Austin History Center

Austin (Tex.). City Council. Robert Barnstone Records

A Preliminary Inventory to the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Barnstone, Robert
Title: Austin (Tex.). City Council. Robert Barnstone Records
Inclusive Dates: 1951-1991
Bulk Dates: 1988-1991
Abstract: Born in Laredo, Texas in 1946, Robert Barnstone was elected to represent District 5 on the City Council of Austin, Texas in June, 1988. The extensive records of Council Member Barnstone (44 linear feet) document his time on the Austin City Council and consist of correspondence, agendas, printed material, financial documentation, photographs, legal documentation, creative works, reports and machine-readable records.
Identification: AR.1992.009
Quantity: 44 linear feet (72 boxes)
Location: Archives stacks, Outer Vault, qAR
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Biographical Note

Born in Laredo, Texas in 1946, Robert Barnstone was elected to represent District 5 on the City Council of Austin, Texas in June, 1988. Of a Latino background and fluent in both Spanish and English, Barnstone attended St. Joseph's and moved to Austin in 1968 to attend the University of Texas. There he received his B.A. in economics and history in 1970. Barnstone also earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Austin City Council, Barnstone, a self-employed real estate developer, served as the president and owner of the Barnstone Company and T.E.O. Corporation, companies closely involved with urban planning and development. His activities included the Congress Avenue Task Force (1982-1983), Downtown Austin Partners, Congress Avenue Beautification Committee (1985), Town Lake Park Alliance (1985), and the American Institute of Architects' Austin Chapter Design Awards Juror (1989).

Throughout his career, Barnstone focused on issues surrounding the Hispanic community and government spending in Austin. He worked on Mexican-American economic development programs as a member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Austin Chamber of Commerce. Opposition to backdoor deals and lobbying, as well as support for cutting municipal spending, characterized his city council term and subsequent mayoral campaign. Borrowing from his background in real estate development and architecture, Barnstone participated in boards and commissions involved with the Avante Plaza, Laguna Gloria Art Museum (LGAM), the Austin Convention Center and Visitor's Bureau (Civic Center) and Robert Mueller Municipal Airport. Despite this background, however, Barnstone voted against plans in June 1990 to develop the Barton Creek Watershed area. Barnstone sat on the Austin City Council until 1991, concluding with an unsuccessful Austin mayoral bid. He was defeated by former county commission Bruce Todd. Barnstone published articles on economics, business and planning in Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman and other publications.

Robert Barnstone was married to freelance editor Anne Bauer, with whom he had three children, Mateo, Anatole, and Gabriella.

Scope and Contents

The extensive records of Council Member Barnstone (44 linear feet) document his time on the Austin City Council and consist of correspondence, agendas, printed material, financial documentation, photographs, legal documentation, creative works, reports and machine-readable records. These records divide among four series, the largest of which is Subject Files, 1985-1991 (13 linear feet). These files reflect a variety of Barnstone's activities, the bulk of which concern real estate development, including contractual issues concerning the Laguna Gloria Art Museum (.5 linear feet), Dobbs House (1.25 linear feet), and the Austin Civic Center (1 linear foot).

Administrative Files, 1988-1991 is the second most voluminous series (21.5 linear feet), and contains large subseries for Correspondence (9 linear feet) and Agendas (6 linear feet). Documentation concerning the City of Austin's Boards and Commissions (2 linear feet), along with City Budgets (1.5 linear feet), form smaller subseries of the Administrative Files series. Correspondence, grouped by month, consists primarily of letters, invitations and memoranda directed to Barnstone from constituents, the City Manager's office and other City staff. Twenty telephone log books (1989, 1991, and undated) complete the subseries. The Agendas subseries consists of city council agendas and supporting information, richly annotated by Barnstone, and supplemented by correspondence reports and additional printed materials gathered by Barnstone to inform meetings. The Boards and Commissions sub-series, arranged by board name, documents the activities of these units of the Austin city government. The final sub-series, Budgets, documents the participatory process of deliberation among Barnstone, fellow council members, the Mayor, the City Manager's office, private enterprise and the citizens of Austin, for the fiscal years 1989-1990 and 1990-1991.

The third series, Photographic Material, 1988 and undated, (.5 linear feet) contains twenty-two prints of photographs by Barnstone of a variety of commercial locations, and thirty-two slides featuring residential streets in Austin, Texas. Also included is a contact sheet of photographs in which Barnstone appears, and a set of negatives associated with the contact sheet.

The final series, Assorted Materials (4 linear feet), contains letters, memoranda, handwritten notes, and newspaper clippings, which did not appear to have an original order or arrangement upon receipt of the collection by the Austin History Center.

Further description of scope and contents at the series and subseries level can be found in the Detailed Description of the Collection below.


Collection is arranged into 4 series:
I. Subject Files
II. Administrative Files
III. Photographic Material
IV. Assorted Materials


Restrictions on Access

Access to the Boards and Commissions, 1984-1991 subseries of the Administrative Files series remains closed to researchers until job applications and resumes are removed.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Aldridge, James E.
Cates Barnett, Camille.
Carl-Mitchell, Smoot.
Cooke, Lee.
Humphrey, George.
Knight, Barney L.
Lessard, Joseph.
Marshall, Bryon C.
Nofziger, Max.
Shipman, Sally.
Ware, John L.
Ward, Tim.
Watson, Libby.
Austin (Tex.). City Council.
Austin (Tex.).
Austin (Tex.)--East Austin.
Hispanic Americans--Texas--Austin.
Municipal government--Texas-- Austin.
Real estate development--Texas-- Austin.
Document Types:
Creative works
Financial records
Legal documentation
Printed material

Separated Material

Some materials were separated to the following collections:

General Collection

  • City of Austin Police Retirement Fund.
  • City of Austin Electric Utility Department Management Report , 1990 June.
  • City of Austin Performance Report for Six Months Ending March 31, 1990.


  • Austin Ridge Riders, 1990 August.
  • Austin Visual Arts Newsletter, 1990 February; 1990 June; 1990 August; 1990 October.
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Austin's Big Talk...little talk, 1990 July.
  • Children's Hospital of Austin Telethon Footnotes, 1990 Summer.
  • Newsletter of the Balcones Canyonlands Habitat Conservation Plan, 1990 Spring.
  • Texas Capital Preservation Journal, 1990 September.
  • West Austin News, 1988 December 1; 1988 December 8.
  • Window on Windsor, 1990 August.

Reports deaccessioned because copies already exist in the AHC General Collection:

  • Austin (Tex.). Dept. of Aviation. Bergstrom AFB Feasibility Study: Final Report, April 1990.
  • Austin (Tex.). Dept. of Aviation. Bergstrom AFB Feasibility Study: Summary Report, April 1990.
  • Austin (Tex.). Dept. of Aviation. Final Report: Master Plan for the New City of Austin Municipal Airport : CIP #817825, February 1990.
  • Heimsath, Charles. A Preliminary Economic and Fiscal Impact Assessment Associated with the Potential Closure of Bergstrom AFB and Re-Use as a Commercial Airport, 1990.
  • Peckham Guyton Albers & Viets. Alternative Land Use Options for Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, Austin, Texas, 1984.
  • Financing and Operating the New Austin Airport and Redevelopment of Robert Mueller Airport, 1990.
  • Final report of Citizen's Task Force on the Economic Conversion of Bergstrom Air Force Base, 1991.
  • Governing Metropolitan Areas: A Review of Alternatives.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Austin (Tex.). City Council. Robert Barnstone Records (AR.2009.060). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Stephen Cohen, Tara Mantsch, Matthew Scheffrahn and Ken Ward, December 1997. Finding aid revised and encoded by Ashley Adair, December 2010.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Subject Files, 1995-1991

Scope and Contents: Subject files (19 linear feet) maintained by Robert Barnstone consist of memoranda, printed material, financial documentation, photographs, legal and legal-style documentation, creative works and reports. They include Barnstone's departmental files, documentation of his personal expenses, biographical information and files related to issues of concern to Barnstone, such as electric rates and housing. A major topic reflected in the files is Barnstone's real estate development activities, especially in regard to contractual issues involving the Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Dobbs Houses Inc., and the Austin Civic Center. Files are arranged alphabetically by subject name-a list of subject files is available in the Reading Room with the printed finding aid.
1-15, 41-51 A-Z files, 1985-1991

II. Administrative Files, 1988-1991

Scope and Contents: Administrative Files, 1988-1991 (25 linear feet) includes four sub-series: Correspondence, 1988-1991; Agendas, 1988-1991; Boards and Commissions, 1984-1991; and Budgets, 1988-1991. The Correspondence subseries (12 linear feet) contains letters, postcards, memoranda, fax messages, telephone logs and annotated recipient lists. Some correspondence includes attached supporting documents such as meeting agendas, photographs, and clippings. The bulk of incoming correspondence is made up of invitations, discussions of information to be brought to Barnstone's attention and letters from constituents. Notable among constituent letters are those generated by letter-writing campaigns supporting the rezoning of Hyde Park Baptist Church in January 1990, the Arts Commission's funding in July 1990 and inclusion of chiropractic treatments under insurance coverage in 1989. Outgoing correspondence is comprised of Recommendations for Assistance (R.F.A.) and letters to constituents. The latter generally include Barnstone's outline for the response attached to the letters themselves, generated by his administrative assistant. City Manager correspondence includes general circulars issued by staff of the City Manager's office and addressed to the entire city council. A number of spiral-bound telephone logs, most lacking complete date information, conclude the series. The Agendas, 1988-1991 subseries (6 linear feet) consists of agendas, minutes, correspondence, supporting memoranda, reports, photographs, architectural drawings and assorted printed material, organized chronologically and gathered together for the purpose of informing weekly city council meetings, occasional council work sessions and special meetings. The bulk of the material is made up of council agendas and supporting memoranda, which Barnstone extensively annotated and highlighted. Highlighting on the agendas and notes conforms to the following code: Blue indicates, "Robert put on agenda;" orange corresponds to, "Look out for this;" and yellow indicates, "Standard." Boards and Commissions, 1984-1991 (3 linear feet) includes letters, reports, publicity materials, applications, resumes, photographs, and newspaper clippings document the activities of boards and commissions of interest to Barnstone. The subseries follows no previous arrangement other than grouping by board or commission name. Job applications and resumes exist throughout the subseries, and until these are removed, the subseries remains closed due to privacy concerns. Within the Budgets, 1988-1991 subseries (2.4 linear feet), correspondence, reports, manuscripts, and working drafts document the budget process and policies by Council Member Barnstone. The subseries is organized by fiscal year budget. Records represent the participatory budgeting process among Barnstone, the city council, City Manager and assistants, City departments, boards and commissions, and citizens. Public hearings, council retreats, council priorities and City Manager proposed budgets display the nature of records produced during the budgeting process. Included correspondence provides insight into the role of Council Member Barnstone in producing City budgets.
Correspondence, 1988-1991
16-25, 52-58 General, 1988-1991
25-26 City Manager to Council, 1988-1991
27 Telephone logs, 1988, 1991, undated
28-34, 59 City Council agendas and supporting materials, 1988-1991
60-66 Boards and Commissions, 1984-1991
35-37, 67, 75 Budgets, 1988-1991
68-71 Requests for Assistance,
72 Constituent information, 1990-1991, undated

III. Photographic Material, 1988, undated

Scope and Contents: Photographic Material, 1988 and undated (.5 linear feet) includes twenty-two photographs and thirty-two slides by Robert Barnstone depicting various retail stores, residential locations and restaurants in Austin, Texas. Each photograph, mounted on foam-core board and dated December 1988, includes a label indicating the establishment's name and address. Each slide is marked with a street address. Also included is an undated contact sheet of photographs featuring Barnstone and an associated set of negatives.
Location Box
qAR 54 Photographs and slides, 1988, undated
Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault B&W file drawer Negatives, undated

IV. Assorted Materials, 1951, 1970, 1989

Scope and Contents: Series consists of 3.2 linear feet of letters, memoranda, reports, handwritten notes and newspaper clippings documenting the activities of Council Member Barnstone. The bulk of the material does not appear to follow a previous arrangement. Some items are grouped by month, but appear unrelated in nature or form. Presentation material from City departments, private industry and individuals directed toward the City Council account for a portion of the series.
38-40, 73-74 Assorted materials, 1951, 1982-1991, undated