Some of The Lesser Known Collections held by TAMU-CC Special Collections and Archives

Posted: October 18, 2019 9:00:00 AM CDT

We have wonderful resources here in the Special Collections and Archives Department at Bell Library.  There are the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Papers, Dr. Clotilde P. Garcia Papers, the Dan E. Kilgore Collection, the wonderful Fuentes home films, the Blucher maps of surveyors of Corpus Christi back in the day, a photo collection from Doc McGregor and the Galvan family music collection. Besides these stellar, awesome collections, we have just as interesting and unique smaller collections that continue to tell the stories of Corpus Christi’s historical, cultural, and commercial development.

The William H. Parker Photograph Collection consists of  several hundred color slides as well as black and white negatives taken by Mr. Parker during the 1950s that cover a range of local topics including construction of the Harbor Bridge, the Bascule Bridge, the Port of Corpus Christi, Padre Island, the shipping and oil industries, the Wesley Seale Dam, the Corpus Christi Bayfront and Marina, North Beach, downtown Corpus Christi and its development, and related subjects.

black and white photograph of Corpus Christi harbor bridge at night

Another example, we have five collections from former Mayors of Corpus Christi: Mayors Ben McDonald, Ronnie Sizemore, Luther Jones, Betty Noble Turner, and Gabe Lozano, who stepped in for Jason Luby when Luby was required to resign while running for Congress in 1979. 

White pelican flying over waterClubs and organizations of CC often deposit their records here at Special Collections for preservation. The Columbus Sailing Association, the Corpus Christi African Violet Society, CC Music Teachers Association, Kiwanis Club, the Polish Organization of South Texas, Corpus Christi, CC Coffee Club Collection and the Thursday Music Club are but some of the club records we hold.

Since CC was named the "Birdiest city in North America," our collections reflect that title including 25 linear feet of papers from Kay McCracken and Phyllis Yochem, who both were birding news columnists. The Sheriton Burr Birding Collection contains 348 books, journals, and papers on birding in Texas. Especially prized are his notes on the Rockport area by noted birder Connie Hager.  

Well known Mexican American political leaders and activists have donated their papers to TAMU-CC Special Collections and Archives. Representative Solomon P. Ortiz, who served in the House of Representatives in the Democratic party, has donated his records. Irene Pena Cipriano, an activist who served as the President of Ladies LULAC Council #26 and Vice President of the Port Ayers American G.I. Forum, is represented here. Eddie Cavazos, who served in the Texas legislature and with his colleagues won the lawsuit LULAC v. Richards securing funding for higher education programs in South Texas, gave his collection as well.

You can also find collections created during or shortly after the Civil War. The Brandt Badger Civil War letters consist of forty-two letters from Brandt Badger to Callie Jones Badger written between 1861 and 1863 and reflect Brandt’s activities in the Confederate military. The Badger Letters serve as the basis for Rex H. Stever and Barbara M. Stever’s book, Oi Callie: The Civil War Letters of Brandt Badger (Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company, 2004), which place these materials in historical context. 

The James Hawkins Sparks Papers include a diary kept by James Hawkins, or "Hawk" as he was known among his friends and family. He was the son of Stephen Franklin Sparks, who was famous for his participation in the battle and Siege of Bexar, and other battles that freed Texas from the rule of Mexico during the mid-1830s.

Oval shaped historical black and white photograph of Franklin Oliver, 1787-1881A third collection that dates to before the Civil War is the Edward Rockhill Oliver papers. It contains muster rolls, correspondence and documents concerning the life and family of E.R. Oliver, Sr. who came from the Red River County to Nueces County in 1860, fought in the Civil War, then resided in Nueces County. This is a photo of Edward Rockhill Oliver’s father, Franklin Oliver.  He was born in New Jersey in 1787, married Hannah Rockhill, then moved to Livingston County, Illinois. Hannah died early and Franklin would marry two more times. He fathered nine children and lived peacefully among the Indians.

Lastly, I would like to mention a couple of scholarly collections given by professors of this university, including Dr. Henry H. Hildebrand who created the marine biology program in 1957. He became an expert on the Lower Laguna Madre, a South Texas coastal bay, one of two known hypersaline lagoons in the world. He discovered the nesting grounds of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, helping to save them from extinction. An extensive body of correspondence, publications, photographs, maps, charts and field notes reside in his papers. 

Environmental activism and coastal protection are the subjects of the Hans A. Suter Collection. Dr. Suter and his wife Pat left their lifelong conservation work of the Coastal Bend area to Special Collections in 1996, adding materials until 2006. Dr. Suter was a research chemist and a devout environmentalist.  He wrote a column for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times for 16 years and served as president of the Coastal Bend Group of the Sierra Club and a board member of the Coastal Bend Chapter of the Audubon Society.

I could go on, but I will save it for another time. These are just a few of the 300 plus collections we preserve in our archives. The materials are rich and diverse, and we invite all who are interested to investigate.

By: Lori Atkins

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