Global Stability


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Global Stability by Gerald R. Ford was the tiniest book in the library for a number of years till someone decide to actually measure the recent acquisitions. While no longer the tiniest, this tiny treatise from our former president remains a wonderful oddity in our collection.

Who knew the answers to world peace only need a couple of pages in tiny print?

Scenes from the Texas Prison Rodeo


The Texas Prison Rodeo was one of the biggest events every October in Huntsville, TX. It drew people from all around to see inmates participate in the rodeo as well as national acts like Johnny Cash and Ricky Nelson. With changing views on prisoner treatment  and the cost of repairing the stadium, the rodeo was phased out in the late 1980s. Several attempts were made to bring it back, but they have failed so far. As of today, only Angola Prison in Louisiana maintains a prison-based rodeo.


These images come from a set of collectable cards from the Bryd Family Collection that could be purchased at the rodeo we think sometime during the 1950s.

You can view more prison rodeo pictures here.



Happy 136th Anniversary Sam Houston State University!

The Sam Houston Normal Institute was signed into being as the first teacher-training institution of Texas on April 21,1879 by Texas Governor Oran M. Roberts. The school itself did not open for students until October 10, 1879.

Have you ever wondered what those first students studied and what text books they used? The image above was scanned from the very first 1879-1880 Sam Houston Normal Institute Catalogue. To see what the original catalogue looked like click here:

SHNI Bulletin 1879

To find out more about the establishment of Sam Houston State University or the first students come visit the SHSU University Archives. University Archives is open M-F, 8-5.

The Mae Wynne McFarland Research Collection

McFarland Civil War Letters 1

Transcript of letter from Ella Scott to Jane Inglis


The Mae Wynne McFarland Research Collection is composed of five series: Personal Materials, Walker County/Huntsville, Texas History, War of 1812, and Women and Charitable Organizations. Although each series has interesting points, the most interesting, in my opinion, can be found within the Texas History series.
The Texas History series holds ten boxes of information on subjects such as the Texas prison system, early Texans, and several Texas counties. Amongst this variety of topics, are copies of letters from people who lived and fought during the Civil War. Most of the letters concerning soldiers are accompanied with biographical information.

One interesting set of letters is from Ella Scott of Waverly, Texas to Jeanie English of Montgomery, Texas. While only Ella’s side of the conversation is available, much can still be learned about the mindset of youth during this time. For one letter in particular, Mae Wynne McFarland notes that she didn’t copy it for historical value, but rather “to show that the youthful feminine was the same as today and that ‘war and rumors of war’ had not altered the girlish outlook at that time.” This idea is portrayed throughout the letters, as most are filled with gossip of marriage and engagements of mutual friends of Ella and Jeanie. Ella confesses that she would have to wait until after the war to wed because she wanted a war hero for a husband.

Another letter is just an example of similar stories men dictated on paper to loved ones back home. It is a letter from Charley Waters to his father, Mr. P. B. Waters. Charley describes several points of fighting and rest, mentioning that he was even able to aid three wounded comrades. Exhaustion and uncertainty consumed the men, regardless of rank. Mae Wynne McFarland was able to obtain a copy of this particular letter from Mrs. E. W. Bragg, the sister of Charley Waters, and her granddaughter Mrs. Philippa Kynette.

The Mae Wynne McFarland Research Collection is open for research and available in SHSU Special Collections. Please see the finding aid, here:


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Happy National Library Week!


This gallery contains 3 photos.

  Over the years, the University Archives has seen a lot of photographs of the three buildings that were used or are in use as libraries here on campus. In honor of National Library Week the SHSU University Archives would like … Continue reading

Sam Houston Celebration Collection, 1900-1993


Sam Houston Bicentennial Birthday celebration ephemera

The Sam Houston Bicentennial Collection consists of correspondence, articles, clippings, catalogues and materials relating to the Bicentennial celebration.  This collection is housed in two archival boxes, arranged in two series. Series one contains correspondence related to seeking additional Sam Houston materials, clippings and articles about Sam Houston the man. Series two has materials relating to Sam Houston’s Bicentennial celebrations. Materials in both series are dated 1992 and 1993.

The materials that make up the first series are a part of efforts made to acquire Sam Houston (the man) related materials. Correspondence between Mr. Paul Culp and various University and College libraries make up a large part of this series. There are also catalogues and other lists showing Sam Houston-related holdings. The second series consists entirely of materials related to Sam Houston’s Centennial Celebrations including brochures, invitations and newspaper clippings. Many of these items have biographical information about Sam Houston the man including timelines of his life and accomplishments, as well as information about the celebrations themselves which took place all over Huntsville, Texas in 1993 (two hundred years after Sam Houston’s birth.)

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.

William R. Powell Health Services and Counseling Center



William Powell

The Texas State University System Board of Regents approved at the February 19 & 20, 2015, board meeting the naming of the Health Services and Counseling Center after the late William R. Powell. The new building will be named the William R. Powell Student Health Services and Counseling Center.

William Powell was the first African-American Administrator of Sam Houston State when he was hired in 1972. Dean Powell was instrumental in the development of the Student Judicial System and the original University Counseling Center. He also helped start the Theta Mu Chapter on the SHSU campus.

He retired from Sam Houston State in 1987. After his retirement from SHSU he went back to work at Jarvis Christian College as Vice President of Student Affairs until he retired yet again in 1993. William Powell died on March 12, 2013 and is buried in Brooke Cemetery, Walker County, Texas.

The Huntsville Item article above is from June of 1993 and it about Williams R. Powell and his wife, Doris, and how important education was to not only him but his entire family.

To learn more about William R. Powell come visit the SHSU University Archives.

The Huntsville Item article is courtesy of The Huntsville Item.

Human Soil Consumption Correspondence, 1960-1967


A zine on geophagy in prehistoric Iran

The Human Soil Consumption Correspondence (1960-1967; one legal folder) consists of correspondence and a newsletter concerning soil consumption.  The handwritten correspondence relates to soil ingestion in Southwest America.  The Coprolite News newsletter concerns the archeological discovery  of geophagy in Iran.  The correspondence also includes a letter concerning the collection’s acquisition.

View a detailed finding aid of this collection at Sam Houston State University’s Archon page.