If you are looking for something to do in Austin this weekend, allow me to make the following recommendation; head to the LBJ Presidential Library and be one of the first people to see the Briscoe Center’s new exhibit, Vietnam: Evidence of War.
The exhibit, which opens tomorrow, promises to be an illuminating experience for those interested in exploring one of the most tragic, destructive and divisive wars in U.S. and South Asian history. Evidence of War has been a year in the making, and I am grateful to all center staff who have assisted in its creation, particularly Lynn Bell and John Wheat who have worked tirelessly since January.
The exhibit’s concept is simple: to present evidence of — not thoughts on or analysis regarding — the war. That means presenting archival materials in ways that neither pass judgment nor provide interpretation. Instead, it is up to viewers to draw their own conclusions. Using more than 30 separate collections from the center’s archives, the exhibit includes original photographs, artifacts and letters, many of which are now unclassified and have never before been publicly displayed.
Central to the exhibit was the use of our News Media History collections, which include the papers of photojournalists and television reporters. Those materials speak to how the war was experienced by the American public and represent a vital resource for historical understanding. Evidence of War includes items drawn from the center’s recently acquired collection of CBS Anchor Bruce Morton’s papers, as well as the archives of Morley Safer, Walter Cronkite and Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalists Eddie Adams and David Hume Kennerly.
I’d also like to point out that the exhibit includes the display of a Medal of Honor. The medal belonged to Army Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez, whose papers are housed at the Briscoe Center. I would like to express my gratitude to Noel Benavidez and the Benavidez family for arranging the loan of the medal for the exhibit.
For those whose scholarly interests are stirred by Evidence of War, please note that you can still come to the center and research our many archival collections related to Vietnam, despite the fact that our renovation is now well underway. For more information on accessing collections during the renovation, please visit the Research section of the center’s website.
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History
P.S. Please join the Briscoe Center and the Friends of the Briscoe–Garner Museum on April 23 for “An Evening in Old Uvalde.” Many thanks are due to the Friends for helping organize this event (which benefits the Briscoe–Garner Museum) and to Dr. Dolph Briscoe IV, who will provide remarks at the reception. For more information on tickets, please visit the event page.