Austin History Center

Austin (Tex.). Parks and Recreation Department. Photo Negative Collection

An Inventory to the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Austin (Tex.). Parks and Recreation Department
Title: Austin (Tex.). Parks and Recreation Department. Photo Negative Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1917-1970
Bulk Dates: 1928-1970
Abstract: The collections contains 5,002 medium format photographic negatives that document the history of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department's efforts to fulfill its mission to provide, protect and preserve a park system that promotes quality recreational, cultural and outdoor experiences for the Austin community.
Identification: AR.2014.017
Quantity: 1.5 linear feet (5,002 negatives)
Location: Outer Vault
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department (originally called the Austin Recreation Department) was established by the City Council in May 1928 with James A. Garrison as the Superintendent. An advisory board was also established in this time period with W.T. Caswell as chair. More than 139,000 participants enjoyed programs in less than a year's time of Recreation Division operation.

Beverly Sheffield was appointed the director in 1946 and served in that position until 1973. While the first 45 years of the Parks Department only had 2 directors the next 36 years have seen men and women such as Jack Robinson, Leonard Ehrler, Jr., Charles Jordan, Manuel Mollidedo, Mike Heitz, Jesus Olivares, Warren Struss and Sarah L. Hensley lead the department.

The year 1875 marked the first gift of land to the City of Austin with specific direction that it be used as a park. Governor E.M. Pease donated 23 acres of land around Shoal Creek known as Pease Park. A jewel of the park system, Barton Springs and 35 acres surrounding it was deeded to the City in 1918 by A.J. Zilker.

By 1932, park acreage had increased to 594 acres and included Parque Zaragoza, Rosewood, and 300 additional acres in Zilker Park. By the end of the 1930s, a 1,006 acre park was being constructed on Lake Austin, now known as Emma Long Metropolitan Park. During this decade, programs were operated at 12 playgrounds, Lions Golf Course became a facility of the Department, and performances at Zilker Hillside began. The number of pools grew from two to eight and included Rosewood, Stacy, Palm and Shipe.

Parkland grew to the 2,000 acre mark in the 1940s and included the purchase of Govalle Park in 1946. The Elisabet Ney Museum opened in 1942 with more than 3000 visitors in the first year.

In the 1950s the number of pools and parks continued to grow but it was in the 1960s that Austin saw a huge expansion with acreage more than doubling to 7,000 acres. In 1960, the Austin Nature and Science Center was established to provide nature exhibits, education programs and recreation resources in an effort to increase awareness and appreciation of the natural environment. Originally located at 401 Deep Eddy Avenue, it was later relocated to the western edge of Zilker Park, where it is still located today.

In 1964 Austin Recreation Department became the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

The residents of Austin enjoy and support their City Within a Park and various voter bond elections have allowed the Parks and Recreation Department to expand and improve facilities and programming through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.

Today (2014), the Parks and Recreation Department oversees more than 18,994 acres of land containing 251 parks, 15 preserves, and 40 greenbelts. The largest of the parks is Zilker Metropolitan Park, a 351-acre park that provides a variety of recreation opportunities including the Zilker Park Kite Festival, the Zilker Holiday Tree, Barton Springs Pool, Zilker Botanical Gardens, the Austin Nature and Science Center, Zilker Hillside Theatre, and Umlauf Sculpture Gardens. The department currently maintains more than 50 miles of hike-and-bike trails; 117 miles of lake patrol; 93 ball fields; 74 basketball courts; 77 mixed-use fields; and 172 playscapes. Other facilities include 22 recreation centers; 3 senior activity centers; 3 museums; 31 historical facilities; 8 art and cultural centers; 10 stages/amphitheaters; 10 golf/disc courses; 116 tennis courts; 50 pool facilities (28 neighborhood pools, 3 wading pools, 6 municipal pools, 11 splash pads, 1 rental facility, and Barton Springs Pool), and 2 beach-front facilities.

Scope and Contents

The collection contains 5,002 medium format black and white negatives that document the programs, activities, participants, and facilities of the Parks and Recreation Department from 1917 to 1970. The bulk of the negatives span from 1928 to 1970. Additionally, there are two copy negatives depicting Deep Eddy Pool and Barton Springs Pool from 1917. Also included are 51 negatives depicting African American facilities and events ranging from 1941 to 1969.

Programs and activities include the Tiny Tot Program, beauty pageants, dances, sandcraft, handcraft, the Kite Tournament (which later became known as the Zilker Park Kite Festival), the Natural Science Center Safaris, senior citizens activities and trips, theatre productions, Flower Shows, and the annual Aqua Festival. Many of the dances, programs, plays, and pageants were held at various schools around Austin including Anderson High School, Austin High School, Becker School, Brentwood School, Blackshear School, Fulmore School, Metz School, and University Junior High School.

Athletic events depicted include baseball games and tournaments, basketball games and tournaments, swim meets, boxing matches, girls softball games and tournaments, girls basketball games and tournaments, football games and tournaments, tennis matches, volleyball games and tournaments, bowling tournaments, soccer matches, badminton tournaments, and track meets.

Holiday festivities depicted include Christmas plays, programs, pageants and carols, Yule Fest, Zilker Park Trail of Lights, Easter egg hunts and pageants, 4th of July activities, Juneteenth celebrations, Halloween parties, and Arbor Day activities.

Participants and groups include children, athletes, Parks and Recreation Department employees and volunteers, women's groups, and senior citizens. Other organizations represented include the Austin Symphony Orchestra, the Austin Civic Chorus, Jaycees, the Junior League, Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Mothers Club. Notable individuals depicted include Mrs. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Moya (Travis County Commissioner, 1970-1986), Weldon Covington (Director, Austin Municipal Band), Gene Golbraith (Director, Austin Civic Chorus), Donald Stence (Superintendent of Parks), Beverly Sheffield (Parks Director, 1946-1973), Raul G. "Roy" Guerrero (Superintendent of Recreation, 1964-1973, and later Assistant Director), Travis LaRue (Mayor, 1969-1971), and Catherine Lamkin (Rosewood Director).

Facilities pictured include playgrounds, swimming pools, recreation centers, senior centers, Barton Springs, Natural Science Center (Austin Nature Center), Deep Eddy Pool, municipal golf courses, Zilker Park, city parks, Camp Mabry, Austin Area Garden Center, the O. Henry Museum, the Elisabet Ney Museum, City Coliseum, the power plant, Austin Athletic Club, Zilker Hillside Theatre, the Biblical Garden, Caswell Tennis Center, and House Park. There are numerous photos depicting the construction of facilities in Austin including House Park, Metz Park, Zaragosa Park, Doris Miller Auditorium, City Coliseum, Parks and Recreation Department office buildings, Northwest Swimming Pool, Lake Austin, and City Park. Other specific facility depictions include photos of City Hall, the Capitol Building, Barton Springs, the Garden Center after the February 1967 snow fall, and the 1968 flooding of Barton Springs.

There are many photographs of segregated facilities and events for African Americans. These include the Negro War Council, the Negro basketball team, and beauty pageants. The majority of photos were taken at Rosewood Park and also depict the Annual Christmas Program, Easter egg hunts, Juneteenth celebrations, classes, and dances. Other activities are shown at locations including Anderson High School, Blackshear School, Lott Playground, Salina Activity Center, Downs Field, and Givens Pool.


This collection is organized into one series which is arranged in the original order in which collection was received. The Parks and Recreation Department assigned identification numbers starting with "Rec" followed by a numerical group number. Within each "Rec" group number, there may be multiple negatives which are listed by consecutive letters. This organization is roughly chronological. There were 12 unidentified negatives that are listed at the end of the index.


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Sheffield, Beverly
Austin (Tex.). Department of Parks and Recreation.
Austin (Tex.).
Austin (Tex.). Department of Parks and Recreation.
Swimming pools
Community centers
Public schools.
Document Types:
Black-and-white negatives

Related Material

General Collection:

  • A 352.73 Au Annual Report

(From 1935 to 1949 the Recreation Department used prints from these negatives to illustrate its annual reports. Original silver gelatin prints were pasted into the reports. In later years photomechanical reproductions of images were used instead. Some of the prints in the 1941 and 1949 reports were identified with the "Rec" ID numbers and are identified in the attached spreadsheet.)

Archives and Manuscripts:

  • AR.Z.025 Austin (Tex.). Parks and Recreation Department Records
  • AR.1993.001 Crenshaw (Roberta) Papers
  • AR.1993.019 Treaty Oak Collection
  • AR.1997.007 Sheffield (Beverly) Papers
  • AR.2001.003 Austin (Tex.). Parks and Recreation Department. Cemeteries Division Ledgers

AF Subject Files:

  • AF - African-Americans - Miss East Austin A1300(17)
  • AF - Aqua Festival - 1962 A5200(1)
  • AF - Aqua Festival - 1963 A5200(2)
  • AF - Aqua Festival - 1964 A5200(3)
  • AF - Aqua Festival - 1965 A5200(5)
  • AF - Aqua Festival - 1968 A5200(7)
  • AF - Art - General A6300(1)
  • AF - Art - Sculpture - Stephen F. Austin Statue A6400(S1400)(3)
  • AF - Art Societies A6600(6)
  • AF - Art Societies - Capitol Art Society A6600(4)
  • AF - Art Societies - Municipal Art Guild A6600(6)
  • AF - Austin - Pictures, Illustrations, etc. - 1940-1949 A8704
  • AF - Austin Area Garden Center A8050
  • AF - Austin Area Garden Center - Biblical Gardens A8050(2)
  • AF - Automobiles - Auto Racing - Pushmobile Races A9900(4)
  • AF - Automobiles - General A9088(1)
  • AF - Baseball - American Legion Baseball B1198(2)
  • AF - Baseball - General B1198(1)
  • AF - Baseball - Softball B1198(11)
  • AF - Bee Creek - Bee Creek Nature Trail B1610(4)
  • AF - Boats & Boating - Riverboat Commodore B4496(7)
  • AF - Boats & Boating - Water Skiing B4496(25)
  • AF - Celebrations - May Fetes C1900(5)
  • AF - Civilian Conservation Corps C4900
  • AF - Churches - Methodist - First United C3690(6)
  • AF - Cycling - General C9300(1)
  • AF - Dancing D0200
  • AF - Dancing D0800
  • AF - Dancing - General D0200(1)
  • AF - Dancing - Nutcracker D0200(50)
  • AF - Dancing - Pioneer Dance Club D0200(52)
  • AF - Dancing - Square Dancing D0200(8)
  • AF - Deep Eddy D1230
  • AF - Fishing F1800
  • AF - Garden Clubs - Austin Hemerocallis Society G0700(2)
  • AF - Golf - Morris Williams Golf Course G3200(8)
  • AF - Holidays - Christmas H1850
  • AF - Holidays - Easter H1800(11)
  • AF - Holidays - July 4th H1800(6)
  • AF - Holidays - Yule Fest/Trail of Lights H1850(1)
  • AF - Junior Chamber of Commerce J0280
  • AF - Junior League J0340
  • AF - Lake Austin - General L0300
  • AF - Lake Walter E. Long L0450
  • AF - Libraries - Austin Public - Central Library, 1933-1979 L2710(4)
  • AF - Log Cabins - General L3300(1)
  • AF - Museums - Elisabet Ney - General M9110(1)
  • AF - Museums - Elisabet Ney - Historical Marker M9110(6)
  • AF - Museums - O. Henry - General M9150
  • AF - Music - Bands, Orchestras, Choirs, etc. - Austin Civic Chorus M9300(A)
  • AF - Music - General M9300(1)
  • AF - Natural Science Center - General N0900(1)
  • AF - Natural Science Center - Safari N0900(3)
  • AF - Old Age - General O1200(1)
  • AF - Old Age - Lakeside Activity Center O1200(21)
  • AF - Old Age - Nueces Activity Center O1200(23)
  • AF - Old Age - Salina Activity Center O1200(22)
  • AF - Parks - Bailey P1200(35)
  • AF - Parks - Bartholomew P1200(2)
  • AF - Parks - Ben Howell Memorial Trail P1200(3)
  • AF - Parks - Brentwood P1200(36)
  • AF - Parks - Brush Square P1200(4)
  • AF - Parks - City Park P1200(7)
  • AF - Parks - Deep Eddy P1230
  • AF - Parks - East Avenue P1200(8)
  • AF - Parks - Fiesta Gardens P1200(53)
  • AF - Parks - Garrison P1200(4)
  • AF - Parks - Gillis P1200(10)
  • AF - Parks - Givens P1200(12)
  • AF - Parks - Govalle P1200(52)
  • AF - Parks - Hidden Valley P1200(13)
  • AF - Parks - Lott P1200(49)
  • AF - Parks - Metz P1200(37)
  • AF - Parks - Northwest P1200(17)
  • AF - Parks - Palm Pool P1200(20)
  • AF - Parks - Patterson P1200(46)
  • AF - Parks - Pease P1268
  • AF - Parks - Ramsey P1200(4)
  • AF - Parks - Reed P1200(47)
  • AF - Parks - Rosewood P1200(23)
  • AF - Parks - Shipe P1200(28)
  • AF - Parks - Stacy P1200(25)
  • AF - Parks - West Austin Park P1200(29)
  • AF - Parks - Westenfield P1200(30)
  • AF - Parks - Zaragoza P1200(31)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Austin Athletic Center P1400(43)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Austin Recreation Center P1400(5)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Boards P1400(2)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Classes P1400(29)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Doris Miller Auditorium P1400(27)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - General P1400(1)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Girls Clubs P1400(35)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Hancock Rec. Center P1400(7)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Metz Rec. Center P1400(8)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Pam Am Rec. Center P1400(9)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Parents Club P1400(36)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Park Rangers P1400(3)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Personnel P1400(42)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Recitals and Programs P1400(33)
  • AF - Parks & Recreation Dept., Austin - Sandcraft P1400(31)
  • AF - Pottery - General P6200
  • AF - Public Schools - Elementary - Brentwood P8300(9)
  • AF - Public Schools - Elementary - Metz P8300(30)
  • AF - Public Schools - Elementary - Woolridge (Old) P8300(48)
  • AF - Public Schools - Junior High - Baker P8800(1)
  • AF - Public Schools - Junior High - Fulmore P8830
  • AF - Public Schools - Junior High - University P8890
  • AF - Public Schools - High Schools - Austin High - General P8640(1)
  • AF - Public Schools - House Park P8200(76)
  • AF - Railroads - Southern Pacific - Old 786 R0860(2)
  • AF - Red Cross R1900
  • AF - Sports - Badminton S4300(29)
  • AF - Sports - Basketball S4300(45)
  • AF - Sports - Boxing S4300(4)
  • AF - Sports - Football S4300(44)
  • AF - Sports - General S4300(1)
  • AF - Sports - Gymnastics S4300(36)
  • AF - Sports - Hiking Club S4300(39)
  • AF - Sports - Kiteflying S4300(6)
  • AF - Sports - Running S4300(2)
  • AF - Sports - Track & Field S4300(16)
  • AF - Swimming - General S8400(1)
  • AF - Symphony Orchestra - Austin S8800
  • AF - Tennis - Caswell Tennis Center T0800(1)
  • AF - Tennis - General T0800
  • AF - Theater - Children's Theater T6500(56)
  • AF - Theater - General T6500
  • AF - Town Lake - Town Lake Beautification Committee T7200(8)
  • AF - Town Lake - General T7200
  • AF - Town Lake - Town Lake Gazebo T7200(6)
  • AF - Town Lake - Town Lake Foundations T7200(5)
  • AF - Trees - General T9200(1)
  • AF - Wood & Woodworking W5250
  • AF - World War II - General W5700
  • AF - Youth - General Y0600
  • AF - Zilker Park - Barton Springs Z0450
  • AF - Zilker Park - Barton Springs - Bath house Z0450(6)
  • AF - Zilker Park - Barton Springs - Floods Z0450(5)
  • AF - Zilker Park - Barton Springs - Mill Z0450(4)
  • AF - Zilker Park - Barton Springs - Style Shows Z0450(8)
  • AF - Zilker Park - Zilker Hillside Theater Z0400(3)
  • AF - Zilker Park - Zilker Train Z0400(4)

AF Biography Files:

  • Guerrero, Raul G. "Roy"
  • Melcher, Sharon
  • Stence, Donald
  • Underwood, Fred

Separated Material

When the collection first arrived, most prints were separated and added to the AF Subject Files. During final processing, remaining prints and prints without corresponding negatives were also added to the AF Subject Files. There are approximately 1800 negatives with corresponding prints in the Subject Files. The attached spreadsheet lists the PICA numbers and subject files for negatives with corresponding prints.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Austin (Tex.). Parks and Recreation Department. Photo Negative Collection (AR.2014.017). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1968/063

Donation Date: Unknown

Processing Information

Finding aid created and encoded by Sarah Sauri, 2014.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Negatives, 1917-1970

Outer Vault B&W negatives; see attached spreadsheet for details