The Bookshelf, Young Texas Reader, Blog Notes, & Texana Youtube Channel

The Texas Bookshelf is for single, specific books' reviews and author interviews . The Texas Parlor ranges more broadly than my other websites. The Young Texas Reader focuses on the youngest through teenagers. Texas Blog Notes surveys blogs of historical and literary interest. I've started a Will's Texana Youtube collecting channel where 1,000 videos are collected in 100 playlists . Find Will in Houston or at willstexana {at} yahoodotcom

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Heisman Trophy Longhorn History

Earl Campbell (1977) and Ricky Williams (1998) won the Heisman Trophy in college footabll as University of Texas Longhorns.  But can you name Longhorn also-rans.  Well here's a list.
1947 Bobby Layne, Sixth-Place
1961 James Saxton, Third-Place
1963 Scott Appleton, Fifth-Place
1970 Steve Worster, Fourth-Place
1973 Roosevelt Leaks, Third-Place
(Yes, a drought for three decades, except for Campbell and Williams as winners)
2004 Cedric Benson Sixth-Place
2005 Vince Young: Second Place
2008 Colt McCoy, Second-Place
2009 Colt McCoy, Third Place
Read the story behind each at the Bleacher Report, a UT Football newsletter

Elmer Kelton Statue Nearing Completion

Rick Smith in the San Angelo Standard-Times article ,"Elmer Kelton statue nearing completion," relays the news:

— A life-size sculpture of the late West Texas author Elmer Kelton is nearing completion at a Lubbock foundry said Raul Ruiz, the San Angelo artist commissioned to create the work.
"I just came back from Lubbock last week," Ruiz said. "Right now, I'm at the point where I'm putting on the finishing touches."
He said the sculpture, now made of clay, will be cast in bronze.
"I think it's looking really good," Ruiz said. "It just takes time."
The bronze, which will show the West Texas author casually leaning on a wooden fence, will be placed in the new Tom Green County Library when it opens in 2010.
Ruiz said the Kelton family will travel to Lubbock to see the clay sculpture before it is cast into bronze.
The project has had several unexpected delays.
First, the foundry changed hands after owner Jerry House died in July. Then, Ruiz said he was jolted by Kelton's death in August.
"That's been the hardest part of this — Mr. Kelton's passing," Ruiz said.
Donations to fund the $85,000 project are being accepted through the San Angelo Area
For more information information, see  or call 325- 659-3788."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Musings from Sam Houston's Stomping Grounds

Newton Gresham Library
"Musings from Sam Houston's Stomping Grounds"
The Special Collections librarians up at Sam Houston State University Newton Gresham Library are casting their pods.  Back in 2006 Paul Culp and Cheryl Spencer started talking into one of those talking machines and called them "Musings." 
Somebody plugged them into the internet.  Before long it got to be a habit (a good one) and twice a month they'd find some old historical or news article to read or just recollect (no doubt with a bit of research) history about the University, ol' Sam himself, or other local matters.  They read about 2 to 5 minutes each, but sometimes up to 7 minutes.  Rather interesting listening.  Now there's quite a collection online for you. 
Should you prefer reading it quietly to yourself, transcripts are available.  And the entries can be arranged by topical place or person.  And here's a bit of news.  They started putting slide shows together to go with the audio.  Well, a good thing gets noticed and sometimes other librarians get their moment in the sound booth.
Two recent entries are self-described as:
Harmon L. Lowman - 15 Nov. 2009:
Cheryl Spencer reads an article about Dr. Harmon Lowman, one of Sam Houston's most beloved presidents. Dr. Lowman was president of Sam Houston State Teacher's College from 1941 - 1964. Episode originally aired 1 March 2007. (2:30) Read the transcript.
Dia de la Muertos - 01 Nov. 2009:
Erin Cassidy, Reference Librarian, reads a short essay about Dia de los Muertos (the Days of the Dead), written by Norma Beth Williamson, Spanish pool faculty member in the Department of Foreign Languages. (4:19) New format! See more images while listening! (4:35) Read the transcript. Get audio only.
I swear, sometimes a college education sure pays off.  I guess what I like best is that the staff is actually expected to know the contents of their archives a trend to encourage.
Or peruse the Special Collection Thomason Room at   

Texas Observer - Back issues of Summer and Winter Books Issues online

The Texas Observer, Texas' own guardian of the left bank of the Colorado River. has a book blog "Texas Bound" which occasionally addresses a Texas volume (they prefer the broader view of the nation).   No posting has been made in "Texas Bound" since last October.  But now of note is the TO's online availability of the Summer and Winter Books issues.  The archives go back for ten years.  On the Texas Bound blog's page in the upper right are clicks to those back issues.  For the illiterate with no interest in books, but just their causes of the day, under TO's homepage is the complete list of issues, back for the same ten years.

Cynthia Woods Mitchell Dies

You may have already learned of Cynthia Woods Mitchell's death on the 27th at age 87. 
Her obituary is in today's Wednesday Chronicle.  Should you not have a hardcopy at hand, an electronic link is at
The obituary is the loveliest and most memorable one I've ever read, no doubt enabled by the lovely person, mother, and wife that she was. 
Through the obituary, I laughed, cried, and came to admire her and the obituary's author, one of her children.  I recomend you take time from your busy holiday season to read of this remarkable, modern woman, a force behind Galveston's.historic revival, early advocate of sustainable living (The Woodlands), inspiration of and care-taker of the Cynthia Woods Pavilion, wife of dynamo George P. Mitchell, and mother of 10.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Land Steward Awards

Lone Star Land Steward Awards Program

Self-described as:  "Private landowners are the key to effective habitat management in Texas, since more than 90 percent of Texas is privately-owned. The Lone Star Land Steward Awards program recognizes and honors private landowners for their accomplishments in habitat management and wildlife conservation. The program is designed to educate landowners and the public and to encourage participation in habitat conservation."
Lone Star Land Steward

New Deal for Texas Parks - interactive exhibit from TPWD

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has developed an interactive exhibit on the New Deal for Texas Parks:
A New Deal for Texas Parks, main page.
It's self-description begins:
"Welcome to a New Deal for Texas Parks - an online exhibit and education center for teachers and students of Texas history, made possible in part through the generous support of Humanities Texas' Linden Heck Howell Texas History Grant. Humanities Texas is a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Flip through the pages of the scrapbook to explore how individuals, communities and landscapes in Texas were impacted by the New Deal Era. Discover how the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed many of the state parks we enjoy today. Explore a variety of primary source documents such as photographs, oral histories, letters and music that help tell this American story through the eyes of Texas."  Read more at
Open the Table of Contents or select a theme.  Click on a page's corner and turn the page.  The "My Keepsake" pdf on the left of each section's first page offers a type of lesson plan.

Historic Texas Rancho de las Cabras Buried Under Sand

Old Texas mission ranch buried in funding limbo

Dec 24, 2009 3:32 AM (6 hrs ago) By Michelle Roberts, AP
Examiner news story begins: "FLORESVILLE, Texas (Map, News) -
Ruins that archeologists call one of the last links to the original ranches and cowboys that shaped Texas have been kept behind a gate, literally buried, for more than two decades - awaiting the funding that would allow people to see them.
The 18th-century Rancho de las Cabras complex, with its stone building remains, was a birthplace of the large commercial ranching operations that would help define the state. Preservationists have long hoped it could be fully excavated and opened to the public, but so far, the site has been unable to attract the money it would need from Congress or the National Park Service's stretched budget. 
"It's one of these kind of once-in-a-lifetime sites. You're not going to be able to see something like this anywhere in the world," said National Park Service Archaeologist Susan Snow. "The mission ranches brought what we know today as the modern cattle industry."
The 100-acre site about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio was donated 32 years ago to the state, which handed it to the National Park Service nearly 15 years ago as addition to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park."  Read more at

Monday, December 21, 2009

Laredo's Last Bookstore

News of the closing of  Laredo's last bookstore has finally hit the Wall Street Journal of all places.  Apparently literacy in Texas is worth the attention of those who tend the national economy.  Do you suppose that being able to read actually matters?
Stephanie Simon's article is headlined:

City Tries to Rewrite Lone Bookstore's Last Chapter :  Laredo Residents Campaign to Prevent Closing of B. Dalton Shop That Serves as Community Resource, Gathering Place

and begins:
"LAREDO, Texas -- Mary Benavides steps from behind the cash register several times a day to embrace the mourners.
For more than 30 years, she has managed the mall's B. Dalton outlet -- the only bookstore in Laredo. It will close next month.
All B. Daltons nationwide are closing, as corporate parent Barnes & Noble shutters the chain. In this era of mega-bookstores with cafes and cozy couches and 150,000 titles -- and with more than a million books available online -- B. Dalton's cramped outlets no longer make economic sense."  Read more at
Those of us at the Parlor speculate if we lived in Laredo, we'd go to the City Librarian and begin (now just ask or just try) the process of allowing the  City Library discards and the discards from other nearby libraries (hint, hint TAMU-I)  to form the basis of a used book store (with serious intent) through a commodious and convenient, well-lighted space.  In short time, new books could be added to the line.  If  free enterprize will not address the obvious public needs, the government should.  Or you can offer a different idea.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Poking Around in the UT Dallas Archives

Press release begins:

Archivist tour  Paul Oelkrug (foreground) leads archivists on a tour of McDermott Library's Special Collections.

Archivists Get a Glimpse of UT Dallas Library Rarities

Dec. 14, 2009
"Visiting archivists got acquainted with some of UT Dallas' most exclusive holdings recently when they met at McDermott Library to tour the Special Collections department.
Paul Oelkrug and his staff in Special Collections led visitors through the History of Aviation Collection, which features a world-class aeronautical archive. The collection is the department's largest section.
The saw the Wineburgh Philatelic Research Library, a regional resource for philatelic and postal history; and the Louise B. Belsterling Library, a collection of rare botanical books, including the library's oldest volume."  Read more at

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ron Stone Academy for the Teaching of Texas History

University of Houston New Release
Texas History Academy links late Ron Stone, UHFoundation Gift Launches New Resource for Texas History Teachers
It begins:  "June 3, 2009 - Houston - The rugged history of the Lone Star State is revealed in landmarks, cities and tales.  Now, a new resource at the University of Houston Center for Public History helps Texas teachers harness that rich history for the classroom.

The University of Houston Center for Public History has announced a $75,000 gift from the Ron Stone Foundation to begin the Ron Stone Academy for the Teaching of Texas History. The gift will be matched by a $75, 000 contribution by the university."
For more information about The Ron Stone Foundation, visit

Texas Music History Lecture Series in El Paso

The El Paso Newspaper Tree report begins
"New Texas Music History Lecture Series

Thursday, December 3, 2009

El Paso Museum of History Begins New Texas Music History Lecture Series

"Beginning September 3 and continuing through December, the El Paso Museum of History will celebrate Texas' influence in Zydeco, Jazz, Women in Texas Music and Blues music. The lecture series will take place the first Thursday of each month. It is the first series of events that the museum will charge an admission fee for: $4 for members and $8 for nonmembers. The goal of this series is to offer something special for the museum's membership and to attract potential new members."  Read more at
Museum of History or visit the museum at

National Literary Landmarks in Texas

Earlier this December, the Lorenzo de Zavala Texas State Library and Archives Building  received designation as a National Literary Landmark, the fourth in Texas.  The other three are the O. Henry Home in Austin, the Katherine Anne Porter Home in Kyle, and the Menger Hotel in San Antonio.
Learn more about the National Literary Landmarks at
The Dallas News carried an article about the announcement at
Hmmm, only four.  Sure wouldn't take long to round up a few more.  What're the qualifications?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dollar Store Dirt and Marshall

Locals angry over store's proposed site
Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen

Friday, December 11, 2009
[This article from Marshall reveals Dollar Store's intent to build in a historic neighborhood on Burleson.]

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

General Land Office - Teachers Guide

Teachers Guide:

Three Centuries on the Land: The Archives of the Texas General Land Office (The Story of Texas is told through the history of its public lands).

Table of Contents


History of the

Texas General Land Office.............................................4


of Land Grants in Texas................................................10

Mineral Files..................................................................15

Digital Preservation Project............................................16

The Campaign to Save Texas History…………………17

Appendix A

Commissioners of the General Land Office....................18

Appendix B

Sources for Further Reading..........................................19
This 20-page document is available online at