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History in Your Hands: 50 Years of the Austin History Center

Since 1955, the Austin History Center has served Austin and the surrounding area as a local archives. The exhibit History in Your Hands: 50 years of the Austin History Center celebrates the most notable events occurring in the last half-century at the Austin History Center.

As part of its mission as a local archives, the Austin History Center is committed to gathering, preserving and providing its visitors with documentation of the history of Austin and the surrounding area. Regardless of wealth, power or influence, all people can share their experiences with today’s school children and the generations to follow by donating and researching the documents preserved at the Austin History Center. Fostering interactions between local citizens and the people whose stories are housed within these walls, the Austin History Center shatters the barriers of time, wealth, status, language, gender and race. Using these archives, we learn from our predecessors by sharing their experiences and interacting with the very documents they created. At the Austin History Center, history is in your hands to use and to preserve. The first 50 years of the Austin History Center have established it as a testament to the past, a resource for the present and an influence on the future.

In 1955, the Austin Public Library established a small file devoted to local history called the Austin-Travis County Collection. Through the hard work of Helen Swanson and the collection's first curator Katherine Drake Hart, the Austin-Travis County Collection grew from a single file folder into a separate section of the Austin Public Library's Reference department. After the opening of the new John Henry Faulk Central Library and partially due to the efforts of the second curator of the Austin History Center Audray Bateman Randle, the original central Austin Public Library building became the Austin History Center. To discover more about the first 50 years of the Austin History Center, view the timeline on the next page.

Anniversary pages created by Catherine Stollar