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The University of Texas at Austin


Sam Rayburn Museum Receives Save Our Treasures Grant and Announces 50th Anniversary Celebration Event, December 9, 2005


San Rayburn with shovel at library groundbreaking

The Sam Rayburn Museum of the Center for American History (CAH) announces that they have received a $197,000 matching grant from the Save Our Treasures Program of the National Park Service. The museum will also host the fiftieth anniversary of the groundbreaking of Speaker Rayburn's library on December 9, 2005 at 11 a.m.

The Sam Rayburn Museum, located in Bonham, Texas, is owned and operated by the CAH of the University of Texas at Austin. According to Dr. Patrick Cox, the CAH Assistant Director who administers the Rayburn Museum, the funds will be used to address specific needs for renovating the historic monument to one of the state's most influential national leaders - Speaker Sam Rayburn. Also, as a central part of this project, many of the museum's displays and exhibits are being redesigned and enhanced to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary celebration.

Sam Rayburn was a key figure in both Texas and American history. Elected as a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1907 to 1913, Rayburn served as Speaker of the Texas House in 1912. Following his years in Austin, he won his first Congressional election in 1912. He went on to represent the interests of his North Texas friends and neighbors in Washington as the representative from the Fourth Congressional District from 1913 until his death in 1961. Perhaps Sam Rayburn's most historic legacy is his record for holding the position of Speaker of the House in the U.S. Congress for seventeen years, the longest record of service at that time for this position. Rayburn became the model for integrity and leadership for elected officials and his reputation has withstood the test of time.

The Sam Rayburn Museum houses thousands of artifacts, books and documents of historical significance. The majority of the volumes are part of Sam Rayburn's personal collection, all of which he personally initialed "SR" on page ninety-nine. The rest of the books shelved in the library come from a wide variety of donors from former presidents to members of his own family. The collection also contains a set of the Congressional Record as well as a number of books personally inscribed to Rayburn by admirers such as Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The museum is home to many personal and historical artifacts that serve as a memorial to the career and character of Rayburn. These artifacts include the white marble rostrum that Mr. Rayburn used as Speaker of the House. The rostrum stood in the House chamber from 1857 until 1950. Behind the Speaker's rostrum in the museum's foyer hangs the last American flag that hung in the House Chamber before it was renovated in 1950. The museum also features an exact replica of the Speaker's office in Washington including the furniture and chandelier from his Washington office. Another highlight of the museum's holdings is a collection of gavels used by Rayburn during his tenure as Speaker, such as the gavel used when Roosevelt declared war in World War II.