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The University of Texas at Austin


Message from Director Don Carleton

May 2015

Dr. Don Carleton, Executive Directory of the Briscoe Center

The end of May signals the end of the semester for students and faculty on campus. However, as you can see from this issue of the E-news, work does not cease at the Briscoe Center.

First, I'm excited to announce the arrival of the John Bryson Photographic Archive. Bryson, a graduate of The University, could boast of many achievements as a photographer, including making Nikita Khrushchev laugh. According to the 1959 book Moscow Gatecrash, Bryson was at a gala with Khrushchev when the Soviet leader began admiring his camera. Bryson offered to exchange it for a missile. He got a chuckle, but no missile!

Armed with a quick wit, Bryson was able to take countless images of the Hollywood elite for decades. He is possibly best known for an image of Ernest Hemingway kicking a can down the road in Alaska. A note in the archive—from Hemingway's widow to Bryson—states that the image was the novelist's favorite of himself.

As the semester wraps up, I'm pleased that the center's R. C. Hickman exhibit will be on display in Dallas throughout the summer, while numerous other items from our collections can be seen at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., for the exhibit Reporting Vietnam. Both displays are examples of the growing reputation the center enjoys in museum circles.

Academics on campus continue to benefit the most from the center's collections. This semester, whether for a class, project or publication, we have enhanced many a scholar's work and broadened many a student's horizons. In particular, I'd like to point out the Department of History's Not Even Past blog, where several posts utilize the center's archives.

The latest example, "The Curious Life of General Jackson's Horse's Hair" was written by graduate student Josh Urich and explores the meaning (and mystery) behind a rather strange gift: a lock of hair from Stonewall Jackson's horse, Old Sorrel. You can read the full post here.

In addition to students, journalists are active visitors to our reading room as well. Earlier this month, the Associated Press used the center's John Salmon "Rip" Ford Papers in an article about Battle of Palmito Ranch. The battle, the last of the Civil War, was fought in South Texas 150 years ago this month. (Ford led the Confederate forces.) The Briscoe Center has some incredible Civil War–era collections, and I'm glad they are being well used.

To finish, I would like to offer my condolences to the family of Howard N. Richards, who died on April 27. A former member of the University of Texas Board of Regents and the Briscoe Center's Advisory Council, Howard played a crucial role in the effort that established the center as an independent unit of the university. Howard was a true friend who will be sorely missed.

Don Carleton, Ph.D.
Executive Director
J. R. Parten Chair in the Archives of American History