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University of Texas Libraries
Celebrating the Life
Battle Hall construction

Our landmark library building—the heart of campus, the soul of excellence…

Over the past century Battle Hall has served the people of Texas. The building has been home to a wide variety of occupants: from freshmen to university presidents, J. Frank Dobie to a U.S. Post Office, the Longhorn Band to the most cherished books, special collections, and archives in the state. Commemorating a centennial celebration, this online exhibition represents a collaboration of expertise and archival holdings centered around one of the University of Texas’ most celebrated buildings, its first library. Photo credit: Old Library construction photo, undated, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

Battle Hall’s influence extends far beyond its four walls. Richard Cleary describes the impact of a single building’s design on a growing campus. Jim Nicar reflects on its colorful social history. Research conducted by Sarah Cleary and Amanda Keys provides a comprehensive building biography that extends into an online exhibit. Luke Dunlap and Gregory Perrin conclude by showing how this historic building continues to invest in the future while remaining true to its original function as a great research library. Completed in Fall 2011, the website complements the centennial exhibition in the reading room of the UT Architecture and Planning Library, housed in Battle Hall. A Centennial Celebration for Battle Hall was held on November 11, 2011 and included a lecture by Lawrence Speck in Jessen Auditorium, Homer Rainey Hall, followed by a reception in the Architecture & Planning Library Reading Room in Battle Hall. 

Battle Hall enables excellence in scholarship and teaching and houses collections found only at the University of Texas. It is fitting that Battle Hall has continuously served as a repository of knowledge and research materials. The irony is that most of the building’s own records are located and cared for in other archives. Beyond the UT Libraries, this collaborative effort could not have been achieved without the stewards and source material found at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, the New-York Historical Society, the Library of Congress, and and the published works of Larry Speck.

Guest curators:

  • Richard Cleary, Professor, University of Texas School of Architecture
  • Jim Nicar, Director of Campus Relations, Texas Exes
  • Luke Dunlap, Director of Development & External Relations, School of Architecture
  • Gregory Perrin, Chief Development Officer, University of Texas Libraries
  • Nancy Sparrow, Director of Curation, Alexander Architectural Archive

It is with great appreciation that we also recognize Sarah Cleary, Amanda Keys, Steve Williams, Margaret Schlankey, Travis Willmann, Donna Coates, Cody Lee, Katie Pierce and Beth Dodd.

All of the drawings in this exhibit are reproductions from the Cass Gilbert Architectural Record collection, Department of Prints, Photographs and Architectural Collections, courtesy of the New-York Historical Society. These reproductions are not to scale.

Other documentary material in the exhibit is provided courtesy of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Library of Congress, the Alexander Architectural Archive, the University of Texas Libraries, and the New-York Historical Society.

For further enjoyment, listen to the Texas Society of Architects' Shape of Texas episode on Battle Hall!

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