Newspapers of the 1920s

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Did you know that the Southwest Collection has over 130,000 newspapers available among our digital collections? This massive collection represents several years of digitizing newspapers from throughout West Texas and, in some cases, volumes from other parts of the United States. Many of the earliest volumes date from January 1920, so we’ve dug into issues from that month to share with you their very urgent news.

Our first paper is The Ranger Times, above, which chronicled the community of Ranger, Texas, in Eastland County. This issue comes from New Years Day, 1920, when Cuban sugar was on everyone’s mind, with a little Soviet Russia and Dallas murder thrown in.

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The Spearman Reporter was first published in 1919 when the newspaper was transferred from the neighboring town of Hansford, Texas. The newspaper typically covered events in Hansford County and Spearman, although it also threw in some news from the surrounding region. January 9, 1920’s was no exception. All that being said, the best part of old newspapers are usually the ads. Check out that Edison Diamond Disc!

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The Gorman Progress was the weekly newspaper for Gorman, Texas, in Eastland County. The newspaper saw publication from 1901 to 2014. These pages date from its earliest printings. Our biggest regret is that because this copy was damaged before we received it, we now can’t quite figure out what’s going on the cartoon on the lower left.

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Ozona, Texas, and Crockett County saw their lives chronicled in The Ozona Stockman. The newspaper dates back to the late-1800s when it was titled the Ozona Kicker. It bore the names Courier and the Ozona Enterprise as well before obtaining its current title in 1914. And this New Years Day issue is decidedly local, focusing on farming and livestock, local deaths, and…a boy who shot off his hand?!

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Lubbock, Texas, home of the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University, has a small-town neighbor named Slaton, and in that town a newspaper has been published for over 100 years: The Slaton Slatonite. Its weekly volumes in the early 20th century were almost always the same as in this January 2, 1920, issue. Unique among many of our other papers, the Slatonite was heavily advertiser focused on its front page.

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The Eldorado Success is the newspaper for the community of Eldorado in Schleicher County, Texas. Founded in 1901, it was previously known as the Eldorado Paper, the Success without the town’s name, and the Schleicher County Leader-Success. It’s still in publication today, albeit with features a little more concise than January 2, 1920’s Memorial Sermon by Reverend S. G. Dunn.

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Ah, Hall County, Texas, home of The Memphis Democrat. A small, quiet place, whose newspaper first graced the local storefront on July 8, 1908. It was replaced by the Hall County Herald. Its front pages are often the most matter-of-fact among our collections, eschewing numerous ads to focus on the important events of the day. Such as why not to drink hair tonic and toilet water (spoiler: 3 in 4 chance of dying).

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Finally, one of our favorite papers: The Cross Plains Review. Published in Cross Plains, Texas, for the people of Cross Plains and Callahan County, the Review might be most notable for publishing the stories of Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian. None of that is present in the January 9, 1920, issue here, sadly, instead featuring the more mundane day-to-day items of local folks.

 

 

 

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

The Last Stop in West Texas for “Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide” Exhibit – Midland College in Midland, TX

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Back in October the SWC hosted the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission’s (THGC) thirty-four panel, Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide” exhibit, and it was well received by its visitors. In mid-January it was installed at Midland College’s McCormick Gallery in Midland, Texas, where it will run through the end of February. We feel that this unique exhibit deserves one more mention by us to encourage interested folks to hurry over to Midland and check it out.

In the words of the THGC: “Genocides begin when intolerant and hateful individuals dehumanize others in a society by putting them into separate and unequal classes and deliberately harming them. According to the Genocide Watch organization, genocides and mass murders led to the killing of more than 170 million people, more than the sum of the deaths in all 20th and 21st century wars combined.” Prijedor was put together to educate the public about genocide through the story of the Bosnian city of Prijedor, where between 1992 and 1995 acts of genocide were committed. The exhibit “honors both the memory of the lives lost in the Prijedor genocide and the experiences of the survivors whose stories are told within the 34 panel series.”

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Why is Midland hosting the exhibit? Much like the SWC, the McCormick Gallery has made it their mission is to exhibit, collect, and preserve history, in this case through the medium of art. The Prijedor exhibit aligns closely with those goals, and represents an opportunity to tell a story that for many has been forgotten in the decades since it occurred.

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The SWC hosted the THGC’s quarterly meeting in late October 2013, whereat we were able to speak with the many individuals who made this exhibit possible. They were passionate about their mission to increase awareness of genocide, and talked at length about their many educational programs and events. Perhaps Chaja Verveer, THGC commissioner and a Holocaust survivor, sums it up best: “Our kids need to be taught to recognize and fight bigotry, to stem hatred and prejudice, and learn about living together, embracing diversity.”

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Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission programs include teacher workshops providing guidance in teaching the Holocaust and other genocides, the recording of concentration camp liberator oral histories, and the enhancing of social studies curriculum through requiring the teaching of genocide-related content in school classrooms. For more information regarding Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission programs and Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month (April), please do not hesitate to contact them.

The “Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide” exhibit is open to all. College students, middle and high school students, and educators are particularly encouraged to attend. Note also that the University of Texas at Tyler will host the exhibit in March 2014.

– by the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission

Texas Tech University: Then and Now

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(SWC HC-E168) (Texas Tech University)

This Wednesday, January 15th, Texas Tech University (TTU) will be opening its doors for the first class day of the 2014 Spring semester. The Texas Tech University Archives (UA) here at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library is full of items commemorating such events as well as other TTU occasions. Photographs comprise a large portion of their materials; so many, in fact, that UA staff were able to curate an exhibit entitled Texas Tech: Then and Now, which is now on display in the SWC’s Formby Room. Many of its sports-related photographs for this exhibit can also be seen near the main entrance of the United Spirit Arena.

The image above are included in the exhibit. To the left we see former President Dossie Wiggins accepting TTU’s iconic Will Rogers statue in 1950. A gift from the Amon G. Carter Foundation, the statue (actually entitled Riding into the Sunset) is often wrapped in red for sporting events such as the TTU football homecoming game.

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(SWC HC-C2502) (Texas Tech University)

In 1924, the Texas Technological College (the  name was changed to Texas Tech University in 1969) Administration Building (left) was a lonely sight on the South Plains prairie. That is not the case any longer. As you can see from the photograph on the right (taken from the English and Philosophy building located almost a half-mile southwest of Administration), the campus has expanded into dozens of buildings amounting to the second largest contiguous university campus (1,843 acres) in the United States. The almost uniform use of Spanish Renaissance architecture is one of its highlights.

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(SWC HC E355) (Texas Tech University)

What would modern university life be like without sports? Definitely less entertaining for many students on Saturdays during the fall. TTU’s football team is now known as the Red Raiders, but from 1925 to 1936 they were known as the Matadors. The photograph on the left shows the first Matador touchdown in 1925, scored against Montezuma College. The field of play has changed a little bit since then, as the photo of the 60,000-spectator-capacity AT&T stadium shows.

8A-First Faculty Meeting 1925 B&W

(SWC HC-P343)

Photos and documentation about buildings and statues aren’t the only thing the University Archives preserves. Faculty records are important as, as the participants in the first-ever faculty meeting at TTU, pictured above, would no doubt have agreed. They met for the first time on September 15, 1925, to discuss the purposes of the college and make plans for the upcoming year. Although in 1925 TTU clearly wasn’t swarming with faculty members, it currently boasts over 1,100.

14B-Old Computer Lab (U185.6) B&W

(HC- U185.6 Box#2 F11)

Computers factor heavily into the academic life of today’s university. The TTU Library alone currently owns and maintains more than 200 computers for student, faculty, and public use. The university has for decades striven for similar accessibility. Want proof? Check out this photo of students several decades ago enjoying then-state-of-the-art computing technology.

24A-Ransom Walker and Basketball Team

(La Ventana 1926)

Let’s end with a little bit more about sports. This is a photo of Texas Technological College’s men’s basketball team in 1926. At that time, games were played in the Agricultural Pavilion because the campus did not yet have a gym. Ransom Walker, the first captain of both the basketball team and the football team, is seated at center holding the ball. Walker was also the first Matador to play in a post-season all-star football game (the 1929 East-West Shrine Game) and as a running back was the team’s top offensive player in 1927 and 1928.

The Texas Tech Then & Now exhibit will be on display indefinitely at the SWC, and the images in the United Spirit Arena will be up at least through the spring semester. Both are open for free to all interested visitors. Our University Archives has many other items, all of which our Reference Staff are always thrilled to help you find.

–  by Amy Mire, Lynn Whitfield, & Robert Weaver