Special Collections and Lamar University Archive

About Us

The Mary and John Gray Library Special Collections and Lamar University Archives, located in the Mary and John Gray Library, were established in 1980 to preserve, collect, and provide access to rare books, historical collections of Southeast Texas and official permanent records of Lamar University.

Mission Statement

The Mary and John Gray Library Special Collections and Lamar University Archives promote preservation and understanding of the cultural heritage of Southeast Texas and Lamar University by establishing practices and policies to acquire and make available resources that benefit learners.

Mary and John Gray Library's Special Collections

Special Collections contains a wide array of unique materials with the mission of documenting the history of Southeast Texas, particularly Beaumont and the Big Thicket. The aspects that make this region distinct, including its dense forests, and economy based on lumber, ship building, and petroleum are well represented. One of our chief collecting focuses is the Big Thicket with over 25 collections documenting this unique area. These collections include Larry Jene Fisher’s collection of over 8,000 recently scanned images which document Big Thicket fauna and flora, social life and customs, and timber and oil production. The David Lewis’ Collection provides important documentation of the Big Thicket’s biodiversity; his collection includes the largest collection of images of fungi in the South, some of which are found only in the Big Thicket. Another significant collection is the records of the Big Thicket Association documenting the struggle to create and expand the Big Thicket National Preserve.  

Two collections which provide a photographic record of Beaumont are the Rolfe and Gary Christopher Negative Collection and the Rohn Wenner Collection. The Christopher Negative Collection contains over 1.2 million images documenting Presidential visits, Beaumont mansions, oil refineries, and social events including the Neches River Festival, engagements, weddings, and anniversaries. The Rohn Wenner Collection includes not only photographs but motion pictures documenting thousands of Beaumont activities including graduations (including Lamar graduations before 2003), dance recitals, and church events.

Lamar University's Special Collections include not only manuscripts and photographs but an impressive collection of rare books. The Dishman/Justice Cookbook Collection includes over 1000 volumes, some dating as early as 1500, which comprise landmarks in culinary history. The fascinating tomes provide not only advice on cooking but lifestyle as well including the management of servants. 

Lamar University Archives

Lamar University Archives seeks to document the history of the university from its genesis as South Park Junior College in 1923 to the present, but the bulk of our records are from the 1950's and later. Our holdings include Board of Regents minutes; Presidents’ papers; Faculty Senate minutes, correspondence, and reports; departmental reports, scrapbooks, and correspondence; biographies and photographs of faculty; university newspapers, school yearbooks, catalogs, handbooks, bulletins, as well as a wealth of photographs and audiovisual material.