In the Shadow of the Dome: Slave Life in Austin, Texas

The Austin History Center invites you to In the Shadow of the Dome:  Slave Life in Austin, Texas. Andres and Juanita Tijerina, currently at work on an upcoming book by the same title, will speak about slave life and emancipation in Austin, as evidenced in the Travis County Slave Narratives that were recorded in the 1930s. This program will augment the upcoming Juneteenth celebrations and serve to increase our understanding of the historical roots of this celebration. The program is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.


The program is a two-part presentation on the slave narratives of Austin and Travis County, Texas.  Some of the narratives appear in other publications, but most have never been published.   The first part of the presentation is a review of the 1937 WPA project to interview Americans as part of the New Deal administration.  It explores the influence of the interviewer, the typescript, and the interviewee on the accuracy of the historical narrative.  The second part of the presentation is a reading of selected narratives to demonstrate the nuances of the interviewer’s interpretation and the diversity of persons interviewed.  The conclusion reviews the history of the African-American freedmen of Travis County.


This is the last in a series of programs related to the AHC’s current exhibit, “Divided City: Civil War & Reconstruction in Austin.” The exhibit explores how the Civil War and Reconstruction impacted the history of Austin. The exhibit runs through June 21, 2015, and attendees of the program will have an opportunity to explore the exhibit before or after the program.