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Field Trip to Panna Maria with the FGS

August 29, 2014

Visiting Panna Maria!

Visiting Panna Maria!

Leslie and Jaime participated in the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference this week. They attended Librarians’ Day on Tuesday, August 26th, where they heard some interesting lectures from some very talented and knowledgeable speakers. Throughout the week, the Alamo Research Center has also welcomed quite a few genealogists who are researching their family histories.

The church at Panna Maria. Built to replace the original church that burned down.

The church at Panna Maria. Built to replace the original church that burned down.

On Thursday, Leslie and Jaime went on the FGS-sponsored field trip to Panna Maria, Texas. Panna Maria is a community about 55 miles southeast of San Antonio. Founded in 1854, this little hamlet was the earliest and one of the largest Polish communities in the United States. They had a wonderful time on the trip and can’t wait to visit again!

Interior of the painted church at Panna Maria

Interior of the painted church at Panna Maria

Featured Researchers: A Dynamic Duo from Austin College

August 15, 2014

This week, the Alamo Research Center hosted Drs. Light and Victoria Cummins from Austin College in Sherman, Texas. Dr. Light T. Cummins was the State Historian of Texas  from May 2009 to July 2012. This husband and wife team are writing a book about club-women and women’s clubs who promoted the visual arts from 1900 to 1942. We were delighted that we were able to help them out with our extensive collection of San Antonio women’s history documents!

Dr. Victoria Cummins and Dr. Light Cummins are professors of history at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

Dr. Victoria Cummins and Dr. Light Cummins are professors of history at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

How did you hear about the Alamo Research Center?

As historians, we have always known of the library and its importance in researching Texas and San Antonio topics. We were overjoyed to see this important repository reopen to researchers last fall.

What collection or collections are you using in your research?

Sallie Ward Beretta Family Papers, San Antonio Self Culture Club Records, Lotus Club Scrapbooks, Taylor Family Papers, Ellen Shulz Quillen Papers, Sarah Farnsworth Papers, among others, as well as several dozen vertical files.

What is the final outcome or project for which you are using these research materials?

A book length study of how women’s clubs, and networks of club women working outside the club structure, promoted art appreciation, art education, public and private art collecting,  and the funding of civic art organization (art leagues, museum societies, etc.) in Texas in the early twentieth century.

We asked Drs. Cummins  about their research visit here at the Alamo Research Center.

This experience has been a pleasant and productive research experience. We emailed the archivist prior to our visit, identifying several collections we found by TARO (Texas Archival Resources Online) search. These collections, along with their finding aids, were ready for us on arrival. The staff was most helpful to us, suggesting additional collections which proved valuable to our research. All of the staff was courteous, knowledgeable, and helpful. We have had a fruitful and enjoyable research experience at the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Collection at the Alamo Research Center.

 

 

We loved having the Drs. Cummins with us this week, and we hope they will come back soon!

If you would like to make a research appointment at the Alamo Research Center, you can send us an email at drtl@drtl.org or give us a call at (210) 225-1071. We look forward to your visit!

100 Years of Fun and History at the San Antonio Zoo

August 1, 2014

100 years after the first animals were brought to Brackenridge Park, the San Antonio Zoo attracts tourists from all over the world to see and learn about its extensive collection of animals. The zoo’s mission includes breeding and conservation programs for dozens of rare and endangered species. The San Antonio Zoo hasn’t always been this big, but it has always been innovative and educational!

"Old Monkey Island," circa 1930s-1940s. An early example of the open air enclosures at the San Antonio Zoo.

“Old Monkey Island,” circa 1930s-1940s. An early example of the open air enclosures at the San Antonio Zoo.

The first “zoo” in San Antonio was held in a private collection owned by J. J. Duerler that he housed at San Pedro Park as early as the 1870s. Another group of animals lived at San Pedro Park around the turn of the 20th century. According to a 1949 article in the San Antonio Light, a circus got stranded in San Antonio and the city allowed the keeper to set up his cages at the park. When he started charging admission to help feed his charges, the city bought the animals and moved them to the new Brackenridge Park. In 1914, businessman and philanthropist George W. Brackenridge brought a small herd of elk and buffalo that were to be housed on the land that he had deeded to the city of San Antonio. Over time, animals such as golden eagles, lions, a black prairie wolf, and a weasel were added to the collection, and in 1928, the San Antonio Zoological Society formed to help purchase and maintain animals and to continue the growth of one of the world’s most advanced zoos.

Photoprint of one of the first buffalo given to the San Antonio Zoo by George W. Brackenridge.

Photoprint of one of the first buffalo given to the San Antonio Zoo by George W. Brackenridge.

One of the most important people in the zoo’s early history was Fred Stark. Stark was a San Antonio native who began working at the zoo in 1927 as the curator of the small bird collection. He was named director in 1929, a post that he held until his death in 1967. During that time, he oversaw the development of breeding programs and innovative open habitats as well as a tremendous growth in attendance.

Zoo director Fred Stark in 1936 with four three-week-old tiger cubs, believed to be the first quadruplet tiger litter born in captivity.

Zoo director Fred Stark in 1936 with four three-week-old tiger cubs, believed to be the first quadruplet tiger litter born in captivity.

This Saturday, August 2nd, join us at the Alamo Research Center for an exhibit that explores the history of fun and sun in San Antonio. Summer may be winding down, but we aren’t ready to let it go! Some of our Texas treasures will also be on display. We look forward to seeing you!

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

Law Librarians Tour the Alamo Research Center

July 18, 2014

On Monday, July 14, the Alamo Research center hosted some special guests.

The annual conference of the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL) was held in San Antonio earlier this week. Two groups of conference attendees included a tour of the Alamo Research Center on their itineraries. They came from all over the country- and even from as far away as New Zealand! We were delighted to welcome them to the Alamo and the Alamo Research Center.

Since very few of our visitors were from Texas, we spent some time getting everyone up to speed with a Texas history lesson.

Since very few of our visitors were from Texas, we spent some time getting everyone up to speed with a Texas history lesson.

Amelia, one of the Alamo Educators, joined us as the librarians examined some of the Texas treasures from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Collection.

Amelia, one of the Alamo Educators, joined us as the librarians examined some of the Texas treasures from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Collection.

Leslie showed the librarians our vertical file and periodical collections as well as helped them understand more about the Research Center and its functions.

Leslie showed the librarians our vertical file and periodical collections as well as helped them understand more about the Research Center and its functions.

Jaime and the librarians visited the Vault to explore the legal resources available in the collections, including printed maps, plat and survey maps, land patents/grants, deeds of all kinds, correspondence, case files, and more.

Jaime and the librarians visited the Vault to explore the legal resources available in the collections, including printed maps, plat and survey maps, land patents/grants, deeds of all kinds, correspondence, case files, and more.

We hope that everyone who visited enjoyed the experience as much as we did!

Group tours of the Alamo Research Center are now available for small groups, and we also offer small exhibits for medium to large group. We can schedule a tour during business hours or as an After Hours Tour. Please contact Leslie Stapleton, Director of the Alamo Research Center, by calling (210) 225-1071 or emailing drtl@drtl.org, for more information. The Alamo Research Center would love to be a part of your next VIP event or group entertainment!

“Savior of the Alamo” Lay in State in the Alamo Shrine

July 17, 2014

July 17 marks the 69th anniversary of Clara Driscoll‘s death in 1945. Clara Driscoll, the “Savior of the Alamo,” was the philanthropist and Daughter of the Republic of Texas who provided the money to buy the Alamo for the State of Texas when this historic landmark was threatened with demise in 1905.

Clara Driscoll, "Savior of the Alamo," who offered the money to purchase the Alamo buildings for the State of Texas and who led the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in becoming custodians of the Alamo.

Clara Driscoll, “Savior of the Alamo,” who offered the money to purchase the Alamo buildings for the State of Texas and who led the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in becoming custodians of the Alamo.

Clara passed away in Corpus Christi in her penthouse at the top of the Driscoll Hotel, but she was brought back to San Antonio. On Thursday, July 19th, she was given the great honor of laying in state in the Alamo Shrine, a privilege only extended to three others since the Alamo became a State-owned site in 1905.

Clara lay in state in the Alamo Chapel for three hours as friends, dignitaries, colleagues, and well-wishers filed passed to say their good-byes to the great philanthropist and civic leader.

Clara lay in state in the Alamo Chapel for three hours as friends, dignitaries, colleagues, and well-wishers filed passed to say their good-byes to the great philanthropist and civic leader.

Clara Driscoll was buried in Masonic Cemetery, one of San Antonio’s historic cemeteries. Her family erected a large mausoleum in her memory where visitors can still learn about this important figure in the preservation of Texas history.

Clara Driscoll's mausoleum stands in the Masonic Cemetery today. A Texas Historical Marker was erected in her honor in 1978.

Clara Driscoll’s mausoleum stands in the Masonic Cemetery today. A Texas Historical Marker was erected in her honor in 1978.

 

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

Celebrating Juneteenth at the Alamo Research Center

June 19, 2014

Since the 1860s, June 19 has been recognized in Texas as Juneteenth. The day has been a state holiday since 1980.

Parade in Alamo Plaza, ca. 1900, possibly of Juneteenth celebration. Note the mules painted like zebras!

Parade in Alamo Plaza, ca. 1900, possibly of Juneteenth celebration.

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 that Union forces under Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to enforce Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Major General Granger announced General Orders No. 3 which stated that, “”The people are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, become that between employer and hired labor.” Under the orders,  most freedmen were required to continue working for the masters for whom they already labored. The announcement also took several months to spread throughout Texas, and the Union Army in Texas was small enough that it was sometimes difficult to enforce. Nevertheless, over the years, Juneteenth has come to represent the voice of African Americans celebrating their autonomy and cultural heritage.

Come to the Alamo Research Center to explore the history of slavery and freedmen in Texas:

1830s Emancipation documents and Slave sale documents in DRT 9

Juneteenth Vertical Files

Labor Contracts between B.F. Sledge and freedmen

Hanna Family Papers, Col 898, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Collection at the Alamo Research Center, San Antonio, Texas

 

1871 Labor Contract between freedmen and their one-time owner, James Scott Hanna. Terms didn't change much from slavery except for the provision of wages.

1871 Labor Contract between freedmen and their one-time owner, James Scott Hanna. Terms didn’t change much from slavery except for the provision of wages.

 

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

Richard Hogue Dickson Family Papers are now available

June 3, 2014

Here at the Alamo Research Center, we are excited when we can bring you new collections to explore!

June Weddings Mean Love is in the Air at the Alamo Research Center!

Earlier this year, we received a generous donation of family papers from the descendants of Abishai Mercer Dickson. Abishai was a member of the Alabama Red Rovers who came to Texas to fight in the Texas Revolution. He was killed at Goliad. His wife, Ann Margaret, later married Dr. John Sutherland, one of the messengers who escaped death at the Alamo.

The Finding Aid for The Richard Hogue Dickson Family Papers is now available on TARO, Texas Archival Resources Online. TARO is a great resource for researching the manuscript collection we have here at the ARC. These papers concern the family of Abishai’s son, Richard Hogue Dickson (1831-1931). R. H. Dickson was a Confederate soldier, an Indian fighter, a Texas Ranger, and in his quieter years, a brickmason.

A tintype found within the collection is tentatively identified as Richard Hogue Dickson in middle age.

A tintype found within the collection is tentatively identified as Richard Hogue Dickson in middle age.

The Papers include family letters, some business documents, memorial notices, clippings, and small prayer books. Of particular interest are the love letters that document the growing relationship between R.H. and his future wife Eleanor J. Read. Like his father, Abishai, Dickson is quite the romantic when he asks his lady a special question (although he somewhat a stranger to conventional punctuation)!

This is the love letter that Richard Hogue Dickson, son of Abishai Mercer Dickson, wrote to his future wife, Eleanor J. Read. They courted for several years before their marriage.

This is the love letter that Richard Hogue Dickson, son of Abishai Mercer Dickson, wrote to his future wife, Eleanor J. Read. They courted for several years before their marriage.

Dickson writes:

June 5, 1849

Dear Eleanor,

It has but a short time since I was with you, but to me it seems a year; what did I say? a year, yes, minutes to me hours, days and days pass so dreary that they seem to me weeks, what is the cause of it? It is because the angel of all my hopes, my desires, and all that I care for, is absent; but I speak improperly: for the image of that angel is always with me, yes, hundreds of times the image of that beautiful nymph fitted before my eyes, and many have been the nights, when her form has crossed the track of my wandering senses, and stopped to hold sweet converse with me; methinks I could hear the sweet tones of her musical voice, and see that bewitching smile playing upon her rosy lips, which have so often confused my senses, and make me confess that I love her; but who is that nymph? Who is it that could make me confess myself in love? It is you, Eleanor! It is your beautiful form that haunts my slumber! And it is you that is dearer to me than all else in this world; Eleanor I love you; I love you with all the ardent passion of youth, yes I love you with that love which will last as long as life itself shall last; but shall this love to you be treated with contempt? Oh no, I hope not; may I have the presumption to hope that you will one day be mine? Oh, cheering thought! But if on the contrary, oh how dark, how dismal shall be the rest of my life, dearest girl if it be but one time write to let me know my fate, and believe me that I remain you sincere lover,

Richard H. Dickson

 

 Come join us for First Saturday at the Alamo this Saturday, June 7! You can see R.H.’s letter to Eleanor in our June Brides exhibit as well as a display of some of our Texas Treasures!

 

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

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