“…the whole story was 45 boys who wanted to win.”

“the whole story was 45 boys who wanted to win,” grinned Paul Pierce, coach of Sam Houston’s 1956 Lone Star Conference champions. The BearKat 1956 football season brought the first sole LSC Championship to Sam Houston and the school’s first perfect season of 9-0 in school history.

The championship game was played again Sam Houston State Teachers College’s archrivals the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College. Using a devastating ground attack against the Lumberjack’s aerial attack the BearKats won 31-0, for the BearKats first outright Lonestar Conference Championship since the league was organized.

The images above shows Reed Lindsey, President of the Lone State conference Athletic Committee, handing the championship trophy to SHSTC’s President Harmon Lowman.

After the LSC championship game the BearKats were invited to play against Middle Tennessee State in the Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Indiana, on December 1, 1956. The final score was 27-14 which extended the BearKats winning streak for 1956 season to 10-0.

The image below is from the 1956 Refrigerator Bowl. The BearKats are in the dark uniforms. (Image from The Evansville Courier, Evansville, Indiana @)

Dr. Bobby Kees Marks, 11th President, Sam Houston State University


There is sad news this week for the BearKat and Huntsville Community with the death of President Emeritus, Dr. Bobby Kees Marks on March 7, 2021, at his home here in Huntsville. Dr. Marks was the 11th President of Sam Houston State University from 1996-2001.

President Bobby Kees Marks 1996

Dr. Marks joined the faculty of Sam Houston State Teachers College in 1960 as an Instructor of Business Administration.  Before his retirement as president in 2001, President Mark worked his way up to dean, vice president, interim president (twice) then President of Sam Houston State University in 1996. He saw the university grow and witnessed changes, not only in the students and facilities, but through two renaming’s of the University itself.  

After six years as President of Sam Houston State University he announced his retirement as of August of 2001.

After his retirement in 2001, the recently renovated Administration Building was named Bobby Kees Marks Administration Building in the honor of the former president.

Dr. Marks was also named President Emeritus in August of 2001.

All of us here at SHSU Special Collections and University Archives would like to extend our heartfelt sympathies to his wife, Mrs. Colleen Marks and his family. 

For more information on President Emeritus Bobby Marks please contact the Sam Houston State University Archives.


LIQUOR BY THE DRINK PASSED! Politics, SHSU, and Voting, 11/3/1972

It was Forty-eight years ago today November 3, 1972, and election day in the United States. President Richard Nixon was leading his democratic opponent, George McGovern in the polls. In the great State of Texas Governor Dolph Biscoe and Henry C. Grover were vying for the honor of being Governor of Texas.

On the campus of Sam Houston State University President Nixon and Texas Governor Briscoe were leading in the university polls. Current issues at the time were marijuana, abortion, draft, crime, population, environment and marriage.

The only voting station on campus was Precinct 11 in the Lowman Student Center. Hundreds of students were expected to vote in this critical election. When all the votes were counted, 1406 out of 1800, registered student voters cast their ballots at the LSC.

Yet there was one election that would impact the University and Huntsville community from then on that was barely covered by, The Houstonian, except for the small article above.  What was this low key but big impact election about?

So, with little fanfare and passing with 1214 votes, 401 of which were from Precinct 11, liquor could now be bought by the drink in Huntsville!

Although there was no shortage of ways to get alcoholic beverages at clubs, etc. in Walker, Trinity, or Montgomery county, it didn’t take long before bars and discotheques sprung up in around the campus and Huntsville that were geared towards the student population.  It is thought that the SHSU student icon, The Jolly Fox, was the first site-built bar in Huntsville.

The article above come from, The Houstonian, 11/3/1972.

Adventures of Hailey, Special Collections Intern, Part 2

Welcome back! To our guest blogger, Hailey from UNT, Spring 2020’s, SHSU Special Collection practicum intern. This week she is going to talk about Special Collection Departments and the librarians that work in them.

When most people think of special collections, they think of old, rare materials that need to be looked after, handled carefully, and preserved. One of the most important jobs for special collections librarians is to provide collection preservation so that the materials are available for patrons to access in many formats. Special collections librarians have many tasks besides preservation of materials.

Special collections departments in academic libraries also have a unique opportunity to use their materials to promote and support their institution. Librarians typically use outreach, social media, tours, and classroom instruction programs that help promote their collections to the university and community.

Many students can be intimidated by the special collections departments in their libraries due to the stricter rules and regulations that come with special collections. In reality though, special collections departments can provide some of the most important primary resources to university students. As most of us know, a majority of the assignments students have to complete in university are academic papers, essays, etc. In many cases, professors ask students to provide evidence by using primary sources which can be difficult to find. Special collections departments, however, have plenty. As special collections in academic libraries seek to support the faculty and students of the institution, a lot of the materials in the department pertain to the subjects being taught at the institution, which can be helpful to students by providing a starting place to begin their research. In addition to simply providing the primary sources, special collections librarians also aid in the instruction of how to use and conduct research with these materials.

In addition, special collections provide valuable resources to other researchers and scholars that are interested in rare books and materials. The students of the university that can access special collections, but also patrons from the community, and people from around the world can visit and utilize the collections.

Adventures of Hailey, Special Collections Intern

Welcome to our guest blogger, Hailey from UNT, Spring 2020’s, SHSU Special Collection practicum intern. She is going to tell us about her adventure in the Special Collections Thomason Room before the pandemic hit.

When researching sites to complete my practicum, I decided to see what Sam Houston State University could possibly have to offer in the field I wanted to peruse. SHSU was where I received my Bachelor’s degree from, so I was familiar with the library. Realizing that they had a special collections/archives department, which I have always been interested in as I am following the archival studies program for my degree. Special Collections libraries and Academic Libraries were both institutions that I was curious about but have never been able to experience firsthand. Luckily, I was told that they were interested, and I began my practicum experience in the Special Collections Department at the Newton Gresham Library during the Spring 2020 semester.

I was given my first task of creating a display for the library. I was told that it could be over anything and I could use any of the library’s resources to create it. I decided that since I would be working with the special collections department for most of my practicum, I wanted to use some of the materials they had, especially since these materials are not often seen by many staff and students.

First, I needed to browse through the collections in order to know what my options were. The Special Collections Department has a variety of collections ranging from a very large criminal justice collection to a collection of Mark Twain ephemera and books. After browsing through the finding aids online, I decided that I wanted to look at the Minnie Fisher Cunningham collection and the staff pulled the box so that I could look through it.

I was not familiar with Minnie Fisher Cunningham to begin with, but after looking through the materials they had on her, I acquired a greater knowledge of her as a person and an activist. She played a very big part in the second women’s suffrage movement, helping women win the right to vote. As this year is the centennial of the 19th Amendment, I thought she was the perfect person to create a display over.

After deciding my topic, I then dove head first into her collection in order to figure out which materials I wanted to showcase. I decided I would provide a summary of her achievements, and then select the materials that best represented them. She was a major player in getting women the right to vote, but she also ran to be a Texas senator and Texas Governor, so I wanted to represent that as well. Eventually, I decided to use nine materials in the display, most of which came from her collection but a few from other collections, as well as my summary panels.

It was a very good first task, in my opinion, because it allowed me to become familiar with the Special Collections Department and all of the collections they hold. I was able to learn how the Thomason Room was set up, how the finding aids were organized, and how the Special Collections Department promotes their collections. I finished my display in March 2020, which is also Women’s History Month.

The above photograph shows what the final display looked like when it was finished on the second floor of the Newton Gresham Library.

Show and Tell: Archives Style

Well it happened fellow BearKats, the Newton Gresham Library is closed and your University Archivist had to retreat to her humble double-wide outside of town. No worries, all of us here at Sam Houston State will keep going cause that is what BearKats do.

So I decided to do my idea of show and tell. Throughout this shelter- in -place, I will show you and tell you a little bit about digital materials I have squirreled away in what we call the NGLSpecialCollections drive. So come along and we will check it out.

For our first online show and tell, we have Sam Houston State postcards from different decades in the school’s past.

The top postcard is of the Lowman Student Center in the 1960s.  Built in 1964 to replace the original student union building the LSC is now just a vision of its former self.  With the recent and ongoing renovation to the LSC it truly has become, “The Campus Living Room.”

The next postcard down is of what most of us call, “Sorority Hill”. These 1959 era small houses have had many names and pantie raids over the years. They no longer service as student housing but now housing various departments and offices.

The third postcard down is an aerial view of the campus during the 1970s as seen by the fact that the Women’s Gym addition and the Agricultural Building are both still standing. Old Main is in the middle of the postcard standing tall.  All three of these building are no longer standing on campus.

Next week the Out of the Box blog will have a special guest author Hailey, Special Collection Intern.

Currently the University Archives and the Newton Gresham Library are closed.  If you wish to contact, the University Archives e-mail lib_bak@shsu.edu

Measles, War, Flu, and a Snowstorm too. 1918 at Sam Houston Normal Institute

We have received a few inquires here in the SHSU University Archives asking what the University was doing in 1918 when the worse flu pandemic recorded in the United States was happening.

1918 was a turbulent year around the world with World War I in full swing. Here at the Sam Houston Normal Institute 1918 brought a measles epidemic, WWI, flu and an unexpected snowstorm.

A quick read through The Houstonian newspaper for January 15, 1918, tells us that the campus was more concerned about an outbreak of measles. (See image) In the 1918, The Alcalde yearbook a calendar of the events that happened in Fall 1917-Spring 1918, this entry from January 6, 1918 reads, “Measles epidemic holds sway in Normal. Even the teachers have it.” the measles hit so many of the students, Lillian Sandel organized a, “That Measles-ly Club,” on February 1, 1918.

The first mention of the flu on campus comes in an article from The Houstonian for November 11, 1918.(See image) The article mentions that there was talk that President Estill was going to suspend the school until the flu subsided. This lead to a stampede of female students asking to go home. As 1919 rolled around the campus and Huntsville experienced more cases of the flu. With no infirmary on the campus, the school and the good people of Huntsville had to deal with the pandemic on their own. All of Huntsville came together and did not lose one of their flu patients.  Note the last three paragraphs of the, “Flu Flew Fluently,” page.

The unexpected snow storm began on January 11, 1918 and snowed through the night. Many students cut classes the next day to play snow balling, fighting and sleighing. It snowed yet again on January 28.


Kay Arendale McGar Kaough, Class of 1939

Kay Aderdate McGar Kaough

One of the SHSU University Archives most recent donation is a 1939 commencement announcement and program under glass.

This intriguing new donation came from a young lady BearKat who’s grandmother attended Sam Houston State and was constantly going to sales. When her grandmother was at the sales she would pick up, “treasures,” from Sam Houston State and present them to her granddaughter. This new donation was her Christmas gift from her grandmother last year.



This young BearKat is not related to this person on the name card so she decided to donate it to the SHSU University Archives.

The picture frame tray holds the 1939 commencement announcement, program, and a name card from Kate Arendale McGar. Her full name was Kathryn Arendale McGar. Born in Texas in 1911, she first attended Sam Houston State Teachers College in 1932. Kate graduated with a BBS in Elementary Education in August of 1939. In February of 1940, she married Louis A. Kaough and was listed as a teacher in Fort Bend, Texas in the 1940 US Census. She died in 1999 in Conroe, Texas.

Above is Kate McGar’s summer graduate photograph from the 1940 Alcalde.  Below is a image of the photo tray.

The Sam Houston State University Archives is open M-F, 8-5. It is located in the Newton Gresham Library, 4th floor, room 400.

Happy 88th Birthday Dan Rather!


Dan Rather is a Sam Houston State Teachers College Alumni, 1953, Distuingished Alumni, 1977, and of course, has a building honoring him named the Dan Rather Communications Building. He and his wife are also major donors and huge supporters of the University.

Thank you Mr. Rather for all that you do for Sam Houston State University!!

This newspaper photograph is from, The Houstonian, May 2, 1951.