UH Libraries News

Exhibit Highlights the Genesis of UH African American Studies

An upcoming student-curated exhibit at University of Houston Libraries features the student organization Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) and its success in the inception of the UH African American Studies Program in 1969. 

AABL Spokesmen Address City-Wide Press Representatives. Dwight Allen, Lynn Eusan And Eugene Locke Clarify Recent List of Demands. Photo by David Lyons

Part of the “Forged by Protest” exhibit, this image appeared in the Daily Cougar with the caption “AABL Spokesmen Address City-Wide Press Representatives. Dwight Allen, Lynn Eusan And Eugene Locke Clarify Recent List of Demands. Photo by David Lyons.”

Forged by Protest: Student Organization Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) and the Genesis of the UH African American Studies Program was curated by Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) scholar Saron Regassa as an analog component of a digital project aiming to make the history of AABL accessible as an online resource. The exhibit is a collaboration between the UH department of African American Studies and UH Libraries.  

In 1967, a UH sophomore, Gene Locke, created the student organization Committee for Better Race Relations (COBRR), which soon became Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL, pronounced “able”). On February 7, 1969, AABL presented their “10 Demands” to UH president Philip G. Hoffman, and throughout the semester, AABL rallied for support on campus. Among the demands was a call for a “Department of Afro-American Studies.” AABL’s activities led to the establishment of the UH Afro-American Program (now the department of African American Studies) later that year, making UH the first state university in Texas with such a program and one of the first in the nation. The UH African American Studies Program was granted departmental status in 2021. Tara T. Green joined the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) as founding chair of the department of African American Studies in 2022. 

As part of the REACH project, Regassa is researching the history of AABL using archives across UH Special Collections, from student publications to UH administration records, and using the primary sources, provided the context and description for the exhibit. REACH is a year-long introductory research experience for undergraduates in humanities disciplines, and is supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA). REACH connects students to existing UH digital humanities projects and allows them to develop research skills through mentored, first-hand scholarly inquiry and through participation in OURMA research programming. REACH participants will present their research at Undergraduate Research Day in April 2023. 

The exhibit will be on display at MD Anderson Library from February 13 through March 13. 

New Exhibition on Birds Opens at UH Libraries

A new exhibition recently opened at University of Houston MD Anderson Library.

The Beauty of Birds, a new exhibition at University of Houston MD Anderson Library

The Beauty of Birds, a new exhibition at University of Houston MD Anderson Library

The Beauty of Birds highlights the illustrations that can be found in the pages of rare books at UH Libraries Special Collections and celebrates greater Houston’s place as a hub for birds and birders. Over 400 species of birds have been counted in Harris County alone, including both year-round residents and those that pass through on their annual spring migration. Especially popular with birders are the neotropical songbirds that make their way to breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada from as far away as South America. Following their incredible journey across the Gulf of Mexico, these birds stop at the first land they encounter, often sites such as High Island in Galveston, to rest and refuel. Jewel-like warblers and others delight those who see them every spring in greater Houston and the surrounding Gulf Coast communities, and again in the fall on the birds’ return trip.

This exhibition was initially developed in the spring of 2020, during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many library staff, including student employees, found themselves working from home without access to the physical materials in the library’s collection. Under the direction of the Rare Books Collections curator Julie Grob, former student employee Naomi Palomares (’21) remotely researched the many books about birds that are available from UH Special Collections for a future exhibition. In addition to relying on the library’s online catalog, she drew on the large collection of digitized books available at Biodiversity Heritage Library. Production support for the exhibition was provided by Jerrell Jones, Mauricio Lazo, and Greg Yerke.

The Beauty of Birds will be on display through May 11, 2023.

Banner Project Returns to UH Libraries

This week, visitors to the University of Houston MD Anderson Library will notice a suite of banners in the atrium. The Banner Project, created by Houston activists Sara Fernandez and JD Doyle, is a pop-up exhibit featuring pivotal moments in Houston’s LGBT history from the 1930s to present day.

The Banner Project at University of Houston Libraries

The Banner Project at University of Houston Libraries

2022 marks the sixth year that UH Libraries has partnered with the creators to host the banners, sparking discussion, reflection, and awareness across campus and in the community. The banners will remain on display through October in honor of LGBT History Month, and on October 11, National Coming Out Day, staff from Special Collections will host an informational table in the atrium from 11am – 5pm, featuring archival materials from the LGBT History Research Collection. The Banner Project creators Fernandez and Doyle will be attending, as well as representatives from the UH LGBTQ Resource Center.

New Online Exhibit Features DJ Screw Recordings

A student-curated digital exhibit featuring materials related to DJ Screw is available online.

DJ Screw and his record collection

DJ Screw and his record collection

From Coast to Coast: A Tour of DJ Screw’s Record Collection was created by Jenna Goodrich as part of a Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) project.

“This project has given me a glimpse of the steps in the process of creating an exhibit, and has taught me about what all goes into archival work,” Goodrich, a senior Honors College political science major, said. “This experience is invaluable.”

Goodrich, who is interested in archival and librarian work, selected items from the archives of UH Libraries Special Collections’ Houston Hip Hop Research Collection, particularly from the DJ Screw Sound Recordings comprising over 1600 of the artist’s personal albums and singles.

In working with primary sources, Goodrich learned what curating an exhibit involves. “You have to creatively piece together a story and a theme based off of what you have,” she said. “I learned about the wide array of materials that are considered primary sources. I was working with vinyl records, a unique type of source that opened my eyes to types of media that can be used for research.” 

The online exhibit and the collection it represents offer viewers a deep look at DJ Screw and the milieu in which he created mixtapes. “The DJ Screw collection tells us about the diversity and wide scope of influence of both Houston hip hop and DJ Screw himself,” Goodrich said. “Screw had records from artists across the United States and used many different types of music to create his tapes. The vast amount of records from Houston-based hip hop artists sheds light on the entrepreneurial spirit of the artists.”

Based on her experience, Goodrich offers advice to other UH undergrads who may be interested in doing a research project. “I would suggest everyone try to do at least one research project before graduating,” she said. “Put your heart into the work so you can look back on your project and be proud of it when it comes time to apply for other fellowships or jobs. Create deadlines with your mentor and be in close contact with them to ground your project and give you structure. Have a vision of the end product in mind.”

Connecting Undergrads to Humanities Research

University of Houston Libraries projects in digital humanities are being offered through Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH), a year-long introductory research experience for undergraduates in humanities disciplines. 

The UH REACH program is supported by the Cougar Initiative to Engage and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA). REACH connects students to existing UH digital humanities projects and allows them to develop research skills through mentored, first-hand scholarly inquiry and through participation in OURMA research programming.

REACH participants receive a $1,500 scholarship split between the fall and spring semesters in the program, and will present their research at Undergraduate Research Day in April 2023.

Projects significantly connected to UH Libraries’ collections and expertise include Making the History of UH Student Group Afro Americans for Black Liberation (AABL) Available Online, Sharing Stories from 1977, OER Textbook: Be a Tech Advanced Cultural Learner, Triumph and Tragedy in the Bayou City’s Civil Rights Era, Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, and SYRIOS.

Two projects from the 2021-2022 academic year included research drawing from UH Libraries’ collections related to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and DJ Screw sound recordings.

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are invited to apply by September 7.

Additions to Exhibit Featuring Works and Archives of Dorothy Hood

Paintings and collages have been installed on the 2nd floor of MD Anderson Library near Special Collections, adding to the current exhibit featuring works of Texas-born artist Dorothy Hood (1918-2000).

Additions to "Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being" at University of Houston Libraries

Additions to “Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being” at University of Houston Libraries

In collaboration with Public Art of the University of Houston System and the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST), University of Houston Libraries will display Dorothy Hood: The Edge of Being through March 2023, along with additional exhibit locations at UH and University of Houston-Clear Lake. Visitors interested in an immersive look at Hood’s personal archives are encouraged to contact head of Special Collections Christian Kelleher.

Related: AMST Donates Hood-Velasco Maidana Papers to UH Special Collections

Artworks include The Terrible Parade, Black Vessel, Sound From Within, Thorns, Primal Edge, and others.

New Exhibit Features Houston GLBT Political Caucus

A student-curated exhibit featuring archival materials related to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is on display at the MD Anderson Library.

Photo from OutSmart, part of the Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard Papers

Photo from OutSmart, part of the Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard Papers

Marking LGBT+ Pride Month 2022, the physical exhibit is augmented by a digital component, and was created by senior history major Kennedy Williams as part of a Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) project.

“The [REACH] program gave me experience in archives which will assist me in becoming an archivist in the future,” Williams said. “It proved to me this is what I want to do.”

Williams selected items from the archives of University of Houston Libraries Special Collections’ LGBT History Research Collections, primarily from materials in the Annise Parker and Kathy Hubbard Papers, reflecting the influential history of the Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus from its founding in 1975 to the present. (In 2021, the organization’s membership voted to change its name from Houston GLBT Political Caucus to the current Houston LGBTQ+ Political Caucus).

In working with the archives, Williams learned that curation is an iterative process. “Everything takes several drafts, from how you wish to organize the archival material to how you present it,” she said. “Secondly, I learned to critically think not only about the history but about each individual piece of archival material in order to decide what would be good in the exhibit.”

Williams initially had doubts about participating in the research program, wondering what it would be like and if she’d be able to keep up. Now, her advice to other undergraduates considering research opportunities at UH is to go for it. “Don’t let anything hold you back,” she said. “I ended up enjoying every second.”

The exhibit and the LGBT History Research Collection are supported by an endowment from The Hollyfield Foundation, which provides funding for the acquisition and preservation of primary source materials. The LGBT History Research Collection preserves and promotes the archives of LGBT communities and organizations from Houston and the region. Materials, including personal papers, organization records, and library collections, document the communities’ activist, cultural, social, and political activities, and the personal experiences of community members.

Through its support of LGBT and AIDS non-profits, The Hollyfield Foundation has made a substantial positive impact on local LGBT communities since its inception in 1994. The Houston-based organization contributes to charities that work to prevent discrimination, promote equality, and assist in HIV/AIDS education, care and treatment.

New Exhibit Features Hispanic Theater Collection

A new exhibit at University of Houston Libraries documents the origins and renaissance of Hispanic community theater.

A selection from the Hispanic Theater in the United States exhibit

A selection from the Hispanic Theater in the United States exhibit

Hispanic Theater in the United States features selections from the Dr. Nicolás Kanellos Hispanic Theater Collection, Arte Público Press, and UH Libraries. Historical photos, original posters, flyers and ephemera, scripts, audio, and video depict the plays, playwrights, actors, troupes, and venues related to US Hispanic theater dating from its early days.

Approximately 150 items in the Hispanic Theater Collection were donated to UH Libraries by Nicolás Kanellos, PhD, Brown Foundation professor of Hispanic Studies at UH and director of Arte Público Press and Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage, in what is the largest known theater collection of its kind. The primary sources were collected over a seminal period in history by Kanellos through personal and scholarly involvement.

The exhibit is on view through fall 2022 at the MD Anderson Library first floor. The collection is currently being processed. Visitors who wish to view the collection may schedule an appointment with Christian Kelleher, head of Special Collections.

By on May 23rd, 2022 in Announcements, Exhibits, Featured