Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years

Max Evans Film Poster 20190308

On April 4, 2019, the Texas Tech Museum will host a screening of Ol’ Max Evans: The First Thousand Years, a documentary highlighting the life of acclaimed western writer Max Evans directed by Paul Barnes and Lorene Mills. The film’s directors drew upon the Max Evans Papers housed at the Southwest Collection in making the documentary. The papers contain a number of drafts, short stories, screenplays, and other ephemera.

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Born in Ropes, Texas, in 1925, Max Evans later moved to northern New Mexico, which would serve as the setting for many of his works.

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The Max Evans Papers document Evans’ career as a writer from his first published short story in the Denver Post to his more recent works.

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They also provide insight into Evan’s creative process by showing the trajectory of the author’s thoughts, oftentimes beginning with scribbled notes on napkins and scratch paper. The collection also contains noteworthy correspondence between Evans and other creative figures such as Rudolfo Anaya and Martin Scorsese.

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The Hi-Lo Country is arguably Evan’s most popular work and was later made into a feature film starring Woody Harrelson and Patricia Arquette. The screenplay for the film went through several iterations including an early draft by Sam Peckinpah (the screenwriter of the popular film The Wild Bunch).

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While many of Evan’s works focus heavily on cowboy culture in northeastern New Mexico, Evans also wrote a work about Mildred Clark, a prostitute and entrepreneur in Silver City, New Mexico. Drawing upon several hours of interviews with Clark, Madam Millie: Bordellos from Silver City to Ketchikan tells Clark’s story from her humble beginnings as an orphan to her eventual success running a brothel in Silver City, New Mexico.

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The Max Evans Papers contain several reels of interviews between Millie Clark and Max Evans, as well as several other items including original call girl credit cards, above.

If you’re interested in learning more about Max Evans, his various projects, and his career as a writer, come browse his papers at the Southwest Collection!

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Preserving the Past: Celebrating 20 Years in our New Home

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20 years ago, the Southwest Collection moved out of the depths of the Texas Tech University Math Building and into its current palatial home at 15th and Detroit. From September 2017 through February 2018, we’re exhibiting photographs and artifacts from that journey in an exhibit entitled “Preserving our Past: Celebrating 20 Years in Our New Home.” It also chronicles the many exhibits created over those decades that showcased the many amazing archival treasures housed here.

It all started with the architectural plans above. Drafted in 1994, they were the first step taken toward building our state-of-the art facility.

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The rapidly deteriorating TTU Speech Building occupied some of the space where the SWC now stands. Although the Agricultural Pavilion remains, the Speech building’s foundations were transformed into one-part exterior flower bed, and one-part eastern SWC Rotunda.

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The photo above documents the 1995 groundbreaking. SWC Director David Murrah, as well as the TTU President, members of the Board of Regents, and other luminaries attended the event. By late ’95 and early ’96, the land had been scraped clean. By the summer 1996, the skeleton of the building had risen over the site, as you can see below.

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This final photo is of the ribbon cutting that officially opened the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library in 1997. Director Bill Tydeman, long-time archivist Janet Neugebauer, and TTU’s President, Chancellor, and other officials all took a swipe at the ribbon with ceremonial scissors. Directly behind the bow stands Frances Holden, whose husband William C. Holden was a professor at TTU for many decades. Our Reading Room, where the ribbon cutting took place, is named after her and her husband.

So, y’all, drop on by and check out our exhibit, please! There are many other excellent photos to look over, including some of moving day, when thousands of boxes were laboriously transported to the new building to be housed in perpetuity.

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