Navigate / search

Digital collection highlights photos taken in Corpus Christi during Great Depression

The Ransom Center has made available online the digital collection “The Itinerant Photographer: Photographs of Corpus Christi Businesses in the 1930s.”

The collection highlights photographs taken of businesses in Corpus Christi during the Great Depression. The project to make these materials accessible online was funded by a TexTreasures grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

Until now, access to the collection was limited, due to the fragility of the collection material and its uncataloged status. The Center has now constructed a Web site as a portal to the itinerant photographer collection. It is an introduction to the collection and its imagery, and a searchable gallery of the 473 glass plate negatives provides a comprehensive exhibition of this physically fragile collection. All the imagery on this Web site was produced from the glass plate negatives. An online finding aid of the collection has been created as well.

In early 1934, a traveling photographer arrived in Corpus Christi, Texas, searching for businesses that would pay him to take pictures of their establishments. Part photographer, part salesman, he went door to door offering his services. He left town after only a few weeks and abandoned his glass plate negatives with a local photographer because they no longer had any commercial value to him.

The images portray a wide range of businesses operating in Corpus Christi, which was relatively prosperous in the midst of the Great Depression, including those in the agricultural industry, retail and wholesale businesses, city and county government offices, manufacturing businesses, and those offering numerous types of services.

Please click on the thumbnails below to view full-size images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Friday

Each Friday, the Ransom Center shares photos from throughout the week that highlight a range of activities and collection holdings. We hope you enjoy these photos that reveal some of the everyday happenings at the Center.

Gallery light fixtures on rolling storage rack. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Gallery light fixtures on rolling storage rack. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

Vinyl graphics are installed in the upcoming exhibition “Becoming Tennessee Williams,” which opens on Tuesday, February 1. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Vinyl graphics are installed in the upcoming exhibition “Becoming Tennessee Williams,” which opens on Tuesday, February 1. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

Vinyl graphics are installed in the upcoming exhibition “Becoming Tennessee Williams,” which opens on Tuesday, February 1. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Vinyl graphics are installed in the upcoming exhibition “Becoming Tennessee Williams,” which opens on Tuesday, February 1. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

Vinyl graphics are installed in the upcoming exhibition “Becoming Tennessee Williams,” which opens on Tuesday, February 1. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Vinyl graphics are installed in the upcoming exhibition “Becoming Tennessee Williams,” which opens on Tuesday, February 1. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

Plate painted by Pablo Picasso donated to Ransom Center by photojournalist Duncan

The Ransom Center has received a plate painted by Pablo Picasso from David Douglas Duncan, a photojournalist whose archive resides at the Ransom Center.

Duncan donated the plate in honor of his friendship with Stanley Marcus, who suggested that Duncan donate his archive to the Ransom Center in 1996. The archive includes more than 36,000 prints, 87,000 negatives, and 21,000 transparencies, in addition to correspondence, manuscripts, camera equipment, artwork, and personal effects.

Picasso painted the plate, a piece of commercial dinnerware, at his home Villa La Californie in Cannes, France, on April 19, 1957. Dedicated to Duncan’s dog Lump, a dachshund, the plate is 24 centimeters in diameter and contains a portrait of Lump.

Beginning Tuesday, February 1, the plate will be on view in the Ransom Center’s exhibition Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century, running through July 31.

Comparable painted plates by Picasso have sold at auction for amounts ranging from $20,000 to $90,000.

Through the encouragement of photojournalist Robert Capa, Duncan met Picasso on Feb. 8, 1956, when he visited the artist in the south of France. Upon his arrival, Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s companion at the time, led Duncan up to the bathroom where Picasso was in the bath. Duncan presented Picasso a ring he made for the occasion, and a bond was formed between the two men.

Upon Duncan’s departure, Picasso waved goodbye and said, “This is your home—come back!”

In April 1957, Duncan returned to La Californie, bringing Lump with him, and began extensively photographing Picasso, his home and his family in their daily lives. Duncan wrote about Lump’s visit stating, “[a]fter his first exploratory survey of Villa La Californie, it was ‘Adios, Rome!’ and from that moment on Lump became a permanent resident at Picasso’s home.”

While eating lunch one day, Picasso asked Duncan if Lump had ever had a plate of his own. Duncan responded no. At that point, Picasso picked up his lunch plate, and with brush and paint that were at the table, began painting a simple, yet detailed, portrait of Lump. The plate was inscribed to Lump, signed and dated by Picasso, then handed to Duncan.

Reflecting on that moment, Duncan wrote that “[t]hat ceramic souvenir was symbolic of Picasso’s lifelong spontaneous generosity.”
Duncan captured this friendship and Lump’s legacy in Picasso’s works in his book Picasso & Lump: A Dachshund’s Odyssey (2006).

Duncan authored additional books on Picasso, including The Private World of Pablo Picasso (1958), Picasso’s Picassos (1961), Goodbye Picasso (1974), The Silent Studio (1976), Viva Picasso (1980), Picasso and Jacqueline (1988) and Picasso Paints a Portrait (1996).

 

Please click the thumbnails below to view full-size images.

 

Photo Friday

Each Friday, the Ransom Center shares photos from throughout the week that highlight a range of activities and collection holdings. We hope you enjoy these photos that reveal some of the everyday happenings at the Center.

The Byron and Susan Sewell Collection of Lewis Carroll contains numerous dolls and figurines relating to ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Efforts are underway to evaluate the collection and rehouse the dolls and figurines. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
The Byron and Susan Sewell Collection of Lewis Carroll contains numerous dolls and figurines relating to ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Efforts are underway to evaluate the collection and rehouse the dolls and figurines. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Graduate intern Francisca Folch works with the Byron and Susan Sewell Collection of Lewis Carroll, evaluating the collection’s dolls and figurines relating to ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Graduate intern Francisca Folch works with the Byron and Susan Sewell Collection of Lewis Carroll, evaluating the collection’s dolls and figurines relating to ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Demolition of a former lab & studio was the first stage of a project to install a low-humidity, cold-storage vault for housing cellulose acetate materials. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Demolition of a former lab & studio was the first stage of a project to install a low-humidity, cold-storage vault for housing cellulose acetate materials. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

Ransom Center receives $10,000 grant to catalog collection of science materials

The Ransom Center has received a $10,000 grant from the Friends of the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics to rehouse and rearrange its holdings of the Herschel family papers and to create an online finding aid.

The Herschel family papers, acquired in 1960 with subsequent smaller accessions of additional materials, largely represent the life and work of Sir John F. W. Herschel (1792-1871), the English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor. John Herschel has been called Britain’s first modern physical scientist, and his correspondence has been noted as one of the most valuable archives for 19th-century science.

The Herschel family papers at the Ransom Center form a significant resource for the study of the history of science in general and also for studies in several individual fields, such as astronomy, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The lives of the Herschels, their pioneering achievements, their interactions with other leading scientists of their time and their influence on their colleagues’ work are topics scholars may pursue in the papers.

The Herschel family papers will be closed to scholars during the duration of the grant, which runs through Dec. 31, 2011.

Please click on the thumbnails below to view full-size images.

 

National Gallery of Art’s symposium 'Truth to Nature: British Photography and Pre-Raphaelitism'

Henry Peach Robinson, 'The Lady of Shalott,' 1861.
Henry Peach Robinson, 'The Lady of Shalott,' 1861.

Ransom Center Curator of Photography David Coleman participates in the National Gallery of Art’s symposium “Truth to Nature: British Photography and Pre-Raphaelitism” in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, January 22.

Coleman presents “Matters of Fact and Pleasant Fictions: Henry Peach Robinson and Victorian Composition Photography,” elaborating on Robinson’s relationship with Pre-Raphaelite painting.

The Ransom Center loaned 14 items from its photography collection to the National Gallery of Art for the exhibition The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, 1848-1875, on view through January 30. Beginning March 6, the exhibition opens at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris as A Ballad of Love and Death: Pre-Raphaelite Photography in Great Britain, 1848-1875. Running through May 29, this exhibition also showcases the Ransom Center’s loaned photographs.

Upcoming member events offer greater access to Ransom Center treasures

“Wild at Heart,” the opening party for the spring exhibitions, is just one of the many exciting events that the Ransom Center has planned for members. View full calendar featuring a curator tour, mixology class, Magnum Photos presentation, and more. We invite you to join, upgrade, or renew today to experience all that the Ransom Center has to offer. Below, view the new membership video, featuring members speaking about what they enjoy most about their involvement with the Harry Ransom Center.

Photo Friday

Each Friday, the Ransom Center shares photos from throughout the week that highlight a range of activities and collection holdings. We hope you enjoy these photos that reveal some of the everyday happenings at the Center.

Assistant Archivist Nicole Davis (left) and Archivist Jennifer Hecker work on cataloging the papers of lawyer Morris Ernst. Some of the more than 900 processed and unprocessed boxes of the Ernst collection surround Davis and Hecker as they work on making the collection accessible in fall 2011. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Assistant Archivist Nicole Davis (left) and Archivist Jennifer Hecker work on cataloging the papers of lawyer Morris Ernst. Some of the more than 900 processed and unprocessed boxes of the Ernst collection surround Davis and Hecker as they work on making the collection accessible in fall 2011. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Curator of Photography David Coleman (left) and Bill Ewing, Director of Curatorial Projects for Thames & Hudson, work with the Arnold Newman collection for a future project with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Curator of Photography David Coleman (left) and Bill Ewing, Director of Curatorial Projects for Thames & Hudson, work with the Arnold Newman collection for a future project with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Archivist Amy Armstrong works on cataloging the collection of screenwriter and director Paul Schrader, locating a costume worn by Willem Dafoe in ‘Light Sleeper’ (1992). Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Archivist Amy Armstrong works on cataloging the collection of screenwriter and director Paul Schrader, locating a costume worn by Willem Dafoe in ‘Light Sleeper’ (1992). Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Files that are being cataloged from the collection of screenwriter and director Paul Schrader. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Files that are being cataloged from the collection of screenwriter and director Paul Schrader. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Curator of Academic Affairs Danielle Sigler (center) shares collection items for ‘Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored,’ a 2011 fall exhibition that examines the multi-faceted machinery of literary censorship during the inter war years. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.
Curator of Academic Affairs Danielle Sigler (center) shares collection items for ‘Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored,’ a 2011 fall exhibition that examines the multi-faceted machinery of literary censorship during the inter war years. Photo by Anthony Maddaloni.

2011 Texas Medal of Arts Awards Honorees Include Ransom Center Director Staley

Texas Medal of Arts Awards
Texas Medal of Arts Awards

The Texas Cultural Trust has announced honorees for the 2011 Texas Medal of Arts Awards. The honor, inspired by the National Medal of Arts, has been bestowed upon 59 Texas leaders and luminaries in the arts and entertainment industry for creative excellence and exemplary talents since its inception in 2001. This year’s honorees include:

•Lifetime Achievement – Barbara Smith Conrad: Mezzo-soprano and civil rights icon whose voice has filled renowned opera houses throughout the world (Pittsburgh, TX);

•Literary – Robert M. Edsel: Author and founder/president of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art which received the 2007 National Humanities Medal (Dallas, TX);

•Art Education – Tom Staley: Educator, author, and Director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX);

•Visual Arts – James Drake: An internationally acclaimed artist honored with inclusion in the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial and whose work is in the permanent collections of over 30 museums around the world (Lubbock, TX);

•Theatre – Alley Theatre: Internationally recognized company and recipient of the Tony Award (Houston, TX);

•Corporate – H-E-B: Grocer with 329 stores and 76,000 employees in 155 communities throughout Texas and Mexico; boasting a long history of supporting the arts throughout the state (Kerrville, TX);

•Journalism – Bob Schieffer: CBS News Anchor of the Weekend Edition and broadcasting hall of famer (Ft. Worth, TX);

•Multi-Media – Ray Benson: Nine-time Grammy™-winning front man of the Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel and co-writer of the play A Ride With Bob based on the life and music of Bob Wills (Austin, TX);

•Individual Patrons – Ernest and Sarah Butler: Major donors to Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Blanton Museum of Art, the Long Center, Ballet Austin, University of Texas School of Music, and the Austin Lyric Opera (Austin, TX);

•Film–Actress – Marcia Gay Harden: Oscar®-winning actress with roles in such films as Pollock, Millers Crossing, The First Wives Club, and Mona Lisa Smile (UT Austin Graduate, Austin, TX);

•Film–Actor – Bill Paxton: Four-time Golden Globe® nominee and star of Tombstone, True Lies, Apollo 13, Twister, Titanic, and hit HBO series Big Love (Ft. Worth, TX);

•Music – ZZ Top: Legendary band that has sold over 50 million albums worldwide with eight Top 40 hits including “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man”; Ranked in the top 50 of VH1′s “Greatest Artists of Hard Rock” (Houston, TX).

Locks of Ages: The Leigh Hunt hair collection

Among the most popular “show and tell” items at the Ransom Center is the collection of famous people’s hair compiled by the Romantic poet and essayist Leigh Hunt. It features locks from 21 authors and statesmen, including John Milton, John Keats, and George Washington.

Scattered about the collections are many other hair samples belonging to various celebrities. The most important were taken from Charlotte Brontë (brunette), Marie Antoinette (a blond lock), and Edgar Allan Poe (a black braid, kept in a locket he gave to his sometime girlfriend Elmira Shelton). When the latter’s hair was exhibited last year for his 200th birthday, it swiftly became one of the most popular items, with younger visitors calling it “creepy.”

There is just something about hair. Composed mostly of the tough protein keratin, it survives practically forever, along with bones (thus Donne’s “bracelet of bright hair about the bone”). The Victorians had a particular obsession with hair, as documented in a recent study by Galia Ofek in her book Representations of Hair in Victorian Literature and Culture (Ashgate, 2009). In an age in which death was omnipresent, hair kept in lockets or bracelets was a way of remembering loved ones. It also had a certain fetishistic component for the Pre-Raphaelities, whose good (Millais’s Mariana) and bad (Holman Hunt’s Isabella) subjects usually had hyperactive follicles.

I had often wondered why Leigh Hunt formed the collection and how it came to us. After a bit of digging, I discovered that John L. Waltman had answered my questions about the hair collection in an obscure journal article back in 1980. Hunt’s interest in hair is well documented. He mentions the collection in one of his “Wishing Cap” essays (ca. 1830s) and wrote three poems on Milton’s hair. Part of the collection derived from Dr. Johnson’s friend John Hoole, although how and when they came to Hunt is not exactly clear. Later locks were clipped from Hunt’s poet friends, such as John Keats, Percy Shelley, and Robert Browning.

Along with Milton’s hair, which may have been removed when he was disinterred in 1790, a single golden hair from Lucretia Borgia’s head was Hunt’s prize. He described it as “sparkl[ing] in the sun as if it had been cut yesterday.” Lord Byron stole a portion of a lock in the Ambrosian Library in Milan and presented it to Hunt with a quotation from Alexander Pope: “and beauty draws us with a single hair.”

The Hunt hair collection, minus Lucretia Borgia’s strand, stayed in the Hunt family until 1921, when it was sold at Sotheby’s and purchased by Mrs. Miriam Lutcher Stark, who in turn gave it to The University of Texas at Austin. Until the late 1990s, when the album was rehoused by the Center’s Conservation department, it was still possible to touch the hair of your favorite literary celebrity; today, one can only gawk.

While the authenticity of some of the earlier locks (notably Milton’s) is in some doubt, those of Hunt’s contemporaries are presumably all genuine. They look exactly as one imagines they should: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s curls rather like the coat of her spaniel, Flush; Keats’s wavy and luxuriantly brown; the older Wordsworth’s hair blondish, thin, and flecked with gray.

Please click on the thumbnails below to view full-size images.