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Texas Artisans and Artists

Click here or scroll down to the "Project News" section for the latest information about the Hill Archive.


Hill Archive Highlights

This section features interesting finds and connections between objects and documents found on the Hill Archive. This section will continue to grow, so check back often.

Related Exhibitions

This section features links to current and past exhibits in which the Hill Archive participated. Upcoming exhibitions will also be featured here or in the Project News section when available.


















Project News


Fall/Winter 2016-2017


New institutional partners

The Hill Archive has two new institutional partners. The Rosenberg Library in Galveston has an impressive object collection as well as an archival and historical research collection. Business records, photographs, correspondence, and other primary resources will add tremendous research value to the Hill Archive in addition to examples of painters, portraitists, and printers of Galveston. Hill Archive team members spent several days in Galveston this past summer researching and digitizing archival materials in their collection.

The Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture in New Braunfels has a rich collection of Biedermeier style furniture and several Texas pottery pieces. The Hill Archive made several trips in May to photograph a selection of objects. Thanks to their cooperation, the Hill Archive will soon have examples of cabinet work by Johann Jahn, Heinrich Scholl, Franz Stautzenberger, and Friedrich Wilhelm Tietze. In addition, this collection is rich in tools of the trade for cabinetmakers, carpenters, and wood grainers, which will broaden the scope of objects represented on the Hill Archive.


1870 Census complete!

Two years after wrapping up the 1860 Census, the Hill Archive has another decade of Texas artists represented. Comparing the three decades worth of Census records provides some interesting insight. While the number of artisans and artists recorded tripled from 4,656 to 12,715, the ten most frequently recorded artisan/artist occupations in 1850 and 1860 were blacksmiths, bricklayers, cabinetmakers, carpenters, leatherworkers, mechanics, needleworkers, shoemakers, stonecutters/stonemasons, and wheelwrights. Interestingly, the 1870 census had only about 500 more artisans and artists recorded compared to the 1860 census, however, the top ten occupations for 1870 include painters and printers, which take the place of cabinetmakers and mechanics. This indicates a slowing down of settlement building and a growth in more visual arts.


Our dedicated volunteers are to thank for this major mile marker, many of whom have been with this project since its inception. Their continued commitment is commendable and we cannot thank them enough. As we delve into the 1880 census, we encourage those interested in the project to join us. Texas gets a lot bigger in the 1870s, and any additional volunteer efforts would be greatly appreciated.




Spring/Summer 2016


50,000 milestone!

There are now over 50,000 entries on the Hill Archive, a major milestone since launching the database in January 2013. There are many wonderful objects and advertisements that have been added over the past year. A brief breakdown of various types of items on the Hill Archive demonstrates the diverse content featured on the archive.


Census Records

Over 26,000 entries. The 1850 and 1860 census records are complete, and the 1870 census records are nearly complete. Such an accomplishment would not be possible without our dedicated volunteers, whom we truly appreciate.


City directory records

Over 21,000 entries. Included among the many city directories entries and advertisements are those found in the 1890 State Gazette and Business Directory, which helps make up for the lost 1890 federal census records.


Newspaper articles and advertisements

Over 700 entries. Numerous interesting advertisements and artwork can be found among articles featuring artists, exhibitions, and the occasional scandal.


Objects

Over 950 entries. The majority of these objects were contributed by our institutional partnerships with Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, Galveston Historical Foundation, The Heritage Society at Sam Houston Park, and San Jacinto Museum of History.


Primary Resources & Archival Material

Over 150 entries. Featured in this collection are trade cards, labels, and business records such as bills and agreements.


Over the coming years, our staff and volunteers will add thousands of records to this digital archive of pre-1900 Texas material culture, made possible by the ongoing extraordinary support of William J. Hill.




Fall/Winter 2015-2016


Spreading the Word: William J. Hill Artisans & Artists Archive

Texas State Historical Association

Representing the Hill Archive in Corpus Christi at the annual TSHA conference in March, Margaret Culbertson along with Lynn Bell, the assistant director for exhibits and material culture at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas, Austin, gave a presentation on the Hill Archive's institutional partnership with the Briscoe Center. Margaret and Lynn outlined the benefits reaped by both parties, and demonstrated the contributions to the Archive of the many examples of Texas artisans and artists' work from the Briscoe Center's rich collections on Texas material culture.



Art Libraries Society of North America

The Hill Archive was well represented at the March 2015 ARLIS Annual Conference in Fort Worth. Margaret Culbertson moderated a session panel on Texas partnerships among digital research collections. As one of the three presenters, Michelle Johnson discussed the Hill Archive's collaboration with institutional partners, and the mutual benefits of working together to expand the Hill Archive's digital collection beyond the Bayou Bend collection. Other presenters on the panel included Hillary Bober with the Dallas Museum of Art and Tara Carlisle with the Portal to Texas History. This session provided international exposure to the Hill Archive, as conference attendees represented the United States as well as Canada and Mexico.



Galveston Historical Foundation

On June 10th, Michelle Johnson gave a public lecture on the Hill Archive at the Bishop's Palace in Galveston. The talk covered general information about the Hill Archive and highlighted the collaborative efforts of our partnership with the Galveston Historical Foundation. The presentation concluded with a search demonstration on the various types of research content in the Archive and a question and answer session. One item featured during the talk is an oversized scrapbook entitled, "Galveston Merchants Advertising Cards, Compiled by William J. Frederich, 1887, for his Niece Louise Erhard." The Galveston scrapbook has nearly 200 pages filled with colorful advertisements for local businesses and the products and services they offered. The scrapbook can be viewed in its entirety on the Hill Archive.




Spring/Summer 2015


A Milestone Reached
The William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive has reached a new milestone with over 30,000 records online. The archive has doubled over the past year thanks to our dedicated staff and volunteers.


Partner Feature: San Jacinto Museum of History
New to the archive's database are objects from our partner collections, notably more than a hundred photographs from the San Jacinto Museum of History (SJMH) are now online, with more to come. The images document the work of many photographers working in Houston, Galveston, Austin and other areas of Texas; several include advertisements for their business offerings as well as studio locations.

The SJML has an impressive collection of 19th century Texas newspapers. We found many artisans and artists advertising their wares in the Cuero Weekly Star (Cuero, Tex.), Bandera Bugle (Bandera, Tex.), The Fairfield Recorder (Fairfield, Tex.), The Weekly Capital (Austin, Tex.), The Advocate (Pearland, Tex.) and many other titles available on our website.

The SJML library also houses several rare and beautifully bound full-color city directories, which our team digitized and researched. You can now search and browse these city directories on our database for artisans and artists working in Austin (1883-1884 and 1895), Corsicana (1894-1895), Gainesville (1887-1888), and Sherman (1891-1892).




Fall/Winter 2014-2015


The HTAAA now has over 20,000 records online!
During the summer significant progress was made in uploading a wide variety of records to the project's online archive. Major additions to the archive include the Houston City Directory for the years 1866, 1867-68, 1870-71, and 1873. Artisans and Artists of western Texas are well represented by the addition of El Paso City Directories for the years 1885, 1886-87, and 1895-96. In June, we uploaded the final artisans and artists from the 1860 census and began adding 1870 census records. Our archive, therefore, has a record of all artists and artisans living in Texas as per the 1850 and 1860 Census. The only exceptions are Blanco and Tarrant counties for 1860, of which there are no known surviving copies.


Institutional Partnerships
The Archive's partnership with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin continues to develop. In April the first 30 records and images of Texas-made objects in the Briscoe Center's Winedale Historic Complex were uploaded to the online archive. Since most of Winedale's buildings, furniture, and other objects were collected by and donated to the University of Texas by Ima Hogg, we have a particular interest in including them in Bayou Bend's Hill Archive.

In April 2014, the Archive began a partnership with the Galveston Historical Foundation. Incorporated in 1954, the GHF is well established as a historical preservation organization. Their museum collections include several items of interest to the Hill Archive, including paintings and embroideries created by Rebecca Ashton Stoddart Brown and residents of the Letitia Rosenberg Home for Women.

Over the summer, the project team visited several partners' sites including Galveston Historical Foundation, San Jacinto Museum of History, and Winedale Historic Complex in order to photograph items from their collections slated for inclusion in the Hill Archive. These partner collections will be uploaded to the archive during the coming weeks.




Spring/Summer 2014


Fellows Join the Hill Archive
The Hill Archive's Fellows Program enables emerging scholars to utilize their research and archival skills while finding and processing resources for the online archive. Fellow Allison van Heugton began work on the project in May 2013. Previously, Allison studied art history as an undergraduate at William Smith College in Geneva, New York, held an internship at the Historical Society of Geneva, and completed a master of architecture at the University of Houston. For the Hill Archive, she is reading and indexing 19th-century publications and documents, including newspapers and censuses of industry and manufacturing. Her work with an 1865 Galveston newspaper uncovered an advertisement placed by portrait painter Louise Wueste seeking commissions and students. (Some of Wueste's works are owned by the Witte Museum in San Antonio.)

Fellow Emily Perkins began working with the archive in December, having completed an undergraduate degree in history from the Louisiana State University Honors College and a master of science in information studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been indexing El Paso city directories from the 1880s, bringing more West Texas artisans into the archive.




Fall/Winter 2013-2014


Hill Archive Updates
The William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive continues to grow, to add more content through partnerships and the work of volunteers and staff, and to reach more users.

Partnerships with organizations across Texas are an important part the project. Our initial partnership with The Heritage Society enabled inclusion of their significant Texas furniture pieces. Two new partnerships begun this summer---one with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas in Austin and another with the San Jacinto Museum---will provide a wealth of material and objects, including images and information.

Summer 2013 marked several milestones for the Hill Archive. Margaret Culbertson and Marie Wise presented the project at two major conferences, the Texas Association of Museums and the Art Libraries Society of North America. Presenting on the Archive's goals, procedures, and impacts serves to increase exposure and encourage use across many disciplines

The Archive's first Fellow, Allison Van Heugten, worked throughout the summer to initiate the collection of historical newspaper resources as well as indexing the detailed information included in the 1860 Census of Manufacturing. These data sets will be a valuable inclusion for the Archive.


First Advisory Board Meets
The Hill Archive Advisory Board convened at Bayou Bend in August. The full-day meeting focused on the many strategic and technical components of the Archive as well as exciting possibilities for future growth and the new scholarship this research tool will enable.

The Hill Archive Advisory Board members represent the various fields served by the Archive. The members are Ron Tyler, former director of the Amon Carter Museum and of the Texas State Historical Association; Pat Kane, Director of the Rhode Island Furniture Archive and Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Yale University Art Gallery; Andrew Torget, historian and digital scholar at the University of North Texas; Patricia Lynn Denton, Director of the Public History Program at Texas State University and former Director of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum; and Lee Pecht, University Archivist and Director of Special Collections at Rice University. We look forward to the advice and assistance of this stellar group as the Hill Archive moves forward.




Spring/Summer 2013


Launch of the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive!
The William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive is now online at http://texasartisans.mfah.org. The Hill Archive is a free, searchable database that documents the lives, work, business practices, and products of artists and artisans working in Texas during the 19th century. This initiative is supported through the generosity of William J. Hill and named in his honor; in September 2012, it was awarded a significant grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project's aim is to encourage new research and focus greater attention on Texas's contributions to the history of American decorative arts.

The archive currently includes Texas census records for 1850 and most of 1860 as well as several early city directories and newspaper issues. Also included are primary sources, research files, publications, and object images. Volunteers have proved to be an invaluable resource in indexing the archive, devoting hours to poring over these materials to identify relevant information about artisans and artists for the archive. The resulting data reveals details on a wide range of Texas artisans and artists, from cabinetmakers and silversmiths to textile workers and shoemakers. The online interface and data configuration allow users to browse by name, place, occupation, object form, or medium. Beyond enabling research on individual artisans, the data compiled through this ambitious project will address broader questions about community, commerce, and the role of artisan trades in early Texas. By collaborating with institutions across Texas, the archive will be expanded through additional object images and research.

To complement the public launch of the archive website, an installation of Texas pottery and stoneware is on view in the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor Education Center. The selected pieces highlight the range of information available through the online archive and tell a lively story about early Texas. The Hill Archive, with its mission to promote research and interest in this subject, is a natural fit for Bayou Bend, a leading center for the exhibition and study of early Texas decorative arts.

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