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Archival Relationships

Three Reading Rooms

by Matt Richardson, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian

The McGovern Historical Center of the Texas Medical Center Library has been busy updating our collection records with information about related materials at neighboring archives. While different archives have different missions and collecting scopes, it’s not unusual for related or even overlapping collections to end up in two different places.

For example, with our focus on the history of healthcare in Houston, the MHC naturally collected records from The Women’s Fund for Health, Education, and Research (now the Women’s Fund for Health Education and Resiliency). But the same organization is also a natural fit for the Carey Shuart Women’s Research Collection in the University of Houston Libraries’ Special Collections. A researcher interested in this organization and its work would be wise to consult both MHC’s IC 074 and UH’s 2000-002.

Similarly, both the McGovern Historical Center and the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Truman G. Blocker, Jr. History of Medicine Collections in the Moody Medical Library hold papers from Dr. William D. Seybold—MHC’s MS 004 and UTMB’s MS 37, respectively. Much of the material in UTMB’s collection relates to Dr. Seybold’s association with UTMB, as well as the Mayo Clinic. Meanwhile, the collection at the MHC spans Dr. Seybold’s career, including his work in the Texas Medical Center and Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.

Of course, it could get frustrating to think you’ve found a person or organization’s archives, only to later discover you had in fact only found some of them. Generally, archival repositories try to complement one another, and avoid scattering sets of manuscripts or records too widely. But, acknowledging that these things happen, we can at least try to help researchers navigate this landscape. To this end, we at the MHC have been updating our finding aids with links to related archival collections maintained elsewhere. It’s our hope that this will help researchers discover more resources and likewise help them plan ahead as they delve into research.

HER Related Materials
Screenshot from IC 074 finding aid in the McGovern Historical Center’s archival management system

Aside from the occasional instance where original archival papers have ended up in two different places, there are also a number of cases where the MHC has an archival collection that is complemented by an oral history collected by another institution. The Houston Public Library’s Houston Metropolitan Research Center has oral histories with Dr. Mavis P. Kelsey (whose papers make up the MHC’s MS 050), Dr. Denton A. Cooley (MHC’s MS 043), and Dr. Russell J. Blattner (MHC’s MS 016). Likewise, they have oral histories with past Texas Children’s Hospital leaders Leopold Meyer and Dr. Ralph D. Feigin (the Texas Children’s Hospital Historical Archives are the MHC’s IC 042). In addition, the Houston History Project at UH has an interview with former TMC head Richard Wainerdi (MHC’s MS 202).

And, of course, no mention of resources spread across multiple Texas archives would be complete without an acknowledgement of our statewide portal, Texas Archival Resources Online. There researchers can search these and other archives across the state and discover a rich variety of holdings—in Texas medical history, or virtually any other topic. And, closer to home, the Archivists of the Houston Area maintain a Guide to Local Repositories

Hopefully the updates to our finding aids will help researchers better navigate the rich array of archival resources located across the Houston/Galveston region. Do you know of other people or organizations whose archives appear at both the MHC and elsewhere? Let us know!

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