Time Travel Stamps: one book set’s 120-year journey through four SHSU libraries


It is not often that you find a title in the Sam Houston State University’s Newton Gresham Library that’s in the library collection since 1899.

In the above image of the book’s front, inner cover, you will see library book plates and stamps, like stamps on a passport or destination stickers on luggage, they tell the history of this title and the University libraries where it was used for the last 120 years of its life.

The title of this set is, “Confederate Military History, Vol. 1, A Library of Confederate States History, In Twelve volumes, written by Distinguished Men of the South.” Edited by Gen. Clement A. Evans of Georgia, and published by the Confederate Publishing Company in 1899.

This 12-volume set was first used in the Reference Library of the Sam Houston State Normal School, which was officially known as the Sam Houston Normal Institute. In this time period the library was, “a large and beautiful room,” in the Main Building, which later became known as Old Main. The above top image is of the Old Main Building Peabody Library room where the title was first used in 1899.

In 1901, The Peabody Memorial Library was finished and the book received its next book stamp. From 1902-1928, the book was used as reference material in the Peabody Memorial Library. In 1928 the new and vastly larger, Sam Houston State Teachers College Library. (Which would soon become the Harry F. Estill Library), was opened and the book received it next stamp.

In 1965, the Sam Houston State Teachers College was renamed Sam Houston State College. The book received another new stamp that lasted until 1969 when Sam Houston State College was renamed Sam Houston State University.

In 1969, the four floors, 3 million dollar, University Library (which would become the Newton Gresham Library) was finished and opened for the spring semester.

The 12-volume set was now 70 years old and had traveled through four libraries. The new University Library featured a brand new Special Collections Department that was perfect for all 12 volumes of this title.  The set was placed in the Special Collection’s Thomason Room of the new University Library without a new, “Sam Houston State University,” stamp. Special Collection items are not stamped owing to the fact they are rare and can be damaged by the stamping.

Once again used as a primary reference source the set will be celebrating its 120th anniversary along with the Newton Gresham Library, which is celebrating its own 50th anniversary.

Sam Houston State University Special Collections in the Thomason Room, is open from 8-5, Monday-Friday.

Happy 60th Anniversary NASA!


NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is 60 years old this year! To celebrate the occasion the Newton Gresham Library, Special Collections, Thomason Room, would like you to visit the NASA Collection Materials, 1964-2011. The NASA Collection of Materials were donated to the Special Collections, Thomason Room, in part by Mrs. Robert Everline. Her husband, Robert Everline, worked with NASA from 1961-1982.

The image you see here (which oddly resembles a Star Wars movie poster) was part of an information packet given out at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in the mid 1970s. The Johnson Space Center opened in Houston, Texas, on November 1, 1961.

This information packet is one of the many interesting items you will find in the NASA Collection. Click here to see the finding aid for the entire collection: https://archon.shsu.edu/?p=collections/findingaid&id=114&q=

The Special Collections, Thomason Room, is on the fourth floor of the Newton Gresham Library and is open Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm.

Holiday Greetings from the Special Collections & University Archives at the NGL

christmas 1922 1042

The Special Collections and University Archives would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and good wishes for the New Year!

This 1922 Christmas Greetings card is part of a two-card collection of greeting cards done by Albert Rutherston and published in London by the Crown Press.

Albert Rutherston was a British artist who painted figures, landscapes, illustrated books, posters, and stage sets. He was the author of a book called, “Decoration in the Art of the Theatre,” 1910. This title can be found in the main library collection at call number, PN2091 .S8 R89 1919.

You can find these greeting cards in the Special Collections, Thomason Room, under John Drinkwater Christmas Cards, 2016.S12, single item collection.

We look forward to everyone coming to visit the Newton Gresham Library Special Collections and University Archives at Sam Houston State University in the coming year.

Marines in WWI Display at the NGL

This week’s blog post comes from Special Collections/Archives Intern this summer, Charlesetta Hubbard, History Major here at Sam Houston State. She used materials from the Special Collections/Archives to study WWI to create the blog post and display for the 100th anniversary of the Great War. The above image is from Charlesetta’s WWI display on the second floor of the Newton Gresham Library.

At least five centuries before the Christian era, the use of fighting men to complement ships engaging in war was common to the Phoenicians and to all costal states of Greece. Marines then were first to fight in naval engagements to protect their own ships, could capture and maintain occupation of the land by harbors, and were able to gather the fleet to execute offensive blows on land. The Marines of today are no different due to the Act of July 11, 1798 that established the foothold for the Marine Corps to grow and become their own operative branch. Although they lent combat aid in the Naval War with France and actively engaged in the War of 1812, the recognition of the tenacity will, and steadfastness of the Marines was not realized or given until they fought off the Germans and halted their progress into France during the Battle of Belleau Woods. Despite lacking an adequate supply of artillery, being outnumbered in manpower, and having a small likelihood of success, the 4th Marine Brigade came out victorious. Their contribution to the war effort in the Battle of Belleau Woods is significant because after its conclusion, the Marine Corps became a recognized member of the United States Armed Forces, it highlighted how essential their role in the war effort was, and it exemplified the reputation for the toughness and dedication that is associated with Marines today.

When the United States declared war on Germany, April 6, 1917, the Marine Corps consisted of 462 commissioned officers, 49 warrant officers, and 13,214 enlisted men on duty for only 13,725. Several weeks later, one-sixth of enlisted marines were sent overseas. This formed one-fifth of the first fleet of American troops for service in France. Later, they were joined by the 6th Regiment and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion and combined; they became the 4th Brigade under the 2nd Division of Regulars. General Pershing believed that American troops could win the war single-handed, but not without being trained in more than just the essentials of trench warfare. He wanted emphasis put on marksmanship and bayonet drill, open warfare, war of maneuver, and training behind enemy lines. The Marines were sent to boot camps located at Parris Island, South Carolina, and Mare Island, California where they completed eight- week courses in physical training, drill, close-quarters combat, and marksmanship. The Swedish system was also adopted as a part of the training and hardening process. Marines exercised with the nine-pound Springfield rifle. This included vertical and horizontal swings, lunges, rifle twists, and front swings. They shot from distances of 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 yards and practiced rapid fire shooting. After completing volunteer training, they were sent to Quantico, Virginia where they received more extensive training in skills acquired from the boot camps. The training was tough, but it gave the 4th Brigade the backbone they would need in France. It proved both purposeful and valuable, especially in the Battle of Belleau Wood.

Between March 21st and July 15, 1918, the Germans had launched no less than five major offenses to solidify a win for the Central Powers and to the dismay of the Allied powers, many of their offenses had been successful in achieving their objectives. In late April, General Ludendorff had approved Operation Blucher and continued the push to Paris. The rapid German push towards Paris, paired with French troops fatigue, lead to the immediate need of alleviation for the Allies. Not as experienced in real time war participation but eager to put what they had learned to use, the AEF deployed the Fourth Brigade.

The commander of the French XXI Corps ordered Brigadier General James Harbord’s 4th Marine Brigade to retake Belleau Wood. This task seemed impossible because of the 461st German Infantry’s strategic location on top of Hill 142 and their locations throughout Belleau Wood. They could carry out assaults without exposing themselves to the enemy and dug in to secure these locations. When the battle broke out June 6, 1918 at 3:45 a.m., the Fourth Brigade was welcomed with machine gun fire from all around. The trek through the wheat fields to get to Belleau Wood left them open to enemy fire and the machine gunmen of the German Infantry took full advantage of the opportunity. The 4th Brigade suffered over 1,000 causalities in dead or wounded after the day. Despite heavy losses, they still secured the hill. Next was the task of clearing the woods and pushing the Germans back east. On June 9, 1918, after the heavy artillery bombardment, the marines pressed hard into the woods despite having their allies retreat. The protection provided by Belleau Wood made it difficult for the 5th and 6th Regiments to locate and attack the Germans. They had to launch offensives against an enemy that they could not see. They fired artillery into the woods with no clear site of their target. The leveled trees hindered the rate of marine progress into the woods but also provided the perfect protection. When enemy machine gunmen fired off shots, they gave up their positions allowing American snipers to pick them off.

By June 11th, the 5th and 6th Regiments were tired and under-strength but launched an aggressive attack into the middle of Belleau Wood. This attacked changed the tide of the war in in the favor of the Allies and most importantly the Marines. They pushed deeper into the woods changing the fighting into close combat. Here, the Marines showed their advantages in weapon skills, small unit leadership, and morale. By June 15th, the 4th Brigade had secured the southwest side of Belleau Wood. The 7th Infantry was sent to relieve the 5th Regiment, but after failing to clear the remaining portion of Belleau Wood, on 23 June, the 5th and 6th Marines were ordered to go back and finish the job. By June 25th at dawn, 3/5 held all edges of Belleau Wood that faced the enemy and the Germans fell back. On June 26th, Belleau Woods was completely free of German troops.

The 4th Brigade proved that they were a force to be reckoned with. They continued to display fortitude and determination despite losing a large portion of troops during the first day, being given sporadic orders by their generals, and engaging in close quarter combat with a formidable opponent. They came out victorious with a win for the Allied forces and a win for the Marine Corps. The Fighting Devil Dogs of World War I embodied the Marine motto, “First to Fight”.

For a complete list of footnote references, contact the Special Collections/Thomason Room at the NGL. speccoll@shsu.edu

Outlaw Raymond Hamilton and the Barrow Gang.


Raymond Hamilton was a notorious outlaw and member of the Barrow Gang in the early 1930s. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Dallas, Hamilton later fell in with the infamous Bonnie and Clyde of the Barrow Gang. He was well-known for participating in the murder of Sheriff Eugene C. Moore in Stringtown, Oklahoma. But it was his escape from the Eastham prison farm in Texas that eventually put Hamilton in Old Sparky, the Texas Electric Chair.

In 1935, Raymond Hamilton was sentenced to death in Walker County, Texas for the murder of Major Crowson, a Texas prison official. Crowson was shot during Hamilton’s escape from the Eastham prison farm. Hamilton and Joe Palmer escaped with the help of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Hamilton claimed that Joe Palmer, another notorious Barrow Gang member killed Major Crowson. The jury determined that there was no way to distinguish which man had killed Crowson during the escape and sentenced both men to die in the electric chair. Above are the official court documents from Walker County on Hamilton’s death sentence.

Stop by SHSU Special Collections in the Newton Gresham Library if you are interested in more information on Raymond Hamilton and other famous Texas outlaws.

Thanks to Trent Shotwell, MLIS, Library Associate for Special Collections in the Thomason Room for contributing this week’s posting.

Happy 180th Birthday Samuel L. Clemens, better known as “Mark Twain.”

Mark Twain 1874335 - Copy


“The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work”- Mark Twain

Samuel L. Clemens was born in Hannibal, Missouri on November 30, 1835. The American author is overwhelming known by his pen name of Mark Twain. Born shortly after the appearance of Hailey’s Comet in 1835 Clemens said he came in with comet and would go out with it. His death came one day after the comet’s return on April 20, 1910.

His pen name of,”Mark Twain,” Clemens said came from Captain Isaiah Sellers who wrote down paragraphs of practical information and signed them Mark Twain and send them to the New Orleans Picayune. Clemens took up the pen name after Captain Sellers died in 1869.

The cover of the magazine featured in this post is from 1874 and was illustrated by R. T. Sperry. Note that the frog is reading the same title as the magazine.

The Special Collections Department in the Thomason Room of the Newton Gresham Library holds the Mark Twain Correspondence and Ephemera Collection, 1874-2002. This Twain collection is said to be one of the best in Texas.

Click here to go to the finding aid in the NGL Finding Aids Online:

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



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.


Joanne Kyger

Joanne Kyger ("Joanne Kyger." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.)

Joanne Kyger (“Joanne Kyger.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.)

Joanne Kyger’s poetry had hints of Zen Buddhism, Black Mountain, San Francisco Renaissance, and Beat poetry. Even with her diverse set of influences, she is most often associated with poets of the San Francisco Renaissance and the Beat movement.
Joanne Kyger was born on November 19, 1934. She studied at the University of Columbia and almost got her degree, but instead she moved to San Francisco in 1957. Once in San Francisco she moved into a communal housing establishment for students of Zen Buddhism and Asian studies. Not long after moving to San Francisco Kyger became involved with the poetry scene around Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. These two poets were best known for their involvement with the San Francisco Renaissance. In 1958 Joanne met Gary Snyder. In 1960 she went to Japan with him, and on February 28, 1960 the two married. She travelled to India with Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Peter Orlovsky. Ginsberg and her husband were both Beat poets. In 1965 Joanne Kyger and her husband Gary Snyder got divorced after being separated for a few years. Later in 1965 Joanne Kyger married Jack Boyce, the two separated in the early 70’s.
The Newton Gresham Library has a few of her poems in SHSU Special Collections Wild Dog collection. Places to go and Stump Island, along with Kora Grown Old, a poem dedicated to Kyger, can be found in Series one, Subseries 1, Box 1, Folder 44 of the collection. Places to go can also be found with the manuscripts in Series two, Subseries 1, Box 5, Folder 18, and as the final version in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, Folder 4. She come up can be found in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, Folder 4. Joanne Kyger still writes some today. In addition, she also teaches at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics on occasion.

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

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Lew Welch

Lew Welch (Lew Welch." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.)

Lew Welch (Lew Welch.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.)

Lew Welch was part of the San Francisco Beat movement. He’s the lesser known member of a trio of major Beat poets from west coast, the other two are Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen.
Welch was born in Phoenix, Arizona on August 16, 1926 to Lewis Welch Sr. and Dorothy Welch. In 1929, after his parents divorced, Lew, his sister, and his mother moved to California. In 1944 Welch enlisted in the Army Air Corps, but he never saw active service. In 1948 he moved to Portland Oregon to attend Reed College. While at Reed, Welch met and roomed with Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder. He worked at the magazine and wrote his thesis on Gertrude Stein. SHSU Special Collections has a Stein collection. While attending Reed he met William Carlos Williams, who encouraged him to get his thesis published. After College, Welch entered the advertising business. He moved to New York first, where many say he came up with the slogan: “Raid Kills Bugs Dead,” although some question this claim. He later moved to Chicago to further his advertising career. While in Chicago he missed out on the famous reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco, which prompted a request to transfer to his company’s Oakland headquarters. Once he moved back to San Francisco he got involved with the literary scene again. In order to dedicate more time to writing, Welch quit his job and got another job as a cab driver.
At times Welch lived with other Beat writers including Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Like many other Beat poets Welch did not like war. He and other writers and editors signed a pledge called “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” and refused to pay tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.
In the 1960’s Welch began teaching at the University of California Extension Poetry Workshop. In early 1971 Welch and his common law wife, Magda Cregg, broke up. On May 23, 1971 Welch walked out of Gary Snyder’s house, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with a Smith&Weston .22 revolver, leaving a suicide note. His body was never found. He left an executor and, as a result, a good portion of his work was published posthumously.
Lew Welch was a very talented writer. He could make a grisly sky burial, where your body is fed to vultures, seem glorious. The Wild Dog magazine have a very good example of his amazing writing ability. The poem is titled Belly Musky Pit in Wild Dog issue 17 on page 45, and was published on June 8, 1965. The poem is either talking about garbage or a bodily function but his writing is so good that you can’t stop yourself from reading the poem again and again trying to figure out exactly what it’s about. Belly Musky Pit can be found in the Wild Dog Collection in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, and Folder 2.

Wd 0005

To view and read poems by Lew Welch and learn more about The Wild Dog Papers, visit Newton Gresham Library’s Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Library.


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.