Historical Detours

The UHD Archives is mainly an institutional archives, which means it holds both the University business records and other materials (like photographs or students materials) that help to round out the story of the University’s existence. This constitutes well over 90% of our collections.

However, sometimes we acquire materials which are entirely out of our scope, yet are still a piece of cultural history that “belongs” to us, because it comes from a person affiliated with UHD. Such materials can be found within Dr. Garna Christian’s archival collection. It is a collection that he built: oral histories, audio recordings, and written material on Houston’s country music scene in the Depression/WWII era.

The collection consists of over 30 interviews, plus a narrative with musical interludes, and a short book entitled “Stay a Little Longer: the first generation of Houston country music.” This is a slice of history that is not well-known, even within Houston. The event that ties this collection to the University (besides its creation by Dr. Christian), is a concert that was held here at UHD in 1984, entitled 50 Years of Houston Country Music.

All of the material is being prepared for upload into UHD’s digital repository, both to make it available to the public, as well as to help spread the story of some of these lesser-known country artists like Jerry Irby, Bill Mraz, and Floyd Tillman, who played with more famous artists like Bob Wills and Hank Snow, or made names for themselves while playing local dance halls like the Magnolia Gardens or Cook’s.

Part of a University Archives’ mission is usually not only to keep the history of the University as an institution, but also to help keep the work product of its faculty through the years. This small collection will help keep Dr. Christian’s research and study alive for future generations of Houston historians.