by PAT MURDOCK
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos is seeking more area folks with LBJ memories, anecdotes, opinions and impressions for the first of two public “Open Mic Night” sessions at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17.
The memories and impressions – which will be recorded and transcribed – will be added to the formal oral histories collected for the currently displayed Oral History Project Exhibit that was developed in collaboration with Texas State University. Partial funding for the exhibit was provided by a grant the university received from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The theme of the exhibit is “Remembering LBJ and His Legacy: Local Recollections – An Oral History Project.” Museum Director Scott Jordan says the major components of the exhibit will remain in place until May 1, 2009.
The exhibit, which includes audio clips, photographs, memorabilia and selected text from transcripts of interviews with 48 individuals conducted by history graduate Barbara Thibodeaux, opened August 24. The public opening followed a special invitational preview reception hosted by Texas State President Denise Trauth the afternoon before that attracted around 100 guests, including members of the late President’s family.
Jordan said the idea for the “Open Mic Night” came after several people stopped by the museum’s display at the community’s Texas Natural and Swing Festival this past May. By then, it was too late to add individuals with stories to tell to the formal oral history project interview list, but it seemed important to collect their stories, too.
On Aug. 27, the nation celebrated President Johnson’s centennial birthday. Although the national celebration culminated with the date of his birth, Texas State will keep the LBJ focus in academic work and special programming throughout the 2008-2009 academic year.
The university’s unique Common Experience program, which has for the past four years adopted a specific theme for a cross-discipline academic and special event focus for the year, has chosen “Civic Responsibility: The Legacy of LBJ” for this year’s focus. A working steering committee and an honorary committee composed of dignitaries closely associated with LBJ have led the planning for university’s LBJ Centennial Celebration.
Co-chairs of the committee are Becky Prince, vice president for university advancement, and Gene Bourgeois, associate provost.
Although the formal action plan for the collaborative Oral History Project came from the LBJ Centennial Celebration’s Community Subcommittee, chaired by San Marcos resident Bill Cunningham, it was the president’s oldest daughter, Lynda Johnson Robb, who first approached President Trauth with the idea for an oral history project. Robb also loaned the university a book that the young Lyndon Johnson had used as a student at Texas State. Dr. Trauth placed the book with the LBJ Museum of San Marcos to be included in the exhibit. Texas State remains the only Texas school to graduate a U. S. President.
For more information about the “Open Mic Night” event and the Oral History Project Exhibit, as well as other LBJ Museum of San Marcos projects and opportunities, call Museum Director Jordan at (512) 353-3300. There is no charge for admission to the museum, which is located at 123 North Guadalupe Street on the square in downtown San Marcos. Regular museum hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.Jordan is a lso available to take the museum’s “traveling trunk” to schools, community organizations and special events.