The Sowell Collection Conference – 2017

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Thursday April 20th through Saturday the 22nd, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library will host the Sowell Collection Conference. Created through the generous support of former Texas Tech University Regent James Sowell, the Sowell Family Collection in Literature, Community, and the Natural World contains the personal papers of some of the most prominent writers on the natural world. The Conference will include scholarly papers and panels on many of the Sowell writers, a handful of which are featured below. The Conference is free, and open to the public.

Marc Reisner was an environmental writer and advocate. He is best known for Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water (1986), a National Book Critic’s Circle Award finalist. It describes the role of water rights and water use in the history and development of the Western United States. Reisner has partnered with The Nature Conservancy and served as a staff writer and communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He continued his activism and writing until his death in California in July 2000. His final book, A Dangerous Place (2004), was published posthumously.

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Lisa Couturier is an essayist, poet, and animal advocate. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Journalism and a certificate in Women’s Studies, then earned a Master’s degree from the Gallatin School at New York University. Her book The Hopes of Snakes explores the wild in urban spaces and the connections between the human and the nonhuman. Couturier’s work has appeared in Orion, Isotope, the American Nature Writing series, and National Geographic’s Heart of a Nation, among other publications. Her essay “Dark Horse” won the 2012 Pushcart Prize, and was nominated for the Grantham Prize for Environmental Writing. Her collection of poems, Animals/Bodies, won the 2015 Chapbook Award from the New England Poetry Club.

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Andrea Peacock is a Montana journalist covering Western politics and environmental news, and is the former editor of the Missoula Independent. She wrote Libby, Montana: Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of an American Corporation, and co-authored The Essential Grizzly with her husband Doug Peacock, another Sowell author. Her work has appeared in Mother Jones, High Country News, Denver Westword, Austin Chronicle, and Counterpunch.org. In 2010 she received a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation for her work on oil and gas development in communities of the Rocky Mountain West.

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Paul Gruchow was raised on a small, subsistence farm near Montevideo, Minnesota. He is the author of six published books on subjects ranging from the culture of the tall grass prairie, to what we teach (and fail to teach) rural children–work widely acclaimed for its lyrical prose and eloquence. A respected and inspiring educator, Paul’s writer-in-residence involvements included numerous institutions, among them the University of Minnesota and the Lake Superior Studies Program. He won the Minnesota Book Award for three books, including Boundary Water: The Grace of the Wild and Grass Roots: The Universe of Home. He also edited The Worthington Globe–an award winning newspaper.

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Starting at age 20, Paul Hawken dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. His practice has included starting and running ecological businesses, writing and teaching about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulting with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. His books include: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World,  Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (co-authored with Amory Lovins and L. Hunter Lovins), The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability, Growing a Business, and The Next Economy.

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.

National College Baseball Hall of Fame – 2016 Roster!

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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. Around July 4th every year, we are fortunate enough to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and better yet, accept archival items that chronicle the event as well as the history of college baseball. They range from scrapbooks, newspapers, and photographs,  to videos and media guides. Our favorites are the artifacts: signed balls, caps, bat, uniforms…even a surprising number of 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.

Robt Braddy

Tom Paciorek

As we’ve mentioned before, recording oral histories with Hall of Fame inductees, as well as current NCAA baseball award winners, also helps the SWC preserves college baseball’s history. Nearly 100 oral histories have been conducted with players and their families, all added to our massive oral history collection currently comprised of thousands of interviews on sports as well as a host of other topics.

JD DrewRick Monday

The 2016 Hall of Fame induction festivities will occur on Saturday, July 2nd, at the “College Baseball Night of Champions.” 2016 will see the induction of eight members:

  • Augie Garrido, championship coach of the University of Texas and Cal State Fullerton
  • Bob Braddy, coach of Jackson State University for 28 years
  • Tommy Thomas, coach of Valdosta State University for 39 years
  • Tom Paciorek of the University of Houston
  • J. D. Drew of Florida State University
  • Rick Monday of Arizona State University
  • Matt DeSalvo of Marietta College

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 2016 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. They are also commemorated on limited-edition 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 2016 inductees and award winners.

Matt DeSalvoTommy Thomas

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 our sports history holdings. For example, we preserve 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 these collections please contact our Reference Staff who would be happy to guide you through them.

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.

The Women Who Shaped Texas Tech – 2016 Edition

For the last two years, our University Archives Women’s History Month exhibit entitled “The Women Who Shaped Texas Tech” has graced our hallways. It celebrates several women whose influence on Texas Tech University is still felt today. This year is no exception, and the exhibit has received several new additions for 2016! Check them out:

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The first of this year’s celebrated Red Raider women is Hortense Williams Dixon, the first African American to graduate from Texas Tech with a doctorate degree. Born in 1926 in Houston, Texas, Dixon received her first degree, a B.S. from Prairie View State College, in 1946. An M.S. from the University of Minnesota followed in 1949, and in1970 she finally received an Ed.D. degree from Texas Tech. She specialized in education with a minor in home economics, which led to several academic positions including: Director of the Home Management Residence at Bishop College; Assistant Professor of Home Economics Education at Texas Southern University; and Part-time Instructor in Home Economics Education at Texas Tech University. After graduating from Texas Tech, Dixon returned to Houston to continue serving as an Associate Professor in home economics at Texas Southern University.

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Edna Maynard Gott was born on March 19, 1920, in Chandler, Texas. After receiving a B.S. in Economics from the University of Texas in 1942 and an M.S. from Texas Tech in 1954, she became an instructor in Economics at Tech. For more than a decade she battled with the department and university administration for equality in teaching rank, promotion, and tenure. In the spring of 1973 she was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor, and nine years later became the first woman to achieve tenure in the Department of Economics.

Her work focused on the economic status and challenges facing women and minorities. To advance the cause for women’s rights she not only unmasked the inequities toward female faculty in academia, but also coordinated the Lubbock Chapter of the National Organization of Women. Gott was also an active member of the International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land Studies where she served on the Women in Development committee and was a founding member of the Women’s Studies Program.

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Born on July 5, 1917, in Lockney, Texas, Maxine Fry enrolled in Texas Tech in 1934 to study journalism. An active participant in campus life, Fry was a member of The Forum (later renamed Mortar Board), president of the Las Chaparitas sorority (later renamed Kappa Kappa Gamma), an occasional reporter for the Toreador newspaper, and winner of several school beauty contests including being named a 1938 Sun Bowl Princess.

In May 1937 she became the first elected female president of the Student Council. Under her leadership, Fry was able to successfully reinstate the school’s bonfire tradition. Bonfires had been banned by school administrators following outrage by Lubbock citizens over vandalism and theft of wood by Tech students. Her administration also wrote a revision of the Student Council’s constitution.

Fry went on to teach journalism for two years in Littlefield and Grandfalls, worked on The Midlander Magazine for its first seven years in publication, and was a charter member of the Midland Symphony Guild.

Marsha Sharp Cutting net

Marsha Sharp grew up playing three-on-three basketball in Tulia, Texas. During her junior year at Wayland Baptist University she began her basketball coaching career when she took charge of the freshman team. After graduating with a master’s degree from West Texas State University, Sharp transferred to Lockney High School as head coach of the Lady Longhorns.

In 1981 she joined Texas Tech as an assistant coach, and during her tenure became one of the most celebrated coaches in the history of women’s college basketball. Coaching the Lady Raiders from 1982 to 2006, Sharp elevated the program to national prominence.

Though she retired from coaching in 2006, her legacy continues. Established in 2004, the Marsha Sharp Center for Student-Athletes provides student-athletes with academic services. Currently serving as Associate Athletic Director of Special Projects, Sharp oversees the development of the Fearless Champions Leadership Academy and the Marsha Sharp Leadership Circle.

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As an Animal Science major, Anne Lynch participated in Texas Tech’s Block and Bridle Club and Rodeo Club. While working in the horse barn of the Texas Tech Farm, Lynch became familiar with Happy V, the horse serving as the university’s animal mascot, and began riding him. She auditioned for the role of the Masked Rider, and in 1974 became the first female chosen to ride the sidelines for Texas Tech.

Although she had grown up riding horses and was familiar with Happy V, Lynch’s selection was met with skepticism. In the minds of some, women did not have the strength to handle the reins. Lynch had to convince football coach Jim Carlin and Animal Science chair Dale Zinn that she could indeed ride. Reaction to a female Masked Raider was mixed, but she had a successful year representing Texas Tech. Her proficiency in this role paved the way for future women to try out for the Masked Rider. Anne Lynch Hanson graduated from Tech in 1975.

Lucille Graves Poster-sm

40 years ago, Lucille Graves sat down with one of our oral historians to share her story as the first African American student at Texas Technological University. Having already received her bachelor’s degree in 1961, Graves tried to attend Texas Tech to receive her masters but was repeatedly refused entrance on the grounds that its charter stipulated that the university was established for white students only. With the help of the NAACP, she confronted the university and was at last admitted after a phone call from Texas Tech President R. C. Goodwin. Soon Tech saw a peaceful, non-violent integration of the traditionally white college. In 1955 Graves was also the founder of Mary and Mac, the first black private school in Lubbock, Texas. She chose the name of her school after the children’s nursery rhyme, declaring that the “poem depicts the act of boys and girls in their desire to become useful in this society.”

So stop on by and visit the “Women Who Shaped Texas Tech” exhibit, or its companion exhibit in the main Library. They will be on display until June, so you have plenty of time to take them in.

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.

that livelygaitedsworray

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

Frank Viola-FLAT Holowaty FLAT

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!

Lance Berkman-FLATJoe Arnold-FLAT

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.

Mike Kelly-FLATLarry Hays FLAT

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.

Al Holland-FLATReichardt-FLAT

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.

The Sowell Natural History Conference at the Southwest Collection – 2015

1a.B.Lopez-Arctic DreamsThis April 16th through 18th, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library will host the Sowell Collection Conference. 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. In 2001, the work of Rick Bass, William Kittredge, Barry Lopez, Bill McKibben, Doug Peacock, David Quammen, Pattiann Rogers, and Annick Smith comprised the core of this collection. Writers recently added include Susan Brind Morrow, John Lane, and Sandra Scofield. In addition to published books, materials available for research purposes include correspondence; drafts of manuscripts; research notebooks; diaries and calendars; and photographs, computer files, and film.

Barry Lopez, for example, is an essayist, author, and short story writer. The relationship between physical landscape and human culture lies at the core of his nonfiction work, while his fiction frequently addresses issues of intimacy, ethics, and identity. His books include Arctic Dreams, the cover of which can be seen above. It received the National Book Award, and another of Lopez’ works, Of Wolves and Men, was a National Book Award finalist. Lopez has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the John Burroughs Society, the Orion Society, and other institutions. For All Seasons

Roland “Ro” Wauer is another prominent author well-documented in the Sowell Collection. An internationally acclaimed expert on the birds and butterflies of North America, Wauer is also a thirty-two year veteran of the National Park Service. As chief park naturalist for Big Bend National Park and chief of the Division of Natural Resources, National Park Service, he is the author of some two dozen books and two hundred articles. Ro writes on topics that reflect his distinguished career, with titles that include Birder’s Mexico, Butterflies of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and Naturalist’s Big Bend. For All Seasons, seen above, chronicles a year of his life in Big Bend in an effort to share both the beauty of and his passion for that park.QuammenBook Cover-Kiwi EggDavid Quammen is known for writing concise and highly accessible articles on scientific topics. His book, The Song of the Dodo (Scribner, 1996), in which he investigates the rate of species extinction in island ecosystems, won the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing and several other awards. Quammen is a frequent contributor to Outside magazine and his work has also appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, and Rolling Stone. He has received a Lannan Foundation Fellowship as well as the National Magazine Award and the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. The human drama and scientific basis of Darwin’s twenty-one-year delay constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that elucidates the character of a cautious naturalist who initiated an intellectual revolution. In The Kiwi’s Egg (above) Quammen uses the personal letters and notebooks of Charles Darwin to explore the biography of Darwin with a focus on the history of the scientist’s most famous theory.Rick Bass BroadsideRick Bass is a writer and environmental activist. He was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1958, but spent much of his youth in Houston. He graduated from Utah State with a degree in geology and then worked as a petroleum geologist in Mississippi. In 1987 Bass moved to Montana and began writing full-time. He is the author of numerous short stories, novels, memoirs and essays. Much of his work focuses on the reasoned benefits of preserving wilderness areas, such as the Roadless Yaak Valley of Montana. Our Rick Bass papers include almost all of his early work, as well as drafts of short stories and essays, correspondence and Yaak Valley Forest Council material, and over 100 letters from Rick Bass to James Linville, editor of the Paris Review.

–    Diane Warner, Librarian for the Sowell Collection

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

The National College Baseball Hall of Fame and the Southwest Collection – 2014 Edition!

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Since 2004 the Southwest Collection (SWC) has served as repository for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (NCBHoF) on behalf of the College Baseball Foundation. We’ve been fortunate to 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. Recent donations include 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! William Clarence Matthews

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, are 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 2014 Hall of Fame induction festivities will start early Friday, June 27th and run through late Saturday evening. This year will see the induction of seven new members:

  • Bill Bordley of the University of Southern California
  • Alex Fernandez of the University of Miami and Miami-Dade South CC
  • Mike Fiore of the University of Miami
  • Demie Mainieri, coach of Miami-Dade North CC
  • William Clarence Matthews of Tuskegee Institute and Harvard University (seen above in turn of the century gear!)
  • Gene Stephenson, coach at Wichita State University
  • Mickey Sullivan, former outfielder and coach at Baylor University

Hall of Famers’ careers are not the only ones celebrated. College baseball’s finest young athletes received awards for their on-the-field excellence. The 2014 season’s award winners are will be announced at the nationally-televised Night of Champions dinner on Saturday evening, but can also be found on their website for those who can’t attend. They and the Hall of Famers will enjoy the finest hospitality that the Southwest Collection and Lubbock, Texas have to offer. In fact, each year, both the Hall of Famers and the award winners heap praise on the commemorative posters and baseball cards produced by the Southwest Collection’s exhibit preparator Lynn Stoll. These items highlight the biography and always-impressive stats of each of the 2014 award winners.

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.

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