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Processing Continues on the Joseph Elicson Photograph Collection

September 8, 2009
Mr. Glen Skaggs working with photographs from the Elicson collection.

Mr. Glen Skaggs works with photographs from the Elicson collection.

For the past several months, Glen Skaggs has been spending his Tuesday mornings volunteering at the Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library, working to identify people, places and buildings, organizations, businesses, and events in the Joseph Elicson Photograph Collection. This is no easy task considering that the collection contains approximately 200 prints and, while some images are easily identifiable, the majority of the photographs are not labeled with names or dates.

The photographs contained in the collection were taken between 1940 and the early 1980s by the late Joe Elicson, a commercial photographer in San Antonio. The images document the twentieth-century history of the city. In addition to running his business, Mr. Elicson also served as the principal photographer for the DRT Library, creating professional copies of library materials for patrons.

An undated photograph in the Elicson collection of unidentified Cub Scouts in front of the Alamo.

An undated photograph in the Elicson collection of unidentified Cub Scouts in front of the Alamo. (SCElicson.09.001)

The Elicson collection – which includes approximately 8,000 photographic negatives in addition to the prints being examined by Mr. Skaggs – came to the library in two parts. The first group, which contained mostly prints, was given by Mr. Elicson before he retired. In 1998, the library received a second group of materials comprised primarily of negatives. The new owners of Mr. Elicson’s Blanco property found the images in a barn on the grounds and donated them to the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC). Knowing that the DRT Library already possessed many of Mr. Elicson’s images, ITC archivists transferred the negatives to the library in order to keep the collection together at one repository.

Mr. Skaggs is one of several volunteers who have worked on processing the Elicson collection. Santiago Escobedo initially arranged the prints into a hierarchy of general subjects and subtopics. Amy Canon worked on cleaning the negatives; placing them in acid-free, archival envelopes; categorizing them; listing them in a computerized inventory; and trying to match images with names or places. Dr. Jill Anderson focused on images of Boysville taken during the 1950s and 1960s and worked to identify the people and events shown. Most recently, Sarah Tomka also worked on housing and identifying negatives in the collection.

The Elicson collection contains several images of Rosita Fernandez Almaguer singing at WOAI studios. She was a beloved singer who was known as San Antonio's "first lady of song" and "favorite rose."

The Elicson collection contains several images of Rosita Fernandez Almaguer singing at WOAI studios. She was a beloved singer who was known as San Antonio's "first lady of song" and "favorite rose." (SCElicson.09.002)

Mr. Skaggs brings a great deal of expertise and knowledge to his work with the Elicson collection. Even though he was born and raised in Kentucky, he considers himself a Texan because he has resided in San Antonio for more than fifty years. Four years ago he retired from being an independent personal property appraiser, a career he enjoyed for more than twenty years. Mr. Skaggs was a member of the International Society of Appraisers, and he worked primarily with antiques, collectibles, and household contents. During the same period, Mr. Skaggs was also a museum volunteer, first for the San Antonio Museum Association and then, upon its desolution, at its two constituent organizations, the Witte Museum and the San Antonio Museum of Art. As a volunteer at these museums, Mr. Skaggs worked as a docent and completed projects (such as writing condition reports) in the collections department.

Please contact or visit the library to learn more about the Elicson photograph collection or to access the photoprint subject guide.

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

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah Tomka permalink
    September 8, 2009 7:45 pm

    I like to see that this collection is being worked on again. I would like to add, however some of the negatives and photographs were added to the database by me. Also, I helped organize the negatives and photographs into smaller sections along with the help of a past intern that started the project.

  2. drtlibrary permalink*
    September 9, 2009 10:28 am

    Thanks, Sarah, for better explaining your project with the Elicson collection. The library thanks all of the volunteers who have contributed to improving the arrangement, description, and preservation of the photographs and negatives!

  3. February 21, 2012 11:34 am

    In June 23 to the 26, 1948, when I was 17, I went to San Antonio, Texas to become a winner in the Optimist international oratorical contest. Me and another boy are being congratulated by some adult. I wonder if on the photo you can identify the person making the congratualtions and also the name of the other boy. Donald Berger

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