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TABLE OF CONTENTS


Collection Summary

Biographical Notes

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Separated Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Anti-Nuclear Activism, 1970-1989, undated

Other Community Activism, 1974-1984

Personal Materials, 1968-1988

Austin History Center

Rick Piltz Papers

An Inventory of the Collection



Collection Summary

Creator: Piltz, Rick, 1943-2014
Title: Rick Piltz Papers
Dates: 1968-1989
Abstract: Rick Piltz was a professor and an activist in the anti-nuclear movement throughout the 1970s and 1980s in Austin before he began his work on climate science at a national level in Washington, D.C. This collection contains documentation of his leadership in organizations advocating against nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, as well as his other activities in the Austin area during this time, including his work on Lloyd Doggett’s unsuccessful Senate campaign and his partial ownership of Split Rail music venue.
Accession number: AR.2017.035
Quantity: 2 linear feet (5 boxes)
Location: Archives Stacks, Artifacts, qAR
Language: English
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library,
810 Guadalupe, PO Box 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Notes

Frederick Steven “Rick” Piltz was born on July 29, 1943 in Detroit, Michigan. Piltz received his undergraduate degree, master’s degree, and was a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After receiving his master’s degree, he taught political science at the University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College, then turned to an interest in environmental and energy policy issues in the late 1970’s.

Piltz was a founding member of Texas Mobilization for Survival, the Texas branch of an anti-nuclear organization that raised awareness of the threats posed by nuclear weapons and energy nationally. Beginning in early 1980, Piltz established the Alternatives to War Project as a spiritual successor to Texas Mobilization for Survival; it focused primarily on the dangers of nuclear weapons. Additionally, he helped to create the Nuclear Weapons Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded to educate citizens on the dangers of nuclear weapons as a companion organization to the Alternatives to War Project.

From 1982 through 1984, Rick Piltz ran a phone bank from the office of Peck Young, a political campaign strategist who worked for every mayor of Austin from 1975 to 1997, in support of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. The campaign in Austin was part of a national movement to secure an agreement between the U.S. and Soviet governments to halt the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons. The Texas branch of the campaign was organized by fellow activist and Alternatives to War Project co-founder Tony Switzer, and after the Austin City Council refused to put the measure on the ballot alongside a bond election, Texas Mobilization for Survival held an ‘alternative election’ by setting up voting tables 100 feet outside every voting station. Almost half of all voters voted for the freeze. In his role as an activist, Piltz was involved in extensive lobbying against the South Texas Nuclear Project, a local nuclear power project supported by the Public Utilities Commission that is still in effect to this day.

Piltz was also involved other activist organizations such as Citizens Against the Death Penalty and worked on the unsuccessful election campaign of Lloyd Doggett to the United States Senate. He additionally served as a founding member of the cooperative Split Rail music venue.

In 1989, Piltz married Karen Metchis. After leaving Texas, Piltz continued his advocacy work in Washington, D.C. as a Senior Associate to the United States Climate Change Science Program. He took the position in 1995 and resigned in 2005 to protest what he viewed as systemic distortions of the Program’s findings by the government. He subsequently released Program documents edited by Bush administration officials to prove their desire to downplay the scientific community’s findings on climate change. In 2005, Piltz founded Climate Science Watch to continue his advocacy work. Piltz died on October 18, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

Source

Martin, Douglas, "Rick Piltz Dies at 71; Quit Bush White House Over Climate Policy", The New York Times, 23 October 2014.

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Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection consist primarily of documents relating to Rick Piltz’s membership and leadership in a number of anti-nuclear activist organizations in Austin, Texas from the late 1970’s to the mid-1980’s, including Texas Mobilization for Survival, the Alternatives to War Project, and the Nuclear Freeze Campaign. These groups advocated on issues including nuclear disarmament and opposition to nuclear power plants.

The Texas Mobilization for Survival subseries documents Piltz’s involvement in the anti-nuclear activist group from 1977 through the 1980s. The bulk of this series relates to the work of the organization to raise awareness within the Austin community to the threats posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. The series contains publications, notes from presentations Piltz attended, buttons, information on the national organization, financial information, correspondence from members, and information on presenters the organization invited to educate activists.

The Alternatives to War Project subseries chronicles the establishment of that organization by Piltz separate from Texas Mobilization for Survival and its subsequent activities throughout the late 1970’s into the 1980’s. It contains reports, materials from events held to raise awareness in the community, mailing lists, financial records, and correspondence Piltz had with other members of the organization, as well as Articles of Incorporation which established the organization as a non-profit with the State of Texas.

The Nuclear Weapons Education Fund subseries documents Piltz’s engagement in efforts to educate people in the Austin area about the risks associated with nuclear weapons. This series contains notes Piltz used to give presentations along with those he wrote while attending presentations, and internal documentation of the fund. These internal documents include financial summaries, meeting minutes, and agendas.

The Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign subseries documents the proposed ballot measure calling for a freeze on the manufacturing of new nuclear weapons organized by Tony Switzer. This series includes mailers from the national freeze campaign and documents created in the process of organizing a voter brunch and newspaper clippings regarding the Austin freeze vote.

The South Texas Nuclear Project subseries chronicles the interactions of Piltz and the activist groups to which he belonged with the nuclear power project supported by the Public Utilities Commission of Texas. It includes notes from a meeting with the Public Utilities Commission, documentation of a demonstration Piltz helped organize in Matagorda, as well as newspaper clippings on the death of Michael Eakin, a journalist who was murdered while investigating the South Texas Nuclear Project.

The Research Files suberies mainly demonstrates Piltz’s role as part of a larger activist community during the 1970s and 1980s. Included are published articles from fellow activists Michael Klare, an advocate against “extreme energy” procurement techniques such as deepwater drilling and fracking, and Tony Switzer, who organized the nuclear weapons freeze vote in 1984.

The Other Community Activism series documents a handful of causes and events that Piltz was involved in that did not focus on anti-nuclear policies. These causes include Citizens Against the Death Penalty, the Committee for artistic and intellectual freedom in Iran, and the Texas Humanist Water Policy. This series also contains a file detailing Piltz’s involvement with the election campaign of Lloyd Doggett to the United States Senate.

The Personal Materials series consists of biographies Piltz prepared for various publications, postcards from locations outside of Texas and newspaper clippings of older, unrelated events such as the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Additionally, there are two subject files which concern individuals seemingly unrelated to Piltz’s activist associates; Betty Ann Duke and John Blum. Duke was a communist extremist accused of bombing the United States capitol building, while Blum was a local artist. Also included is a Creative Opportunity Orchestra etching by Patrick Wadley; Piltz was an admirer of Tina Marsh and her band. Lastly, there is a collection of political buttons - some supporting George Humphrey for City Council and Ferraro/Mondale; others opposing Reagan, intervention in El Salvador, South Texas Nuclear Project and the arms race.

Finally, the Split Rail file details the cooperative establishment of the Split Rail bar and country music venue, of which Piltz was a founding member. It includes letters, news clippings, posters, and meeting minutes which describe the rapid demise of the cooperative soon after its opening, in which two members seized control and had all other members arrested. Also included in this series are publications which detail the outrage experienced by the communist community within Austin at this turn of events.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into three series:
  • Anti-Nuclear Activism
  • Other Community Activism
  • Personal Materials

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Open to all users.

Use Restrictions

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.

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Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Piltz, Rick.
Hayden, Lynn.
Robbins, T. Paul.
Switzer, Tony.
Subjects (Organizations)
Texas Mobilization for Survival.
Alternatives to War Project.
Nuclear Weapons Education Fund.
Nuclear Weapons Freeze.
South Texas Nuclear Project.
Split Rail Inn.
Subjects
Antinuclear movement.
Environmental policy--Texas--Austin.
Nuclear disarmament.
Nuclear power plants--Texas.
Nuclear weapons--Public opinion.
Political activist--Texas--Austin.
Political participation.
Power resources--Texas--Austin.
Places
Austin (Tex.)--Politics and government.
Document Types
Agendas.
Biography files.
Brochures.
Clippings.
Correspondence.
Financial records.
Fliers.
Legal documents.
Membership lists.
Memorabilia.
Minutes (administrative records).
Notes.
Press releases.
Programs (documents).
Reports.

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Related Material

General Collection


  • A 333.7917 CE 1981 Central Texas Energy Association, Jobs, Energy, and Growth in Austin: The Case for Conservation and Renewable Energy Development. 1981.
  • A 333.82 HU George A. Humphrey, Austin and the Dangers of Nuclear Power. 1978.
  • A 333.82 OP, Options Concerning Participation in the South Texas Nuclear Project, January 28, 1979. 1979.
  • A 333.82 PI Rick Piltz, Toward A Non-Nuclear Future for Austin. 1978.
  • A 333.7916 Ro Robbins, T. Paul, Toward A Conservation Plan for Austin . 1980.
  • A 621.483 AUEL25E Austin (Tex.). Electric Utility Department, Evaluation of Construction Status and Disposition Alternatives for Austin's Share of the South Texas Project. 1983.
  • A 621.483 HA, A Handbook on Texas Nuclear Issues. 1981.
  • A 621.483 HO Margret Hofmann, Economic Implications of the South Texas Nuclear Project: A Report. 1976.
  • A 621.483 HU Huffman & Company, The Economics of Austin's Continued Participation in the South Texas Nuclear Project. 1976.

Archives & Manuscripts


Austin Files


  • AF Biography - Piltz, Rick
  • AF Subject - Power - Resources - South Texas Cancellation Campaign (Texas Safe Utility Network) P6450(24)
  • AF Subject - Power - Resources - Texas Mobilization for Survival P6450(11)
  • AF Subject - Power - Resources Nuclear Power Plants P6450(1)
  • AF Subject - Protests, Demonstrations, etc. Nuclear Weapons Freeze P7750(11)

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Separated Material

Periodicals


  • Alternatives to War Report, Vol. 1, No. 1.-No. 2.
  • Hot Times, Scattered issues from 1978-1980
  • The Texas Observer, One issue from 1979

Deaccessioned


  • Boston Mobilizer, Issue 19
  • Clamshell Alliance News, Vol. 3, No. 1.
  • Institute for Policy Studies Reprint, Two issues from 1982
  • Issues, Vol 1, No. 1
  • The Mobilizer, Several issues from 1978-1980
  • Mothers and Others Mobilizing for Survival, One issue from 1979
  • People’s Energy Movement, One issue from 1980
  • Win: peace and freedom through nonviolent action, One issue from 1978

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

The Rick Piltz Papers were donated by a family member in 2017.

Preferred Citation

Rick Piltz Papers (AR.2017.035). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/2017/077

Donation Date: 09/06/2017

Processing Information

Original folder headings were preserved when they existed, except in the case of acronyms. Loose materials were arranged by subject.

Final Processing and Finding Aid By/Date: Catherine Whited and Rachel Walfoort/2019. Encoded by Catherine Whited and Rachel Walfoort/2019.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Anti-Nuclear Activism, 1970-1989, undated

Texas Mobilization for Survival, 1977-1989, undated
Box Folder
1 1 Texas Mobilization for Survival, 1977-1982
2-4 Texas Mobilization for Survival documents, 1976-1985, undated
5 Precursor to Hot Times 1979, undated
6 Texas Mobilization for Survival Hot Times News, 1978-1980, undated
7-8 Texas Mobilization for Survival press releases, 1977-1979, undated
9 Texas Mobilization for Survival press, 1978-1983
Box Folder
2 1 Texas Mobilization for Survival press, 1978-1983
2 Michael Eakin - Mobilization for Survival readings, 1979-1980
3 Texas Mobilization for Survival finances, 1979-1980, undated
4 Mobilization for Survival notes - 9/77-11/77, 1977
5-7 Texas Mobilization for Survival handwritten notes, 1978-1980
8 Speakers, 1978-1980
9 Texas Mobilization for Survival miscellaneous correspondence, 1978-1989
10 National Mobilization, 1979-1984
11 Mobilization for Survival - national, 1978-1979
Box Folder
3 1-2 Mobilization for Survival - national, 1978-1979
Alternatives to War Project, 1974-1986
Box Folder
3 3 Tax exemption papers, 1974-1981
4 Articles of Incorporation, 1980
5 IRS - Form 990 returns, 1984-1986
6 Financial records, 1980-1982
7 Mailing list, 1981
8 Alternatives to War Project events, 1979-1983
9 Randy Forsberg Alternatives to War Project/Austin Freeze Campaign, 1980-1984
10 Correspondence, 1980-1983
11 News clippings, 1980-1983
12 Alternatives to War Project, 1980-1981
Nuclear Weapons Education Fund, 1979-1989, undated
Box Folder
4 1 United States Nuclear Weapons Policy -- notes from Piltz/Switzer Austin Community Television, 1980, undated
2 Nuclear power notes presentation to high school science teachers University of Texas circa 1982, 1982, undated
3 Talks/Outlines, 1979-1980, undated
4 Nuclear Weapons Education Fund, 1983-1989
5 Nuclear Weapons Education Fund - Board of Directors, 1983-1984
6 Nuclear Weapons Education Fund - corporate documents, 1982
7 Nuclear Weapons Education Fund financial summaries, 1983-1987
Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, 1979-1984
Box Folder
4 8 Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, 1984
9 Austin Nuclear Freeze vote, 1979-1982
10 Freeze National Committee meeting - Fort Worth, 6/10-12/83, 1983
11 Freeze Voter '84 Brunch, 1979-1984
South Texas Nuclear Project, 1979-1985, undated
Box Folder
4 12 Public Utility Commission of Texas--interview notes/sources, 1981-1985, undated
13 South Texas Nuclear Project 1981, 1979-1984, undated
14 Matagorda demonstration May/June 1979, 1979, undated
Research Files, 1970-1983, undated
Box Folder
5 1 Michael Klare 1970-1983, undated
2 Tony Switzer 1981

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Other Community Activism, 1974-1984

Box Folder
5 3 Citizens Against the Death Penalty (Austin 1976), 1976
4 Committee for artistic and intellectual freedom in Iran, 1974-1977
5 Doggett Senate campaign, 1983-1984
6 Texas Humanist water-policy article, 1982-1984
7 Texas Policy Institute Conference on Defense, 1982

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Personal Materials, 1968-1988

Box Folder
5 8 Biographies 1980, undated
9 Newspapers and postcards 1968-1979
10 Subject file - Betty Ann Duke 1978-1988
11 Subject file - John Blum 1986
12 Split Rail 1977-1980
Location BoxItem
Artifacts 123/039-046 Political buttons, 1981-1986
Location BoxItem
qAR 080/039 Creative Opportunity Orchestra etching by Patrick Wadley, 1990

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