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2017 Reports

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

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Austin History Center Director’s Report

Mike Miller is the Manager of the Austin History Center, a 14-person, $1.2 million division of the Austin Public Library, with responsibility for personnel, planning, and fiscal aspects. He represents the Austin History Center before library, city, and community groups. Writes, speaks and consults about Austin history, managing local history collections, and preservation of historical materials.


April 2017

Programming & Outreach

  • The mini-documentary, “Austin History Center, Community Archives” featuring the Community Archivist program at the Austin History Center premiered at the Faces of Austin SXSW Community Screening on March 13. The film, produced by Tatiana Gonzales of AOPP, was one of 14 films, out of more than 60 entrants, chosen to screen at this event.
  • On March 21 the AHC hosted the program “Women in Action,” highlighting the contributions of women of color’s leadership and influence in Austin. Featuring a roundtable discussion with longtime Austin community leaders, Women in Action explored past challenges and obstacles of political organizing and advocacy and shares strategies to help women today meaningfully engage in politics and/or social change.
  • Latoya Devezin was a guest speaker at the SXSW Victory Grill event on March 15. She gave a presentation on the history of East Austin and the Victory Grill.
  • Phonshia Nie hosted a UT College of Education Class in Bilingual Elementary Education for tour and taught a lesson plan on U.S. immigration history up to 1965 on March 30.

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 4 collections, the Terry Allbright and Michael Rush Political Posters, Power, Money & the People: The Making of Modern Austin Research Materials, Mary Harriet Graham Family Papers, and the Dewitt Clinton Baker Family Papers. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • The AHC recently acquired multiple manuscripts (30) written by UT RTF students (undergrad and graduate) related to Austin movie production, movie houses and communications from UT RTF professor emeritus Dr. Janet Staiger. The donation came after she was given a copy the AHC book Historic Movie Houses of Austin. The AHC also received the papers of Tom Spencer (clippings, writings, scrapbooks, journals, correspondence, etc.) of his career at KLRU and his civic involvement. Spencer is perhaps known best as the “Central Texas Gardener,” one of the longest running shows on KLRU.

Exhibits

  • On March 28, the AHC opened its newest photograph exhibit in the David Earl Holt Photo Gallery. “Play Ball! Austin and the Great American Pastime” is an overview of Austin’s love affair with the game of baseball and explores the sport in 22 photographs from the AHC collections. The exhibit runs through August 13, 2017.
  • The traveling exhibits program continues to move around the branches. The AHC installed “Austin’s Majestic Palace: The Paramount Turns 100” at the Manchaca Road Branch on March 15.

Publications & Reference

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in an upcoming documentary film about education in Texas, a Fox-7 news story about Oakwood cemetery, public display at the Rosewood-Zaragoza neighborhood center, an upcoming book The Edge of Nothing from Texas A&M University Press, and a project to restore 1970s Glastron Skiflite boat.

Upcoming Events

  • April 29, 3:00-5:00 pm, AHC. AHCA Open House and Art Sale.
  • May 9, 6:30 pm, AHC. Book talk with Eddie Wilson about his new memoirs, with a guest musical performance by Jesse Sublett.
  • May 13, 2:30 pm, AHC. AHCA Annual Meeting.
  • August 15, time TBD. AIA offices. Fehr & Granger Exhibit opening.
  • August 29. 6:30 pm, AHC. Dewey Mears Exhibit opening reception/Night Crafters/Mobile making.

March 2017

Programming & Outreach

  • LaToya Devezin had a busy Black History Month. She was a guest speaker at the 2/7 CapMetro Community Feedback meeting, the 2/8 Austin Black Lawyers Association program, the 2/22 Texas Gas Service program, and the 2/25 Interfaith Small group. She also presented “I AM the Change” at Dessau Middle School for their Black History month program on 2/18 and a genealogy workshop on 2/25 at the Carver Genealogy Center.
  • Phonshia Nie presented “Asian American History in Austin” for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UT on 2/1.
  • Nancy Toombs gave a presentation about the Treaty Oak for a local Boy Scout troop on 2/5, with about 20 in attendance.
  • The AHC hosted a program, “Celebrating The Rag,” on 2/21 about the 50th anniversary of the underground newspaper, The Rag, started at UT in 1966. The program included a panel discussion with the editors of the 50th anniversary book about the newspaper and a screening of part of an upcoming documentary film about The Rag. Over 75 people attended the event and were regaled with stories of the underground newspaper movement and the counterculture in Austin.

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 8 collections, the Mark Goodman “Capital Improvements” Photographs, the Austin (Tex.) Mayor’s Office. Jeffrey M. Friedman Records, the William Robert King Drawings, the Texas Wesleyan Foundation Records, the Pauline A. Pinckney Papers, the Mark Goodman “Capital Improvements” Photographs, the Gloria and Mel Pennington Papers, the Tellez Family Papers, and the Tommy Vasquez Papers. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • The AHC recently acquired records of the Austin Kwill Klub, a women’s literary and social club from the 1920s and 1930s. The acquisition included early meeting minutes and membership rosters of the club and other ephemeral pieces. This acquisition joins an earlier donation of the club’s early scrapbooks.

Exhibits

  • The AHC opened its newest exhibit “Finding Refuge in Austin, 1848-1980” on 2/21. Over 150 people attended the opening event and were treated to a specially designed menu, designed by Chef Uyen Pham of the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, with foods from the refugee communities featured in the exhibit.

Publications & Reference

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in television news stories on KXAN and KEYE, a People’s History in Texas documentary and one other documentary, an interpretive plan for the downtown public squares, an Austin Chronicle story about the Big Boys, a story in
    Authentic Texas
    about Scholz Garten, and upcoming Texas A&M UP books On the Edge of Nothing and the autobiography of William Trenckmann..
  • The critically acclaimed documentary I Am Not Your Negro made use of the AHC’s collections, licensing the use of the iconic picture of Mandy, the mammy to Eula Amelia (Caldwell) Nagle.
  • The AHC recently signed a contract with Arcadia Publishing to support the publication of another book in their series Images of America. This new book will tell the story of the Austin Dam and its impact on the history and development of Austin. More than 100 images were provided for the publication (as well as research support for the author), and this is the fifth book the AHC has partnered with a local author and Arcadia to share the story of Austin with a broader audience.

Upcoming Events

  • April 1. 2:00 pm, AHC. Miles and Miles of Texas book signing and author event
  • April 29, 3:00-5:00 pm, AHC. AHCA Open House and Art Sale.
  • May 9, 6:30 pm, AHC. Book talk with Eddie Wilson about his new memoirs, with a guest musical performance by Jesse Sublett.
  • May 13, 2:30 pm, AHC. AHCA Annual Meeting.

February 2017

Programming & Outreach

  • On January 10 the AHC held a special screening of the new documentary film The Last of the Moonlight Towers. Early interest in the program threatened to overwhelm the AHC, so a 2nd showing was arranged for the same evening. 250-300 people showed up and both showings were standing room only.
  • On January 14, Susan Rittereiser and Mike Miller had a book talk and signing at Book People for the new book, Historic Movie Houses of Austin. One attendee commented, “Very interesting presentation. I learned a lot and enjoyed the format. [Susan] and Mike obviously know [the] material and have a comfortable, pleasant back and forth manner.”
  • All three Community Archivists spoke on a panel at the Diversifying the Digital Historical Record: Integrating Community Archives in National Strategies for Access to Digital Cultural Heritage Forum in New Orleans, LA on January 25.
  • On January 29th Amanda Jasso and LaToya Devezin presented on East Austin history at a Texas Appleseed sponsored event at the Texas Society of Architects. They talked for nearly 2 hours, specifically about Latino and African American Settlement in East Austin.
  • The AHC partnered with the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce and local chefs to present a historical celebration of African American foodways in Central Texas. LaToya created a mini-exhibit using foodways to explore African American economic development in Travis County, TX. The event, called “Taste of Black Austin,” was held on January 31 with over 200 people in attendance.

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 7 collections, the Goeth, Etnyre, and Tips Families Papers, Jackie Goodman City Council Records, Richey, Cunningham and Douglass Families Papers, the Greeting Cards Collection, Larry Murphy Photographs Collection, Third Coast “Faces of Austin” Photograph Collection, and the Elizabeth Ruth Dukes Photograph Album. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • One of the interesting donations received this month was some additional materials, including meeting minutes (1916-1985) and catalogs, for the Walter Tips Company to add to an existing collection. The AHC also received materials from the Stanley Hall estate related to the Austin Ballet Theatre (he was the artistic director) and public schools materials on Friendly R. Rice’s family.

Publications & Reference

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in documentary films about bands the Big Boys and Glass Eye, an upcoming issue of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly, and for a mural display at the Wells Fargo branch on the Drag.

Upcoming Events

  • March 21. 6:30 pm, AHC. “Women in Action” – Women’s History Month program
  • April 1. 2:00 pm, AHC. Miles and Miles of Texas book signing and author event
  • April 29, 3:00-5:00 pm, AHC. AHCA Open House and Art Sale.

January 2017

Programming & Outreach

  • On December 3, the AHC held a book signing and presentation for Historic Movie Houses of Austin, the AHC’s newest publication. The authors, Susan Rittereiser and Mike Miller, spoked about the book and how it came to be. One attendee of the event wrote: “I wanted to let you guys know that I enjoyed the gathering Tuesday night. My friend Lori was thrilled with the book as was I. Thanks again for your efforts.”  Michael Barnes wrote a nice piece about the book in his “Old Austin” feature, appearing both online and in the print version of the Austin American-Statesman. Susan and Mike had a second book signing event at Monkey Wrench Books on December 20.
  • African American Community Archivists LaToya Devezin represented the AHC at the NAACP Dewitty/Overton Banquet on December 3. She created a mini-exhibit and video presentation of Austin NAACP history for event. Over 600 people were in attendance.
  • On December 13, the AHC hosted Texas Monthly Executive Editor Skip Hollandsworth to talk about his recent book, Midnight Assassin. The book chronicles the Servant Girl murders that occurred in Austin in 1884-85. Seventy-five people attended the program and book signing and were entertained with stories, some gruesome and some comical, about this period of Austin’s history.

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 3 collections, the Ethel Brydson Berkley Photograph Collection, the Roger A. Griffin Papers, and the John T. Bowman Papers. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • The AHC received many interesting donations in the last month. Of interest this month was a photo collection from Mark Goodman of 81 photos of the original square mile of Austin taken in the 1980’s for a book called “Capital Improvements.” Asian American Community Archivist Phonshia Nie collected organizational documents and images from Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (to add to their collection) and Indonesian Diaspora Network Chapter Austin (new collection).

Publications & Reference

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in upcoming books Making the Past Less Foreign (Routledge Press) and a planned book on mass shootings, a video documentary on the 110th anniversary of the YWCA, annual reports for McGinnis Lochridge and the Texas Department of Transportation, a story in Curbed magazine, and exhibitions at the Rosenberg Library, Capitol Grill, and the Warfield Center for African American Studies.
  • Processing Archivist Molly Hults had one of the more interesting reference encounters. She was working with Rowena Dasch from Neill Cochran House on research about the cost of building materials in Austin in the 1850s. She managed to find a contract for the first Travis County Courthouse that listed out the price of stone but she needed help reading the cursive writing because the unit of measurement made no sense to her. Figured out the document was referring to a “perch” which was a traditional unit of measurement. She was excited: “Thank you! You’re amazing!”

Upcoming Events

  • January 27. Driskill Hotel. AHCA’s annual Angelina Eberly Luncheon.
  • February 11, TSLAC. 2nd Annual Black Family History Day program.
  • February 19, 2:00 pm, AHC. “Celebrating the Rag” – panel discussion on the 50th anniversary of The Rag.
  • February 21, 6:30 pm, AHC. Opening Reception for “Finding Refuge in Austin” – new exhibit at the AHC.