What’s New at the Southwest Collection?

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Rather than just spin a yarn about a single collection this week, we’re going to catch you up on some exciting things that happened in only the first couple of months of 2015!

For example, a couple weeks back the Southwest Collection was excited to host a research visit by the recipient of the Big 12 Faculty Fellowship Award, associate professor Greg Stephens of Kansas State University-Salina.

Professor Stephens’ focused his attention on our American Agricultural Movement (AAM) Records and related oral histories (which you may remember we hosted an entire exhibit about last spring!) Stephens is gathering information on farmers in Kansas to try to explain how the stories that individuals told about their involvement shaped the AAM’s leadership and goals, and how that reciprocally may have then changed the stories themselves. The AAM wasn’t the only organization he was looking at: the National Farmers’ Organization (NFO), Grange, Farmers’ Union, and the Farm Bureau also used specific narratives to define their missions. He even found that the AAM was stronger in the South Plains region (home of the Southwest Collection) than he had initially thought!

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Here you see our purveyor of oral histories (and gif creation expert) Elissa Stroman assisting Stephens with finding oral histories and similar items among our digital collections. She agrees that Stephens’ project is definitely interesting, and we were thrilled to be able aid it with our collections. If the Ag Movement strikes your fancy, too, then give our spectacular Reference Staff a call and they’d be happy to set up for you a look at it.

Underwwod POW card

Digital Collections Update!

Did you know that the Southwest Collection has added nearly a dozen digitized collections to our digital holdings? True story. Some of them are pretty spectacular, including the Boss Tweed Family Papers (the tale of which you can find right here!); the Charles Underwood Papers that contain some incredible images of World War II Pacific POW letters, one of which can be seen above; and the complete roster and late-19th-century war recollections of the United Confederate Veterans’ Fort Worth chapter  just in time for the anniversary of the final year of the Civil War. mastheads

One huge digital project we’ve had going on for several years is the digitization of numerous newspapers from around West Texas. There are far too many titles to name (seriously, check out this list of 28 different area newspapers totaling over 52,000 individual issues!), but some of the most recent include the State Line Tribune from the town of Farwell (or Texico, depending on what side of the Texas/New Mexico border you’re on), the Castro County News, and the Matador Tribune/Motley County Tribune (and assorted other names.) If you need west Texas news from the past 100 or so years, we’ve probably got it. Oh, and we’re always and forever adding more issues of Texas Tech’s own Daily Toreador (or University Daily, depending on the vintage) or whatever else the world will give us. (For example, we’ve been looking for papers to fill gaps in dates from many of the collections above, and in particular from our newspaper from Ropesivlle, Texas in the mid-twentieth-century for a while now. Got any lying around you might make available to us?)

Need, or want, to lay eyes on some of this stuff in person? Look no further than our ever-helpful Reference Staff to make that happen.

150 Years Later: The United Confederate (Civil War) Records of Fort Worth, Texas

century war book-3In the spring of 1864, during the U.S. Civil War, Union forces under General Ulysses S Grant in the East and General William T. Sherman in the West began a coordinated campaign against the Confederacy. Now, 150 years later, we’d like to share some of the accounts of this, and other campaigns, written by Confederate veterans decades later when they began joining various Confederate Veterans organizations. The records we hold can be found primarily among our United Confederate (Civil War) Collection (UCV), which documents the history of Fort Worth’s UCV branch, the Robert E. Lee Camp No. 158.

The well-weathered item above is one of the dozen or so Century War Books in the UCV papers. It was published in 1894, at about the time R. E. Lee Camp 158 was gathering stories such as B. S. Landon’s (see below.) According to its authors, the Century War Book was “issued with the idea of bringing its picturesque features before a larger body of readers” than its predecessors. The mammoth volume that collected all of what would become the Century War Books, as well as THE CENTURY MAGAZINE. Altogether, the entire cost of the history in all its forms reached nearly $250,000.

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“Descriptive Lists” are the handwritten accounts of war service that veterans submitted to the UCV. This one was written by B. S. Landon, a Confederate cavalryman under J.E.B. Stuart in the Army of Northern Virginia. “I was never in any regular battles or engagements,” he claims, but that wasn’t entirely true. He “rec’d during the war two balls through the body–one through the leg & one in the bottom of the left foot,” which no doubt kept him out of action for a time. But not forever: Landon was shot 3 additional times before the end of the war.

Roster-1 E. Lee Camp 158 had a large membership, as this roster can testify. Created by compiling the information gathered from hundreds and hundreds of Descriptive Lists, its pages aren’t as lively as veterans’ personal stories, but are equally useful because they gather members’ names in one place. To find a veteran they want to research, a researcher can avoid poring over pages and pages of Descriptive Lists and instead easily flip through this ledger. Names are most commonly found in the lists of those who paid their annual dues, as you can see in the page above.

j e johnson-1The final item we’ve got for you today is the Descriptive List of Pvt. W. C. Allen of the Army of Northern Virginia. Whereas B. S. Landon’s story was modest, W. C. Allen’s is an unpunctuated, brutally matter-of-fact account of a Private’s life. Once war erupted in April 1861, Allen wasted no time enlisting. He was present at the Battle of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and a host of others such as Sharpsburg where he was shot and left on the battlefield for 3 days while his wound “got full of worms.” After a surprisingly quick recovery, he went on to fight a bit more before he was captured. Released 22 months later, he was apprehended again after rejoining the Confederate army, put on trial for “bushwhacking,” jailed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then incarcerated in the “Penatenchury” in Nashville until April 1865. We’ve read a lot of these letters, and most of us agree that there are few stories to match Allen’s.

The entirety of this collection has been digitized and placed online, but if you’d like to see these incredible items with your own eyes then don’t hesitate to contact our Reference Staff who are always happy to make that happen.