UH Libraries News

REACH Scholar Curates Zindler Exhibit

A student-curated exhibit at University of Houston Libraries features the humanitarian legacy of memorable Houston news personality Marvin Zindler (1921 – 2007).

Undated photo of Marvin Zindler with members of Marvin's Angels

Undated photo of Marvin Zindler with members of Marvin’s Angels

Marvin’s Angels: A Beacon of Hope in Houston and Beyond was curated by Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities (REACH) scholar Ryan Banda as a visual component of her immersive research project. “This has been a very rewarding experience as it helped to elevate my understanding of what it’s like to work in the archives and the necessary research that goes into curation work,” Banda said.

UH Libraries Special Collections acquired the Marvin Zindler Papers in 2021. Mentored by archivist Vince Lee, Banda discovered objects and files pertaining to Zindler’s storied career in broadcasting by exploring boxes of primary source materials in the archives.

“Prior to working with Special Collections, I had no preconceptions about Marvin Zindler,” Banda said. “I had the opportunity to not only learn about Zindler but to recognize emerging themes that I would want to research.”

One notable theme highlights Zindler’s work through Marvin’s Angels, a group of local business owners and community members who generously provided free aid and specialized services to individuals in pressing need. The efforts of the group reached a global scale. Banda chose to investigate this theme and selected primary source materials providing context and description in support of her research idea. “Archival documents allow the voices of particular individuals and organizations to be recognized within history,” said Banda.

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 humanities projects and allows them to develop research skills through first-hand scholarly inquiry and through participation in OURMA research programming. Banda was one of the REACH participants who presented her findings at Undergraduate Research Day in April 2024.

Banda, an anthropology major, offers this advice to undergrads interested in humanities research: “Have fun with it! Learning about history through primary source materials further connects the researcher and their topic of research, making the work more personalized in a way. [Accessing] history through digital databases and from the work of others is fascinating in itself but getting to handle and utilize physical primary documents is a whole different experience. I recommend everyone give it a try.”

Marvin’s Angels is on display at MD Anderson Library floor one.

UH Special Collections at “Old, Weird Houston”

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections archivists attended the recent Old, Weird Houston: A Celebration of Our City’s Hidden Histories event to display iconic, regional primary source materials with an unconventional flair. Hosted by Orange Show Center for Visionary Art in collaboration with Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) and UH Center for Public History, Old, Weird Houston is “a local alternative history fair and symposium that preserves, interprets, and shares the hidden histories of unusual and creative people, institutions, and events that have made our city one of the most diverse and livable in the country.” The event brought together history scholars and enthusiasts in an accessible and engaging format.

UH Special Collections hosted a display at "Old, Weird Houston."

UH Special Collections hosted a display at “Old, Weird Houston.”

The display reflected the work of archivist Katy Allred, who created hand-drawn signs for the table and helped plan and organize the selections, particularly The Art Guys Records. Other materials represented Houston Gorilla Girls Records, Marvin Zindler Papers, Ima Hogg Symphony Programs Collection, and Texas Music Collection. Attendees experienced distinctively Houston-esque items such as a “Slime in the Ice Machine” t-shirt, a vintage photo of Ima Hogg on a horse-drawn float at a No-Tsu-Oh parade, and mail art sent in the 77008. Photos and ephemera related to the Axiom, the epicenter of Houston’s late 80s, early 90s underground music scene, were included, part of the Julie Grob Axiom Records. (Grob is an archivist and coordinator for instruction at UH Special Collections, and was Axiom’s booking agent and publicist).

These and other items of historical and local significance are available for viewing and research at UH Special Collections. Visiting UH Special Collections

Exhibition Featuring Margo Grant Walsh Opens in March

An exhibition featuring the archives of Margo Grant Walsh will be on display at MD Anderson Library starting in March through June 2024.

Exhibition featuring archives of Margo Grant Walsh

Exhibition featuring archives of Margo Grant Walsh

Margo Grant Walsh began her career as an interior architect at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in the 1960s. She joined Gensler in 1973 and began her tenure there with downtown Houston’s Pennzoil Place. She was a top executive at Gensler for over 30 years with global clients like Christie’s, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and prominent law firms. Walsh retired in 2004 and turned her focus to collecting and exhibiting 20th-century silver and metalwork, which she continues to this day.

Walsh’s archives are preserved and made accessible at University of Houston Libraries Special Collections in partnership with Hines College of Architecture and Design. For information, contact Katy Allred.

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 and floors 2 and 3. The Banner Project, created by Houston activists Sara Fernandez, JD Doyle, and Kirk Baxter, is a pop-up exhibit featuring pivotal moments in Houston’s LGBT history from the 1930s to present day.

2023 marks the seventh year that UH Libraries has partnered with the creators to host the banners, sparking discussion, reflection, and engagement with the LGBT History Research Collection. The banners will remain on display through October in honor of LGBT History Month and American Archives Month. While The Banner Project comprises 50 banners highlighting individuals, organizations, and events in Houston’s LGBTQ community history, 26 were selected for the pop-up exhibit.

Many archives and publications preserved in UH Libraries Special Collections serve as primary sources for the subjects of the banners and the teaching, learning, research, and programming they inspire. UH collections represented in the banners include Royal Dixon and Chester Snowden, The Diana Foundation, This Week In Texas magazine, former Harris County comptroller Gary Van Ooteghem and the Log Cabin Republicans, Town Meeting I, Lesbians Over Age Fifty (LOAF), Houston mayor Annise Parker, and others.

“Agents of Change” Exhibit Honors UH Activists and Advocates

In 2027, University of Houston will celebrate its centennial. As this auspicious milestone nears, students, alumni, faculty, staff, and supporters are working together to honor the University’s rich history as a mission-driven institution shaped by forward-thinking stakeholders. An exhibit at MD Anderson Library, opening in September 2023, will feature pivotal points from 100 years of distinction.

Agents of Change: Celebrating Innovation at the UH Centennial will open in September 2023 at MD Anderson Library.

Agents of Change: Celebrating Innovation at the UH Centennial” will open in September 2023 at MD Anderson Library.

Agents of Change: Celebrating Innovation at the UH Centennial is part of a three-year storytelling collaboration between UH Center for Public History, UH Libraries, and Houston Public Media. The 100 Years of Stories project was made possible through a gift from Carey C. Shuart, a Houstonian and supporter of art, education, and women’s causes throughout the region.

The Carey C. Shuart Women’s Research Collection at UH Special Collections contains the records of women’s organizations and the papers of Texas women.

The exhibit is the culmination of a partnership aiming to engage UH students in collecting, sharing, and preserving notable narratives of UH and its people.

Read university archivist Mary Manning’s article about the making of the exhibit and storytelling project at Houston History.

In 1927, Houstonians were eager for higher education that fit the lifestyle of working adults and served the needs of a growing city. Emboldened by a spirit of innovation, students, faculty, and members of the community shaped University of Houston into the trailblazing institution it is today. Over almost 100 years, these agents of change have led UH on its journey from a junior college to a major, urban research university. Along the way, they expanded access to higher education and increased diversity, brought innovative approaches to learning, and created an institution that has had a strong impact on both local and global communities.

Jesus Sanchez, a graduate student in history, was one of the scholars to work on the 100 Years project which included exhibit planning and design, archival research and selection, and metadata writing. In organizing and cataloging historical documents, photos, and artifacts that connected with Agents of Change, Sanchez discovered prevailing themes in the primary source materials.

“University of Houston is a college for the people of Houston, regardless of race, gender, wealth, or religion,” Sanchez noted. “I saw how students impacted UH, and how they became influential figures, like Maria Jimenez, who worked tirelessly to help vulnerable communities decades after her years as an activist at UH during the 1970s.”

The project gave Sanchez, who wants to become a historian, practical insights. “I had no experience, and learning more about the field and seeking guidance from experts in archival work was very helpful,” he said.

Cady Hammer also worked on the project as a student curator during her first semester at UH.

“I was excited when I got the syllabus and saw that we would be formulating the concept and major elements of the 100 Years of Stories exhibit,” Hammer said. “This was the first direct interaction I had with exhibit development, which is something I would love to do in my career.”

The overarching concept that guided the exhibit, the “big idea,” was categorized into three UH eras: its founding, expansion, and contemporary community impact.

“My classmates and I found that this concept worked best for incorporating key stories that the Center for Public History wanted to represent in the exhibit,” Hammer noted. Class members selected items that would fit with the focus of each era and wrote descriptions. The impact of activism and advocacy at UH was a significant theme that emerged from the archives. “So many of the biggest changes at UH were student-driven,” Hammer said. These improvements “signified the power of young people banding together to accomplish an important goal.”

Archives curation offers interesting contextual lines of inquiry. Hammer offers this advice to other students: “Learn how to read between the lines. No matter what you’re researching, there are at least two stories to every document. The first one is the story on the page. You can pull facts, people, and events from it easily. The second is the story hidden in the details of the document and how they connect to other materials. Some of the most important points of a document are the voices that have been left out of the narrative.”

Alec Story noted that talking to librarians and archivists who curate the collections at UH Special Collections is a good first step when working with primary source materials. “Going into your research with a strong line of inquiry and a curious mind will help uncover truly incredible documents,” he said. “As we worked on this project it became clear that University of Houston has an unpretentious and humble legacy. UH challenges the notion of what a university is supposed to look like.”

Agents of Change will be on display at MD Anderson Library from September 2023 through May 2024. The opening will accompany the launch of the fall 2023 issue of Houston History, published by the Center for Public History. The exhibit is being produced collaboratively between UH Libraries Special Collections, UH Libraries Preservation and Reformatting, and UH Center for Public History.

New Exhibit Features LGBT History Research Collection

A new exhibit is now on display at University of Houston Libraries Special Collections.

The Hollyfield Foundation Pride Exhibit for the LGBT History Research

The Hollyfield Foundation Pride Exhibit for the LGBT History Research

Curators and student Daf Meza Flores selected primary source materials for The Hollyfield Foundation Pride Exhibit for the LGBT History Research Collection, which asks viewers to consider the impact of families on the lives of LGBTQ+ people in historical and contemporary contexts. 

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.

Visitors may view the exhibit on the second floor of MD Anderson Library through June.

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.”