Presented by:
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

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Texas Icon

As one of America's premier songwriters, Willie Nelson crystallizes the joys and heartaches of daily life into unforgettable words and music. He is enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame and was a 1998 Kennedy Center honoree. In 2013, Nelson donated his vast collection of gifts, awards, and personal items to the University of Texas at Austin’s Briscoe Center. The Briscoe Center is a natural home for the Willie Nelson Collection, with resources covering a wide range of folk and popular music of Texas and the greater South and Southwest. The Willie Nelson display in the North End Zone of the Longhorn football stadium will change regularly to explore different aspects of this multitalented man and his music.


Watch this three minute documentary chronicling Willie Nelson's history as a performer for Austin City Limits, and as a music icon for the city of Austin, Texas.

When you hear me, you know it's me, regardless of the song.

Music Collections

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.

Doug Sahm at the Soap Creek Saloon, 1974. Burton Wilson Collection

Music Resources

The Briscoe Center houses a variety of music resources and memorabilia, capturing a broad range of music genres and history. These resources include photographs, recordings, music artwork, memorabilia, and research materials.

Briscoe Music Collections

The Briscoe Center's music collections include some 50,000 commercial and field recordings, embracing every genre of music from traditional cowboy songs to urban hip–hop. These include fiddle tunes, western swing, gospel music, blues, jazz, rock, musical theater, and traditional Anglo, African American, Cajun, Czech, German, and Mexican American folk music.

Texas Music Exhibit

The Briscoe Center houses extensive collections of research materials related to Texas music. Currently on display at Sid Richardson Hall is a small sampling drawn from the Center's collections documenting the musical history of Austin and the Lone Star State.

Texas Poster Art Collection

The Briscoe Center houses 400 digitized works of Texas poster art, exhibiting the innovative designs inspired by the counter culture and psychedelic music movements of the 1960s.

Tom Wright Photographic Archive

Tom Wright, former photographer and manager for the British rock group, The Who, chronicled the band's artistic evolotion from the lae 1960s to the early 1990s. Wright also served as photographer for the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and the Faces, the James Gang, J. D. Souther, the Thunderbirds, Elvis Costello, Bob Seeger, the Eagles, and others.

Three chords and the truth - that's what a country song is.

About the Briscoe Center

Through stewardship, scholarship, and outreach, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History increases knowledge and fosters exploration of our nation's past.

As a leading history research center, we collect, preserve, and make available documentary and material culture evidence encompassing key themes in Texas and U.S. history. Researchers, students, and the public use our collections for a wide range of academic, professional, and personal uses. Our collections also inspire our own projects, including books, exhibits, programs, films, and educational materials. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History is an organized research unit and public service component of The University of Texas at Austin.


For exhibit inquiries, contact the Briscoe Center for American History below.

Contact Info

Sid Richardson Hall 2.106, 2300 Red River St. Stop D1100, Austin TX, 78712-1426

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The University of Texas at Austin thanks Willie Nelson for the generous gift of his personal collection and the Jamail Foundation for its support of this exhibit.

To Willie, with love
Lee, Edith, Coach, and Joe

Sig image credit: Willie Nelson at the Fourth of July Picnic, Luckenbach, Texas, 1998. Photo by Jeff Newman, Southern Lights/Northern Cross Collection.