Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Travel Tuesday: Institute of Texan Cultures, San Antonio, 1968 & 1978

The Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, is an awesome museum and educational center.  It began its life as the Texas Pavilion at HemisFair '68, the World's Fair for 1968.  The following year, it became part of the University of Texas System.  Today, it is one of the campuses of the University of Texas at San Antonio

My family attended HemisFair '68, and I took this photo from the top of the Tower of the Americas, which also still stands today.  I'll write more about HemisFair and the Tower on Thursday.  We of course visited the Institute (aka Texas Pavilion), which, according to page 15 of the Souvenir Book of Hemisfair '68 , "tells the story of Texans, who they are and where they came from."  Page 8 of the HemisFair '68 souvenir booklet adds,  "Does the idea of a Jewish conquistador, a German tamale-maker or a Polish cowboy strike you as odd?  Taking the stories of such individuals, the huge Texas Pavilion shows how 25 nationalities helped tame the state, and shoots down some tired Texas myths along the way."

Institute of Texan Culture (aka the Texas Pavilion) from the observation deck of the Tower of the Americas during HemisFair '68 in San Antonio, August 1968.  Fiesta Island can be seen in the foreground.  Durango Street (now César Chávez Boulevard) is in the upper right corner.

Ten years later, in 1978, I had a summer internship at what was then San José Mission State and National Historic Site, (then) operated by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).  We had an opportunity to participate in the seventh annual Texas Folklife Festival, sponsored by the Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) and held on their grounds.  Along with fellow TPWD staff members from the nearby José Antonio Navarro State Historic Site (now Casa Navarro and operated by the Texas Historical Commission), we provided an adobe-making demonstration at the Festival.  On the cover of the Program Guide for the Festival, held August 3-6 in 1978, we were located at point #34, just off Durango Street (now César Chávez Boulevard) and near Stage 3.

Imagine my surprise to find the photo below today, while looking for images from that demonstration!  That's me on the left, but unfortunately I don't recognize my co-worker.

[Two Texas Parks and Wildlife Employees Mixing Adobe], Photograph, [August 3, 1978..August 6, 1978]; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth285180/ : accessed June 10, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas at San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures, San Antonio, Texas.

Those of you going to San Antonio for the Federation of Genealogical Societies' 2014 Conference  (#FGS2014) in late August have a great opportunity to visit the Institute of Texan Cultures, and I highly recommend that you do!  On Wednesday evening, August 27, 2014, from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm, join your fellow FGS attendees for some barbecue and the opportunity to explore the Institute at your own pace.  Read more about this special event on the FGS blog.

© Amanda Pape - 2014 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. Cool, interesting story, thanks for sharing! : )

  2. How neat to find your picture!!!! That is awesome. My mom always told the story that (she or her mother?) entered a contest to name the needle at the world's fair in 1968 and they submitted the name "Tower of the Americas". Not sure if that is true, - I always wanted to research that.

    1. That's so interesting, Tracy! I've saved a few documents relevant to HemisFair - I will have to see if I can find that among them!

    2. Tracy: "Sixty-eight persons, of the 3,354 who entered the contest, selected the
      winning name, "Tower of the Americas... The name of the first place
      winner and the [nine] runners-up were selected by the postmark dates, as per
      the announced rules of the contest." This is from the archives folder for the contest which was digitized at UTSA. One of those nine runners-up was a Mrs. T. B. Harris of Boerne, Texas - any kin to you? The other 58 people with the winning name are not listed anywhere in the folder; only those first 10 postmarked got prizes.