It has been a year since I have posted here, busy writing a book WAHOGA, Bror Blixen in Africa. I did pay a long overdue visit to Austin, Texas and the Harry Ransom Center and on a rainy April day toured, thanks to Director Stephen Enniss, the country’s finest research library and museum, located on the campus of the University of Texas. The Center’s sheer number of scholarly materials, 42 million manuscripts, one million rare books, five million photographs, and 100,000 works of art is astonishing. The collection continues to expand had after 57 years finally received the balance of the Arthur Miller papers.
Curator Jessica McDonald gave us an in depth look at the photography collection which in addition to the earliest known surviving photograph by Nicéphore Niépce, 1823, contains the works of Julia Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Walker Evans, Cecil Beaton, and some taken by my father Richard Lee Adams. Born in the Lone Star State in 1908, like Harry Huntt Ransom, he took large format photographs in the 30s and 40s.
Austin is decidedly non Texan, the fastest growing city in America, young, trendy, cosmopolitan, commercial. It sure ain’t 1960s Texas Tech where I saw cow pokes riding to the Ag school on horseback. It is an industrious hive of historical societies, preservations societies, museums, archives, histtorical commissions, the LBJ Library, where Robert Caro spend three years poring through the million documents.