Fall into Diversity: An Exhibit of our University Archives

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This fall, our University Archives has created “Fall into Diversity: My Story,” an exhibit showcasing individuals involved with Texas Tech University whose stories were chronicled among our many, many oral histories. In their words:

“Everyone has a story to share, a perspective that helps better round out the history of a person, place or thing. For 60 years, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library has conducted oral history interviews as a way of preserving people’s memories and views on a vast variety of subjects. ‘Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies,’ states the Oral History Association. As of 2016, the Southwest Collection has conducted over 6,500 interviews, recorded through a number of methods as technology has evolved. Many of these interviews feature Texas Tech-related faculty and alumni. This exhibit showcases a small sampling of the diverse interviews done over the past two decades.”

 

Stella Ruth Courtney Crockett (pictured above) was born on October 4, 1943, in Lubbock, Texas, and attended Dunbar High School. In the summer of 1961, after learning that Texas Tech would integrate, she was among a very small group of African Americans who decided to attend. Despite being accepted into the Texas Tech marching band, Stella found it a difficult task to be among the first to break a long-held barrier. For example, she enrolled in another section of a class because the first instructor used disparaging language toward her. Support from her family, church, and community helped her stay on course and she pointed to her mother’s encouraging words of “sticking it out” as a motivator. “It’s my right to be here. I deserve an education and I’m going to get it,” she recalled in her March 3, 2010, interview.

From the 2nd grade, Stella wanted to be a teacher. In May of 1965 she earned her bachelor’s degree and thus became the first African American to attend Lubbock schools from K-12, attend all undergraduate years at Texas Tech, and successfully graduate. Stella retired in June 2009 after 43 years of teaching.

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Anita Carmona Harrison was born on February 17, 1944, in Lubbock. Following a tour of the Texas Technological College campus with her second grade teacher, Mrs. Billie Everton, Anita decided she wanted to attend and started a piggy bank fund. In the fall of 1963 she enrolled at Texas Tech. Of her college years she fondly recalls “meeting people from diverse backgrounds,” hanging out with friends in the SUB, and being taught once again by Dr. Everton, who had become a professor at Texas Tech.

In 1967 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree, went on to teach bilingual kindergarten classes and, in 1969, helped develop Lubbock ISD’s first Curriculum Guide for Bilingual Kindergarten. She continued to teach elementary school while raising two daughters and, in 1999, she retired from LISD after almost 30 years from public teaching.

Anita is recognized as the first Lubbock-born Latina to attend Lubbock schools from K-12, attend all undergraduate years at Texas Tech, and successfully graduate. She grew up in a very tight-knit family and has proudly shared stories of her childhood, family, and community in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and Latino Lubbock magazine. Her oral history interview was conducted on December 8, 2009.

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Bernard A. Harris, Jr., was born on June 26, 1956. From ages 7 to 15 he lived with his mother on a Navajo Indian Reservation where she worked as a teacher. “She told me I could do anything,” he recalled in a 1995 University Daily interview, and it was under her positive influence that he dreamed he could reach the stars. “I knew I wanted to be an astronaut when I first saw human beings land on the moon.”

Bernard received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston in 1978 and his medical degree from Texas Tech School of Medicine in 1982. His residency at the Mayo Clinic was completed in 1985, after which he worked with NASA where he completed a research fellowship in 1987 and training as a flight surgeon in 1988. On February 3, 1995, Bernard also became the first African American to walk in space.

After his stint as a scientist and flight surgeon with NASA, he went on to serve as a professor of medicine at several Texas universities, and on the Board of Regents at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. In his December 15, 1998, oral history interview Bernard expressed that he wanted to be known as a visionary or a dreamer.

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Gary Stewart Elbow was born on November 15, 1938. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oregon State College in 1960 and his master’s degree from the University of Oregon. He came to Texas Tech in 1970 as an assistant geosciences professor and later earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburg in 1972.

In his many administrative and teaching roles over the course of 45 years at Texas Tech, Gary observed firsthand the changes the university underwent, most notably the battle over tenure and academic freedom when Texas Tech was censured by AAUP. He also saw the founding of an Honors College, where Gary continues to teach. He has held every position in the Faculty Senate and has worked for many years as a Marshall at graduation ceremonies.

In his June, 20, 2010, oral history interview, Gary reminisced about the university’s changing role under former President Grover Murray in the 1960s and 70s. “So this was an exciting place. Things were really hopping, and the idea at the time was that we were going to become more than just a regional university.” Without a doubt, Gary is one of the individuals who contributed to Texas Tech becoming a Tier One institution.

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James C. Watkins was born on May 28, 1951. In a November 20, 2009, interview he shared how his grandmother and mother encouraged his artistic development by allowing him to use old calendars as drawing pads, and supported him taking “Draw Me” art correspondence courses. James continued his education by receiving his B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute and his M.F.A. from Indiana University. He taught at Indiana University and Hampton University before coming to Texas Tech in 1983 as an assistant professor of architecture.

For over 30 years he has specialized in ceramics, particularly in the use of raku. He is a co-author of two books, Alternative Kilns & Firing Techniques and Architectural Delineation, Presentation Techniques and Projects, and is the subject of a third book, A Meditation of Fire: The Art of James C. Watkins. In 2005 he became a Fulbright Scholar, and his contributions to the field of art were recognized at Texas Tech in 2006 with his promotion to the esteemed rank of Horn Professor. Examples of his work reside in the White House Collection of American Crafts, the Shigaraki Institute of Ceramic Studies in Japan, the Texas Tech University Public Art Collection, and have also been part of two different Smithsonian exhibits.

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Lauro Fred Cavazos was born on January 4, 1927, on the King Ranch. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. Lauro taught at the Medical College of Virginia and at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, where he was also Dean from 1975 to 1980, before returning to Texas Tech in 1980 to become its tenth president. He is the first Hispanic and first graduate of the university to hold the title of president.

A recognized expert in both the field of medicine and the field of education, Lauro’s accolades were numerous. Most prominently, on September 20, 1988, he was unanimously confirmed as Secretary of Education, making him the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. He continued in that position until December of 1990.  The TTU Board of Regents bestowed an honorary degree upon him in 2016.

Cavazos grew up attending segregated schools and was the child of a ranch foreman. In his January 25, 1991, interview Lauro discussed why it was important for Mexican American families to teach their children English and prepare them for school.


Those interested in the exhibit, “Fall into Diversity: My Story” are welcome to visit it from fall until spring at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library’s Coronelli Rotunda.

The American Agriculture Movement: Part 2

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Last year, the Southwest Collection shared our American Agricultural Movement (AAM) Records in an exhibit entitled Tractorcade! commemorating the 35th anniversary of the AAM’s last great Tractorcade in 1979. It featured oral histories, photographs, newspaper articles, and artifacts that allowed our curators to tell this unique story of authentic U.S. grassroots activism.

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We told you back then about the AAM’s formation in Campo, Colorado, in 1977, and its focus on “Parity”—economic balance between agriculture, other industries, and the U.S. government. It organized farmer’s strikes throughout the U.S., using pamphlets such as the one above to get them going. And it worked: in 1977 around 5,000 farmers held a tractor rally in Lincoln, Nebraska. Farmers in other states soon followed with their own rallies.

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Unfortunately, the AAM’s activism sometimes led to violence. On March 1st, 1978, a large group of protesting farmers was trapped on the International Bridge south of McAllen, Texas. U.S. police and Mexican Federal troops tear-gassed and beat some of the protestors, later arresting and jailing 200 of them. But this wasn’t typically the case. At almost the same time, numerous farmers found themselves peacefully gathering in Washington, D.C., in opposition to the 1977 Farm Bill. All of these events and many others were chronicled in local publications such as the American Agricultural News, of which we have dozens of issues. The above article and poems are examples of such, written by supporters–but not necessarily protest participants–from Oklahoma and Kansas, not just Texas or the AAM’s birth-state, Colorado.

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Combinations of strikes, protests, and legal opposition would later lead to massive Tractorcades in 1978 and 79. January of the former saw around 3,000 farmers driving their tractors to Washington, D.C. 1979 proved even more successful on a second trip to D.C., although traffic across the nation found itself stuck behind slow moving tractors festooned with protest signs. Washington was practically shut down as they drove through the city, and when at last they stopped at the National Mall, the police quickly penned them in with squad cars and city dump trucks. Surprisingly, there were only a few scuffles between farmers and police. Most interactions were friendly, although national public opinion was split on the farmer’s stated issues. But the Tractorcade can, in some part, be summed up by their emotional visit to the Lincoln Memorial documented in the photo above. It was a peaceful affair, generating unity within the AAM and fond memories for all of the participants that they’ve shared with SWC staff during every visit.

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There are many other tales of the Tractorcade and the AAM available at the Southwest Collection, many found in oral histories of participants and opposition members alike. They explain to interested researchers how the AAM metamorphosed into the guardian of farmers and lobby-er of politicians that it is today. These materials, and the many newspapers, documents, and artifacts in the AAM collection, are always available for research. And our helpful Reference Staff shows up when the rooster crows every day to make sure they can help you find them.

National College Baseball Hall of Fame – 2015 Edition

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Since 2004 the Southwest Collection (SWC) has served as the repository for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (NCBHoF) on behalf of the College Baseball Foundation. Each June we are fortunate enough to attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and receive a host of items documenting the event as well as the history of college baseball. From scrapbooks, photographs, and videos to media guides and artifacts such as ball caps, bats, uniforms, and even cleats. Perhaps most impressive, the SWC downloads and archives nearly 700 emails per day during each baseball season from over 200 Division I and other schools. We’re an incredibly fortunate archive!

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As we mentioned last year, recording oral histories with Hall of Fame inductees, as well as current NCAA baseball award winners who also attend the event, is another method through which the SWC preserves the history of college baseball. To date, nearly 100 oral histories have been conducted with players and their families. The Southwest Collection is proud to claim these as part of its massive oral history collection currently comprised of thousands of interviews, with new additions every month.

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The 2015 Hall of Fame induction festivities will start early Saturday, June 27th and run through late Monday evening. This year will see the induction of eight new members:

  • Joe Arnold of Miami-Dade College and Arizona State University
  • Lance Berkman of Rice University
  • Mike Kelly of Arizona State University
  • Larry Hays, coach of Lubbock Christian University and Texas Tech University
  • Al Holland of North Carolina A&T State University
  • Bill Holowaty, coach of Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Rick Reichardt of the University of Wisconsin
  • Frank Viola of St. John’s University

Hall of Famers’ careers are not the only ones celebrated. College baseball’s finest young athletes receive awards for their on-the-field excellence. The 2015 season’s award winners will be announced at the televised Night of Champions dinner on Monday evening, but can also be found on the Hall of Fame’s website for those who can’t attend. Both students and the Hall of Famers will enjoy the finest hospitality that the Southwest Collection and Lubbock, Texas have to offer. In fact, each year, particpants heap praise on the commemorative posters and baseball cards produced by the Southwest Collection’s exhibit preparator Lynn Stoll, some of which are included among the images in this blog. These items highlight the biography and always-impressive stats of each of the 2014 inductees and award winners.

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Participation in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame festivities is but one of many ways in which the Southwest Collection preserves and makes available all aspects of sports history. Prominent among its many other sports-related collections are the records of the former Southwest Conference, the Big XII Conference, and the few remaining records of the former Big 8 Conference. For more information about the SWC’s sports and other collections please contact our Reference Staff who would be happy to guide you through them.

The National College Baseball Hall of Fame and the Southwest Collection – 2014 Edition!

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Since 2004 the Southwest Collection (SWC) has served as repository for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame (NCBHoF) on behalf of the College Baseball Foundation. We’ve been fortunate to receive a host of items documenting the event as well as the history of college baseball, from scrapbooks, photographs, and videos to media guides and artifacts. Recent donations include ball caps, bats, uniforms, and even cleats. Perhaps most impressive, the SWC downloads and archives nearly 700 emails per day during each baseball season from over 200 Division I and other schools. We’re an incredibly fortunate archive! William Clarence Matthews

As we mentioned last year, recording oral histories with Hall of Fame inductees, as well as current NCAA baseball award winners who also attend the event, are another method through which the SWC preserves the history of college baseball. To date, nearly 100 oral histories have been conducted with players and their families. The Southwest Collection is proud to claim these as part of its massive oral history collection currently comprised of thousands of interviews, with new additions every month.

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The 2014 Hall of Fame induction festivities will start early Friday, June 27th and run through late Saturday evening. This year will see the induction of seven new members:

  • Bill Bordley of the University of Southern California
  • Alex Fernandez of the University of Miami and Miami-Dade South CC
  • Mike Fiore of the University of Miami
  • Demie Mainieri, coach of Miami-Dade North CC
  • William Clarence Matthews of Tuskegee Institute and Harvard University (seen above in turn of the century gear!)
  • Gene Stephenson, coach at Wichita State University
  • Mickey Sullivan, former outfielder and coach at Baylor University

Hall of Famers’ careers are not the only ones celebrated. College baseball’s finest young athletes received awards for their on-the-field excellence. The 2014 season’s award winners are will be announced at the nationally-televised Night of Champions dinner on Saturday evening, but can also be found on their website for those who can’t attend. They and the Hall of Famers will enjoy the finest hospitality that the Southwest Collection and Lubbock, Texas have to offer. In fact, each year, both the Hall of Famers and the award winners heap praise on the commemorative posters and baseball cards produced by the Southwest Collection’s exhibit preparator Lynn Stoll. These items highlight the biography and always-impressive stats of each of the 2014 award winners.

Participation in the National College Baseball Hall of Fame festivities is but one of many ways in which the Southwest Collection preserves and makes available all aspects of sports history. Prominent among its many other sports-related collections are the records of the former Southwest Conference, the Big XII Conference, and the few remaining records of the former Big 8 Conference. For more information about the SWC’s sports and other collections please contact our Reference Staff who would be happy to guide you through them.

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Oral History 301: Understanding Recording Formats

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For this week’s blog post on the oral history collection at the Southwest Collection (see previous entries here  and here!), we want to give you a quick overview of the various recording formats that have been utilized in recording our interviews. Since our collection spans over 60 years and more than 6,000 oral histories, historians have recorded using the technology of many eras. Today, preservation is our highest priority, so all of the older media are being converted to digital format.

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The earliest interviews were recorded on ¼ inch magnetic audio tape or “reel to reel” format. Roughly 1,900 of our interviews are on this format, ranging from 1949-1985. Reels can come in a variety of sizes, but since most of our interviews were recorded at an incredibly slow speed (typically 1 7/8 inches per second), these interviews could fit on very small 3 inch reels. You can see an example of one of the portable recording devices likely used by our field historians here. These reels require extra care as we digitize them today because they tend to have tension issues on modern reel-to-reel players that are calibrated to play the larger commercial reels.

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Beginning in the mid-1970s, field historians also recorded to audio cassette. This format is utilized in about 2,000 interviews. Though many patrons are familiar with how to work a cassette player, we still ask two weeks advance notice in order to make a digital copy of an interview. The older the recording, the more likely there will be technical issues: the plastic casing might be cracked, or the springs or rollers might have quit working. Fortunately, our audio/visual staff is well versed in cassette tape repair.

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Luckily for our audio/visual department today, our oral history collection was primarily recorded on newer, more versatile audio formats. Occasionally we have worked with interviews on microcassettes, DAT tapes, and various small video tapes, but starting in the mid-2000s all oral histories are recorded on digital audio recorders, or as we phrase it, they are “born digital.” This allows us to copy the files to our servers, make patron-use copies on compact discs, and edit audio files much more easily. Our current recorders save files in .wav format, with a 44.1 kHz sample rate and 16 bit depth (which is compact disc quality). In the upcoming years, we will likely upgrade our equipment with portable recorders capable of 96 kHz/24bit and better quality microphones. It seems the future will bring us higher fidelity digital recordings, but luckily (fingers crossed!) no more unique and proprietary formats.

Now it’s time to ask our readers (especially you oral historians!): what formats have you seen oral histories recorded on? Sadly, our collection does not go far enough back to include transcription discs or wire recordings. Have you used video recordings with video backups? Our field historians began this practice almost a decade ago, but we still rely heavily upon audio recordings. Many of the unique audio formats we encounter come from small oral history collections donated by individuals in our surrounding communities. In a future blog post, we will give an overview of the work others have done to promote oral history cultivation on the South Plains. And, as always, if you’d like to listen to these oral histories or view any of our other collections, don’t hesitate to contact our Reference Staff.

by Elissa Stroman

Oral History 201: Oral History Processing

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In our last Oral History blog post, we gave a brief overview of the holdings of the Southwest Collection’s oral history program (of which there are thousands!) This week we would like to show you what our oral history department has diligently been working on lately. The SWC Audio/Visual Department curates all of the new interviews currently being conducted by our field historians, and after almost 2 years of work we are proud to unveil our new transcripts that debuted on the SWC’s DSpace this month!

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Our transcripts are the culmination of a lengthy project dedicated to creating the best product possible for researchers. Within these transcription documents you’ll find an interview summary, a general synopsis/table of contents, keywords, and a transcript of the entire interview. For our style and formatting, we are indebted to the Baylor Institute for Oral History’s style guide, which helped build the foundation of our work. These transcripts will provide researchers all over the world access to our newest oral histories, and we are eager to hear from researchers who use these documents.

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To process our oral histories, we start with our student assistants transcribing each interview (which typically takes roughly 8 hours per hour of interview). The transcript then undergoes at least three reviews by both A/V staff and the interviewer to ensure accuracy (especially of proper names and idiosyncratic language). The A/V staff then sends the interview to the SWC’s cataloging librarians, who place it on Worldcat where other libraries can discover the interview. Finally, we upload the transcript onto DSpace.

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Some of the first interviews cataloged with the new transcript template include a set of eight conducted with members of the American Agriculture Movement (AAM). We are highlighting these interviews to coincide with the exhibit that is on display through mid-June in the Southwest Collection.

The interviews conducted by Andy Wilkinson and David Marshall deal with all areas of AAM: from the original tractorcades and protests, to later political involvement in Washington, and their ongoing work with Farm-Aid. The Southwest Collection is dedicated to preserving the history of these hard working farmers and will continue interviewing all interested parties of the American Agriculture Movement. If you would like your story heard and preserved, please call Andy Wilkinson at (806) 742-3749 or email andy.wilkinson@ttu.edu. And if you’d like to hear the stories already gathered, our Reference Staff is always happy to see what they can arrange in that regard.

by Elissa Stroman

African American Collections at the SWC!

Daniel BensonThis Monday, January 20th, the nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. With that in mind, we’d like to share a little about our collections documenting African American history. The Southwest Collection (SWC) houses a tremendous amount of material on this topic, including books, oral histories, photographs, newspapers, and the papers and records of people and organizations. In fact, because we preserve so many items, we’re going to highlight this week only items related to the Lubbock, Texas area (where the SWC lives, in case you didn’t know yet!)

The SWC contains more than two-dozen manuscript collections that refer to African-Americans from the slave era until the present day. As an example, the image above is an excerpt from the Daniel H. Benson Records, documenting the career of the titular Lubbock area lawyer. The subject of this material was described as a “class action suit on behalf of all Black and Mexican American citizens in the City of Lubbock…(challenging) the at large election system [then] used to elect council men to the City Council.”  The original suit was filed in 1976 and the ruling was appealed in 1979. The summary shared above is just one of nearly 1,000 pages of documentation that can be viewed not only in our Reference room, but also among our digital collections.

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In our files are well over 130 professionally conducted oral history interviews relating to African Americans throughout Texas spanning nearly 45 years! In addition, photographs of African Americans appear in numerous collections. The photo shared here is of a cook who worked at the College Inn, a Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) women’s dormitory.

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Our newspaper collections are vast. In addition to the general run of dozens of regional and local newspapers available on microfilm and digitally, the SWC maintains a virtually complete set of issues of the West Texas Digest, published since September 1977 by Eddie Richardson and T. J. Patterson. Its goal was, among other things, to inform the world about the African American community of Lubbock, Texas, and the surrounding region. The publication went through many titles (such as the Lubbock digest, as the above image shows,) but what any researchers really needs to know is that regardless of title we have nearly 1,600 images of the publication spanning 1977 to 2010.

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There was another African American newspaper in Lubbock, this one active during the 1960s. The Manhattan Heights Times was created by Scott and Norman Williamson, and it began publication in 1961. The first African American newspaper in town, it briefly ceased its run in 1965. It didn’t take long for it to return with a new title, appearing as The Manhattan Heights and West Texas Times that same year. This iteration of the paper ran until the late 60s.

We can’t overstate how many materials we have on this subject. Fortunately, our Reference Staff can help any interested researcher navigate through them. Don’t hesitate to give them a shout!

Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission’s Quarterly Meeting Hosted at the SWC!

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Two weeks ago we wrote about the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission’s (THGC) exhibit “Prijedor: Lives from the Bosnian Genocide.” The Southwest Collection is proud to host the exhibit from October 3rd through November 7th, and is equally excited to announce that we are also hosting the THGC’s Quarterly Meeting on October 24th and 25th!

If you don’t know about the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission already, here’s their story. The THGC was established by the Texas Senate to ensure that resources are available to students, educators, and the general public regarding the Holocaust and other genocides. Education is not its only goal. Imbuing individuals with a sense of responsibility to uphold human value, especially in the face of genocidal travesty, is also one of its primary aims. The Commission also facilitates recognition of the horrors of genocide, as well as the people who strove instead to preserve human sanctity throughout these tragedies.

An excellent example of this is the Texas Liberators Oral Histories project. Oral history programs are present in many archives, including the Southwest Collection, but the THGC’s is particularly poignant. Conducted in conjunction with Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History, this project gathered oral histories from several Texas World War II veterans in order to celebrate their service and their efforts to free survivors of concentration camps. This project not only furthered the THGC’s educational mission, but also preserves in perpetuity the personal stories that recall atrocities of the Holocaust. Even better: these aren’t simply transcripts or audio recordings that patrons must request from an archive. Many were videoed and have been made available online!

One of the best examples the interviews they conducted is this conversation with a Dachau liberator. This Mauthausen liberator’s interview and this second Dauchau-related oral history are incredible as well.

Finally, the THGC worked with the Texas legislature to set aside the month of April as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. In their words: “genocides begin when intolerant and hateful individuals dehumanize others in a society by putting them into separate and unequal classes and deliberately harming them.  Genocides in the last two decades have emphasized the pertinence of this issue, and the threat of further atrocities remains alive in the world today.” The THGC not only wants to share the stories of the past, but ensure that the world prevent such tragedies in the future.

Those interested in finding out more about the THGC, their many projects, or their Quarterly Meeting at Texas Tech University, should contact them at (512) 463-8815 or via their website. As always, we at the SWC are always happy to answer any questions as well.

-by Robert Weaver, the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, and the Texas Historical Commission

Oral History 101 – A Basic Introduction

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Over the past sixty years, historians at Texas Tech have conducted over 6,000 oral history interviews that now reside permanently at the Southwest Collection. Some of the earliest interviews in our holdings date from the late 1940s and were conducted by the Texas Tech History Department’s Dr. William Curry Holden, who spoke with local businessmen and ranchers about life on the South Plains. While our recording technologies have adapted beyond analog devices into digital voice recorders and video cameras, we continue to capture the stories of people in this region. Today we carry on the tradition established by historians like Holden, Fred Carpenter, Richard Mason, and David Murrah. Our field historians reach out to persons of interest all across the Southwest and are especially interested in politics, the histories of minorities, cultural heritage (specifically the arts and creative processes), Texas Tech history, sports, science and technology, and agriculture. These interviews are an invaluable tool for researchers interested in primary documentation and personal accounts. Field historians frequently go into interviewees’ homes, allowing the interview to be conducted casually; stories of major historical events are told first-hand, by eye-witnesses in their own words.

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In the Fall of 2010, the Southwest Collection began a massive re-evaluation of our oral history holdings. One of the biggest concerns was preserving our “reel-to-reel” recordings. Consequently, for the protection of the original recordings we now require patrons who wish to access such interviews to make their requests at least two weeks in advance. Upon receiving the request, the Audio/Visual department digitizes each recording, performs any sort of audio restoration that is required for audibility, and then burns the recordings to optical disc for patron use. We hope to have all of our 6,000 interviews in a digital format within the next three years, which will allow patrons easier access and less wait time. In future blog posts in the upcoming months, we will discuss further the various formats and preservation issues that we have encountered with this massive collection.

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Digitally transferring one of our oral history recordings on a reel-to-reel tape player.

If you are interested in our oral history holdings, at this time you can access information on the interviews conducted from 1949-2001, as well as search the collection by keyword, on the Southwest Collection website. Interviews from 2001-2011 are found in our dspace holdings. We are in the process of creating a new web portal for our oral history collection that hopes to go live by the end of 2013. Continue checking back on this blog for updates on this exciting new chapter in the history of the Southwest Collection’s oral history collection!

-by Elissa Stroman, SWC Audio/Visual Department

Reference Services!

Did you know that the Southwest Collection’s reference staff has created several bibliographies and research guides? One of the most robust examples of this is our African American Bibliography. It describes many of the materials in our collections relating to African American history, including books, manuscripts, oral histories, photograph collections, and newspapers. Such bibliographies are often essential to navigating the thousands of linear feet and many millions of individual documents in our archives

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Although we have many digitized collections as well published finding aids housed on Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) and our own website, the guidance of experienced reference staff highly familiar with our holdings is also of invaluable use to researchers. Fortunately, the Southwest Collection’s Randy Vance and Nicci Hester, with the assistance of our many subject archivists and librarians, are able to provide that assistance. One way in which they accomplish this is through our Reference Files. Containing over 18,000 folders of information about West Texas (Lubbock and the South Plains in particular), Texas Tech University, and the Southwestern United States in general (Arizona, New Mexico, and other states), our Reference Files cover topics such as ranching, agriculture, oil, towns and counties in Texas, and a wide assortment of other subjects. Materials in the files include newspaper clippings, brochures, programs, tourist/travel information, biographies, oral history abstracts, and inventories of SWC manuscript collections.

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The Holden Reading Room

Our reference desk is located in the Holden Reading Room. Reading room hours are Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. During the Fall and Spring semesters, Tuesdays and Thursdays see the doors remaining open until 7pm.

Reference requests may be made by email, phone (806-742-9070), mail (MS41041, TTU, Lubbock, TX 79409), or fax (806-742-0496). Please note that some materials may require 1-2 days for retrieval. Copies of materials may be made, but with an associated cost. Details can be found here. Please allow up to three weeks for replies and duplication orders, particularly of photographs and oral history interviews.