Deep in the Heart of Texas

Please allow me to share with you this “earworm” to enjoy while reading about my archival adventures to the “Big Country”-

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Historic Downtown San Angelo

One of the big highlights of my contract archival position for the Association of Preservation Technology was when I was sent out on the road to San Angelo in western Texas.  My assignment there was to finish a large digitization project in coordination with the “West Texas Collection” at Angelo State University.

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My home for the week: The Houston Harn University Center at ASU. You can visit them at: http://www.angelo.edu/services/library/wtcoll/

The WTC is very reminiscent of IRAD at EIU, as they are a regional archival repository.  They receive research requests from students and scholars, as well as the “nice little blue haired ladies” doing genealogy research. Although in Texas…I observed most of the “blue hair” was covered by ten gallon hats (we are…”clap, clap, clap, clap- deep in the heart of Texas” after all…are you singing the song to yourself yet?)

This experience not only taught me how to set my own schedule to reach project goals, but I also had to develop a budget for the trip, secure a rental vehicle and hotel for the week, and hire an assistant to help me scan the 170 catalogs in the Gerron S. Hite Collection.

Hite is a retired architect, who did work for many years in the west Texas area, but also lived in Illinois for a number of years.  Hite donated a significant collection of late 19th century and early 20th century trade catalogs of various manufacturers of fences.  Most of these manufacturers are from the midwestern region of the United States.

The sheer volume of different mass producers of steel wire fences for yards, farms, and industrial uses definitely made me think about our readings in Henry Glassie’s Vernacular Architecture. It was obvious to me that fences were not just about securing animals or keeping people out. Seeing all of these caused me to ponder the questions: what does the popularity of chain-link fences tell me about culture? What can this practice of establishing land boarders with fences tell me about the communication between neighbors?  Perhaps someone needs to write a paper about that!

Below are a few images from the catalogs that I found particularly interesting.  You can see the entire collection (very soon as I am uploading them now) at the Building Technology Heritage Library at: https://archive.org/details/@apt_heritage_library.

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So far it has been grand working for APT!  Soon I will update you on my final projects for my other internship at the Tarble…but for now I leave you with this…

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