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The Alamo Legacy of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas

July 3, 2015

9784

“The Alamo is not ancient history. It is no more ancient than love is an old story, for nothing is ancient and nothing is old which every day teaches something that is fine and beautiful and brave.” –Richard Harding Davis, 1892

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas have been dedicated to the preservation of the heritage of Texans since their inception in 1891. Many of their most visible activities occurred at the Alamo Shrine in San Antonio. In response to Clara Driscoll, Adina de Zavala, and other women who called for the rescue of the neglected and decayed site of the 1836 battle, the Texas legislature made the Daughters of the Republic of Texas the custodians of the Alamo in 1905. Without state assistance (prior to 2011), they operated and improved the Alamo using the proceeds from the gift shop. They transformed the Alamo into a tourist site that introduces Texas history to millions of school children and visitors from around the globe while at the same time supporting preservation efforts of the historic structure.

One hundred and ten years later, their last day as the official caretakers of the historic shrine is July 10, 2015.

Their Alamo legacy, however, will live on.

Sarah Riddle Eagar, the second Shrine Hostess, in the interior of the Alamo Chapel. In the early days, donated documents and paintings hung on the walls and artifacts were displayed in cases. The Shrine Hostess greeted visitors from her desk

Sarah Riddle Eagar, the second Shrine Hostess, in the interior of the Alamo Chapel. In the early days, donated documents and paintings hung on the walls and artifacts were displayed in cases. The Shrine Hostess greeted visitors from her desk. Sarah Eagar and Florence Eagar Roberts Alamo Papers, Doc 14408, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center.

Shrine Hostesses

Because they needed a representative to be the face of the Alamo to the public, the DRT installed a desk in the chapel for the volunteer Shrine Hostess. She answered questions and explained the history of the battle and the site to visitors. The first hostess was Florence Eagar, who held the post from 1905 until 1907. After she married Major Harris L. Roberts, her mother, Sarah Riddle Eagar, took over the duties of hostess. A citizen of the Republic of Texas herself, Sarah had been the first Anglo American child born in San Antonio.

1906 contract for one of the first Alamo postcards to be sold as a souvenir to support the upkeep of the Alamo. Florence Eagar, the Alamo hostess, was in charge of the contract.

1906 contract for one of the first Alamo postcards to be sold as a souvenir to support the upkeep of the Alamo. Florence Eagar, the Alamo hostess, was in charge of the contract.

The 1905 legislation required that the DRT operate and preserve the Alamo “without charge to the state.” Prior to 2011, the DRT provided all of the funding used to maintain and operate the Alamo historic site through the proceeds of souvenir sales. In the early years, the Daughters sold small trinkets such as vases and crockery from the Shrine Hostess’ desk. The hostess logged inventory and sales in her ledger. The souvenir shop was moved into the Alamo Sales Museum in 1936.

Interior of the Alamo Sales Museum. [Alamo Museum interior] / Harvey Patteson & Son, 1958.  DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center, San Antonio, Texas

Interior of the Alamo Sales Museum. [Alamo Museum interior] / Harvey Patteson & Son, 1958. DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center, San Antonio, Texas

Leita Applewhite Small, who served as Alamo Hostess, historian, custodian, and business operator for over two decades, represented all that is good about the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Upon her death in 1946, the Alamo Mission Chapter observed that Mrs. Small had left the Alamo “in first class condition more beautiful, more beloved, more expansive in its influence.” Mrs. Edith Halter kept Alamo scrapbooks during her time as hostess in the 1950s. These scrapbooks are housed in the DRT Library Collection at the Alamo Research Center. Jacqueline Runnels Espy was another long-serving hostess during the 1960s. She greeted a number of famous guests upon their visit to the Alamo, including John F. Kennedy, and often appeared in Renwick Cary’s “Around the Plaza” feature for the San Antonio Light.

John F. Kennedy signs the guest register at the in the Alamo.  To his left is his sister Patricia Lawford and to his right the DRT hostess, Jacqueline Runnels Espy.

John F. Kennedy signs the guest register at the in the Alamo. To his left is his sister Patricia Lawford and to his right the DRT hostess, Jacqueline Runnels Espy. General Image Collection, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center.

The Shrine Hostess continued to be an important figure for the DRT and the Alamo. For eleven decades, these ladies have presented the public face of the history of the Alamo, the Texas Revolution, and the Texas Republic. The last shrine hostess, Anne Burney, retired in March of 2015. As the Mission Chapter put it in their tribute to Leita Small: “May these words…serve as a reminder…to learn the lesson of the Alamo as she learned it- ‘to carry on loyally and unafraid, never surrendering even though she must ask to have the cot lifted across the line.'”

Finding Aids: Your Roadmap to the Archives

June 12, 2015

Welcome to Resource Round-Up #3!

If you are interested in doing research in a library or archive, the chances are that you will encounter what archivists call a finding aid. So what is a finding aid, what can it tell you, and how can you use it? Let’s look at an example. For this exercise, we’ll be using the Bustillo Family Papers, a fairly large collection in the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library Collection.

So you’ve already checked out the vertical files on your topic that we have at the Alamo Research Center. If you also explored our catalog, you might have come across an entry with an active hyperlink. Clicking on this link will take you to the digital copy of the finding aid hosted on TARO (Texas Archival Resources Online).

Click on the hyperlink to go to the digital finding aid. From here, you can see the contents of the collection.

Click on the hyperlink to go to the digital finding aid. From here, you can see the contents of the collection.

A finding aid is the chief tool that we use to figure out what is in a particular archival collection. The finding aid can be index cards, an inventory or box list, or any other format that documents the general contents of a collection. There are professional standards for what to include the type of finding aid we use at the Alamo Research Center.  Here, we are referring to finding aids that include information about the creator of the collection, the scope (breadth) and content (topics covered) contained within the collection, the administrative history of the collection, and other information about the collection. One of the main functions of the archivist is processing, arranging, and describing a manuscript collection using these standards so that it is usable to the public. The finding aid will be your guide as you navigate the collection.

The finding aid is like a road map that lists information about the creator of the collection as well as the contents, physical size, primary language, and more. It is organized so that you can find the document or group of documents that are important to your research project.

The finding aid is like a road map that lists information about the creator of the collection as well as the contents, physical size, primary language, and more. It is organized so that you can find the document or group of documents that are important to your research project.

The first division you may see in a finding aid is the “Series.” Depending on the materials in the collection, the series may indicate different types of documents- i.e. a Series for Correspondence, Personal Papers, Business Materials, Photographs, and more. Alternatively, the collection may be separated by creator–this is particularly true in family papers, where each family member may have their own series. Within each series, collections are commonly processed down to the “folder level.” For a collection processed to that level, you can see folder designations (i.e. Correspondence, 1860-1865), but not individual items within the folder. In the case of the Alamo Research Center, many of our finding aids are processed down to the “item level.” This means that you can see individual documents listed on the finding aid. You can see this on the finding aid for Bustillo Family Papers. When you locate an item that you would like to look at, you can request it by providing us the collection name (Bustillo Family Papers) and number (Col 879) plus the box and folder number. It’s like providing coordinates on map that tells us exactly where we need to go!

You can request items by listing the collection name and number plus the box and folder number listed on the finding aid.

You can request items by listing the collection name and number plus the box and folder number listed on the finding aid.

Here’s a little tip if your catalog search takes you to an entry that links to a large finding aid. If you are looking for mentions of a particular person, place, or event, click on Edit–>Find or use the Ctrl-F shortcut to open the “find” box, type the name in the box, and search for each instance of that term appearing on the web page. It will save you from having to scroll through every page to look for your person!

You can do this! If you get stuck, you can always send us an email (there is a contact option in TARO, or send it directly to drtl@drtl.org) or give us a call. We’re here to help. Schedule your research appointment today!

“From Mountaintop to Mountaintop of Knowledge:” Willie H. Maverick graduates from the University of Virginia

May 20, 2015

Congratulations to all of the recent and upcoming graduates out there! The Alamo Research Center would like to salute your achievement. So here’s to you, 2015 Graduate!

Commencement program, University of Virginia, June 30th, 1870, Col 11749, Maverick Family Papers, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center.

Commencement program, University of Virginia, June 30th, 1870, Col 11749, Maverick Family Papers, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center.

You are joining historic company. In June of 1870, William H. (Willie) Maverick graduated from the University of Virginia with the degree of Bachelor of Law. Willie was the second son of prominent San Antonian Samuel Maverick, one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence. He had to pass rigorous examinations that include questions such as:

State the doctrine in Virginia as to private statutes; the definition of an ex post facto law; the doctrine in Virginia as to Retrospective Laws; the power of the Courts of England and in Virginia severally, to declare a statute void and why; of what the laws of Virginia consisted previous to the Revolution; Sheriff’s civil liability for escapes; and the coroner’s ministerial duties.

And that’s just one question out of over two dozen for Willie’s four classes!

University of Virgina Commencement Program. Inset shows William Maverick on the list of graduates with a degree in law. Maverick Family Papers, Col 11749, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center.

University of Virgina Commencement Program. Inset shows William Maverick on the list of graduates with a degree in law. Maverick Family Papers, Col 11749, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center.

You can explore more about Willie and the rest of the Maverick family by reading their extensive correspondence, school papers, business records, and other documents in the Maverick Family Papers here at the Alamo Research Center. Schedule your research appointment now!

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

Preservation Month: The Joseph Courand House

May 8, 2015

May is Preservation Month, sponsored by the National Trust for Historic Preservation! In our state, Preservation Texas is a big sponsor of events. Preservation Month is big deal here at the Alamo Research Center because preservation is one of the most important activities we do. We take care of documents, books, photographs, art, maps, a few artifacts, and more, but we also support the preservation of historical structures around San Antonio and Bexar County. One of our largest collections is the Leo M. J. Dielmann Collection of architectural plans, drawings, schematics, presentation drawings, and personal papers. This collection and its additions include blueprints of dozens of buildings in San Antonio, including such iconic locations as Joske’s Department Store (now being converted into part of Rivercenter Mall) and the original Beethoven Maennerchor, now the Magik Children’s Theater.

Notice the dramatic Corinthian columns that ring the portico. Presentation drawing of the Joseph Courand House, Dielmann, Leo M.J., Papers, Col 883, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center, San Antonio, Texas.

Notice the dramatic Corinthian columns that ring the portico. Presentation drawing of the Joseph Courand House, Dielmann, Leo M.J., Papers, Col 883, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center,
San Antonio, Texas.

Leo Dielmann was also the architect for several of the stately homes of the King William district. In 1906, he built the imposing neoclassical revival house at 1146 S. Alamo for Joseph Courand, Jr., the son of an immigrant to Castroville. Courand lived in the house until his death in 1946, and the house has served many purposes over the years. It has housed the Oblate Fathers for Mary Immaculate College, a home for unwed mothers, a Mission Salvation property, a party space, a restaurant, and an immigration law firm before returning to its original purpose as a private home in 1988. The house has undergone several renovations, and when the current owner was looking to make repairs to the front portico, he came to the Alamo Research Center to find evidence of what the house looked like in 1906. The staff at the ARC enjoys being able to help with research projects like this that will contribute to preservation efforts of the historical homes and other buildings in San Antonio.

Photograph of the Joseph Courand House, Dielmann, Leo M.J., Papers, Col 883, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center, San Antonio, Texas

Photograph of the Joseph Courand House, Dielmann, Leo M.J., Papers, Col 883, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center,
San Antonio, Texas

Schedule your research appointment now! There is a whole world of history in the Alamo Research Center that we would love to help you explore.

Bibliography

Vertical File—San Antonio—Historic Sites—Courand House

Leo M. J. Dielmann Papers, Col 883, Daughters of the Republic of Texas Collection, Alamo Research Center, San Antonio, Texas.

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

Le Bon Ton: A Paris Fashion Magazine, 1859, or How to be Stylish on the Texas Frontier

April 30, 2015

It’s Fashion Week here at the Alamo Research Center! On First Saturday, this May 2, the Alamo Complex is taking a look at fiber-craft and textile history in Texas in memory of Alamo Living History actor and quilt maker extraordinaire, Cathy Jones. The ARC will have a special exhibit showcasing materials from our collection that help us learn more about the clothing choices that people in Texas have made over the years.

Cased daguerreotype of an unidentified woman, mid 1800s. Cumings Family Papers, Col 8978, DRT Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Cased daguerreotype of an unidentified woman, mid 1800s. Cumings Family Papers, Col 8978, DRT Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Cased daguerreotype of an unidentified woman, mid 1800s. In this image, you can see the bonnet that was a must in every woman's wardrobe. Cumings Family Papers, Col 8978, DRT Library, San Antonio, Texas.

Cased daguerreotype of an unidentified woman, mid 1800s. In this image, you can see the bonnet that was a must in every woman’s wardrobe. Cumings Family Papers, Col 8978, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center, San Antonio, Texas.

From the early days of colonization, looking good was important to women who left their homes and lives in the East for Texas. They worked very hard to maintain their appearances at or near the level they were accustomed to despite being hundreds of miles from the nearest port and thousands of miles from cities with the fanciest couturiers. With no movies, television, or internet, how did the fashionable ladies of the Texas frontier keep up with the most current trends?

Unidentified couple from the mid 1800s Texas, probably San Antonio. They are very fashionably attired. Cassiano-Perez Family Papers, Col 880

Unidentified couple from mid 1800s Texas, probably San Antonio. They are very fashionably attired.  Cassiano-Perez Family Papers, Col 880, DRT Library Collection, Alamo Research Center, San Antonio, Texas.

Almost all clothing for the family was made at home. Many of the fabrics were made of cotton or silk, and the prices could be very high if you had to buy it from the local general mercantile or traveling salesman. Early on, ladies would pattern their new or repurposed dresses after one worn by new arrivals from the East Coast or visitors passing through. The very wealthy and well-connected sometimes had access to the dressmakers and milliners in the cosmopolitan city of New Orleans. As fashions began to change more rapidly around the mid-nineteenth century, however, women began to rely on a new way to trend-watch—the subscription fashion journal.

Some of the best known ladies’ fashion journals were Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, Peterson’s Magazine, and later, Harper’s Bazaar. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Collection includes a beautiful example of one of these magazines. Le Bon Ton, or “Good Taste,” is a Parisian publication from 1859. The full color fashion plates illustrate bonnets, caps, shawls, sleeves, shirtwaists (blouses), skirts, dresses, petticoats, and outerwear. Subscribers would have been eager to refit their best dresses with the billowing puff sleeves and lace shown in these images.

Fashion plate from Le Bon Ton magazine. Two ladies in a garden showing off the voluminous skirt and sleeves that were in vogue in 1859.

Fashion plate from Le Bon Ton magazine. Two ladies in a garden showing off the voluminous skirt and sleeves that were in vogue in 1859.

Fashion plate from Le Bon Ton magazine. Women would receive these catalog and try to find ways to incorporate these trends into the clothing they already had if they could not afford a whole new dress. A fancy bonnet, a bit of lace, or new sleeves would be just the ticket to revive last season's gown.

Fashion plate from Le Bon Ton magazine. Women would receive these catalog and try to find ways to incorporate these trends into the clothing they already had if they could not afford a whole new dress. A fancy bonnet, a bit of lace, or new sleeves would be just the ticket to revive last season’s gown.

Fashion plate from Le Bon Ton magazine. This image shows children's finery.

Fashion plate from Le Bon Ton magazine. This image shows children’s finery.

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

Vertical Files at the Alamo Research Center: A Gateway to Your Research Project

April 13, 2015

Resource Round-Up #2

When you visit the Alamo Research Center for a research appointment, staff members will often direct you to our vertical file on your topic first. What is a “vertical file?” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a “vertical file” is a “collection of articles (as pamphlets and clippings) that is maintained (as in a library) to answer brief questions or to provide points of information not easily located.” These subject files can be immensely useful, especially when you are starting out on your research quest. So, you may be asking yourself some questions. What kind of material can you find in a vertical file, who would want to use these files, and what subjects do we cover in the ARC’s vertical file collection?

The Vertical Files are stored on moveable "compact shelving." This allows us to maintain our large collection of over 70,000 files in as small a space as possible.

The Vertical Files are stored on moveable “compact shelving.” This allows us to maintain our large collection of over 70,000 files in as small a space as possible.

What kind of material can you find in a vertical file at the ARC?

Over the years, the ARC collection of vertical files has grown with the dedication of staff and the generosity of visitors and researchers who are willing to share the information they have in their possession. Today, we house approximately 70,000 vertical files, with some folders including hundreds of pages of information and some that only have one document. The contents of the files may include newspaper clippings, magazine articles, newsletters, photocopies of primary documents, copies of images and photographs, published scholarly articles, factoids, family trees, researchers’ notes, promotional pamphlets and other business-related ephemera, funeral pamphlets and obituaries. These files have been accumulated over more than sixty years, and some of the items in them are almost one hundred years old! Our vertical file may be the only location in the world where that information is written down and preserved.

Who would be interested in a vertical file?

Everyone! Genealogists may find family information, including family trees, historians will find all kinds of relevant leads for their research topic, students can easily learn about a particular person, place or event, and reporters can get some quick background on their feature story. Vertical files are a great place to begin any research project because of the breadth of the type of materials that you can find in the files. You may discover that someone else has already generated some of the legwork that you need for your project but could not find because it was not published.

What subjects do the vertical files at the ARC cover?

Our most popular files are the biographical files that we have on each of the Alamo defenders. However, we have files ranging in subject from very broad Texas topics to specific San Antonio topics. If you wanted to read about Texas agriculture, we have that! If learning about major events related to the San Antonio Spurs interests you, we have that, too! All of our vertical files have entries in our catalog. The best way to figure out if we have a vertical file about your research topic is to start with a catalog search. Remember your search tips: start with broad search terms, narrow down your terms if you get too many hits, and try alternate spellings if you don’t get results right away.

Give us a call at (210) 225-1071 or email us at drtl@drtl.org to schedule your research appointment. We can’t wait to help you explore the Vertical Files and the rest of our outstanding collection!

April means Battle of Flowers is our First Saturday exhibit!

April 1, 2015

You’re invited! We hope that you will join us for our First Saturday exhibit this Saturday, April 4th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m!

April is Fiesta time in San Antonio, and the Alamo Research Center is no exception! Our exhibit this month is “A Medley of Beauty, A Dream of Fair Women,” a celebration of the long and storied history of the Battle of Flowers Parade and the Battle of Flowers Association that makes the parade possible. If you would like to learn more about Battle of Flowers resources here at the ARC or read up on the history of the parade and the organization, you can check out these links:

BATTLE OF FLOWERS RESOURCES ROUND-UP

The Battle of Flowers Association Records Finding Aid

The Finding Aid Goes Live!

Battle of Flowers Parade, 1952

A Look Back at the 1911 Battle of Flowers Parade

Battle of Flowers Parade on Film

Parades, Participants, and Floats

Battle of Flowers Parade and Fiesta Collections

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