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2020 Reports

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

AHC Director’s Report

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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.

 

October 2020

Programming & Outreach

  • On September 26, Asian Pacific American Community Archivist Ayshea Khan presented Perlas ng Austin Virtual Pista, in collaboration with the Austin Filipino American Association and Asian American Resource Center. This was a virtual pre-recorded event attended by 122 and positively received: “On behalf of the AFAA organizing team, I would like to thank you for your phenomenal support in producing our virtual event. We could have not done it without your collaborative expertise of putting it all together. It was greatly enjoyed by Filipino community; they learned a lot more of our Filipino heritage.” – Susan Fifer, longtime Filipino community member and past President of the Austin Filipino American Association

 

Collections

  • The COVID-19 Files project continues to bring in new materials. During September there were 2 donations totaling 18 files.
  • AHC staff finished processing 3 collections, the Ziller Family Papers, the American Association of University Women, Austin Branch Records, and the Austin Public Health Records. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • AHC received 10+ linear feet of news clippings, correspondence, photographs, sketches, drawings, artifacts, film, audio, and video recordings to add to the Ramon Galindo Video Collection (AR.2009.050). Galindo, who passed away in June of this year, was a Mexican American magician, historian, videographer, and WWII veteran who resided in Austin for most of his life.
  • AHC staff conducted two oral history interviews in September: one with local author and filmmaker Owen Egerton and the second with Alice Yi, longtime Chinese community member, founder of Austin chapter of Asian Pacific American Policy & Affairs, and chair of Austin Asian Complete Count Committee

 

Reference

  • The AHC’s expanded reference and e-document delivery service continues for September. We received 119 requests and completed 120 of them this month, delivering 2982 scanned items. Customers are very thankful that we started this service. Comments we have received this month:
  • I am a long-time user and fan of the Austin History Center from back in the early days of reading microfiche on the big crank machine. The resources and staff have always been excellent. Our most recent experiences, however, have exceeded even my high expectations. My principal and I reached out for help through the AHC website, and Kelly Hanus responded with resources and additional information within hours. Highland Park's campus Equity committee realized we needed to understand our own neighborhood and school history of segregation and racism before we could begin to address these issues with our students. Kelly researched and shared a variety of primary source materials that are enabling us to develop powerful social studies lessons for students across the grade levels. This work would not have been possible without the Austin History Center collection and Kelly's willingness to continue digging as we asked additional questions. We are grateful for the shared treasures and the impact they will have on student understanding and perspective.
  • During this time AHC staff helped with research on 2 news stories for KVUE news; new Historic Design Standards for the city’s Historic Preservation Office; an upcoming book about Juneteenth by State House Press; a story about Aqua Fest for the Statesman; a KUT/Texas Standard story about Asian Americans in Austin; and a short film by AIA Austin Women in Architecture called “A Violet Horizon.”

 

Staff

  • Asian Family Support Services of Austin selected Asian Pacific American community archivist Ayshea Khan as a recipient of a 2020 Lotus Award. Lotus Awards recognize excellence in service, professionalism, and innovation in finding solutions to serving immigrant and Asian survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The AFFSA “recognized your leadership and vision in creating Saheli: The Courage to Be. Your historical tribute to our founding sisters and origin story, oral histories, panel discussion, and archival exhibit at the AARC lifts up our community’s continued effort to break the cycle of violence. Your work in curating and exhibiting Saheli: The Courage to Be truly reflects AFSSA’s values of Prevention, Advocacy, Responsiveness, and Transformation; you’re truly doing your PART to join with AFSSA and lift up the power of our people.”

September 2020

Programming & Outreach

  • Asian Pacific American Community Archivist Ayshea Khan presented “Uplifting Asian American Voices Amid Covid-19” at the 2020 Society of American Archivists virtual conference.

 

Collections

  • The COVID-19 Files project continues to bring in new materials. During August there were 6 donations totaling 8 files. The project was featured in an article in Wired magazine at the end of the month that may generate a surge in new donations.
  • AHC staff finished processing 1 collection, the Housewife Papers and Recordings Collection. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • AHC received nearly 2 gigabytes of digital records created by the Austin Asian Complete Count Committee (AACCC). Included are marketing materials, event recordings, and meeting minutes from February to July 2020 documenting the work of AACCC in ensuring the census count of Austin's Asian American and Pacific Islander American communities.

Reference

  • The AHC’s expanded reference and e-document delivery service continues for August and is very popular. We received 120 requests and completed 100 of them this month, delivering 1812 scanned items. Customers are very thankful that we started this service. Comments we have received this month:
  • I’ll take this opportunity to say thank you to you and the Austin History Center for your help with “Citizens at Last”.  Nancy, Michelle, Daniel, Karen and I could not do this film without our archivists, and we’re especially grateful for how you’ve been able to continue to help during the pandemic.
  • Thank you so very much!!! I'm going through all the documents you sent me now. I'm really so impressed with the Austin History Center. This has been a phenomenal service.
  • During this time AHC staff helped with research on a Good Day Austin news story about Dorothy Turner’s daughter on Fox 7 News, an upcoming book about Dave Hickey, the Preservation Austin historic homes tour, and for a Texas Observer story about suffrage.

April 2020

Programming & Outreach

  • On March 7, the AHC’s Community Archivists hosted “Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves” self-care salon. Thirty women attended the event, including one attendee who remarked: “Connecting as people and sharing our stories is such an important part of my healing and growth and I'm grateful for the space that was created here. I'd like to see more events related to healing and to histories related to communities of color in Austin.”
  • On March 30, the AHC started crowdsourcing documentation of life in Austin during the COVID-19 pandemic and acquired 9 donations the first day after the digital submission form opened. The project, “COVID-19 Files: Austin Responds to a Pandemic,” is a community gathering point for stories, art, and other shared experiences of this unprecedented event. https://library.austintexas.gov/covid-19-files.

 

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 5 collections, the Ann Hudspeth Photographs Collection, Saheli Records, the Charles and Fanny Norman Papers, the Bridgette Beinecke Papers, and the Neal Spelce Communications Records. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • The AHC acquired 3 linear feet of programs, posters, notes, correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia documenting local African American musician Beulah Agnes Curry Jones, who was Dean Emeritus of Fine Arts and Music at Huston-Tillotson University and active in Austin's community at large. We also brought in 3 linear feet of posters, creative work, audiovisual materials, and correspondence documenting local Latinx artist, actor, musician, and dancer Leticia Rodriguez.

 

Exhibits

 

Reference

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in a Fox 7 news story about Lady Bird Johnson, suffrage exhibits at the Houston Heritage Society and the UT School of Law, an Austin Monthly story about the Zilker Zephyr, and a new biography of Dr. Alberto Garcia.
  • A woman from South Carolina called the Reading Room phone on March 10 to ask if there was a way to search the Austin newspapers for an event that happened in 1957 or 1958 where Congress Avenue closed a few blocks for a hula hoop contest. She was a little kid at the time and won the contest! After the article was found and sent to her, she replied, “You just made my day! My friend told me ‘why don’t you go to the archives’, and today I went to the archives and you found it for me!”

Grants

  • The AHC submitted 2 grant requests in partnership with the AHCA. The first was a TexTreasures application to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to digitize a portion of the Austin American-Statesman photo collection, focusing on how the paper represented Austin’s communities of color. The second request was to Humanities Texas for adding a community led oral history component to the the La Musica Chicana project.

March 2020

Programming & Outreach

  • The AHC participated in two events at the Thinkery in February. The first was the February 6 Thinkery 21 event, led by Audiovisual Archivist Afsheen Nomai. The second was a Genealogy pop-up hosted by African American Community Archivist kYmberly Keeton at the Black Heritage Community Night on February 19.
  • On February 12, Latinx Community Archivist Marina Islas presented 3 participatory archives workshops at the LASA Culture Fest facilitating discussions on the History of Social Activism in Austin. Students were excited to engage with Austin's history in these new ways and were grateful to learn more about their home.
  • On February 15 the AHC presented “Jane Smoot: educator, citizen historian, and Austin icon” in partnership with the Flower Hill Museum/Foundation. The program offered insights into the legacy of the Smoot family, and Jane Smoot in particular, on Austin. Many of her former students were in attendance.
  • On February 20, the Asian American Community Archivist Ayshea Khan co-hosted, with the AARC, an exhibit panel and Asian Family Support Services of Austin anniversary reception to coincide with the exhibit “Courage to Be: An Evening Celebrating Saheli.”

 

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 3 collections, the Hegman and Crow Family Papers, the Allendale Neighborhood Association Records, and the Asaf Sagi HOPE Outdoor Gallery Photographs and Video Recordings. The finding aids are available online at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • The AHC acquired a donation of around 150 film reels and video tapes from longtime Austin resident and activist Shudde Fath that includes both home movies and hunting and fishing videos. Her husband Conrad Fath ran a fishing gear and bait shop on Barton Springs Road. These A/V items were added to the Shudde Fath Papers (AR.2001.004). We also received 120 digital images and 16 video recordings from photographer Asaf Sagi documenting the HOPE Outdoor Gallery on Baylor Street in April 2018.

 

Exhibits

  • The AHC contributed a companion exhibit to the national “This Light of Ours” photo exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. As a special addition to the exhibition while it is in Austin, the Bullock Museum included more than a dozen additional images representing activism and protest in Austin's own local history. The content was originally developed by the AHC as part of our exhibition “Taking It to the Streets: A Visual History of Protest and Demonstration in Austin.” The exhibit opened February 15 and will be up through May 31.

 

Reference

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in Fox 7 news story about Volma Overton, various history stories in the Statesman by Michael Barnes, an upcoming documentary about Women’s suffrage “Citizens at Last,” the upcoming book Splendid Fidelity by the Museum of Modern Art, an interactive oral history and mapping project on the Brown Berets by Texas State University, and for public display at the Carver Museum and Colton House Hotel. We also helped a researcher involved in a legal case prove that her grade school in Travis County really existed as well as help an engineer from Watershed research the city’s historic efforts to address flooding on Little Shoal Creek.

 

Upcoming Programs

  • April 4, 2020. 3:00 pm, AHC. Austin Postcard history program and book event.
  • April 27, 2020, 6:00 pm, AHC. Hip Hop Grew Up – author event.
  • May 12, 2020. 6:30 pm, AHC. Center for Asian American Studies Anniversary Exhibit opening.
  • June 27, 2020. 1:00 pm. ACE. Cast from the Plast: Introducing Elisabet Ney’s Art
  • June 30, 2020, 6:30 pm. AHC. Opening reception for Elisabet Ney exhibit

February 2020

Programming & Outreach

  • Head of Public Services Nancy Toombs presented a talk about the Moonlight Towers to a social organization, PEO at Westminster Manor on January 17th. There were 14 in attendance.
  • On January 18, Latinx Community Archivist Marina Islas facilitated lessons on social movements in Austin for two groups of students during Academia Cuauhtli. Students did a gallery walk around the room to observe photos from our archives displaying various protests and demonstrations held in Austin. They were asked to choose their favorite photo and discuss why they chose what they chose. Students and adult volunteers were surprised to learn that the photos were taken in Austin and that the people in the photos are still alive and politically active today. Students were then shown examples of historic political buttons (artifacts from the AHC archives). We then used a button machine so students could make their own buttons with messages that are important to them.

 

Collections

  • AHC staff finished processing 6 collections, the Irene Gonzales Papers, the Mary Gay Maxwell Papers, the Philip Spertus Austin Jewish Community Center Records, the Rick Piltz Papers, the Los Outsiders "Drawing Lines" Public Art Project Photograph Collection, and the Jacob Peter Schneider Photograph Collection. The finding aids are available online at:  http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_ahc1.html.
  • The AHC acquired a large print of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Grand Opening, May 1999 (by artist Mary Doerr) with an inscription to City Manager Jesus Garza from Airport Project Manager John Almond to add to the Austin (Tex.). Aviation Department Records (AR.1996.025).
  • Staff completed oral history recordings of architect Lawrence Speck, part of the ongoing Architecture Oral History project, and Phillip Spertus, one of the leaders of the Austin Jewish Community Plan. 

 

Exhibits

  • On January 10, the AHC, in partnership with the Asian American Resource Center, opened “Courage to Be: The Saheli Story.” This exhibit explores the history of how Saheli, an anti-domestic violence community group, has worked to pursue a cycle of peace and become the first organization of its kind in the U.S. South to serve the Asian community. 
  • On January 30, opened the newest exhibit in the Holt Gallery, “Our Community, Our Voice: Photographs from The Villager Newspaper.” The exhibit presents a selection of photographs from The Villager Newspaper Photograph Collection (AR.2001.002) that capture local community members in striking images, illustrating the vibrancy of Austin’s black population. Marching bands, community leaders, theater groups, protests, musicians, churches, and neighborhood groups portray life in black Austin through the decades.

 

Reference

  • Research was conducted at the AHC and photos from the AHC were purchased for use in a KXAN story about the Zilker Zephyr; Statesman stories and columns about Texas history by Michael Barnes; an Austin Chronicle story about the history of Austin’s LGBTQIA community; for public display in the new Municipal Court building, and for the 145th anniversary of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

 

Upcoming Programs

  • March 7, 2020, 10:00 am. Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves.
  • March 22, 2020. 3:00pm, ACE. Book event with Sen. Kirk Watson.
  • April 4, 2020. 3:00 pm, AHC. Austin Postcard history program and book event.
  • May 12, 2020. 6:30 pm, AHC. Center for Asian American Studies Anniversary Exhibit opening.
  • May 13, 2020, 10:00 am. Asian American Resource Center. Asian American Digitization Day.
  • June 27, 2020. 1:00 pm. ACE. Cast from the Plast: Introducing Elisabet Ney’s Art
  • June 30, 2020, 6:30 pm. AHC. Opening reception for Elisabet Ney exhibit
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