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2018 Reports

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

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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.  Miller writes, speaks and consults about Austin history, managing local history collections, and preservation of historical materials.


May 2018

Awards 

  • The Community Archives Program of the AHC is the recipient of the 2018 Diversity Award from the Society of American Archivists. The award recognizes outstanding contributions in advancing diversity within the archives profession, SAA, or the archival record. Latinx Community Archivist Amanda Jasso will be accepting the award on behalf of the AHC at the Society’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., in August.

Programming & Outreach

  • On April 10, Asian American Community Archivist Ayshea Khan, Latinx
    Community Archivist Amanda Jasso, and AHC Manager gave a webinar on
    community engagement in archives for Community Webs project, an IMLS funded program to train public librarians on documenting community websites.
  • The AHC created a small exhibit and staffed a booth at the Thinkery 21 “Sips and Sounds” event on April 12. The AHC’s booth promoted the local music archives of the Center, especially the Austin Music Network and the AHC’s YouTube channel.

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 4 collections, the Emily Numbers Papers, the
    Stephanie Jarvis "The African American Presence on Robertson Hill" Research Files, the Thomson Family Papers, and the Whitis Family Papers. Staff also added materials to the Performing Arts Collection, the Bell, Klein & Hoffman Records, the Grooms Addition Collection, and the Westwood Country Club Records. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html .
  •  The AHC recently acquired a collection of glass plate negatives that were found in an old photo studio on Congress Avenue. The collection dates from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, and the donor of the collection also made a monetary donation that will allow us to have the images scanned and added to our holdings on the Portal to Texas History.

Exhibits

  • The AHC opened its newest exhibit, “We’ll Just Rock For Ourselves: Selections from the Lisa Davis Photograph Archive.” The exhibit presents photographs from the Lisa Davis Photograph Archive (AR.2011.022) that document the lesbian musicians and LGBTQ activists of the 1990s. The title is taken from a Power Snatch song titled “No Thanks (We’ll Just Rock For Ourselves),” which was written in response to the song “Intellectuals Rocking for Women” by the all-male band the Pocket FishRmen. 75 people attended the opening reception on April 24, which included a musical performance by Gretchen Phillips.

Publications & Reference 

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in an upcoming book Postcards of Austin Through 1970, a documentary film about slavery in America (“Slavery Routes”), and a KXAN news story. AHC staff also helped the Center for Architecture in Austin for an upcoming exhibit “Never Built Texas.

  • The AHC continues to receive a lot of questions about Confederate monuments and street and school names, both as a result of recent Council decisions to rename streets and work by Amanda Jasso supporting the city’s Equity Action Team study of city property with Confederate names/memorials. Amanda presented her research on this topic to the Equity team on April 20.

Upcoming Programming

  • June 9, 2:00pm, AHC. “Courage, Charm, and Character” – program about First
    Ladies of Texas, in partnership with the Daughters of the American Revolution.

  • July 7, 3:00pm, AHC. Panel discussion on Austin’s LGBTQ Music history.

  •  August 18, 2:00 pm, AHC. Author program with Chuck Parsons and Tom Bicknell,
    authors of new biography of Austin City Marshall Ben Thompson.

  • September 23, time TBD, AHC. Austin Museum Day

  •  October 28, 2:00-6:00pm, Saengerrunde Hall. Austin Archives Bazaar.


April 2018

Awards 

  • Austin History Center has received TripExpert's 2018 Experts' Choice Award , based on over 1 million reviews from 85 leading travel guides, magazines and newspapers.

Programming & Outreach

  • On March 3 the AHC hosted “The Austin Dam Disaster of 1900.”
  • The AHCA and the AHC held an open house and art sale in honor of the AHC
    building’s 85 th birthday on March 25.
  •  On March 30 the AHC held a program featuring the photography of “Texas” Bill Leissner. The AHC anticipates acquiring Leissner’s photo archive in the near future and plans to hold an exhibit of his work in 2019.
  • Curator of Archives Susan Rittereiser and Community Archivists Amanda Jasso and Ayshea Khan presented “Celebrating Women’s Herstory” for Women’s History Month at the Millwood Branch on March 27.
  • Latin/x Community Archivist Amanda Jasso gave 3 presentations at 3 separate events that gave a general overview of African American, Asian American and Mexican American settlement and forced migration throughout history, with some emphasis onland use, code, and zoning policy. The groups she presented to were: 3/2 @ AARC – COA Mentor & Tutor Department Reps (25 attendees); 3/21 @ Austin Energy on Meinardus – Cohort #2 of department reps going through the Equity Assessment Tool
    (60 attendees); and 3/22 @ Austin Energy Barton Springs – COA Mentors and Tutors (cut off at 80 attendees).
  •  Records Analyst Jenna Cooper gave 2 presentations: one to the Rotary Club (3/14) on several “weird” historic Austinites, and a second to the Officers’ Wives Club (3/23) on Elisabet Ney.
  • Manager Mike Miller presented on the “Embattled Birth of Austin” for the annualUT-SAGE luncheon on March 1.

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 3 collections, the Austin Alliance for Smooth
    Transition Records, the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival Records, and the von Rosenberg Family Papers (580 items). Staff also added materials to Sinclair Black Papers. The finding aids are available online at:
    http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html .
  • The AHC recently acquired a couple different additions to the O. Henry collection. The AHCA acquired a rare inscribed 1 st edition of O/ Henry’s first book, Cabbages and Kings. O. Henry signed very few copies of his books. The AHC also received a donaton of a bas-relief sculpture of O. Henry from Judge Trueman O’Quinn’s son. Judge O’Quinn’s collection comprises the bulk of the O. Henry collection.

Exhibits

  • The AHC exhibit “Play Ball: Austin and the Great American Pastime” was recently installed at the Oak Hill branch library.

Publications & Reference 

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in television news stories about the 1928 City Plan, for the ongoing documentary project Living Springs, for a Washington Post story, and for an upcoming exhibit at the Bullock State History Museum. Staff also worked closely with Council member Flanagan’s office and APD’s PIO office to determine the first woman to graduate from the Austin police academy.
  • Processing Archivist Molly Hults started creating quick topical subject guides within Biblio commons for current topic of local interest to promote AHC as relevant in current debates - Affordable/Fair Housing done (https://bit.ly/2GzWDOl); working with Amanda on a Historic City Planning one for her to use in presentations.
  • Amanda Jasso continues to assist Nadia Kalinchuk, the SPOC for Resolution 1946 regarding Confederate monument removal. This research is meant to supply
    educational support and context to landmarks, parks, buildings, and monuments
    named in honor of individuals who owned slaves, served in the Confederacy, and/or who were segregationists.
  •  The AHC was heavily used for the recently released Our Austin Story: Interpreting Austin’s Historic Squares and Congress Avenue, an interpretative plan for Austin’s downtown squares and Congress commissioned by the Downtown Austin Alliance. Mike Miller served on the Steering Committee for the project.

Events

  • April 24, 6:30pm, AHC. Opening Reception for “We’ll Just Rock for Ourselves”
    exhibit. Music by Gretchen Phillips.

  • May 1, 3:00pm, AHC. Indian American Coalition of Texas and the Austin Pune
    Sister City Initiative.

  • May 6, 2:00pm, AHC. Austin History Center Association Annual Meeting

  •  May 8, 6:30 pm, AHC. Meet the Author: Ken Roberts, Cedar Choppers: Life on the
    Edge of Nothing.

  • May 9, 7:00pm, AHC. Managing Your Personal Archive. (Tech Connect/Digital
    Inclusion Week)

  •  May 10, 6:00pm, ANV. Exploring the AHC’s Digital Photo Collections. (Tech
    Connect/Digital Inclusion Week)

  • May 19, time TBD, Asian American Resource Center. Meet the Archivist Day @
    AARC.

  • June 9, 2:00pm, AHC. “Courage, Charm, and Character” – program about First
    Ladies of Texas, in partnership with the Daughters of the American Revolution.


March 2018

Programming & Outreach

  • On February 1 st , Asst. Manager Nancy Toombs talked to the San Gabriel Writer’s League about the AHC resources. There were 16 in attendance and she received very positive responses, as well as a donation to the AHC of $75.
  •  Archives Media Specialist Grace McEvoy and Exhibits Coordinator Steve Schwolert were interviewed on KOOP radio about the exhibit Clearing Stones, Sowing Seeds on Feb 5th on the Austin Artists show.
  •  On February 8 the AHC created a program for the Thinkery21 event, “Sounds and Sips,” where we showcased videos from our Austin Music Network Collection, photographs of musicians, a cutout with a prominent musician, and rare formats. 
  •  On February 25, the AHC hosted a program with the O. Henry Players and Brush
    Square Museum Foundation. The Foundation held its annual business meeting, which included a brief presentation about recent acquisitions to the O. Henry collection by AHC Manager Mike Miller. Following the business meeting, the O. Henry Players presented a radio play reading of “A Double-Dyed Deceiver.”

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 3 collections, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Records, the Pentagram Design Inc. PechaKucha Austin Posters Collection, and the O. Henry, In Prison and Out Scrapbook. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  •  The AHC recently acquired early meeting minutes and event handbills of the Capital City Coin Club and received 7 additional scrapbooks to add to the Violet Crown Garden Club records.

Publications & Reference 

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in TV news stories about Mueller airport, African American history of Austin, and Prohibition, stories in upcoming issues of Time Out Austin and Stripes: The Journal of the Texas Genealogical Society, and upcoming books about former city Marshall Ben Thompson and the Texas Youth Commission. Additionally, we answered many questions related to monuments, landmarks, and street names named after Confederate soldiers, primarily through Latin/x Community Archivist Amanda  Jasso’s efforts assisting the city with investigating these memorails, and assisted CapMetro to help provide context on Plaza Saltillo. CapMetro has a goal of “beautifying” the area, in part with historical content, while major development occurs around the area.

AHCA

  • The AHCA held its annual fundraiser, the Angelina Eberly Luncheon, on Friday, Feb. 2 with 275 attendees. The program featured a discussion about the Driskill Hotel, including an incredible public testimonial about the Austin History Center from Luci Baines Johnson, one of the panelists: “For those of you who may think that the Austin History Center is just something that is esoterically important, …I’m saying you’d be surprised how relevant it can be in your life. It sure has been in mine.”


February 2018

Programming & Outreach

  • On January 9, Latinx Community Archivist Amanda Jasso gave a presentation on the history of Austin land code and land use policies, with a particular emphasis on how these policies encouraged racial segregation. This presentation was made in conjunction with the COA Equity Office’s 2-day workshop on CodeNEXT to a mixed audience of community leaders, members of the CodeNEXT drafting committee, Planning and Zoning staff, and CMO staff (about 80 total). The presentation was well received, encouraged challenging conversations, and she received many follow up questions, both about land code and the History Center in general.
  • On January 9 the AHC hosted a program with local author Monte Akers, speaking about his new book on the Driskill Hotel, published by the AHCA’s Waterloo Press.
  • On January 9, AHC Manager Mike Miller gave a presentation to the UT-LAMP
    lifelong learning institute program. Mike spoke about O. Henry to an audience of 188 LAMP members.
  • On January 13, Mike Miller participated as a speaker in the inaugural ATXelerator program created by the Center for Austin’s Future. The program is designed to prepare Austinites considering running for elected office or serving on a City Board or Commission. Mike gave an overview of Austin’s history, with an emphasis on political and economic issues, for the 40 program participants.
  •  The AHC held the program Legends and Lore of the Texas Capitol on January 14. Local author Mike Cox regaled an audience of 45 with interesting tidbits and amusing stories of the Capitol building and its importance to Austin and Texas.
  • On January 20, Amanda Jasso and Processing Archivist Molly Hults participated as speakers in the Breaking Library Silos for Social Justice 1-day conference/workshop. About 60 professional librarians and archivists were in attendance for the event.There was a particular emphasis on community archives and a movement towards a more inclusive workplace and collection representation.
  • On January 23 Mike Miller spoke to 45 high school students from Westwood High School about the importance of history and historical literacy, careers in the history field, and Austin history.

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 12 collections, the Comanche Baptist Church Ledger, the Davis Family Papers, the Jessen and Collett Family Papers, the Thompson Family Papers, the James M. Coleman Papers, the Live Wire Productions Records, the Austin (Tex.). Volunteer Fire Department Records, the Woods and Griffin Family Papers, the Kealing Junior High School Records, the Anderson High School Records, the George C. Hawley Papers, and the Travis County Poor Farm Ledger. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • The AHC recently acquired the organizational records of the now defunct Discovery Hall Science Center, a children’s science museum that operated in Austin in the 1980s and 1990s.

Exhibits 

  • The AHC opened its newest exhibit, “Clearing Stones, Sowing Seeds: Photographs
    from the Travis County Negro Extension Service” on February 6. Over 60 people
    attended the opening reception. The photographs, taken between 1940 and 1964,
    document the variety of services and educational programs offered by the Extension Service, including animal husbandry, crafts, domestic education, gardening and agriculture, and home improvement. The exhibit runs through April 15.
  •  The AHC created a small exhibit, “Peter Mansbendel: Unsung Austin Artist, 1883-
    1940,” about local artist Peter Mansbendel for the 5 th floor of the Central Library. The exhibit highlights some of the interesting Mansbendel items from the AHC collections.

Publications & Reference 

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in historic preservation work on the Nalle Plastics building, for the cover story for the Feb. 2018 issue of Austin Lawyer, an upcoming book on the Tricentennial of San Antonio, an upcoming documentary film about the Umlauf Gardens, and a series historic murals at various Wells Fargo branches around town.

January 2018

Programming & Outreach

  • On December 5 the AHC hosted a program celebrating the 40th birthday of Esther’s Follies and the release of their new book. Author Jesse Sublett and a handful of members of the Esther’s comedy troupe shared stories of the Follies over its history to a crowd of 50 people.
  • On December 15, Latin/x Community Archivist Amanda Jasso gave a presentation to the city’s Equity Action Team about Confederate monuments in Austin. Amanda has been active on the city team investigating the status of confederate memorials in the city.

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 7 collections, the David Thomson Emo's Poster
    Collection, the Lewis Hancock Harvard College Scrapbook, the Austin State Official Ladies Club Records, the Manda Common School District Number 25 Record Books, the Austin Bible Society Meeting Minutes, the Wilhelmine Sheffield Papers, and the Mary Ella Wallis Scrapbooks. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • The AHC recently acquired 17 PechaKucha Austin Nights posters designed by
    Pentagram Design and an audio recording of Sam Quintanilla telling a ghost story. In addition, we received a donation of a video related to the UT Theater Stand-Ins produced by the People’s History of Texas.

Publications & Reference

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in a new book from Texas A&M University Press, The Cedar Choppers: Life on the Edge of Nothing, about the cedar choppers who settled just west of Austin in the mid-19th century. Also, authors of upcoming books about Barton Creek and the Austin music scene made us of the AHC collections