Browse Exhibits (9 total)

Social Graces on the Texas Frontier: The Lizzie Johnson Papers

Welcome to a special exhibit featuring highlights from the incoming correspondence of Lizzie Johnson, "Cattle Queen." Spanning approximately 1860-1886, the items in this exhibit appear in the Johnson Family Papers (1842-1963) housed in Southwestern University's Smith Library Center Special Collections. Although no photographs or outgoing correspondence survive, the collection highlights exhibited here provide remarkable insights into the young-adulthood of this dynamic female entrepreneur, whose legacy occupies a unique chapter in 19th-century Central Texas history. Over the course of her career Johnson was a schoolteacher in the Austin area, a bookkeeper for cattlemen, and a cattle investor with her own registered brand; upon her marriage to Hezekiah G. Williams in 1879, Johnson implemented a prenuptial agreement stipulating that she would continue to manage her own property and financial affairs.

The items featured here bear witness not only to Johnson's independent spirit; they also provide broad perspective on the social forms and conventions that helped shape life on the Texas frontier. In order to contextualize the items in terms of the social norms and expectations they reveal, each page of the exhibit includes supplemental materials from The Ladies' Model Letter Writer (187-?) and Gaskell's Compendium of Forms (1882), both 19th-century etiquette resources housed in SU's Special Collections. 

Republican Campaign Rhetoric Then and Now: The John G. Tower Senate Collection

John G. Tower was a Republican Senator representing the state of Texas from 1961 to 1985, and a Southwestern University alumnus. When he died, a large collection of his personal papers and correspondence was donated to the school, and now resides in Smith Library Center's Special Collections wing. The collection includes many statements and speeches issued, or at least drafted, by Tower and his speechwriters for use in his political campaigns. These artifacts demonstrate both how startlingly unchanged "current" political issues are – immigration from Mexico, for example – and how the rhetoric of the Republican party, and what it means to be a Republican, has shifted over time, as can be seen in Tower's speech on environmental protection. In Peter N. Carrol's It Seemed Like Nothing Happened: The Tragedy and Promise of America in the 1970s, Carrol deconstructs the term "The New Right," describing it as "dismissing" the quandary many Conservatives face: trying to "conserve" a nonexistent social order. Carrol quotes from Paul Weyrich, the founder of the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, who described the New Right as "radicals who want to change the existing power structure" (Carrol 326). This exhibit contrasts campaign statements that Tower made in the early 1970s with current Republican discourse drawn from the 2016 electoral race in order to highlight reccurence and question notions of "newness."

Narratives of the Frontier: Views on Settler Colonialism

This exhibit was created by "English 10304: Digital Frontiers in American Literature" at Southwestern University.  In our class, we read several texts and put them in conversation with each other, with historical narratives, and with primary sources in the Digital Texas Heritage Resource Center.  Click the exhibit pages to learn more about how our class interpreted views on settler colonialism in course texts and archival findings.


Charlotte Nunes

A Visit to the Battle Creek Sanitarium (1914)

The Battle Creek Sanitarium was a health resort established in 1866 in the Michigan town that bears its name. Originally called the Western Health Reform Institute, the sanitarium was an effort of the Seventh-Day Adventists who had earlier settled in the area and regarded health reform as an essential element of people life’s in the search of physical and moral development. Ellen G. White, founder of the Seventh Day Adventist church, and her husband ran the institute during its first years, using “natural” approaches to healing in a time when mainstream physicians still used harsh therapeutic interventions such as bloodletting, strong botanical remedies, and calomel (a mercury-based remedy that severely affected the body constitution but its effects were physically expressed in the gums). However, during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, American doctors started to professionalize medical training and services, incorporating doctors who had studied the most recent scientific discoveries that impacted human health in medical facilities. The Seventh Day Adventists of Battle Creek followed this trend. They supported John Harvey Kellogg’s medical training and hired him as director of the institute. Once head of the medical facility, Kellogg used it to impose a religion of health based on the traditional non-naturals that doctors considered the basis for good health: an adequate environment suitable for the patient, a good balance of exercise and rest, the ingestions of food and drinks according to the patient’s constitution, an adequate amount of sleep, regular excretions, and finally, the selection of social and personal events that may produce strong passions and emotions in the patient. Dr. Kellogg remained in the Sanitarium for the rest of his life and transformed it into a health resort with up-to-date diagnostic and therapeutic technologies that attracted hundreds of middle- and upper-class Americans from all over the nation, who sought relieve from the demands of an increasingly urbanized and industrialized society in Dr. Kellogg’s natural approaches.

Using the documents in the Claude Carr Cody Collection at Southwestern University, Students of the History course “Popularizing Science” created this exhibit. Through Carr Cody experience at the Sanitarium, students explored different aspect of the patients’ experience with health and medicine in the mid-1910s. Students analyzed Dr. Kellogg’s approach to health in his own patient manuals, exercise regimes at the Sanitarium through a daily program, dietary regimes through Cody’s Diet Prescription, medical diagnosis and diagnostic technologies through Cody’s Urine Examination, and the cost of health through Cody’s expenses at the Sanitarium. Click the exhibit pages to learn more about Dr. Kellogg, the Battle Creek Sanitarium, and patients’ experiences with health and medicine during the US Progressive Era. 



Dr. Jethro Hernandez Berrones

World War I At Southwestern University: The Student Army Training Corps

During the last year of World War I, the U.S. War Department created a national program to be implemented at colleges across the country called the Student Army Training Corps. Southwestern University was one of the schools with an SATC chapter. Combining general curriculum with military lectures and practical instruction, the SATC was designed to train young university students to join the armed forces after graduation. The War Deparment hoped to fill the military's ranks with well-educated and highly prepared young men, thereby improving the overall quality of American troops. However, World War I ended in November of 1918, rendering the SATC's purpose moot. The chapter at Southwestern was active for less than one semester. Also founded during WWI, the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) replaced the SATC as the premier collegiate officer training program in the country. 

The World War I Collection at Southwestern University's Special Collections includes a vast amount of documents and correspondence related to the organization and administration of the college's SATC chapter. A great deal of effort was involved in the implementation of the SATC, indicating the immense value that was placed on its mission. Although preparation for a military career was the goal for each chapter member, the SATC authorities stressed that military instruction should be considered subordinate to academics. Explore the exhibit to see how these organizational expectations compared to the realities of the Student Army Training Corps at Southwestern.

For God and Texas: Southwestern and the Methodist Mission for Higher Education


This exhibit, curated by Special Collections Intern and University of Texas iSchool student Emily Higgs, explores the attempts of the Methodist Church to establish colleges in Texas during the 19th century. These attempts began with the chartering of Rutersville College in 1840 and continued rapidly, resulting in the opening of 21 Methodist schools in Texas by the end of the century. However, the presence of Methodist higher education in Texas was tenuous at best until Francis Asbury Mood recognized the need for one central Texas university and founded Southwestern University. This story is told through 19 objects from Southwestern University Special Collections and Archives.


Emily Higgs


An Immigrant Story: German Migration to Texas


In the mid 19th century, there was a great influx of German Immigration to Texas. This was in large part due to the formation of the “Verein zum Schutze deutscher Einwanderer in Texas,” or The Society for the Protection of German Immigrants to Texas, in 1842. The general purpose of the Society was to secure land for German peoples, facilitate their emigration, and provide for their welfare. Thousands immigrated to Texas, particularly from 1845 to 1847 up until the dissolving of the Society in 1953 when they sold all of their colonization rights to Texas creditors in order to settle outstanding debts. Cities such as Fredericksburg and New Braunfels were settled during this time. Although these immigrants often faced hardships, they were able to build a prosperous community whose influence can still be seen to this day.

What We Know of the Enslaved: Hidden Lives in the Michael Reed Papers


Michael Reed and his family were among the first settlers of Robertson County in central Texas; Reed became prosperous and influential as a corn farmer dependent on the labor of slaves. Upon his death in 1859, Reed’s heirs inherited 23 slaves, but nearly 40 are mentioned by name in the Michael Reed Papers. More are mentioned but not named.

The Michael Reed Papers at Southwestern University primarily cover Reed’s life and business from 1818-1859 and include promissory notes, receipts, records of payments and bills, correspondence concerning requests for Reed’s corn and other goods, bills of sale for slaves, and Michael Reed’s ledger of the daily activities of slaves. Although the only extant records of these lives were recorded by their oppressors, this exhibit works to highlight the lives and humanity of these slaves, whose enslavement allowed Reed to become prosperous.

The exhibit is organized according to the identity of each enslaved person rather than individual documents. For each person, we report what we know of them from the Michael Reed Papers, and link to digitized documents at The Portal to Texas History that serve as evidence of their life.

Book as Artifact, Artifact as Book

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Medieval and Early Modern Europe saw a boom in information availability and circulation. With the invention of the printing press, the development of the Renaissance, and the Protestant Reformation’s emphasis on individual responsibility to knowledge, the desire for and production of information across the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries is something comparable to the internet boom of the twentieth and twenty-first. Textual materials that were produced during this time provide unique insight into the specific communities in which they were created, and are therefore invaluable to students, researchers, and educators alike. Thanks to the efforts of preservation institutions such as Southwestern University’s Special Collections and Archives, we have the opportunity to not only study the textual information that is provided by these documents, but also characteristics about these communities that reflect the very fibers of human connections that make society function. 

As historians we analyze the way in which these objects influenced the communities they were produced in, and affected and reflected the larger cultural shifts of the time by showing us what type of information was circulated, among whom it was shared, and how it was distributed and received. Additionally, we can trace artistic developments over time by studying the types of paper, ink, binding materials, and the illustrations that accompanied the books. In Special Collections, we are historians and caretakers of material culture. As historians of the written word we are then left with the burning question each time we encounter a document or book: was this impactful because of the information provided by the content of the written words, or because of how, when, and where the information was provided? 

The materials in this exhibit exemplify this balance. These items forever changed their respective worlds, as books as well as art; as information as well as material culture. They also highlight the importance of Special Collections as a field within the greater Library Sciences, as it offers those eager to learn access to history in a way that promotes a more full and complete learning experience. By understanding the way in which these items impacted their respective societies, and continue to educate us today we can use these examples to truly see what it means to have Book as Artifact, and Artifact as Book.