Online Exhibits - Austin History Center

Online Exhibits

Austin Treasures

Austin Treasures is made up of ten separate exhibits on differing themes.  Originally created through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's TexTreasures Grant program in 2001, they have been preserved in their original state and reflect the Web design esthetics and capabilities of their time. The following exhibits comprise Austin Treasures:

 

PICA 00331

PICA 00331

 

Austin Beginnings

Austin's history has been filled with events great and small, significant and trivial, historic and amusing. All have contributed to building the city that is first in our hearts. Finding these milestones is one of the pleasures of conducting research in the Austin History Center. The staff, volunteers, and customers of the Austin History Center share just a few of the memorable firsts that we have discovered in our files.

PICH 00696

PICH 00696

 

Lost Victorian Austin

The 1887 birds-eye view of Austin suggests the rich and varied Victorian resources which made up Austin at that time--neighborhoods full of homes and churches, downtown commercial buildings, educational structures throughout the city, all designed to please and inspire. Slowly, over the years, neighborhood by neighborhood, building by building fell victim to new construction. In the early 1970s, just as the historic preservation movement was flowering throughout the nation, Austin lost three significant Victorian-style houses in the central downtown area: the Butler House, the Houghton House, and the Hunnicutt House.

PICB 13189

PICB 13189

 

Jane McCallum/Suffrage Movement

Drawing on materials from the Jane McCallum Papers (AR.E.004), this exhibit looks at the work of the Austin Suffrage Association and women who played key roles in the movement.

 

PICA 27170

PICA 27170

 

 

Red Points and Ration Cards

Austin in the early '40s: the population was 114,000; I-35 was yet to be built; the average rent per month was $35; Lyndon Johnson was the congressional representative from this area. Newspaper headlines charted the progress of battles in World War II, and President Roosevelt cautioned that a "long hard war" lay ahead. During this time, Austin was known as a "Home Away from Home" for over 20,000 military personnel and their families. Austinites found ways to entertain the troops as they came into the city each weekend from nearby Camp Gary, Fort Hood, Camp Swift, and Bergstrom Field. Join us  for a look at life in Austin during World War II.

 

PICA 20591

PICA 20591

 

 

Just Outside Austin

This exhibit explores the rural areas surrounding Austin, including North, Northeast, East, West and Northwest areas of Travis County, Pflugerville, Manor, Sprinkle, Hunters Bend, Manchaca, and Wheatville.

 

C00253

C00253

 

 

Capitol Views

The current Capitol building, built in 1888, is the fourth building in Austin to house the offices of the Texas government. It is a story of an engineering and construction feat to equal few others of its time, of financial and political maneuvering, of struggle and compromise, and of people who planned and worked for its completion. We invite you to enjoy "Capitol Views," an exhibit originally created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Capitol in 1988. The exhibit depicts the history that led up to the need for a new Capitol building, the construction, the celebration of the completion, and the building as a place of work and decision making.

 

PICA 09283

PICA 09283

 

 

Green Growth

Situated among rolling hills, open plains and a bounty of lakes, Austin is famous for its beautiful landscapes. Many groups and individuals have given of themselves for the enhancement of Austin's natural beauty. The exhibit, "Green Growth," profiles some of those individuals and organizations, and the public and private spaces that they have enhanced.

 

PICA 02442

PICA 02442

 

 

Austin Streets

Austin's street history truly begins in 1839, just prior to the city's founding, when Mirabeau B. Lamar, President of the Republic of Texas, commissioned his old war-time friend Edwin Waller to survey the site for the new capital city and to oversee its planning and construction. Waller, who had participated in the signing of the Declaration of Independence and was well-acquainted with pioneering work, accepted the task. After the area was thoroughly surveyed and the first city plan drafted, Waller and his team of 160 men proceeded to convert the wilderness site into a working city within a matter of months. This exhibit looks at some of Austin's major streets over time and provides the origins of many street names.

 

PICA 15506

PICA 15506

 

 

Austin at Work

Most of us get up and go to work on most days. We work to make money, to make a difference, to fulfill our dreams, and sometimes even to enjoy ourselves. It hasn't been that different in Austin since Waller and his 200 workers toiled on a short deadline in 1839 to build the city in the wilderness that became our capital. But over the decades, the nature of the work has changed. It's becoming faster-paced and more mechanized. We're working less by hand and more by machine. Getting to and from work has changed. We've moved off the Travis County farms and into an economy fueled by research and electronics. A look through the photo files of the Austin History Center helps illustrate some of these changes.

 

PICA 02628

PICA 02628

 

 

Hyde Park

A century after its founding, Hyde Park continues to exert a special appeal through its "fine streets and perfect shade," its mix of Texas Victorian homes and bungalows, and its front-porch friendliness. This exhibit celebrates Hyde Park, portraying life in the streetcar era when doors were never locked and did not need to be. These photographs offer a portal through which viewers can step back in time to experience for themselves life on the avenues.

Other Online Exhibits

 

PICB 19746

PICB 19746

 

Backwards in High Heels: Getting Women Elected, 1842-1990

“If you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.” So said Ann Richards at the Democratic National Convention in 1988 making the point that women can be just as effective in politics as men but have needed grit and determination to get into elected office. This exhibition is the Austin History Center’s look at the local women who have played a significant part in politics in Texas’ capital city. Covering a span of 150 years, the exhibit highlights many of the female “firsts” in local and state politics. With conviction and effective strategy, women went from being disenfranchised to holding the highest office in the state.

 

AR.2008.005(016)

AR.2008.005(016)

 

Pioneers from the East: First Chinese Families in Austin

According to the 1875 Census there were 20 Chinese living in Austin. Most of these were men who left China to find work in order to support their families. Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, they could not bring over their wives or children. These men worked mainly in the laundry or restaurant business. That was the beginning of Asian presence in our city. As displayed in this photo exhibit, the individuals and families who ended up in Austin built a life for themselves by opening up businesses and immersing themselves into the community. All of their hard work paved the way for future immigrants and Asian Americans who settled down in Austin.

 

PICB 07214

PICB 07214

 

 

O. Henry in Austin

The Austin History Center, part of the Austin Public Library, is the home of a significant collection of materials relating to the popular writer O. Henry, who lived in Austin, still using his given name of William Sydney Porter, from 1885 to 1894. In 2010 the AHC partnered with the Texas General Land Office and the State Preservation Board to create an online collection of O. Henry materials at the Portal to Texas History. The collection includes photographs, original manuscript material, first printings of many of his short stories, and scans of some of his collected works.

 

PICA 01442

PICA 01442

 

 

Austin Public Library Jubilee: 75 Years of Building Community

The Austin Public Library celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2001, and to help commemorate the important milestone, the Austin History Center presented an exhibit entitled, "Austin Public Library Jubilee: 75 Years of Building Community." The exhibit traced the history of the Austin Public Library from its humble beginnings in a small upstairs room on Congress Avenue in 1926 all the way up to present day. The full exhibit was on display May 4-October 28, 2001.

 

PICA 18441

PICA 18441

 

 

Train Tracks: A Journey on Austin's Railways

A gallery of photographs takes you on a journey on Austin's original railways.

 

PICB 02905

PICB 02905

 

 

Defining Legacies: For the Love of Austin

This exhibit tells the stories of people whose legacies helped define Austin--from the end of the Civil War to the more recent impact of a few noteworthy citizens. In this exhibit, we pay homage to just a few of those individuals whose activities are documented in the archives of the Austin History Center. The following persons are featured in the exhibit: Andrew Jackson Zilker, Walter Long, Dr. Everett Givens, C. Coatsworth Pinkney, Harry Akin, Arthur Dewitty, Dr. William Astor Kirk, Ada Simond, Beverly Sheffield, Volma Overton, Tom Miller, Laurine Cecil Anderson, Roberta Crenshaw, Frank McBee, Eustasio Cepeda, Willie Kocurek, Roy Velasquez, Arthur Penn Wooldridge and Jacob Fontaine.

 

PICA 02672

PICA 02672

 

 

Austin's Creeks

The Austin History Center, in association with the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department, presents a tribute to Austin's creeks, originally on display September 7-November 22, 1999. This exhibit presents the story of Austin's creeks and their place in Austin's life and livelihood.

 

PICA 19600

PICA 19600

 

 

Wings Over Austin: The History of Austin Aviation

This is an exhibit that follows the flight path of our city's aviation story, from the city's first airplane landing through the transformation of Bergstrom Air Force Base into the new Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The complete exhibit was at the Austin History Center May 10-August 29, 1999.