Remember the Alamo (Documents): University of Texas, Bexar County Spar over Hispanic Archives

Black Issues in Higher Education, January 20, 2000 | Go to article overview

Remember the Alamo (Documents): University of Texas, Bexar County Spar over Hispanic Archives


Remember the Alamo (Documents): University of Texas, Bexar County spar over Hispanic archives

AUSTIN, Texas -- It's not the battle of the Alamo. But one San Antonio official is waging a modern-day war of words in his efforts to retrieve historic Spanish and Mexican documents returned to San Antonio.

At issue is a collection of priceless Hispanic documents that currently is housed at the University of Texas at Austin. The materials detail Southwestern life between the early 1700s and 1836 -- the year Texas lost the famous San Antonio mission fort but won its independence.

Gerry Rickhoff, the county clerk in Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, wants the university to hand over the collection, some 250,000 to 300,000 pages. He and others contend the school has not been active as a good archive steward.

"These records don't have a voice," Rickhoff says of the Spanish Archives, as the collection is called. "I am the voice for these records...I want them back. And I'll go to whatever measures it takes."

At one point during the heated back-and-forth, Rickhoff fumed that he might have to travel to Austin and "come and take it."

Bexar County turned the documents over to the university for preservation and translation 100 years ago. University officials contend they have taken good care of the archive and have told Bexar County officials the collection will not be moved.

"These are documents that are critical to the state of Texas, and we feel that what's best for the state of Texas is that they remain here," says Dr. Patricia Ohlendorf, the university's vice president for administration and legal affairs. …

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