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

“A Resilient Symbol of West Texas: The Texas Tech Dairy Barn” – An Exhibit from Our University Archives

title shotFor the first few months of 2015, the University Archives at the Southwest Collection is hosting “A Resilient Symbol of West Texas: The Texas Tech Dairy Barn,” an exhibit about the almost 90-year-old structure that has weathered storms and near-endless nearby construction to become a symbol of Texas Tech’s history.long shot ttuFinished in 1927, the original Dairy Barn could accommodate up to 40 cattle, and had three miles of wire fencing surrounding it for grazing animals paired with a 120-ton concrete silo. Equipped to sanitarily produce whole milk and cream, it soon saw the Department of Dairy Manufactures extend the milking room at the south end of the building due to proceeds from its sales. It then added butter, ice cream and cheese to its product line. But take a look at the photo above: this was all happening on the Texas Tech campus back when cattle grazed a few hundred yards in front of the Administration Building, Agricultural Pavilion, Agriculture Building, and in the far distance the Home Economics Building!dairy truckWhen the new college opened, agriculture students were allowed to bring their dairy cattle to reside in the barn. The money earned by selling the milk to others and by working in the dairy facility helped pay for these students’ education. The Student Dairy was organized by six students in the summer of 1926 and, until it was dissolved in 1935, delivered milk and other dairy products by a horse-drawn wagon and a truck.1A fire on January 29, 1930, and a lightning strike in 1958 both resulted in the deaths of some of the cows and damage to the building, but operations continued until 1965, when the barn closed its doors. From then on it was used only as storage, and even then the section for the Dairy Manufacturing Department was removed in 1966 to make room for the construction of the Foreign Language Building. The young men above, observing the final stages of processing, bottling, and inspecting the milk products in the 1950s, had to find lactose-based educational opportunities elsewhere.goes with 1[All the milk bottles and cheese produced at Texas Tech also sported a proud Double T.] (ca. 1950)

The Dairy Barn has been a part of the Texas Tech landscape for 89 years. It weathered tornadoes, dust storms, encroaching buildings, and heavy foot traffic as the campus continued to grow, and as its useful functionality was placed on hold. Yet although it experienced periods of neglect, it has ultimately received its share of recognition. The Barn was even registered in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic places on April 2, 1992, after extensive campaigns of support by various alumni and campus organizations. Some still lobby diligently for the barn’s restoration and repurposing so that it may remain a part of the TTU landscape for decades to come.

– by Lynn Whitfield & our Texas Tech University Archives