Last weekend brought the sad news of the passing of Dr. David Gracy, former Texas State Archivist. Dr. Gracy was a highly respected archivist and historian, educator, author, and tireless defender of intellectual freedom and access to information.
Dr. Gracy served as State Archivist of Texas from 1977 until 1986 when he became a full professor at the University of Texas Graduate School of Library and Information Science. In that position, Dr. Gracy taught and mentored hundreds of future archivists and information professionals including a number of current TSLAC staff. Dr. Gracy was a nationally recognized scholar and leader in the field of archives. He served as the president of both the Society of American Archivists and the Academy of Certified Archivists and was a fellow and active member of the Texas Historical Association.
Dr. Gracy wrote extensively. One of his books, The State Library and Archives of Texas: A History, 1835-1962, was published by the University of Texas Press in 2010 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of TSLAC. Dr. Gracy’s last book was about his ancestor G.W. Littlefield, Austin banker, UT Regent, and, briefly, on TSLAC’s first commission.
In Dr. Gracy’s final year, he graciously accepted our request to speak at our TSLAC in-service day held last November 8, 2019. The topic of Dr. Gracy’s speech was–as it ever was–the importance of preserving access to public records and he spoke forcefully for the role that archives play in ensuring transparency of government. Concerned about a recent directive to relocate records from TSLAC to another agency, Dr. Gracy said, “Essential to a democratic government is transparency–the ability for citizens to monitor the actions taken in their behalf by government leaders.” He went on to say, “Archives are information as accurate, factual, truthful in historical context as we Americans, we Texans, we human beings have.”
Dr. David Gracy was a giant in the world of archives, preservation, and history. We were highly honored to have known him, work with him, and call him friend and teacher. We will greatly miss his leadership, constant support, and immense expertise and extend our sincere condolences to his family and his many friends and colleagues.
Links in this post:
Austin American-Statesman obituary of Dr. David B. Gracy: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/statesman/obituary.aspx?n=david-bergen-gracy&pid=196877146
“Nor Is This All: The Spirit of the Texas State Library and Archives.” Speech to TSLAC staff: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/sites/default/files/public/tslac/exec/Gracy%20Talk–LEO%202019.pdf