The Boys of Summer, SHSTC Baseball, March 1949

One of the most recent acquisition of the SHSU University Archives is this 68-year-old baseball program from March 18-19, 1949. The BearKats played their first two home games against the TCU Horned Frogs. The final score for the games was March 18, 8-5 to the Frogs and March 19, 9-8 to the Frogs.

Although they did not win, the BearKats were playing on a brand new baseball diamond. The Josey Vocational School dirt moving class who called the job, “Operation “fill-up,” constructed the field. This swampland turned baseball diamond later became Dewitte Holleman Field where the BearKats would play until the Don Sanders Baseball Complex was finished in 2006.

To find out more of the history of SHSU Baseball or Dewitte Holleman Field come visit the SHSU University Archives.


Football Fun Fridays! the lighter side of 100 years of Bearkat football

Chris @ SHSU Homecoming

Houstonian 11 14 1967 editted

Homecoming Week! Since the mid-1940s Homecoming as we known it today has been a big deal on the Sam Houston State University campus. With all the festivities, electing the Queen and King, and most importantly THE BIG GAME there will be fun for all. This year we take on Nicholls State and have a record of 6-0 against the Colonels.

This week University Archives would like to introduce you to the cutest BearKat Homecoming fan. His name is Chris Gilstrap. Chris was destined to be a BearKat from an early age. His father Michael was a student (alum 1968 and life member of the SHSU Alumni Association) and his mother, Barbara, worked for Dr. George Killinger, who was involved in starting the Criminal Justice program at the same period of time this photograph was taken at the 1967 Homecoming game between Sam Houston State College and Texas A & I. Sad to say we lost that game 48 to 6, but gained this adorable photograph to feature in this post 48 years later.

The game was played at Bedrock Bowl or Old Bedrock, also known as Pritchett Field. Little Chris was getting bored so his father decided to take him out of the stands and entertain him on the sidelines. Chris’s picture was shot by a Houstonian photographer and he appeared in the November 14, 1967 issue of The Houstonian.

Just a quick 22 years later in 1989, Timothy “Chris” Gilstrap, now a BearKat of the 1980s, graduates from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Mass Communication/Media Studies continuing the Gilstrap Family BearKat tradition. Chris was also a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Many thanks to Michael Gilstrap for letting the University Archives use this picture.

To learn or see more materials on Homecoming activities come visit the University Archives in the NGL, room 400.

Football Fun Fridays! the lighter side of 100 years of BearKat Football.

Battle of the Piney Woods Collage 2015 jpg


Since 1923 the BearKats have been pinned against the SFA Lumberjacks in a rivalry that has lasted for 90 years.

The Battle of the Piney Woods rivalry collage above was complied from various sources that are in the SHSU University Archives. Click on the image to see it larger.

The current win-lose statistics for the battle stands at BearKats with the edge at 52-35-2. The Bearkats have won the last 4 years since 2010 when the Battle has been held at the NRG Stadium in Houston.

Eat’em up Kats!

To see more about the Battle of the Piney Woods visit the University Archives in the Newton Gresham Library, room 400, 8-5, Monday-Friday.

Miss Sam Houston 1965


Miss Sam Houston 1965

The Miss Sam Houston pageant has been crowning lovely ladies for over 50 years. This photograph from The Alcalde shows the Miss Sam Houston court from 50 years ago in 1965. Janet Melaun of Dallas, who was a music education major, was chosen from 19 candidates. The theme for the pageant was “007” from the James Bond movies which were very popular at the time.

Come visit the University Archives to learn about Miss Sam Houston pageant history and other SHSU beauty contests over the years. The University Archives is in room 400 of the Newton Gresham Library.

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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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

Promoting Finding Aids on Social Media @ Society of Southwest Archivist 2014


On May 29, 2014, Scott Vieira, James Williamson and Felicia Williamson presented “Promoting Finding Aids on Social Media: What Worked and What Didn’t Work” at the Society of Southwest Archivists Annual Conference in New Orleans. The presentation centered on the findings of our yearlong project during which we attempted to determine whether social media sites could be used to promote the use of finding aids from our Archon website ( We also wanted to know if certain sites were better the others at promoting the use of our finding aids to conduct in depth archival research.


social_speccolmontageTo determine this, we selected 9 social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, Myspace, Google +, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and HistoryPin) and a blog (WordPress). For six months, we managed all ten sites — adding content, increasing the number of followers and promoting SHSU Archives and Thomason Special Collections. At the end of the six month period, we began our research phase by posting one finding aid a week on each site with a description of the collection. Using Google Analytics, we tracked the progress of the finding aids week by week including how many times each finding aid was viewed and various demographic details about the viewers (point of origin of the click, etc.)

Our presentation generated a great deal of positive feed back at SSA and we are happy to share our PowerPoint, which can be viewed at the link below. We are currently working on a journal article to be published (we hope!) next year.

Marketing Finding Aids_SSA _Final_05232014


photo 4photo 1photo

75th Anniversary of War of the Worlds Broadcast


75 years ago, the famous Orson Welles radio production of HG Wells’s War of the Worlds was broadcast on CBS radio. The broadcast which many thought was real caused a large panic in the Northeast and parts of Canada. While a large number knew it was a drama, listeners who may have missed the introduction or were channel surfing fell for the bulletin laden format of the show.

You can listen to the broadcast here

The library owns a copy of The Panic Broadcast by Howard Koch which provides some details of the broadcast.

Thomason Special Collections also has a large collection of works from HG Wells including several 1st editions.

Some of the titles include

-War of the Worlds

-The Island of Doctor Moureu

-The History of Mr. Polly (1st edition)

-The History of the World

-The First Men in the Moon

SAA ’13: Day Five and Six

SAA’ 13 Day 5 and 6

Hey everyone since day 6 was only the morning, I thought I would just go ahead and roll it into day 5 of SAA ’13.

Day 5

Today we got up slightly earlier because the panels started at 9:30 instead of 10:00. Felicia and I actually attended the same panel — which is somewhat unusual for us. The panel was “Part of the Process : the When, Why, and How of Routine Digitization.” Digitization is a big part of what we do at Sam and we are always looking at other examples to see if there are things that we can do better. This panel certainly provided an interesting view of digitization. Each panelist talked about how digitization fits into their workflows and effects the processing of the collections (organizing each collection). One presenter did things the standard way by digitizing at the end of the process while the other digitized somewhere in the middle or near the end. We follow this approach. Felicia processes a collection at Sam Houston then I digitize the collection using the order and arrangement she has chosen. I use this order to reflect the collection in a digital environment. It creates a connection between the collections in both physical and digital form.

In contrast, the last presenter on this panel does things very differently. She worked at a experimental library that digitized at the beginning and didn’t really process at all because the way archivists currently organize materials is not really how researchers search and use online materials. The digital environment dictates the order of the collection. Felicia and I really didn’t get it but argued about it for 15 minutes — talk about nerd love! I am not sure if its something we want to do at Sam Houston but I would love to see how it goes for this library.


For me the afternoon was dominated by data preservation. Sam Houston has decided to tackle our archival digital records that are on physical media. We have business records, photographs, etc. stored on things like cds, dvd, magnetic tape, and hard drives. We have to find a way to remove this items from the media and place them in a safe environment to make sure researchers can use them in the future. Sam Houston took part in the Jump In Initiative which challenged institutions to begin the first steps to managing these digital records.

Sam Houston completed the challenge and wrote about the experience. I then participated in a discussion about the initiative at the Manuscript Repositories section meeting. It was a fun experience and I was glad to contribute in some way.


At 6:50pm, we headed out to the All-Attendee Reception that was held at the World War II museum. The event was catered by John Besh’s American Sector restaurant. We had muffaletta and sloppy joes plus a number of wonderful items. It was a fun evening as we reconnected with friends and colleagues under giant WWII planes.

Day 6


Well, this is the end. Sort of. We had one more panel before we called it a day. The panel was on descriptive standards and how they can apply to digital objects. When people talk about born digital/ digitized material, they rarely talk about how to describe them in ways that users can understand. When they do, it is in very general terms. This panel tried to broach the topic with only an hour and 30 minutes. We found some of the presenters informative and felt like Sam Houston was on the right path with how we describe objects online. Hooray!!

Now it is the end! We quickly packed and checked out of our hotel. Its a 6 hour drive to Huntsville which gives us plenty of time to sing along in the car.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed our small adventure. This blog will return to its regular awesomeness next week.






SAA ’13: Day Four

SAA ’13: Day 4


Well today is the day. SAA officially started. I attempted to tweet about the panels but listening and typing, if only 140 characters, is tough. While Felicia attended a panel on MPLP, I headed over to the panel on cloud storage for born digital materials. I am interested in cloud storage because it seems like a great fix (cheap, away from your institution, frees up resources), but I just have a hard time trusting the some of these large companies — specifically Amazon — will have my interest as a digital archivist at heart. Their goals may align now but it could change. The archivist on the panel seemed to have found success in a number of different ways so maybe I should educate myself some more. Maybe my thoughts are wrong.

Felicia and I traveled a good .5 miles down Poydras St. to eat at Luke’s off of St. Charles. It is a John Besh restaurant so we had high hopes. It was delicious.


I decided to attend the Brave New World: The intersection of Institutional Repositories and University Archives. It was good. They skipped presentations and went pretty much went straight to discussion. A real highlight of the conference so far. One of our goals at Sam Houston (at least in the library) is to create a institutional repository. These IRs naturally come into conflict with the collecting of University Archives so I think it is necessary for those involved is to clearly define the roles of the IR and University Archives before things get rolling.


We attended two big parties. The first was the grand opening of the exhibit hall. At this opening, the vendors try to sell their services. You listen and sometimes they give you free swag. We also got a chance to enjoy some Louisiana cuisine like seafood gumbo and red beans and rice. Staples of the Louisiana diet.

Afterward, we journeyed to the LSU alumni mixer. We saw many of our old friends from school. It was great to catch up. I am so disappointed that I didn’t get any pictures. The party also acted as a celebration for the retirement of Dr. Elizabeth Dow from LSU. Both Felicia and I attended LSU to earn our degrees in library and information science. We also worked as graduate assistants for Dr. Dow and took many of her classes. She has been an important part of our lives– offering guidance and an opportunity to advance in the archives field. Three cheers for Dr. Dow!

On day 5, the conference will continue with more panels and free food.