The Diaries of William DeLoach, A West Texas Farmer

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“Years are the milestones that tell us the distance we have traveled…” These words, the first to appear in the diaries of William G. DeLoach (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ttusw/00161/tsw-00161.html), were not a platitude. DeLoach noted daily events in his diary from 1914 to 1964, often documenting the mundane life of a West Texas farmer, but at times exploring the emotional and philosophical depth of a man whose daily accounts spanned two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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This is the first full page of his diary, written Wednesday, March 24th, 1914. It is a simple series of notes. He visited Ralls and Crosbyton, Texas, signed a cotton contract, and saw one of his laborers complete the maize harvest. Such entries comprise the bulk of his notes.

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This page includes October 29th, 1929, also known as Black Tuesday, when the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. Yet the crash’s effect took its time crossing the country, so all he described that day was cutting feed until a rain began that lasted well into the night.

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The Depression, and more importantly the Dust Bowl, haunt the background of his diaries, but DeLoach coloring his stories of day-to-day life. On July 23rd, 1937, however, its effects came to the fore. “I hurt all day. Not with much heart. I can’t do any thing with any heart with such surroundings. I even can’t write any more. My (?) are all shot. Just to be the paying teller and nothing more is bad.” But then, as always: “Bill finished the feed plowing.”

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Some entries are punctuated by tragic or amusing local news. Early November 1937 saw a man lose an arm in a cotton gin: “That is bad…. They take too many chances.” The next day, DeLoach heard about an acquaintance who was “pinched for drunk.” He mused, “Too bad to get sauced in Sudan [Texas] if one is a stranger. Homeguard can.”

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“This is March 28th, 1964. My first entry was made on March 28th, 1914.” Infirm “in more ways than one,” William DeLoach set down his pen. “Goodbye, Diary. You have been lots of help in lots of ways.”

(An abbreviated version of the diaries was edited by Janet M. Neugebauer, former archivist at the Southwest Collection, and published as Plains Farmer: The Diary of William G. DeLoach, 1914-1964.)

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Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: An Exhibit of the Crossroads Music Archive

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Among the many collections located at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library the Crossroads of Music Archive is unique. Comprised of the papers of West Texas musicians, Crossroads also contains recordings, artifacts such as posters and instruments, and other materials documenting West Texas’ rich musical history. “Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air” is an exhibit showcasing the work of Chris Oglesby, who can be seen throwing a dramatic Texas Tech “Guns Up,” above. More specifically, it focuses on the book from which this exhibit gets its name.

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Chris Oglesby grew up in Lubbock where his father was a coach and his mother an English professor, both at Texas Tech University.  While earning his bachelor’s degree and doctorate of jurisprudence from Texas Tech, Chris immersed himself in Lubbock’s musical nightlife. However, it took moving to Austin in 1991 for him to learn how greatly artists from his hometown had affected the music and art scenes of Texas and the world beyond.

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In 1998, Chris began interviewing musical artists with ties to Lubbock. He paired those with articles, photographs, and other research materials to augment the amazing stories from the talented musicians. Posters and playbills similar to the one below were not neglected.

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After seven years of research, Oglesby published Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air. The book highlights twenty-five musicians and seeks to discover what it is about Lubbock and West Texas that feeds the creative process and spirit. More than a few notes were scribbled down in the notebook below.

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September 1, 2016 will be the tenth anniversary of the book’s publication. In conjunction with that, we are proud to announce that the Chris Oglesby Papers are now housed in the Crossroads of Music Archive. They are open for research, and a simple call or email to our dedicated Reference Staff can get them into your hands.

Elmer Kelton’s Papers at the Southwest Collection

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The Southwest Collection is home to the papers of a number of prominent fiction and non-fiction writers, but few among them were as prolific as Western fiction writer Elmer Kelton. Born in 1926 in Horse Camp, Texas (a name that destined him to do something related to West Texas…), Kelton was raised on the McElroy Ranch near Crane, Texas, where his father worked for over thirty years. This experience among a host of others throughout his life shaped the ensuing five decades of non-stop composition.

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After a stint at the University of Texas at Austin from 1942 to 1944, then 1946 to 1948 (sandwiching two years of service in the army during World War 2), he acquired a journalism degree and returned to West Texas where he spent over a decade writing for local newspapers. Kelton’s work appeared primarily the San Angelo Standard-Times, but pieces appeared throughout the region, such the one above from the Big Spring Daily Herald.

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But it was the authorship of more than 30 novels that made his reputation. The resulting accolades are almost too many to list (but we’ll try). 3 Western Heritage Awards, given by the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center; 7 Spur Awards from the Western Writers of America; the Barbara McCombs/Lon Tinkle Award from the Institute of Texas Letters; a lifetime achievement award from the National Cowboy Symposium; and the first Lone Star award for lifetime Achievement from the Larry McMurtry Center for Arts and Humanities at Midwestern State University. Oh, and in April 1997 the Texas Legislature declared an Elmer Kelton Day.

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Novel-writing and award receptions had to be scheduled around his other career. Kelton spent five years as Sheep and Goat Raiser Magazine’s editor, twenty-two as associate editor of Livestock Weekly, and of course, the diligent newspaper work that he continued until the 1990s. The excerpt above is an excellent example both of his prose and the sense of humor that permeated it (as well as a host of entertaining ads for the upcoming local rodeo).

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As a longstanding member (over 40 years) of the Western Writers of America, Kelton often found himself collaborating with other writers. The letters below and above, dating from 1972, concern a project wherein several writers would compose a story by passing it from writer to writer, each of whom would add to it before giving it to the next. Although the outcome of this project wasn’t apparent from a brief search through the boxes of correspondence in his Papers, we suspect a dedicated researcher might find the answer someday.

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Elmer Kelton’s catalog continued to grow even after his passing in 2009, with Texas Standoff, a novel in his Texas Rangers series, appearing posthumously in 2010. But honestly, our 500 words of description are hardly able to do justice to the man’s colossal body of work. His novels are widely available in libraries (including ours) and you’d do well to pick one up and read it through. Or, if you’d like to research further into the nuts and bolts of a famed Western writer’s process, our helpful Reference staff would be happy to get Kelton’s papers into your hands.

 

You Never Know What You’ll Find…

2AFL1388Each of the thousands of collections housed at the SWC contains its share of unique material, but some are so bizarrely diverse that they deserve a closer look. Take for example the recently-processed Earnest Langley Papers. Earnest Lee Langley, Jr., was born in 1920, which set him up not only to attend Texas Technological College during the 1930s, but also to enlist in the Army following the United States’ entry into World War II. After the war, Earnest graduated from the University of Texas School of Law and subsequently built a prominent West Texas law career. As a result, we have stacks of day books and appoint books, legal documents, and correspondence related to his law practice. But we also have an alarmingly sharp World War II era bayonet!

Depicted in the photo above, this item was found among boxes full of more mundane material. Needless to say, we were surprised (and inordinately excited) to discover it. The blade has since been inventoried among the many other artifacts in his collection…many of which seem equally out of place. langley campfire001For example, several boxes were full of Campfire Girls booklets, pamphlets, uniforms, and t-shirts. Most prominent among the items was this charter incorporating the Hereford Council of Campfire Girls. What did all this have to do with Ernest Langley? Had we confused this with another collection (note: we have never done that.) It was time for research! It turned out that after Langley moved to Hereford, Texas, his wife became an active supporter and leader of the Camp Fire Girls and was integral to their presence in that region. Mystery solved.langley stamps002

In retrospect, maybe the Campfire Girls items weren’t really that odd, but the three linear feet of stamps that we found produced a lot of head-scratching. There were thousands upon thousands of stamps, some loose, some attached, and some cut off of envelopes. In a typical collection you might find evidence of a hobby or two that a person enjoyed, but three boxes packed full of postage is pretty rare. Earnest Langley: philologist!2AFL1393

Finally, we found a simple and unadorned jewelry box. Its piles of lapel pins, most of them Army rank insignias, jived with what we knew about him. Some pins were difficult to identify…until we pulled out the Shriner’s fez (not pictured, sadly) that had been tucked below the jewelry box. A quick survey of his other materials unearthed a box full of papers about his membership in the Masons! Masonic materials are always fascinating, and would probably make for some good reading for interested researchers. Also, the fez is cool (although nobody tried it on, we promise.)

So, after sorting this stuff out, we now knew that Earnest Lee Langley, Jr.: stashed weaponry; helped establish some Panhandle Campfire Girls; loved stamps; and spent his free time practicing Freemasonry. Not pictured are the awards he received from over a dozen state and national law organizations, documentation of his efforts to found a local Methodist Church, and scrapbooks full of wine labels. Oh, and according to a plaque we found, he was also Hereford Citizen of the Year in 1969.

The Earnest Langley Papers were a fun one with which to work. There are other eccentric collections in our stacks as well, and if you’re interested in tracking some down then don’t hesitate to contact our Reference Department.

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.

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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.

Conan: The Exhibit!

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A few months ago we told the tale of the Robert E. Howard westerns that were published in his hometown newspaper, the Cross Plains Review. But to be honest, Howard wasn’t really famous for his westerns. The world knew him for his fast-paced tales of sword and sorcery, and among those one character stood above the rest: Conan the Cimmerian. The Southwest Collection has installed “Robert E. Howard: Creator of Conan the Barbarian,” an exhibit curated by our favorite cataloger and metadata librarian, Rob King. It describes the many materials the SWC holds related to the author and his world-famous barbarian, and will be on display through the first of the year.

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Who was Robert E. Howard? A writer, of course. An avid boxer. A West Texan, too. But one young woman, Novalyne Price Ellis, kept extensive diaries about her years with the author that she later used to write One Who Walked Alone (the cover of which can be seen above.) Her insights into the man are wroth a read. Price was a school teacher who moved to Cross Plains, Texas, in 1934. She wanted to become a writer, and became interested in Howard both as an author and some-time partner. In the words of her Howard biography, she and Robert enjoyed “a unique, if often tempestuous, relationship.” Still, in between her teaching, his writing and boxing, and their quarreling, they rode horses across the countryside while discussing politics, Texas history, and the difficulties of living in West Texas during the Great Depression. They remained very close until Howard’s suicide in 1936, when he was only 30 years old.

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Conan wasn’t the only character that Howard (seen here wearing a stylish hat) wrote to life. The young man spun yarns about Solomon Kane, a 16th century English adventurer; Bran Mak Morn, king of the Picts; and Kull of Atlantis, who we have some more to say about later. But really, Conan is what Howard’s legacy is all about, so here’s the short, short version of the barbarian’s story. Having traveled south from Cimmeria to seek his fortune in southern lands, Conan “trod the jeweled thrones of the earth under his sandaled feet” until he rose to become king of the ancient land of Aquilonia. There, as many know, he wore its crown upon his troubled brow. Our exhibit features compendiums of the Conan (and other Howard) stories, accounts of Howard’s life as both an author, amateur boxer, and lover of the American West, and analyses of the Conan phenomenon, such as…Conan the Phenomenon (the awesome cover of which can be seen at the beginning of this blog!)

Oh! Also, we have Conan comic books!

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Conan had many forerunners in Howard’s fiction. Take for example Hunwulf the wanderer and his adventures in the “Garden of Fear.” This tale’s narrator reveals that he has lived countless past lives. During one particularly Conan-esque lietime many millenia ago, he traveled as Hunwulf, a barbarous fellow who, as barbarians often do, became mired in high adventure. Assaulted by mammoths! Beset by a black-winged demon-man! Rescuing a damsel in distress! And what a lady she was: Gudrun. “Not for a millennium of millenniums have women like (her) walked the earth. Cleopatra…Helen of Troy, they were but pallid shadows of her beauty….” Yeah, Hunwulf had fallen pretty hard.

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Another Conan precursor can be seen posing, axe in hand, on this cover. Kull the Conqueror (aka Kull of Atlantis) only saw 3 short stories published in Howard’s lifetime, but another 9 were published posthumously. Other Kull adventures were also rewritten into Conan tales by Howard over the course of his career. There’s a lot we could say about Kull, but “By This Axe, I Rule,” the title of one of his short stories, pretty succinctly sums him up. Fun fact: Conan wasn’t the only of Howard’s creations to make it into the movies. Kull was the titular character of a film starring Kevin Sorbo in 1997. It might be wiser to stick with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian (1982) for a host of reasons, though, if you’re forced to choose between the two.

So come check out this new exhibit! Also, if you’re interested, read some of Howard’s stories in our digital copies of the Cross Plains Review. And for anything else Howard related at the Southwest Collection, our Reference Department would be happy to help you find it.

The West Texas Historical Association

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The Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library has long been proud to house the offices of the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA.) Organized in 1924 in Abilene at Simmons College (now Hardin-Simmons University), the WTHA arrived at the SWC in 1996. The organization has two hallmarks. The first, its annual meeting, a conference at which lay and professional historians share their research over the course of two days, will be held for the 90th time in Odessa, Texas this April. The second is its annual publication, the West Texas Historical Review (formerly West Texas Historical Association Year Book), the most recent cover of which can be seen above.

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The WTHA also partners with other local and regional organizations to preserve the history of West Texas. Most recently it has worked with the Quanah Parker Trail to promote that organization’s installation of “Giant Arrows” marking locations of historical significance to the life of late-nineteenth-century Comanche chief Quanah Parker. The image above comes from the ceremony celebrating the arrow that was planted at the American Museum of Agriculture in Lubbock, Texas in July 2012.

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Although the West Texas Historical Review—which we’ll tell you more about below—is the repository of the WTHA’s scholarship, its newsletter The Cyclone is the main method through which it shares information about upcoming events, related organizations, and various other topics. The most recent issue of The Cyclone can be found here.

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The most significant contribution made by the WTHA to the preservation of West Texas history is the West Texas Historical Review. Its first volume appeared in 1925, and has continued publication to the present day. The forthcoming 89th volume will contain articles on a host of topics, including depictions of West Texas on television, reexamining accounts of Civil War battles in the region, and the unexpected connections between San Angelo, Texas and Africa’s 19th century Boer War. Reviews of books about West Texas history as well as a thorough bibliography listing books and periodicals published about the region’s history in the past year are also included.

So head on out to Odessa this April to attend the WTHA Annual Meeting. At the very least, take a look at the WTHA on Facebook to see the images documenting West Texas History that they regularly share. And if you’re interested in becoming a member of the organization (which includes a subscription to the Cyclone and the Review!), don’t hesitate to do so.

African American Collections at the SWC!

Daniel BensonThis Monday, January 20th, the nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. With that in mind, we’d like to share a little about our collections documenting African American history. The Southwest Collection (SWC) houses a tremendous amount of material on this topic, including books, oral histories, photographs, newspapers, and the papers and records of people and organizations. In fact, because we preserve so many items, we’re going to highlight this week only items related to the Lubbock, Texas area (where the SWC lives, in case you didn’t know yet!)

The SWC contains more than two-dozen manuscript collections that refer to African-Americans from the slave era until the present day. As an example, the image above is an excerpt from the Daniel H. Benson Records, documenting the career of the titular Lubbock area lawyer. The subject of this material was described as a “class action suit on behalf of all Black and Mexican American citizens in the City of Lubbock…(challenging) the at large election system [then] used to elect council men to the City Council.”  The original suit was filed in 1976 and the ruling was appealed in 1979. The summary shared above is just one of nearly 1,000 pages of documentation that can be viewed not only in our Reference room, but also among our digital collections.

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In our files are well over 130 professionally conducted oral history interviews relating to African Americans throughout Texas spanning nearly 45 years! In addition, photographs of African Americans appear in numerous collections. The photo shared here is of a cook who worked at the College Inn, a Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) women’s dormitory.

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Our newspaper collections are vast. In addition to the general run of dozens of regional and local newspapers available on microfilm and digitally, the SWC maintains a virtually complete set of issues of the West Texas Digest, published since September 1977 by Eddie Richardson and T. J. Patterson. Its goal was, among other things, to inform the world about the African American community of Lubbock, Texas, and the surrounding region. The publication went through many titles (such as the Lubbock digest, as the above image shows,) but what any researchers really needs to know is that regardless of title we have nearly 1,600 images of the publication spanning 1977 to 2010.

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There was another African American newspaper in Lubbock, this one active during the 1960s. The Manhattan Heights Times was created by Scott and Norman Williamson, and it began publication in 1961. The first African American newspaper in town, it briefly ceased its run in 1965. It didn’t take long for it to return with a new title, appearing as The Manhattan Heights and West Texas Times that same year. This iteration of the paper ran until the late 60s.

We can’t overstate how many materials we have on this subject. Fortunately, our Reference Staff can help any interested researcher navigate through them. Don’t hesitate to give them a shout!

Lubbock’s Jewish Community and the Congregation Shaareth Israel Records

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This is the cover page of the first issue of Congregation Shaareth Israel’s monthly newsletter.

There are more than a few collections housed at the Southwest Collection that focus on religion. We hold, for example, the records of the local and greater Texas Unitarian Universalist Church as well  as those of various Lubbock Christian congregations. Perhaps some of our most interesting collections record the history of Lubbock’s Jewish community, the largest of which is the records of the Congregation Shaareth Israel.

The Congregation traces its origins to the early 1930s when the success of Lubbock’s Jewish community in business, and its overall satisfaction with the area, enticed more individuals and families to move to Lubbock. As a result, the need to establish a synagogue was soon identified. Several different buildings were adopted or built to house the growing congregation over the ensuing years, the most prominent of which was a Synagogue built at 23rd and Avenue Q in 1942. Most recently, in 1985, the Congregation built a temple in southwest Lubbock.

The records contain eclectic materials ranging from art history notes to artifacts, correspondence between members as well as between the Congregation’s administration and national organizations, membership directories, and financial and legal records. A complete set of newsletters, such as the one depicted in the image above, dating from 1960 until the mid-2000s are present, as are a number of photographs and sermons. Many materials relate to the new temple’s construction in 1985, as well as to the life and career of the Congregation’s longest serving rabbi, Alexander Kline, who presided from 1960 to 1981. An ongoing effort to gather oral histories from long-time community members has resulted in a number of recordings that are also available to SWC patrons.

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Much of the collection pertains to religious and service groups associated with the Congregation, such as its ‘Sisterhood’. The Sisterhood was involved closely with the Lubbock community at large, most notably through the Food-a-Rama hosted each year from 1969 to 1986. This was an event in which the Sisterhood cooked and sold traditional Jewish foods to the larger community. Once a year, Lubbock residents lined up to buy knishes, blintzes, cabbage rolls, and matzah ball soup.  Food-o-Rama was a major fundraiser for the congregation until it was discontinued. From 1959 until the present, the Sisterhood has published their Year Book, an example of which can be seen in the image above. The Year Book chronicled the activities of Congregation members and other events of note in the Jewish community.

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The Congregation strove to closely align itself with Lubbock, Texas at all levels, but also provided for its membership in tangible ways. The document above is the purchase agreement between the Congregation and the Lubbock City Cemetery to procure plots for local families. Assisting with these arrangements has been a mainstay of Lubbock’s Jews since the 1920s, years before even the Congregation was officially established.

It’s difficult to do justice to unique scope of these records. They are a treasure. When matched with related collections, such as the papers of the aforementioned Rabbi Kline or the gathering of miscellaneous West Texas Jewish history the SWC has dubbed the Jewish Archival Collection, they only become more useful. We encourage interested researchers to contact the Southwest Collection’s Reference Department to arrange for a closer look. Furthermore, Congregation Shaareth Israel’s history as told in its own words, as well as its contemporary events and activities, can be found on their website.