About the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive
Created by the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, this freely-searchable online archive documents the lives, work, and products of Texas artisans and artists through 1900. Named for Houston collector and longtime Bayou Bend supporter William J. Hill, the archive is intended to facilitate research, understanding, and appreciation of Texas decorative arts, as well as painting, photography, and other media. For more information about the project team and how to reach us, please visit the Contact Us page.
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 our 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.
The William J. Hill Artisans and Artists Archive is an essential resource for students, scholars, antiques collectors, or anyone who seeks information about artists, artisans, decorative arts, material culture, or history of early Texas. The breadth and depth of its content also makes it a valuable resource in the study of 19th-century American decorative arts, art, and material culture.
Financial support was provided by generous grants from William J. Hill and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The database is structured, searched, and viewed using CONTENTdm digital collection management software. Keyword search terms are taken from the following standardized vocabularies: Library of Congress Subject Headings, the Getty Research Institute's Art and Architecture Thesaurus, and The Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging. Metadata follows Dublin Core Metadata Initiative best practices.