Earlier this month, the center hosted Reel Politics, an evening with award-winning filmmaker and University of Texas professor Paul Stekler. As many of you know, Paul has spent the last thirty years chronicling American politics and the civil rights movement. Earlier this year, Paul generously donated his film archive and working papers to the center. The evening was a chance to celebrate this donation and give others on campus an opportunity to see Paul’s personally edited “best of” clips from his documentaries. The evening was a great success, and I want to thank KLRU and the Austin Film Society for their co-sponsorship.
In addition to hearing from Paul, the evening was a chance for the center to connect with some of Austin’s filmmakers and tell them about the center’s resources. I very much hope that others will follow Paul’s lead and not only use the center as a place for research, but also consider donating their archives.
One of the guests of honor at Reel Politics was former congressman, ambassador, cabinet secretary, and New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who donated his papers to the Briscoe Center earlier this year. I’m pleased to announce that Governor Richardson is one of the newest members of the center’s Advisory Council. In addition to attending our latest council meeting and our Reel Politics program, Governor Richardson participated in a graduate seminar on national security issues co-taught by Professors Will Inboden and Steve Slick at the LBJ School of Public Affairs. During his years as a member of Congress, Bill Richardson served on the House Intelligence Committee. After leaving Congress, he dealt with national security issues as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as secretary of energy under President Clinton. Governor Richardson’s deep knowledge of national security issues gave these students an invaluable learning opportunity.
Richardson’s interaction with graduate students at the LBJ School is an example of the great collaborative relationships we have forged on campus, including those with the LBJ Presidential Library, the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, and the Clements Center for National Security. Currently, we are collaborating with the Clements Center on a project to create clementspapers.org, which will make available an online archive of digitized records documenting the public service career of William Clements Jr. Clements was governor of Texas twice (1979–1983, 1987–1991), but he also served under presidents Nixon and Ford as deputy secretary of defense (1973–1977), where his career coincided with the final withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, the Yom Kippur War, the OPEC oil embargo, the fall of Saigon, and the Cold War with the Soviet Union. We are working with the Clements Center on two separate projects. One will provide digital access to Clements’s gubernatorial and business papers. That site will be available next year. The second project has created a site, which has just been launched, that provides documents related to Clements’s national security career. I want to thank everyone at the Clements Center, especially Director Will Inboden, for all the great work in making this project come together.
The center is also proud to announce the acquisition of the Alan L. Paris Photojournalism Collection. Paris, a dedicated collector based in New York, spent twenty years amassing this collection, which contains an impressive array of 10,000 images—both rare and iconic. Significantly for researchers, most images come with original press captions. Those captions contain key information that help us to better understand the impact photojournalism has had in shaping our view of world events. Furthermore, the collection contains 156 extremely rare prints by photojournalist Jacques Lowe, President John F. Kennedy’s personal photographer. Lowe, who died several months before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, stored his archives in a vault in the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the attacks.
Finally, I want to pay my respects to a true friend, Dee J. Kelly Sr. of Fort Worth. Dee was a tireless and dedicated supporter of the Sam Rayburn Museum in Bonham, which under his leadership became a division of the Briscoe Center. Dee was a gifted attorney, prominent civic activist, and a natural politico who made things happen. He used those talents and energies in the service of others, and the Briscoe Center was glad to have him as an advocate. He worked tirelessly to promote the legacy of his mentor, Sam Rayburn—something we are only too happy to continue.
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History