Library launches online
By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff
The "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast"
now sails the Cyberspace Sea. The World War II cruiser USS Houston can
drop anchor on the desktops of Web users around the world, thanks to the
efforts of UH's University Libraries Special Collections and Archives Department.
The new Web exhibit, Cruiser Houston, tells
the colorful and explosive story of the special collections' most popular
exhibit, the USS Houston. It is the libraries'
second virtual exhibit, said special collections
librarian Julie Grob.
"We decided earlier this year that we wanted
our next big digital imaging project, after the Historic Texas Postcard
Project, to be the Cruiser Houston collection,"
The USS Houston (CA 30) was the flagship
of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet during World War II. The cruiser was torpedoed
and sunk by the Japanese in March 1942
during the Battle of Sundra Strait, the
first naval battle in the Pacific during the war.
"The Cruiser Houston is our most heavily
used collection. We get calls and e-mails from all over the country," Grob
said. "A lot of the reference requests we get
related to the collection are from family
members or descendants of former crew members from the USS Houston. We
thought that for this particular collection, the
Web would be a great tool to reach out
to the people and get them more information."
The Web site, which took eight months to
complete, is a collaboration of the Special Collections and Archives and
the Information Systems Department. Grob did the
research and wrote the text for the exhibit,
while Rose Hillbrand, the collections' digital initiative fellow, designed
the Web site. Monika Zarzycka, student
worker/scanning technician, scanned the
material for the site.
"It was something we could do as a gift
to the Survivors Association and the donors and all the people who are
so interested in the collection," Grob said. "It's
something they can enjoy."
The exhibit details the history of the
ship from its launch in 1929 and describes its early fame as the favorite
ship of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Digital images of
documents, photographs and memorabilia
from the Cruiser Houston Collection and the related William A. Bernrieder
Collection bring the sensational story of the
Houston to life.
The Web site includes easy-to-find links
and a frequently asked questions file that provides patrons with information
about obtaining copies of historical documents
and photographs related to the ship.
Visitors to the Web site can find information
about touring the permanent Cruiser Houston Memorial Exhibit located in
the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library, as well
as a donor form to send money to help
maintain the permanent exhibit and Web site.
"It's been a privilege to work with the
survivors of the USS Houston and their families," Grob said. "The University
is very fortunate to have such an important
collection here. It's an amazing collection
of naval and World War II history, and it's a testament to people's ability
to get through anything."
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the
University, Special Collections and Archives is creating a third Web site,
an encyclopedia of historic photos, facts and fun
trivia about the University. The Historic
Texas Postcards Web site, which features more than two hundred postcards
of Texas cities printed before 1924, was the first
Web site created to promote the University's
For more information about the Web site
or the Cruiser Houston Collection, contact Julie Grog at (713) 743-9744
or by e-mail at email@example.com.