In late September, we lost an iconic figure in the library and archives field. TSLAC Director Mark Smith shared his thoughts on the Director’s Report blog, but we wanted to add a little more context on how Dr. David Gracy impacted our work in the records management unit.
The legacy that Dr. Gracy left on the records and information management community in Texas is unparalleled. Even those of us who are newer to the profession are beneficiaries of the seeds he planted.
By the time I matriculated into The University of Texas’s School of Information in 2013, I knew that it had a powerhouse archival and records enterprise curriculum. The course I took on the Archival Enterprise in 2014 was still very much that course that Dr. Gracy had created during his time at UT, making use of the Texas Brewers’ Institute Collection at the Texas State Library to demonstrate archival organization principles.
Several years later in 2019, I had the opportunity to see him speak at the Society of American Archivists conference here in Austin. State Archivist Jelain Chubb gave the introduction and described the phenomenon of “Gracy children,” referring to the fact that Dr. Gracy’s contributions to archival education had informed generations of archivists in Texas and around the world. As I looked around the crowded room, I felt a kind of solidarity as a Gracy Grandchild.
The substance of his talk concerned his time as state archivist at TSLAC. As a storyteller, Dr. Gracy is unmatched. But the thing that stuck out the most for me was his fight to inventory county records in Texas. In my current role as a government information analyst with the State and Local Records Management Division, I was aware of these inventories and consulted them every once in a while, but Dr. Gracy contextualized and breathed life into them. See, many refer to the pre-Local Government Record Act regime as ‘The Wild West’ or RIM in Texas, while others say that is insulting to “The Wild West”. There was no 300 foot view of the records that counties were producing until 1978 when the first inventory was completed. Some of our local schedules, and especially Local Schedule CC, are still in 2020 largely informed by this formidable document.
Based on his immense legacy, TSLAC staff approached Dr. Gracy at SAA and asked him to give the keynote address at TSLAC’s upcoming Staff Development Day. The organizers of the event had high hopes for this talk, but Dr. Gracy blew away even our lofty expectations. His ability to inspire staff and praise each individual programmatic unit at TSLAC was excellent. By the end of his talk, all staff were on their feet applauding this most excellent man.
RIP Dr. Gracy. Your legacy lives on through the staff of TSLAC!
I did not know Dr. Gracy well, but I did know that he published a book—which, admittedly, I have yet to read—on the history of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Despite having it in my cubicle for years, I never thought of it as my book because it was inscribed with the following on the book’s title page:
“For the TSLAC Records Center
David B. Gracy II
27 Jan 2011″
So then I brought the book with me for the Learning Engagement Opportunities (LEO) staff day and asked him to sign the title page again:
“For State and Local Records Management on the 2nd LEO Day
Nov. 8, 2019
David B. Gracy II”
Our SLRM programs and services would truly not be the same without his influence and thus we appreciate his legacy. I will personally make sure to pass the book along to someone else for safe-keeping when I find my next adventure.
Please enjoy the following clip (click to play video or read the transcript) of his keynote address to the TSLAC staff: