When Hurricane Harvey slammed into Houston last year, it wasn’t a hit and run. The storm lingered, dumping drenching rains that sent flood waters spreading throughout the city. The impact was both immediate and long-lasting: entire neighborhoods suffered massive damage to homes and businesses; many are still clawing their way back.
Among those affected by the storm was photojournalist Janice Rubin.
The world-renowned photographer’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Forbes, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated, among many others. Prior to Harvery, she planned to donate a sizable part of her collection to the University of Houston. The hurricane destroyed many of her prized photographs, which spurred her to get to work preserving what was left.
“I was beginning slowly to scan things with the idea that someday the archive would come to the University,” says Rubin, who chose UH after a tour of the UH Libraries Special Collections. “I would have gone much, much slower. It might have taken me 10 years to do what I did in a year.”
Rubin recently donated 15,000 pieces to the UH Libraries Special Collections. The black and white prints, color slides and negatives from 1976-2002 showcase late 20th-century Houston life, art, politics and business. Famous faces in the photos include former Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire, the late Congressman Mickey Leland, President George H.W. Bush, former Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan, and Drs. Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley. Grants from the Harvey Arts Recovery Fund helped Rubin hire UH student and library assistant Micaela Cadungog to assist her with the scanning, documenting, and cataloging the images.
“It’s sad what was lost was lost,” Rubin shares. “But I am grateful that I’ve been able to take some time to assess what was saved and put in a form that perhaps others can make meaning of.”
The Janice Rubin photographs are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room on the second floor of the M.D. Anderson Library at the UH campus. The Special Collections Reading Room is open from 9 am- 5 pm, Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays during the fall and spring semesters from noon to 4 pm.