A Guide to the Almetris Marsh Duren Videotape Collection, 1983
Almetris Marsh Duren was a key figure in University of Texas at Austin life from 1958 through 1981. Known as "Mama Duren" or "Mama D," Duren was a mentor, counselor, adviser and inspiration to young people for four decades. She began her career as a housemother and served as a University student development specialist and adviser in the Dean of Students Office from 1968 through 1981. Duren served as student advisor and house mother for the first African American students at the University of Texas at Austin. She helped establish Project Info, UT Austin's first minority recruitment program, and was founder of the Innervisions Gospel Choir. She also helped recruit minority faculty.
A graduate of Tillotson College, Duren began her influence on the UT Austin campus in 1958, when she got a job as a housemother for black women students in off-campus housing known as the Modified Co-op. Earlier she had worked as a resident hostess at Eliza Dee Hall, a Methodist dorm at Huston-Tillotson, then the only residence hall for Austin's black female college students. In 1968, she joined the staff of the Dean of Students Office, as a counselor and adviser to students and student groups.
Duren made special efforts to help black students overcome feelings of alienation during the 1950s and 1960s as the campus slowly integrated, combining encouragement and mentoring with direct, practical help. Duren assisted students trying to obtain financial aid and housing in a segregated town. Her efforts included feeding hungry young people herself and reaching into her personal savings to provide small loans.
Duren made it her mission to encourage black students to stay in school and complete their degrees. She was the co-author of Overcoming: A History of Black Integration at The University of Texas at Austin. The book is used in the training of University orientation advisers. In 1978, the University presented her the Margaret Berry Award for outstanding contributions to student life. In 1979, UT Austin President Lorene Rogers awarded Duren the Presidential Citation for outstanding service, noting that "in providing the one continuous link in the history of integration at The University of Texas at Austin, Mrs. Duren has been a guiding force for every generation of black students."
Biographical note from the UT Office of Public Affairs, http://www.utexas.edu/gtw/duren/about.html.
The collection consists of three videotapes wherein Almetris Duren, student advisor and housemother of The University for Texas at Austin's first black students, describes the desegregation process at UT. Also included are anecdotes by local businessman and musician Ed Guinn; photographs from the Barker Center's collections; and footage of the reception for the UT Centennial exhibit, "An End and a Beginning: Blacks at The University of Texas." Tape one is the master copy of an eleven-minute documentary recorded on 3/4 inch VHS. Tapes two and three are the unedited material from which the documentary was made and include the complete interviews with Duren and Guinn.
This collection is open for research use.
Use of video material by appointment only; please contact repository for more information.
Almetris Marsh Duren Videotape Collection, 1983, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Julia M. Payne, February 1984.
Subsequent revisions were made by Vanessa Attia, December 2013.
Detailed Description of the Papers