Browse Exhibits (22 total)


Creating Spaces for Cultural Intersections Through Texas Fine Arts

This exhibit will use archival findings from various University of Texas repositories to explore the evolution and intersections of fine arts in Texas, focusing on areas such as music, theater, and visual arts, and the organization and promotion of all of the above.

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HIV/AIDS in the American South: Rhetoric and Experiences

This exhibit highlights the rhetoric and experiences of HIV/AIDs in the American South to demonstrate how marginalized populations strived to support public health in a time of crisis. The primary materials we have selected highlight the rhetoric and policy creation of a negative socio-cultural landscape that HIV-positive individuals faced in the United States during the 1980s and 1990’s. With powerful statistics and personal accounts, these collections highlight how marginalized communities were able to band together in the fight against AIDS as well as demonstrate the importance of community in times of crisis.

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Mixed Identities in Texas: Interactions with Majority Culture Groups

As a borderland state, Texas is a hotspot for cultural melding and mixed identities. However, the cultural landscape of the state extends far beyond our present-day conception of United States and Mexican contact. For instance, French immigrants arrived in Texas as early as 1964. Around the same time, Filipino immigrants founded influential associations to establish their identity. Some communities' roots travel back even further ⁠— such as the Tigua of Ysleta del Sur, who settled in present-day El Paso before Texas established its statehood. Each of these minority communities are often overlooked when considering Texas culture, but their experiences and interaction with the majority population are just as important as the more well-known cultural identities throughout Texas.

In this exhibit, we explore how French, Filipino, and Tigua communities conceptualize their identities in the context of cultural interactions with majority populations. Each community has also dealt with the pressures of assimilation in varying ways, and each response to assimilation can give us insight to understanding cultures and identities other than our own.

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Mexican American Experiences in the 20th Century: Amplifying a History of Activism and Advocacy

This exhibit will draw on materials from the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and the LLILAS Benson Latin American Collection to highlight stories of the Mexican American experience in Texas during the 20th century. The exhibit begins in the 1910s with the upheaval of the Mexican Revolution and ends in the 1990s with important educational and artistic movements occurring within Tejano communities. While these materials can be viewed in isolation from one another, we hope to impress that what links these selected materials is the impact that these hidden histories have had on the discourse and participation in activism and advocacy for Tejano communities. The materials presented demonstrate how different facets of Tejano activism and advocacy came into existence and operated at different points in the 20th century, and acted as a foundation for successive generations to either build upon or proliferate in new directions.

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Patterns of Feminism

What unifies feminists across their history in the U.S.? Is it merely their ties to feminism and its values… or is it something more? Spanning three centuries, Sarah Grimke, Melissa Hield, and Gloria Anzaldua are united through their responses to external social pressures to behave in a prescribed way. Moreover, to behave in a “ladylike” manner or “traditional” way that the historically misogynistic culture of the U.S. has bred. As an inhabitant of the 19th century, Grimke was expected to adhere to the social standards of the time, which required for women to be meek and confined to the domestic sphere. Yet, Grimke, as one of the first American feminists—lecturing others on her “bold” ideas of how abolition and gender equality go hand in hand. In a similar vein, Hield sought out the world of academia and challenged the male-dominated institution. The 70s typically expected women to continue to adhere to domesticity, but instead Hield set her sights on receiving a Ph.D.—something very untypical for a woman within this period. Anzaldua similarly responded to these external patriarchal pressures by questioning the concept of white feminism. Latina women such as Anzaldua were simply not treated the same in a white-majority movement, inducing Anzaldua to fight for her place. All three of these women were exerting their feminist identities in male-dominated spheres. They are all pioneers of their times and reveal that feminism possesses “patterns” that unify women together in more than just beliefs.

In honor of feminism, we chose a pale yellow as the color theme for this exhibit. This sunflower-esque color serves as a reminder of early suffragettes who actively fought to change the male-dominated landscape they lived in. The sunflower pin at the top right of our page actually belonged to Alice Paul, a prominent feminist who happened to join the National Woman’s Party.

After digging around in the archives in search of material over religious communities, Laurie ultimately found a piece of Grimke’s. This eventually led her to Anzaldua, whose works revolved around the very Catholic atmosphere of Latinx culture. On the other hand, I was in search for early feminist works and came across a book covering feminists within Hull House. Turns out this book was written by Melissa Hield, and I ended up requesting her box—finding myself enthralled by her personal journals and story. I hope you find this exhibit just as enthralling.


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Locked Away: The Hidden Atrocities of Forced Institutionalization

Throughout American history, families and governance have attempted to control and cure both physical and mental disabilities. This concept is most clearly manifested in the American institution. Beginning in the nineteenth century, institutionalization became a way to remove people with disabilities from the remainder of society, in hopes that this isolation would help to rehabilitate these individuals without disrupting the lives of the majority able minded and bodied population. By exploring how these structures became embedded in American society through a literature review, our exhibit will set the stage for our primary documentation of the individual institution experience.

Using materials from the University of Texas archives and lenses of medical paternalism, physical and mental disability, and minority mental health, our exhibit will explore the detrimental effects of forced institutionalization as a means to segregate society, and will examine the movements which shifted society’s view of mental and physical disabilities and which sparked reform efforts. 

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Students for a Democratic Society, Radical Politics in Austin TX

Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was a progressive activism organization working to impliment revolutionary ideals in America. Originally nonviolent, the group experienced a drastic change in the late 1960's when it adopted tactics based on the Leninist conception of a Vanguard Party. This exhibit catalgoues the development of relations between SDS's Austin chapter and institutions of authority in the city. 

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Voices from Confinement: A Look Inside Texas Prisons and Containment

From the rehabilitative labor prisons of the Jacksonian Era, to the modern day immigration detention facility, incarceration in its very definition separates people believed to pose a threat to society. In addition to a physical disconnect, there is also a societal divide attached to containment that strips the incarcerated of their voice in society, which limits their ability to speak up about their experiences and abuse they ecnounter within their confinement. Whether the incarceration is a result of xenophobia, racial discrimination, or actual justified cause, this schism creates negative stereotypes and misinformation at the expense of the incarcerated.  

This exhibit explores the effects of incarceration and internment from the 1940s to the 90s through the lens of these incarcerated peoples. Since incarcerated and detainees have a very limited voice in society and are often overlooked, we hope to share some of their thoughts on the realities of containment. The overall goal of this exhibit is to shed light on the personal qualities of incarcerated people in order to restore their dignity and give insight to the issues and problems that incarcerated people face within containment.  

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Bridging Gaps, Creating Change, and Defining Heritage at the University of Texas

This exhibit highlights key figures that have exemplified this change throughout the University’s history. By analyzing long-forgotten publications, individual correspondences, and personal narratives found in the campus archives, these key figures bridged gaps, created change, and helped to define the heritage in which students still participate today.

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Tracking Relocation and Adaptation Throughout History

Sourced from diverse collections, this exhibit highlights ethnic communities' struggles in attempting to relocate, relate to other cultures as the minority, and ultimately, uphold their ethnic culture simultaneously. With a unique twist to each collections' situation and focus, we will examine and understand the experiences of Haitian, Latinx, and Muslim American communities at different points in history through archival analysis.

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Snapshots: Community Networks and Media Ephemerality

This exhibit includes an array ephemeral pieces, all of which give insight into how non-majority communities communicate both with themselves and with others via creative outlets. 

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Injustices in Publishing

The publishing world has a history of limiting the voices that do not reflect a white, male, straight, or middle-class point of view. Narratives told by people like Sanora Babb and James Baldwin are few and far between due to this reality.

Sanora Babb is not the first writer who comes to mind when reflecting on the Great Depression or Dust Bowl. The first figures who come to mind are authors like John Steinbeck, who wrote The Grapes of Wrath, and photographers like Dorothea Lange. As historians attempt to dig deeper and understand the period more, perspectives like Babb's are more important than ever. She was a woman who had experienced homelessness herself, as she fled Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. What separates Babb from others is that she was not only documenting her surroundings, but she was one of the people whose story should be documented and a part of the historical record. 

James Baldwin's influence has recently returned into American culture, with film adaptations of his works including I Am Not Your Negro and If Beale Street Could Talk receiving commercial and critical success. Centering on the black experience in racially torn 1960s-1970s America, these books and films are the first works people think of when they remember Baldwin. Yet, despite its initial critical acclaim, Baldwin's second novel, Giovanni's Room, a story featuring a homosexual relationship between two white men in Paris, is often overlooked and forgotten. From Baldwin's initial efforts to publish it, white publishing companies thought it lacked what they had come to expect from Baldwin: narratives strictly regarding the "black experience."

Found in the "Sanora Babb Papers" and the "Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Reject Letters" collections at the Harry Ransom Center, Sanora Babb and James Baldwin's stories unearth the marginalization that both faced in navigating a publishing world not designed for them. 

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Gender Roles in the Public and Private Sphere: Marriage and Reproductive Health

This exhibit aims to explore the concepts of gender identity in both the private and public spheres. Though the materials represented are from vastly different time periods, their thematic congruency still enlightens gender discrepancies within their respective communities. Examining these archival materials through an intersectional lens, we are able to see previously underrepresented narratives and further research and contextualize their roles, themes, and positionings within their time periods.

In this exhibit, I will examine the ways in which reproductive health is conceptualized within a relationship and how the expected gender roles and power dynamics within a relationship alter the accessibility of reproductive health and sexual health for women. I will focus on Latino relationships and culture and examine how power imbalances in a relationship can infringe on the body autonomy of women.

Using "The lavves resolvtions to womens rights" as a jumping-off point, I will seek to examine the role intersex individuals assumed within the early Enlightenment society in England. I will explore both intersex positioning within the resolute gender binary present at the time, while also looking at the ideological shift of intersexual perception within law and medicine. 

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Photograph of Ernesto Villalongin

Mexican-American Identity in the Southwest

In the American Southwest, particularly in Texas, there is a strong sense of regional identity connected to Mexico and the border that divides the two. This is due to the large population that identifies with Mexican heritage, from individuals who emigrated in the 2000's to those whose ancestors emigrated in the 1800s. Today, that identity is condensed into the concept of being a "Mexican-American", in part defined by the journeys taken by their ancestors from Mexico to the US and often back again. The traversing of a "border", whether legal or conceptual, is often integral to identity formation and something we hope to explore through this exhibit.

In order to trace the identity of Mexican-Americans in the Southwestern United States, or "Borderlands", the exhibit will look at artifacts from a 19th century Spanish-language theatre troupe to photos of migrant farmers of the 1930s, to contemporary scripts continuing the legacy of the 20th century Chicano movement.

By Kira Azulay, Ashton Sauseda, Brennan Upchurch

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The Birth Control Movement in 1930s America

The birth control movement in the United States began in the early 1900s by many activist groups and individual citizens, such as Margaret Sanger, who founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL), now called Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and coined the term ‘birth control.' During the same time period, Mary Dennet founded the National Birth Control League (NBCL), and pursued legal action to create legal access to contraceptives. 

This exhibit will explore the activism and legality surrounding the birth control movement during the 1930s, as Americans adjusted to the change in status and access around birth control. Legitimate and illegitimate forms of publishing and advertising will be showcased along with the change in legal status of birth control pertaining to the Comstock Law and obscenity laws. The motivations for this movement will be underscored through the exhibit, highlighting eugenics, population control, women's rights, and choice in family planning. 

Artifacts are sourced from lawyer and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) co-founder, Morris Ernst's, personal collection, held at the Harry Ransom Center. Ernst was a civil rights lawyer for the American Birth Control League and other human rights institutions and citizens between 1915-1976. This exhibit will preform as a snapshot of what is preserved and available to study at the Harry Ransom Center pertaining to Ernst, birth control, legality, or women's rights, and the histories Ernst's documents hold. 

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Strategies to Promote Black Equality

This exhibit highlights specific events during the struggle for Black equality in the United States. We link them through the common theme of promoting Black equality and we explore how local strategies expanded into the national struggle against white supremacy.

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Political Freedoms of Women

This exhibit explores first-wave feminism in the U.S. and England and second-wave feminism in the U.S. With a focus on activist strategies, this will examine the wider expansion of these movements, their portrayal in the media, and their modern impact. The progression of the feminist movement overtime contributes to our understanding of social movements and the media, and translates into how we view these in the modern day. The strategies of early women's movements, like parading, and ideas of women's rights reflected in these movements develop a foundation for the modern women's movement. 

  • Photographs from the Christina Livingston Broom collection are courtsey of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. 
  • Documents from the Austin Women's Suffrage Records are courtesy of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Documents from the Bonnie Huval Papers are courtesy of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

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The Cold War and Competing Visions of Human Rights

This online exhibit, consisting of a selection of items from the Maurice Cranston collection at the Harry Ransom Center, draws upon the philosophical inquiry into the nature of human rights as presented by British philosopher Maurice Cranston. This exhibit contextualizes Cranston's depiction of moral rights as an a priori critique of contemporary visions of human rights within the backdrop of the Cold War and the social justice, political, and economic movements of that era. A theoretical and historical approach to the paradigm debate between positive and negative rights will demonstrate the social ontology of human rights in contemporary political and social justice discourse.

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Reclaiming Sexualities: An Exploration of Marginalized Sexuality in the 20th Century

While our project as a whole focuses broadly on America's hidden histories, this exhibit is specifically dedicated to the histories of groups who have been oppressed because of their sexuality or sexual identity. Each of these collections interacts with the idea of reclaiming sexuality through revolutionary empowerment for these marginalized groups, with a particular focus on the experiences of women and queer people.

The colletions are expansive in topic and intersectional in nature. The Morris Ernst papers cover a 1929 court case concerning women's reproductive rights and explore the extensive history of legal figures using moralistic rhetoric to disenfranchise women in 20th century America. The documents that cover "The Great Lesbian Wars" examine class tensions and other issues within the Political Lesbian Movement and broader lesbian community of the transformative 1960s. Meanwhile, the Feminist Zines collection of the 1970s explores the progression of various "waves" of the feminist movement and examines both the strengths and problems of this controversial movement through a display of homemade alternative magazines. Finally, the Noticias collection delves into a narrative about a gay Hispanic community in Houston, Texas during the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis. 

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Institutional Reactions to Student Activism

This exhibit investigates several historical instances of politically motivated student activism and how institutions such as the federal government, police agencies, and college administrations reacted to them.

The first section discusses the Iranian Hostage Situation. It details some of the decisions the United States' federal government made during the hostage situation as a strategy to pressure Iran and ensure the release of embassy workers.

The next page of the exhibit, 1960s UT Activism and Enforcement, details the rise of student activism on UT-Austin’s campus with special emphasis on the use of underground newspapers and the Students for a Democratic Society organization. This part of the exhibit also explains how local police agencies and the Federal Bureau of Investigation aided in the documentation and suppression of student activism on campus.

The final page of the exhibit, Motivations for Surveillance, draws from the same collection but focuses on administrative memoranda from the University of Texas. This section of the exhibit provides an institutional view of the conflicts that took place on campus in the 1960s, including the changing power dynamic between the students and the university adminsitration, the influence of national politics on university affairs, and the pressure from external groups to push back against student activism.

The common thread that connects the three sections is a view of activism as a reciprocal process that involves the activists, their audience, and the institutions that are forced to respond to challenges to their authority. As you view this exhibit, please consider the connections between these materials and reflect on the complexities of activism and the responses it often generates.

Disclaimer: This page uses archival material from the collections of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The nature of these documents limited the scope of our research, and many of the narratives explored in this exhibit invite further inquiry. Many more social and political factors contributed to institutional reactions to student activism. The curators hope that this exhibit will serve as a useful source to researchers but encourage the user to reference other sources as well.

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