Posted by & filed under Featured, Texas Digital Newspaper Program, TexTreasures.

The Texas Borderlands Newspaper Collection hosts materials from border and near-border counties in south and west Texas. This collection includes 62 titles and spans 1859-1998.

This blog post will explore one newspaper title in particular, from the early colonial city of Uribeño, Texas. If you tried to find Uribeño in Google Maps right now, you would have some trouble because it no longer exists. We’ll return later to the reason behind this, but for now, let’s travel back to 1908, when the community was prosperous enough to support a newspaper office.

El Aldeano (“The Village”) was first published in 1906 for the city of Uribeño , and the issues we have available in the Borderlands collection are from its second year, 1908. In this Spanish-language publication, you can read ads for stable and pasture of animals, learn about the importance of cod liver oil to good health, or, perhaps most interestingly, learn about the merchants who ran businesses in Uribeño and its neighboring towns. Julian Treviño, in Laredo, served the people of Uribeño in wholesale and retail, as “the friend of poor and rich and the most popular both because it sells at the cheapest prices.” Manuel Garcia, also in Laredo, paid for an advertisement to say, “I have a complete assortment of clothes and I can therefore offer footwear from the best brands, such as Leopard, Friedman, and Sovereign, etc., and hats–Stetson, Falcon, Blue Ribbon, and Durham. Clothes made to the latest fashion, and I take care of custom orders,  work requests, and all kinds of fabrics.” Marketing to the wider farm and ranching community, Andres Bertani advertises, “Clothing made, footwear, hats, plough cultivators; wire for fences and all kinds of flours, corn, oats, and sacate.”

If you are interested in imagining daily life in Uribeño, you can read about the Zapata County settlements in the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society, Volume 70, 1999, which explains, “The Spanish-Mexican colonial ranch house is a simple, masonry structure and notably most, if not all, of the building’s significant architecture features are all associated with defense. The exclusive predominance of fortified ranch architecture through the mid-19th century attests to the dangers of living on the colonial frontier. . . .Many settlers were killed or captured while protecting their homes and possessions. The inhabitants of the frontier were subjected to an unusually high number and long duration of threats, including: 1) the harshness of the natural environment; 2) the retaliation of Native tribes to non-native settlement; 3) the War for Mexican Independence; 4) a power struggle between the Texians and the Tejanos from 1836 to 1848; and 5) the vigilante actions of Texas Rangers in the Rio Grande area after statehood.”

After the residents and city survived into the mid-20th century, the area was chosen as the location for the Falcon Reservoir. According to Uribeño: The Forgotten Town, compiled by Jo Emma Quezada, “Uribeño was one of the original 5 Zapata County settlements, traced its origin to 1803, when Porción 41 was granted to José Clemente Gutierrez de Lara (1770-1805) for his service in the Spanish army. He built a ranch on Porción 41, which was named as Uribeño later but inundated by the waters of Falcon Reservoir in the 1950.” UNT Libraries’ Special Collections houses this volume about Uribeño’s history (Call number: F394.U75 M37 2002), and if you ever have interest in learning more about this early colonial community, you can request it at any time.

The Borderlands Newspaper Collection has been digitized through the support of a TexTreasures grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Logo Institute of Museum and Library Services Logo Texas Digital Newspaper Program Collection Logo


Audience watches man teaching on stage.

Posted by & filed under Featured, General.

The Portal to Texas History now contains the complete video of Dr. Andrew Torget’s 26 hour, 33 minute attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest history lesson. The tour-de-force presentation of Texas history took place at UNT in August 2018 with the help of many UNT Libraries and community volunteers, as well as a team of undaunted students and lifelong learners–most of whom stayed awake for the whole lesson. The event also served as a fund-raiser, earning more than $12,000 in donations for the Portal.

The world record has not yet been confirmed, but while you’re waiting for the Guinness organization to complete its evaluation, you can enjoy the lesson all over again–this time broken into manageable 50 minute segments for easy viewing.

Two soldiers bow to a Greek goddess of harvest, with"Thanksgiving Day" written above their heads.

Posted by & filed under Featured, General, Texas Digital Newspaper Program, TexTreasures.

Part of the fun of working with so many newspapers is reading about how people have celebrated different holidays over time. The Texas Borderlands Collection, in particular, shows how Texans near the border have celebrated Thanksgiving each year, and different newspapers give us a window into people’s desires, needs, or fears across different eras.

The Ranchero, from November 17, 1860, declares that “Gov. Sam Houston has appointed Thursday, the 20th of November as a day of thanksgiving and prayer.” Before 1863, Thanksgiving in the U.S. was observed on different dates, varying from state to state.  The first proclamation of an official national holiday occurred in October 1863, by President Lincoln, who proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.  Prior to this proclamation, states chose their own dates to celebrate, as evinced by Sam Houston in 1860.

At the height of World War I, the Pastime Theatre in San Beinto, Texas, hosted a free matinee showing of “The Girl from Frisco” for soldiers’ Thanksgiving, from 2:15 pm to 5:15 pm, as reported in the November 29, 1916, Oklasodak.

In Pecos, Texas, the November 30, 1923, issue of the Pecos Enterprise and Pecos Times  reports on the Senior Class’s Thanksgiving dinner for the surrounding cities around Pecos.  Meat and potatoes were the main courses, accompanied by “salad, coffee, pie, and other goodies.” The senior students also located housing for guests staying overnight.

By 1939, the Great Depression was in full swing, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the need to encourage spending to support U.S. merchants. Roosevelt declared that the fourth Thursday–rather than the last Thursday–in November would serve as Thanksgiving Day, with the goal of giving retail employers one more week between Thanksgiving and Christmas to pay holiday employees.  The Benavides Facts from September 1, 1939, explains this situation: “The newspapers have been discussing both seriously and facetiously, President Roosevelt’s changing of the date of Thanksgiving Day. An editorial in a New England paper closes with this sentence: “It would be historically amusing if Franklin Delano Roosevelt finally lost favor with the American populace, because of his unorthodox political and economic policies, but because, ‘by gad, he changed the date of Thanksgiving Day!” The problem, however, is much deeper than appears on the surface. This may be the President’s opening gun to help retailers. For some time his Brain Trust has known that one of the most vital steps in creating employment is to encourage buyers. Merely raising wages does not accomplish this. Increased wages means higher prices for goods without a material change in the number of Workers. The answer lies in making it easier for people to buy goods by encouraging retailers in various ways. Hence, a discussion of the date of Thanksgiving Day may open up a very important line of approach to the unemployment problem.”

Later, from Thanksgiving 1942, The Benavides Facts displays an elaborate THANKSGIVING masthead, with U.S. soldiers peeking out from behind the letters. Just below the masthead, a large political cartoon dominates the pages, explaining that your scrap will support victory in the war.

In 1944, the Eagle Pass Army Air Field published that “50,000,000 pounds of turkey were set aside for Uncle Sam’s Armed Forces for Thanksgiving Day dinners.”

Long-term success of the 1939 Thanksgiving date change appears in the June 17, 1976, issue of The Pharr Press which showcases a new, nearly $500,000 retail center in South Pharr, for one supermarket and two other retail stores,whose opening date was tentatively set “on or before Thanksgiving” of 1976.

In 1991, the Holy Cross Mission, La Rosita, hosted a Thanksgiving raffle for the Building Fund Committee, and in the December 4, 1991 Duval County Picture, the Mission published thanks to the community for its tremendous support.

However you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember you are celebrating a long tradition. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Access to this collection was made possible through the support of a TexTreasures grant. TexTreasures is an annual competitive grant program designed to help member libraries make their special collections more accessible to researchers across Texas and beyond. TexTreasures awards have been made possible by the Library Services and Technology Act through the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.



portrait of a young woman wearing a dark fur dress and standing in front of a painted backdrop

Posted by & filed under Featured, Grants, Rescuing Texas History.

The Portal to Texas History has left its mark on a new mural in downtown Dallas.

Wells Fargo & Company unveiled the latest addition to their Community Mural program on October 28 with a mural at their branch on the 2000 block of Greenville Avenue. The mural features images of the Hockaday School, the Arcadia Theater, Fair Park and the Dallas train depot. Pictures of local residents also overlay the mural’s background — a reconstruction of what that early Greenville block looked like.

One of those local residents is the subject of a Rescuing Texas History photo from The Portal To Texas History: a portrait of a young woman wearing a dark fur dress and standing in front of a painted backdrop. Wells Fargo obtained the image with permission from The Private Collection of TB Willis, one of The Portal to Texas History’s partners. TB Willis purchased the photo and a collection of photographs of African Americans from an estate in Dallas, Texas.

In addition to the collection of African-American photographs, The Private Collection of TB Willis consists of historical photographs of World War I military training base Camp MacArthur, church photos, buildings across Texas and family photo albums that include Willis family members and extended relatives who settled in Waco, Texas in the 19th century.

Wells Fargo contacted the Portal to Texas History for permission to use the photo in their mural on Lower Greenville. Because The Portal does not own any of the images it provides, Mr. Willis himself granted permission for the photo to be used.

The image of the young woman is the only mural image obtained from The Portal to Texas History for this particular mural, the 26th that Wells Fargo has created in Dallas alone. Other photographs from The Portal To Texas History adorn some of these local murals. Wells Fargo’s mural program has installed 361 unique murals across Texas.

The latest mural on Lower Greenville can be seen at Wells Fargo Bank at 1931 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75206.

three images on textured background with text

Posted by & filed under Featured, Research Fellowships.

The University of North Texas Libraries invite applications for the 2019 Research Fellowships in UNT Special Collections and The Portal to Texas History.

Research in our collections is relevant to studies in a variety of disciplines including history, journalism, political science, geography, fine art, art history, filmmaking, photography, and American studies. We encourage applicants to think creatively about new uses for special collections and digital collections.

The Special Collections Fellows will be required to conduct research in residence at UNT for a minimum of four days and a maximum of three months to receive the award. A total of four $1,000 awards will be made each year.

The Portal Fellows will receive a stipend to do research with The Portal. Up to $1,000 in funding will be awarded to two or more fellowship applicants.

Preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate the greatest potential for publication and the best use of our UNT Special Collections or The Portal to Texas History.

Applications are due by February 15, 2019. Recipients will be notified by April 1, 2019. For more information on the fellowships and application process, please visit the University of North Texas Libraries Research Fellowships – Special Collections and University of North Texas Libraries Research Fellowships – The Portal to Texas History.