Tessie Frank Dickeson: 60 Years of Photography

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In 1910 a young Tessie Frank Dickeson was given a box camera by her brother, which led to a profession she was to pursue for more than 60 years. Over 100 years later, the Tessie Frank Dickeson Collection resides at the Southwest Collection. Best of all, the photos and her notes are all available among our digital collections!

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As Mrs. Dickeson tells it, she was a school dropout at the age of 13, after which she began work in a millinery shop in Longview, Texas, as an apprentice. She did not know how to sew and turned out to be a poor hatmaker, but she was a top-notch salesperson, so they kept her on at the shop until it went out of business. By 1947 she had moved to Lubbock, Texas, where she worked at Koen’s (photography) Studio, at last putting her brother’s camera and her love of photography to good use. The photo below is of her ready to hit the streets in the early 1900s to snap shots everywhere she could.

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The collection is almost entirely glass negatives of photographs of people taken in Marshall, Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana, in the early 1900’s, primarily from 1905 to 1918. Her labels explaining who the photographs depict are a rare bonus in a collection containing photos this old, but the real unique element is her narration of the process she used to develop the photographs. The photograph above, for example, shows not only an excellent hat, but came with her brief notes on the “ground glass substitute” coating, and the fact that the background was added after the photo was developed.

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The photo above may not be the most flattering, but it also comes with a description of the dangers of working with glass plate negatives. We’re not surprised that some occasionally fell – when more than three or four of them are in a box, they are among some of the heaviest items we house at the Southwest Collection.

Once again, we encourage you to take a look at the rest of this unique journey into turn of the century photography over amongst our digital collections. It’s worth your time.

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Now Online: Our Civil War Graves Survey of Texas

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The Southwest Collection recently received thousands of files of grave surveys documenting the final resting place of Civil War veterans throughout Texas, and portions of Oklahoma and New Mexico. The project was conducted voluntarily by Texas’ Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) chapters as a part of their efforts to document such data throughout the United States. The surveys of cemeteries document the interment of Confederate and Union veterans, as well as able-bodied men at the time of the Civil War whose military affiliation is unknown. Many of these records have been digitized and can be found among our digital collections.

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Most surveys consist of a record of the veteran’s birth and death dates, as well as the county in which the veteran was interred. For example, on the form above James Adams Brandon was identified as buried in Nolan County, Texas, in 1894. Some records also contain the deceased’s service record, albeit using numerous abbreviations. Brandon was a private in Company F, 2nd Arkansas Infantry Battalion.

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Some surveys were conducted at the Military Unit level, rather than at the level of an individual Veteran. In the image above a surveyor has documented William Alva Phipps as a member of Company E, 12th Missouri Cavalry, in the Union. The form also notes that Phipps was buried in East Texas, at Wills Point in Van Zandt County. Phipps, among many other veterans, appears twice in the archive, once by personal name, and again as a member of a military unit.

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Some surveyors went the extra mile, photographing the burial site as well as providing written documentation. This is the headstone of Henry Eugene Bradford of the Texas Infantry. Not all photos are as clear as this one, but they all provide visuals that bring the otherwise dry documentation to life.

As with all our collections, this archive is available in its physical form in the Southwest Collection. But we encourage you to peruse it online. Although only around two thousand records are online at present, it will soon number more than 6,000. Check it out.

The Marie “Mimi” Litschauer Papers at the Southwest Collection

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preserving the Past: Celebrating 20 Years in our New Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dust Bowl, Photographically

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

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

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

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

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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.

“Celebrating the National Parks: The Photography by Ro Wauer” – An Exhibit at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library

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“The national parks of the United States possess the best examples of the continent’s natural heritage, complete with the grandest scenery and most stable plant and animal communities still in existence. North America’s national parks represent a microcosm of our last remaining wildlands.” – Roland Wauer

In 2016 the National Park Service (NPS) will be celebrating 100 years of preserving the wild places of the United States. To commemorate that at the Southwest Collection, we are installing an exhibit entitled “Celebrating the National Parks: The Photography of Ro Wauer.” It consists primarily of photographs taken by Roland “Ro” Wauer, a thirty-two year veteran of the NPS. The exhibit runs from mid-January until mid-summer, and if you’re of a mind to do so, also take a look at his extensive library, manuscript collection, and photographs reside at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.

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Wauer had a varied career. He began his NPS stint as a seasonal ranger, ultimately leading him to serve at eight national parks, the NPS regional office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and finally as Chief of the Division of Natural Resources in Washington, D.C. Until his retirement in 1989 (and, of course, for years afterward) he saw a little bit of everything that nature had to offer. He visited California and Alaska, traveled south into Mexico, and even journeyed to farther locations such as the Virgin Islands and other U.S. affiliates. One of his passions was the study of birds and butterflies, leading to a large portion of his twenty-five books and 200 articles on those subjects (and several others.) His autobiography, “My Wild Life,” formed the core of the content in this exhibit.

Big Bend Bear-14x18Black bear at Sam Nail Ranch, Big Bend National Park, Texas

“My Wild Life” is an interesting read; a trek through many of the parks in which he worked, and the extensive time he spent observing and interacting with the birds and animals therein. Although he is more modest about his accomplishments, there is no question that his study of bird populations and their habitats was significant and widely recognized. Similar acclaim could be accorded to his studies, often through large research projects, of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and a host of other species. Seriously, he details encounters with bighorn sheep and large falcons; poisonous snakes and mountain lions; and of course, owls, swallows, and, honestly, an Audobon guide’s worth of birds.

Badlands-18x14Badlands National Park, South Dakota

So if you want to see some more of these excellent photos of the flora, fauna, and grandeur of the United States’ national parks, stop on by this spring or summer and take a look at our exhibit. And of course, if you’d like to peruse the papers of Ro Wauer, our Reference Staff is always happy to arrange that for you.

The Southwest Collection’s 2015 Highlights

2015 is coming to a close, and the SWC is looking back at some of its favorite images of the past year. (Also, because no one is in the archive for the holidays, we shamefully admit to the necessity having to recycle content!) So here they are – the best of 2015!

The year is wrapping up, and so we bring the SWC’s favorite images from 2015!Back in July we noted that archives have nigh innumerable boxes. But when the Ag Movement tractors and I asked our Registrar to come up with a box-related joke, he replied “If they wanted us to use good grammar they should have made it more easier.”He stands by that statement to this day.

For example, back in July we noted that archives have nigh innumerable boxes. But when the Ag Movement tractors and I asked our Registrar to come up with a box-related joke, he replied “If they wanted us to use good grammar they should have made it more easier.” He stands by that statement to this day.

Less silly but equally entertaining is this footage of our Earth as seen through the first color satellite footage ever taken from space! Well, the footage of the earth is real. As a savvy user pointed out, however, the background and its immobile stars probably aren’t…

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Every other Wednesday around here is dubbed “Western,” y’all, but sometimes we eschew the rodeos, cowboys, and ranching for a classic Ford Fairlane station wagon.

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In January, we installed an exhibit on Texas Tech’s Dairy Barn, a 90-year-old symbol of the campus, still preserved today just yards away from the Southwest Collection. Here’s a photograph of it today, surrounded by our crowded campus, and then, surrounded by…pretty much nothing!

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While every other Wednesday is “Western Wednesday” around here, all the remaining Wednesdays are “Map Day!” One of our most popular maps this year was, curiously, this 1988 map of historic homes and buildings in Lubbock, Texas, produced by the Lubbock Heritage Society and some of their partners.

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We see many bizarre advertisements in our newspaper collections, but few are like the one we found in the spring of 1974: an obsession with streaking in Texas Tech University’s University Daily. No one knows how it started. Some say that streaking had been popular on campus for years already. Others claim that Ray Stevens’ hit, “The Streak,” which debuted in March 1974, was responsible. All we know for sure is that by the time the campus got good and warm, t-shirts featuring the logo above were widely available.

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Finally, we have an image from one of our favorite blogs this year. It described our photograph collection of the Tarahumara, a people of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico, who’ve weathered centuries of attention by Spanish, French, and Mexican governments. They still hold on to many of their original cultural traditions. In the village of Wawatzerare, for example, this woman still carries her baby in a rebozo. This shot was snagged by Father Luis Verplancken, a Jesuit who served in Chihuahua for decades, and who created all of these photographs.

So there you have it: a taste of our favorite images of the year. Keep an eye out for next year’s stuff. It’s bound to be as good (or even better!)