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Special Collections


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In the Beginning: the First Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, 1962

That Van Cliburn, a 24-year-old American, won the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow, at the height of the Cold War, was unlikely enough. Still more unlikely was the siting of a new international piano competition in Fort Worth, Texas - a town known for cowboys and cattle. Yet it happened, and over the years the Van Cliburn became known as one of the world's foremost piano competitions. In the Beginning features materials from the Van Cliburn Piano Competition Archive at Texas Christian University, a repository created in 1991. Selections from among scarce 1962 materials highlight the roles of Van Cliburn and others in establishing and shaping the competition; events before, during, and after the first competition, and the competition's successes.

Grace Halsell—In Their Shoes

Grace Halsell (1923-2000), journalist and author, worked for several Texas newspapers between 1942 and 1965, including the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Washington Bureau of The Houston Post. From 1965 to 1968, she worked as a staff writer for President Lyndon B. Johnson. She was assigned to write official statements and became the highest-ranking woman on his staff at the time. Halsell wrote thirteen books. In her writings she emphasized love and tolerance for others and went to great effort to change her physical appearance to experience how other ethnicities lived. In 2000, Halsell died in Washington, D.C., of complications from treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer related to the medicine she took to darken her skin for Soul Sister research.

Autograph Letters and Manuscripts from the William Luther Lewis Collection

One of the most significant of the library's special holdings is the William Luther Lewis Collection, representing over three hundred principal authors of English and American literature. The collection is composed of approximately fifteen hundred titles, nearly nine hundred of which are first editions. Almost all of the volumes are in uniquely fine condition. Assembled in the 1930s and 1940s by William Luther Lewis, the materials range in date from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries. By and large, however, the collection consists of works written by the outstanding figures of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. It is housed in the library's Special Collections area on the second floor.

Play Ball! TCU Baseball Through the Years

Baseball season is here again, making this the perfect time to highlight some of the photographs of the baseball team in the university archives. Most know about TCU's success on the diamond, especially last year's appearance in the College World Series. The photo collection provides an opportunity to track the evolution of the team in a different way, by its uniforms. From wool to double-knit, uniforms have come a long way from the plain styles a hundred years ago to today's more colorful and varied versions. Sleeveless? Pinstriped? White, gray, purple, black? You never know what you'll see these days, but here's a smaple of what people saw back in the day. We hope you enjoy this celebration of TCU baseball's sartorial splendor.

In all of sports, there's only one Horned Frog!

In 1897, TCU students and school officials adopted "Horned Frog" as the title for the student yearbook, and the lizard was soon embraced as the school mascot. The original Frog mascot made its debut at the opening game of the 1949 football season. The TCU student body had repeatedly called for a mascot that could actually participate in half-time activities during football games. The Daily Skiff reported that the new costume would be "complete with horns, scales, and ridges," with "space inside for a human being." The original mascot, a six-foot tall purple creature known as "Addie the Fighting Frog," was named after Addison Clark, Jr., who promoted intercollegiate athletics during the early years of the University.

TCU Theatre and Dance

This exhibit features images from a variety of TCU theatre and dance productions since the 1960s. The photographs are from the Linda Kaye collection in TCU's Special Collections. They can also be accessed through the Digital Archives.

The Bell Family Papers

Let me introduce you to the one and only Bell Vaudeville, an artistic company of thirteen siblings and their husbands, wives, and children. In the first decades of the twentieth century, the Bell Brothers toured the European and American continents with their variety show. Of Anglo-Spanish ancestry, but Mexicans at heart, the Bells were the artistic heirs of Richard Bell, the most famous clown in Mexican history. The Bell Family collection tells the saga of this family from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.

TCU's Shakespeare Treasures

Showcasing the Shakespearean folios and related items in the collection.

The Amon G. Carter Collection

Amon Carter exemplified the great American success story. Born poor, he acquired wealth and influence which he used for the advancement of the city of Fort Worth, the north Texas region, and West Texas.

Campus Views from 1928

A selection of photographs of the TCU campus in 1928.

Maples from the Fifties: Editorial Cartoons of Harold Maples

Harold Maples was editorial cartoonist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for 27 years. From 1954 until his death in 1982, Maples drew more than 7,000 cartoons for the paper's editorial page. He was known nationally for his skillfully executed drawings, each with a distinctive Texas flavor. These cartoons from the 1950s are representative of Maples's early work.

The Prickly Pear Press, 1974-1999

The Prickly Pear Press has an impressive history of publishing critically acclaimed poetry since its founding in 1973 by Dave Oliphant. While primarily a "regional" press, in that most of its authors are Texans, the appeal of its books has been widespread. The press's publications have been recognized nationally and even internationally for their original designs and for their quality contents. The Special Collections department of the Mary Couts Burnett Library, Texas Christian University, is the depository for the archives of the press as well as the papers of Dave Oliphant, founding editor, and several of the poets published by the press, including William Barney and Joseph Colin Murphey.

When Skies Were Young

Nowhere is Americans' love for technology in the first half of the twentieth century more obvious than in the books they give their children. Between 1900 and 1950, over eighty technically oriented series, comprising over six hundred volumes, were available to readers (girls as well as boys) between the ages of 10 and 16. These include such titles as The Motor Boys (1906-1921), The Radio Boys (1922-30), and the greatest of them all, the Tom Swift stories (1910-35). All of them give their readers a picture of a society in which young persons, at home with various aspects of technology, use that technology to make their way in the world.