The Twelve Days of Raiderland: A TTU Holiday Ornaments Exhibit at the SWC

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It seems like we never run short of new exhibits here at the Southwest Collection! In November and December, our University Archives is displaying yet another wonderful collection of artifacts for our visitors to look over. This time it’s a roster of Texas Tech’s annual holiday ornaments. Designed around various locations, events, and symbols of the University, the ornaments are available every year. Twelve ornaments grace the exhibit, and here are some of the best.

The first is, of course, an ornament of one of Texas Tech’s mascots, the Masked Rider (above) distributed in 2000. The holiday season is football season, so, really, they belong together.

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This 1997 ornament depicts TTU’s iconic bell tower, known to ring out from time to time during the holiday season. And that, folks, is how you make a pun.

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This ornament, fashioned in 1998, depicts Tech’s ubiquitous Double T symbol. The accompanying photo (one of this author’s favorites) is the Double T Bench, donated as the 1931 senior class gift. It resides on the south side of the Administration Building.

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In 2016 TTU’s Carol of Lights will celebrate its 58th year. While this photo of the event in 1960 is beautiful, today the Carol is a sight to see. Over 25,000 LED lights adorn the 18 buildings surrounding Memorial Circle, the Science Quad, the Engineering Key, and the Broadway Entrance to campus.

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The United Spirit Arena was one of the priority fundraising endeavors conducted under Texas Tech’s first Chancellor, John T. Montford. It officially opened in the fall of 1999. This ornament was created in its honor that same year. Fun fact: the first concert held there was by Elton John on February 8th, 2000. In 2010 Elton John returned to the arena for a second show.

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This ornament (and this homecoming parade float) celebrated TTU’s 75th year. The college was established in 1923 by Texas Senate Bill No. 103, which is often referred to as “the school charter.”

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2003’s ornament celebrates the Matador song. Written in 1930 by R. C. Marshall with musical score by Band Director Harry LeMaire, it is sung at the end of every graduation ceremony at Texas Tech.

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The Texas Tech Seal was designed in 1924 by architect William Ward Watkin, and now a 12-foot red granite seal anchors the Broadway Entrance to campus in the Amon G. Carter Plaza. 2004’s ornament celebrated the seal.

There are but eight of the ornaments in the exhibits. Feel free to come check out the others, or any of our many other exhibitions!

 

When the Matador Ranch Came to the Southwest Collection

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The Matador Ranch was established in 1879 by Alfred Britton, Henry Campbell, and their associates. It covered one and a half million acres in Motley, Cottle, Floyd, and Dickens counties of Texas. In 1882 the founders sold their cattle and range rights to a syndicate based in Dundee, Scotland. And it is there that the story of one of the Southwest Collection’s first and greatest collections begins.

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With rare exceptions, such as during periods of drought, Matador stockholders received substantial dividends. In 1951, however, they sold their shares to Lazard Brothers and Company. Many of the ranch records that were now no longer needed were quickly given into the care of the Southwest Collection. The Matador Land Book, pages of which can be seen above and below (and here!) was one such item. Another was a Payroll Ledger that names every cowboy in the employment of the ranch. These are only 2 among thousands of treasures that were donated.

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But one thing continued to plague Dr. Seymour V. Connor, the director of the SWC when the records arrived. Although many items of interest to researchers–such as the map of Matador lands provided to the Texas Pacific Railroad (below)–were now housed at Texas Tech, the remaining records remained in Dundee, Scotland, home of the ranch’s international administrators. As long as these documents lay overseas, they remained out of the hands of eager researchers. And so Dr. Connor set out to bring them back to Texas. Years of heartfelt, patient negotiations with past and present Matador investors and their families paid off in 1957 when, at long last, boxes full of Dundee records rejoined their brothers in our archive.

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Some at the time hailed the now-complete Matador Records as “one of the most valuable collections ever received by a college in Texas.” Its contents back up this assertion: reams of legal documents, payroll records, herd books, range diaries, and international correspondence can be found alongside mile-by-mile accounts of herds driven north. Detailed outlines of time-tested methods used by ranch superintendents to manage herds are also present. How much money would a top hand (or significantly lesser hands) receive in wages? The Records can tell you. They even noted the location of lands set aside for community projects, such as the Lee County School Lands shown below. As the news program “Texas in Review” declared, the Southwest Collection could now boast “a complete portrait of one of the most fascinating ranch stories in history.” We may be a little biased, but it’s hard not to agree!

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Folks interested in the Matador Ranch’s history should contact our Reference Staff who are always eager to help get these items into curious hands. Also, The Handbook of Texas has published more in-depth online biographies of the Matador Ranch and the Matador Land and Cattle Company.