Earlier this month, the center was given official approval to begin work on the renovation of its Research and Collections division in Sid Richardson Hall. Construction will begin in March, and the new space (complete with new reading and seminar rooms as well an exhibit hall and gallery) will open in early 2017.
The renovation represents the next step in the evolution of the center into a world-class resource for the exploration of American history. However, on a practical level, it means some disruption for students and researchers over the coming year.
Throughout most of 2016, the center’s reading room in Sid Richardson Hall will be closed, and the center’s public service operations moved to the LLILAS Benson Latin American Collection in Sid Richardson Hall Unit 1. In terms of location and layout, I anticipate minimal disruption for research visits. However there will be changes to the amount of material a researcher can request at one time. As we move forward, I very much appreciate your patience and feedback.
For more information visit our renovation page.
During the renovation, the center will continue to acquire collections, publish books, present exhibits, and organize public programs. For example, this November sees the release of Selma 1965, a beautiful, moving book that brings together a unique set of civil rights photographs for the first time in one volume. On March 7, 1965, James “Spider” Martin was a young photographer working for the Birmingham News when he was sent to report on a planned civil rights march in Selma, Alabama. Martin’s images of police brutality and courageous protesters were seen all over the world and helped galvanize support for the Voting Rights Act later that year. In February, the center acquired Martin’s archive. Selma 1965 is drawn exclusively from the Martin archive’s most powerful and poignant images, many of which have never been published.
You can order a copy online here.
The work of photojournalists like Martin has been at the heart of our mission since 1992, when photographer David Hume Kennerly, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Vietnam War, chose the center as the repository for his archive. We’ve worked with David ever since, publishing three of his books. At the end of October I was proud to host a reception for David in New York, on the occasion of him receiving a Lucie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Photojournalism. The celebration was also a great opportunity to catch up with the center’s New York–based donors and friends, of which—thankfully—there are many!
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History
P.S. As we approach the holiday season, I want to invite you to this year’s Christmas at Winedale festival on December 12. The Winedale Historical Complex, one of the center’s divisions, is a collection of historic homes and furnishings eighty miles east of Austin. Christmas at Winedale opens up these collections to the local community in a special, family-friendly way with historic crafts, games, and food. I highly recommend that you join us!