Fun With Microfilm, With the Surprising Reappearance of Old Friends

Microfilm UofH

I looked at microfilm all afternoon today, every edition of both the Chronicle and the Post from March, 1929. I haven’t managed to solve the riddle of the strange picture–or even any piece of it–but I have developed an alternate theory of the case, which I will now run down.

It’s been a long time since I read that much microfilm in one sitting and I can confirm that it is not at all pleasant. I will have more than one scotch tonight. The other thing I can confirm is that in 1929 the Post was superior to the Chronicle in more or less every respect. Reading the same news in both papers–the inauguration of Herbert Hoover, rebellion in Mexico, the fortunes of the Houston Buffs–lays bare the differences. Where the Chronicle was dense, humorless and physically difficult to read, the Post was lively, generally much better written and reported, and laid out to be easy on the eyes. (My favorite Post story from this month was an advice piece: “Wife Must Be Vamp to Keep Love Burning in Heart of Husband.” Tell me about it!)

The most amazing thing I saw, though, was in the Chronicle. Believe it or not, I actually ran across a photo of someone I know. Here’s the last time we saw them, and here they are in the Society page a few years earlier:



Bonus: A clean bus is a happy bus.


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10 Responses to Fun With Microfilm, With the Surprising Reappearance of Old Friends

  1. C Kelly says:

    I know of which you speak. I’ve been looking at a roll of microfilm for several weeks now. I’m scanning it to capture news about Sugar Land from 1917 to 1921, and I can’t work on it full time or I’d go nuts. I’m definitely earning my money.

  2. mjthannisch says:

    I know about it too, at Rice, and at the Clayton Genealogical Library on Caroline, and the Central Library Genealogical Collection in Ft. Worth.

    Did you notice anything about watch chains while scanning?

    • C Kelly says:

      I’ll keep an eye out. The Sugar Land Heritage Foundation has quite a few photos from that era, so I’ll make note of what I see.

  3. C Kelly says:

    Just an extraneous comment: I tried scanning my reel of microfilm on the stations at the Fort Bend County Library. It’s not surprising that they didn’t give optimal results, so I’ve been using an Epson photo scanner. It’s not perfect either because it doesn’t have a template that handles microfilm reels. So, I’ve had to rig things a little to get an ‘aperture’ where I can scan one frame at a time. It’s worth it because the scanner’s max optical resolution is high. The images (very old newspapers) aren’t the best, so I need all the help I can get to read some of them. Of course, I perform post-scanning enhancement on them, but it’s tough making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

  4. Gin and tonics last week, Scotch this week. Where will it end? Margaritas on a beach somewhere? Yes, I’ve spent some quality time with microfilm, doing architectural research. And the Post was livelier than the Chron right up until the Chron killed it. There’s still a lot of hard feelings among longtime Houstonians about that.

  5. David M. Bynog says:

    The differences between the Post and the Chronicle that you refer to above are not unique to 1929.

    • almadenmike says:

      Their differences in the reporting the Masterson Crisis were astonishing. I recall the Post having the story as it appeared to the students and faculty; while the Chronicle presented what seemed to be an altered reality that we figured the Board of Trustees hoped that the public would believe was true. It would be interesting to go back and measure, with hindsight, which was more accurate.

  6. Lou Ann Montana says:

    On a different topic, what type of footwear is our bus washer sporting???

    • almadenmike says:

      Whatever shoes he’s wearing, it looks like he’s covered them with plastic bags that he’s tied/tightened around his ankles. Perhaps he’s wearing new and/or expensive sneakers and wants to protect them from water/soap/dirt while he’s washing the bus.

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