“The archive is a great resource for researchers, students, and Texas history enthusiasts that are interested in Texas-made products and especially the people that made them,” explains Renee Tallent, GHF Museums Collections Manager.
Created by the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive is a freely-searchable online archive that documents the lives, work, and products of Texas artisans and artists through 1900. Galveston Historical Foundation partnered with the archive in 2014 and contributed approximately 50 items from its museum collections, including several works by Mrs. Josephine Gresham, whose home will provide the setting for the talk.
The Archive includes census records, city directory entries, newspaper articles, and other primary source materials of the 19th century, as well as later research and publications about Texas artisans and artists. Images of objects also are included, beginning with objects in the collections of Bayou Bend as well as partner institutions including the Dolph Briscoe Center of American History at UT Austin, Galveston Historical Foundation, The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park, and the San Jacinto Battle Monument and Museum. Users can search the Archive by keyword or browse by occupation, name, county, type of object, or source category. The Archive is continually evolving, with information added regularly.
The William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive was inspired by the archive established in the 1970’s by the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The MESDA archive documents craftsmen of the early American South. In 2010, believing that Texas artisans and artists deserved similar attention, Bayou Bend curator Michael Brown, Powell Library Director Margaret Culbertson, and five volunteers initiated what would become the Hill Archive. William J. Hill’s generous contribution in 2011 enabled significant progress through the addition of Project Manager Marie Wise and two other staff members to the team. In 2012 an Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America grant provided additional support.