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…

ranchers feed yard

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.

title shot

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!

Lubbockhistorichomes - need to chop up - 1988 for tumblr4

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.

keep on streakin

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.

3.l-54.80 female and baby in rebozo beside removable plank door- near village of Wawatzerare

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!)

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The Tarahumara Photograph Collection

3.l-54.80 female and baby in rebozo beside removable plank door- near village of Wawatzerare

The Tarahumara are a people who live in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico. Despite centuries of incessant attention by Spanish, French, and Mexican governments, they still hold on to many of their original cultural traditions. Basket weaving and maize cultivation, along with pastoral practices, for example, hearken back to their original ways.Their cave dwellings, some decorated with pictographs such as the ones below, attract the occasional anthropologist and tourist. The Tarahumara also happen to be some of the most excellent long-distance runners in the world. In short, they’re fascinating and the Southwest Collection is fortunate to have thousands of photographs of the Tarahumara–such as the one above of a woman near the village of Wawatzerare, holding her baby in a rebozo–captured by a local priest, Father Luis Verplancken, who worked closely with the Tarahumara for decades. And, as we often do, we intend to show them off right here!

14.d.2-07.48 Tarahumara pictographs- near village of Cusarare

(Tarahumara pictographs near the village of Cusarare.)

14.d.1.a-18.36 church at Batopilas

Although their current population now numbers in the scant tens of thousands, the Tarahumara (or Rarámuri, their traditional name, i.e. the one not given to them by the Spanish) numbered many more throughout Chihuahua in the 16th century. The arrival of the Spanish began to change this, as their interest in mining speckled the Sierras with mines, prompting the Tarahumara to move to more remote, mountainous areas. Sadly, they also enslaved some Tarahumara in order to obtain mine labor. This, in between sometimes-successful proselytizing by Christian missionaries over the next several decades, led to armed conflict in the 1670s and 90s; encounters that the Tarahumara ultimately lost. A side effect of this cultural clash was the creation of beautiful missions such as the one above, Batopilas. It was established by conquistadors in 1632, for religious (but mostly mining) purposes, and remains a well-preserved example of that architecture to this day.

3.b.2-09.71 cave dwelling interior with family preparing corn tortillas over a fire- near village of Basiwari

(Cave dwelling with a family preparing corn tortillas over a fire near the village of Basiwari.)

As we mentioned, these photos were taken by Father Luis Verplancken, but he was far more than just a photographer interested in documenting Tarahumara culture. Born in 1926 in Guadalajara, Mexico, Verplancken became a Jesuit missionary in 1943. A few years later he was assigned to Creel, Chihuahua, where he immediately devoted his life to aiding its residents. He arranged to have water piped into area towns, oversaw the digging of more than 50 wells, and even partnered with the nearby community of Arareko to create an artificial lake that remains a popular tourist destination to this day.

13.e.5-57.18 young males in contemporary attire in their dorm rooms at a boarding school- village of Gonogochi

(The boarding school at Gonogochi.)

Such infrastructure was perhaps the hallmark of his career. He also installed electricity wherever he could, and opened a medical clinic that saved hundreds of childrens’ lives every year. Along with this, he trained locals to provide medical aid at locations far from the clinic. Education was another focus, resulting in the founding of two boarding schools that taught in both the local dialect and Spanish, a photo from which can be seen above.He translated the Bible into Raramuri, built a museum dedicated to sacred art (both native and Christian,) and made a host of other contributions. And all the while he documented Tarahumara daily life in pictures, from ritual and religion to simple tasks such as basketweaving; from herding and farming to trap setting, as in the photo below.

6.c-09.305 male setting trap- near village of Basiwari

(Setting a trap near the village of Basiwari.)

A selection of photographs from this collection of nearly 25,000 are available among our digital collections. Of course, if you’d like to see any of the others, our Reference Staff is always happy to get them into your hands.