Preserving Scrapbooks at TTU’s University Archives

las leales

Las Leales scrapbook, 1927-1939, prior to conservation.

Texas Tech’s University Archives is located at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. This archive collects, preserves, and makes accessible to researchers such materials as TTU administrative and faculty records, publications, photographs, and video and audio materials. These materials document the legal, historical, fiscal, administrative, and intellectual aspects of the university, as well as the cultural and social aspects of student life.

Many of the donations to the University Archives contain scrapbooks from various student organizations and departments.  The scrapbook featured here is from the women’s organization, Las Leales. Las Leales Club was a female fellowship society organized in the winter term of 1929, and its membership was limited to twenty. The scrapbook is part of the Dean of Women collection, which among other materials contains scrapbooks from Las Leales, the Association of Women Students, and Freshman Honor Society all dating from 1928 through 1957.

las leales front page

Front page, with hole reinforcement labels

As is often the case with older materials, the pages of this scrapbook are brittle manila paper. Most items are glued to the pages, which often requires special preservation techniques. Fortunately that was not necessary here, but in order to keep this scrapbook intact, we had to reinforce the holes with hole reinforcement labels. In short, we generally try to do as little as possible to the scrapbook, and what we do attempt has to be reversible.

back cover

Back cover of the scrapbook, with a shoelace for holding the pages together. The aglet was missing on one end, so tape was used to create one. The tape was later removed so it would not damage the scrapbook

If there are loose photos, they are sleeved in a photo protector and placed back inside the book at the appropriate location. Each page of the book is lightly numbered, in pencil, and a photocopy or digital scan is made of the book so it may be reconstructed if necessary. By making digital images of the scrapbooks, researchers are able to view the contents without handling the pages and materials, though the original scrapbook does remain available for research should it be required. Finally, scrapbooks are stored in an archival box.

reconstructed

The reconstructed scrapbook.

An example of a completely digitized University Archive scrapbook collection, the Human Sciences Scrapbooks, can be found here. The finding aids for these and many other University Archives collections can be found on Texas Archival Resources Online. And, as always, interested researchers can request a viewing or copies of any of these collections via our Reference Department.

-Amy Mire, University Archives

Railroads!

v7 n 13 April 1879  cover1

Webster’s Dictionary defines railroads as “a permanent road having a line of rails fixed to ties and laid on a roadbed and providing a track for cars or equipment drawn by locomotives or propelled by self-contained motors.” That definition is very boring. U.S. railroads have a rich, interesting history. Built through backbreaking labor over the course of decades, they were an essential element of 19th century commerce, whether via transportation or the sale of land. Travelers had few other options for crossing the continent, and no other method proved anywhere near as timely as railroads. The SWC is fortunate to have many documents created by railroad corporations and affiliated individuals that reveal intriguing portions of that industry’s history.

v7 n 13 April 1879 pg 12

The digitized images above come from a publication entitled The Great South-west: an illustrated monthly, published by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. The first image from volume 7, issue number 3 dates from 1879 and depicts the cover of the Great South-west, most of which is a description of the many sights observable on a train ride through their territory. The second image is of a timetable sheet designed to assist passengers in planning their trips and, of course, making it to the station on time. The rest of this issue can be found here.

v8 n16 Nov 1881 cover

“For fine lands and cheap-priced lands, the State of Texas can, perhaps, beat the world,” reads the first line of volume 8, issue number 1 (just above). Much of the content in this 1881 issue, which can be found in its entirety here, concerns the sale of land along the railroad route. Land sales were often as important a method of income for railroad developers as the actual movement of freight. Real estate opportunities existed along all rail lines, the massive size of which can be seen in the image below, which traces the route of the Missouri-Pacific (MoPac) Railway.

v8 n16 Nov 1881 map

These images are but two among hundreds of similar materials at the SWC. Two full collections of records from the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (1905-1973 and 1910-1986) document that company’s activities for nearly a century. The Texas and Pacific Coal Company Records, 1889-1979 as well as the Fort Worth and Denver Railway Company Photograph Collection represent another large portion of our railroad holdings. Lastly, the Robert Wright Armstrong Papers, 1868-1975 contains correspondence, photographs, financial and legal material, and other items pertaining to Armstrong’s business, political, and personal activities as a railroad executive. Taken altogether, these collections provide a wealth of opportunities for interested researchers.

The entirety of the publications discussed above, as well as many other digitized collections, may be found here. Our Reference Department will happily provide access to our physical holdings as well.