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Michael Barnes was born in Texas and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He writes about Austin’s people, places, culture and history for the Austin American-Statesman.
Indelible Austin: Selected Histories collects several dozen historical columns written by Michael Barnes and originally published by the Austin American-Statesman. The notion of publishing a book grew out of frequent reader requests for a collected version of these stories which have not been covered in standard histories of Austin. The columns connect Old Austin with New Austin and almost always bring the historical record into the present. Themes include the natural settings, built environments, older neighborhoods, ancestral families, park gems, the meeting of politics, cultures and charity, as well as interpretations of how Old and New Austin relate. Stories from African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and the LGBT community are all featured.
Among those who have shared their endorsements of these writings are State Sen. Kirk Watson, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, former Mayor Gus Garcia, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Ben Sargent and prominent preservationists and historians such as Wayne Bell, Kim McKnight, Bob Ward and Lisa Byrd. We recently established a website, IndelibleAustin.com
"When I read a Michael Barnes article, it’s like listening to a great story told by an old friend. It always leaves you informed, entertained and feeling somewhat closer to the Austin community. He is our collective memory." — Bob Ward, Chairman, Travis County Historical Commission
"In a city growing and changing at an ever-escalating pace, Michael Barnes’ pieces stop time and beautifully preserve the spirit and soul that make Austin special. This journalist has become the trusted keeper of our city’s narrative." — Steve Adler, Austin Mayor
"Michael has mined Austin's rich history for colorful stories that help us understand — and more fully appreciate — the community we are today." — Kirk Watson, Texas State Senator
"I always look forward to reading Michael’s columns because, besides being very insightful, they are very thoughtful.” — Gus Garcia, former Mayor of Austin
"I’ve enjoyed reading Michael Barnes' columns because, in this fast-changing city, you rarely encounter the city’s history beyond what new sky-rise was built yesterday. These columns give us the back story that is so often lost." — Lisa Byrd, Executive Director, African American Cultural Heritage District Austin
"Stories and collective memory are the foundation of families, cities and societies, and Michael Barnes' thoroughly and lovingly researched stories of Austin give the rank newcomer and the old settler alike a sense of context and their place in the rich and complex tapestry of our city's past." — Ben Sargent, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist
"Few people capture the story of Austin like Michael Barnes. By bringing us stories that have not yet been told, his work deepens our understanding of the places and people that make Austin a place like no other." — Kim McKnight, Preservation Planner and Cultural Resources Specialist, City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department
"Michael Barnes brought a new perspective to the readers of the American-Statesman with his inventive writing about Austin's past, which he expertly incorporates with current events. He provides insight into the fabric and fact of the city he loves with immaculate skill." — Wayne Bell, retired, University of Texas School of Architecture and Texas Historical Commission