Special Collections and Archives blog

September 18, 2014
by special collections & archives

Southside Market, 217 S. San Francisco Street

Growing up in Flagstaff, I’m familiar with much of the neighborhood histories and the built environment of Flagstaff. One of my childhood memories of Flagstaff is going to the grocery store located on the southside of the tracks at the corner of Butler Avenue and San Francisco Street. This grocery store, “La Ciudad de Mexico”, was built in the 1920s and it was “my” neighborhood grocery store. Eventually it became the Southside Market grocery store and then served as the home of several other establishments. The owners at that time I was growing up were Mary and Jose Cisterna. Mary was the daughter of Salvador Mier, the original owner of the store when it La Ciudad de Mexico.

La Ciudad de Mexico, located on 217 S. San Francisco Street, 1924. Photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, NAU.PH.639.4

La Ciudad de Mexico, located on 217 S. San Francisco Street, 1924.
Photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, NAU.PH.639.4

Southside Market, 217 S. San Francisco Street, 1978. Photo courtesy of Colorado Plateau Vertical Files.

Southside Market, 217 S. San Francisco Street, 1978.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Plateau Vertical Files.

Mary’s father, Salvador Mier, was born in 1883 in northern Spain and at the age of 12 he and a brother immigrated to Juarez, Mexico, escaping the impoverished conditions of Spain. At the age of 19, he entered the United States, where he first settled in San Francisco, California and then moved to Arizona.

Mier Family Sitting for Family Portrait, circa 1925. Photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, NAU.PH.639.5

Mier Family Sitting for Family Portrait, circa 1925.
Photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, NAU.PH.639.5

Mary Mier Cisterna, 217 S. San Francisco Street, circa 1978.  Photo courtesy Colorado Plateau Vertical Files.

Mary Mier Cisterna, 217 S. San Francisco Street, circa 1978.
Photo courtesy Colorado Plateau Vertical Files.

Salvador returned to Spain after marrying his first wife, Esperanza. After several set backs, he eventually he returned to Arizona and settled in Flagstaff, where he rented his first grocery store, “Eagle Store”, on Railroad Avenue (Santa Fe Street) in partnership with Firmin Cajias. Later he opened a second grocery store at 201 S. San Francisco Street. As his family and business grew, he found it necessary to build the two-story structure at 217 S. San Francisco Street, which became La Ciudad de Mexico. The building plans were for the first floor to be the general grocery store and their residence on the second floor. Mr. Mier and two local carpenters, Bruno Vasquez and Trinidad Juarez, and a local stonecutter were the labor of this old establishment.

The two-story building standing at 217 S. San Francisco Street today, that was formerly La Ciudad de Mexico and the Southside Grocery, has seen several other businesses come and go. The two most recent businesses that rented the space were the Dragon’s Plunder (1987-2006) and the AZ Bikes (2012-2014). Although the businesses using the building may come and go, much of the original character and charm of the original building remains today.

Dragon's Plunder, 217 S. San Francisco Street, circa 1995. Photo courtesy of Colorado Plateau Vertical Files.

Dragon’s Plunder, 217 S. San Francisco Street, circa 1995.
Photo courtesy of Colorado Plateau Vertical Files.

For additional information on the history of Flagstaff’s Southside, please consult the Colorado Plateau Vertical Files (http://tinyurl.com/nojcsb5) and Los Recuerdos del Barrio en Flagstaff oral history project (http://library.nau.edu/speccoll/exhibits/recuerdos/index.html).

~Delia Munoz

September 8, 2014
by special collections & archives

Parting Thoughts from our 2014 Reilly Intern, Dr. Cinda Nofziger

 Jackrabbit Trading Post Billboard, facing west, Route 66, Joseph City, AZ. John Running's Route 66/Jeans Fashion Shoot, John Running Collection (NAU.PH.2013.

Jackrabbit Trading Post Billboard, facing west, Route 66, Joseph City, AZ. John Running’s Route 66/Jeans Fashion Shoot, John Running Collection (NAU.PH.2013.

As I reflect back on my amazing experience as the Reilly Intern at the Cline Library curating a physical and planning a virtual exhibit about Flagstaff photographer John Running this summer, I recognize something unexpected as the most significant aspect of archives. It is not the diaries that I worked with, or the fabulous photographs I saw, but the people I encountered. Some I encountered through their words in journals, or stories about them relayed in diaries, some I encountered in person—as the subject of the exhibit I designed, and as staff who worked along side me. My encounters with people are what made the experience in the SCA rewarding, but it’s the people behind the stuff in archives, or next to it, or looking at it that make archives exciting and important. We form relationships with people—historic figures and contemporaries–as we examine and organize the past.

Archives are commonly understood to be about stuff, about old books and manuscripts, historic diaries and photographs, precious documents that we must treat gingerly and with utmost respect. The materials are housed in special folders within special boxes, in vaults that are carefully climate controlled. People who want to look at the materials have to ask permission and handle the materials carefully, sometimes even wearing gloves!

Bernadette Chavez, John Running Collection, (NAU.PH.2013.

Bernadette Chavez, John Running Collection, (NAU.PH.2013.

Tarahumara Man - Christmas Week, John Running Collection, (NAU.PH.2013.

Tarahumara Man – Christmas Week, John Running Collection, (NAU.PH.2013.

But this summer’s internship has shown me that archives and special collections are actually about people: people and their stories, and groups of people working together to share stories. I’m grateful to my the staff at SCA who shared their stories with me—stories about transitioning out of graduate school into the professional world of archives, about Route 66, about upcoming weddings and wedding photographs, about Flagstaff’s past, about sheepherders and railroad workers, about wives and mothers who worked hard to keep their children fed and clothed while their husbands pursued dreams that didn’t always bring in enough to pay the bills, about families traveling together across the country, and stories from one man about his own life, his photographs, and his understanding of what it means to be human.

John Running, Grand Canyon Cafe, Flagstaff, AZ (NAU.PH.2013.

John Running, Grand Canyon Cafe, Flagstaff, AZ (NAU.PH.2013.

I got to know Flagstaff photographer John Running extremely well during the two months I was at SCA, not only from interacting with him, but from reading his journals and immersing myself in his photographs. There’s a responsibility that comes with telling someone else’s story. Running feels that when he photographs people, and I felt the same way as I put together this exhibit. Because he is a living donor, there may have been some challenges that one wouldn’t have in telling the story of someone who has already passed away. There were occasional differences of perspective. I think they mostly stemmed from our different positions—I hold a historian and archivist’s perspective, and he is the creator of the photographs. When he’s done exhibits in the past they have been more singularly focused on the photographs and he’s had a significant amount of control over what goes into an exhibit and how it is presented. The SCA exhibit is a bit different from what he’s used to. Our exhibit attempts to show something broader and deeper than what is possible with only the photographs. Archives can provide context—background, connections, relationships. And that’s what we wanted to show by bringing the journals and the photographs together. To think about the whole scope of his life and work and to offer something new about his work, his life and what it means to be a photographer.

At the same time, there’s a very intimate perspective that comes from reading someone else’s inner most thoughts. There were some days when I would spend most of the day researching by reading Running’s journals; his voice from the journals was constantly in my head this summer. Other days I looked at slide after slide, print after print, image after image. There’s a certain weight, a certain gravity that comes from that type of intense and short term research. Certainly it brings a sense of empathy and a real recognition of that person’s humanity. From that experience, I wanted to grasp the truth of this person, this photographer, and try to present it honestly. I hope the exhibit does that.


Shonto Dune, John Running Collection (NAU.PH.2013.

Shonto Dune, John Running Collection (NAU.PH.2013.

Flagstaff photographer John Running will tell you that he tries to tell the truth in his photographs, to honestly capture a moment in time, to clearly represent his subjects. I was inspired by reading those ideas in his journals and tried to bring that sense of truth and honesty into the exhibit I created for the Cline Library Special Collections and Archives this summer.

Cinda Nofziger


August 21, 2014
by special collections & archives

Looking To Acutely Focus Your Research without having to step foot in the Archive?




What is Arizona Archives Online (AAO)?

Arizona Archives Online brings together detailed descriptions of archival material about the history of Arizona and other subjects. The archival collections described in AAO are held at institutions across the state including academic libraries, historical institutions, special collections libraries, museums and other libraries and archives in Arizona.

There are currently 12 institutions throughout the state of Arizona that contribute content to Arizona Archives Online:

  • Arizona State University Libraries, Department of Archives and Special Collections
  • Northern Arizona University, Cline Library Special Collections and Archives
  • University of Arizona Library Special Collections
  • University of Arizona Libraries. Center for Creative Photography.
  • Arizona State MuseumMuseum of Northern Arizona
  • The Arizona Historical Society: Northern Division
  • Sharlot Hall Museum
  • Arizona State Library, History and Archives Division
  • Lowell Observatory Library and Archives
  • Heard Museum Billie Jane Baguley Library and Archives
  • Peggy J. Slusser Memorial Philatelic Library


What is Archival Description?

Archival description is the practice of describing and sometimes indexing the content of archival documents or archival collections. Products of archival description include library catalog records, repository guides, collection guides (often known as finding aids), websites and specialized databases. Arizona Archives Online is a website that contains searchable finding aids.

What is in a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of a collection of archival materials. It describes who created the materials, and when, as well as the type of materials, the topics of the collection, how it is organized and why it is significant. The depth of description of an archival collection contained within a finding aid will vary based on local institutional policies and the discretion of the archivist processing the collection.

Why are the collections in Arizona Archives Online not digitized?

Digitization of content on AAO is left to the discretion of the contributing members to the AAO website. Due to funding, digitization resources, copyright restrictions, and staff time many archival holdings described on AAO are not digitized. Some of the collections described on AAO do have links to digitized content. These digital items can be found either linked to local servers or to other digital instances on the internet. Arizona Archives Online was designed to provide digitized content as it becomes available at the discretion of the contributing members. Contact AAO at todd.welch@nau.edu to inquire as to any future efforts by participating members to digitize specific content.


Other local and national web sites for electronic archival description include:

Arizona Memory Project: http://azmemory.lib.az.us/
Arizona Cultural Inventory Project: http://cip.azlibrary.gov/
Online Archives of California: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/
Northwest Digital Archives: http://nwda.wsulibs.wsu.edu/
Rocky Mountain Online Archive: http://rmoa.unm.edu/
Mountain West Digital Library: http://mwdl.org/
Texas Archival Resources Online: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/
Ohio Link Finding Aid Repository: http://ead.ohiolink.edu/xtf-ead/
North Carolina Exploring Cultural Heritage Online: http://www.ncecho.org/
Archives Florida: http://palmm2.fcla.edu/afl/



August 8, 2014
by special collections & archives

Tad Nichols, Images of a Lost World, Glen Canyon

cathedral_in_the_desert  nichols_blog_portrait

NAU.PH.                                                 NAU.PH.

Glen Canyon was a favorite of photographer Tad Nichols, where he shot over four thousand images. From these many images, a book was published by the Museum of New Mexico Press in August of 2000, entitled, “Glen Canyon: Images of a Lost World, Photographs and Recollections,”

Tad was born in Springfield, Ohio, on July 8, 1911. He grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts until 1930, when due to his asthma, he was sent to Mesa Ranch School in Arizona. In addition to academics, his school experiences there included camping, hiking, and horseback riding. These activities helped Nichols develop a great love of the outdoors.

From fall of 1932 until spring of 1937, he attended the University of Arizona in Tucson. He graduated with a double degree in geology and anthropology. He met Mary Jane Hayden in an astronomy class. They were married in 1937.

Tad’s initial interest in taking pictures was inspired by a university photography class. Later he studied with such noted photographers as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Brett Weston. He traveled with many scientific expeditions, during which he acted as official photographer. This included several trips to Mexico to document the eruptions of Paricutin Volcano, as well as other worldwide trips with geologist and naturalist Edwin McKee. Nichols was also involved in making films. He had gained experience as a cameraman during World War II, while creating training films for the Air Force. Afterwards he made films of his own about the Southwest, and also produced instructional films for the U.S. Indian Service. During the 1950s, Nichols worked for Walt Disney Productions and the Sierra Club.  Tad traveled extensively throughout the world, in such diverse locales as Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Indonesia, Mexico, Central America, South America, Galapagos, Hawaii, Alaska, and the Southwestern United States. Of all these places, Glen Canyon was a favorite.

To check out more of Tad’s beautiful images of Glen Canyon, please click the link below.


Looking for more information about Glen Canyon concerning the development and impact of Glen Canyon Dam, be sure to check out our Glen Canyon Resources Page linked below.



August 4, 2014
by special collections & archives

That’s the Way He Rolled – Blast from the Past

President Walkup throws an NAU bowling ball in the newly constructed bowling alley in the University Union Field House (Photo credit: University Archives, circa 1966)

President Walkup throws an NAU bowling ball in the newly constructed bowling alley in the University Union Field House (Photo credit: University Archives, circa 1966)

President J. Lawrence Walkup was one of our most active, involved, and energetic university presidents. He served NAU for 30 years (1949-1979), 22 of them as president (1957-1979). According to Platt Cline, author of Mountain Campus- The Story of Northern Arizona University, President Walkup was known as “The Student’s President.” As seen in this photograph, he could “roll” with the best of them.

President Walkup advanced the university in numerous ways during his 22 year tenure as president. Two notable advancements include the extensive expansion of the institution’s physical plant from the historical North Campus through Central Campus and South Campus; the other being the academic evolution of the institution from Arizona State College to Northern Arizona University in 1966. NAU granted its first PhD in 1968.

President Walkup’s papers are housed in the University Archives and contain a wide breadth of issues documenting the  history of the university. The finding aid to his papers can be viewed here as well as an oral history with President Walkup conducted in 1996 with Dr. Monte Poen.

July 23, 2014
by special collections & archives

SCA Receives Two Important Grants

Writing grants can be a time-consuming process, one that isn’t for the faint of heart. Aside from adhering to a prescribed style of writing, there is research, data collection, and collaboration that all form critical parts of the grant-writing process. Then, of course, there is the unapologetic waiting period–often months go by–where a frenzy of activity results in the sound of crickets until word is received, either in the positive or negative.

Special Collections and Archives has been through this process a handful of times throughout the past number of years and has demonstrated great success when requesting funding assistance for departmental initiatives. It is encouraging when granting agencies have funds available to help SCA undertake projects it has already been planning, especially when the granting agency’s review committee agrees and funds them. We wish to share information with you about two such grants that were received and what these funds will be applied towards.

A recently received grant [early July 2014] from Arizona Humanities (formerly the Arizona Humanities Council) will enable SCA to provide and make available online transcriptions for a backlog of 20 oral histories recorded from 1999-2014 for the “Los Recuerdos del Barrio en Flagstaff” project. See an earlier blog post about the history of that project. Mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act, transcription is a required component when providing access to these audio/video recordings in an online format. Once transcribed, these narratives will be keyword searchable and freely accessible by students, faculty, researchers, and the public.

National Endowment for the Humanities logo

Just this past week, SCA received word that it was successful with its December 2013 application to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for the second part of a three-part project designed to plan for [and later implement] specialized cold storage for the fragile visual materials (photographs, negatives, moving images, magnetic media) that form a significant part of the rare and original archival collections housed in SCA. Funding from NEH’s Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant opportunity will bring in a team of specialized experts who will work collaboratively to plan for (a) storage environment(s) that will significantly deter the degradation of these irreplaceable items. This grant is building off SCA’s successful April 2012 application to NEH’s Preservation Assistance Grant program and subsequent consultant’s assessment report (April 2013). Successful outcomes of this upcoming two-year planning process will be a comprehensive plan and related schematics that will incorporate the collaborative team’s expertise. A subsequent third grant application to NEH would then be submitted to assist with implementation.

We look forward to sharing the results of both these projects with everybody in the coming months and years. Our continued thanks to Arizona Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities for providing us with the opportunity to enhance our program!

July 18, 2014
by special collections & archives

Celebrating One-hundred Years of The Pine/The Lumberjack Newspaper


The Pine/The Lumberjack Newspaper

Official publication of the Associated Students of Northern Arizona Normal School (original name of Northern Arizona University), The Pine was first published a few weeks after the beginning of fall semester 1914 with the support and encouragement of college president, Dr. Rudolph H.H. Blome. Initially published bi-weekly, the newspaper alternated between a monthly, weekly, and semi-weekly publication over the years. In 1946, by a vote of the student body, the name of the student newspaper formally changed to The Lumberjack. The design of the newspaper’s masthead has gone through several iterations.

During the course of this project, the library discovered a few missing issues of the student newspaper. If you know the location of any missing issues, please contact Special Collections and Archives (special.collections@nau.edu).

July 17, 2014
by special collections & archives

Throwback Thursday


Why is this man running?

Answer: This is Andy Payne of Oklahoma taking part in the 1928 “Bunyon Derby”- a foot race across America. Participants ran 40-70 mile per day! Payne was the eventual winner, taking the $25,000 prize (he paid off his Dad’s farm). The location of the photo remains a mystery. The data said Flagstaff, but with no exact location information.

July 10, 2014
by special collections & archives

Freaky Friday

Chickenboy, Highland Park, Los Angeles, CA.

Chickenboy, Route 66, Highland Park, Los Angeles, CA.

Chickenboy has a not-too-distant relative here in Flagstaff. Can you find an image in the Digital Archives of him? Leave us the photo number of the image of who you think it is.

Answer: This is Chickenboy of Highland Park in Los Angeles. He was produced for a fried chicken emporium in L.A. and relocated next to the Highland Theatre after the restaurant closed. Produced by International Fiberglass, Chickenboy is related to our own Lumberjacks 1 & 2 found in and outside of the Skydome on campus. A change of head and rotate 1 wrist, and voila -Chickenboy!