UH Libraries News

New Endowment Supports LGBT History Research Collection

University of Houston Libraries is pleased to announce the establishment of a new endowment to support the LGBT History Research Collection.

The Hollyfield Foundation Endowment will provide funding for the acquisition and preservation of primary source materials in the LGBT History Research Collection, one of 13 collecting areas in UH Libraries Special Collections. The 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.

“Jay Hollyfield deeply loved Houston and our LGBT community and history,” said Elizabeth McLane, Hollyfield Foundation board president. “The Hollyfield Foundation Board of Directors is thrilled that his name will now be linked perpetually to one of the nation’s most extensive and exceptional LGBT history collections.”

In recognition of this grant, UH Libraries will establish an annual exhibition of materials from the LGBT History Research Collection, to be held at MD Anderson Library during June each year as part of Pride Month.

Marilyn Myers, interim dean of UH Libraries, said the endowment supports the Libraries’ mission to preserve and provide access to unique primary sources for teaching, learning, research, and scholarship. “This endowment will allow UH Libraries to expand the LGBT History Research Collection and increase engagement with students and scholars,” Myers said. “With this gift, we’ll be able to make accessible a rich collection of primary source materials to those seeking an understanding of the history and legacy of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender communities.” 

Texas Art Project: Digitized Microfilmed Archives

Thanks to a Texas State Library and Archives Commission TexTreasures grant funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), over 100 reels of microfilmed archives documenting women and underrepresented communities in Texas visual arts will be digitized and made accessible online.

The Texas Art Project is an extensive collection of visual arts history preserved at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) library. Between 1978 and 1985, MFAH contacted artists, galleries, and arts organizations across Texas to document unique manuscript papers and research materials on microfilm, as part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art (AAA). The project yielded nearly 700 reels, a subset of which featured materials from women artists, artists of color, and galleries that hosted them. This subset is the focus of the TexTreasures grant which allowed University of Houston Libraries Special Collections and MFAH to collaborate on the digitization of approximately 150,000 images, previously available only in a limited, localized capacity in microfilm at MFAH. Digitized images of materials such as correspondence, exhibition catalogs, reviews, and publications will become openly available online with multiple points of access, thereby facilitating scholarship and research using unique primary sources.

Portrait of Dorothy Hood in the studio (1977) | Martha Armstrong | Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives

Portrait of Dorothy Hood in the studio (1977) | Martha Armstrong | Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives

“When these materials were gathered on microfilm at the MFAH as part of the AAA, it was a tremendous gift as far as preservation,” said Marie Wise, managing archivist at MFAH. “We are so fortunate that these rich materials were preserved as they were. In digitizing them and creating searchable metadata, we are now making them accessible to a far broader audience. In this way, scholars and students can uncover this amazing history.”

View MFAH introductory exhibit of the Texas Art Project | View list of Texas Art Project collections

Contributions from women artists and artists of color are underrepresented in scholarship and public awareness, making this project particularly relevant in today’s social climate. “The goal of the digitization project is to provide a resource for scholars, students, and teachers to be able to engage with the lives and work of these artists,” said Christian Kelleher, head of UH Special Collections. “We want to boost awareness and appreciation for that work. We want to see that students are educated on archival research and critical inquiry, and that scholars are able to produce new knowledge based on unique primary sources preserved here.”

Wise noted that the project is about expanding accessibility through institutional partnerships. “By working together, we can make the collective art history resources in Houston and in Texas more discoverable,” Wise said. “The stories that are held in our respective archives are interwoven, and we all want the fullest historical picture possible preserved and studied. The MFAH is very glad to be a partner in this project.”

"Artists try cooperative gallery" | Mary McIntyre [Mary Myart Malott], Austin American-Statesman, 17 April 1977 | Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives

Artists try cooperative gallery (1977) | Mary McIntyre [Mary Myart Malott], Austin American-Statesman | Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives

An important part of the project involves the support of student success. Two graduate students in arts-related fields were hired to assist in indexing and cataloging the collection, research each artist, and contact each artist.

Lysette Portano, a professional contemporary dancer and one of the project’s graduate assistants, is enrolled in the MA in Arts Leadership program in the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts at UH. “As an interpreter, I have always been curious about artists’ creative processes,” Portano said. “This drive has led me to research and experience different art forms. I became interested in this project because it uncovers artists that reshaped the Texas art scene and preserves the legacies of their contributions to the arts.”

Carolann Madden, a PhD candidate in literature and creative writing at UH, was drawn to the project for similar research interests in folklore and ethnography. “It’s important for us to understand “archives” as places, both physical and digital, where we can find a wide array of material,” Madden said. “The material on the reels is incredibly valuable and exciting, and should be shared. While this project was proposed and started before the pandemic, watching our archives and libraries close around the world served as a meaningful reminder that digitization not only helps preserve material in our archives, but also offers access to it wherever we are.”

TexTreasures is a yearly competitive grant program of TexShare, a consortium of Texas libraries joining together to share print and electronic materials, purchase online resources, and combine staff expertise. TexShare is administered by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).

The TexTreasures awards are made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to TSLAC under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. The mission of IMLS is to advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development.

Students Discover Bauer History Through Digital Humanities Project

Students from the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston conducted a digital humanities project using primary documents preserved in UH Libraries Special Collections University Archives.

The Bauer History Project, which was sponsored by the UH Libraries Digital Research Commons, involved the capture, cataloging, processing, and analysis of historical College of Business Administration/Bauer College materials. Students of senior professor of practice Emese Felvégi worked in small teams to produce a digital database using physical objects, processing a total of 147 items and creating 596 unique scans in the first phase of the project.

Project managers Esther Adaramola, Uzma Masood, and Sorosh Malekzad

Project managers Esther Adaramola, Uzma Masood, and Sorosh Malekzad

Esther Adaramola, whose major is management information systems, was one of the project managers. Her role involved scheduling days to file and process the archives. She and fellow project managers collaborated to determine a digital tagging system for the archives that were photographed, and oversaw the capturing, processing, analyzing, and tagging phases.

Flexibility and collaboration were key to the success of the project. “Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 took us by surprise and made us rethink how to proceed,” Adaramola said. “Thankfully, I work with amazing people who were willing to hop on many video calls to strategize how we could continue to make progress. Things worked out well since we all understood the potential benefits associated with completing this project on time. I think what made this project extra special to me was that my coworkers and I were genuinely excited about working on it and sharing our findings.”

Project manager Sorosh Malekzad, also majoring in management information systems, said the important aspects of the project involved planning and adapting to obstacles. “We were prepared for the process by attending a training with university archivist Mary Manning and reading articles recommended by director of digital humanities services Dr. Claude Willan and Dr. Felvégi,” Malekzad said. “We enhanced and picked up new skills along the way. I learned how to batch rename images on my own and created a short video to show others my findings—this is a process that automated a tedious manual process and saved us a lot of time.”

The students presented their project to Felvégi, Willan, and Manning. “I was very impressed with the work the students have done—especially as their worlds have been turned upside down,” Manning said. “The project is an excellent example of how students learned, found meaning in, and excelled at their work during COVID-19.” 

Uzma Masood, whose major is accounting, was also one of the project managers. “I had the honor of working with Dr. Felvégi in past semesters,” Masood said. “In spring 2020 she introduced the research of Bauer history from UH Libraries and I jumped at the opportunity.”

Masood said the project was significant to uncovering Bauer’s hidden stories. “Our work in Special Collections is significant to not only creating an online database but also bringing to light the past of our business college. We only flourish and become the powerhouse that we are today because we learn from our past, we know our history and we understand where we hail from.”

Screenshot from the Bauer History Project presentation

Screenshot from the Bauer History Project presentation

“The students performed a never-before-completed experiential learning task with our historical records and also provided a service to our college,” said Felvégi, who is part of the Bauer College of Business Department of Decision and Information Sciences. “Once the collection has been processed in full, we will be able to look at changes in materials released by our college from the late 1940s and on and examine how majors, programs, and our campus have evolved.”

The significance of the project was heightened in part by the demands of the pandemic. “The project was a success as an academic project but has also been a success on some level by providing a purpose outside of their quarantine spaces,” Felvégi said. “Having set meeting times and objectives required students to stay connected. For many, this connection may have given a sense of normalcy during an otherwise challenging time.”

“I personally learned a lot while working on this project,” Malekzad said. “It was something I enjoyed doing and I am excited to take it further to the next step.”

The project contributes to UH Special Collections’ mission of making it easier for stakeholders to access archives.

“Our work in Special Collections plays a role in bringing Bauer’s history to life,” Adaramola said. “By shining a spotlight on these historical archives, we can measure how far Bauer has come in terms of curriculum. Being able to contextualize Bauer’s historical timeline is a great benefit not just for the college but also students and visitors. The archives tell a story about some of the roots that helped grow Bauer into the leading-edge and student-centered educational powerhouse it is today.”

University Archives: UH Students Respond to COVID-19

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections seeks stories and perspectives from UH students pertaining to the coronavirus outbreak.

It is important that the experiences of UH students during this challenging time are recorded and preserved in the University Archives. UH students are encouraged to share their stories of this unique moment in history through journals and oral histories, and also through creative works such as drawings, songs, and monologues.

For more information and to submit your stories online, visit UH Students! Share Your Experience of the Coronavirus Outbreak.

Student-Curated Harlem Renaissance Exhibition

Elijah Caldwell

Elijah Caldwell

A student-curated exhibition is now on display at University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.

Blacker than a Thousand Midnights: Picturing the Black Spirit in Harlem Renaissance Graphic Arts was curated by students in last semester’s class, Art History 4394-6394 The Harlem Renaissance, taught by Dr. Caroline Goeser. The exhibition includes books of the Harlem Renaissance from Special Collections’ Rare Books Collections and artwork by student Elijah Caldwell.

The exhibition will run through Friday, March 27. A related exhibition will open at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Hirsch Library as Echoes of Harlem: The Graphic Work of Aaron Douglas, March 10 – June 27.

New Exhibit: TX Women, Music, and Feminism

Celebrating the independent spirit and expression of Texas women, musicians, and feminists, the archives in the exhibit complement the November 18 TX Women in Rock panel, which is part of the Barbara Karkabi Living Archives Series.

TX Women, Music, and Feminism

TX Women, Music, and Feminism

One case features items donated to UH Special Collections from Mydolls (1978-present), a women-led, post-punk band from Houston, Texas. Other materials include second-wave and anarcha-feminist publications from the 1970s, originally exhibited at UH Libraries by collection donor Nancy Agin Dunnahoe of Wild Dog Archive.

The exhibit will be on display for a limited time on the second floor of MD Anderson Library near Special Collections.

Dean’s Fall Luncheon

University of Houston Libraries hosted the Dean’s Fall Luncheon this month at the MD Anderson Library Elizabeth D. Rockwell Pavilion, celebrating the philanthropy of UH Libraries’ friends and supporters.

Dean of Libraries Lisa German with Joe Duff of TPC Group

Dean of Libraries Lisa German with Joe Duff of TPC Group

Archivists from UH Special Collections displayed selected materials from various collecting areas.

View photos from the luncheon.

TPC Group Donates Historical Archives to UH Special Collections

University of Houston Libraries is pleased to announce the receipt of historical archives from TPC Group. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, TPC Group is a leading producer of value-added petrochemical products for chemical, plastics, refining, synthetic rubber and other major industries. It has manufacturing facilities in Houston and Port Neches, Texas, and operates a product terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Petro-Tex Chemical Corporation Panel Truck, 1957

Petro-Tex Chemical Corporation Panel Truck, 1957

The archives, which include publications, photographs, administrative and business records, architectural and technical drawings, films, and press materials, will be preserved and made accessible to the public, as part of the UH Special Collections Energy & Sustainability Research Collection. The Energy & Sustainability Research Collection at the University of Houston Libraries documents Houston’s place as the global capital of the energy industry that continues to shape the city’s and the world’s technologies, economies, politics, environments, and cultures. Collections support a core university priority for research, teaching, and learning, and uniquely preserve the documentary history of exploration, innovation, development, and growth in oil and gas, alternative energies, and the environment.

In 2019, TPC Group marked 75 years of operation. Sara Cronin, vice president of communications and public affairs at TPC Group, noted the company’s propitious trajectory since its inception.

“Originally built by the United States Government during World War II as part of the Synthetic Rubber Program, our manufacturing facilities played a significant role during that time in our nation’s history,” Cronin said. “In 1944, the United States Government sought alternatives to the natural rubber supply in Asia that our country could no longer access. Innovative thinkers collaborated and gained strength from one another to develop and manufacture synthetic rubber and needed raw materials, including specification 1,3 butadiene. This noteworthy beginning for what is now TPC Group not only helped the United States win the war but has had a profound impact on how we now live our daily lives.”

Petro-Tex Chemical Corporation Librarian Leona Drouet, 1955

Petro-Tex Chemical Corporation Librarian Leona Drouet, 1955

Christian Kelleher, head of UH Libraries Special Collections and curator of the Energy & Sustainability Research Collection, said, “The TPC Group Historical Archives make available to UH faculty, students, visiting scholars, and our local community unique, primary source documentation of Houston’s petrochemical industrial history. Researchers in the archives will be able to discover new, historical insights about our region’s significance to American engagement in World War II, how scientific and technological advancements have both motivated and responded to their industry and business contexts, and how society’s many different concepts and ideals of sustainability in our local and global communities have evolved over the company’s 75 years.”

TPC Group was inspired to donate its archives to UH Special Collections as part of its commitment to corporate citizenship, investment and engagement in the Houston and Port Neches communities. The company’s history and culture of partnership, support, and transparency comprise the themes that emerge from the archive.

“Beyond the products TPC Group makes is the commitment to do so in a manner that is protective of our environment, community and nearby neighbors,” Cronin said. “Entrusting the preservation and documentation of the Company’s history with UH Libraries Special Collections will ensure the elements of our Company’s culture underscore how TPC Group’s story will be told, highlighting its role in the petrochemical industry and the value of its products to society for many generations to come.”

J.W. Morris, 1957

J.W. Morris, 1957

“We are very pleased to receive the historical archive of the TPC Group,” said dean of UH Libraries Lisa German. “We appreciate the trust that TPC is placing in UH Libraries to preserve and make their archives accessible to scholars seeking an understanding of the history of innovation and development of the energy industry in Houston and the Port Neches community.”

The collection is currently being processed. For questions about materials in this collection or to request access, contact Christian Kelleher.

AMST Donates Hood-Velasco Maidana Papers to UH Special Collections

Dorothy Hood

University of Houston Libraries is pleased to announce receipt of the personal papers of noted Houston artist Dorothy Hood and her husband, José María Velasco Maidana from the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST). Located in Corpus Christi and affiliated with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, AMST advances the awareness, knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of the visual arts for the residents and visitors of South Texas. The archives will be cataloged, preserved, digitized, and made available to students, scholars, and the public through UH Special Collections.

Hood (1918 – 2000) was a Texas painter best known for her Modernist works. Velasco Maidana (1899-1989), was a Bolivian composer and filmmaker. Donated materials include personal papers, correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, journals, catalogs, artifacts, audio/video recordings, and ephemera documenting the lives and careers of the two artists. AMST acquired a major collection of Hood’s works in 2001, along with the personal papers of Hood and Velasco Maidana.

Christian Kelleher, head of Special Collections, noted, “UH Libraries is excited to join in the efforts of AMST and other leaders in the arts community to preserve and promote the international legacies of Dorothy Hood and Velasco Maidana. These archives are unique primary source documentation of two remarkable, creative people, and will provide new insights into their works, careers, and lives.”

Sara Morgan, interim director of AMST, reflected on the significance of Hood’s contributions to the arts. “Dorothy Hood was a Texas artist who lived an exploratory life that took her from her birth city of Bryan, Texas, to Houston, Providence, Rhode Island, New York City, Mexico City and eventually back to Texas where she resettled in Houston,” Morgan said. “Her work, much like her life, abandoned conventionality and explored big themes such as space, presence, spirituality, emotion and color. Hood was considered the sole female representative of the artist pack that commanded Houston’s art scene in the 1960s and 1970s. We feel it is fitting that her treasury of papers return to the city that embraced her art and her talent.”

The Dorothy Hood Papers and the José María Velasco Maidana Papers will be cataloged as Collections of the Art Museum of South Texas and the University of Houston Libraries. “AMST is pleased to partner with UH Libraries on the Dorothy Hood Papers,” Morgan said. “This collaboration will provide an opportunity for Hood’s archival materials to be fully examined, leading to a greater understanding of the artist, modernist, teacher and woman over her prolific career. Accessible information will provide expanded research opportunities and will ultimately further the recognition of Hood’s art.”

Dorothy Hood, Subterranean Illuminations (1982)

Dorothy Hood, Subterranean Illuminations (1982)

“University of Houston Libraries is honored to receive the Dorothy Hood Papers and José María Velasco Maidana Papers,” said dean of UH Libraries Lisa German. “Telling Dorothy Hood’s story will be a privilege and we are very grateful to the Art Museum of South Texas, its Board and interim director, and to its former director Joe Schenk for making this possible.”

Related: Public Art of University of Houston System Celebrates Art of Dorothy Hood, Trendsetting Texas Artist

The McClain Gallery in Houston will host a solo exhibition featuring paintings, drawings and collages of Dorothy Hood from October 12 through December 21, 2019. A selection of documents from the archives will also be on display. The opening reception will be held on October 12 from 2 – 4 p.m.

Related: ­­­McClain Gallery Announces Representation of Dorothy Hood

The collection is currently being processed. For questions about materials in this collection or to request access, contact Christian Kelleher.

Banner Project Returns to UH Libraries

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

The Banner Project at UH Libraries

The Banner Project at UH Libraries

2019 marks the fourth year that UH Libraries has partnered with Fernandez to host the banners. Three new additions include Marvin Davis & Don Gill: Fundraising for the Aids Community (1987), Juan Palomo: Bridging Communities (1990), and Maria Gonzalez: Scholar Activist (1991), bringing the total banner count to 46.

“We are hoping that the visuals from the banners will generate discussion, reflection, and awareness across campus and in the community,” said Vince Lee, UH Special Collections archivist.

The Banner Project will be on display in conjunction with October 11, which is National Coming Out Day, and will remain through the end of the month. Staff from Special Collections and representatives from the Banner Project will be available with information on the LGBT History Research Collection, as well as resources from the UH LGBTQ Resource Center, on October 11 from 11 a.m to 5 p.m. in the MD Anderson Library atrium.