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.


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


Houstonian 10 24 1959 jpg

It’s the annual “Pink Out” game this weekend. Everyone wear pink and support the search for a cure for breast cancer.

Deciding what to wear to the Sam Houston vs.Texas A&M Commerce game on Saturday will be a no brainer. But back in 1959 The Houstonian decided to give female football fans a few helpful hints on the latest football fashion. This clipping is from The Houstonian, October 24, 1959.

To see more football fashion in the SHSU yearbook, The Alcalde, or copies of The Houstonian come visit the University Archives, room 400, Newton Gresham Library.

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

Houstonian Cartoon 09161972

Over the years, The Houstonian, has featured many cartoons within the pages of the 102 year old newspaper.

This football fun cartoon from the September 26, 1972, Houstonian, is an example of the work of the cartoon artist known only by his or her signature of Rowland. Rowland’s many cartoons throughout the fall of 1972 and spring of 1973 issues of the Houstonian feature an accurate caricature of the people and attitudes of the day on the Sam Houston State campus.

Come and see more of Rowland’s cartoons in the University Archives in room 400 of the Newton Gresham Library.

Snow on the Hill


Snow 1982

Yes Virginia, it does snow on the SHSU campus. When it does it brings out the BearKitten in our BearKats. In this Houstonian newspaper clipping from January 19, 1982, SHSU students are “sledding” down the Old Main Hill. At the top of the hill you can see the Old Main Building which stood where the Old Main Memorial or the “Pit” is now. In less than a month the Old Main Building would be lost to a tragic fire on February 12, 1982.

For more information on the Old Main Building or snow on the SHSU campus come visit the University Archives.

Axmen Invade BearKatland!


Houstonian 1928 Lumberjacks

This headline from The Houstonian, November 28, 1928, announces the arrival of our rivals the Stephen F. Austin Lumbarjacks. The BearKats beat the Axmen 19-2 in what was described in the next issue of The Houstonian as the most brilliant game of the season.

To see the entire issue of this, Houstonian, come visit the SHSU University Archives in room 400 of the Newton Gresham Library.

Looking back at SHSU in the 1970s through the Houstonian


Pre-1981 issues of the Houstonian are stored as physical copies in the archives

This week in the archives I’ve been sifting through old issues of the Houstonian from the 1970s, looking through sports articles for more information on the teams and games depicted in the photo slides I’ve been organizing. While going through all the old issues of the Houstonian I’ve come upon a couple interesting (and vaguely sports related) articles I wanted to share here.

“Sammy Bearkat” perches on the shoulder of his student trainer.

The first article concerns a certain SHSU mascot. An issue of the Houstonian from October 1975 contained the headline, “Bearkat Needs Trainers Before Spring Semester.” The article includes a photograph of “Sammy Bearkat,” who was actually not a Bearkat at all, but a small mammal from South America called a “kinkajou.”

The article was more of a plea for new caretakers for the kinkajou, as his current caretakers were graduating. It outlined his behavior, the types of food he ate, and the requirements for any potential trainers. Apparently Sammy the kinkajou was the official mascot at SHSU from 1970-1975, although I didn’t find any more information about him after that year.

Female athletes are welcomed into the Bearkat Den (athletic dorms) in 1979

The second article, from September 1979, was a reminder that the 1970s were a significant decade for collegiate athletics due to changes such as Title IX, which requires high schools and colleges to provide equal opportunities and resources for female athletes. The article, headlined “Women are in the Bearkat Den,” announced that for the first time in SHSU’s history women were allowed to live in the official dorm for student athletes. In the article, the women’s softball coach emphasizes that although the dorms are co-ed, no men were allowed inside the women’s rooms. Accompanying the article is a picture of female athletes hanging on the balcony rails of the Bearkat Den.

Jim Croce, SHSU and Fate.



Jim Croce, singer, songwriter, construction worker, who had given up music for three years, was on a comeback tour called, “Croce, The Life and Times” in 1973. The tour was set to be concluded with a concert at Sam Houston State on October 3, a concert that was being called the most successful event Sam Houston State had ever put on. On September 20, 1973, 40 years ago today, Croce boarded a plane bound for Austin College in Sherman, Texas after a successful concert at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA. Tragically, the plane crashed during takeoff, killing Jim Croce and the five others aboard. Ingrid Croce, widow of the famed artist, published a memoir titled “I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story” detailing Jim’s life and the events leading up to the crash. This title is available at the Newton-Gresham Library.