Music Library Receives the Gene Puerling Collection

When she was a child, Jennifer Barnes just thought her parents had really cool friends.

Now, the assistant professor of jazz studies realizes her dad was part of something bigger – something she has the opportunity to share with UNT students.

That “something” is memorabilia from her father’s friend, Gene Puerling. Growing up, Barnes knew he was a smart guy with a witty sense of humor who sang and wrote arrangements for the vocal group in which they both sang. But, now she knows that Puerling was also a musical genius, a Grammy-award winning vocal arranger who was completely self-taught.

Barnes’ father was part of two musical groups led by Puerling, The Hi-Lo’s and The Singers Unlimited.

“They recorded their albums in Germany so our whole family went there,” Barnes remembered. “I was a kid so I didn’t really know the significance of what was happening musically. Turns out, there was amazing music going on.”

Puerling wrote intricate, harmonically complex arrangements in his pieces for The Hi-Lo’s! and The Singers Unlimited. His work influenced countless future vocal groups, including The Beach Boys, The Manhattan Transfer, The Real Group and Take 6. Yet, he was not a formally trained musician.

“He wasn’t trained to write music at the complexity level that he did,” Barnes noted. “He was writing completely by ear the kind of compositions that normally took people years and years of study to achieve. Other musicians I’ve talked to have trouble believing it.”

Puerling’s widow, Helen, confirmed to Barnes that he could tap out, note by note, a song on the piano. He started his ritual by sitting down with a ham sandwich, then he’d begin to write.

After his death in 2008, many universities and musicians wanted access to Puerling’s archives. However, it was the relationship with Barnes’ family and knowing that Puerling’s compositions and memorabilia will help the next generation of vocalists that piqued the interest of Helen Puerling. She was further encouraged to donate the collection to UNT because of the College of Music’s solid reputation and the fact that the Music Library has special collections of jazz legends Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson.

The learn more, see the InHouse article From family friend to self-taught legend.

 

Discovering the Southwest Metroplex

UNT’s Special Collections department was awarded $164,400 through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ (CLIR) Hidden Collections program for the 2014-2016 project Post-War Industry and Development of the Southwest Metroplex. Hidden collections are those collections that reside within libraries, archives, or cultural heritage institutions; yet, are undiscoverable due to non-existent or inefficient description. The Special Collections department explored the hidden collections residing within UNT’s holdings and discovered several hidden collections that related to the explosive growth the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has experienced over the past 70 years. These previously undescribed or partially described collections included topics such as urban planning, politics, industry, housing, economics, industrial education and major infrastructure projects of the north Texas region such as the Superconducting Super Collider.  

Unlike many large American urban areas, the Dallas Fort Worth area is poorly represented in terms of collection development related to the postwar development of the region. Urban historians in particular point to the scarcity of available sources available on the topic resulting in a lack of serious scholarly research concentrated on DFW, one of the largest urban areas in the South and Southwest. Project staff immediately recognized the potential impact such collections could contribute to scholarly research and, with the assistance of the CLIR Hidden Collections grant, set about making these collections available and accessible.

In addition to processing the hidden collections, project staff are publicizing the project and the collections it encompasses. A project blog is the primary outreach tool to being used to connect with the research community and public. The Discovering the Southwest Metroplex blog (https://blogs.library.unt.edu/southwest-metroplex) highlights UNT’s archival holdings by featuring some of the collections of the Post-War Industry and Development of the Southwest Metroplex project as well as other UNT collections that related to the topic.

Potential topics for the blog postings are identified by the project archivist and student assistants as they process collections. They take note of any interesting finds they come across during descriptive activities that may appeal to the community and share these findings with special collections bloggers. Examples of the hidden collections and materials highlighted so far by blog posts include the winning proposal to bring the Superconducting Super Collider to Texas; early photographs of the DFW metroplex and DFW International Airport planning documents from the Lester Strother Texas Metro Collection; and documents pertaining to the Southwest Federal Regional Council from the Dr. John T. Thompson Papers collection.

Blog posts also showcase previously processed collections held by UNT Special Collections that support the Postwar Industry and Development of the Southwest Metroplex theme. The most popular post is about the Frank Cuellar, Sr. Collection and describes the meteoric rise of the Cuellar family from running a small tamale booth at the Kaufman County Fair to head of the multimillion dollar El Chico corporation in the 1970s.

Feedback concerning the blog has been so positive that the special collections department has determined to make the blog an ongoing activity after the projected completion date of the CLIR funded Hidden Collections project in April of 2016. Currently underway are efforts to revamp the UNT Libraries blog platform to allow for more customizable features per individual departments, better integrated image galleries and embedded video.

Based on some of the feedback received from previous blog postings, another planned strategy is to begin reaching out directly to targeted communities via other social media avenues with links to postings that concern materials and collections that relate to those specific communities. The expectation is that these efforts will result in exposure to and interest in archival collections and primary source materials from communities where none previously existed.

Jaime Janda, project archivist and Morgan Gieringer, head of special collections, will present a paper on this project and the Discovering the Southwest Metroplex blog at the 2015 CLIR Hidden Collections conference.

The experiences being gained through UNT’s CLIR Hidden Collections project are transforming UNT Special Collections’ outreach endeavors. Through its ongoing efforts to “uncover” hidden collections, Special Collections are learning that sometimes just processing a collection is not enough, and that blogs and social media can help reveal our collections to entirely new audiences.

-- by Bridgett Tanner

University of North Texas Libraries 2015-2016 Research Fellowships

University of North Texas Libraries 2015-2016 Research Fellowships

Special Collections Research Fellowship

The University of North Texas Libraries invites applications for the 2015 UNT Special Collections Research Fellowship. Research in special collections is relevant to studies in a variety of disciplines including history, journalism, political science, geography, fine art, art history and American studies. We encourage applicants to think creatively about new uses for special collections. Preference will be given to applicants that demonstrate the greatest potential for publication and the best use of special collections at UNT Libraries.

 The Award:

A total of $4,000 in funding will be awarded to two or more fellowship applicants. Fellowship awards are intended to defray the actual costs of conducting research and applicants must prepare a budget detailing their expenses as part of the application process. Fellows will be required to conduct research in residence at UNT for a minimum of four days and a maximum of three months to receive the award. The fellow will be required to write a brief (under 500 words) overview of their research experience and may also be asked to present an informal lecture on their research. The Special Collections Fellowship is generously supported by the Friends of the UNT Libraries.

 Eligibility:

The Fellowship is open to faculty, graduate students and independent researchers. Any funding awarded must be used between June 1, 2015 and August 30, 2016.

 Application procedure:

Applicants should demonstrate the specific relevance of UNT Special Collections to their current research through their essay and cover letter. Information on library holdings can be located through the UNT Libraries catalog, the Special Collections department website, on-line finding aids for archives and manuscript collections or by contacting the department directly at archivesrarebooks@unt.edu.

The Portal to Texas History Research Fellowship

The University of North Texas Libraries invites applications for The Portal to Texas History Research Fellowship. Research using the Portal is relevant to studies in a variety of disciplines including history, journalism, political science, geography, and American studies. We encourage applicants to think creatively about the opportunities that research with large digital library collections can enable. Preference will be given to applicants that demonstrate the greatest potential for publication and the best use of The Portal to Texas History.

The Award:

A total of $2,000 in funding will be awarded to one or more fellowship applicants. The Portal Fellowship was created to recognize and support outstanding scholarship which incorporates unique digital collection. Consideration will be given to any anticipated expenses as outlined in the budget, although this is just one factor that the reviewers will consider in making the awards. The fellow will be required to write a brief (under 500 words) overview of their research experience and may also be asked to present an informal lecture on their research. The Portal to Texas History Research Fellowship is funded by the Cathy N. Hartman Portal to Texas History Endowment.

Eligibility:

The Fellowship is open to faculty, graduate students, and independent researchers. Fellowship funding will be dispersed between June 1, 2015 and August 30, 2016.

Application procedure for the Special Collections and Portal to Texas History Fellowships:

Applicants should demonstrate the specific relevance of either UNT Special Collections or The Portal to Texas History to their current research through their essay and cover letter. Information on The Portal to Texas History can be located at http://texashistory.unt.edu/. Information on UNT Special Collections may be found here http://www.library.unt.edu/special-collections. If you are applying for both fellowships please submit two applications.

Deadline for applications is February 15, 2015. The recipient will be notified by April 1, 2015.

Please submit the following materials as your application:

  • An essay (3 pages maximum) describing your research interests, specific goals for research during the Fellowship period and the specific collections intended for use. For the Special Collections Fellowship also indicate the dates that will spent in residence.
  • A brief CV (3-5 pages)
  • Budget detailing travel expenses such as airfare, transportation or mileage, lodging, meals or other expenses
  • One letter of reference indicating the significance of the proposed research. Letters can be sent directly from the recommender or included in the application packet.

Application materials should be submitted electronically in PDF of Microsoft Word format.

Send questions and applications for the Special Collections Fellowship to Morgan Gieringer, Head of Special Collections.
Send questions and application for the Portal to Texas History Fellowship to Mark Phillips, Assistant Dean for Digital Libraries. 

Highland Street Construction

Highland Street is currently closed due to street construction from Avenue C to Welch Street. The Highland Street Book Drop is also closed during the street construction project. You may return items here:

  • Willis Library Inside Book Drop (located near Willis Library, Room 136)
  • Willis Library Services Desk
  • Willis Library Outside Book Drop (located near the Willis Library entrance)

Most regular circulating items may be returned to any of our Libraries’ book drops with the exception of Music Library audio recordings and Media Library items.

If you are a visitor to Willis Library, you have three parking options:

  • Highland Street Garage
  • Meters
  • Visitor permit

If you are unable to access the Willis Library book drops, please call 940-565-2143 and we will assist you.

Thanksgiving Break Hours - 2014

The Thanksgiving Break hours begin on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 when Willis Library will close at 7:00 p.m. We will reopen for normal 24-hour service on Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.

Please see the Libraries’ Summary of Hours page for the Thanksgiving Break hours and closings at Discovery Park Library, Eagle Commons Library, and the Media Library.