Exhibition Celebrates Arizona's Statehood

A new exhibit and lecture series at the UA Special Collections celebrate 100 years of Arizona statehood.
Sept. 8, 2011
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Special Collections at the University Libraries maintains collections of rare books and unique archival materials that make possible in-depth research on selected topics. The scope and diversity of Special Collections make it an important resource for the international academic community. Established in 1958 to house materials on Arizona, the Southwest, and the U.S./Mexico Borderlands, Special Collections now includes rare books, manuscript collections, photographs and other materials in a wide variety of subject areas.

Arizona's path to statehood in 1912 was marked by a pioneering spirit, intermittent achievement and political debate.

To explore that path, the University of Arizona Special Collections is hosting a year-long exhibition and lecture series to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of Arizona receiving its statehood.

Known as the "Valentine State," Arizona became the 48th state on Feb. 14, 1912, and the last of the contiguous states to join the Union.

The Special Collections exhibition, "Becoming Arizona: The Valentine State," recreates the colorful story of Arizona's path to statehood. Already open, the exhibition will be on display through May 30, 2012 at Special Collections, 1510 E. University Blvd.

Curated by Chrystal Carpenter, manuscript and congressional archivist; Erika Castaño, digital archivist; and Roger Myers, librarian, "Becoming Arizona: The Valentine State" is part of a statewide celebration of the Arizona centennial. Both the exhibit and lecture series are being sponsored by the Friends of the University Libraries.

The exhibit documents the experiences and stories that defined the region during the colonial period, territorial times and the years leading up to 1912 statehood.

Included is a selection of maps, books, photographs, letters, scrapbooks and unique items selected from Special Collections' extensive Southwest and Borderlands collections' holdings, such as the 1848 Tratado de Paz, the official Mexican printing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Also included is William Oury's handwritten speech that seeks to defend his role in the killing of Apache women and children at the Camp Grant massacre of 1871.

A scrapbook compiled by George W.P. Hunt, Arizona's first governor, offers news clippings and photographs that reflect the issues leading up to, and following, Arizona statehood.

A number of items also are on loan from the Arizona Historical Society – including Wyatt Earp's wedding ring, Geronimo's tinder bag and a snuff box belonging to Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Salpointe. 

"Becoming Arizona" also highlights a number of firsts for the state:

  • The first newspaper printed in Arizona Territory, the Weekly Arizonian, printed in Tubac beginning in 1859.
  • The first book published in the new state, the provisional Arizona Constitution, printed in Tubac in 1860.
  • Arizona Territory's first legal code, the 400-page "Howell Code," adopted in 1864.
  • The establishment of first university, the University of Arizona, in 1885.

Also, a lecture series exploring the literary traditions, political landscape and the legacies of Arizona women will be held throughout the year in conjunction with the exhibit

Each lecture in the series, "Becoming Arizona: The Valentine State," will be held in Special Collections. All lectures will be held 7-8:30 p.m. and are  free and open to the public.

The first lecture will be held Nov. 15 with Charles M. Tatum, a professor in the UA Department of Spanish & Portuguese, presenting his talk, "The Latina/o Literary Presence in U.S. Literature: From Cabeza de Baca to the Present."

The second lecture will be held Feb. 14, 2012. Tom Sheridan, a UA anthropology professor, will present his talk, "The Sleeping Giant vs. The Politics of Fear: Arizona's Hispanic Society in the Twenty-First Century."

The third and final lecture in the series will be held March 28, 2012. Historian and author Jan Cleere will give her talk, "Legacies of the Past: Historic Women of Arizona."