Austin History Center

Austin Ethnic History Association Papers

Overview of the Collection

Creator Austin Ethnic History Association
Title: Austin Ethnic History Association Papers
Dates: 1969-1986
Abstract: The Austin Ethnic History Association was a nonprofit operating in the city of Austin from 1974 to 1987. The organization was designed as a bicentennial project to celebrate the diverse city of Austin. This collection contains organizational records, essay contest entries, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, photographs, posters and other promotional materials from the Austin Ethnic History Association and its annual Folk Festival.
Identification: AR.Q.020
Quantity 6.03 linear ft (9 boxes, 2 oversized boxes)
Location: Archives Stacks, Oversized Archives, Oversized Volumes, Artifacts, Photographs
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

The Austin Ethnic History Association (AEHA) was an Austin-based nonprofit established in 1974 as a bicentennial project to celebrate the diverse heritage of the city. Beverly Sheffield, Austin's Director of Bicentennial Affairs, first proposed the organization as a response to the nationwide efforts being made to record the ethnic histories of the American people. Sponsored by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, the AEHA held its first meeting in 1974 in the Old Lundberg Bakery on 1006 Congress Avenue. The founding steering committee comprised of the following prominent members of the Austin community:

Ada Simond: Aida Simond was an educator, historian, author and activist within Austin's African American community. As a public health educator for the Texas Tuberculosis Association, she provided health and disease prevention resources for underserved communities for over twenty-five years. Upon retirement in 1972, Simond dedicated her time to volunteer work and civic engagements, including AEHA.

Katherine Hart: Katherine Hart was a prominent community figure committed to the preservation of Austin heritage. She helped found and served as the director of the Austin-Travis County Collection, now known as the Austin History Center. She aided in the preservation of many Austin historical landmarks, including the Littlefield home. During her time with AEHA, she was president of the Heritage Society of Austin.

Willie Kocurek: Willie Kocurek was an Austin civic leader and Czech representative for AEHA. He was the owner of the Willie Kocurek Company, a local appliance store and gas station. Upon retirement Kocurek studied law, becoming the oldest person to graduate from the University of Texas Law School. He was active within the Austin Independent School District, serving on the AISD school board for ten years, as well as president of the Texas Association of School Boards. The Willie I. Kocurek School in southwest Austin was named after him in 1986.

Carl Widen: Born of Swedish immigrants, Carl Widen was a partner at the Bohn Brothers law firm on Congress Avenue in Austin. A member of the original Longhorn Band, Widen supported musical and educational initiatives in Austin. In 1986 he became a founding member of the Carl T. Widen Elementary school in southeast Austin.

Beverly Sheffield: Beverly Sheffield was the director of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department from 1946 to 1973. During this time, he was well known for spearheading projects such as the Barton Springs Pool renovation, Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail, and presiding over the first lighting of the Zilker Park Christmas Tree. At the time of AEHA, Sheffield was the director of the Office of Bicentennial Affairs.

Throughout the years of the association's operations, other Executive Committee members included: Dennis Kubiak, Raymond Prasatik, Rocky Revisore, Mary Ann and Martin Green, Patsy Allen, Bess Curry, Jennette Flachmeir, Prosper and Edna Mika, May Schmidt, Roy Guerrero, Sherry Sybesma, Jim McHenry, and Maria Buchannon.

In addition to the Executive Committee, AEHA sought out representatives from the various ethnic groups in Austin to participate in the decision-making of the organization. Representatives of African, Chinese, Czech, English, French, German, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Lebanese, Mexican, Scotch, Swedish, and Swiss descent were included. AEHA Membership was also available to any and all Austin citizens interested in Austin's cultural heritage. Representatives and members were able to develop ideas and programs by participating in one of the following committees:

  • Austin Folk Festival
  • Essay Contest
  • Speakers and Visitors Bureau
  • Food and Cooking Research
  • Library Exhibit
  • Recruitment
  • Public Relations
  • Past Presidents
  • Christmas
  • Community Advisory Board

The AEHA was responsible for organizing several community programs. However, the biggest event of the year was the annual Austin Folk Festival, which ran from 1975 to 1986. A weekend-long celebration, the Austin Folk Festival served as an opportunity for the Austin community to experience the eclectic history of Austin through an array of stage entertainment, educational exhibits, costume, food, games, and artisanal goods. The event was held at Fiesta Gardens in Austin, now known as Festival Beach. The University of Texas as well as AISD schools were significant participants in the activities. Major events included mariachi performances, Texas frontier demonstrations, square dancing, and a beauty pageant.

In addition to the festival, the AEHA was responsible for The Cultural Heritage Project, an annual essay contest open to 4th through 6th graders from Austin schools. Students were challenged to write a piece of personal history in the form of a family chart, an oral family history, a family interview, or scrapbook. Through the course of its history (1974-1985), over 1200 students participated from public and private schools from the Austin Area. The winners received a certificate, newspaper publicity, and the opportunity to display their entries in the hallways of the Highland Mall.

Other notable programs the AEHA orchestrated included an annual Christmas celebration and a community cookbook. However, due to financial struggles, the AEHA ceased operation at the end of 1987.

Scope and Contents

The Austin Ethnic History Association Records (1969-1986) contains administrative records, by-laws, certificates, correspondence, grant materials, financial records, meeting minutes, newsletters, membership forms and lists, essay contest entries, scrapbooks, family trees, press releases, newspaper clippings, posters, flyers, festival evaluations, maps, and photographs which document the activities and events of the Austin Ethnic History Association (AEHA). The bulk of material dates from 1974 to 1985. The collection is arranged into four series: The Austin Ethnic History Association Executive Committee, The Cultural Heritage Project, The Austin Folk Festival, and Photographs.

The Executive Committee series (1974-1986) provides insight into the day-to-day functioning of the association and its members' communication, strategies, and financial struggles. This series contains grant proposals, meeting minutes from 1976 through 1985, memos, documentation and correspondence relating to finances and organizational strategies, membership and mailing lists, brochures, and newsletters. It should be noted that while the founding steering committee members included many prominent members of the Austin community, Katharine Hart and Willie Kocurek created most of the materials in the series. Furthermore, meeting minutes are missing from the first (1975) and last (1986) years of the organization's operation.

The Cultural Heritage Project series (1978-1985) is the largest in the collection. The series serves as an archive of submissions to its annual writing contest, The Cultural Heritage Project. Responses take the form of essays, family crests, genealogical trees, scrapbooks, maps, and drawings. Several of the entries include early photographs of family members and past homes. While the majority of the materials were generated by AISD elementary schools, a small selection of Austin private, junior high, Catholic, and high schools are also represented. Within these entries students reflect upon family histories, stories of immigration, and their Texan identity.

The Austin Folk Festival series (1974-1986) contains administrative records, correspondence (primarily created by Festival Coordinator, Roy Guerrero), publicity materials, festival evaluations, and maps of Fiesta Gardens that document the processes required to establish and plan a citywide, city-funded event. The publicity materials include posters, bumper stickers, and festival pins.

The Photographs series (1975-1976, undated) primarily contains color and black and white photographs from the Austin Folk Festival's performances and beauty contest. While the festival's administrative records illustrate behind-the-scenes activity of the event, these images depict the festival in action. Festival patrons, craft booths, folk dancing, international food and drink, cultural dress, musical performances, student showcases, and the Miss Austin Folk Festival ceremony are all documented in this series. In addition to these festival images, this series also features photographs from the 1976 festival press conference held at Scholz Garten, Austin Ethnic History Association officer meetings and elections, and the 1976 Style Show held at Hancock Center.


This collection is arranged into four series.
I. Austin Ethnic History Association Executive Committee, 1974-1986, undated
II. Cultural Heritage Project, 1978-1985
III. Austin Folk Festival, 1974-1986, undated
IV. Photographs, 1975-1976, undated


Restrictions on Access

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.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Hart, Katherine, 1905-2000.
Kocurek, Willie, 1910-2009.
Simond, Ada, 1903-1989.
Sheffield, Beverly, 1913-1999.
Widen, Carl, 1884-1985.
Austin Ethnic History Association.
Austin Independent School District.
City of Austin Office of Bicentennial Affairs.
City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department.
Austin (Tex.)
Austin Folk Festival.
Austin, Texas.
Cultural Property.
Public Schools.
Document Types:
Administrative records.
Legal documents.
Financial records.
Black-and-white photographs.
Color photographs.

Related Material

Austin Files

  • AF Biography - Ada DeBlanc Askey Simond, 1903-1989
  • AF Biography - Beverly S. Sheffield
  • AF Biography - Katherine Hart
  • AF Biography - Widen Family
  • AF Biography - Willie I. Kocurek
  • AF Subject - Austin Ethnic History Association (14) T
  • AF Subject - Crockett P8660
  • AF Subject - Public Schools - Elementary
  • AF Subject - Public Schools - High Schools P8300
  • AF Subject - Public Schools - Junior High P880
  • AF Subject - Public Schools - Travis P8780
  • AF Subject - U.S. Bicentennial, 1976 E1950 (14)

Archives and Manuscripts Collections

  • AR. Z.006 Ada DeBlanc Simond Papers
  • AR.1997.007 Beverly Sheffield Papers
  • AR.H.008 Hart Family Papers
  • AR.2002.005 Willie Kocurek Papers

Separated Material

The following items were deaccessioned: duplicate materials, a wooden family crest (photocopy made), newspaper clippings (preservation copies made), a spiral-bound notebook (photocopies made), two guest books (photocopies made), and an accounting ledger (photocopies made).

Administrative Information

Custodial History

Collection materials were donated by Margarine Benman, Willie Kocurek, and May Schmidt several times between 1987 and 2014.

Preferred Citation

Austin Ethnic History Association Papers (AR.Q.020). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor#: DO/1975/084

Donation Dates: 1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1997, and 2014

Processing Information

Initial Inventory and Preliminary Processing in 2000 by Ruth Baker.

Final Processing and Finding Aid created by Ian Goodale and Ayshea Khan in 2015. Encoded by Ian Goodale and Ayshea Khan in 2015. Revisions by Susan Rittereiser in 2015

Original file order and folder titles were maintained throughout.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Austin Ethnic History Association Executive Committee, 1969-1986, undated

Box Folder
1 1-11 Administrative Records, 1974-1985
12 Administrative Records, undated
13-23 Correspondence, 1974-1986
24-31 Financial Records, 1976-1986
32-37 Grant Materials, 1974-1986
38 Ideas and Inspiration, 1969-1985, undated
Box Folder
2 1 Membership Forms, undated
2 Membership Lists, 1978-1984
3-14 Minutes, 1974-1985, undated
15 Newsletters, 1981, undated

II. The Cultural Heritage Project, 1974-1985

Box Folder
3 1 Roy Bedichek Middle, 1978
2 Annie Webb Blanton Elementary, 1978
3 J. Frank Dobie Middle, 1978
4 Hope Lutheran School, 1978
5 Lalla M. Odom Elementary, 1978
6 Elisha M. Pease Elementary, 1978
7 Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1978
8 Mary Jane Sims Elementary, 1978
9 Walter P. Webb Sixth Grade Center, 1978
10 John B. Winn Elementary, 1978
11 Unidentified Schools, 1978
12 Andrews Elementary, 1979
13 Florence R. Brook Elementary, 1979
14 Mollie Dawson Elementary, 1979
15 Leona Doss Elementary, 1979
16 Zackary Taylor Fulmore Middle, 1979
17 Noel Grisham Middle, 1979
18 Hope Lutheran Middle, 1979
19 Jose Antonio Menchaca Elementary, 1979
20 Metz Elementary, 1979
21 G.W. Norman Elementary, 1979
22 Lalla M. Odom Elementary, 1979
23 Elisha M. Pease Elementary, 1979
24 Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1979
25 Mary Jane Sims Elementary, 1979
26 Sunset Valley Elementary, 1979
27 Walter P. Webb Middle, 1979
28 John B. Winn Elementary, 1979
29 Alexander P. Woolridge Elementary, 1979
30 Andrew Jackson Zilker Elementary, 1979
31 Unidentified Schools, 1979
32 David Crockett High, 1980
33 Mary Ellen Cunningham Elementary, 1980
34 J. Frank Dobie Middle, 1980
35 Hope Lutheran School, 1980
36 Kirby Hall School, 1980
37 Jose Antonio Menchaca Elementary, 1980
38 Lalla M. Odom Elementary, 1980
39 Elisha M. Pease Elementary, 1980
40 Dorinda J. Pillow Elementary, 1980
41 Lucy Read School, 1980
42 Summit Elementary, 1980
43 Sunset Valley Elementary, 1980
44 Travis Heights High School, 1980
45 Webb Sixth Grade Center, 1980
46 John B. Winn Elementary, 1980
47 Unidentified Schools, 1980
Box Folder
4 1 Annie Webb Blanton Elementary, 1981
2 Florence R. Brook Elementary, 1981
3 T.A. Brown Elementary, 1981
4 L.L. Campbell Elementary, 1981
5-8 Katherine Cook Elementary, 1981
9 Mary Ellen Cunningham Elementary, 1981
10 J. Walter Graham Elementary, 1981
11 Gullett Elementary, 1981
12 J. Houston Elementary, 1981
13 Hyde Park Baptist School, 1981
14 William J. Matthews Elementary, 1981
15 Lalla M. Odom Elementary, 1981
16 Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1981
17 Walter P. Webb Elementary, 1981
18 Williams Elementary, 1981
19 Andrew Jackson Zilker Elementary, 1981
20 Unidentified Schools, 1981
21 Awards Ceremony Guest List, 1981
Box Folder
5 1 L.L. Campbell Elementary, 1982
2 Katherine Cook Elementary, 1982
3 Gullett Elementary, 1982
4 J. Walter Graham Elementary, 1982
5 Jane Langford Elementary, 1982
6 Robert E. Lee Elementary, 1982
7 Jose Antonio Menchaca Elementary, 1982
8 Lalla M. Odom Elementary, 1982
9 Daniel F. Ortega Elementary, 1982
10 Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1982
11 Redeemer Lutheran School, 1982
12 St. Austin Catholic School, 1982
13 St. Paul Lutheran School, 1982
14 Andrew Jackson Zilker Elementary, 1982
15 Unidentified Schools, 1982
Oversized Volumes Essay Contest Scrapbooks, 1982
Location FlatFile
qAR 03/11/001-003 Family Trees, 1982
Box Folder
6 1 Allendale Christian Academy, 1983
2 Andrews Elementary, 1983
3 Mollie Barrington Elementary, 1983
4 Roy Bedichek Middle, 1983
5 Edward I. Blackshear Elementary, 1983
6 L.L. Campbell Elementary, 1983
7 Katherine Cook Elementary, 1983
8 Mary Ellen Cunningham Elementary, 1983
9 J. Frank Dobie Middle, 1983
10 Leona Doss Elementary, 1983
11 J. Walter Graham Elementary, 1983
12 Gullett Elementary, 1983
13 O. Henry Elementary, 1983
14 Robert E. Lee Elementary, 1983
15 Maplewood Elementary, 1983
16 Matthews Elementary, 1983
17 Jose Antonio Menchaca Elementary, 1983
18 Oak Hill Elementary, 1983
19 Lalla M. Odom Elementary, 1983
20 Daniel F. Ortega Elementary, 1983
21 Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1983
22 St. Austin Catholic School, 1983
23 St. Ignatius Catholic School, 1983
24 St. Paul Lutheran School, 1983
25 Walter P. Middle, 1983
26 John B. Winn Elementary, 1983
27 Unidentified Schools, 1983
Oversized Volumes Essay Contest Scrapbooks, 1983
Box Folder
7 1 Mollie Barrington Elementary, 1984
2 Herman Becker Elementary, 1984
3 Roy Bedichek Middle, 1984
4 Edward I. Blackshear, 1984
5 L.L. Campbell Elementary, 1984
6 Katherine Cook Elementary, 1984
7 Mollie Dawson Elementary, 1984
8 J. Frank Dobie Middle, 1984
9 J. Walter Graham Elementary, 1984
10 J. Houston Elementary, 1984
11 Jane Langford Elementary, 1984
12 William J. Matthews Elementary, 1984
13 Oak Hill Elementary, 1984
14 Lalla M. Odom Elementary, 1984
15 O. Henry Middle, 1984
16 Daniel F. Ortega Elementary, 1984
17 Perry Elementary, 1984
18 Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1984
19 Read Elementary, 1984
20 Redeemer Lutheran School, 1984
21 St. Austin Catholic School, 1984
22 St. Paul Lutheran School, 1984
23 Walter P. Webb Middle, 1984
24 Lorenzo de Zavala Elementary, 1984
25 Andrew Jackson Zilker Elementary, 1984
26 Herman Becker Elementary, 1985
27 Edward I. Blackshear Elementary, 1985
28 L.L. Campbell Elementary, 1985
29 Katherine Cook Elementary, 1985
30 David Crockett Elementary, 1985
31 Mary Ellen Cunningham Elementary, 1985
32 J. Frank Dobie Elementary, 1985
33 Jane Langford Elementary, 1985
34 Robert E. Lee Elementary, 1985
35 Maplewood Elementary, 1985
36 William J. Matthews Elementary, 1985
37 Oak Hill Elementary, 1985
38 Lalla M. Odom Elementary, 1985
39 O. Henry Middle, 1985
40 Perry Elementary, 1985
41 Pleasant Hill Elementary, 1985
42 Redeemer Lutheran School, 1985
43 St. Louis Catholic School, 1985
44 St. Paul Catholic School, 1985
45 Walter P. Webb Middle, 1985
46 Lorenzo de Zavala Elementary, 1985
47 Andrew Jackson Zilker Elementary, 1985
48 Unidentified Schools, 1985

Austin Folk Festival, 1974-1986, undated

Box Folder
8 1 Maps, 1978-1981, undated
2-3 Publicity Materials, 1974-1976
4 Administrative Records, 1977
5 Publicity Materials, 1977
6-7 Festival Evaluations, 1977-1978
8 Publicity Materials, 1978
9 Administrative Records, 1979
10 Correspondence, 1979
11 Publicity Materials, 1979
12 Festival Evaluations, 1979
13 Administrative Records, 1980
14 Correspondence, 1980
15 Publicity Materials, 1980
16 Festival Evaluations, 1980
17 Administrative Records, 1981
18 Correspondence, 1981
19 Publicity Materials, 1981
20 Administrative Records, 1982
21 Correspondence, 1982
22 Publicity Materials, 1982
23 Administrative Records, 1983
24 Correspondence, 1983
25 Publicity Materials, 1983
26 Festival Evaluations, 1983
27-28 Administrative Records, 1984-1985
29 Publicity Materials, 1985
30 Festival Evaluations, 1985
31 Publicity Materials, 1986
32 Administrative Records, undated
33 Publicity Materials, undated
Location BoxItem
qAR 10/044-048 Festival Posters, 1980-1982
10/059 Festival Poster, undated
Location BoxItem
Artifacts 116/006 Festival Pins, 1976-1983
116/002-005 Bumper Stickers, 1976-1985

Photographs, 1975-1976, undated

Box Folder
9 1-2 Austin Folk Festival, 1975-1976
3-5 Austin Folk Festival, undated
6 Press Conference and Folk Festival, 1975-1976
7 Election of Officers, Coronation of Miss Austin Folk Festival, 1976
8 Town Hall and Style Show, 1976