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.


The 1st Faculty and Student Body of Sam Houston Normal Institute (later named Sam Houston State University) stand in front of the Austin Hall Building, 1879.

Happy 140th year of providing an education to students, Sam Houston State University! It was on this date, October 10, 1879, that 110 students arrived by train, horse and buggy, or walking, to climb the hill to attend the first State funded public school for teachers in Texas.

The Sam Houston Normal Institute was brought into being by a bill in the Texas Legislature in 1879. This bill read as follows: “An Act to Establish a State Normal School to be Known as the Sam Houston Institute at Huntsville, Texas.” The Act was signed by Governor Oran Roberts on April 21, 1879 and the doors to the new Sam Houston Normal Institute were opened 6 months later.

To learn or see more of 140 years of Sam Houston State history come visit the SHSU University Archives in the Newton Gresham Library, Room 400. We are open Monday-Friday, 8-5.

Happy Holidays To All BearKats!

xmas-1974The Sam Houston State University Archives would like to wish all BearKats a Happy Holiday and a great New Year!

This cover is from The Alumnus, the Alumni Magazine of Sam Houston State University, December 1974 issue. Here in the Archives we refer to it as the “Elvis” cover. This image was used for the next two December issues of The Alumnus.

SHSU University Archives would like all BearKats to make a New Year’s resolution to visit the University Archives and say Hi!

Be happy, be safe, see you next year!

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

Kat flag 2

Yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever the Orange and White will always be right for Kat fans!

When I scanned this slide negative from 1991 for this week’s post I mistakenly scanned it on negative color film and the image was reversed. Well I thought that looks pretty cool. So I decided to put the images up side by side.

Drop me a line and tell me what you think.

Enjoy Orange Out 2015, the first home game of the 100th year of BearKat Football with our Kats going up against the Big Reds of Lamar University.


Come visit the University Archives in room 400 of the Newton Gresham Library. We are open 8-5 M-F.

Putting things together


A side by side comparison of a Thomason photograph with a Thomason drawing












The image on the left is a photograph from the John W. Thomason collection. It is of soldiers marching with the American flag. John W. Thomason was stationed at the Legation in Beijing in the 1930s, so this is possibly the location of this picture.

The image on the right is a sketch by John W. Thomason. It seems to have been inspired by the picture on the left.

Even before leaving Huntsville, Texas, Thomason developed a habit of recording his surroundings in his drawing notebooks or on whatever scrap of paper he had nearby — which accounts for the large collection of diverse drawings held at Sam Houston State University.

See the original here: Marines marching, carrying flag

See the whole  collection at : John W. Thomason drawings

An introduction, Interning at the archives, and a summer Sports History Project

Hello! I am Amanda Chang, and I am the summer intern for SHSU’s Thomason Room and the University Archives. I am a graduate student at Sam, working toward earning my master’s degree in History. My interests within the field include the history of the Western U.S., as well as women and gender in American history. I hope to continue my studies by earning a Master in Library Science and ultimately want to work in academic or public libraries.

Now that you know a little about me, I’ll introduce my summer project and also talk a little about what I’ve learned during my initial few weeks in the archives. The project I have been tasked with for the summer is the organization, research, and design of a display that will showcase Sports History at Sam. This includes sorting and scanning dozens of old SHSU News Bureau slides, dating mostly from the 1970s-1980s, as well as digging through old yearbooks and newspapers in order to begin to piece together the story of the teams pictured in these photographs. Before beginning this project I knew almost nothing about the history of sports at SHSU, but this project has shown that through the years many accomplished athletes have made their mark inside our stadium and coliseum (and before they were built, on our fields and in our gyms), and their achievements certainly deserve preservation and commemoration. I’ve only just begun the research stage of this project, so I’m very excited to learn more.

For most of my time so far I’ve been working with Barbara Kievit-Mason in the Archives, sorting the slides from random boxes, listing them on spreadsheets, and placing them neatly in binders. While in the archives I’ve learned a lot about the history of the University, the inner workings of the archive, and have had a lot of fun looking at old documents, unique books, and the miscellaneous items of interest that have found their way into the archives over the years. Now that I am in the research phase of the project I’m splitting time between the Thomason Room and the archives while going through old Alcaldes (the SHSU yearbook) and issues of the Houstonian (SHSU’s newspaper) to gather as much information as I can on the teams pictured in the slides (of which there are approximately 450 total, focused mainly on Football and Basketball).

Before: Photo Slides in Boxes

After: Neatly stored and organized

As I progress on the project I’ll be posting updates here, and I’ll continue to share my experiences as an intern with you all. Thanks for reading!

White Sands @ SHSU


Most of the time we highlight manuscript collections belonging to Sam Houston State University at Out of the Box but like most archives we began as the rare book section of the library. In our rare book collection, we have small group of special format books. We have some books that are weird and wonderful.

White Sands by Jill Timm is a book that runs on the wonderful side. It folds out into a photo of the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The cover comes with its own white sand. I was able to amuse myself for five to ten minutes just tilting the sand back and forth.

The uispeccoll tumblr inspired us to get on the miniature book craze and explore our collections a little deeper.


John W. Thomason in China


As a colonel in the United States Marines, John W. Thomason, a former Huntsville, TX resident, traveled all over the world. When not performing his military duties, Thomason explored his passion for drawing. He used every opportunity to draw and capture what he saw around him. He would draw on whatever he could find: paper, napkins, or scraps. He would even draw on his own drawings! These drawings are just a small sample of his artwork found in the John W. Thomason collection which has over 1,600 pieces. The individual illustrations presented above and below document Thomason’s time stationed at the Legation in Peking in the 1930s as he documented the China horse marines in his sketches during his time as the commander of the 38th Company in China.

SHHX_1557p1 (Men_with_fur_hat)shhx_0555p1-chinese_soldier_on_hors

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is International Women’s Day!

To celebrate, we thought we would introduce you to a number of great and inspiring women that have set foot on the Sam Houston State University Campus.

Anna J. Hardwicke Pennybacker

 Ann J. Pennybacker

Graduate of 1st class of 1880, Sam Houston Normal Institute – Woman’s Suffrage Advocate, Author, and Lecturer

She authored the book A New History of Texas.

For more information: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpe30

Jewel Henson Gibson

Jewel Henson Gibson

Graduate with a BS in 1932 and a MS in 1950 – Novelist, Professor, and Playwright

Her novels include Joshua Beene and God , a satirical work about fictitious Church of Christ prophet in a small Texas town and Black Gold, a tale about a booming oil town.
For more information: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fgial

Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt with Anna Hardwicke and Harry Estill                                                          (Eleanor with Anna J. Hardwicke Pennybacker and Dr. Harry Estill

Mrs. Roosevelt never attended Sam Houston but did visit the campus on March 7, 1937. She was friends with Anna J. Hardwicke Pennybacker through her work with the Democratic party.

(credit to University archives for Pictures)                                                                       (credit the Handbook of Texas for information)

Welcome! Willkommen! Benvenuto! Välkommen

Hello everyone,


The purpose of this blog is to reach out to the students, faculty, and researchers in the Sam Houston State University community and those around the world who are interested in historical materials. Often rare materials can be remain unknown except to a few insiders. We here at Sam Houston State University are interested in getting the word out about the wonderful collections that are stored in Thomason Special Collections and SHSU University Archives as well as promoting collections we have digitized online. This blog will feature highlighted materials within our collection, finding aids which provide detailed description of collections, preservation and digitization tips from staff, and much more.


We have got some great, weird, and interesting stuff for people to discover!