Mary Margaret Albright Farabee Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
Mary Margaret Albright Farabee (née Mary Margaret Carlson) was born in 1939 in Dallas, Texas. She moved to Austin in 1957 to attend the University of Texas at Austin and graduated in 1961. She later went on to complete a masters' degree in American History, also from the University of Texas, in 1968. She had two children, David and Patricia, with her first husband, James Albright, whom she divorced in 1978. She married Ray Farabee, a lawyer, former state senator, and general counsel for the University of Texas System Board of Regents, in 1991. Her son, David, passed away in 1996.
Farabee began her career as a teacher with the Austin Independent School District. She stopped teaching in 1966, around the time her two children were born. Following her divorce in 1978, she began working as the Director of Volunteer Services at Seton Medical Center.
In 1981, Farabee left Seton Medical Center and took on the role of Vice President of Public Relations at United Bank, where she organized artistic and cultural events for the bank's members, including lectures, seminars, and trips, often in collaboration with arts organizations in Austin. Her next position was Vice President of Development at KLRU, Austin's public television station, from 1986-1990. At KLRU, she was responsible for engineering the Capital Fund Campaign, for which she planned pledge drives, benefits, and other events.
In 1990, she left KLRU to return to Seton Medical Center, where she worked as Development Associate/Special Events Coordinator for the Seton Fund. Following her second marriage in 1991, she resigned from Seton and began to devote her time more fully to her civic and personal interests.
Farabee was involved in numerous civic and arts organizations in Austin. Her professional experience with fundraising, event-planning, and the arts in Austin carried over into much of her volunteer work. Her first major civic activity was participating in the restoration of the Paramount Theater in downtown Austin during the mid-1970s. She remained involved with the Paramount Theater throughout the 1970s and 1980s, serving on its Board of Directors for several years. Farabee subsequently became active in various other theater and historic preservation organizations, including serving on the board of directors of both the Austin Heritage Society (President, 1981) and Live Oak Productions for Theater Arts (ca. 1983-1988). One of her most well-known accomplishments was the Texas Book Festival, which she co-founded with future first lady Laura Bush in 1995.
Farabee's extensive, decades-long involvement in the Austin volunteer community also included work with: AIDS Services of Austin, the Austin History Center, Austin/Travis County HIV Commission, Capital Area Statues, Inc. (C.A.S.T.)/Voices of Texas, Live Oak Productions, National Wildlife Research Center, Texas Fine Arts Association, and the University Club, among others.
In honor of her wide-ranging civic work, Farabee was recognized as Austin's Most Worthy Citizen of 1997, presented by the Austin Board of Realtors. She was also awarded the ARTS leadership award from the Austin Chamber of Commerce Business Committee for the Arts in 1984 and named one of 'Austin's Top Women Executives in Business' by Austin Business Executive Magazine that same year.
The Mary Margaret Albright Farabee Papers contain correspondence, greeting cards, printed material, event invitations and programs, newspaper clippings, photographs, certificates, notes, and ephemera, documenting her professional, civic, social, and personal lives as a prominent and deeply engaged citizen of Austin. Though Farabee is perhaps best known for her contributions to the Texas Book Festival, no records related to that event are present in the collection. The collection contains four series: Personal/Biographical, Correspondence, Professional, and Organizations.
The Personal/Biographical series (1956-1992, 0.6 linear feet) provides information regarding Farabee's personal life. Documents in the series provide information regarding Farabee's family and friends, her education at UT Austin, and her early career as a school teacher in the Austin Independent School District. Items relating to travel, such as itineraries and newspaper clippings about travel destinations and events, are also included. The large number of clippings in the collection maintain Farabee's original filing system, indicating that she actively tracked mentions of her name, and events or organizations with which she was involved, in the press. The bulk of these clippings are drawn from the Austin American-Statesman's society columns. A substantial assortment of awards, certificates, and letters of appreciation document Farabee's educational, professional, and civic achievements. Finally, items related to trips and events that Farabee planned are included in the series. The bulk of these items document trips that Farabee planned to art museums within Texas. With the exception of one Paramount-sponsored trip, these trips and events do not appear to be affiliated with a specific organization, but rather seem to have been organized simply for the enjoyment of the Austin community. As Farabee's original filing system is preserved as much as possible, a number of items in this series reference Farabee's involvement with businesses and organizations documented elsewhere in the collection.
The Correspondence series (1968, 1978-1997, 1.8 linear feet) documents the strong links between Farabee's personal, professional, and civic lives. With the exception of a small cache of documents from 1968, this series spans the late 1970s through the mid 1990s and is arranged chronologically. It contains documents such as greeting cards, postcards, event invitations, printed material, handwritten letters and notes, handwritten lists, clippings, photographs, drawings, and ticket stubs. This material makes up the physical bulk of the collection, and covers topics ranging from Farabee's relationship with her children and husband, her extensive networking within her social circle, her engagement with volunteerism and philanthropy in Austin, and her professional activities. It evidences both the incredible breadth of Farabee's engagement in the social and political life of Austin, as well as the overlap between Farabee's private and public lives. Material relating to many of the topics within both the Professional and Organizations series also appear in the Correspondence series, but were left with Correspondence in deference to Farabee's filing system. In addition, the Correspondence series documents the reactions of Farabee's family, friends, and social peers to many of the events and career changes documented in the Professional and Organizations series.
The Professional series (1972-1991, 0.8 linear feet) documents Farabee's career at Seton Hospital, United Bank, and KLRU.
The KLRU subseries (1972-1974, 1986-1991) records Farabee's work as Director of Development for the public television station from 1986-1991, including her organization of fundraising campaigns and events for KLRU donors. Significant fundraising events documented include the world premiere of Willie Nelson's film Red Headed Stranger (1987) and "Texas on My Mind," a celebration of Texas arts (1988). Other items also document events for KLRU donors, such as a 1988 luncheon featuring Bill Moyers and various events organized for the Young Associates of KLRU group. This subseries also contains material about KLRU's well-known Austin City Limits (ACL) show, including numerous programs and tickets from ACL tapings, some of which have notes written on them. The extent of Farabee's direct involvement in the production of ACL, however, is uncertain. Finally, a small amount of material documents Farabee's volunteer activities with KLRU in the early 1970s; in keeping with her original filing system, this material is filed with her professional material in this series. The KLRU subseries contains correspondence, event publicity materials, notes, programs, newspaper clippings and photocopies, and other ephemera (including ticket stubs).
The Seton subseries (1978-1992) includes materials relating to Farabee's employment at Seton Medical Center (Director of Volunteers, 1978-1981) and the Seton Fund (Development Associate, 1990-1992). In her position as Director of Volunteers, Farabee acted as a liaison between the medical community at Seton and the various volunteer groups that regularly volunteered there, including the Junior League, the Seton Auxiliary, and University of Texas pre-med students. Items in this subseries include correspondence, memos, event publicity, newspaper clippings, and other printed materials. In addition to Farabee's functions as Volunteer Director and Development Associate, these materials document the growth of Seton Medical Center and Farabee's involvement with the organization as a volunteer.
The United Bank subseries (1981-1986) consists of materials created or received during Farabee's role as Vice President of Public Relations, including correspondence, event publicity materials, calendars, and ephemera. In particular, these items document the events that Farabee organized for bank members, including trips, lectures, and art exhibitions. Particularly well-represented are a trip to see Elizabeth Taylor perform in New Orleans (1981), a "California Fall Potpourri" trip (1983), and lectures by art expert Rosamond Bernier (1984, 1985). The subseries also includes materials relating to United Bank's operations, and the bank's annual recipe calendar, which Farabee oversaw.
The Organizations series (1973-1998, 1.6 linear feet) documents Farabee's civic involvement with a wide range of Austin organizations including AIDS Services of Austin, the Austin History Center, Austin/Travis County HIV Commission, Capital Area Statues, Inc., Heritage Society of Austin, Live Oak Productions, National Wildlife Research Center, Paramount Theater, Texas Fine Arts Association, and the University Club. Other organizations in which Farabee played an important role include: Actor's Theatre of Austin, Austin Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts, Business Committee for the Arts, Elizabet Ney Museum Association, English Speaking Union, Governor's Leadership Council, Hospice Austin, the Junior Helping Hand Home for Children, Keep Austin Beautiful, Leadership Austin, and Sam Houston Society of Friends of the Governor's Mansion. Representation of these organizations in the collection is minimal, and material from them is found in the "Other Organizations" folder. Items in this series include bylaws, clippings, correspondence, minutes, newsletters, notes, photographs, and promotional material.
This series documents Farabee's involvement with several historic preservation projects including the restoration of the Austin History Center in the old library building, the restoration of the Paramount Theater in the 1970s, the purchase and renovation of the old Lerner building and its transformation into headquarters and gallery space for the Texas Fine Arts Association, and various projects completed by the Heritage Society of Austin. The series also documents Farabee's involvement in fundraising and event planning for organizations such as AIDS Service of Austin, for which she conducted a fundraising analysis and served on the executive committee for the Austin Festival of Dance, a benefit held for the organization; Capital Area Statues, Inc., for which she organized the Voice of Texas literary festival as a benefit; Live Oak Production; and the National Wildflower Research Center.
The most thoroughly represented organization within the series is Capital Area Statues, Inc., an organization dedicated to commissioning statues and monuments within Austin. Items within the Capital Area Statues, Inc. subseries provide information on various fundraising events, most notably Voices of Texas, an event held in 1993 and 1995 to benefit Capital Area Statues, Inc.
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Mary Margaret Albright Farabee Papers (AR.1998.011). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1977/084
Donation Date: 1998 July 29
Final Processing and Finding Aid By: Cait Burhans, Rebecca Herscowitz, Elliot Williams, 4/29/2012.
Detailed Description of the Collection