Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What a Cigarette Card Can Tell Us about the Early Life of Winston Churchill

The British remember Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) as the steadfast leader of the nation through the testing times of the Second World War. He is perhaps less well-known for his other war hero credentials, earned many years before in South Africa.

Emily Burns, assistant curator for the National Portrait Gallery in London, recently came across a tiny cigarette card in the gallery's Photographs Collection while conducting research for a display on the second Boer War.

The National Portrait Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world, displayed in London and in a number of locations around the United Kingdom, including several houses managed by the National Trust.

Cigarette cards were issued in series to be collected and featured popular figures such as sportsmen, actors, and military heroes.

"This card shows a group of mostly moustachioed men in hats, among whom sits, rather conspicuously, a serious, clean-shaven young chap with slicked-back hair in a pinstripe suit. This is Winston Churchill, aged twenty-six," Burns wrote on the National Portrait Gallery blog. "Below the image is an inscription: ‘Home from the War. A group of interesting persons returning from S.Africa, including Lieut.-Gen. Colvile and Mr. Winston Churchill.’"

Why was Churchill one of only two of the 17 ‘interesting persons’ in the group to be singled out for special mention? Churchill fought in India, the Sudan, and South Africa while doubling as a war correspondent and published books on his adventures.

Churchill's time in the Boer War also is depicted in his granddaughter Celia Sandys's book Churchill Wanted: Dead or Alive, in which she chronicles his nine-month stint as a noncombat reporter -- a time during which he managed to send stirring dispatches to the Morning Post, engage in several bloody skirmishes with the enemy, and was captured and incarcerated as a prisoner of war.
Read more about Burns's find on the National Portrait Gallery blog.

Image credits 
'Home from the War' by Unknown photographer, published by Ogden's, cigarette card, July 1900; published 1900-1907

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Seely Selected as 2014 Distinguished Texas A&M Alumnus

Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students recently recognized Charlie W. Seely, Jr. ’55 with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a former student.

Seely, a member of the Texas A&M University Press Advancement Board, is a US Army veteran, independent oil and gas producer, president of Seely Oil Co., and chairman of three companies that manufacture plastic products.

Since the inception of the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1962, only 237 of Texas A&M’s 410,000 former students have been recognized. The award recognizes Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.

The recipients, including Seely, learned of the honor when a group of university and association representatives surprised them in their places of business and other locations.

The Association of Former Students will recognize award recipients during its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala and during the Texas A&M football game against Ole Miss, both in October.

One of Seely’s companies was previously honored as part of the Aggie 100, which spotlights the fastest-growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led companies. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets, received a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M and was a Distinguished Military Graduate. He is an Endowed Century Club donor to The Association of Former Students and his many gifts to the 12th Man Foundation and Texas A&M Foundation have earned him recognition as an Eppright Distinguished Donor and member of the Legacy Society. 

                                                                                                                                    -Korey Acuna

Kyle Wilkison Named Piper Professor for 2014

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation named Collin College Professor of History Kyle Wilkison a Piper Professor for 2014. Wilkison is one of two community college professors in the state of Texas to receive the prestigious title, which comes with a $5,000 honorarium and a gold pin, this year.

“Wilkison’s students rave about his passion for history as well as his mentorship and encouragement,” said Mac Hendricks, chair of the Collin College board of trustees. “The members of our faculty are the heart and soul of Collin College, and this distinguished professor is a perfect example of our core values.”
Wilkison, of Plano, has taught at Collin College for close to 20 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history with high honors and master’s degree in history from East Texas State University, now Texas A&M University-Commerce, and his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.
The author of award-winning books, Wilkison received the Fehrenbach Award, the Calvert Book Prize, the Bates Award and the Lock Award. Choice Magazine, the journal of the American Library Association, named one of his books an “Outstanding Academic Title,” and Library Journal named one of his books “A Best Reference.”

Wilkison is coauthor of Texas Left (TAMU Press 2010) and Texas  Right (TAMU Press 2014).  

To read the full article, click here

Monday, May 5, 2014

Leticia Van de Putte: Latina Legislator

In late 2003, Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte led ten other Texas Senate Democrats to New Mexico as part of a protest against a Republican redistricting plan. The walkout of the “Texas Eleven” made national headlines; it also deprived the state senate of a quorum and temporarily froze all legislative action.

As Sharon A. Navarro shows in Latina Legislator, the dramatic boycott is a fitting image for the current lieutenant governor candidate’s life and career. Though she initially ran for office on a shoestring budget, Senator Van de Putte has successfully authored and sponsored legislation that has reformed the state welfare system, revamped the Juvenile Code, and provided a healthcare safety net for children in Texas. Multiple civic and community groups have recognized her as one of the most effective and influential lawmakers in Texas.

She entered Texas politics when few women and even fewer Latinos were elected to office. She is a sixth-generation Texan and has deep roots in the state. A long-time friend and DNC finance chair said she is known for walking into a crowd and saying, "Buenos Noches, y’all." Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, tells a similar story. He said she can walk into a room of skeptical West Texas farmers and connect with them.

CNN says Van de Putte’s profile is on the rise and that the Latina legislator could potentially accomplish what no Democrat has done in 20 years – win state office.

To read the full article, click here

To learn more about the book, click here