By Pat Murdock
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos, which celebrated its first anniversary as an open museum on Dec. 6, 2007, is seeking memorabilia and artifacts from Hays County and Hill Country area residents.
The museum, located across from the Hays County Courthouse on the square in downtown San Marcos, is dedicated to promoting “a better understanding and appreciation of the life and times of the 36th President of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson.”
Its mission statement explains its special niche in the Johnson legacy: “Our primary focus is on the years President Johnson spent as a student at what was then Southwest Texas State Teachers College and his teaching experiences in South Texas and the impact these experiences had on his leadership in the development of legislation, especially in the areas of education and civil rights.”
The museum’s holdings have come from a variety of sources, including San Marcos residents like Pixie Dietel Hageman, whose family published the Fredericksburg newspaper for years, and the family of the late Bob Thornton. An important display of pins used to sign significant legislation was contributed by the late Jake Pickle and Texas State shared exhibit pieces put together for its celebration of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
Some pieces are on loan, while most have been permanently donated to the museum by various individuals, organizations and cultural institutions.
With an acquisitions policy now in place and acquisition management software on the purchase list, thanks to partial grant funding from the Texas Historical Commission, the museum board is now ready to become proactive as far as acquisitions are concerned.
“We have heard about so many LBJ-related photographs, correspondence and other artifacts that are in the Hays County area,” says Museum Board President Nora Linares-Moeller of Wimberley. “We can’t think of a better time to reach out to the community and to ask people who have LBJ memorabilia to consider donating them or loaning them to the museum for display in conjunction with the Oral History Project Exhibit.”
Linares-Moeller says the museum is interested in receiving photographs, papers, manuscripts, audio-visual materials and books, as well as artifacts.
Because of the museum’s accessible location, Texas State University President Denise Trauth asked the museum’s board of directors if the museum would like to partner with the university by developing an interactive exhibit using interviews and photographs resulting from the Texas State LBJ Birthday Centennial Oral History Project. The board readily agreed, and the cooperative venture was born. A formal opening is tentatively scheduled for August 2008.
The Oral History Project was an outgrowth of the Texas State LBJ Birthday Centennial Steering Committee’s Community Subcommittee, chaired by San Marcos resident Bill Cunningham, a Texas State journalism graduate, who is also a former San Marcos city councilman and former Texas State University System regent.
Texas State University history graduate Barbara Thibodeaux was employed by the university to conduct oral history interviews with Texas State, San Marcos and LBJ connected people to get their special perspectives about Lyndon Johnson, his legacy and how it relates to the university and the City of San Marcos where he lived and studied during his formative early years. Texas State remains the only university in Texas to have graduated a U.S. President.
After more than nine years of planning, fundraising and facility renovation, the LBJ Museum of San Marcos opened its doors Dec. 6, 2006. In April of 2007, Scott Jordan was hired as the museum’s first full-time director. He is the non-profit organization’s sole employee. Museum projects depend heavily on volunteers, memberships, grants and contributions.
The museum is housed in a renovated building that was once a movie theatre and is owned by Hays County. The museum has a long-term lease with the county at the rate of $1 a
If anyone has LBJ memorabilia they are interested in donating or loaning to the museum, they should contact Jordan at (512) 353-3300 or by e-mailing email@example.com.