla Ybarra, Lisa Couturier, and Robert Michael Pyle who will be hosting an Orion panel at this year’s Sowell Conference.

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An important event in the Society’s history, which our Orion Society Collection thoroughly documents, is the Forgotten Language Tours. Held from 1992-2003, they facilitated events in communities across the U.S. in which writers and poets offered readings, workshops, and discussions that attempted to strengthen the local community’s understanding of the natural world and human community as well as to promote nature literacy.

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The Fire & Grit and Watershed conferences were similarly prominent events. The former was held in 1999 at the National Conservation Training Center, the largest gathering ever to take place there. The Watershed: Writers, Nature and Community conference, cosponsored by the Library of Congress, took place in Washington, D.C., April 15-20, 1996, with over three thousand people in attendance.

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Finally, the society presents The John Hay Award for Nature Writing annually to writers whose work is vital in reconnecting people to the natural world. Award winners include John Hay, Ann Zwinger, Wendell Berry, Homero Aridjis, Peter Matthiessen and Jane Goodall. In 2004 and 2010 Orion won the Utne Independent Press Award for General Excellence. The magazine was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in the Essay category.

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The Orion Society published two anthologies of writing from Orion: Finding Home (1992) and The Future of Nature (2007); and two educational series: The Nature Literacy Series and the New Patriotism Series. But the collection holds more than just issues of Orion and these other publications. Correspondence and manuscripts are present, as are audio/visual materials and photographs. The Orion Society Notebook published from 1995 through 1997 (sometimes under other titles) is also available for your reading pleasure.

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So make plans to attend 2016’s Sowell Conference if you can. But if you can’t, don’t hesitate to view the Orion Society’s records in our Holden Reading Room, where our ever-attentive Reference staff would be happy to get them into your hands.

Another Year, Another Cowboys’ Christmas Ball!

It’s that time of year: the ol’ holiday season, and that means that folks from the Southwest Collection will be headed south to Anson, Texas, for the annual Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball. Down in Jones County, roughly 25 miles northwest of Abilene, the event has been held almost-annually since the first grand ball thrown at Anson’s Star Hotel in 1885. That night, attendee William Lawrence “Larry” Chittenden was inspired to compose his poem, “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball,” promptly published in Anson’s Texas Western and, subsequently, in Chittenden’s Ranch Verses of 1893. “Born in the idle hours on a Texas ranch” where he lived for almost two decades seven miles outside of Anson, the poem is still a hallmark of the event today.

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The poem was dedicated “To the Ranchmen of Texas.” It captures the spirit of the occasion, with its “togged out gorgeous” hotel festooned with candles, mistletoe, and “shawls” (which many have interpreted as blankets placed at the windows to insulate the hotel better). Lead by “Windy Billy,” who sang and called the dances, the crowded Star Hotel saw a very “lively gaited sworray” that evening in 1885. Chittenden even describes the original instrumentation: bass viol, fiddle, guitar, and tambourine.

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Though the hotel would be lost to a fire in 1890, Chittenden’s poem immortalized the spirit of a cowboy Christmas celebration for generations to come. Many folklorists reprinted his words through the years (including John Lomax first in his Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads in 1910. Lomax eventually attended the Ball in 1939). Even to this day we see the Chittenden’s poem in pop culture. Anson, Texas, would see some Christmas celebrations similar to the ball held irregularly in the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until 1934 that the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn.

In 1934 an Anson schoolteacher and local folklorist named Leonora Barrett helped stage the first re-enactment of the 1885 ball. People from Anson and surrounding communities gathered in the school gymnasium for the event. Barrett insisted that the reincarnation of the ball retained the original dances, music, and customs of the first ball. This tradition, which includes men removing their hats on the dance floor and women only allowed to wear skirts, is kept to the present day.

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Barrett, along with Hybernia Grace (another local historian), meticulously researched the conditions surrounding the original ball and worked diligently to preserve as much local history as possible. For example, suggested by Mrs. Ophelia Keen nee Rhodes, whose father owned the Star Hotel in the 1880s, wrote a letter to Barrett that was then published in the Anson newspaper Western Enterprise of December 19, 1935. In it, Keen remembers wedding at an early Ball. As a result, each a newly-wed couple leads the Ball’s opening grand march. Several other dances follow, including the Paul Jones, the Virginia Reel, a polka, Schottische, two step, waltz, and ‘put your little foot’.

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Soon after its rebirth, the Ball began to gain attention. It was part 1936’s Texas Centennial. In 1938 Anson residents danced on the lawn of the White House during the National Folk Festival. Soon after, it expanded from one night to three, including a parade of historic vehicles (although that tradition has since passed.) Because of the Ball’s continued success, Barrett helped to copyright the reenactment and created a board of directors, who are now known as the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball Association. Pioneer Hall, its current residence, was built in 1940 and was designated a historic site (and the Ball a historic event) by the Texas Historical Commission in 2010.

From the 1940s up until the 1990s, few records exist of the ball. We know it was a successful event based on newspaper articles, as well as the few surviving photographs, film reels, and one amazing ledger housed at the Southwest Collection. Started by Leonora Barrett in 1934 on the occasion of the first re-enactment, the ledger details yearly guests, hosts, radio broadcasts, leaders of the grand march, and a myriad of other facts. The Ball kept the ledger updated until 1994, ensuring that future scholars can appreciate this unbroken tradition.

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The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn in a sense in the early 1990s when Michael Martin Murphey began performing in Anson as the annual headliner. In 2010 Murphey began donating his materials to the Southwest Collection’s Crossroads Music Archive. At this time he also put the archive in touch with the Ball’s organizers. As a result, in 2014 Texas Tech professor emeritus Paul Carlson published Dancin’ in Anson, a definitive account of the Ball’s rich history.

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Though the music has been electrified and grown beyond four instruments, and historical dress is not required, attending the ball is still a festive step back into an older tradition. Each year, the ball is held on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday prior to Christmas. This year’s ball will be held December 17th, 18th, and 19th. Michael Martin Murphey will be performing on the first evening. For information on tickets, times, and directions, visit the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball website.

by Elissa Stroman

National College Baseball Hall of Fame – 2015 Edition

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Since 2004 the Southwest Collection (SWC) has served as the repository for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (NCBHoF) on behalf of the College Baseball Foundation. Each June we are fortunate enough to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and receive a host of items documenting the event as well as the history of college baseball. From scrapbooks, photographs, and videos to media guides and artifacts such as ball caps, bats, uniforms, and even cleats. Perhaps most impressive, the SWC downloads and archives nearly 700 emails per day during each baseball season from over 200 Division I and other schools. We’re an incredibly fortunate archive!

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As we mentioned last year, recording oral histories with Hall of Fame inductees, as well as current NCAA baseball award winners who also attend the event, is another method through which the SWC preserves the history of college baseball. To date, nearly 100 oral histories have been conducted with players and their families. The Southwest Collection is proud to claim these as part of its massive oral history collection currently comprised of thousands of interviews, with new additions every month.

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The 2015 Hall of Fame induction festivities will start early Saturday, June 27th and run through late Monday evening. This year will see the induction of eight new members:

  • Joe Arnold of Miami-Dade College and Arizona State University
  • Lance Berkman of Rice University
  • Mike Kelly of Arizona State University
  • Larry Hays, coach of Lubbock Christian University and Texas Tech University
  • Al Holland of North Carolina A&T State University
  • Bill Holowaty, coach of Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Rick Reichardt of the University of Wisconsin
  • Frank Viola of St. John’s University

Hall of Famers’ careers are not the only ones celebrated. College baseball’s finest young athletes receive awards for their on-the-field excellence. The 2015 season’s award winners will be announced at the televised Night of Champions dinner on Monday evening, but can also be found on the Hall of Fame’s website for those who can’t attend. Both students and the Hall of Famers will enjoy the finest hospitality that the Southwest Collection and Lubbock, Texas have to offer. In fact, each year, particpants heap praise on the commemorative posters and baseball cards produced by the Southwest Collection’s exhibit preparator Lynn Stoll, some of which are included among the images in this blog. These items highlight the biography and always-impressive stats of each of the 2014 inductees and award winners.

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Participation in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame festivities is but one of many ways in which the Southwest Collection preserves and makes available all aspects of sports history. Prominent among its many other sports-related collections are the records of the former Southwest Conference, the Big XII Conference, and the few remaining records of the former Big 8 Conference. For more information about the SWC’s sports and other collections please contact our Reference Staff who would be happy to guide you through them.

You Never Know What You’ll Find…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

What’s New at the Southwest Collection?

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Rather than just spin a yarn about a single collection this week, we’re going to catch you up on some exciting things that happened in only the first couple of months of 2015!

For example, a couple weeks back the Southwest Collection was excited to host a research visit by the recipient of the Big 12 Faculty Fellowship Award, associate professor Greg Stephens of Kansas State University-Salina.

Professor Stephens’ focused his attention on our American Agricultural Movement (AAM) Records and related oral histories (which you may remember we hosted an entire exhibit about last spring!) Stephens is gathering information on farmers in Kansas to try to explain how the stories that individuals told about their involvement shaped the AAM’s leadership and goals, and how that reciprocally may have then changed the stories themselves. The AAM wasn’t the only organization he was looking at: the National Farmers’ Organization (NFO), Grange, Farmers’ Union, and the Farm Bureau also used specific narratives to define their missions. He even found that the AAM was stronger in the South Plains region (home of the Southwest Collection) than he had initially thought!

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Here you see our purveyor of oral histories (and gif creation expert) Elissa Stroman assisting Stephens with finding oral histories and similar items among our digital collections. She agrees that Stephens’ project is definitely interesting, and we were thrilled to be able aid it with our collections. If the Ag Movement strikes your fancy, too, then give our spectacular Reference Staff a call and they’d be happy to set up for you a look at it.

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Digital Collections Update!

Did you know that the Southwest Collection has added nearly a dozen digitized collections to our digital holdings? True story. Some of them are pretty spectacular, including the Boss Tweed Family Papers (the tale of which you can find right here!); the Charles Underwood Papers that contain some incredible images of World War II Pacific POW letters, one of which can be seen above; and the complete roster and late-19th-century war recollections of the United Confederate Veterans’ Fort Worth chapter  just in time for the anniversary of the final year of the Civil War. mastheads

One huge digital project we’ve had going on for several years is the digitization of numerous newspapers from around West Texas. There are far too many titles to name (seriously, check out this list of 28 different area newspapers totaling over 52,000 individual issues!), but some of the most recent include the State Line Tribune from the town of Farwell (or Texico, depending on what side of the Texas/New Mexico border you’re on), the Castro County News, and the Matador Tribune/Motley County Tribune (and assorted other names.) If you need west Texas news from the past 100 or so years, we’ve probably got it. Oh, and we’re always and forever adding more issues of Texas Tech’s own Daily Toreador (or University Daily, depending on the vintage) or whatever else the world will give us. (For example, we’ve been looking for papers to fill gaps in dates from many of the collections above, and in particular from our newspaper from Ropesivlle, Texas in the mid-twentieth-century for a while now. Got any lying around you might make available to us?)

Need, or want, to lay eyes on some of this stuff in person? Look no further than our ever-helpful Reference Staff to make that happen.

“A Resilient Symbol of West Texas: The Texas Tech Dairy Barn” – An Exhibit from Our University Archives

title shotFor the first few months of 2015, the University Archives at the Southwest Collection is hosting “A Resilient Symbol of West Texas: The Texas Tech Dairy Barn,” an exhibit about the almost 90-year-old structure that has weathered storms and near-endless nearby construction to become a symbol of Texas Tech’s history.long shot ttuFinished in 1927, the original Dairy Barn could accommodate up to 40 cattle, and had three miles of wire fencing surrounding it for grazing animals paired with a 120-ton concrete silo. Equipped to sanitarily produce whole milk and cream, it soon saw the Department of Dairy Manufactures extend the milking room at the south end of the building due to proceeds from its sales. It then added butter, ice cream and cheese to its product line. But take a look at the photo above: this was all happening on the Texas Tech campus back when cattle grazed a few hundred yards in front of the Administration Building, Agricultural Pavilion, Agriculture Building, and in the far distance the Home Economics Building!dairy truckWhen the new college opened, agriculture students were allowed to bring their dairy cattle to reside in the barn. The money earned by selling the milk to others and by working in the dairy facility helped pay for these students’ education. The Student Dairy was organized by six students in the summer of 1926 and, until it was dissolved in 1935, delivered milk and other dairy products by a horse-drawn wagon and a truck.1A fire on January 29, 1930, and a lightning strike in 1958 both resulted in the deaths of some of the cows and damage to the building, but operations continued until 1965, when the barn closed its doors. From then on it was used only as storage, and even then the section for the Dairy Manufacturing Department was removed in 1966 to make room for the construction of the Foreign Language Building. The young men above, observing the final stages of processing, bottling, and inspecting the milk products in the 1950s, had to find lactose-based educational opportunities elsewhere.goes with 1[All the milk bottles and cheese produced at Texas Tech also sported a proud Double T.] (ca. 1950)

The Dairy Barn has been a part of the Texas Tech landscape for 89 years. It weathered tornadoes, dust storms, encroaching buildings, and heavy foot traffic as the campus continued to grow, and as its useful functionality was placed on hold. Yet although it experienced periods of neglect, it has ultimately received its share of recognition. The Barn was even registered in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic places on April 2, 1992, after extensive campaigns of support by various alumni and campus organizations. Some still lobby diligently for the barn’s restoration and repurposing so that it may remain a part of the TTU landscape for decades to come.

– by Lynn Whitfield & our Texas Tech University Archives

Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball!

cowboy xmas paul coverLast year, we told you about the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball, a musical tradition held every December in Anson, Texas (in Jones County, roughly 25 miles northwest of Abilene). Because this year they’re celebrating the Ball’s 80th reenactment (and because we at the SWC enjoy it so much!), we’ve decided to tell y’all about it one more time. The event began at Anson’s Star Hotel in 1885 at a grand ball held in honor of the cattlemen of the region. William Lawrence “Larry” Chittenden attended that night and was so impressed by the festivities that he immortalized them in poetry. His “The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball” was first published in the Anson Texas Western in 1890 and subsequently in his Ranch Verses of 1893.that livelygaitedsworrayChittenden’s poem was dedicated “To the Ranchmen of Texas,” and paints a vivid picture of a holiday celebration. The hotel was “togged out gorgeous” and decorated with candles, mistletoe, and “shawls” (which many have interpreted as blankets placed at the windows to insulate the hotel better). Lead by “Windy Billy,” who sang and called the dances, the crowded Star Hotel saw a very “lively gaited sworray” that evening. Chittenden even describes the original instrumentation: bass viol, fiddle, guitar, and tambourine.Image 0003.B+WAnson, Texas would continue to see some Christmas celebrations similar to the ball held irregularly in the early 20th century, but it wasn’t until 1934 that the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn when an Anson schoolteacher and local folklorist named Leonora Barrett helped stage the first re-enactment in the school’s gymnasium. Barrett insisted that the reincarnation of the ball retain the original dances, music, and customs of its predecessors, such as men removing their hats on the dance floor and women only allowed to wear skirts. Each year a newly-wed couple leads the ball’s opening grand march, one of eight dances that are traditionally performed there including the Paul Jones, the Virginia Reel, a polka, Schottische, two step, waltz, and ‘put your little foot.’pg002-3smallFrom the 1940s until the 1990s, few records exist of the ball. We know that it was a successful event based on newspaper articles, as well as the few surviving photographs, film reels, and one amazing ledger. The Southwest Collection is proud to house the original ledger (seen above,) started by Leonora Barrett in 1934 on the occasion of the first re-enactment. Each year she noted guests, hosts, broadcasts made by radio stations, the leaders of the grand march, and other pertinent details. The ledger was kept updated until 1994 and is one document that allows scholars to see the completely unbroken tradition.murphThe Cowboys’ Christmas Ball was reborn in a sense in the early 1990s, when Michael Martin Murphey began performing as its annual headliner. In 2010, Murphey began donating his materials to the Southwest Collection’s Crossroads Music Archive, as well as putting the archive in touch with the Ball’s organizers. That led to the recent publication of Texas Tech professor emeritus Paul Carlson’s book on the Ball, Dancin’ in Anson, the cover of which headlines this article.

Though the music has been electrified and grown beyond four instruments, and historical dress is not required, attending the ball is still a festive step back into an older tradition. Each year, the ball is held on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday prior to Christmas. If you would like to attend this year’s event, you can do it on December 18th, 19th, and 20th. For information on tickets, times, and directions, visit the Texas Cowboys’ Christmas Ball website.

– Elissa Stroman & Robet Weaver