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Briscoe-Garner Museum - Introduction

John Nance Garner Museum

The Briscoe-Garner Museum is one of five divisions of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, an organized research unit of The University of Texas at Austin. The museum is located in the house that served as John Nance Garner's home for more than thirty years.

The museum is dedicated to the remarkable lives of John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner and Dolph Briscoe, both Uvalde natives and historically important political figures from Texas. The Briscoe Center plans to maintain the existing exhibit space devoted to Garner on the museum's first floor, and create new exhibits dedicated to Briscoe on the second floor, which previously had been closed to the public.

John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner (1868–1967) was speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives during the last two years of Herbert Hoover's presidency (1931–1933) and vice president during President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first two terms (1933–1941). Garner was a dominant national political figure who played a critical role in the passage of much of the New Deal legislation aimed at alleviating or ending the most severe economic crisis in U.S. history. The Briscoe Center archives include the extensive John Nance Garner Scrapbook Collection, the only significant body of Garner papers that exists.

Dolph Briscoe, John Nance Garner, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Courtesy of the Uvalde Leader/El Progreso Library.

Dolph Briscoe, John Nance Garner, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Courtesy of the Uvalde Leader/El Progreso Library.

Garner served as a political inspiration and mentor to Dolph Briscoe (1923–2010), who was a member of the state legislature from 1949 until 1957. Briscoe was elected governor in 1972 and served through the oil-boom years of the 1970s, during which he increased spending for highway improvements, signed into law the Texas Open Records Act and streamlined state agencies. He was one of the state's leading ranchers and president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. In 2008, The University of Texas at Austin announced the naming of its Center for American History after Gov. Briscoe, in recognition of his support for preserving and promoting Texas and U.S. history.

Garner and his wife, Ettie, who had served as his personal secretary during their years in the nation's capital, lived in the two-story brick house on 333 North Park Street in Uvalde until her death in 1948. In 1952, Garner donated the structure to the City of Uvalde as a memorial to his late wife, but continued to reside on the property in a small one-story cottage until his death on November 7, 1967. The John Nance Garner House was named a National Historic Landmark in 1972. In 1973, the Garner Museum opened with the mission to preserve and exhibit photographs, cartoons, documents, paintings, sculptures, and artifacts documenting Garner's life and career.

On November 20, 1999, the City of Uvalde transferred ownership of the Garner Museum to The University of Texas at Austin to become a division of the university's Briscoe Center for American History. In 2011, the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System approved the renaming of the John Nance Garner Museum to the Briscoe-Garner Museum, in honor of the late Governor Dolph Briscoe.

The Briscoe Center is among the leading research agencies in the nation for the study of historical topics that relate to the life and career of both Briscoe and Garner. Its Research and Collections Division located on the Austin campus constitutes the largest archive and library in existence on Texas history, with special strengths on the congressional and political history of Texas. The Briscoe Center archives include the extensive John Nance Garner Scrapbook Collection, the only significant body of Garner papers that exists, and Dolph Briscoe’s personal and gubernatorial papers.