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“Texas Standard” Donates Oral History Archive to Briscoe Center for American History

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT News

Historians and journalists for generations to come have another resource for researching the UT Tower shooting, thanks to a new archive “Texas Standard” donated to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

“Texas Standard” producers presented primary research from its oral history project, “Out of the Blue: 50 Years After the UT Tower Shooting,” to Briscoe Center archivists during an intimate celebration in the KUT Community Room in early November.

The archive is important not only because it represents two years of collecting and telling the stories of the people who were on the University of Texas campus on Aug. 1, 1966, but because it wrests the narrative of that day away from the shooter to the many individuals who witnessed this tragic event.

During the 50 years that have passed since the murderous rampage, few of the people on campus or in Austin that day had spoken publicly about what they experienced. When our “Texas Standard” producers reached out to the hundreds of people who were on campus that day and asked them to share their stories a floodgate opened.

"Texas Standard" Producer Laura Rice, KUT Director of Journalism Sustainability and Impact Emily Donahue, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Executive Director Dr. Don Carleton and KUT Director and General Manager Stewart Vanderwilt at the archive presentation ceremony Nov. 2.

Our producers recorded close to 100 interviews from witnesses, many of whom were thankful for a space to finally talk about their emotions, answer long-unanswered questions and put the event to rest in their minds.

One participant wrote: “when first asked [to share], I was disinclined to do so as I had repressed the story . . . for most of my life. . . [my wife] prevailed upon me to talk about my version of the incident; so, with trepidation, I agreed [and] I am, happy that I did, as recounting . . . it has been an emotional catharsis; a recharging of my mind.”

Among the material in the archive are:

  • Reporter notebooks,
  • E-mails from more than 100 people who shared their Aug. 1, 1966 recollections,
  • A hard drive with unedited audio interviews with 89 people who have memories from that day,
  • Digital images from participants in the project,
  • Digital archival audio, including the Whitman Medical News press conference and the Governor’s Commission Report,
  • Newspaper and magazine clippings from people who had been saving them all these years, and
  • Photos and videos of some of the oral history participants

This is the second archive KUT has presented to the Briscoe Center. In the early 2000s the source material for the radio documentary on the oil century – from the discovery of oil at Spindletop, Texas, to the status of domestic oil production today – was presented to the Briscoe Center to be preserved and catalogued.

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