The Center for Public History was proud to join Houston Public Media earlier in June as they hosted a celebration of the first nine episodes of the 100 Years of Houston project, with a special recognition of Carey C. Shuart for her generous gift to seed the collaborative project with the Center for Public History and the UH M.D. Anderson Libraries.
100 Years of Houston is part of an innovative storytelling collaboration and interactive public history initiative that showcases the important role the University has had played in shaping the city.
Pictured from left to right: Dr. Debbie Harwell, Editor of Houston History magazine, Grace Conroy, recent UH History graduate, Samantha de Leon, Carey C. Shuart 100 Years of Stories Graduate Assistant, Carey C. Shuart, Mary Manning, Associate Librarian at the UH Libraries, Fujio Watanabe, Manager of Media Production at Houston Public Media, and Dr. Monica Perales, Director of the UH Center for Public History
Lighting the path to the UH centennial celebration in 2027, the Center for Public History, Houston History magazine, Houston Public Media, and the University of Houston Libraries have worked to create video and radio spots to share and preserve the stories of the University’s people and institutions that have defined our city and region.
The 100 Years of Houston celebration event featured a unique “behind-the-scenes” look at how each of the videos and radio spots were created – from archivists who curate and provide access to UH and Houston-focused research materials, to student researchers crafting the historical narrative, to Houston Public Media videographers and producers distilling the content into a three-minute (or less) spotlight!
Watch a special behind the scenes look at the making of
100 Years of Stories
Guests had the opportunity to chat with student researchers while viewing display tables full of UH publications, historical artifacts, and archival materials. The Libraries brought original, bound copies of the UH student newspaper, the Daily Cougar, as well as an original architectural drawing of the Roy Cullen building, an old KUHT film real, a year book with pictures celebrating Maria Jimenez’s student body presidential victory in 1970, and original copies of student newsletters, discussing student life and childcare during the 1940s as students navigated the Trailer Village and Veterans’ Village with its small apartments.
Dan O’Connor, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, and Athena Jackson, Dean of the University of Houston Libraries, were both in attendance and attested to the importance of this project. Both Deans are natives of the Houston area and were excited to “see” the enormous impact of the University of Houston on the city and the region, charted decade by decade in the 100 Years of Houston videos.
From left to right, pictured with Carey C. Shuart, Athena Jackson, Dean of the University of Houston Libraries, Lisa Shumate, Associate Vice President of Houston Public Media, and Dan O’Connor, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
On a panel of project contributors, recent UH History graduate, Grace Conroy, spoke about how her research on the university’s founding gave her a new appreciation for the unique vision of the school: “This research definitely expanded my horizons on everything that is the University of Houston. It’s an incredible idea that Dr. Oberholtzer had, and it’s one that has followed through with Marguerite Ross Barnett and with Dr. Khator.”
Grace went on to say how the 100 Years project allows us to promote that vision of a “university for the people –for people of all walks of life,” and that once others begin hearing the stories that punctuate the university’s history, they would fall in love with not only with UH but with the city as well.
Grace will be going on to graduate school in the fall to further her goals as a public historian. It was her work, she explained, conducting oral histories for the film and article on the new Tillman J, Fertitta Family College of Medicine, that helped crystalize her career path.
Dr. Debbie Harwell, Editor for Houston History magazine, has been working with UH students on how to research and write local Houston history for popular audience for nearly 14 years. She reflected on how the story of the university is intimately intertwined with the story of the city itself.
Few people realize, she remarked, just how many Houstonians’ accomplishments actually have their roots at UH.
Pictured from left to right: Mary Manning, Associate Librarian at the UH Libraries, Fujio Watanabe, Manager of Media Production at Houston Public Media, Grace Conroy, recent UH History graduate, and Dr. Debbie Harwell, Editor of Houston History magazine.
Mary Manning, University Archivist at the UH Libraries, focused on the how the resources in the University Archives help illuminate the history of UH’s impact on the city of Houston. “UH student publications such as the Houstonian yearbook and the Cougar newspaper can provide a glimpse into the student life of a person who later became important in their field or in the community. Such resources highlight both the student perspective on events on and off campus and the student roots of activist movements that later impacted Houston and beyond.”
Fujio Watanabe, Sr. Project Manager at Houston Public Media, also on the panel, said of 100 Years: “It’s really about collaboration. That’s been the key to this.”
Talking with each of the student authors of the magazine articles, finding out what they thought was important about the history they had written, was especially important for Watanabe. “I would get a chance to see the research that was done [in Houston History magazine articles], he said, “and then go to the Library and try to find images and answer the questions like, ‘What was happening? What was visually happening, what was happening in the yearbook, what was going on—the whole feel and mood?’” Watanabe’s work with the student authors, combined with his immersive research into images and artifacts in the UH Libraries, is what is distilled so powerfully in each of the 100 Years videos.
“Growing up in Houston, none of us had any idea of Houston becoming an international city. Nor did we have any idea of the University of Houston becoming a Tier One University,” Carey Shuart has said. “But both things have transpired and there are many stories to tell about how this was accomplished. I hope these stories will increase our understanding and describe how some of these things happened. It was not magic, but it often seemed magical.”
All of us at the Center for Public History, Houston History magazine, Houston Public Media, and the UH Libraries are so thankful to Carey Shuart for her special gift to ensure that the magic of UH’s history is studied and researched by students and then shared with the larger Houston community.
For more information about the 100 Years project and how you can support UH student research, training, and internships, please visit the Center for Public History, 100 Years of Stories website.