Three Questions is an initiative to share the value that our faculty, students, and others in the UNT community derive from using The Portal to Texas History at UNT Libraries.
1. How important are Unique Collections in your teaching, learning or research?
As the Education Specialist at the Alamo, I’ve found the Portal to Texas History to be a resource I turn to on a regular basis. I have used it in research for materials in the classroom from biographies of Texas to a handbook regarding the material culture of Texas. Furthermore, when preparing for teacher trainings and workshops, it always aids in giving reliability and depth to the information I am presenting. Having this plethora of primary resources at my fingertips is an invaluable tool.
2. How have Unique Collections changed the way you approach your research, teaching or learning?
Rather than relying on secondary sources, the Portal allows me to access primary sources that bring more legitimacy to my research. The primary sources also take dusty names in a textbook and make them feel like real people who lived and breathed. For example, after reading that William Barrett Travis apologized in a newspaper after his attack on the Fort at Anahuac in 1835, I was able to go to the Portal and read his article myself. The article proved that instead of apologizing Travis “request[ed] a suspension of public opinion…until he can appear before the public with all the facts and circumstances attending the capture of that fort.” Reading his actual words made the history come alive with a greater appreciation for the richness of the story.
3. What do you want others to know about your research, teaching or learning?
The Portal to Texas History is a resource that should be used by all history teachers. Whenever I am asked by teachers to recommend sources for Texas history, the Portal is always on the list. The almost 1,000,000 items in the collection serve as the initial draw, but the practicality of the site itself keeps you coming back. All of the search features allow me to find exactly what I need with ease. I particularly like the feature that allows you to narrow your search by decade. It is useful, well-designed, and absolutely free.
Machaia McClenny began her career as a teacher and librarian, and she now works as the Education Specialist at the Alamo. She holds a Master of Science degree in Library Science from the University of North Texas.