Voice and Vision

Last night, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission held a very special program: Voice and Vision, the fourth annual Texas Authors Celebration. This program, created by Texas Center for the Book Coordinator Rebekah Manley, is held each year the Thursday evening prior to the Texas Book Festival. Consistent with our mission to provide Texans with the information they need to live informed and productive lives, the Texas Authors Celebration, a project of the Texas Center for the Book, brings together the worlds of authors, publishing, literacy, research, archives, and libraries. The event emphasizes the ways in which archives and libraries support the literary endeavor.

Becka Oliver of the Writers’ League of Texas, moderates a panel of illustrator Ekua Holmes and authors Chris Barton and Michael Hurd.

The program — the first to be held in a newly redesigned event space created for programming on the second floor of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building — began with the presentation of the Texas Center for the Book Literacy Awards to Books Are GEMS, a project building literacy and a love of reading for children in El Paso, Texas, and runner-up awards to Inside Books, providing books to the incarcerated in Texas, and Teen Bookfest by the Bay, based in Corpus Christi.

Following the presentation of the Texas Center for the Book Literacy Award was a panel discussion featuring Chris Barton and Ekua Holmes, the author and illustrator of What Do You Do with a Voice Like That: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (Simon and Schuster, 2018), and Michael Hurd, author of Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School Football in Texas (University of Texas Press, 2019). The panel, moderated by Becka Oliver, Executive Director of the Writers’ League of Texas, explored various aspects of the craft of writing and illustrating books, including a lengthy discussion of the value of archives to writing books such as these which document important aspects of our shared history. By way of complimenting the valuable work done by archivists and librarians and how helpful they have been to his work, Chris Barton commented, “I might choose my next book based on what will allow me to spend the most time in this building.”

But Becka Oliver and Michael Hurd also hinted at the dark side of archival research, the phenomenon known as “archival silence,” when the archives of a particular experience, often that of underrepresented people, does not exist. This lack of coverage in itself tells a valuable, if discouraging story, but it also serves to point to the urgent need to keep and maintain the archival record.

The role of archivists and librarians — the keepers of the record of our common experience — becomes more important and more noted every day. We hope that some of the authors who visited with us last evening will return to continue their research in our collection and avail themselves of the expertise of our outstanding archivists and librarians.

For researchers working on research in our collections, TSLAC, in cooperation with the Texas State Historical Association, is making available for the third year, $2,000 Fellowships in Texas History, a stipend to support travel costs to work in the TSLAC archives. These fellowships are made possible by the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas with generous funding from the Edouard Foundation. For information on the Fellowship, visit the TSHA website at https://tshaonline.org/awards-and-fellowships/2422. The deadline for application for the 2020 Fellowship is December 28, 2019.

Links in this post:

Texas Center for the Book Literacy Awards: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/literacyaward

Books are GEMS: http://www.booksaregems.org/

Inside Books Project: https://insidebooksproject.org/

Teen Bookfest by the Sea: https://sites.google.com/site/teenbookfestbythebay/home

2020 Fellowships in Texas History: https://tshaonline.org/awards-and-fellowships/2422

October is Archives Month–Let’s celebrate!

October is Archives Month and in honor of that event each year, the Texas State Library, in collaboration with the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB), creates a poster commemorating the many ways archives impacts our lives. This year’s poster: “The Power of Water” provides a timely reminder that while archives of Texas preserve the historical record, including the nature and history of water and weather in the state, they are also subject to the impact of this vital element.

Also this month, TSLAC announced the recipients of the THRAB 2019 Archival Award of Excellence. This year’s awards go to the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections at the University of Texas at El Paso Library, and to Brenda Lincke Fisseler, former volunteer with Lavaca County. This award is given annually to recognize significant achievements by individuals and institutions in ensuring the preservation and access to the permanent historical records of Texas.

As I wrote in my last blog, archives are having a moment right now. We welcome what we observe is a heightened interest in the importance of primary source materials in documenting the history of individuals, families, communities, organizations, states, nations and the many thousands of stories that comprise our shared human history.

Archives Month provides an excellent opportunity to begin your own exploration in primary source research. You can start with “Ideas for Celebrating Texas Archives Month” on our website. You can also follow the work of our amazingly talented team of archivists on our archives blog, Out of the Stacks or of our Summerlee Conservation Lab on the TSLAC Conservation blog.

We also encourage you to dig into our rich trove of online archival materials. We maintain a page of very interesting online exhibits that will take you to fun, notable and high interest treasures in the TSLAC Archives. Or check out the Texas Digital Archive, our repository containing 50 terabytes of archives in digital format from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of Texas government.

You may also choose Archives Month to start or continue researching your own family history, starting with genealogy research materials at TSLAC. Or you might want to attend our Personal Digital Archiving workshop on Saturday, October 12, to learn more about how you can manage your own digital archive.

Archives connect us to our individual and shared past and they create a permanent record of our society and our achievements. Archivists and archival institutions are dedicated to accomplishing the dual roles of preserving and making available these vital materials. We hope you will take time during October to consider and explore the rich and varied world of archives at TSLAC and across the state.

Links in this post:

Texas Historical Records Advisory Board 2019 Archival Award of Excellence – https://www.tsl.texas.gov/node/67237

Ideas for Celebrating Texas Archives Month – https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/thrab/archivesmonth.html

Out of the Stacks Blog –

TSLAC Conservation Blog – https://www.tsl.texas.gov/conservation/

Online exhibits – https://www.tsl.texas.gov/exhibits/index.html 

Texas Digital Archive – https://tsl.access.preservica.com/

Genealogy research materials at TSLAC – https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/genfirst.html

Register for Personal Digital Archives Management workshop October 12 – https://www.tsl.texas.gov/node/67176