A belated Happy New Year from the Briscoe Center! 2015 has gotten off to a quick start in three ways.
First, the Antiques Roadshow recently aired an episode that featured items from the center’s Willie Nelson Collection. The roadshow came to Austin last summer, and it was great to have them on campus. Check with your local PBS station for information about repeat airing of the show.
Second, the center’s Spider Martin exhibit, currently on display at our Research and Collections division on campus, has been in the news amid the release of the movie Selma. The exhibit displays Martin’s images of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights marches from 1965, some of which were used by Selma‘s filmmakers for historical reference. Despite the heated debate around the film’s accuracy, I’m glad that the Briscoe Center’s resources are doing what they are supposed to do—preserving evidence that fosters exploration of our nation’s past.
Third, the Austin American-Statesman recently used the center’s collections for an in-depth treatment on the father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin. You can read the article online here. It’s another outstanding example of the continuing appeal of the Moses and Stephen F. Austin Papers in the realm of public history.
The center’s ability to not only collect and preserve historic treasures, but to also make them available, is what makes supporting our efforts so worthwhile. With that in mind, I want to ask you to consider contributing to the center’s annual fund.
The annual fund allows the center to be both forceful and nimble in the market for archival collections. A recent example of this is a recently acquired 1847 letter by then future president Zachary Taylor.
The letter, written by Taylor in Monterey, Mexico, to his employee Thomas Ringgold in Natchez, joins others in our collections penned by early presidents including Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and Van Buren. The letter connects collections already here at the center from the Rio Grande to the Mississippi. Without the help of unrestricted funds, we would not have been able to move so quickly and assertively.
I want to thank Dan and Penny Burck for chairing this year’s Annual Fund campaign. Please join them in giving generously so the Briscoe Center has the resources it needs to respond to unique opportunities like the Zachary Taylor letter.
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History