The Newcomb Diaries of the Anne Watts Baker Papers

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In this blog entry, we’re taking a look at our Anne Watts Baker Papers, which you can find in their entirety over here: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ttusw/00458/tsw-00458.html. Baker principally collected diaries and other materials pertaining to the Reynolds and Matthews families of Shackelford County, Texas. But the choicest cuts come from the journals, letters, and scrapbooks of Samuel and Susan Newcomb, dating from the mid- to late-19th century. For example, the page above is from a handwritten draft of “A Journal of a Trip from Clear Fork in Stephens Co. to the San Saba River” by the Newcombs. It was later published, and we have that printed version in our collection as well.

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Not all of Newcomb’s items revolved around the “Journal.” The two halves of the letter above, dating from February 6th, 1865, tell the tale of a hastily dashed off plan about a fort, an ‘indian rade’, and other events around the Fort Davis, Texas, area.

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Here is another letter dating from around the beginning of the Civil War, which was not at all affecting the life of Mr. Newcomb. He was more into having dinner, then heading on out to hunt for more game, perhaps for a second dinner. The man was hungry, no question.

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This letter is virtually impossible to read in this image (although you can get a larger version of it among our digital collections over here: http://hdl.handle.net/10605/352417) But what’s interesting about it is that the parts that are water stained have made the rapidly-fading ink more legible. The peculiarities of paper and ink could, and often do, make up entire college courses.

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Susan E. Reynolds Newcomb left plenty of her materials in the collection as well. This is a diary entry from New Year’s Day, 1896. She expresses a positive outlook for the new year, despite the “perfect gale from the northwest” that was “very disagreeable.”

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And to add something completely different to the collection, the Newcombs created a scrapbook full of poems and odd little cartoons like this one. There’s a 100% chance that the baby went ahead and at that food anyway, y’all.

 

Want more Newcomb books, letters, and diaries? Have at them over here among our digital collections: http://hdl.handle.net/10605/352417  And if you’d like to see the real deal, contact our ever helpful Reference Staff and they’ll see what they can arrange.

Preserving Scrapbooks at TTU’s University Archives

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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