When you enter Thomason Special Collections on the fourth floor of Newton Gresham Library with its impressive wood paneling cases full of historic materials, you can feel like you are walking back in time…
And in fact, many of the furnishings and decorations inside Thomason Special Collections have come together over time from across campus and time to create a space that celebrates our history but is also comfortable for research and study.
In just one example, this photo of a group of students studying in the Estill Library circa 1940 is from the 1940 Sam Houston State Teacher’s College Bulletin found in SHSU Archives. The photo clearly shows an example of both a library table and shelf of the kind currently housed in the Thomason Room. The shelves here pictured came first from the Peabody Library (the first library on campus), were then moved to the Estill Library) and we have one set on display behind the Peabody Charge Desk in the Thomason Room (pictured below.)
Though library furnishings change (we’ve gotten new carpet and upholstery this very year!), and library materials change even faster than that (hello Ebooks!) it is wonderful to be able to house and actively use furniture and furnishings that date from the very early years of campus history.
Everywhere we go Sam is watching. I am not sure if that is good or bad.
From May 23-25, the writers of Out of the Box and members of the Thomason Room Special Collections team attend the annual conference of SSA (Society of Southwest Archivist) in Austin, TX. We used the opportunity to visit the Texas State Archives in Austin even daring the pouring rain to do so. The Texas State Archives’ current building was established in 1962 and named after Lorenzo de Zavala whose granddaughter was Adina Emilia De Zavala, a Sam Houston State Alumni and preservationist. We were given a behind the scenes look at how a large archives works. We viewed multiple levels of storage space, which house everything from books to av material to large manuscript collections documenting the history of the state of Texas and the actions of its various government agencies. We also toured the processing area where they work to process all the incoming collections. The real highlight was a tour of their conservation lab where a lone worker tries to repair material damaged by weather or time. You would not believe some of the before and after things we got to see. Needless to say, we were impressed! I think most archival organizations would turn a green eye of envy towards this state of the art in-house conservation lab. If you go to the reading room, you can actually watch her work from behind clear glass. Overall it was a wonderful experience. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission does a number of wonderful things for the archival community in Texas by providing training seminars and providing assistance with digitization projects like microfilming. It was nice to see them at work on their home turf.