The Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC)’s newest quarterly newsletter will offer updates on exciting happenings at HMRC. Our spotlight articles will give you a closer look at our materials, tips and research help from our expert staff, and much more
The Conservation Lab in the Houston Metropolitan Research Center is responsible for mending and preserving the many historic books and manuscripts housed in the Julia Ideson Building. Treatments performed in the lab can be as simple as mending a torn piece of paper or as complex as rebinding an entire book. Regardless of the treatment needed, each item brought into the lab is handled with great care.
Here is an example of a book that requires rebinding: a copy of The New Testament. The front cover and spine are missing, and the back cover is separated from the book (1).
To repair this book, the back cover was reattached as the front cover so that the front cover is material original to the book.
A light tan leather was chosen to be as close of a match as possible to the original leather (2). The edges of the leather were thinned down so that they could be folded onto the cover board (3).
A new hardcover was added, and the book pages were glued to this new cover with wheat paste.
A new sheet of marbled paper was added to the back cover to look as close to the marbled paper on the front cover as possible (4).
The final step in treating this volume was to add gold accents similar to the original cover. To do this, heat released gold foil is pressed into the leather cover with a heated spatula (5).
Now this book is stable enough to return to its shelf (6).
Pictures courtesy of HMRC.
HMRC’s mission is to locate, preserve, and make available the documentary evidence of Houston’s history. When you donate your material to the HMRC, your history becomes a part of our community’s collective memory. Researchers and the public may find your material both interesting and of value to their work.
Some types of materials we collect are:
- Business records
- Legal documents
- Architectural drawings
- Brochures and flyers
- Audiovisual material
- Digital files
If you're interested in donating a collection of materials, take a look at everything and ask yourself a few questions about it:
- Does this material relate to Houston?
- What type of material is it?
- How large is the collection?
- What condition is it in?
- Who created the materials and why?
- What people and topics are represented?
- Approximately what dates does it cover?
- Is there any arrangement or organization to the material?
Consider writing down the answers to these questions. This will help the archival staff better understand your collection as a whole. Try to maintain the order of your materials as best as possible when you're getting ready to donate. Only take out material you are sure you don’t want to donate.
Next, contact HMRC to speak to an archivist about your potential donation. The archivist will determine if the materials align with our collecting scope; your answers to the assessment above will help with this decision. If it is decided that the materials are a good fit, then we will move forward in the donation process and your items will become part of the archive.
Pictures feature archival materials from Carmen Cortes Papers (MSS 0194).
Every summer, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center offers an exciting opportunity for dedicated high school students to experience work in an archive first hand! The Student Historian Internship Program (SHIP) is a four-week long intensive internship where students learn about archival science and preserving Houston’s history.
During the program, interns complete three projects related to conservation, archival processing, and oral history, all while learning professional workplace etiquette and building their resumes. This internship takes place at the beautiful downtown Julia Ideson Building, Tuesdays through Fridays in June.
If you know a high school student who would be interested in participating, you can view the information sheet here and then download the 2019 SHIP Application. Please email or call 832-393-1662 for more information. Applications are due by April 19, 2019.
Pictures courtesy of HMRC.
The deadline is fast approaching for the 2019 Julia Ideson Award! This award, named in honor of the Houston Public Library’s first director, is given to research projects that contribute to our community’s history.
The Friends of the Texas Room, who help support HMRC, are looking for submissions to receive this award. This year’s award category is for published books.
What kind of book is eligible? Your entry must satisfy the following conditions:
- It is a scholarly research project.
- It was completed within the past five years (2014-2019).
- It documents local Houston and/or Texas history and culture.
- It significantly (but not exclusively) uses resources of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (aka the Texas Room).
From the entries, a winner will be selected by a panel of historians and/or community leaders (excluding members of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Texas Room). Each entry is judged on its quality, its contribution to the community’s historical and cultural record, and its effective use of HMRC resources.
The winning author will receive the award from the Friends of the Texas Room at their October 28, 2019 meeting.
Are you interested in submitting your book for consideration? You can see the submission instructions on the Friends’ website. The deadline for submissions is June 15, 2019.
If you would like additional information about the award or submission criteria, please contact Anthony B. Cavender by phone at 713-276-7656 or email at Anthony.Cavender@pillsburylaw.com.
Pictured: "Portrait of Julia Ideson," MSS 0032-087, Houston Public Library, HMRC.
Picture of Dr. William H. Kellar presenting at Friends of the Texas Room meeting courtesy of HMRC.