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Joseph M. Heiser, Jr. Papers

Identifier: 2007-024

Forms part of the Houston History Archives.

Most of the Joseph M. Heiser Jr. collection contains papers and very delicate carbon correspondence copies. The Joseph M. Heiser, Jr. Papers is a collection that is comprised of the individual’s obituaries, carbon copy publications, writings, publications, membership acceptance letters, organization donations [philanthropy], will and estates information, correspondence, outdoor nature club correspondence, outdoor nature club publications such as The Zephyr, Spoonbill, Bulletin, the Trailblazer, Houston and Los Angeles, and Outdoor Nature Club Notes, club memorabilia like magazines and meeting agendas of the Armand Bayou Nature Center, Audubon Society, Audubon Society Bird Watercolor Paintings and Photographs, the Conservation Foundation, Ecological Society of America, Garden Club of America, the National Gardener, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association, Houston Museum of Natural History Publications, Houston Zoological Society, Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, SPCA, Sportsman Club of America, State Garden Federation, Texas Academy of Science, Texas Federation of Nature Clubs, Texas Land Seward’s Society, Texas League of Conservation Voters, Texas Natural Areas Survey, Texas Ornithological Society, the Washington Biologists Field Club, Wilderness Society, public service commitments like the Emergency Conservation Committee and the Texas Water Quality Board, the Little Thicket Sanctuary and Map as well as the Vingtune Island Sanctuary Papers, the Speeches by Joseph in the Outdoor Nature Club, related publications not specifically derived from a membership organization, like the Conservationist, the Burrough Club Bulletin, the Atticus Journal, Hou Zoo, the Science Magazine, Texas Environmental Coalition, assorted Wildlife Publications, Audubon Screen Tours, the Wildlife Society News, International Wildlife, the Gulf Migrant, Animals, World Wildlife Fund- Focus Magazine and World Wildlife Fund- Various Reports, Conservation News- Publication of the National Wildlife Federation, Wilderness publications like Plea for a Green Legacy, the Balance, Big Bend, American Forests, Animal Kingdom, Green America, oceanography publications like the Calypso Log, Ocean Engineering, boat show as well various more amounts of Cite- Architecture and Design Review of Houston, Ecologist Union, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Water and Conservation Bulletin, the Fund for Animals, Inc, the Nature Club of Southern California Bulletin, and a Reader’s Digest Reprint, framed awards, proposed legislation and correspondence, maps, postcards of animals and wildlife, photographs of Heiser and NASA. What stands out in the Joseph Heiser collection dates to the earliest to the late 19th century, consisting as well of very fragile carbon copy paper templates from the 20th century.

Regarding the history of the collection, there is not information available at this time that provides the previous location of the Heiser collection. It is known that these papers were in the possession of the cited individual, Joseph M. Heiser, Jr. in his home on Kipling Street in southwest Houston. It may have first been in the possession of the Houston Public Library. There is a related collection called the Outdoor Nature Club that focuses specifically on the workings of the club founded by Joseph Heiser. This collection, on the other hand, puts more emphasis on the accomplishments and works that he executed during his lifetime. By relocating Joseph’s papers in the MD Anderson Library, all people, especially Houstonians, would be able to access more information on Ninfa Laurenzo at their eager disposal. Moreover Houstonians would be aware and never forget the many contributions that Joseph M. Heiser contributed to Houston society when he was alive and well. The original papers have been consciously and carefully retained; the most delicate of papers will be inserted within protective sleeves. Also the most delicate of carbon copies have been photocopied to make sure to preserve the memory of the writing observed; it is known that the carbon lettering over time smears, clouding possible seeing of the message at hand. All of the original folders have been discarded and replaced with better acid-free manila legal-size folders and acid-free boxes to further preserve the papers of Houston history. Thus such procedures were done to make the materials gained from the collection better preserved against time progression. The folders are placed in approximate alphabetical order in the series and subseries. However each folder label is in chronological and approximate alphabetical order with in a series, with the possibilities of no dates. Right now it is being processed so it can be available to the public in the upcoming future. If the researcher is searching for a particular person, subject or organization, it would be prudent to look for individual folders bearing that person’s name, but also look in the possible “approximate” folder names that are similar to the proposed topic, name, and/or association.


  • 1866-1989


Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish from copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian. Reproduction decisions will be made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis.


3.2 linear feet

Biographical Information

Joseph M. Heiser was passionate about taking care of Mother Earth. He was a native Houstonian. He did not marry and had no children but wonderful nephews. To actualize this conscious obsession of nature, he fulfilled his need and awareness of his empathy for natural forces through joining many organizations about that same purpose becoming full-fledged life members of the Houston Sportsman Club, for example. Beginning from the 1920s he was especially protective of the holly, a slow-growing North American plant used popularly Christmastime in conjunction with the outdoor nature club. He also led movements to fight for the mockingbird as our state bird. Joseph worked to preserve and conserve animals and plants, donating money about this organization and that to fulfill what he was best at doing. In fact, he was so good at being an advocate for nature’s gifts that he was unanimously elected to these executive board positions like in the Texas Nature Conservancy, the Houston Zoological Society, looked upon as a leader in the fight against the destruction of nature by man. In other words his Joseph and his companions were allies striving for nature to be top or the first priority on the list for any project man wants to undertake. He is credited with coming up with the idea of the Outdoor Nature Club started with the help and support of a head librarian, who was important with starting the club publication of the Zephyr, where the organization had a strong role in the preservation of the Little Thicket Sanctuary and Vingtune Island both in East Texas. He also founded the Nature Conservancy; largely Joseph was an innovator and creator of various nature organizations. The world is thankful to have a dedicated man looking after Mother Nature. What would Joseph do in our present ecological crisis with global warming? He would automatically support hybrid cars and movements to try to get America, the largest national polluter on the planet, on some conscious and congressional plan. On Vingtune Island, the group found the spoonbill, a very rare bird known for its bright-colored feathers. Such a bird and its habitat are under the protective eyes of the National Audubon Society.

Aside from Joseph’s dedicated work in nature, his background includes fighting as a soldier in the two world wars. He was an accountant, a comptroller [secretary to the president] to the Texaco company for over 40 years; his nature care was a dedicated hobby on the side. Joseph was “a great friend to nature and to man.” He died of complications from throat cancer at the age of 89.

Custodial History

The Joseph M. Heiser, Jr. Papers were acquired for the University of Houston Libraries in partnership with the Houston History Archives initiative of the UH Center for Public History.

Related Materials

Outdoor Nature Club

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Guide to the Joseph M. Heiser Jr. Papers
Teresa Tomkins-Walsh
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Houston Libraries Special Collections Repository

University of Houston Libraries Special Collections
MD Anderson Library
4333 University Drive
Houston TX 77204-2000 USA