Object: Commemorative Plate


HemisFair Commemorative Plate
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Ceramic, glaze

This object is a painted commemorative ceramic plate, decorated with a scene of HemisFair ’68 within the outline of the State of Texas. This plate was made to commemorate the 1968 worlds fair in San Antonio. Memorabilia items like this plate are widely available on the internet for collectors today and were mass-produced for sale and distribution during the fair.

HemisFair was name of the World’s Fair that was held for six months, from April 6, 1968 to October 6, 1968, in San Antonio, Texas. The HemisFair commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio in 1718. The theme of the event was the “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas.” This theme captured the variety of cultures, traditions, and heritages in San Antonio.

The HemisFair’68 had its beginning in February of 1958 when Jerome K Harris introduced the idea to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. He explained that the fair would celebrate the cultural heritage shared by San Antonio and the nations of Latin America. Henry B. Gonzales, San Antonio Congressman, eventually endorsed this idea, and initial planning for the World’s Fair began. The project officially began in 1965 when San Antonio received their official Fair status by the Bureau International des Expositions, who governs and runs the World’s Fairs. Their objective is to bring order to exposition scheduling and to make clear the rights and responsibilities of the host city and the participants.

An aerial view of the Institute of Texan Cultures and Fiesta Island at HemisFair'68. UTSA Special Collections Library, Digital Identifier CD # 850 ; 108-0157.tif.

An aerial view of the Institute of Texan Cultures and Fiesta Island at HemisFair’68. UTSA Special Collections Library, Digital Identifier CD # 850 ; 108-0157.tif.

HemisFair welcomed over thirty nations and six million visitors. This was the first designated international exposition in the Southwestern United States. Today, a number of buildings built for HemisFair remain, including the Tower of the Americas; the State of Texas Pavilion, the largest of the fair buildings, is now the site of the Institute of Texan Cultures; and the former U.S. Pavilion complex and circular theater were converted into the Federal Courthouse.

The first World’s Fair was held in London, England in 1851 in Hyde Park. The World’s Fair is a large international exhibition that showcases an array of cultural, industrial, and scientific items, at an assigned site from three to six months. This fair includes exhibit from countries around the world, along with entertainment, food and beverages, rides, and attractions. Throughout the centuries, the World’s Fair has been held at sites around the world such as Paris, Australia, Hanoi (French Indochina), Japan, the United States, Italy, Spain, Germany, and several other countries. [Adriana Christian edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources

HemisFair ’68 History. University of Texas at San Antonio. http://libguides.utsa.edu/HemisFair68

Freymann, Carlos. “Interview with Carlos Freymann, 1979.” Interview by Ester G. MacMillan. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, 1979.

Perry, Joseph A. “Interview with Joseph A. Perry, 1984.” Interview by Ester G. MacMillan. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, 1984.

Sinkin, William. “Interview with William Sinkin, 1995.” Interview by Sterlin Holmesly. UTSA Libraries Digital Collections. University of Texas at San Antonio, 1995.

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Object: Pen

I-0022a (13)

I-022a 1-16
Washington, DC
20th Century
Materials: Plastic, Metal, Ink, Wood

This object is a set of fifteen pens with Lyndon Baines Johnson’s name on each one. The pens are individually boxed in gold foil boxes with white lids that also bear the President’s name.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and others, look on. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Presidents often use multiple pens to sign a bill and then give those pens to the people involved in getting the bill passed. There is a famous photograph of President Johnson handing several pens used to sign The Civil Rights Act into law to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is believed that the custom began during Truman’s Presidency. President Obama recently used twenty-two pens to sign the Affordable Health Care Act. President Clinton used forty pens in 1997 to sign the Taxpayer Relief Act. President Lyndon Baines Johnson holds the record for the most pens used to sign a bill. He used seventy-two pens to sign The Civil Rights Act of 1964.

President Johnson was born and raised near Johnson City in the Texas Hill Country. He graduated from what is now known as Texas State University. He worked as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas before serving in the Navy during World War II where he earned a Silver Star Medal. He then served six terms in the House of Representatives before being elected to Congress in 1948. In 1960, Johnson was elected Vice-President along with President John F. Kennedy. After President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Johnson assumed the role of President and was then re-elected for one term as President in 1964.

While we have no information about whether these fifteen pens were used to sign a bill, President Johnson signed many important bills into law during his Presidency, including the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, and the Voting Rights Act, to name a few. Thanks to President Johnson and his Public Broadcasting Act, we have Public Television which brings us educational shows like Sesame Street and NOVA. Because of President Johnson’s War on Poverty, the Head Start Program was created to allow disadvantaged four and five year olds to attend pre-school. The list of his landmark bills is several pages long.

Former President Lyndon Johnson at his ranch in Texas, August 1972. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Former President Lyndon Johnson at his ranch in Texas, August 1972. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Johnson’s term as President was filled with controversy due to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Even though he accomplished so much for the American people, his inability to resolve the Vietnam conflict caused him to refuse to run for another term as President. After finishing his term, Johnson moved back to Texas to retire on his ranch in Johnson City. He died on January 22, 1973. [Kim Grosset edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Dallek, Robert. 1991. Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. 

Dallek, Robert. Flawed Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 

Green, Robert P., and Harold E. Cheatham. The American Civil Rights Movement: A Documentary History. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009.

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Object: Print


I-0068k (01)

“The Black Madonna of Czestochowa”
Unknown artist
Materials: Wood, Ink, Paint

This object is a small print representing the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. The Black Madonna of Czestochowa also known as Our Lady of Jasna Gora is a revered icon of the Virgin Mary. Today the original painting sits in Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, Poland and has been there for six centuries. There are many stories surrounding the history of the original painting, some seem to be more fantasy than fact, and these stories have inspired many artists to create their own versions of this famous work of art. The print shown above, from the ITC collection, is one of a set of 15 different versions of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa.

Jasna Góra monastery by night Photo made on 2005-02-04 by Adam Kumiszcza. Imaga via Wikimedia Commons.

The original painting is said to have been painted by St. Luke and it remained in the holy land until it was discovered by St. Helena of the Cross sometime in the 4th century. After this discovery it was then moved to Constantinople, where it was proudly displayed by St. Helena’s son, the Emperor Constantine. Around 803 C.E. the painting was passed on to Prince Leo of Ruthenia. It remained in the royal palace, in present day northwestern Hungary, until the eleventh century when there was an invasion. The painting was then transferred to the Jasna Gora Monastery in Poland at the request of Ladislaus of Opole. Once the painting was in the hands of Ladislaus, the history became better documented.

In 1392 Tatars attacked the fortress at Belz and one of the arrows hit the painting lodging itself in the throat area. Fearing that the painting would be captured by the Tatars, Ladislaus fled with it to the town of Czestochowa and the painting was installed in the church. In 1430 Hussite looters attacked the church and one attacker struck the painting with his sword. The damage due to the sword and arrow can still be seen today. By 1655 Poland was overrun by Swedish forces. The monks at the monastery were able to defend the portrait during a forty day siege. Following the win against Sweden the Lady of Czestochowa became crowned as Queen of Poland.

Throughout the centuries there has been many reports of miraculous events surrounding the painting. The name Black Madonna was given due to the soot residue that discolors the painting.  The soot comes from centuries of candles burning in front of the painting. Today the feast day of the Black Madonna is celebrated on August 26. Many people make the pilgrimage to see the painting, leaving from Warsaw every year since 1711 on August 6th, the pilgrimage lasts 9 days and covers roughly 140 miles.

"Czestochowa National Shrine" in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Statue is Jan Pavel II. Near Dublin, PA. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

“Czestochowa National Shrine” in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Statue is Jan Pavel II. Near Dublin, PA. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The Black Madonna is popular in places like Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. In the United States there is a National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa which is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The shrine was founded in 1953 and features a replica of the painting. [Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Sources:

Art, Belief, Meaning Symposium, Herman C. Du Toit, and Doris R. Dant. Art and Spirituality: The Visual Culture of Christian Faith. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, Brigham Young University, 2006.

Pasierb, Janusz St, Jan Samek, Jan Michlewski, and Janusz Rosikoń. The Shrine of the Black Madonna at Czestochowa. Warsaw: Interpress Pub, 1980.

Paz, Adele. The Black Madonna of Czestochowa: A Fluid Symbol of Polish Nationality. 2005.

Museum views


Object: Hat


B. B. Ruth
San Antonio, Texas
20th Century
Materials: Cloth, , Rhinestones

This object is a lady’s hat sold by Joske’s Department Store in the early to mid-1900s. It was owned by Elise Denison Brown Lane, a long time San Antonio resident. The stamp inside the hat shows that it was made by B.B. Ruth for Joske’s Department Store.

After immigrating to Texas from Prussia in 1867, Julius Joske opened a dry goods store in San Antonio. After returning to Prussia in 1873, Joske returned to San Antonio a year later with his wife and children and reopened the store. When his sons joined the business the store name was changed to J. Joske and Sons. In 1883, after the retirement of Julius Joske, the store became known as Joske Brothers. In 1903, Alexander Joske bought out his brother and father and renamed the store Joske’s.

Postcard featuring Joske's store in San Antonio.

Postcard featuring Joske’s store in San Antonio. Image via Wikipedia.

At the time that this hat was made for Joske’s, the store carried mostly merchandise for men and boys. After an expansion in 1909, fabric and other materials were added to the store’s inventory. This gave women the option to have dresses and other apparel made for them.

Joske’s Department Store was headquartered in San Antonio with its flagship store in what is now Rivercenter Mall. Joske’s ultimately had twenty-six stores in Texas and one in Arizona. In 1939, after an expansion, Joske’s downtown San Antonio store became the first air-conditioned store in Texas. The store was hailed as the largest department store west of the Mississippi River until it was bought by Dillard’s in 1987.


Photo of Joskes’ Fantasyland during Christmas. Zintgraff Studio Photograph Collection, UTSA Special Collections — Institute of Texan Cultures. Identifier Z-1283-A-53976

Joske’s introduced the “bargain basement” in 1877 to help those with lower incomes be able to shop at Joske’s. This area of the store featured items at discount prices. Not only did the store sell goods, they also had several eating establishments which included a restaurant called the Camellia Room. In 1960, Joske’s opened a Christmas promotional area on the fourth floor of their downtown San Antonio store called Fantasyland. There was a thirty foot tall, mechanical Santa on the roof of the store that waved his hand. There was also a train ride that took children through the display. If you have ever seen the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” you can get an idea of what Joske’s Fanstasyland was like in the scene where the character Ralphie and his family look at the Christmas display windows and when they visit Santa at the department store in their town.

In 1987, The Dillard Corporation of Arkansas bought Joske’s Department Stores. All the Joske’s stores throughout Texas were renamed as Dillard’s. The building that housed the flagship Joske’s store in downtown San Antonio is still being used today and is now part of the Shops at Rivercenter mall. [Kim Grosset, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]

Additional Resources:

Gamber, Wendy. The Female Economy: The Millinery and Dressmaking Trades, 1860-1930. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997.

Odom, Marianne, and Gaylon Finklea Young. The Businesses that Built San Antonio. San Antonio, Tex: Living Legacies, 1985.

Winegarten, Ruthe, Cathy Schechter, and Jimmy Kessler. Deep in the Heart: The Lives and Legends of Texas Jews : a Photographic History. Austin, Tex: Eakin Press, 1990.

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