I’m pleased to announce that the Briscoe Center is accepting applications for the 2020 Smith Travel Awards through April 3. Five awards are given each year to assist masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral students with travel costs to UT Austin. Each award enables a non-UT student from outside the Austin area to conduct in-depth research in the Briscoe Center’s holdings. Not only do travel awards help individual students who need to utilize the center’s collections, they also help raise awareness of the center’s incredible archival resources in the wider academic world.
While we’re on the subject of awards, I’m pleased to see my friend Steve Northup will be honored on March 7 by the National Press Photographer’s Association. Steve covered the Vietnam War in 1965 and 1966 for United Press International before working for the Washington Post and Time magazine. In March, he will receive the John Durniak Mentor Award, which is given to an individual who has served as an outstanding photojournalism mentor. The Briscoe Center is privileged to be the permanent home of Steve’s life work.
I’d also like recognize the recent work of Ivan and Elliot Schwartz, the talented founders of StudioEIS in Brooklyn, New York. StudioEIS is an internationally renowned sculpture-design studio whose archives are housed at the Briscoe Center. The studio remains very active. Recently (and to much acclaim) they unveiled statues of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass in the Maryland State House. The statues depict their subjects as they would have looked in 1864. “This doesn’t change the past, but it does begin to open a room with a different view,” said Ivan at the statue’s unveiling. He then thanked the Maryland legislature for its “bold act of civic engagement.” I couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to Ivan and Elliot, whose work and archives continue to educate and inspire.
Finally, I want to thank the Jack Brooks Foundation for their generous support of our new digital humanities project, which will digitize a large selection from the Jack Brooks Papers. After being selected and digitized, the documents will be made available in a searchable, online repository.Brooks, who died in 2012, was a native of Beaumont, Texas, and a World War II veteran. He represented much of Southeast Texas between 1953 and 1995, working with ten different presidents. Brooks gained a reputation for his cigar-chomping candor during committee hearings on Capitol Hill. He was one of only eleven southern congressmen to vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Ten years later, he was a central figure in the effort to impeach President Richard Nixon. I’m excited this project is now underway. Ultimately it will make a host of important primary source documents accessible for online historical research. I am confident that together we will create an outstanding digital resource for teachers, historians, and others who want to know more about “one of the most influential congressmen you’ve never heard of” (to quote the foundation’s biography of Brooks, The Meanest Man in Congress).
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History