UH Libraries News

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

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.

NLM Traveling Exhibition Hosted at UH Health Sciences Library

University of Houston Libraries is hosting the National Library of Medicine (NLM) traveling exhibition, Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives/Enfrentando La Violencia: mejorando la vida de las mujeres, from September 25 – December 4 at the Health Sciences Library. 

Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives/Enfrentando La Violencia: mejorando la vida de las mujeres

Confronting Violence: Improving Women’s Lives/Enfrentando La Violencia: mejorando la vida de las mujeres

The NLM Traveling Exhibitions program lends displays to libraries and cultural institutions focusing on history, society, and medicine. Curated from NLM collections, traveling exhibitions highlight historical and contemporary themes in public health and connect viewers to sources of health information scholarship and literacy. 

The Confronting Violence/Enfrentando La Violencia display comprises twelve vertical banners in English and Spanish that highlight the front-line role of nurses in the 1970s to identify victims of domestic violence and meet their needs. Nurses’ efforts to uplift the voices of survivors led to a national movement of empowerment, advocacy, and education on domestic violence, centering the experiences of survivors and leading to a focus on prevention throughout the latter part of the 20th century. 

Nursing researchers and activists at Denison Memorial Library, University of Colorado, Denver ca. 1990s. From left: Yvonne Ulrich, Laura McKenna, Barbara Parker, Karen Landenburger, Judith McFarlane, Christine King, Josephine Ryan, Doris Campbell, Jacquelyn Campbell, Daniel Sheridan. Courtesy National Library of Medicine.

Nursing researchers and activists at Denison Memorial Library, University of Colorado, Denver ca. 1990s. From left: Yvonne Ulrich, Laura McKenna, Barbara Parker, Karen Landenburger, Judith McFarlane, Christine King, Josephine Ryan, Doris Campbell, Jacquelyn Campbell, Daniel Sheridan. Courtesy National Library of Medicine.

“NLM has curated the exhibition with amazing resources and great empathy,” said Athena N. Jackson, dean of UH Libraries and Elizabeth D. Rockwell chair. “I’m honored to host this experience for the UH community, facilitating heightened awareness of a powerful and sobering public health topic.” 

Visitors may view the exhibition at the Health Sciences Library in the Health 2 building. An online exhibit is also available. The National Library of Medicine produced this exhibition and companion website.

“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.

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. 

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.

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.

Featured Books: Pride Month

University of Houston Libraries invites visitors to explore our book display celebrating Pride Month, located in MD Anderson Library. Selections comprise a variety of nonfiction and fiction, with historical and contemporary perspectives.

A book display in MD Anderson Library highlights voices of LGBTQ communities..

A book display in MD Anderson Library highlights voices of LGBTQ communities.

Featured books include:

Alternate Channels: The Uncensored Story of Gay and Lesbian Images on Radio and Television, 1930s to the Present (2000), Steven Capsuto

After Homosexual: The Legacies of Gay Liberation (2014), Carolyn D’Cruz and Mark Pendleton

Sexual Orientation and Transgender Issues in Organizations: Global Perspectives on LGBT Workforce Diversity (2016), Thomas Köllen

Feminism is Queer: The Intimate Connection Between Queer and Feminist Theory (2010), Mimi Marinucci

Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis (2016), Kevin J. Mumford

Featured Books: Women’s History

University of Houston Libraries invites visitors to explore our book display celebrating women’s history, located in MD Anderson Library. Selections comprise a variety of nonfiction and fiction, with historical and contemporary perspectives.

A book display in MD Anderson Library highlights women's voices.

A book display in MD Anderson Library highlights women’s voices.

Featured books include:

Why I Am Not a Feminist (2017), Jessa Crispin
“…demands nothing less than the total dismantling of a system of oppression” (Melville House).

This Is Not Chick Lit (2006), ed. Elizabeth Merrick
A collection of original short stories from American women writers (Random House).

Ladies Coupé (2001), Anita Nair
“The story of a woman’s search for strength and independence” (Penguin India).

American Daughter (1986), Era Bell Thompson
‎ In this autobiography, Thompson describes her life in early twentieth-century North Dakota (Minnesota Historical Society Press).

Style & Status: Selling Beauty to African American Women, 1920-1975 (2007), Susannah Walker
“This book analyzes an often overlooked facet of twentieth-century consumer society as it explores the political, social, and racial implications of the business devoted to producing and marketing beauty products for African American women” (University Press of Kentucky).

Featured Books: African American Voices

University of Houston Libraries invites visitors to explore our book display honoring African American history, located in MD Anderson Library. Selections comprise both legacy and contemporary perspectives.

A book display in MD Anderson Library highlights African American voices.

A book display in MD Anderson Library highlights African American voices.

Featured books include:

I Can’t Date Jesus (2018), Michael Arceneaux
“…a timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul-searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity” (Simon & Schuster).

The Riot Inside Me (2005), Wanda Coleman
Coleman’s second collection of nonfiction prose includes essays, memoirs, interviews, and reports “at the bloody crossroads where art and politics, the personal and the political, and LA and the larger world meet and trade blows before resuming their separate paths” (Godine).

Bone Black (1996), bell hooks
“Stitching together girlhood memories with the finest threads of innocence, feminist intellectual bell hooks presents a powerfully intimate account of growing up in the South” (Henry Holt).

To Write in the Light of Freedom (2015), eds. William Sturkey and Jon Hale
“…offers a glimpse into the hearts of the African American youths who attended the Mississippi Freedom Schools in 1964″ (University Press of Mississippi).

The Chiffon Trenches (2020), André Leon Talley
“Discover what truly happens behind the scenes in the world of high fashion in this detailed, storied memoir from style icon, bestselling author, and former Vogue creative director Andre Leon Talley” (Ballantine).