Football Fun Friday! The lighter side of 100 years of BearKat football.


football 1989 Media Guide 

This week in the lighter side of 100 years of BearKat football we have a BearKat who really enjoyed the game. The cover of the SHSU Media Guide of 1989 shows All-American Bearkat, “Sackmaster,” Andre Finley, looking ready for another great season of BearKat football.

The defensive end from Houston, played 1986-1989, was a senior majoring in criminal justice and the 1989 BearKat team captain. He was also a member of the 1986 Gulf Star Conference championship team.

In the 1988 season he earned first team All-American and All-Southland Conference. He had 59 total tackles, dropped enemy quarterbacks 15 times which was a new SHSU season record and the list goes on……

In 2003 he was inducted into the Sam Houston State University Athletic Hall of Honor.

To learn more or see other BearKat football media guides or game programs come visit the University Archives in Room 400 of the Newton Gresham Library.

Football Fun Friday! The lighter side of 100 years of BearKat football.

1974 Football Fun

The 100th season of Sam Houston State University’s football program is about to begin on September 5th as the BearKats take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders. On this momentous occasion the Sam Houston State University Archives would like to show the lighter side of BearKat football over the years.

This photograph from the February 8, 1974, The Houstonian, has our hard-hitting Kats showing their softer side for their initiation into the “T Club” Association.

The “T Club,” Association is an organization that is made up of men who have earned their letters in the different branches of college sports. The “T” in “T Club” stands for Teachers College. The use of the “T” letters for athletics started in 1923 when the normal schools, including Sam Houston Normal Institute, names were changed to teachers colleges. Today, the “T Club” is called Sam Houston State University Lettermen Association.

The University Archives will share lighter moments in BearKat football from the last hundred seasons in the coming weeks.

Alton Keefer Farris collection, 1907-2003


Selection from an Alton Ferris ledger

Selection from an Alton Ferris ledger

Alton Keefer Farris was born on November 6, 1931 to Alton Boone Farris and Erma Keefer Farris in North Zulch, Texas. He graduated from Huntsville High School and moved on to receive a degree in education from the Sam Houston State Teachers College. Mr. Farris served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was also a teacher and principal at the Pine Prairie and Huntsville school districts. His last job was as a Recreational Consultant for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He served as a deacon at the Chapelwood Missionary Baptist church and was a supporter of the Shriners organization. Mr. Farris also worked as a Notary Public and Justice of the Peace for the Huntsville area. He married Naomi Voyles and they had two children, Ruth and Alton Keefer Farris, Jr. Mr. Farris died on June 1, 2006.

The Alton Keefer Farris Collection consists of various financial records including checks, receipts and invoices. Also included are legal documents including subpoenas and property records.

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

Polo Players at the Beijing Legation


The Legation Quarter of Beijing was an independent military zone belonging to the international community. Troops from America, Great Britain, Japan, Italy, and France were housed in this walled off area of Beijing. Each nation was responsible for its installation within the quarter, which contained restaurants, housing, shops, and other goods and services.

An outlying area known as the Glacis served as a place for sporting events. It contained a baseball diamond, a gridiron for rugby, and polo grounds. The polo grounds were mostly occupied by the French, but residents from other nations participated in matches.

A Huntsville, TX resident named John W. Thomason served at the Legation from 1930-1933 and participated in these polo matches. These photographs come from his personal papers and document the matches and the leisure activities of the legation inhabitants.


 To view digitized material from the John W. Thomason collection, click on the link below.

John W. Thomason Collection



Robert Duncan

A picture of Robert Duncan. ("Robert Duncan." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.)

A picture of Robert Duncan. (“Robert Duncan.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.)

Robert Duncan was an important author in the San Francisco Renaissance and the Black Mountain School. He was born on January 7, 1919 in Oakland, California. His mother died in childbirth, and his dad, unable to support his newborn son placed Robert Duncan up for adoption. In August of 1919 Duncan was adopted. Duncan’s adopted parents chosen religion was theosophy, which greatly affected Duncan’s poetry. His poems drew on myth, occultism and religion. He wrote using projective verse and composition by field. Duncan chose to become a writer in his early teens after being encouraged by an English teacher who recognized his talent. Duncan attended the University of California, Berkeley for two years. He left California and went to finish his education at the Black Mountain School. Shortly after arriving at the school he got into a conflict with the faculty and moved to New York City.
During the 1960’s Robert Duncan won many awards. In 1961 he won the Harriet Monroe, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1963, and in 1964 he won the Levinson prize from Poetry Magazine. In 1985 Duncan received the National Poetry Award.
Robert Duncan died in San Francisco in 1988. He had fought a long battle with kidney disease. After his death, many of his works continued to be published. Even today he remains an influential figure in poetry.
Robert Duncan’s poetry often expressed his anarchic political views. In addition, his use of projective verse makes many of his poems stand out. In Newton Gresham Library’s SHSU Special Collections there are two of his poems available to read. The first called The gift of tongues or the Imagination can be found in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, and Folder 3. The second which is called Melville after Pierre can be found in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, and Folder 4.

Work Cited
“Robert Duncan.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
“Poet Robert Duncan.” Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Christensen, Paul. “Robert Duncan’s Life and Career.” Robert Duncan’s Life and Career. Modern American Poetry, 1999. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.
Mlinko, Ange. “The Unconquered Flame: On Robert Duncan.” The Unconquered Flame: On Robert Duncan. The Nation, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.

Mark Twain Correspondence and Ephemera Collection, 1874-2002


Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) was born November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri to John and Jane Clemens.  The Clemens family moved to Hannibal, Missouri near the Mississippi River when Samuel was 4 years old.  His father died in 1847 leaving the Clemens family financially unstable for years to come.  After completing the fifth grade, Samuel left school to work as a printer’s apprentice for a local newspaper.  By the age of 18, Samuel Langhorne Clemens had traveled to New York and Philadelphia writing articles for several newspapers.  He worked as a riverboat pilot beginning in 1857 and spent several years traveling the Mississippi River.  Later, Clemens was in the Confederate army for a short time and then moved to Nevada where he began writing under the pen name Mark Twain.  He toured Europe by steamboat and his collection of travel letters was later reworked into his first popular book, The Innocents Abroad, released in 1869.  Samuel Clemens married Olivia (Livy) Langdon in 1870 and the couple had three daughters.  Clemens wrote most of his popular works from his family home in Hartford, Connecticut.  These works included: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Clemens family moved to live in Europe in 1891.  Samuel later lost two daughters and his wife before his death on April 21, 1910.  Mark Twain was one of America’s premier writers and his works have reached worldwide recognition for their humor and historical significance.

The Mark Twain Correspondence and Ephemera Collection contains original correspondence from Samuel Langhorne Clemens.  The letters and postcards consist mostly of thank you letters and correspondence concerning travel accommodations for a trip to Europe.  The collection includes original photographs and postcards of Mark Twain.  The collection also has numerous newspaper clippings and ephemeral booklets relating to Mark Twain.  In addition, a complete memory training game created by Mark Twain is a featured item.  The Mark Twain Correspondence and Ephemera Collection is associated with the SHSU Special Collection’s Mark Twain rare book collection which includes approximately 500 volumes.


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

Philip Whalen

Philip Whalen ("Philip Whalen." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.)

Philip Whalen (“Philip Whalen.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2015.)

Part of our continuing series on the Wild Dog Collection by SHSU Special Collections intern Kara Stafford

The third member of the West Coast Beats was Philip Whalen, although he was better known as being a major figure in the San Francisco Renaissance. He was born on October 20, 1923 in Portland, Oregon. His family left Portland when he was four to go live in The Dalles. His family could not afford to send him to college, so when Whalen returned to Portland in 1941 he worked as a laborer in shipyards and airplane factories. In 1943 he was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was trained to teach radio operations which kept him stateside and allowed him to read and write poetry. In 1946 Whalen, thanks to the G.I. Bill, was able to enroll in Reed College. While attending Reed College, Whalen met Lew Welch and Gary Snyder. These three men would become key figures two related literary movements, the Beat Movement and the San Francisco Renaissance. In 1951 Philip Whalen graduated Reed College. Between 1951 and 1955 Whalen worked odd jobs, including a fire-spotter in Mount Baker National Forest, to support his writing. In 1955 with some pushing and nudging from Gary Snyder, Whalen read at the historic Six Gallery reading.
Unlike most of the other Beat poets Whalen’s poetry was not very political. He showed a reverential treatment of the mundane and used self-deprecating humor. A good example of this can be found in the Wild Dog collection in. Whalen published four of his poems in issue 17 of the Wild Dog magazine. The poems are called: Fragment of Great Beauty and Stillness, Doukhobor Proverb for Oskar Heiserman, Disgust with a Poetical Evening at Miss Q’s House, and Grand Historical Ode, To a Certain Lady who has praised my poems. These poems express nature and the ordinary in an extraordinary way. They can be found in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, and Folder 2.
Philip Whalen, like Gary Snyder, practiced Zen Buddhism. In 1973 he became a Buddhist monk. Although he would spend the rest of his life as a monk, he continued to write poetry and in 1985 he was awarded the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award. In 1991 Whalen became the Leader of the Hartford Street Zen Center in San Francisco. He served as Hartford Street’s leader until his health forced him to retire and on June 26, 2002, Philip Whalen passed away.

Miscellaneous Artwork from the Wild Dog Collection. Series 2, Subseries 2, Box 6, Folder 20.

Miscellaneous Artwork from the Wild Dog Collection. Series 2, Subseries 2, Box 6, Folder 20.

To view and read Philip Whalen’s poems and The Wild Dog Papers visit Newton Gresham Library’s Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Library.

Paul Blackburn

Paul Blackburn (Creeley, Robert. "About Paul Blackburn." About Paul Blackburn. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.)

Paul Blackburn (Creeley, Robert. “About Paul Blackburn.” About Paul Blackburn. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.)

Paul Blackburn is best known as a Black Mountain Poet, because of his work as editor and distributor of the Black Mountain Review. Black Mountain poets are poets who had some loose affiliation with the Black Mountain College, usually through their work with the Black Mountain Review. The Black Mountain Review was started to highlight the literary accomplishments of Black Mountain College.
Blackburn was born in Vermont in November 1926 to William Blackburn and Frances Frost. His mother Frances Frost a poet and children’s author herself, encouraged Blackburn to write in his teenage years. Most of Blackburn’s early life was spent living with his sister and strict grandparents on their farm in St. Albans, Vermont. At the age of fourteen Blackburn moved to his mother’s house in Greenwich Village. It was during this time that Blackburn’s mother started to encourage him to write poetry. In 1945 he started at New York University but left after one year to join the Army. His service in the military was spent as a laboratory technician in Colorado. When he returned to college he started reading Ezra Pound. He managed to get in touch with Pound and a mentor-student relationship began between the two poets. Blackburn supported himself through jobs at print-shops, editorial jobs, translating, and free-lance writing. In the 1960’s he started to get offers to teach at colleges and universities. In 1967 he received a fellowship that allowed him to go to Europe to work on translations and poetry.
Blackburn was married three times and had one child. Paul Blackburn died in 1971 of esophageal cancer.
Paul Blackburn’s was an amazing poet and worked hard to help up and coming poets develop. His poetry had a musical quality. He was published in many smaller literary magazines. Including the Wild Dog magazine. Newton Gresham Library’s SHSU Special Collections house the Wild Dog collection, which consist not just of the Wild Dog magazine issues but also manuscripts and correspondence of the authors and editors. Paul Blackburn published a total of six poems in the Wild Dog magazine. Three of the poems occur in issue nine on page six. The poems in volume nine are: Hark, Hark…, The Unemployment Bureau, and Hot Afternoons Have Been in the West 15th Street. They can be found in the Wild Dog collection in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 8, and Folder 9. The second set of poems are in issue 19 page 35. They poems in issue 19 are: Collage, “ancer Ejaculations, and Who Nneedds Legs? We Do. They can be found in the Wild Dog collection in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, and Folder 4.

Wd 0008
To view and read Paul Blackburn’s poems and The Wild Dog Papers visit Newton Gresham Library’s Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Library.

Smile for the Camera! BearKat Football Press Guide 1978


l-r- Robby Robinson, Coach Melvin Brown, Stan Blinka

Today is Media Day for football here at Sam Houston State. So for Way Back Wednesday the University Archives presents the BearKat Football 1978 Press Guide (in 1979 they started calling the publication Media Guide). The cover of the 1978 Press Guide features newly hired Head Football Coach Melvin Brown and co-captains Robby Robinson (l) and Stanley Blinka (r).

Stanly Blinka would go on to be drafted in the 5th round, no. 125th, of the 1979 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. He played for the Jets until 1983. He was inducted into the BearKat Hall of Honor in 1985.

Coach Melvin Brown left Sam Houston State after the 1981 season.

Quick quiz for the day: Can you spot the cover error on this 1978 Press Guide?

James Bennett and the United Arab Republic


These pictures show James Bennett, second director of the Federal Bureau of Prison, visiting the United Arab Republic sometime during the late 1950s. He was there to take part in a review of this short lived political union between Egypt and Syria’s prison system.  Bennett made a name for himself as a penal reformer and advocate for the improvement of inhumane conditions in prisons.


The James V. Bennett Collection contains a number of photographs and documents related to prisons and prison reviews from around the world. To see the photographs, view the James V. Bennett photographs in our Digital Collections by clicking the link below.

James V. Bennett Photographs

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

James V. Bennett Collection, 1905-1971