It’s been a busy summer for the Briscoe Center, and we’re preparing for an even busier fall. As you’ll read in our summer e-news, we continue to add new collections to our research holdings (most recently the Alexander Cockburn Papers) and items from our collections continue to be featured across the state in various exhibitions. The center’s divisions in Uvalde, Bonham, and Round Top have been amply occupied with summer programming that opens up our collections to new audiences. However, before I elaborate on those points, I’d like to welcome Pete Geren as the new chairman of the Rayburn Foundation.
Founded in 1949, the foundation ran the Sam Rayburn Museum in Bonham until 1991, when the foundation transferred ownership of the museum to the University of Texas at Austin’s Briscoe Center. The Rayburn Foundation remains a great friend of the museum and continues to work as a charitable trust. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Pete for several years. Like Rayburn, Pete was a congressman, and he also served as secretary for the army under two presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. After he left Congress, Pete donated his congressional papers to the Center’s Congressional History Collection. Pete replaces Fort Worth attorney Dee Kelly, who has served the foundation with dedication and professionalism over the last five decades. I’m grateful for Dee, who will remain a trustee, and I look forward to working with Pete in his new role.
Summer is a time when the Rayburn Museum, along with the Briscoe Center’s other divisions, welcomes members of the public for special programming. This weekend, the museum will co-host the Bonham Quilt Hop, sharing two exhibits based on the center’s Winedale Quilt Collection. Earlier this month, the Briscoe-Garner Museum hosted a Fourth of July open house. Over 100 people attended and enjoyed a special exhibit that showcased items from the Whitney Smith Flag Research Center Collection. Finally, the Winedale Historical Complex is currently hosting the 44th season of the Department of English’s Shakespeare at Winedale program.
Here in Austin, I’m proud to announce that the Foodways Texas Oral History Archive has been made accessible online. Our Spider Martin photography exhibit, on display at our Research and Collections Division, continues to garner both press and visitors. We’ve also lent a number of items from the Texas Poster Art Collection for the Bullock Texas State History Museum’s new exhibit When Austin Got Weird.
As busy as things are, the fall is shaping up to be full of events, exhibitions, and announcements. We’ll soon be unveiling details of our upcoming Willie Nelson exhibit on campus, as well as smaller exhibits exploring our wider music collections and UT’s experience of World War I. Look out for our September e-news and keep checking in with our Facebook page to learn more.
Finally, I want to congratulate the Briscoe Center’s Assistant Director for Administration Echo Uribe, who is pursuing an MA in Historic Preservation at Goucher College and was recently awarded the Stephen K. F. and Katharine W. Lee Prize. The Lee Prize, given annually for the best paper or project that addresses preservation of America’s diverse heritage, was awarded for Echo’s “Heritage San Ygnacio: A Preservation Plan for San Ygnacio, Texas.”
Echo’s paper touches on many issues that resonate with the center—the importance of preservation work, new paradigms for educational outreach, optimism regarding fundraising, and the task of creating a culture of awareness in the local community. I’m proud to have Echo on staff here at the center, and her award is a timely reminder of the enriching effects that academic pursuits have on professional development.
Don Carleton, Ph.D.
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History