HMRC Newsletter | January 2020

HMRC history gazette

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.

HMRC Digital Projects Update
Processing the City Council Papers of Mark Ellis
Spend a Summer in the Stacks! High School Internships in 2020

HMRC Digital Projects Update
by Matt Richardson, Photography Archive Supervisor

HMRC and our partners have been adding to and improving our digital collections.

We use the Houston Public Library Digital Archives to share our unique materials online. Regular visitors to the website may have noticed some major updates recently. In addition to getting a new look, the website was also upgraded for use on mobile devices. Each HPL Special Collections Library now has its own page, and each page highlights different resources. Thank you to our partners in HPL’s Digital Strategies team for making this update happen!

But the website itself isn’t the only thing that’s new. The updated site also boasts lots of newly digitized content from the archives.

Along with our partners at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, we’ve recently digitized and shared a new batch of historic films. This project is part of TexTreasures program, made possible by a grant from U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The effort added nearly one hundred films to the KHOU-TV Film Collection online. Dozens of film reels from other collections were also converted to digital format and posted online. You can view all HMRC’s digitized films at

HMRC staff and volunteers have also been busy digitizing materials here in the Ideson Building. We recently digitized and shared several new archival collections online. Take a look at:

Of course, there’s no substitute for a visit to the Texas Room. Still, by sharing materials on the Digital Archives, we can extend the reach of our archival collections. Whether they provide sources for scholarly research or take Houstonians on a walk down memory lane, we hope our customers enjoy these newly available resources. 

Photo Credits:
Muhammad Ali at Houston court house, June 19, 1967. RGD0033-r0180, RG D 0033 KHOU Film Collection, Houston Public Library, HMRC.
Father preparing to feed a baby, MSS1248-0870, Litterst-Dixon Photographs, Houston Public Library, HMRC.

Processing the City Council Papers of Mark Ellis
by Claudia Cardenas, UNT MLS Practicum Student

For the past ten months, I’ve been volunteering at HMRC organizing collections for patron use. In that time, I’ve worked with archival collections, oral histories, digitization, and vertical files. I am working towards my Master’s in Library Science, and when came time to fulfill my practicum requirements, I knew I wanted to remain here at HMRC. For my practicum, I organized the papers of former Houston City Council member Mark Ellis, which were donate to HMRC after he left office. This was the largest collection I’ve worked with at HMRC.

Mark Ellis was elected in December 1999 as the District F representative and served on the Houston City Council from 2000-2006. The collection, originally housed in eighteen boxes, contained not only information from when Ellis was in office, but also photographs, videos, and newspaper clippings.

At the time of donation, the boxes arrived labeled with the types of information they contained. The first step in organizing the collection meant looking through the files to see how they all worked together. Then, I developed my processing plan, which entailed going through the material in more detail and making a general list of what each box contained. This helped me think about how materials could be organized in the finding aid.

Some groups were easy to identify, such as agendas, constituent correspondence, articles, and newsletters. Other files fell into categories related to committees Ellis served on. The largest group was ‘Community Projects.’ Many of the projects Ellis worked on for District F were about improvements for the community and their public safety. He served on the Civility Ordinance Committee (the Civility Ordinance prohibits sitting, laying, or storing personal belongings on public sidewalks from 7am to 11pm). There were also files that pertained to issues close to Ellis personally, such as his involvement with the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Texas.

I also experienced the process of digitizing VHS tapes in HMRC’s digitization lab, which was completely new to me and extremely fascinating. It was fun using the program to copy the video, and this was a great learning experience on how to index and timecode moving images.

In the end, I condensed the collection down to thirteen boxes (it’s amazing how much space binders take up!) and arranged it into eleven groups, or series, based on the files.

If you are interested in completing an internship at HMRC, please contact the volunteer coordinator at or call 832-393-1662.

Photo Credits:
Pictures feature archival materials from the Councilman Mark Ellis Papers (MSS 1439) and appear courtesy of HMRC.

Spend a Summer in the Stacks!  High School Internships in 2020
by Mikaela Selley, Hispanic Collections & Oral History Archivist

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 projects related to conservation, book history, 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  and then download the 2020 SHIP Application. Please email or call 832-393-1662 for more information. Applications are due by April 17, 2020.

Photo Credits:
Pictures appear courtesy of HMRC.

Upcoming HMRC Events & Programs

Where's the Book on my House? How to Research Historic Properties
Saturday, January 11, 2020 | 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Clayton Library | Carriage House

Curious about your home’s history? Don’t know where to start?  Join us for this special edition of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center’s (HMRC) popular program, co-presented by HMRC's Architectural Archivist and Clayton Library staff. This program offers an overview of how to research a historic property, highlighting useful resources in HMRC and Clayton Library collections. Reservations required, please call 832-393-2600.  

Stay tuned for more upcoming programs in 2020!

Archived Blog Posts

October 2019
July 2019
April 2019
January 2019
October 2018
July 2018

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