Daughters of the American Revolution!

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Friday is the Fourth of July, with cookouts and singing and festive fireworks exploding nationwide. That has been the case in Lubbock, Texas (home of the Southwest Collection, by the way!), throughout its history, oftentimes facilitated by the efforts of its Nancy Anderson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the records of which the SWC proudly makes available to the public.

The DAR pursues educational, historic, and patriotic objectives through programs and events, as well as collecting and caring for historic documents and artifacts. Founded in 1926, the Lubbock chapter is named for a Revolution-era ancestor of the chapter founder, Ruth E. Ford. A lengthy, handwritten account (a portion of which can be seen above) detailing more about both Nancy Anderson’s story and the history of the chapter can be found in the collection.

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The Nancy Anderson Chapter has installed a number of historic markers in the Lubbock region, including the Mackenzie Trail marker in downtown Lubbock. They also promoted good citizenship through recognition awards for high school and college students. For the Chapter’s good works, they received the honor roll citation from the National Society of the DAR seen here in a page from one of their many scrapbooks. DAR001Some of the DAR Records consists of annual reports, news clippings, and photographs of yearly events. There are also treasurer’s records, information about obtaining DAR grave markers, details regarding the historic markers installed by the chapter, and valuable compilations of early South Plains residents’ obituaries. Perhaps most informative is their Year Book, which summarizes much of this information, as well as the names of current members. We have a forty-year run of these, dating from 1961 through 2001. DAR005The women of the DAR are dedicated supporters of the armed forces, and they proved it regularly through awards given to Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) members and, of course, actively serving soldiers. This invitation was created for one of their many annual awards ceremonies, this one held in 1994 at Lubbock’s Reese Air Force Base.DAR008Finally, one of the programs of which the DAR takes the most pride is the training and recognition of immigrants aspiring to United States citizenship, emphasizing education about the United States Constitution. They even crafted pamphlets in native languages designed to help prospective citizens such as the ones seen above, which were written in German, Portuguese, and Hungarian. In our collections we also have several written in Polish, Spanish, French, Italian, and a host of other languages.

In short, the DAR, while a national organization, had a measurable presence in the local history of Lubbock and the South Plains: a fitting bit of trivia as we celebrate on this July 4th. Those interested in digging a little further into these records should get ahold of our helpful Reference Staff who are always happy to help however they can.

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The Lubbock Tornado: May 11, 1970

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On May 11, 1970, a category F5 tornado tore across the city of Lubbock, Texas (home of the Southwest Collection,) affecting roughly a quarter of the town. Thousands of homes sustained damage and several hundred were completely destroyed. The damage totaled $250 million (approximately $1.5 billion if it had occurred in 2014,) 26 people lost their lives, and many more were injured. Not until an F5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri, in 2011 was a town’s central business district so devastated. Last Sunday was the 44th anniversary of the disaster, and with that in mind we’re sharing images from our collections that relate to the event, such as this photograph of downtown’s Metro Tower. One of the tallest structures in Lubbock, it was easy prey for the high winds as you can tell by the section of façade that was sheared off.

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Almost all of the issues of Lubbock’s newspaper, the Avalanche-Journal, dating from that time can be found among our collections. This issue from the day after, May 12th, describes the disaster in detail, including a rough sketch of the tornado’s path. As more details emerged over the next several weeks, the Avalanche-Journal would share them. In fact, the bulk of its coverage understandably centered around the tornadoes, their aftermath, and the resulting national attention that Lubbock received.

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Scientific interest in this phenomenon ran high, drawing the attention of none other than Dr. Ted Fujita, the renowned severe storms researcher who created the F-scale for measuring tornadic intensity (in fact, the F in the scale is an abbreviation for Fujita.) The data he collected in Lubbock helped inform his theories about dual-vortex tornadoes, refine the F-scale, and better understand other meteorological causes and consequences of tornadoes. This letter expressing Dr. Fujita’s concerns about the spread of misinformation and the dangers it posed for safety during future storms is one of many items documenting his continued awareness of events in Lubbock.

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Among the data Fujita gathered were photographs, pieces of debris, and wind speed measurements from meteorological stations as far away as Odessa and Amarillo, Texas. Using those, he was able to assemble detailed diagrams such as this one, which shows the path and complex wind patterns of Lubbock’s two vortices. This is the final draft of a chart he used in his nationally-published Satellite & Mesometeorology Research Project report, Lubbock Tornadoes of 11 May 1970.

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We’re ending with an aerial picture of the corner of Avenue Q and 4th Street (now the corner of Avenue Q and the Marsha Sharp Freeway.) This hotel was torn apart by the storm, as was much of that side of town, but as folks who drive through that intersection in recent years may have seen, a hotel can still be found there: the Inn of the South Plains. The buildings to either side of it, however, were never rebuilt. A tour of Lubbock’s affected areas today shows similar evidence of an effort to recover from one of the most devastating tornadoes in U.S. history. For those who want to see more of the Fujita Papers, or any of our other collections, weather-related or otherwise, our Reference Staff is always happy to arrange a visit.

The Small Collection Rundown, Part I

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While roaming through the Southwest Collection stacks the other day, I noticed something. We have a large number of very small but unique collections. They don’t cover a wide variety of research topics, and as a result they might not always get the attention they deserve. That’s a shame, because they’re informative, interesting, and sometimes a little offbeat. Therefore today, in this blog, at least a handful of them have found their time to shine.

First off, the promised ‘offbeat’ item. Among the papers of Vaughn Monigold lie six buttons (six may seem like a little much, but as an archive we preserve everything.) They celebrate local underground celebrity Prairie Dog Pete, who some claim had a groundhog-like ability to predict the weather. The rest of Monigold’s papers are standard stuff, consisting primarily of photographs of prominent sights in Lubbock and the surrounding region. Our Lubbock Chamber of Commerce Records also mention a bit about Pete, but honestly, this folder full of prairie dog buttons? Surely that should make some researcher’s day.

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The Alpha Lambda Delta Records, 1962-2008, are far more pedestrian than Monigold’s pile of rodent buttons. Alpha Lambda Delta was founded in 1924 at the University of Illinois to recognize academic excellence among freshmen women. The organization became co-educational in the 1970s in response to Title IX, and is still active today, having initiated over 850,000 students among its 260 chapters. All that being said, our collection of their materials is very small, consisting of only 2 boxes and assorted artifacts. In that small space, however, it documents much of the organizational and financial infrastructure of the group both locally and nationally. It also boasts a nearly-complete run of their publication, The Flame, from 1963 onward, the covers of which we’ve provided here.

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The last sampling of our smaller collections comes from our  South Plains Quilters Guild Records. In July of 1976, an all-day quilting bee was held at the Mahon Library in Lubbock, Texas. Area quilt makers brought quilts for display and demonstrated methods of quilt making. The event aroused so much interest that several of those present decided to organize a quilting group. Originally named ‘The Quilting B’s’, in 1978 the group later changed the name to the South Plains Quilters Guild (SPQG). Many of its members competed in local and state competitions, contributing items such as a Hacienda Rose patterned-quilt that took home this ribbon from a Dallas-area event in 1996.

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We have a host of correspondence, financial records, scrapbooks, and photographs of the SPQG’s activities for a span of nearly 40 years. We also have a sizable run of their Year Books, which contain member and event information for each year. I’m going to be honest: before scanning these Year Books, I arranged them in this vaguely quilt-like pattern on purpose.

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We’ve saved the best of the SPQG records for last: actual quilts! Check out the one with the dragon on it. That’s some serious quilting, right there. Although these are only photographs of the organization’s creations, we have a couple of actual quilts carefully preserved among our other textile artifacts.

As always, our Reference Staff can get these collections into your hands if you’d like to give us a visit!

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.