Historical documents given to UTSA


UTSA officials announced Feb. 11 that the UTSA archives will receive historic documents from the Aline B. Carter family. The documents consist of reports, letters, and financial information about the Carter family from 1823 to 1970, though the bulk of the material covers 1885-1955.

Notable among the Carter family is Aline B. Carter, the poet laureate of San Antonio; Clara Driscoll, who many call “the Savior of the Alamo” because of her efforts to keep the Alamo from being purchased by a hotel chain and her efforts to restore it; and Elizabeth Canterbury, one of the first five female settlers in San Antonio. The papers document the life of both famous San Antonians.

“She (Aline) wrote a piece of historical fiction about her grandmother (Elizabeth), which was never published,” Mark Shelstad, head of archives and special collections said, referring to Carter’s novel, “Light Beyond the Hills.”

“That and along with the whole set of correspondence going back to the early 1840s until the 1960s really provides a really great slice of social life in San Antonio.”

The archives were established in the early 1990s by research institutes, most notably a Hispanic studies center and a women’s studies center. They were to provide students with primary sources that could be used for research papers or for class work. These collections contain many insightful documents about women’s issues and Native American issues.

“The other pieces of material, about three folders worth, is from one of Aline’s relatives that served as a secretary for an Indian depredations committee here in San Antonio, and they posted a flyer that was sent out around San Antonio and in surrounding counties asking for people to recount about Indian raids on their families and businesses,” Shelstad said.

“And they’re very poignant, one letter describes how a man lost his wife, what he calls a Negro slave, and his daughter in one raid. His daughter was assumed to be a captive, but he assumes that she is dead. It is a great interaction describing San Antonio as a frontier town.”

The largest problem concerning the archives is their location, which is 801 S. Bowie Street, approximately 16 miles from UTSA’s 1604 Campus. However, they are closer than archives in Austin or Dallas.

“Sometimes that has caused communication issues just because of our distance,” Shelstad said. “We are building an archive that we want the students and faculty to be able to access. We certainly want the library to be sort of a cornerstone for academic work and engagement. I think these papers really start a building block, which we can start upon.”

For more information about the Aline B. Carter family papers, or about UTSA Archives and Special Collections, go to http://lib.utsa.edu/Archives.