This post was authored by guest contributor Vince Lee, Archivist at the University of Houston, and current member of SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA).
The second biennial Houston Archives Bazaar was hosted at the White Oak Music Hall on November 14, 2019. Over 22 organizations representing local, regional, and state institutions participated in the Bazaar:
- Archives and Special Collections, Neumann Library, UH Clear Lake
- Cushing Memorial Library & Archives, Texas A&M University
- Harris County Archives
- Houston Community College Fashion Archive
- Houston Genealogical Forum
- Houston Jewish History Archive, Rice University, Woodson Research Center
- Houston Public Library: African American Library at the Gregory School
- Houston Public Library: Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
- Houston Public Library: Houston Metropolitan Research Center
- McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library
- Menil Archives
- Moore Memorial Public Library (Digital Memories Booth)
- Prairie View A&M University
- Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage
- Rosenberg Library
- Rothko Chapel
- Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, TSLAC
- Texas Collections Emergency Response Alliance (TX-CERA)
- Texas Historical Records Advisory Board
- University of Houston Special Collections
- William J. Hill Texas Artisans & Artists Archive, Bayou Bend Collection
- Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
Visitors and attendees to the Bazaar were greeted at the door where they would sign in, fill out a name tag, and get their passports from the registration table. From there visitors were encouraged to visit as many tables within the Bazaar and take part in activities. They would present their passports at each table where they would be stamped. At the end of touring the Bazaar visitors take their stamped passports to get free swag such as a Houston Archives Bazaar (HAB) tote bags, pencils, pins, and other ephemera. No self respecting visitor or archivist attending a Bazaar would want to leave empty handed, and as archivists we all love free stuff!
What sorts of visitors can you expect to find at an Archives Bazaar? From my own personal experience of visitors at our table (University of Houston Special Collections), I ran across genealogists looking for additional resources to track down family history, students at area colleges and universities looking for potential research projects, high school teachers and administrators seeking potential topics and primary source materials for research for their students as well as seeking potential collaborations with area repositories for field trips and tours. There were heavy users of archives such as researchers looking for news-clippings and audio-visual clips to bolster their research, advocates of archives from the Houston community such as artists, historians, and donors looking to find a home for their materials.
In short there were a wide variety of folks that came out to visit the Houston Archives Bazaar for a variety of reasons and interests. The Houston Archives Bazaar truly was a gathering place of activity that reflected the different constituencies that archives and archivists serve each and every day. As if that wasn’t enough it was a free event and open to the public!
In addition to the tables which showcased collection materials of each of the participating repositories, attendees had an opportunity to contribute to a time capsule-they could write a short note or letter to themselves in the future, deposit an item or artifact, and doodle or draw something to someone in the future. There was also an oral history booth that did short 15-minute recordings for attendees wishing to contribute their memories and stories of Houston — whether it was growing up in Houston, going to school here, or a memory of a neighborhood or area and how Houston has changed.
The 2019 Houston Archives Bazaar for me represented a unique opportunity in which archives and archivists come together not only in engaging with the public with our material holdings and explain what we do as archivists, but it is also an opportunity to take stock of the existing relationships we have with one another as institutions and fellow archivists, not to mention the potential new relationships forged through the community we serve. That’s something we all can be thankful for this holiday season.
Have some interesting archival or special collections outreach event or highlights you’d like us to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org !