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Victoria Advocate donates archives to regional history center

Advocate Donation 2019
Brittany Rodriguez, special collections librarian with the Victoria Regional History Center, examines on Friday one of the bound volumes of the Victoria Advocate donated to the center. The newspaper archives are available to be viewed upon request through the Regional History Center located in UHV University Commons.

The Victoria Regional History Center, based inside the new University of Houston-Victoria University Commons, now has more than a decade of new photographs and negatives from the Victoria Advocate, as well as bound issues of the newspaper up to 2005.

The center, a joint collaboration between UHV and Victoria College that is managed by UHV, already had the newspaper’s photo archives from 1950 to 1984. Now, in preparation for the newspaper’s move to new offices, the Victoria Advocate’s leadership team chose to donate the remainder of the newspaper’s physical photo archive to the center.

Chris Cobler

The Advocate is happy to donate its bound editions and photo archives to the center, said Chris Cobler, editor and publisher. Having the historic documents available at University Commons is a great way to preserve them for future generations while the newspaper prepares to move into its new offices on the 12th floor of the One O’Connor building in downtown Victoria.

“Newspapers provide the first draft of history,” Cobler said. “The Advocate’s history dating back to 1846 – when Texas first became a state – is a treasure that everyone can enjoy and appreciate.”

The new photos span from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper switched to digital photography. The donation includes negatives and prints. Some of the archive will be housed in the Regional History Center’s office in University Commons, 3006 N. Ben Wilson St., while the rest will be stored in the VC Library.

Karen Locher

“These photos and newspapers are an important addition to the center because they are the record of Victoria’s social history,” said Karen Locher, UHV Library interim director. “These will help local researchers in so many ways as they look into the history of our community and the region.”

One of the benefits of the photo archive is that many of the donated photos were not published in the newspaper, said Brittany Rodriguez, special collections librarian for the center. While a photographer at the scene of an event likely will take multiple photos, only one or two will end up published in the newspaper. But the archives include all of the photos taken by Advocate photographers.

“This will come in handy for local historians who want to see pictures as part of their research, even if it has nothing to do with the events being covered,” Rodriguez said. “For example, if someone needs to see a photo of a building, and we know an event like a major fire or a parade took place near that location, we can look up the series of photos and possibly find the building in the background.” 

The center also has the newspaper’s back issues available upon request. Issues going back to 1846 are scanned into microfilm, while more recent issues are available in physical copies and bound volumes. The physical issues and volumes are stored in the VC Library, but eventually the collection of photos and newspapers will be moved into the university’s new location at the corner of Airline Road and Laurent Street once the building has been renovated. Center clients who wish to see a specific issue should request it at the history center, and staff will retrieve it from storage.

“Newspaper archives are some of the most popular research resources for local historians,” Rodriguez said. “It’s exciting to add these archives to the center’s collection.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.