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The University of Texas at Austin


Briscoe Center Launches Interactive Memoir

E-book uses digital archives to enrich the story of Bernard Rapoport

The Briscoe Center has launched a special digital edition of Being Rapoport: Capitalist with a Conscience by former chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents Bernard Rapoport (as told to Don Carleton).

Desktop computer and tablet display of the Bernard Rapoport Legacy Project websiteRapoport's memoir, originally published by the University of Texas Press in 2002, has been reinvented as a web portal synchronized to 1,500 hyperlinked archival documents ("binks") digitized from the Briscoe Center's Rapoport Papers and other collections. The Briscoe Center worked with Colorado-based start-up Beneath The Ink on the project. The project was made possible by support from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation and other generous donors.

"I'm personally delighted by how the ebook's features enrich the text, connecting it with important archival materials," said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. "It's exciting to think of the possibilities that enhanced ebooks offer the center, and I look forward to how they may influence our future publications."

Bernard Rapoport was born in San Antonio in 1917. His father had fled to the United States from Russia following his involvement in the revolution against the Czarist regime in 1905. Rapoport graduated from UT Austin with a degree in economics in 1939 and married Audre Newman three years later. Rapoport founded the American Income Life Insurance Company in 1951 and moved its headquarters to Waco in 1958. Under Rapoport's leadership, the company spread into labor and credit union markets and was purchased for $563 million in 1994.

Rapoport spent most of his life actively supporting liberal politicians, starting with his support for Homer Rainey's gubernatorial campaign in 1946. Rapoport was a friend and longtime major donor to President Bill Clinton, beginning with Clinton's unsuccessful campaign for a congressional seat from Arkansas in 1974.

"Rapoport's eventful life touches so many different aspects of twentieth-century American history that his memoir is as much a story of his place and time as it is of the man," said Carleton.

Rapoport, who served as chairman of the UT System Board of Regents from 1993 to 1997, established or contributed to numerous endowments for scholarships and chairs at the university. The UT campus is also the proud home of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice.

Rapoport donated his papers to the Briscoe Center in 1992. This massive collection, measuring 220 linear feet in size, includes correspondence, meeting notes, diaries, political files, photographs, and personal items that document his business career, his political activities, and his philanthropic work in the areas of education, health care, and social justice.

"I'm proud to say that 'B' Rapoport was my friend, and he was a loyal supporter of both the Briscoe Center and the University of Texas," Carleton said. "Shortly before he died in 2012, he committed to paper his thoughts on the state of affairs in America today. In his honor, these thoughts have been reworked into a new epilogue for the memoir."

You can view the ebook, Being Rapoport: Capitalist with a Conscience at