Border History Manuscript Collections
The C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department of the University of Texas at El Paso Library houses approximately 700 archival collections which help document the rich history of the El Paso borderlands. Over 185 archival collection records can be found in the UTEP Library’s online catalog. Finding aids for processed collections are available online. The following is a selected list of the collections held in the Special Collections Department.
African - American History
Archie Waters papers, MS 474, 1939 – 2001, 46 feet, 6 inches (linear). The Archie Waters papers date 1939 – 2001, bulk 1970 – 2000. Types of records include correspondence, clippings, publications and other printed material, notes, story proofs, and photographs. Arranged in seven series (Biographical information, Photographs, Articles by Archie Waters, Story proofs, Topical files, Chess materials, and Publications by others), these papers document Waters’ personal life, career as a journalist, community and political activism, and interest and expertise in chess.
Leona Ford Washington photograph collection, PH 033, 1870 – 1989, 4 feet (linear). This collection contains more than 800 photographic images documenting the lives of African-Americans in El Paso over more than 100 years. Formats range from snapshots to large studio portraits. Included are images of important members of the Black community such as Dr. Lawrence Nixon, as well as institutions and organizations like the Douglass School and McCall Center.
Ada Tharp photograph collection, PH 038 This elaborate photo album or lap desk contains photographs of African Americans and other individuals of undetermined ethnicity dating from approximately 1870 to 1925. The types of photographs include tintypes, cabinet cards, cartes de visite, silver gelatin prints, and photo booth snapshots. Few of the photographs are identified. The subjects of the photographs include African American men in military uniforms, many photos of African American women and children, and other well-dressed people. Besides El Paso, Texas, many other locations are mentioned including other cities in Texas, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and towns in Arkansas, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, and New Mexico.
Hugh Bascom Wilson railroad collection, MS 058, 1 linear foot, 3 inches (linear). This collection consists of materials relating to the history of the El Paso Division of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. Materials include books, photographs, maps, periodicals, blueprints, blue line drawings, reports, bulletins, and correspondence. Also included is a copy of a manuscript that was written in 1923 by Clifford R. Morrill and then revised in 1970 by Hugh B. Wilson titled Railroad History: El Paso Division, Southern Pacific.
Southern Pacific Railroad, Rio Grande Division records, MS 077, 1881 – 1974, 658 feet (linear). Correspondence, ledgers, contracts, legal files, court cases, financial records, maintenance records, maps, plans, and incidental photographs reflect the activities of the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad, Southern Pacific within the Rio Grande Division, and certain predecessor or subsidiary lines including El Paso Northern Railway, El Paso and Northeastern Railroad, Arizona and New Mexico Railway, El Paso and Rock Island Railroad, Burro Mountain Railroad Company, Dawson Railway and Coal Company, El Paso Southern Railway Company, and Alamogordo and Sacramento Mountain Railroad. Major correspondents include Charles B. Eddy, William A. Hawkins, and John Franklin. Topics include railroad construction, water resources, Bonito Dam, railroad operation and maintenance, Mexican bracero workers, railroad-related lawsuits. The collection also includes source material on the coal, copper, cattle, and timber industries in the Southwest.
The Popular Dry Goods Company records, MS 317, 193 feet (linear). The Popular Dry Goods Department Store was organized in 1902 by Adolph Schwartz. The Popular remained the largest locally-owned retail enterprise in El Paso until its closure in September 1995. The Popular Dry Goods Company records consist of 296 boxes, 63 volumes of newspapers and 5 drawers of oversized materials, which detail the officers, stores, finances, operations, and employees of El Paso’s largest locally-owned retail enterprise. The records include correspondence, letters of incorporation, photographs, memos, newsletters, general and journal ledgers, merchandising printouts, and other financial documents.
Historical Records of the Former ASARCO El Paso Smelter Site, MS 585 These records include approximately 12,000 oversized drawings and plans, 77 ledgers and bound copies of correspondence or indexes, 4 framed panoramic photos, approximately 3000 black-and-white negatives, 250 color slides, and several hundred aerial views and maps. Not all the materials relate specifically to the former smelter site in El Paso; some show facilities in Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, or Colorado.
El Paso Borderlands History
W. H. Timmons papers, MS 041, 1584 – 1992, 12 feet 6 inches (linear). Dr. Timmons’ papers document his life and career as a professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso. The papers contain materials relating to the history of the U.S. – Mexico borderlands. Types of records include correspondence, books, maps, research notes, dissertations and theses, newsletters, realia, photocopies of articles from both periodicals and encyclopedias, historical documents, faculty and seminar papers, computer diskettes, photographs, and microfilm.
Robert Ewing Thomason papers, MS 140, 1863 – 1978, 9 feet 2 inches (linear). Born in 1879, Robert Ewing Thomason was a lawyer and former mayor of El Paso, Texas, for two terms (1927 and 1929, respectively). He served as a United States Congressman from the 16th District of Texas from 1930-1947, and he was also a United States District Judge of the Western District of Texas from 1947-1963. Materials include biographical information, newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, a bible, notebooks, legal records, and a typed, unpublished manuscript of a book written by Thomason titled Noted Cases I Have Tried. Also included are reports and photographs documenting the findings of a congressional delegation that investigated Nazi war crimes at the end of World War II.
C.L. Sonnichsen papers, MS 141, 1861-1991, 74.5 feet (linear). The C. L. Sonnichsen papers consist primarily of research materials, correspondence and manuscripts dealing with the books Sonnichsen wrote over a fifty year period. Included are correspondence, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, photographs, maps, scrapbooks, oral history interviews, research notes, theses, pamphlets, cassette and magnetic tapes, notecards, published material, personal materials that deal mostly with his education and teaching experience, and awards.
Tom Lea papers, MS 476, 1905 – 2001, 114 feet (linear). The Tom Lea papers consist of materials related to his personal and professional life as an artist, writer and war correspondent. The papers include original art work, literary manuscripts, proofs and galleys of books, diaries, correspondence, awards, project and research files, business and financial records, photographs and negatives, posters, art prints, maps, slides, audio and video recordings, realia, scrapbooks, albums, clippings and printed materials.
Mexican Revolution photograph collection, PH 015, 1900 – 1920, 5.6 feet (linear). This collection includes original photo postcards, negatives, copy prints, half-tone prints pertaining to the Mexican Revolution. The majority of the images are copy prints, which are often duplicated within the collection, and some replicate images from separate sources.
Stout-Feldman Studio photographs, PH 074 In 1895, California native Fred J. Feldman leased and later purchased the photographic business of the Bushong Studio in downtown El Paso, Texas. The Fred J. Feldman Studio thrived during the 1910s and 1920s and became the premier photographic business in El Paso. Feldman was particularly well known for his skill in portraiture. He photographed many prominent businessmen, bankers, judges, mayors, and attorneys as well as society women and community groups. The collection contains glass plate and film negatives from about 1900 through the early 1950s. The UTEP Library purchased the collection from Achilles Studio after the negatives had been stored in the Studio’s basement for many years.
El Paso County records, MS 132.The El Paso County records include jail logs with separate listings for immigration and federal prisoners. Also of interest are probate files, deed records, criminal and civil cases, and tax rolls. The records also include some materials from other west Texas counties, including Hudspeth, Brewster, and Jeff Davis.
Rio Grande Compact Commission records, MS 406, 1939 – 1968, 3 feet (linear). Formed as a result of the interstate compact signed by the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Texas in 1938, the Texas Commission’s goal is to implement the compact by assuring the equitable apportioning of waters from the Rio Grande Basin. The records contain correspondence, reports, tables, maps, and photographs that reflect the activities of the Texas office of the Rio Grande Compact Commission.
CLINIC Citizenship/Immigration records, MS 397. The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) records consist of 56 boxes which contain case files of immigrants who received legal assistance. The files are arranged in alphabetical order.
National Catholic Welfare Conference case files, MS 173, 1904 – 1958, 42 feet (linear). The collection contains case files of clients who received assistance from the Border Office of the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Types of records found in these files include forms, correspondence, notes, border crossing cards, and other legal documents. The case files are primarily arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the client. Alphabetical sequence begins with G and goes through Z.
Fanny Zlabovsky – National Council of Jewish Women case files, MS 508, 1922 – 1946, 3 feet 8 inches (linear). The Fanny Zlabovsky-National Council of Jewish Women case files consist of 239 case files that include correspondence in English and Yiddish with immigrants and their families as well as with officials at the national office of the NCJW, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and other national and international organizations that assisted immigrants in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. In addition to these case files, there are other items of general correspondence and reports spanning from 1922 to 1941.
Cleofas Calleros papers, MS 231, 1860 – 1977, 60 feet (linear). Cleofas Calleros was the long-time director of the El Paso offices of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, a group which provided assistance to immigrants. His papers as director of the local office of the National Catholic Welfare Conference document the role of the Catholic Church in immigration and social work on the U.S. – Mexico border. Many of the newspapers, newsletters, journals and pamphlets in the Calleros papers relate to historical events in El Paso, Juárez and the Southwest. The Calleros papers contain postcards from the Southwest United States and Europe. Rare photographs of Catholic missions and clergy, early religious processions, the construction of Mt. Cristo Rey, Mexican-American parish activities, the Tigua Indians, and historical photographs of early El Paso families and events are also part of the collection.
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan (MECHA - El Paso) records, MS 254, 1967 – 2000, 16 feet, 9 inches (linear). The MECHA records contain minutes, agendas, flyers, correspondence, pamphlets, financial records, newspapers and clippings, programs, publications, and other printed materials. These materials help document the Chicano rights movement and the development of the Chicano Studies program at UTEP.
Casasola photograph collection, PH 041 Most of the photographs in this collection are from the early work of the Casasola Photograph Studio. Since Mr. Alfonso Casasola died in 1948, work by other photographers is also included in this collection. Casasola Studios employed many young photographers over the years, several of whom went on to start their own studios. For instance, Mr. José Andow started as an apprentice while still a teenager, and worked for Mr. Casasola both before and after his service in World War II. The collection contains thousands of images. This is a selection of all identified photos.
Native American History
Mescalero Apache Tribe collection, MS 95, 0.25 linear inches. This collection consists of one typewritten letter and one pamphlet concerning a proposed transfer of National Forest lands to the Mescalero Apache Tribe. Apparently, a proposal had been made by the Tribe to exchange certain land owned by them for land owned by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service so that the Sierra Blanca Ski Run (operated by the Tribe) could be enlarged and therefore would bring in greater revenue. The Forest Service was opposed to this for ecological reasons and published the pamphlet inviting comments from the general public and several institutions. The geographical area in question was southern New Mexico near Ruidoso in Lincoln County.
Eve Ball collection, MS 117, 1880 – 1976, 1 foot, 4 inches (linear). The Eve Ball Collection consists of materials collected by Eve Ball (1890-1984), historian and authority on the Apache. The collection includes photographs, business ledgers and daybooks, newspaper articles, and a partial diary transcript.
UTEP collection, MS 001, 1914 – 2015. These records help document the activities of UTEP students, faculty, and staff, and chronicle the school’s history since 1914. Types of records include catalogs, programs, media guides, clippings, memorandum, newsletters, photographs, ephemera and artifacts, correspondence, reports, financial ledgers and receipts, scrapbooks, minutes, publications, and other printed materials.
Joseph M. Ray papers, MS 148, 1929 – 1983, 24 feet (linear). The Joseph M. Ray papers contain daily notes, scrapbooks, and publications that he collected, produced, and edited. Most of the materials relate to his tenure as president of the University of Texas at El Paso. It also includes a number of the notes and drafts for the books he edited after he resigned the presidency and was given a graduate professorship.
J. Carl Hertzog papers, MS 295, 1901 – 1985, 50 feet (linear). The papers document Carl Hertzog's personal life and professional activities as a printer, typographer, book designer, and founder of Texas Western Press. The majority of the papers reflect Hertzog's general business affairs regarding printing requests, project designs, and material acquisition. The correspondence in the personal papers series contains a description of Hertzog's family and childhood.
Belle Christie Critchett papers, MS 386, 1915 – 1968, 8 feet, 9 inches (linear). Belle Christie Ferguson Critchett (1868? – 1956), supported and promoted many progressive era-issues of the time, including women’s suffrage and the legal status of women, good citizenship and political reform, maternal health and child welfare, prison reform, prohibition, and the peace movement. Types of records include correspondence, clippings, publications and other printed material, maps, posters, songs, a glass lantern slide, and photographs.
Woman’s Club of MSEl Paso records, 576, 1895 – 2015, 140 feet (linear). Founded in 1894, the Woman’s Club is a “non-profit organization committed to providing an educational and cultural center for its members, preserving the integrity of its historic clubhouse, improving conditions and opportunities for women, and enhancing the quality of life in our community.” Types of records include minutes, correspondence, photographs, newsletters, yearbooks, scrapbooks, programs, buildings plans, financial ledgers, posters, oral histories, CDs, cassette tapes, computer discs, reports, receipts, contracts, clippings, and other printed materials. These records document the Club’s history, membership, and activities as well as provide information about the organization’s historic clubhouse.
Pan American Round Table of El Paso records, MS 526, 1921 – 2013, 55 feet, 9 inches (linear). Founded in 1921 by Eugenia Schuster (1865-1946), the Pan American Round Table of El Paso is a nonprofit women’s organization which promotes “mutual knowledge, understanding, and friendship among the peoples of the western hemisphere” through educational forums and lectures, community involvement and activities, and the annual celebration of Pan American Day on April 14. Types of records include minutes, agendas, correspondence, reports, financial records, clippings, photographs, negatives, slides, cassette tapes, scrapbooks, proclamations, postcards and other souvenirs, invitations, programs, notes, publications, pamphlets and brochures, and other printed material.