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UTA Has History Many Don't Know About

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In a place more accustomed to hushed whispers than raised voices, the library at the University of Texas at Arlington wants to shout it from the rafters: Its Special Collection is special indeed.

"We want them to know that we're here," says Brenda McClurkin, Head of UTA Library's Special Collections. "Sometimes we seem to be a well-kept secret even though we try very hard to get the word out, but it's here for everybody to use."

There are thousands of books, documents, maps, newspapers, photos, and other artifacts in the collection-- much of which was donated by Fort Worth attorney and UT Austin alum, Jenkins Garrett and his wife, Virginia.

"He always had a fond place in his heart for UT Arlington, and he felt like his collection would have greater impact here in Arlington rather than being in Austin with other-like materials, and really his decision was absolutely correct," says McClurkin.

Among the items in the Special Collections: a map from 1493, showing the only three known continents at the time. A printed Texas Declaration of Independence, owned by one of the signers of the Declaration. And a book by Spanish explorer, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca that was published in 1555.

"This is the very first book...about Texas," says Ben Huseman, the Special Collections' Cartographic Archivist.  "This is like landing on the moon. This book represents the first encounters between Europeans and Native Americans in the area we call Texas today."

There are also slightly more modern artifacts. The Special Collections has the photographic holdings from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram dating back to the 1930's.

And from the millions of negatives and prints on file, its most famous photograph is that of the Roswell UFO debris that was brought to what became Carswell Air Force Base in 1947.

"We have people from all over the world that are trying to read a very small telegram that General Ramey is holding to determine what really happened in Roswell in July 1947," says McClurkin.

While that may never truly be known, one thing is certain: UTA's diverse Special Collections make history interesting!

"We can tell the story of Texas with documents that really make it come to life," says Huseman.

Priceless bits of history that are available to everyone.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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