Libraries’ Texana collections house unique, historical gems

Calling all Texas history buffs- if you want to browse a collection of pretty much anything “Texas,” the San Jacinto College libraries should be on your list.

The College’s Texana collections were created in 1986 in honor of the state’s sesquicentennial. Special collections featuring Texas-related books were authorized for the Central, North, and South Campus libraries. Over the years, the Central and North Texana collections have downsized due to library renovations, making the South Campus’ Texana collection the College’s most extensive. Materials range from Texas historical icons to one hundred-year-old phone books from Galveston and church cookbooks.

What remains of the Central Campus’s collection is now circulating among its open stacks, meaning that those materials can be checked out, something unique to that collection. “We chose to do this so that the College community could have easier access to the material and be able to check the material out,” said Karen Blankenship, San Jacinto College Central Campus library director.

North Campus library director, Lyn Garner, adds that her favorite thing about the collection is seeing students stumble upon it and get lost in curiosity. “Our Texana room is designed as a reading room, and we often come upon students who just wandered in and found something that piqued their interest. That always makes me happy,” she said.

Some of the most rare and unique items are housed in the South Campus’ Texana collection. With more than 16,000 volumes, one of the rarest includes a copy of Memoirs of Mary A. Maverick, published in 1921, with handwritten annotations by Rena Maverick Green, Mary Maverick’s granddaughter, who was also editor of her memoirs. Maverick kept diaries of her experiences and observations of life on the Texas frontier and in mid-19th-century San Antonio. Today her memoirs are often cited in studies of Texas pioneer life.

“My long-term goal for the collection is to see it curated by a librarian with an interest in Texana and some experience handling rare or antiquarian books and magazines,” said South Campus library director, Richard McKay. Due to all of the state and institutional historic materials in the collection, McKay humorously added that some supernatural spectres may still be attached to some of the items. “I’m trying to start a rumor that the room is haunted. Most larger schools have ghost legends about one of their buildings. Now it’s our turn.”  


About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries, and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has served the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. The College is fiscally sound, holding bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s. San Jacinto College is a 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 institution, a 2017 Aspen Prize Rising Star Award recipient, and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually, and offers eight areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. San Jacinto College’s impact on the region totals $1.3 billion in added income, which supports 13,044 jobs.

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