Monday, June 19, 2017


Happy Juneteenth! On June 19, 1865, nearly 2 ½ years after the executive order had taken effect, the Emancipation Proclamation was read on harbor pier in Galveston, Texas, freeing the last of southern slaves. Juneteenth is a portmanteau of June and nineteenth and was once referred to as Jubilee. The first documented celebration of Juneteenth was held in Galveston a year later, on June 19, 1866. On this day participants gathered to enjoy fellowship with one another over food, song, and a sermon that concluded the ceremony at Reedy Chapel A.M.E Baptist Church— the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Texas. On June 7, 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a state holiday. Today marks the 152nd anniversary of Juneteenth, which will be a day filled with parades, film screenings, festivals, African-American heritage exhibits, reenactments, cultural programming and more to commemorate the end of chattel slavery in the United States. Juneteenth is also reserved as a day to reflect on the accomplishments made in the Black community since emancipation.

Below are two programs within our Claude and Zernona Black collection that document Juneteenth celebrations here in San Antonio. Image one is the flyer for the 1982 Juneteenth celebration by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, and image two is the program of the 2003 celebration sponsored by the Witte Museum.

-Jessica C. Neal

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

1988 Trinity grad to share African-American woman’s Civil War era diary

At 4:30 on Monday, February 29, 2016, in the Rare Books Room of the Coates Library, Professor Judy Giesberg will draw back the curtain on the daily private life of Emilie Davis, an African-American living in Philadelphia during the Civil War. “The Memorable Days” website is the product of Dr Giesberg’s digital history project, which turned the contents of three years of personal diaries into a publicly accessible website.  The students in Dr. Lauren Turek’s public history course (HIST-3392 “History, Memory, and Interpretation”) will be particularly interested in learning the details of transcribing, digitizing, and organizing these primary sources, and everyone in attendance, including the students in HIST-1360, Dr. Salvucci’s survey course “U.S. History through Reconstruction,” is likely to gain fascinating insights into the quotidian activities of a woman of color living in the North during 1863, 1864, and 1865, the span of years her diaries cover.
Dr. Geisberg earned her B.A. in history here at Trinity in 1988, went on to do her master’s and Ph.D. work at Boston College, and now teaches history at Villanova, specializing in the U.S. Civil War and in women’s history. 
 --Bea Caraway

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Exhibit: Discovering Special Collections and Archives--Environmental Studies

Students visiting Special Collections for the first time often tell us the Rare Book Room brings Harry Potter to mind, with its dark wooden cabinets filled with books of all sizes.  Wandering through the room, students see books focused on the arts, on history and several first editions of books written by famous named authors.  Sometimes they’re surprised to discover they can also find books and collections focused on so many other different areas – such as our current exhibit on environmental studies.  

Big Bend National Park (Courtesy of the NPS)
This exhibit includes a diversity of material.  Records of early battles to stop development efforts over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone are found in the Fay Sinkin Collection, while the newly processed William B. Tuttle collection chronicles his efforts to raise money in San Antonio for the statewide effort to purchase additional land necessary for Big Bend to become a national park, rather than state park. He spoke to numerous organizations within the city, trying to raise the San Antonio share of $25,000 for the overall effort. This would be the first national park within the state and he believed the financial benefits for the state would be great, along with perhaps even increasing the state population from visitors who might decide to make Texas their home.  Col. Tuttle was also a member of the San Antonio Airport Company which played a major role in securing land used for a new flying field in San Antonio. That field was named Randolph flying field and the land is now part of Randolph Air Force Base. His papers include maps and even copies of deeds for the land purchased and given to the state, and eventually the federal government for the new flying field.

This summer also brought about the addition of the Char Miller Collection, a former Trinity University history professor, whose writings have focused on the environment and include an award winning book on Gifford Pinochet, the first chief of the United Sates Forest Service and a former governor of Pennsylvania.  To learn more about the collection, take a moment to read the Special Collections Blog post by Sarah Alger, former processing archivist, who processed the collection this past summer.

Discover more information about our collections on the Special Collections and Archives homepage.  Even better – come to Coates Library to visit Special Collections and Archives (2nd Floor) and view our new Discovering Special Collections and Archives: Environmental Studies exhibit.  We are open Monday through Friday, 1:15-5pm unless otherwise posted.  Find current hours by visiting the homepage linked above.

--Meredith Elsik

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Haunted Halloween

As soon as September ends and October begins all thoughts turn to Halloween. Everyone looks forward to the costumes, parties, candy, and haunted houses. What would Halloween be without horror movies or scary stories of ghost filled houses, grotesque murders, creepy voices, and supernatural beings? Who is the ultimate teller of such tales? Edgar Allan Poe.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) is remembered as a “morbid, mysterious figure lurking in the shadows of moonlit cemeteries or crumbling castles” (Poe Museum Website). Poe’s short stories have gone down in history as some of the most creepy, scary, and macabre of all time. His most famous works include “The Raven”, “A Tell-Tale Heart”, and “The Fall of the House of Usher”. 

This last one, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, is available in Special Collections! In addition to the story, this 1931 copy contains engravings by Abner Epstein which make the story even creepier! Epstein’s drawings are all done in black and white. They also are all of very skeletal figures which adds to the spookiness of the story.
“The Fall of the House of Usher” is a story told by an unnamed narrator who arrives at the house of his friend Roderick Usher after receiving a letter from him claiming he is ill and needs help. The house, noticeably, has a crack running down the face and into the lake. The narrator during his stay realizes that Roderick’s twin sister, Madeline, is also ill and goes into deathlike trances. He attempts to make Roderick feel better by listening to his songs and reading him stories. Eventually creepy things begin to happen which, as any Poe enthusiast knows, has extremely terrifying results. 

Edgar Allan Poe’s poetic genius has ensured that these fabulously creepy tales will be told again and again. For me, Halloween would not be the same without Edgar Allan Poe’s hauntingly spooky and macabre stories. There is no scary campfire story or scary movie that can get your heart racing or spine tingling like Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. His work never fails to make me shiver and raise the hair on the back of my neck. In fact, the creepiest part of his short stories are that they all could happen in real life. Not one of them contains an actual ghost. Instead, his descriptions of the environment are what make his stories feel eerie and supernatural. All of the horror comes from the minds of his characters and the psychological terror that they and the reader experience. Poe’s imagination is like no other when it comes to stories of morbid, gruesome murders or dark, creepy graveyards or crumbling castles with a disturbing past. There are no better stories to read on Halloween than those of Edgar Allan Poe. 

For further information or just a fun trip, I recommend trying to go see the Poe Museum in Richmond, VA. I learned quite a lot from their website so I can only imagine that the museum itself would be incredible and full of information about one of the most outstanding and well-remembered American authors. In addition, visit the Special Collections Department in the Library to check out “The Fall of the House of Usher” and to learn about more spooky stories!

--Ariel Wilks, Class of 2016

Poe, Edgar Allan. 1931. The Fall of the House of Usher. New York: Cheshire House.

2014. The Poe Museum: The Museum of Edgar Allan Poe. Accessed October 14, 2015.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Godey's Lady's Book: An Unexpected Find While Shelf Reading

Shelf-reading is tedious to say the least. With a packet of papers and a clipboard in hand, I look at every book on every shelf in every section just to check that everything is in its place.

One day, I started on a new section in the Rare Book Room. Usually, I find few problems in the order of the books, but this day, the first shelf held the most problems. Discreetly placed between ancient volumes, Godey’s Lady’s Book peaked out at me. I carefully flipped through the pages and discovered drawings from the mid and late 1800s of women in full skirts with pouty faces and scores of music. What is this? In that moment, I knew that I just had to answer that question for myself.

Godey’s Lady’s Book is a nation-wide woman’s magazine created by Louis A. Godey in 1930. The first magazine was published in Philadelphia and ran until 1878. Louis A. Godey got the idea for the magazine from gift books, which were popular at the time and marketed towards women. Lavishly decorated, gift books are defined as 19th century books that were bought for the sole purpose of giving as a keepsake. Gift books consisted of essays, short fictions and poetry. Godey’s Lady’s Books mirrored the gift book. Inside, women could find short stories, music scores, poetry, essays, and pictures that were created by prominent writers and artists of the time.
Godey's Lady's Book

One of the most interesting things that I discovered about Godey’s Lady’s Book is its editor: Sarah Josepha Hale. Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary had a little lamb,” was the United States’ first woman editor. She began her career as creator and editor of Ladies’ Magazine, the first magazine “published especially for women.” Acting within the boundaries of the time, Hale advocated for the education of women and fought within her own editorials for the acceptance of women as the mental equals to men (Burt, 54-55). Hale became editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book after Godey bought Hale’s own publication, Ladies’ Magazine, from her financers. With that, Hale became editor of the Lady’s Book in 1837. After Sarah Josepha Hale became editor, sales of Lady’s Book jumped from 10,000 to 40,000 and then again to 150,000 by 1860. With the popularity of Godey’s Lady’s Book growing, Hale used her influence to further several causes for women. In the spring of 1840, Hale used an issue of the Book as a call to action for The Monument Fair. The fair itself was created to showcase women’s intelligence, skill and power through their work. Hale also influenced the creation of the home sewing machine (Burt, 125-126). Using her editorials and her position as the editor of Lady’s Book, Sarah Josepha Hale influenced women’s worlds within the boundaries of the time.

Quote from Hale
I must admit, I was worried about Godey’s Lady’s Book at first. I thought: Well, here’s another misogynistic book from the nineteenth century. Great. But I was wrong. Sure, there are aspects of the book that most women today would find somewhat annoying, such as the emphasis on homemaking. But the book itself offers so much more! Hale, like other women of the time, not only acknowledged the boundaries that restricted her, but also, worked within and against those very boundaries to advance women’s rights.

Burt, Olive. First Woman Editor: Sarah J. Hale. New York: Julian Messner, Inc. 1960. Print.

 --Cat Clark, Class of 2016

Monday, July 20, 2015

Char Miller's Papers: So You Want to Be a Forester...

By Sarah Alger, Processing Archivist, 
Trinity University Special Collections and Archives

Over the past six months, I have learned a lot from Dr. Char Miller. I’ve reviewed his research, studied his syllabi, skimmed numerous articles he both wrote and is quoted in, and puzzled over countless photographs and letters. No, he was not ever my professor – although I would have loved to take one of his classes. Instead, my knowledge comes from the records Dr. Miller donated to Trinity University's Special Collections and Archives a few years ago.  These records include coverage of his time on Trinity’s History and Urban Studies faculty from 1981-2009.

Dr. Char Miller

Going through Dr. Miller’s records was overwhelming at times. Forty bankers’ boxes of paper is a significant amount to sort through. Whenever I came across something that caught my eye, the frantic sorting stopped and for a moment I was lost in a comic book version of the story of Hanukkah, an interview with a woman who escaped the Germans’ invasion of Romania in 1940, or a particularly funny letter from a long ago friend. 

In late November 1951, Frank L. Miller III and his wife, Helen, welcomed their fourth child, and first boy, into the world. Following in the footsteps of Millers previously, they named their son Franklin Lubbock Miller IV. However, the Millers, in order to avoid one more Frank around the house, came up with the nickname Char, which means ‘four’ in Hindi. 

Miller kept meticulous notes on all of his work, with multiple folders labeled and organized according to Miller’s own system. Countless newspaper clippings, email printouts and hand written notes fill his research files. I worked hard to help ensure that Dr. Miller’s system remained intact, while developing a comprehensible and accessible hierarchy for potential researchers. 

Within Dr. Miller’s records, there is substantial information about the great Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the US Forest Service and the evolution of the study of forestry. Dr. Miller wrote and edited many articles for the Journal of Forestry, Forest Magazine Review, and Society of American Foresters. Additionally, Miller’s dissertation research looked at the Bingham family: Hiram I, II, III, Alfred and Stephen. The first generations were some of the pioneer Christian missionaries to the Hawai’ian islands, while the latter Bingham spent time as a fugitive in Paris. 

Dr. Miller was not only interested in other families, like the Binghams, but his own as well. His records contain extensive genealogical materials on both the Miller family and his in-laws, the Lipsetts. Dr. Miller’s father, Frank L. Miller III, served at Kelley Air Field base during World War II. When Miller III passed away, Miller IV inherited and organized all of his personal effects. For a good snapshot on the daily life of a local Texas soldier during WWII, Miller III’s papers provide much insight.

Mitzi Lipsett and Heinz in Israel
Dr. Miller is most known at Trinity for his work in the history and environmental studies departments, however his interests extend far beyond that. In addition to his academic endeavors, Dr. Miller was an active member of the San Antonio community. He wrote multiple opinion pieces and is quoted in articles in local San Antonio publications as well as some international periodicals. He even ran for the board for the Alamo Heights Independent School District. Additionally, Dr. Miller and his wife, Judi helped start the Beth Am Congregation. Consequently, a number of essays and research within the records pertain to the Jewish faith. 

Another hidden gem in the collection includes Dr. Miller’s interview with his wife’s step-grandmother, Mitzi Lipsett, and Mizti’s brother, Artur. There are some amazing photographs from this time in the mixed media collection. 

Peter Sobel and Nurse Sinara in Rumania (sic)
Cypress, 1947
Sifting through Dr. Miller’s records taught me a great deal – most of it was totally unexpected. If you are curious about the history of forestry, or the community of San Antonio from the past thirty years, Dr. Miller’s records provide a multitude of research opportunities. I encourage you to peruse our finding aid or stop by during reading room hours to learn more about what this unique collection has to offer.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Paul Baker Experience: Crossing the Finish Line

“The time has come” the walrus said “to wrap this thing up; you’re not even a student anymore.” Well…it was something like that. I wasn’t really listening.

The completion of the Great Process Paul’s Papers Project has mirrored my exit from Trinity. Each time I say goodbye, it turns out there’s an opportunity or responsibility that keeps me on campus a little bit longer, and it’s been that way with Professor Baker. Trying to make the collection as sensible, orderly, and lasting as possible has meant going back and making little changes, not quite letting go. But now our days are numbered. I project that Paul’s papers will be processed post haste just as my time at Trinity (and in Texas) trickles from tide to tiny tributary before it terminates. I’m going to miss it of course. All of it. Working in the archives for four years has given me a special insight into the history of our institution. I consider all of the personalities preserved here my intellectual ancestors, and I have fit myself and everyone I’ve ever met at Trinity into the fabric of our collective story. 

Hanging out with Paul Baker has only reinforced this feeling. The plans, notes, and photographs of the first Ruth Taylor Theatre, the barely recognizable old Attic theatre space, the dressing rooms with their familiar concrete walls and forever-worn out lighted mirrors—these look like home to me. Even in the records from Baylor and the Dallas Theater Center, it’s easy to trace the Baker influence as it made its way toward Trinity. As usual, I find the collection’s photographs most compelling and exciting. Those pictures of Professor Baker and Charles Laughton that thrilled my little heart at the beginning of the project are still there of course, along with an unidentified photograph that I am determined is of Katharine Hepburn. My favorites, however, are pictures of a 1946 production of The Skin of Our Teeth, the first play directed by Professor Baker after his return from serving in WWII. They are beautiful and reminded me of what a wonderful time I had in Trinity’s 2014 production of the same play. It’s important to me that they be preserved and seen. 

Then there’s one more reason I’m so fortunate to be closing my time here with Paul Baker. In the first week of August when I start my internship for the Actors Theatre of Louisville, I’m going to be officially really and truly untethered from Trinity, from my cherished faculty, the theatre department, and the archives. I’m hopeful that my studies of our theatrical and educational past will arm me for my future, that I will be able to embody the tirelessness, passion, and stubbornness so clearly visible in the remnants of Paul Baker—my intellectual ancestor. 

There’s not much time left here for me, Trin-Trin, but Professor Baker will be here and available to you for years and years to come. I recommend you get lost down in the archives once or twice before the time comes for you to untether.

Don’t let these humble boxes fool you. #yesfilter

1960s photograph of actresses in the stage right dressing room of Trinity University’s Theatre One

--Kate Cuellar, Class of 2015