October has seen the Briscoe Center ramp up its outreach to the general public, as part of its mission to support the university’s teaching mission and foster understanding of our nation’s past.
We are currently wrapping up a five-week series of talks in collaboration with the UT Forum, part of the UT Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. I’m grateful to Director of Special Projects Alison Beck for organizing the series, and I was glad to speak at the forum regarding John Nance Garner, vice president under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other talks focused on the center’s music collections, the First World War’s effect on Texas, and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
The Briscoe Center prides itself on not simply collecting and preserving archival material but making it available to scholars, students, and the public. With that in mind, I’m proud that all topics discussed at the UT Forum are the subject of exhibits, either on display or in the works here at the center.
First, the Spider Martin exhibit of civil rights photography remains on display in our Research and Collections Division until 2015. Garner was the subject of a center-produced documentary last year, Cactus Jack: The Political Legacy of John Nance Garner. Furthermore, we’re collaborating with the Texas Performing Arts Center on an exhibit to complement The World at War, a performance at the Bass Concert Hall by The University of Texas Symphony Orchestra in December to commemorate the centenary of World War I.
Much of the center’s energy this fall has been geared toward opening two extensive displays showcasing our massive music-related collections. A major exhibit on Texas music at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will run from November through January. Also, a permanent display of items from the Willie Nelson Collection will open to the public on November 7 at the north end of UT’s Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium.
Exhibits are not the only ways the center seeks to open up collections to the public. Staff at the center’s Research and Collections Division organized two tours in October, for the Texas Jewish Historical Society and the Deadliner’s Club, an organization of freelance journalists based in Austin. The center recently co-sponsored the inaugural Austin Archives Bazaar, operating its own booth to offer advice about how people can access and research our collections. Finally, staff at the Winedale Historical Complex are preparing for Christmas at Winedale; which will take place this year on Saturday, December 13, 2014, from noon to 4 p.m.
I’m proud to have such a hard working staff across all the Briscoe Center’s divisions that serve both campus and community in our outreach efforts. Stay connected through our website and Facebook page for details about these exhibits and events.
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History