Bayou Preservation Association, 1915-2005 | University of Houston Libraries
The Bayou Preservation Association maintains files on its activities from its beginnings in the 1960s. Materials on the history of Buffalo Bayou date back to the 1920s, so the collection is dated from that period. Most of the materials collected for the archives were housed in the BPA offices, but those papers included contributions from Terry Hershey, Frank Smith, George Mitchell, and Fred Lazure, as well as others. Overall, the papers represent a broad overview of BPA’s activities, but there is a strong emphasis on preservation campaigns and community education efforts.
Adhering as closely as possible to the archival principal of original order, the archivist reorganized materials when necessary to achieve series consistency, maintain historicity, and enhance researcher usability, usually employing alphabetical order followed by chronological order. In the archival records collection, papers were catalogued at topic level. References, on the other hand, were catalogued at item (title) level. Every attempt was made to date items in the collection, but items that could not be dated were labeled “n.d.”
A significant portion of the BPA collection is newspaper clippings. Because news print presents special archival challenges and because there is a tendency to dismiss the value of clippings that look messy, non-archivists often consider the special care and space given to news print unnecessary. On the contrary, news clippings provide an invaluable source of information often unavailable from other sources. For example, the now-defunct Houston Post is not available on the internet, and the physical newspaper archives are located at the Houston Chronicle, inaccessible to the general public. Researching historical newspapers requires page-by-page examination of microfiche at the public library. BPA’s news clippings now provide an illuminating background source for research on any publicized watershed issue.
Photographs and slides constitute only a small portion of the BPA collection, but they were carefully sleeved according to standard preservation practices. Because photo labeling prior to archival processing was often inadequate for useful organization, unlabeled photographs were organized into general categories based on the images.
Maps constitute a significant feature of BPA’s record collection. Most bear titles, but not all of them are dated. Maps were organized according to size, rather than title or chronology, so that larger maps would not obscure smaller maps in the carts. Four rolling carts contain the rolled maps. A plan of the slots in the carts is included in the Maps series, with each slot given a distinctive number to facilitate retrieval. To prevent damage, maps are not numbered, so a patron should remove only one map at a time and note its appropriate slot number.
References are another significant portion of the collection, and this collection of references distinguishes the BPA collection from other similar sets of organization records. Books, engineering reports, monographs, seminar materials exemplify the kinds of materials catalogued as references. Often document size was the determining characteristic that led to classification of a document as a reference. References are stored separately from archival documents in acid-free record cartons housed in the file drawers. Following standard archival preservation practice, metal, glued, or stapled bindings were removed. Large documents are stored in archival envelopes with cloth ties.
BPA’s record collection includes 507 folders of organization records, monographs, and news clippings organized in 71 manuscript boxes that are housed in 2 large cabinets. There are also 46 videos (including duplicate tapes) and 9 audio tapes collected in 4 video boxes. There are 88 historical maps and 110 flood insurance maps. Reference items (books and reports) are cataloged by item and stored in 18 record cartons in labeled file drawers. Oversized engineering reports (black books) are stacked in reference drawers 19 and 20. References total 281 items.
BPA’s archival records collection represents the efforts of several people. First of all, Terry Hershey initiated and funded the BPA archives project. Archives apprentice, Silvia Rambaran, representing the Historical Conservation Guild, carried the work load for the archival processing. She organized papers, conducted document inventories, managed the necessary box and file re-ordering, labeled folders, and reformatted the finding aid throughout the course of the project. Before Silvia joined the project, BPA office manager Pam Boring compiled a preliminary draft of the references. BPA office manager Sue Roman helped Silvia by organizing files on environmental issues and news clippings and by listing a portion of the flood insurance maps. Terry Tomkins-Walsh, principal archivist with the Historical Conservation Guild, supervised the project and finalized the finding aid.
Series 1: BPA History/Mission
Series 2: Board of Directors
Series 3: Board of Directors - Board Meetings
Series 4: Administration - Financial Records
Series 5: Administration - BPA Management
Series 6: Committees
Series 7: Fundraising
Series 8: Related Agencies/Organizations
Series 9: Programs - Special Events
Series 10: Programs - Community Outreach
Series 11: Preservation Campaigns
Series 12: Publications
Series 13: Enviromental Issues
Series 14: Media-Photographs/Slides
Series 15: Media News Clippings
Series 16: Media-Video/Audio Tapes
Series 17: Media-Maps - Closed
Series 18: References
Series 19: References - Black Books