Last week, the center announced the donation of Village Voice investigative journalist Wayne Barrett’s papers. I want to thank the Barrett family for their generous gift. Along with the papers of other journalists—including Jules Witcover and Barrett’s colleague Jack Newfield—the center’s archival holdings related to investigative reporting are emerging as an important collection strength. The same is also true for magazine and column-based journalism—the papers of Terry McDonell, Liz Smith, and Walter Winchellare at the forefront of those efforts.
The center will continue to build these collection strengths in addition to more established fields such as photojournalism and television and radio-based news. Together these collections identify the Briscoe Center as a national leader in the preservation of news media archives, a theme we’ll be showcasing this fall with our new exhibit, Inside 60 Minutes: The Pioneers Who Changed Television. The exhibit, which is still in production, will feature audiovisual, documentary, and artifact material from the collections of the former CBS producers and correspondents who worked on the groundbreaking television news magazine and whose papers are at the Briscoe Center. Together, they will create a behind-the-scenes look at how 60 Minutes investigated, interpreted, and presented some of the most pressing issues of the day. More information will follow in the next issue of our e-newsletter.
Summer on campus is marked by preparation for the fall semester, and that’s true here at the Briscoe Center as well. Currently, we are de-installing Struggle for Justice (for which we’ll be issuing a commemorative catalog) and designing The Pioneers who Changed Television. The Reading room remains open and busy as researchers come to visit. I’m proud to share the following note from Seth Tannenbaum, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Temple University, who received one of the center’s Smith Travel awards in May.
“Without the award funds I would not have been able to afford visiting the Briscoe Center and would not have been able to incorporate the fantastic material I found into my dissertation,” writes Seth. “I also able to make use of center collections unavailable to me on the east coast to better understand the Civil Rights Movement. In short, the Smith Travel Award has significantly improved my dissertation.” Seth’s note is a reminder of how giving to the Briscoe Center directly assists the university’s teaching mission, the experience of individual students, and can enhance the quality of historical scholarship across the country.
Summer is also a great time to visit the center’s divisions around the state. Winedale is home to an unparalleled collection of Texas furniture and decorative arts spread across several restored 19th-century buildings. Located between Austin and Houston in Fayette County, tours are available by appointment. The Sam Rayburn Museum in Bonham was founded by “Mr. Sam” himself in 1957. In addition to housing his extensive personal library, the museum includes permanent exhibits that document Rayburn’s record-breaking tenure as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as an exact replica of his Capitol office. Finally, the Briscoe-Garner Museum in Uvalde is dedicated to two giants of Texas politics. The first floor of the museum, which was the home of U.S. Vice President John Nance Garner, contains exhibits related to his time in Uvalde, Austin, and Washington, D.C. In 2015, the second floor of the museum was opened and dedicated to the life and career of Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe Jr.
The center also continues to update its 1968 web exhibit. The summer of that fateful year was marked by the June assassination of Robert Kennedy while he campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination. The same month, Resurrection City was forcibly closed down in Washington, D.C. Then in July, Flip Schulke documented the Prague Spring, a period of fleeting liberalization, 10 days before Soviet tanks rolled in to Czechoslovakia and ushered in a period of “normalization.” The summer of ’68 ended with chaos at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the subject of next month’s entry on the site. In the next edition of the e-newsletter, I’ll be announcing information about the center’s fall programs, which will include a discussion of 1968. Stay tuned!
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History