A student-curated exhibit featuring archival materials related to the Houston GLBT Political Caucus is on display at the MD Anderson Library.
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.
The Honorable Vanessa Gilmore retired January 2, 2022, after serving 27 years as a federal judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
Now, embarking on a life after law, Gilmore has gifted her papers to University of Houston Libraries Special Collections. Selections from the newly acquisitioned collection were on display at the 25th Annual Table Talk Luncheon.
Gilmore’s 1994 nomination by President Clinton made her the youngest sitting federal judge to be appointed at the time. During her tenure, Judge Gilmore presided over the inaugural ceremonies of Houston mayors and elected officials, the Enron Broadband scandal, and the case of a man wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, among many others. As a practicing attorney in Houston, she served as a board member on the Community Development Corporation (CDC) along with Reverend Bill Lawson and Bishop Joseph Fiorenza in the neighborhood recovery of Third Ward, and on a number of other civic and charitable organizations. She has also served as chairperson of Texans for NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), and worked closely with diplomatic leaders, including the President of Mexico, to increase US trade opportunities. In 1991 she was appointed by Governor Ann Richards to the Texas Department of Commerce Policy Board which was responsible for increasing business, tourism, and job training development in Texas. She served there as chairperson from 1992 to 1994 and was the first African American to serve on this board.
Her collection contains scrapbooks, correspondence, photographs, speeches, and news clippings that document a distinguished legal and judicial career. As they examined the contents of the boxes holding records of Gilmore’s professional life, Vince Lee, archivist of the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Research Collection, and graduate assistant Polina Kharmats, shared how they produced the mobile exhibit for the Table Talk event.
“We look for visually impactful items that encapsulate her career,” Lee said. “We want to show milestones and distinctions of her trailblazing role. She was one of the first women of color as a federal judge, and she was the first UH Law Center graduate to be nominated for the federal bench.”
The accessioning process included a conversation with Gilmore, in which the archivists asked her to go through the materials and talk about her history. It’s an activity that sparks memories for the donor and surfaces stories and themes which provide a narrative arc of Gilmore’s career, informing a categorization of the materials that makes sense for discovery and research.
Gilmore was connected to UH Special Collections by Elizabeth Gregory, UH professor of English and director of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program. Gilmore is a part of the UH Friends of Women’s Studies, which supports WGSS through financial and volunteer efforts. The Table Talk Luncheon is the group’s signature event, benefiting WGSS and the Carey C. Shuart Women’s Research Collection. Ms. Shuart serves as a board member of Friends of Women’s Studies, with which UH Libraries has enjoyed a long-standing partnership, as the archives in the Shuart Women’s Research Collection play a significant role in supporting their activities. Athena Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair, was a 2022 Table Talk conversationalist.
Gilmore’s papers are currently being processed. For more information, contact Vince Lee.
The University of Houston Libraries Bayou City Digital Asset Management Systems (BCDAMS) team is pleased to announce the full launch of the new UH Digital Collections (UHDC) repository.
UHDC allows users to search rare and unique digitized and born-digital items from UH Libraries collections. With 66 of the Libraries’ 92 digital collections moved to the UHDC and the Audio/Video Repository, the final phase of the UHDC implementation represents a shift away from the previous platform known as the UH Digital Library.
Improvements include navigation, search/browse, and image viewer enhancements; robust options for access and download restrictions; permalinks across access, preservation, and finding aids; and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance for accessibility.
The purpose of the BCDAMS team is to bring a new digital collections experience to all Libraries users by upgrading the previous Digital Library, incorporating digital preservation strategies, and streamlining workflows for digital collection production.
The team stated that “UH Digital Collections supports the UH Strategic Plan goal of nationally competitive research by providing the infrastructure to promote interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research in areas such as energy and sustainability, history, social sciences, and the arts. Digital collections are currently being used in innovative faculty, staff, and student research projects across campus, and we look forward to engaging further with digital humanities and data science researchers through the improvements provided by the new system.”
Christian Kelleher, head of University of Houston Libraries Special Collections, has been awarded the Emily Scott Evans Endowed Library Professorship, effective November 1. The appointment enables UH Libraries to further develop impactful collections that support core University priorities for research, teaching, and learning.
The Emily Scott Evans Endowed Library Professorship was established in 2002 by Ms. Evans’ daughter, Alice Evans Pratt. Emily Scott Evans was a longtime friend of UH Special Collections, and the Evans Professorship was created specifically to support an Endowed Library Professor in the department.
As part of his role, Kelleher also curates the Libraries’ primary source collections in Visual Arts and Energy and Sustainability. Kelleher came to UH in 2015 from the University of Texas at Austin where he was the archivist and assistant head librarian at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection and managed UT Libraries’ Human Rights Documentation Initiative. He holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree and a Master of Arts degree in Journalism from UT. Previously, Kelleher was an archivist and records manager with History Associates Incorporated in Rockville, MD, a development assistant with literary publisher Graywolf Press in Minneapolis, MN, and a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Guinea, West Africa. He currently serves on the boards of CASETA, the Center for Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art, and of the Petroleum History Institute. His research interests include community archives post-custodial archives practice, and the intersections thereof.
“Christian personifies excellence in scholarship, service, and collaboration,” said Athena Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “His leadership propels UH Special Collections forward in its mission to preserve and make accessible unique materials for research, and he continues to expand collections that have generative, profound implications for UH Libraries and the scholarly community.”
Artworks and archives of prominent Houston artist Dorothy Hood are on display at University of Houston Libraries Special Collections in an exhibit organized by Public Art of the University of Houston System in collaboration with the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST) and UH Libraries.
From the Public Art of UH website: “As an artist, Texas-born Dorothy Hood (1918-2000) was best known for abstract works layered with a variety of materials, motifs and meanings. During her long career, her canvases and works on paper often referenced physical and mental landscapes as well as the connections between inner and outer worlds. Hood’s work was liminal, seamlessly moving between big concepts and the deeply personal.”
Visitors interested in an immersive look at Hood’s personal archives are encouraged to contact head of Special Collections Christian Kelleher.
A screening of Laurie MacDonald’s 2001 film Eyeopeners along with her rarely-seen documentary of the 1986 New Music America (NMA) Festival in Houston will be shown in the back patio of Brasil Café: 2604 Dunlavy St. Houston, TX 77098 on October 20 at 7 pm.
The event is part of a collaboration between University of Houston Libraries Special Collections and The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art. The exhibit UNREAL ESTATES: Houston’s Visionary Art Environments will be open to the public at the Flatland Gallery (next door to Brasil Café) during the event.
The documentary is part of the New Music America Collection in the Performing and Visual Arts Research Collection at UH Special Collections.
The 1986 New Music America Festival, which gave rise to the Houston Art Car Parade, comprises a large part of the collection. Donated by the late Michael Galbreth of The Art Guys, the collection features correspondence, posters, programs, photos, and artwork documenting NMA, a peripatetic festival of experimental music. The festival was, at that time, the largest new music celebration in the world. Its origin was New York City, and in subsequent years, the festival traveled to major cities across the US, landing in Houston in 1986.
Mary Manning, university archivist and curator of the Performing Arts Research Collection, will exhibit items from the NMA collection at the Orange Show event.
University of Houston Libraries Special Collections is pleased to announce the acquisition of the Marvin Zindler Papers.
The collection preserves and celebrates the legacy of the distinguished KTRK-TV investigative reporter through photos, correspondence, news clippings, publicity and press release materials, personal notes, sketches, awards, complaint letters, story scripts, reporter notebooks, research files, AV materials, two eye-opening biographies, artifacts (including his baton), and ephemera.
Marvin Harold Zindler (August 10, 1921 – July 29, 2007), the famously colorful Houston TV personality, was both admired and criticized for his grandiose style. A larger-than-life figure who consistently reinvented himself through the years, Zindler has also been a prizefighter, a deputy sheriff, in his family’s clothing business, in politics, and on the radio. His news stories captured the attention of Houstonians for decades, and he was known for solving a wide range of problems on the behalf of the public. Viewers would write to Zindler with various, sometimes odd, concerns, such as the toddler’s talking toy that shocked one Houston mom with profanity. It was his penchant for covering controversial, unusual topics that made him a household name, like the infamous Chicken Ranch saga which garnered national attention; and later, the weekly, offbeat Rat and Roach Report.
Much more than simply a consumer crusader, Zindler was influential in improving the lives of the elderly and those in urgent financial need, and was honored for his charitable work both domestic and internationally.
Visitors to the Marvin Zindler Papers will find an abundance of primary sources that reveal a deep, storied view of his personal and professional life.
“I have been treasuring many varied items in my possession and all the special memories associated with them, but ultimately decided to share Marvin Zindler‘s life-changing impact upon everyone he touched,” said Lori Reingold, Zindler’s long-time producer. “I want Houstonians to remember that Marvin was one of the people who shaped this city, and that he fought for what was right and what he believed in, gave voice to the voiceless, and was fearless in his pursuit of truth and justice.”
Zindler’s son Dan Zindler and partner Lori Freese were inspired by Reingold to bring the reporter’s archives to UH Special Collections. “Ms. Reingold produced Marvin’s stories and now she’s producing his archives and legacy to be properly preserved and shared,” said Dan Zindler. “It was an honor to be his son and an incredible honor to share his memory with everyone.”
The collection is currently being processed. For questions about materials in this collection or to request access, contact Vince Lee.
Alexander Rodriguez has a summer internship at the University of Houston Archives, funded by the University of Chicago through a merit scholarship. Rodriguez is working with three extensive audiovisual collections, Marketing and Communications, Special Events, and Development, which contain highly requested material and document important campus people and events. The project will significantly enhance the discoverability of these resources. Rodriguez is a fourth-year student at the University of Chicago, pursuing a major of political science focusing on international affairs and a minor in French.
What inspires your interest in working with archives?
This year, I started work on my undergraduate thesis about decolonization. In essence, I’m asking how and why France still maintains a substantial empire around the globe, even though history presents independence as something realized and done for the formerly colonized world. One aspect of my approach to answering that is to not take for granted the motivations and considerations of the two relevant actors, the French and the territorial residents. To evaluate those motivations, my task is to decode what their goals were, what information they were looking at, and what factors they found important. This kind of research necessitates the records and documents from the critical period, which can best be found in archives. As preparation for this research, I wanted to get more first-hand experience with archives, especially on the internal side. I knew I would be coming home to Houston for the summer, so I reached out to Special Collections about working with them, and the opportunity came together from there.
Please describe the tasks involved in your archival work.
My focus here has been stewarding a new acquisition of archival materials from UH Communications and Marketing. The items mostly originate from the turn of the millennium and include a variety of videocassettes, audiotapes, and newsletters. Over the past weeks, I have worked on cataloging and organizing the material. From sifting through the items, I have been gleaning information about individual artifacts and the set as a whole, which can be turned into description information useful for researchers hoping to tap into the collection. Out of the collection, I also select a few for digitization, particularly if they seem fragile or useful to make accessible upfront. Alongside that, I have also been working with collections from Development and Special Events to compare their content to this collection.
What stories/themes do you see emerging from these collections?
One aspect that I’ve noticed is the way the University spotlights its faculty and their work in its outreach initiatives. Many of the commercials and advertisements produced for UH focus on researchers who have advanced their fields while at the University, such as Dr. Paul Chu’s discoveries in superconductivity. Elsewhere, UH professors appear in news segments to discuss their work and share their perspective. The common message for the public is that this work is not only research worth continuing but also knowledge that has an impact on the lives of people outside academia and merits sharing. Through its incorporation with the Marketing materials, it becomes clear how that presentation underlines the importance of the University in supporting and enabling this research, which then encourages the next generation of bright minds to come to UH and join these efforts at the forefront of learning.
What is the significance of making archival collections more accessible?
An archive has to be built with the purpose of being used as a resource for the curious. If holding on to artifacts of the past was the only consideration, we’d do well to encase everything in concrete. These archival collections are a material memory that provides unique perspectives and invites further inquiry. By making them more available, we can encourage researchers to include them into their pursuits, alongside the sort of information they can gain from conventional libraries and websites, which can really only benefit their work. The best research is about going beyond the word of the text and asking questions about the document itself. Why was this created? Why is it in this format? Why is it together with these other items? Part of the point of preservation is to construct that context in a meaningful way, which can help take researchers to a deeper understanding of their subject.
Emily Vinson, audiovisual archivist and curator of the KUHT and KUHF Collections at University of Houston Libraries, is the current recipient of the Rooks Early Career Librarian Fellowship (ECLF). The ECLF endowment was established by former UH Libraries dean Dana Rooks and spouse Charles W. (Mickey) Rooks, PhD to support professional development and research opportunities for UH librarians early in their careers.
Please describe your research.
My central research question was to compare the accuracy of various transcription methods. I had been considering how to make our audiovisual (AV) archival collections more accessible to deaf and hard of hearing users through closed captions. I had imagined that online machine-generated transcripts would be the path forward for making collections accessible.
How did the fellowship facilitate the development of this work?
Without the ECLF funding, I would never have been able to test my assumptions on the accuracy of transcription methods. In the first year of the Fellowship I developed a small research study to compare four methods of transcription, including professional transcriptionist services, artificial intelligence machine-generated services, free “hacks,” and untrained study participants drawn from library student and staff employees. In order to create a study that reflected the types of materials that would be encountered in an archival AV collection, I selected video samples from our collection with a diverse range of recording issues that could affect transcription quality.
The Rooks ECLF provided me with time and space to develop and execute a research study. While this was valuable in its own right, it also had a very positive unanticipated outcome – I was able to draw on what I had learned from the study and tap into the Fellowship funding to launch a project to retain student employees in a remote work project during the COVID-19 campus closure. Along with colleagues in Metadata and Digitization Services, we were able to engage over 25 student employees from across the UH Libraries in the creation of hundreds of hours of high-quality video captions.
What takeaways did you learn from this experience? What advice do you have for other early career librarians?
If you have an idea, give it a shot! I had no experience designing or executing a research study. At UH Libraries, we are fortunate to have many colleagues with expertise to draw on, as well as the wider campus community. I received advice that was integral to creating a well-planned study.
I’ve gained such valuable experience – from navigating the institutional review board process to gaining a deeper appreciation for the vital importance of captions. This experience has also opened the doors to numerous opportunities to present on my research, and I anticipate seeking opportunities to publish on it as well.
Roberto Tejada, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of English and Art History at University of Houston and 2021 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in Poetry, recently donated a limited edition copy of a bookwork to UH Special Collections.
Why the Assembly Disbanded is an artist’s book co-crafted by Tejada and book designer Cristina Paoli of Periferia in Mexico City. “I’ve been fortunate to work with artists and designers on several collaborative projects at different inflection points in my life,” Tejada said, “so I turned to Cristina to work on an object that would reflect the themes of [the forthcoming poetry collection] Why the Assembly Disbanded—primarily, how to think of possible futures from the relentless social madness of the past in the present—with the help of photographs by Connie Samaras and Rubén Ortiz Torres, whose images activate some of the fears and fantasies I confront in the book.”
Only 100 copies were created and gifted to libraries and collecting institutions, an “engineered scarcity” that connotes the motivation to preserve rare cultural artifacts. “It became clear to me as I worked with Cristina that I wanted this artist’s book to underscore the perversity of value in our social-media environment and its economies of attention and scale,” Tejada noted.
The book viewer is greeted with a message to accept the work as an “act of social faith,” a concept that Tejada, as a young poet, first encountered in the pages of Lewis Hyde’s The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property and which left an enduring effect.
“As opposed to economies of accumulation, [Hyde] argues that gifts and gift-giving keep ‘cultural vitality in motion,'” Tejada wrote. “The gift being ‘property that perishes,’ my aim is to emphasize the life-enhancing commitments, the élan vital, in short, the erotics that sustain every act meant to survive us.”
Fonts of inspiration for this work date back to the period from 1987-1997 when Tejada lived and worked in Mexico City. “My friends included the writer Carmen Boullosa, the painter Magali Lara, and the bookmaker Juan Pascoe, all belonging to a generation of artists who turned to mail art and bookworks as legitimate and surreptitious mediums for collaboration,” he said. “Pascoe has produced beautiful letterpress objects at his preeminent Taller Martín Pescador, including a collaboration between Boullosa and Lara (Lealtad, Taller Martín Pescador, 1981). Magali was the first to speak to me of the great Mexican book artist and multimedia thinker Ulises Carrión who in his writings, including The New Art of Making Books, wrote about the book medium as ‘a sequence of spaces. Each of these spaces is perceived at a different moment—a book is also a sequence of moments.’ (UH Special Collections owns a unique object by Carrión, a marvel of an artist’s book called Mirror Box.)”
Other creative work and collaborations of particular significance for Tejada include Chilean writer-artist Juan Luis Martínez and his “uncontainable” book La nueva novela (1971/1977/1985), the collaboration between poet Jayne Cortez and artist Mel Edwards (Festivals and Funerals, Phase Text, 1971) and bookworks by Chicana conceptualist Celia Alvarez Muñoz.
With the widescale challenges of the past year, the project elicited greater meaning. “Working with Cristina on this book, even at the risk of overstatement, saved me from some of the darkest hours of despair in the global catastrophe of the COVID-19 pandemic, continued acts of racial injustice, the forced relocation of peoples, and the encroaching dangers of illiberal rule throughout the world today,” Tejada shared. “In the process of collaboration, I held a space for the uncounted, for both the cruel fortunes and joyful vitality of what my book calls a ‘society of alternate belonging.'”
Partially quoting the book’s preamble, “Why the Assembly Disbanded wonders, from the uncontainable perspective of a present already becoming the past, whose purpose does it serve to wager on the future’s history?”
“Artist’s books like Why the Assembly Disbanded, Mirror Box, or cartoneras and handmade works from Cuba’s Ediciones Vigía—among many housed in Special Collections—engage with text, image, form and format, through an analog, personal interaction with the ‘reader’ for creative and often political expression,” said Christian Kelleher, head of UH Special Collections. “This is artistic, social and cultural critical commentary that can be a unique experience. We are gratified to be able to make works like this available to students and scholars at UH.”
Why the Assembly Disbanded is available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room, located on the second floor of the MD Anderson Library, by appointment. Researchers are encouraged to contact curators with questions and requests.