Touchdown Sam Houston!



Sam Houston battles it out with the Rice Owls in this game from 1993. It was a close one but Sam Houston came up short with a 13-14 loss. Sam Houston and Rice faced off numerous times in the 1920s , but this game marked only the second time the teams had met since 1948. Sam Houston has not faced off with Rice since. Rice leads the series with a whopping 16-1 record against Sam Houston State.

This clip was taken from footage donated by SHSU Athletics to University Archives.

If you would like to own a personal copy of this game, it, along with numerous other games, can be purchased at this website: Multimedia Store

Snow on the Hill


Snow 1982

Yes Virginia, it does snow on the SHSU campus. When it does it brings out the BearKitten in our BearKats. In this Houstonian newspaper clipping from January 19, 1982, SHSU students are “sledding” down the Old Main Hill. At the top of the hill you can see the Old Main Building which stood where the Old Main Memorial or the “Pit” is now. In less than a month the Old Main Building would be lost to a tragic fire on February 12, 1982.

For more information on the Old Main Building or snow on the SHSU campus come visit the University Archives.

Jim Willett talks about the History of the Walls Unit

Jim Willet talks to the crowd about the history of the Wall (Huntsville) Unit

Jim Willett talks to the crowd about the history of the Wall (Huntsville) Unit

On November 5, 2014, Director of the Texas Prison Museum and Former Warden of the Walls Unit Jim Willett spoke in the Thomason Room at Newton Gresham Library on the history of the Huntsville Unit a.k.a. the Walls Unit. Students, faculty members, and residents of Huntsville were regaled with stories that reflect the complex nature of the oldest prison in Texas. As an example, some escapees dug a hole under the Walls only to run into the wife of the warden who shot at them, leading to their capture. In another story, a judge gave directions that a prisoner be kept in solitary confinement in a cell painted black on the inside and outside without provision for exercise. Notably, the prison officials noticed that the prisoner’s health was deteriorating and made provisions to move the prisoner out of isolation. Willett did a wonderful job presenting the complex history of the Walls, giving the audience a better understanding of a building that looms large in the history of Huntsville, TX.

After his talk, Willett fielded questions from the audience that ranged from asking about his experience overseeing executions, the relationship between prisoners and his family, and the history of property owned by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The event unfortunately only lasted an hour with Willett still having more stories and facts to detail. Hopefully we can have him back soon. If you could not attend, but would like to know the contents of the talk, you can view our Twitter account at @SHSUArchives or search #WallsTalk.



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Police Department History Collection, 1865-1986

The materials in this collection represent various police departments reports and histories, namely: Phoenix, Denver, Detroit, New Orleans, San Diego, Baltimore, Indianapolis, New York, Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, Kansas City, Wisconsin, Miami, Atlanta and Boston. There are also some reports that focus on the history of women in police divisions.

View a detailed finding aid of his collection at Sam Houston State University’s Archon page and see just what materials are in the collection.

Police Department History Collection finding aid

History of the Walls Unit

Walls Unit CJ Talk Flyer

On November 5th at 3pm in the Thomason Room, SHSU Special Collections will be hosting a talk by Jim Willet, Former Warden of the Walls Unit and Director of the Texas Prison Museum.

The Walls Unit (Huntsville Unit) began operations in 1849 and is the oldest building in the Texas prison system. The unit remains attractive to this day and currently houses the State of Texas execution chamber.

Willet will discuss the history of the unit and his time overseeing the execution of inmates.

After the talk, attendees will be able to view exhibits featuring items from a number of high profile criminal justice manuscript collections. Staff members will gladly answer questions about these collections and help you find potential resources for research.

If you are interested in Criminal Justice or the history of the Huntsville, then this is the event for you. Because of the size of the Thomason Room, space is limited so get there early for a seat!

If you would like to follow the event online, you can find us at @SHSUArchives or #WallsTalk

Axmen Invade BearKatland!


Houstonian 1928 Lumberjacks

This headline from The Houstonian, November 28, 1928, announces the arrival of our rivals the Stephen F. Austin Lumbarjacks. The BearKats beat the Axmen 19-2 in what was described in the next issue of The Houstonian as the most brilliant game of the season.

To see the entire issue of this, Houstonian, come visit the SHSU University Archives in room 400 of the Newton Gresham Library.

Daisy Smith Writings on Sam Houston, 1922


Daisy Lauretta Smith was born in Kansas in 1893.  She was a student of Sam Houston Normal Institute, class of 1919.  She earned her B.S. degree from SHNI in 1922 and the M.A. from Peabody in 1934.  Daisy L. Smith went on to teach for over 43 years for Houston Independent School District.  She died in Houston, Texas in June 1979.

The Daisy Smith writings on Sam Houston (1922; one file folder) contain reminisces of General Sam Houston gathered from the citizens of Huntsville, Texas in February 1922.  The writings consist of 34 handwritten pages by Daisy Smith.

View a detailed finding aid of this collection at Sam Houston State University’s Archon page and see just what materials are in the collection.

Daisy Smith Writings on Sam Houston, 1922

WHOA! 90 Years of BearKat Orange and White


SHSU colors 10 01 2014

After 18 years as the Sam Houston State University Archivist, there are very few things that will make me go, “WHOA”, anymore. But today with the turn of a page from a ledger of 1923-1937 faculty meeting minutes, the answer to one of my top five unanswered questions about Sam Houston State University history was revealed.

How and when did Sam Houston State University adopt the school colors of orange and white?

Today’s BearKats know our University colors as orange and white, but that hasn’t always been the case. Prior to early 1924 the colors of our school were yellow and white. Back then, we were the Sam Houston Normal Institute, “Normals”. When in early 1923 the Sam Houston Normal Institute changed names to the Sam Houston State Teachers College (SHSTC) it was decided by President Harry F. Estill and the Athletic Council that a change of school colors was in order.

In the SHSTC faculty meeting of December 13, 1923, the matter of school color was brought up by Mr. Earl Huffor, Professor of English, who recommended the colors of orange and white. Since the matter was supposed to be handled by the Athletic Council, the faculty decided to appoint their own special committee members to assist the Athletic Council with the problem. It was decided that Mr. Earl Huffor, Professor of English, Miss Anna Loring, Professor of Art, and S. C. Wilson, Professor of Agricultural Education would be the Color Committee members. So the College went on Christmas break and the matter was left to be decided in January of 1924.

In the next faculty meeting January 8, 1924 the matter of the College’s colors was brought up again and Mr. Huffor, speaking for the Color Committee, reported that the committee had decided on deep orange and white as the College colors.

And so as they say, history was made that day. Ninety years have gone by for the colors of ole’ orange and white so rest easy Professor Huffor the colors you picked were just BearKat right.

To see the original 1923-1937 SHSTC Faculty Meeting Minutes ledger the above image is from, come visit the University Archives, Newton Gresham Library, Room 400, M-F, 8-5.

Cars, Cars, and More Cars


Parking 09 30 1970
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr was the first person to quote the saying, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” translated as: the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing. Or as we would say, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”.

Parking at Sam Houston State University is no exception. This newspaper clipping is from, The Houstonian, dated September 30, 1970. As you can see, 44 years ago they had the same parking woes we have today. In 1970 there were 8,500 students and in 2014 we have hit over 19,000 students. You do the car math. Too many cars; not enough space.

Note in the top photograph (front of AB-1) in 1970, Ave J went right through the mall area. It wasn’t until 1979 that this part of the Ave J was closed and became the mall area for the Centennial of Sam Houston State University.

The original paper copies of The Houstonian can be seen in the University Archives.

Criminal Justice Clipping Collection, 1864-2011


Credit to the Huntsville Item

The Texas Criminal Justice Newspaper Clipping Collection (1864-2011; three boxes) contains newspaper clippings concerning criminal justice in the state of Texas.  The collection’s main focus is the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and includes many articles from the Huntsville Item and various other publications.  The Texas Criminal Justice Newspaper Clipping Collection contains many Texas prison subjects including: death row, prison personnel, prison administration, facilities, escapes, convict labor, the prison rodeo, court cases, corruption, and female inmates.

The picture featured above is an article from the Huntsville Item concerning the possible ending of the Texas Prison Rodeo which was held in Huntsville, TX.

View a detailed finding aid of his collection at Sam Houston State University’s Archon page and see just what materials are in the collection.

Criminal Justice Clipping Collection finding aid