Tafolla Manuscript


A recently completed project for the Digital & Web Services department is the digitization and online exhibit creation for the recently acquired Santiago Tafolla manuscript. A description of the history of the manuscript and its acquisition by The Wittliff Collections is contained in a press release on The Wittliff Collections web site.

It is the handwritten personal memoir of Santiago Tafolla recounting the first 39 years of his life. It is a fascinating document and includes first hand observations during the U.S.- Mexico war, the Texas Indian Wars, and recounts his experiences as a Mexican-American Confederate soldier during the U.S. Civil War.

cover1_750_wm Page_view_750_wm

The manuscript consists of two legal sized pads and the paper has become brittle with age. It was decided that conservation and digital photography would have to happen at the same time. Each page was digitally captured and then carefully removed and placed in a protective Mylar sleeve, revealing the next page to be photographed.


The manuscript was photographed using the PhaseOne iQ180 digital back using Capture One version 8.  Images of individual pages were saved as 400ppi 8-bit RGB tiffs and composite PDF versions of each manuscript were also created.


split_view_300 B&W versions of the manuscript were created to make it easier to decipher the text.







The online exhibit was created and is hosted on the Omeka open source software. Our new programmer Jason Long, first created a new launching page where this and future Wittliff Collections exhibits will live. Using the open source  JQuery plugin Justified Gallery, he created an image-based linking page. There are already a number of Wittliff Collections exhibits on other platforms and they were also  incorporated into the gallery.

The Tafolla exhibit itself uses the open source Unite Gallery JQuery plugin. The exhibit builder theme first had to be customized to conform the data to the plugin’s requirements.

The complete manuscript, Part 1 and Part 2, are available for research use in the Alkek Library Digital Collections Repository.

New Projects and Formats

Aqua_C33974 2When A.B. Rogers purchased the land at the head of the San Marcos River in 1926, the area had long been a favorite scenic spot for recreation and picnics. Within two years, Rogers began constructing a hotel that overlooked Spring Lake.Aqua_11356 2
Twenty years later his son, Paul Rogers, created a new attraction for hotel guests and other visitors when he launched the first glass bottom boat in 1946; the crystal-clear water in Spring Lake allowed for stunning views of the underwater springs and wildlife.


Rogers then proceeded to build what became a wildly popular theme park known as Aquarena Springs. By the 1970s, as many as 350,000 people would visit annually to see the underwater mermaid show and star attraction, Ralph the swimming pig.

Aqua_C38216 A_2

Times changed, along with the public’s taste in entertainment, and the theme park eventually gave way to a heightened interest in endangered species, conservation, and education about the importance of our water resources. Texas State University acquired the 90-acre property in 1994; in 2002 the Aquarena hotel became the home of The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, a multidisciplinary center which focuses on water-related research and education.

The University Archives holds a number of materials related to the history of the Aquarena Springs. The Digital & Web Services Department began a new partnership with the Texas State University Public History Program and welcomed our first graduate student intern this semester, Jason Crouch. He is working closely with the University Archives and the Digital Media Specialist to begin processing and digitizing some of the Aquarena Springs material. An online exhibit is planned for the end of the Spring 2015 semester.

The Aquarena Springs collection contains a variety of audio/visual formats including material on VHS, Betacam, Hi8, miniDV, cassette, and open reel tape. A note of special thanks goes to staff at Texas Parks and Wildlife Television who, through a bit of good timing, helped us arrange the transfer of surplus analog video equipment from their television program to Texas State University. Included was a Sony BVW-70 Betacam SP recorder/player and Sony DSR-PD150 miniDV Digital Camcorder, both of which will be used to digitize items in the collection.

The following video is a sneak preview of what is in the collection. This is a 30 second television spot from 1994 advertising Aquarena Springs originally recorded on BetacamSP tape.




LBJ audio digitization

Alumni House LBJ & LadyBird 3x3The most famous alumnus of Texas State University is former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, although the institution was known as Southwest Texas State Teachers College when he graduated in 1930. Materials relating to President Johnson are housed in the University Archives and many have already been digitized. Two library guides about Johnson are available: one includes information and resources about LBJ as a student, and one is dedicated to the Higher Education Act of 1965 that he signed in Strahan Gymnasium (now the Music Building).

Football Program 1971Nov13 Page9In the decades following his graduation, Johnson made quite a few trips back to campus to participate in events. In November 1971, the Alumni House hosted an exhibit created by Harry Middleton and Gary Yarrington, Director and Curator of the LBJ Library in Austin. The exhibit, titled “Lyndon Baines Johnson at San Marcos,” featured memorabilia relating to President Johnson, including the desk he sat at when he signed the Higher Education Act of 1965. Johnson himself attended the exhibit opening and delivered a speech on the occasion.


The audio recording of President Johnson’s speech was made on an open reel, a technology that has long been surpassed by other media formats. Fortunately, the original recording was saved and eventually became part of the University Archives. More than 40 years later, Digital and Web Services has brought this recording back to “life” and made it accessible for the first time in decades.

The Alkek Library recently constructed a new Audio and Visual media digitization area to help rescue the content of outdated media formats. This 1971 recording of LBJ at San Marcos Exhibit was the first reel-to-reel tape to be digitized and added to the Digital Collections. The ability to reformat historical recordings is a huge step in the process of reclaiming the history of the University; audio reels from other collections can now be scheduled for digitization and then made available to researchers.


LBJ Speaking at Southwest Texas State University, November 1971

(LBJ begins at 09:30)

Panning for Historical Gold

Since its official founding in 2006, the University Archives has received hundreds of linear feet of materials from a wide variety of campus offices. For the first time, departments have a place to transfer historical materials that had been sitting in storage for years. Rescuing this history is a wonderful thing for the institution, but the down side is that many boxes transferred lack any kind of descriptive information about the contents.


For example, a set of 16 boxes marked “old black and white negatives” dating from the 1960s are believed to have originated in the yearbook offices. There is no catalog or index of topics, so the thousands of unlabeled negatives are effectively inaccessible. Another 58 boxes of negatives dating from the 1970s have only basic descriptions for each negative set.

The Digital & Web Services Department, which has both the equipment and the student workers to handle large volumes of negatives, volunteered to start scanning highly-used as well as some of the unlabeled negatives to improve access.


Homecoming 1962-0122_03

Homecoming 1962-0122_03



During an archival review of the first 1021 scans, some of the images were identified as Homecoming 1962,

Misanthrope 1962-0027_3

Misanthrope 1962-0027_3








a theatre production of Misanthrope,





Basil Rathbone 1962-072_04

Basil Rathbone 1962-072_04





and visiting actor Basil Rathbone performing on stage and signing autographs.





Dana Jean Smith and Gloria Odoms

While watching the Digital Media Specialist review scanned images on November 5, the University Archivist was surprised to see Dana Jean Smith in one of the images. A closer examination indicated that these photos were likely taken on the day Southwest Texas State College was officially desegregated in February 1963. It was believed that no documentation of the registration existed as interviews with administrators suggested that reporters and photographers were not allowed to document the registration process.


These images are highly significant to Texas State – historical “golden nuggets” that document a transformational event in our institutional history. A total of 34 negatives of the registration process were identified, and include images of Ms. Smith, Georgia Hoodye, Gloria Odoms, and Mabeleen Washington. Helen Jackson was the fifth African-American woman to enroll in the spring of 1963. She is not pictured as she enrolled the following day.

The University Archives created a resource guide to the 1963 Desegregation of the University containing additional photographs.


The Bluebonnet Lady of Texas

sally-beretta_1947-pedagogThe first name that came to mind reading the title of this post was probably not Sallie Beretta. However, Sallie Beretta became known as the “Bluebonnet Lady of Texas” because of her efforts to preserve and plant bluebonnets throughout the State of Texas in the 1920s and 1930s. This was years before other notable Texans also took up the cause.

Sallie Ward Beretta is mostly known to members of the Texas State University community through her long history of service and philanthropy to the University. Mrs. Beretta served eighteen years (1933-1951) on the State Board of Regents for the Teachers Colleges of Texas.  In 1951 she donated to the University her 125-acre scenic Wimberley ranch on the Blanco River. Currently called University Camp, it is still used as a recreational area providing an area for hiking, biking, swimming and fishing.   Since 1963, The Sallie Beretta Outstanding Senior Woman Award has been given to an outstanding senior woman “based on leadership, scholarship, character, potential, and loyalty.”

In recognition of her generosity and service, the regents voted to name a women’s dormitory in her honor in 1947. A portrait of Mrs. Beretta, presented at the dedication ceremony, hung in the common area of the dormitory for many years. Unfortunately, at some point the portrait was vandalized and the defacement severe enough for it to be removed from view and sent to the University Archives.



Beretta_cleanupThe 30” X 36” portrait provided an opportunity for us to test our new reprographic digital camera and copy stand on a larger sized object. The resulting high resolution image allowed us to use Photoshop to undo the worst of the defacement to the painting, and print a life-sized reproduction suitable for framing and reinstallation in the dormitory.


(Click for before and after GIF

(Click for before and after GIF)

Helen Keller visits the University

0001One of the first projects we are working on is digitizing the early issues of the student newspaper.   The University Archives holds all the known issues of the paper, although the collection is incomplete as many issues that have been lost to time.  Originally titled the Normal Star (1911-1923), the paper’s name changed as the institution grew – it became the College Star (1923-1969) and then the University Star (1969-present).

0002While photographing the papers, Jeremy spotted an interesting article in the March 17, 1916 issue (Vol. 5 No. 4).  A short article describes a visit by Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, to the Southwest Texas State Normal School campus on Monday March 13th, 1916.  Following an introduction by her teacher, Helen Keller delivered an address on “Happiness.”  The tradition of bringing prominent guest lecturers to campus continues today – a century later – with events such as the LBJ Lecture Series and the Common Experience.

Helen Keller’s story is well known to most, particularly through the Oscar winning 1962 film, The Miracle Worker. Helen Keller, born in 1880, was left permanently deaf and blind at the age of nineteen months through illness. Her parents engaged Anne Sullivan Macy as her teacher, who successfully brought the outside world to her. She eventually learned to read Braille and lip reading, by covering the speaker’s mouth with her fingers. She published several books and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904. Keller and Sullivan traveled the country giving lectures in support of the American Foundation for the Blind.


A New Beginning

dwsdiglabIn 2013 the Alkek Library created a new department to help increase digitization efforts at Texas State. The new department also brought together other library staff involved in managing digital information such as the manager of the Institutional Repository, the E-resources Librarian and the Library System Coordinator. New spaces were created specifically for digitization and a new position of Digital Media Specialist was created. After a lengthy search and review of a number of qualified candidates, Jeremy Moore was hired in April 2014.

Jeremy and the Digital & Web Services department head, Todd Peters, then began equipping the lab. The two largest repositories of material in need of digitization are the University Archives and the Wittliff Collections. These two collections differ greatly in their missions and the types of objects they house. After discussions with archivists from the University Archives and the Wittliff Collections about holdings and potential projects, it was decided that the most versatile setup would consist of a high resolution mediuIQ180m format digital camera and several desktop scanners.

At the end of July the library acquired a Phase One IQ180 digital back with 80 megapixel resolution, and a Phase One  645DF+ camera.


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A Digital Transitions Rcam Reprographic Camera with 72mm SES lens.



and  a DT RG3040 Reprographic System

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The lab is also equipped with an Epson 10000 XL and a Plustek Optibook A300 book-edge, and Nikon Coolscan 5000 ED Film scanners.

We have already started several projects and are excited to begin making the material available through the Digital Collections website.