The Adams Family Papers – No, not THAT Addams Family!

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It is time once again to dig among our little-used collections to find something to share with y’all. This time it’s a handful of turn-of-the-century (nineteenth to twentieth centuries, that is!) photographs from Horace F. Adams and his family. Adams was a farmer, carpenter, and certified “public weigher,” as well as one of the first settlers of Terry County, Texas. If you’ve never been out that way, it’s the home of scenic Brownsville, cotton farms, and a good stretch of highway that points you toward New Mexico. The Adams family used a plain old “F” as its cattle brand, which it continued to use well after Horace’s death in 1925.

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Papers include financial records such as promissory notes, bills of sale, deeds, and receipts, all filed alongside genealogies of the “Franklin and Hull families” from 1798 to 1883. But most interesting are its photo albums, where we found the man in military uniform that headlined this blog. It is unlabeled, so his identity remains a mystery, but the photo of a snowy home, above, has the words “My first yard a four of us! Feb. 6 1923” scrawled on the back.

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Sadly, many of these photographs are mysterious. The family in the snow, below, are identified as “front of my home. My wife and Kiddies. Feb 6. 1923 – J. K. Knight.” Clearly they are the same folks from the other wintry photo. But the baby in a car, above? We have no caption or notes, even on nearby papers in the collection. The kiddos on the bull, below, are described as “Roy & Ethel, a bull, and Babie Ethel.” Are there two Ethels? Is that the same child from the car? We can’t tell, and they didn’t say.

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Our final image is no mystery. Adams was a livestock weigher, so he had a large number of calendars provided, we assume, compliments of the cattle industry. This 1913 example extols the success of the National Live Stock Commission Co.  They just had just sold the highest priced drove of cattle ever shipped out of Washington County, Iowa!

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We end with a bit of trivia that had us laughing. Before they moved to Brownfield, the Adams family lived in Gomez, Texas.  You can’t make that up. Anyway, this is a small collection, filling only one archival box, and it is infrequently used. But if you want to take a look at it, or any of the rest of our treasures, contact our Reference staff at randy.vance@ttu.edu and they’ll set you up.

Texas Tech University – History in Pictures

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It’s that time of year again at Texas Tech University when students old and new make their pilgrimage back to campus. Because TTU is approaching its hundredth year (in 2025! So close!), we thought we’d share a few photographs from its early decades. The photo above, for example, is a shot of the laying of the cornerstone for Tech’s Administration Building in 1924.

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This photo is not just a house on the Texas Technological College campus. You see, it was supposed to serve as the home of then-Texas Technological College (TTC) president, Paul W. Horn. But he rejected it, then removed it from campus to make way for a residence he found more suitable. The structure was removed to what is now 1611 Avenue Y where it stood until 2018, when it burned down.

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Texas Technological College initially focused heavily on agriculture education. Some of its student body raised livestock (typically dairy cows) on campus to pay their way through school. And some of their beasts spent time in the Agriculture Livestock Pavilion–otherwise known as the Aggie Pavilion–seen above shortly after its opening in 1925. It now rests not a half-dozen yards from the Southwest Collection itself!

Texas Tech basketball players 1927 composite

But you know what else went on in the Ag Pavilion? Basketball! There were no other facilities in which to play the game, so the 1927 basketball squad (seen here in a composite photo made for the La Ventana yearbook) had to handle their business Pavilion-style. Their first game, in 1926, ended in an 18-9 victory over West Texas State Teachers College (now West Texas A&M University, just up Interstate 27 in Canyon).

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This bucolic scene dates from 1925, with cattle grazing in a fenced pen near the Dairy Barn and Silo. Also featured: the Administration Building, the Agricultural Pavilion, the Agriculture Building, and in the far distance the Home Economics Building.

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In the spirit of the upcoming football season, we also dug out this photo of the University’s first football team in 1926. Then known as the “Matadors,” they had played their first game the previous year against McMurry College at the South Plains Fairgrounds in Lubbock. Final score? 0-0.

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The Red Raiders only had to play across town for one season and one game before a small field and bleachers were built on campus. Then, in 1947, the Clifford B. and Audry Jones stadium was completed. Its first bleachers are seen in this photo. The stadium could seat 16,500 students, although it boasted that it could do a full 20,000 if portable bleachers where wheeled in.

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The Jones wasn’t the only sports facility on campus in the 40s. Above you can see the TTC gymnasium and field house circa 1945. There was clearly something going on inside when this photo was taken, because these taxi drivers weren’t waiting around for nothing.

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This aerial shot of the campus was taken in 1950. The photographer was looking northeast across Memorial Circle, with the Administration Building to the right and what was soon to be the West Texas Museum (and is now Holden Hall) on the center-left. It’s fair to say that things have changed just a little bit.

Presentation of honorary Texas Tech degrees to President

Our final photograph shows TTU President Grover Murray conferring honorary degrees upon President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz. Congressman George Mahon, who represented the region in Congress for over forty years, is standing behind President Johnson.

These images are but the smallest sample of the treasure trove of Texas Tech history in our holdings. Need more? Then look no further than our University Archives digital collections or our other photograph collections!

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.