TABLE OF CONTENTS
Natural Science Guild of Austin, Inc. Records
An Inventory of the Collection
Organized in 1968 in response to a request from the Austin Natural Science Association (ANSA) Board (founded in 1960) to cooperate with the city of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) in the operation and maintenance of The Austin Nature & Science Center, currently in Zilker Park. At the January 25, 1990 general membership meeting, members unanimously voted to change the Guild’s name to The Natural Science Guild of Austin, Incorporated, eventually referring to the organization as simply The Natural Science Guild (NSG). Following this announcement, the mission of the Austin Natural Science Guild Association was updated to read, “The Natural Science Guild is an organization of volunteers whose goal is to educate parents and children to appreciate, respect and protect the environment.”
ANSAG started with 20 members. In 1970, the Board began the operation of the Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm, a 90-acre area in northeast Austin with recreated “living history” sites, including an 1841 Tonkawa Encampment, an 1868 German Immigrant Farm, an 1873 Texian Farm, an 1887 Cotton Planter's Farm and an 1899 Sprinkle Corner rural village . NSG held its first Gala in 1969 with 195 members. As of 1992, membership totaled more than 200. NSG sponsored two major events each year. Safari, a celebration of the environment with family fun activities such as horseback riding, crafts, music, etc. was held in Zilker Park during the last weekend in April. Fall Festival is held at the Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm each fall and showcases the heritage and lifestyle of the Central Texas pioneers during the 1880’s.
NSG was a women’s guild and membership was open to women who had a genuine interest in the mission of the NSG. Candidates were recommended by existing members in good standing, and once accepted, paid annual dues and were required for the first two years of membership to participate as docents at the Austin Nature & Science Center, the Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farm, or Maysfield Park. They also had to work two volunteer shifts at the Gala, Safari, or Fall Festival. Annual membership meetings were held in May in addition to regular monthly meetings and special meetings. In the 1998/1999 fiscal year (the latest recorded in the records), the operating budget was $8853.
The NSG Board of Directors consists of the following officers: the President, Executive Vice-President/President-Elect, Vice-President/Volunteer Service, Corresponding Secretary, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Treasurer-Elect/Safari Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer/Fall Festival Treasurer, Historian and Parliamentarian. Officers were elected yearly. Additionally, the Board of Directors was responsible for different standing committees: Bylaws, Hospitality, Membership, Nominating, Newsletter, Program, Fundraising, Publicity, Public Relations, Grants, Scholarships, Projects Administration, Finance and Yearbook.
Presidents’ names can be found in the Ansagram and Field Notes newsletters and meeting minutes. Many Presidents kept notebooks of records such as correspondence, newsletters, and event fliers. Presidents with notebooks included in the collection are: Sidney Jones (1984-85), Mary Beth McMillon (1990-92), Diane Terwelp (1991-92), Joyce Orr (1992-93), Olga Stobie (1993-94), Penny Powell (1994-95), and Larcie Burnett (1998-99).
The NSG newsletter, formerly called Ansagram and changed to Field Notes when NSG changed its name, was sent to members eight times per year and included information on upcoming meetings, elections, events, announcements, and member’s personal announcements (births, deaths, etc.).
After members voted down a proposed merger with ANSA in 1999, the NSG finally disbanded in 2002. Some records from the NSG’s final years are located at the Austin Nature & Science Center.
The largest series, Presidential Materials, consists of official correspondence with persons and organizations instrumental to the NSG’s functions and overall mission, as well as bylaws, requirements for both new members and volunteers, publicity material (e.g. local newspaper clippings, promotional fliers), photos and documentation of annual events such as SAFARI and the Fall Festival, Adopt-a-School records, and other community-centered records. Also included are grant applications and documents relating to project administration, as well as budget reports from the Treasurer.
Governing Materials contain records relating to the organization’s day-to-day functioning, such as General and Board minutes, financial reports, bylaws, and project administration documents.
The Public Relations Committee series consists of a binder belonging to Janet Franki, the 1986-87 P.R. Chairman, and includes NSG policies and bylaws, a Guild membership directory, budget reports, financial statements, receipts and treasurer reports (mostly from 1986-87, but financial information from 1970-1985 is also included), board meeting minutes and public relations activity, including photographs, activity plans and publicity. Community outreach materials are also included. A related series, Public Relations-Guild, includes newspaper clippings, exhibit boards promoting the NSG to potential new members, along with promotional materials such as Safari ‘98 bumper stickers.
The Financial Reports series gives information about the disbursements for a given year. It also provides evidence that the NSG hired an outside firm to provide auditing service for the organization.
Scrapbooks document the annual civic activities organized by the NSG, such as the annual Fall Festival, SAFARI, as well as various parties, luncheons, and inter-organizational benefits. Documentary formats include photographs and ephemera such as invitational fliers and event programs.
The series Pioneer Farms- General Materials consists of assorted information on Pioneer Farms, including legal materials such as a lease and policies set up between NSG and The Heritage Society of Austin, land plans, and architectural drawings. The series also includes slides relating to the Pioneer Farms.
The NSG records have various temporal and evidential gaps. There are no Presidential Materials for the 1970s, the early 1980s, nor for the terms 1995-96 and 1996-97. Additionally, for the 1993-1994 term, only half of the material created by that office is present in the record group. Scrapbooks for the terms 1976-77, 1977-78, 1983-84, and 1996-97 are missing. One scrapbook in the record group is undated, but data contained within points to its stemming from the 1998-99 term.
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The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
Natural Science Guild of Austin, Inc. Records (AR 2003.006). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.
Donation Date: 9/22/94, 3/2/2000, 4/3/2000, undated (entered 2003)
Initial Inventory and Preliminary Processing By/Date: Ruth Baker, Tim Wilder, Molly Hults and Michael Passman, along with other Austin History Center archivists in 1994, 2000, 2003, and later dates.
Final Processing and Finding Aid By/Date: Anna Fidgeon, Sarah Brandt, and Jeremy Zuni, September-November 2011.