[Youth of the Brown Berets], undated, PICA 37614
The Austin History Center values the relationships that we build with the community that we serve. As a community-based archive, all aspects of our operation are strengthened by our ties to the people and groups that make up Austin, Texas. We seek out archival materials from historically under-documented communities in Austin and Travis County through outreach efforts and programming as part of our unique Community Archivist program.
AHC staff are also available for presentations on various topics, and tours of our historic building and exhibits are often available upon request.
Community Archivists Program link
The Community Archivist Program at the Austin History Center is dedicated to collecting and preserving the history of underrepresented and marginalized groups in Austin and Travis County. This program strives to provide historical recognition and representation for the lives and experiences of Austin's diverse communities by intentionally documenting the histories of African American, Latinx & Indigenous, and Asian Pacific American communities in Austin and Travis County.
Through community engagement and outreach initiatives, the Community Archivist Program acquires historical materials (such as personal and family documents and photographs, periodicals, oral histories, business records, etc.) to add to the Austin History Center’s historical collection. The program also develops programming and events to educate the general public about a more inclusive and diverse history of Austin and Travis County.
For more information about the Community Archivist Program, please contact Akiko Kodama about the Asian American Community Archivist Program, Marina Islas about the Latinx Community Archivist Program, and Jaqueline Smith-Francis about the African American Community Archivist Program.
Check out this video to learn more about the Community Archivist Program.
African American Community Archivist link
The Austin History Center’s African American Community Archivist actively seeks out archival materials from the African American community in Austin and Travis County through outreach efforts and programming. The Community Archivist also gives presentations, conducts oral history interviews, coordinates programs and events, provides reference service to the public and acts as a subject specialist in the history of Austin’s African American community.
Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19, 1900
Sources of Information About African Americans in Austin
This web project presents an annotated chronology of major events in the desegregation of Austin, Texas, from 1940 to 1980 as they appeared in local newspapers and other materials in the archives at the Austin History Center. The timeline is intended as a guide to key events necessary for an understanding of this extraordinary time in the city's history.
Brush up on your knowledge of African American history. All of the answers can be found on this site.
One-minute vignettes depicting the stories of African Americans and the communities they built. Vignette topics highlight the events, places and people that characterize Black Austin, using historic photographs and documents from the archival holdings at the Austin History Center.
The AHC created this map of Austin's Freedmen Communities. The map, using a historic map from the collection as the base map and information gathered from multiple sources, shows the locations and approximate boundaries of the various freemen communities that sprang up after the Civil War.
African American Subject Guide (PDF download)
The collections of the Austin History Center contain many useful materials that document the contributions of African Americans to our community's history. These were compiled into the African American Resource Guide, which is designed to be a starting point for your research on African Americans in Austin
Please note that at the end of the complete bibliography is a section of topics on which the Austin History Center seeks more information and materials.
1864 Slave Deed from The Black Papers, FP B1
Asian American Community Archivist link
TheAustin History Center’s Asian American Community Archivist Program actively collects archival materials from Asian communities in Austin and Travis County through outreach efforts and programming. We give presentations, conduct research and oral history interviews, coordinate programs and events, provide reference service to the public, and are a subject specialist in the history of Austin’s Asian American community.
Asian American History in Austin
Asian Americans make up over 7% of Austin's overall population, and their communities are only growing throughout the city. The history of Austin's Asian American community is tied to both state and national narratives of Asian American migration, settlement, and community formation. Austin's Asian American heritage connects to many aspects of a broader history including early Chinese American railroad labor, Japanese American farming, U.S.military relations with the Phillipines and China, Japanese American internment, the Vietnam War and refugee communities, post-1965 immigration, and the 1980s technology boom. Though most of Austin's Asian American population came here within the past 30 years, much of this history along with earlier histories remain undocumented. In order to recover the history of Asian Americans in Austin, we rely on the Asian American community of Austin to share their histories with us so we can collect, preserve, and share their histories for all future generations.
Our Asian American Resource Guide provides a general overview of all archival materials at the Austin History Center that pertain to the Asian American community. The materials in the resource guide are arranged by collection unit of the Austin History Center. Within each collection unit, items are arranged in shelf-list order. To access these items, please visit the Reading Room at the Austin History Center.
To learn more about the early history of Chinese Americans in Austin, you can also watch KLRU's Austin Revealed, Pioneers From the East series that highlights the Austin History Center's Asian American community archive program with three episodes narrating the stories of three of the first families of Chinese origin to settle in the Austin area.
Past Projects & Exhibits
Selections from the following Asian American Community Archivist exhibits are available online:
Focusing on the history, transition, and contributions of local Vietnamese Americans in Austin, the exhibit "Vietnam to Austin: Restoring Community" included powerful personal stories shared by many individuals through oral histories, photographs, and personal records. In partnership with the Vietnamese American Heritage Foundation, the exhibit was on display at the Austin History Center from February 21 to July 17, 2009. Image: Nguyen Family Papers (AR. 2009.056)
The photo exhibit "Pioneers from the East: First Chinese Families in Austin" featured the history of five of Austin's earliest Chinese American families. The exhibit was displayed at the Austin History Center from April 27 to October 17, 2010. Image: Sing Family Papers (AR.2008.002)
Austin Jewish Community Archive link
The Austin Jewish Community Archive (AJCA) is a project of the Austin History Center in partnership with a volunteer committee whose members share a common interest in preserving the history of the Jewish community in Austin. Members of the committee represent the area synagogues and many of the Jewish organizations in Austin. The AJCA’s mission is to collect, organize, and preserve the Austin Jewish community’s records – individual, organizational, and business – wherever available, including oral histories. Collectively, these materials tell the stories of the Austin Jewish community. The project began in 2018.
The AJCA’s efforts have already borne fruit with the following important acquisitions:
- Philip Spertus Austin Jewish Community Center Records
- Marc Worob Papers (inventory coming soon)
- Twentieth Century Cookbook, published by Congregation Beth Israel, circa 1925.
The AJCA also completed the Jewish American Resource Guide that describes the collections at the Center that document Jewish life in Austin. Some of the materials currently held by the Center are records of Austin’s earliest Jewish community activities.
The AJCA's oral history committee has recorded many interviews with members of the local Jewish community. This work is ongoing.
Donating to the AJCA
Interested in donating materials? Check out the Collection Guidelines to see what the AJCA is seeking for the archive. By soliciting, collecting, and preserving more of these types of materials, the Center will provide students and scholars a better understanding of the role of the Austin Jewish community in the history of our city.
The Archive plans to include oral histories, and one of the initial efforts was to create an oral history committee to plan and implement an oral history program. Perhaps more importantly, the Archive hopes to provide training to any Austin Jewish institution to conduct its own oral history program.
Indigenous & Latinx Community Archivist link
The Austin History Center’s Latinx Community Archivist, Marina Islas, serves as an educational resource for the community in various capacities. Her main charge is to collect, preserve, and promote the histories of Austin's Latinx communities. Additionally, Marina's expertise includes: Latin America; gender and migration; social geographies; preK-12 curriculum development; critical participatory action research; and creative learning strategies.
Marina is available by appointment to facilitate participatory workshops, conducts oral history interviews, coordinates programs and events, provides reference service to the public and acts as a subject specialist in the history of Austin’s Latinx community.
For more information, please contact Marina by e-mail email@example.com or by phone 512-974-7498
Sources of Information About Latinxs and Mexican Americans in Austin
The Latinx Resource Guide contains valuable materials about Austin's Mexican American communities, although there is much that remains to be documented. The materials in the resource guide are arranged by collection unit of the Austin History Center. Within each collection unit, items are arranged in shelf-list order. To access these items, please visit the Reading Room at the Austin History Center.
Significant gaps in the Latinx Communities collection remain and continued work to fill the gaps is needed. In order to assist in building the collections, the final section of the bibliography lists "Under-documented Areas of Interest." This detailed listing of topics and people about which additional material is still needed at the History Center is intended to alert the public to these specific needs in the collection as well as inspire donations of materials.
Sources of Information About Native American and Indigenous Peoples in Austin
The Native American & Indigenous Resource Guide provides a brief overview on the shared histories of Native Peoples in Austin as well as a detailed list of the various resources available within our collections. The histories of Native Peoples is an underdocumented subject within the AHC's collections and we are seeking ways to resolve this issue.
We are currently working on a project to help raise awareness of the Native American people who have positively contributed to Austin's history. Please, watch our social media pages for updates soon. If you're interested in being part of the planning, have recommendations, or would like to know more about this program please contact Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Projects & Exhibits
Soy Austin, Soy Travis County
Do you know any Latin American artists who call Austin or Travis County home?
The Austin History Center is seeking nominations for Latino/a/e/x Artists whose histories should be included in our archives!
All nominated artists will be considered for inclusion in our archives. Some of these artists will be celebrated through a traveling exhibit, “Soy Austin, Soy Travis County.”
We are accepting nominations through October 15th.
To learn more about this project please visit: Soy Austin Soy Travis County
Dove Springs Oral History Project
The history of Dove Springs is an under-documented area within the Austin History Center’s archives. Dove Springs is predominantly Latinx and Black neighborhood in Austin whose histories are threatened by rapid gentrification of the area. Throughout this project, we will train community members on oral history interviewing, recruit community members to participate, conduct oral history interviews with Austin residents who have significant history within the Dove Springs neighborhood. Deposit these oral histories and corresponding materials within the Austin History Center’s archives.
An Oral History Training Workshop will be held at the Southeast Branch Library on Saturday, September 23, 2023.
Dove Springs Oral History Workshop
The Austin History Center invites you to join us for a FREE Oral History Workshop:
- Enjoy yummy deli wraps, snacks, and pan dulce
- Hear about resources at the Austin History Center
- Learn the basics of oral history projects
- Practice interviewing a friend
- Consider joining our team for an oral history project!
When? 12:30 PM–4 PM
Saturday, September 23, 2023
Where? Southeast Branch
5803 Nuckols Crossing Rd, Austin, TX 78744
Questions? Contact Marina at email@example.com
Austin Chicano Huelga Oral History Project
We are working with Preservation Austin to bridge the gap in historical documentation of Austin's Chicano Huelga and the broad Chicano movement in Austin during the 1970s. If you or someone you know are interested in having an oral history interview to be deposited in our archives, please contact Marina at: (512) 974-7498, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tribute to La Musica Chicana Oral History Project (AR.2021.037)
Austin, Texas is considered the “Live Music Capital of the World.” The purpose of Tribute to la Musica Chicana: Community Oral History Project is to fill a gap in Austin’s music history regarding the impact of Chicana music during the 1960s and 1970s. Thanks to the Bronze Community Band Project and a Humanities Texas Major Grant for Community Projects our community researchers collected 25 oral history interviews between 2020-2022. Our community researchers were able to complete the majority of these interviews virtually. The interviews have been transcribed and are currently undergoing review to ensure the transcripts match the interviews and will be available to researchers when that process is complete. We hope to continue our work with additional oral history interviews and a celebratory event in the future.
Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC) Oral History Project
A goal of this oral history project was to document and honor many of the individuals who played a significant role in the decades-long struggle leading to the creation of the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (ESB-MACC), while also exploring the growth and obstacles experienced throughout the process. Included in this collection are the preserved oral histories of 28 stakeholders, including transcripts, audio and some video. The archival collection (AR.2015.012) also includes newspaper clippings and articles from 1970-2012 depicting the socio-political and cultural landscape of the times. Read more and hear the oral histories.