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Since 1980, the Briscoe Center has actively built its music collections as part of its mission to document the historical experience of the American people. The center’s resources include over 50,000 commercial and field recordings, embracing every genre of music from traditional cowboy songs to hip–hop. The music collections also document the business activities of producers, record labels, and concert venues. Collectively, these resources have given the center an international reputation for music research.
Banner image: Blues musician Mance Lipscomb photographed at his home. Photograph by Burton Wilson (Burton Wilson Collection).
Texas Poster Art Collection
In the late 1960s, Texas poster art, long an important mainstay of the state's printmaking tradition, entered a fertile and innovative period in Austin. Drawing inspiration from the counter culture and psychedelic music movements, a new generation of Texas graphic arts designers created one-of-a-kind posters. Today their works are considered some of the finest artifacts of this music poster explosion. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin has digitized 400 of these extraordinary posters.
In the fall of 2005, the Center for American History announced the creation of the Endowment for the Study of the American Spiritual. With mezzo soprano—and University of Texas Ex—Barbara Conrad as its national ambassador, the Endowment will promote scholarship, performance, publication, and the collection and preservation of historical materials related to the American spiritual and to African American music in general. The fact that the Center was chosen to host this Endowment is testament to its long–term commitment to American music history. For more information visit the Study of American Spirituals project page.
Listed below are some of the Center's most important music collections, with a brief description of their contents. Collections with inventories are linked to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO).
ARMADILLO WORLD HEADQUARTERS ARCHIVES, 1971–1980. (40 feet)
Business records, contracts, talent files, photographs, clippings, printed materials, and demonstration and promotional recordings documenting the 10–year history of a legendary Austin music venue.
BILL BOYD PAPERS, 1930–1966. (4 feet)
Correspondence, clippings, business files and contracts, published and manuscript sheet music, posters, and photographs documenting Boyd’s career as an RCA Victor recording artist and western movie star.
HAROLD EGGERS/TOWNES VAN ZANDT COLLECTION, ca. 1950s–2000.
Manuscripts, photographs, and sound and video recordings documenting the career of Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt, assembled by his long-time road manager and business associate.
"FOLKUS" MUSIC COLLECTION, 1986–1996. (32 feet)
Videocassettes featuring interviews and performances of Texas blues musicians, including Robert Shaw, Roosevelt "Grey Ghost" Williams, Lavada "Dr. Hepcat" Durst, H. L. "Blues Boy" Hubbard, T. D. Bell, Erbie Bowser, W. C. Clark, and many others. Also includes interviews with Rod Kennedy, B. B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, and Clifford Antone, as well as 2-inch audio tapes of studio sessions.
SKIPPER LEE FRAZIER PAPERS, 1967–1993. (9.5 feet)
Personal papers, photographs, audio-visual materials, and clippings documenting the activities of Houston radio personality, music promoter, and businessman, Skipper Lee Frazier.
NILES J. FULLER PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION, 1985–1987. (326 color prints)
Photographic portraits of a wide range of Austin musicians, created in the mid-1980s as a personal project by photographer Niles Fuller. Subjects also include journalists, producers, artists, and other music industry figures.
ERIC GRAHAM VIDEO COLLECTION, 1980–1985. (111 video tapes & cassettes)
Production footage used in creating various music video clips for state, national, and international broadcast. Includes music of The Pool (Patrick Keel), Joe "King" Carrasco, and Omar and the Howlers.
DOUG HANNERS MUSIC COLLECTION, 1942–1997. (4.5 feet).
Collection of recordings in various formats of mostly Texas artists, as well as correspondence, lead sheets, and other documents, assembled by music historian and collector Doug Hanners. Artists include Roky Erickson and 13th Floor Elevators, Doug Sahm, Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender, and others.
BOB JOHNSTON COLLECTION, ca. 1960–present. (50 feet)
Commercial recordings, studio masters, biographical materials, articles, correspondence, contracts, and photographs documenting the career of legendary "super-producer" Bob Johnston, whose long list of credits includes Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel, Leonard Cohen, and Aretha Franklin.
ROD KENNEDY PRESENTS, INC., RECORDS, ca. 1947–1999. (25 feet)
business correspondence, advertising and promotional literature, photographs, and other materials documenting the activities of Rod Kennedy Presents, Inc., in the creation of folk, gospel, jazz, and classical concerts and festivals around Texas.
RICHARD KING IV COLLECTION, 1985–1988 (7.5 feet).
Eighty-seven commercial video program masters of music performances from the Austin Community Television series, "Dixie’s Bar and Bus Stop," and the Kerrville Folk Festival.
MANCE LIPSCOMB-GLEN ALYN COLLECTION, 1960–1995. (9 feet)
Correspondence, notes, photographs, transcripts, and printed matter, plus more than 100 reels of oral history tapes and 14 phonodiscs documenting the life and music of Mance Lipscomb, a Navasota guitar master and singer.
JOHN AVERY LOMAX FAMILY PAPERS, 1842, 1853–1986.(46 feet)
Manuscripts, correspondence, reports, notes, photographs, and sound recordings— including copies of commercial and field recordings—documenting the career and ballad-collecting efforts of John A. Lomax, Sr., Alan Lomax, and other family members, Rich in Anglo, African, and Mexican American music of Texas.
HUEY P. MEAUX PAPERS, ca. 1946–present. (140 feet)
Business records, promotional materials, photographs, and other materials documenting the career of music producer and promoter Huey Meaux (aka "the Crazy Cajun"), as well as Don Robey’s Duke/Peacock Records and other aspects of Texas Gulf Coast music history.
TOWNSEND MILLER COLLECTION, ca. 1924–1989. (50 feet)
More than 8000 commercial recordings, as well as biographical and discographical files, printed matter, posters, and photographs dealing mostly with American folk, country, and popular music, assembled by Austin music critic and columnist Townsend Miller.
MARVIN MONTGOMERY / LIGHT CRUST DOUGHBOYS COLLECTION,
ca. 1935–present. (15 feet)
The music library and archives of the legendary Fort Worth western swing band, the Light Crust Doughboys, assembled by its long-time banjoist, the late Marvin "Smokey" Montgomery.
JAMES NASH MUSIC COLLECTION, ca. 1970s–present. (2 feet)
A growing collection of digitally-remastered versions of out-of-print LPs as well as contemporary CDs and other materials by a number of Austin-based artists, especially Shiva’s Headband and Greezy Wheels. Includes some 200 musical recordings, plus posters and music memorabilia.
NATCHEZ TRACE COLLECTION SHEET MUSIC, ca. 1850–1920. (12 feet)
Four thousand pieces of published popular, light-classical, and classical music collected as part of a major Southern history archive. Includes Stephen Foster, Civil War music, and imprints from the A. E. Blackmar firm in New Orleans.
WILLIAM A. OWENS COLLECTION, 1937–1941. (60 phonodiscs)
78 rpm copies of field recordings of Anglo, African, Mexican American, and Cajun music made in Texas and Louisiana for the University of Texas Extension Service prior to World War II. Tape copies also exist in the UT Folklore Center Archives (see below).
DELMER ROGERS COLLECTION, ca. 1800–1995. (12 feet, plus library)
Research collection of longtime American music scholar at UT-Austin School of Music, rich in published monographs and reference texts, sheet music (including Texas imprints), recordings, and research notes. Also includes student papers on a wide variety of topics written for Rogers’ courses on "Music in Texas" and "Music in North American Life" at UT- Austin.
ROBERT N. SIMMONS COLLECTION, ca. 1962–1975. (60 tapes)
Recorded music and interviews dealing mostly with Texas music and musicians, including Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, Johnny Winter, Doug Sahm, Texas western swing music, and Don Robey’s Duke & Peacock Records.
SOAP CREEK SALOON ARCHIVES, 1966–1985. (20 feet)
Business records, contracts, talent files, photographs, clippings, printed matter, posters, and audio and video recordings documenting the activities of another important Austin music venue.
TEXAS COMPOSERS COLLECTION, 1840–1950. (2 feet)
Manuscript and printed music and correspondence of 80 Texas composers from Victor Alessandro to Virginia Bassett Young. Materials include classical, popular, band, and folk music.
TEXAS FEDERATION OF MUSIC CLUBS RECORDS, 1860–1869, 1915–2005. (24 feet)
Official records documenting the organization and activities of the Federation in promoting American music and artists and musical education across the state.
TEXAS FOLKLIFE RESOURCES COLLECTION, 1940–1988. (89 tapes and logs)
Production materials for TFR documentary radio series, including its 1987 project, "Lift Every Voice: 50 Years of Central Texas Black Gospel," featuring both oral history and music.
TEXAS MUSIC COLLECTION, 1922–present. (9000 phonodiscs and cassettes)
Commercial recordings representing (1) anything produced by Texas record companies, (2) music performed or composed by a Texan, or (3) any music with a Texas or regional theme. Includes 78s, LPs, 45s, audiocassettes, and CDs.
TEXAS POSTER ART COLLECTION, 1966–present. (approx. 1500 pieces)
Posters and flyers documenting the musical and cultural life of Austin and other Texas communities, especially events at the Vulcan Gas Co., the Armadillo World Headquarters, Soap Creek Saloon, and Liberty Lunch. Artists represented include Gilbert Shelton, Jim Franklin, Micael Priest, Danny Garrett, Guy Juke, Nels Jacobson, and Frank Kozik.
ALLAN TURNER ORAL HISTORY COLLECTION, 1972–1982, 2006–present. (57 audiocassettes)
Oral interviews with performers of traditional Texas and Louisiana music, including conjunto, country and western, Czech and German, Cajun, and blues. Interviewees include Mance Lipscomb, Robert Shaw, Clarence Garlow, Santiago Jiménez, Lydia Mendoza, Fred Zimmerle, Ray Baca, Adolph Hofner, Cliff Bruner, Ted Daffan, J. R. Chatwell, and others. Also includes non-musical interviews.
UT FOLKLORE CENTER ARCHIVES, ca. 1928–1981. (101 feet)
Manuscripts, publications, and sound recordings of Texas, American, and international folklore and music, including over 2000 reels of tape. Of special importance are the field recordings of folklorists John A. Lomax, William A. Owens, Américo Paredes, John Henry Faulk, and Roger Abrahams.
TARA VENERUSO COLLECTION, ca. 1960–2000. (6 feet)
Production materials created by director Tara Veneruso for her full-length documentary video on Austin music and culture from the 1960s to the '90s, Janis Joplin Slept Here (1994). Video interviews feature Clifford Antone, Marcia Ball, Joe King Carrasco, Cleve Hattersley, Tish Hinojosa, Chesley Milliken, Paul Ray, Jimmie Lee Vaughan, and many others.
ED WARD COLLECTION, 1980–1995. (approx. 12,000 phonodiscs, 2000 cassettes)
Personal and review copies of jazz, rock, blues, country, folk, popular, and international music recordings collected by prominent music critic and author Ed Ward during his years in Austin, Texas. Also includes his columns written for the Austin Chronicle and Austin American-Statesman.
BURTON WILSON COLLECTION, ca. 1920s–present. (2.5 feet)
Exhibit prints created by Austin photographer Burton Wilson, a student of Russell Lee and house photographer for two key Austin music venues in the 1960s and 1970s: the Vulcan Gas Co. and the Armadillo World Headquarters. The photographs document the early careers of Willie Nelson, Marcia Ball, Joe Ely, Jerry Jeff Walker, and many others. Also includes Wilson’s collection of early jazz and blues recordings. Taped copies of these recordings are also in the UT Folklore Center Archives (see above).
TOM WRIGHT COLLECTION, 1962–1994. (4 feet)
Photographic prints and negatives, recordings, correspondence, posters, memorabilia, and scrapbooks documenting Tom Wright’s years as road manager and photographer for music groups such as The Who, the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and Faces, the Thunderbirds, Elvis Costello, and the Eagles. An extensive photographic and audio tape archive documents The Who’s artistic evolution from 1967 to the early 1990s, including its landmark 1969 performance of the rock opera Tommy in Detroit.
For more information on these and the Center's many other music collections, see the special Music Collections subject guide.