The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Blackwell School Oral History Archive Project

Grant Information
Categories Education , Community
Location Texas
Cycle Year 2016
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Blackwell School Alliance
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Contact Information
Contact Name Gretel Enck
Phone 432-295-3359
PO Box 417
501 S. Abbott Street
Additional Information
Used for This grant will be used to pay for the expansion and professionalization of the Blackwell School Oral History Archive. The Blackwell School Alliance has received help in the past to conduct 25 oral history interviews. This project develops a partnership with the University of Texas as El Paso to formalize our program and methods; expand our interviewing capacity to include former students now living outside of Marfa; and catalog, preserve, and make accessible through the internet all of our interviews.
Benefits Capturing the stories of those people with a personal connection to this segregated Hispanic school in Marfa, Texas, benefits many people, and in various ways. Interview subjects reclaim their voice, a voice denied them as students forbidden to speak their language and denied equality; researchers and scholars have valuable primary source material on cultural history of Mexican Americans in far west Texas; and the general public and visitors to Marfa gain knowledge of a time in our past, not so past, when segregation played out through education.
Proposal Description The Blackwell School Alliance in Marfa, Texas, is requesting $7930 out of an estimated project budget of $12,863 to expand, professionalize, and make available to the public the Blackwell School Oral History Archive. Existing already are 25 digital oral history interviews conducted with former students of this segregated Mexican American school that served Marfa residents from 1889 to 1965.

The Blackwell School is entering into a partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso to pursue the expansion of the archive. Dr. Yolanda Leyva and her colleagues will assist in conducting interviews in the El Paso area, as well as providing guidance for interviewing locally in Marfa. In addition, UTEP will host the Blackwell School Collection on its oral history website, thereby making the interviews available to researchers and the general public.

The Blackwell School Alliance will also make interviews available at the Blackwell School for use by local residents and students as well as visitors through new projection equipment and a digital database. The archive is a living one, with plans to expand and include ongoing recordings of as many Blackwell Alumni and their families as possible. This grant request is for the first 12 months of the partnership with UTEP and plans for 50 new interviews to be conducted, processed, and made available on the aforementioned website, as well as the processing and uploading of the 25 interviews already conducted.

The gathering and preservation of the oral histories of the Blackwell School alumni will become a crucial legacy to the rich cultural history of Presidio County and the Big Bend area in Texas. Hispanic-Latino history and its deep contribution to the unique west Texas way of life is often underwritten, undocumented and unexplored. It is important for Marfa, as a town of unique and varied aesthetics, to include these narratives and illuminate the depth and breadth of all its citizens.

In addition to historical concerns, these alumni narratives are contemporary and relate a deep devotion to family, local culture, and survival in the fraught regions of west Texas. The stories tell of economic self-determination, the integrity of Hispanic and Latino life, and the struggles to survive the segregation prevalent in west Texas then, with its residual influence now. The Blackwell School Oral History Archive will illuminate this journey - from the censorship of the Spanish language and free speech to contemporary gentrification and the urban challenges facing life in Marfa today.

The Blackwell School Alliance recently found out that we will receive a grant of $1500 from the Humanities Texas Media Grant. This is truly a partnership project built on the faith of many and the belief that the stories of the Blackwell School are worth preserving, and in fact critical to understanding the history, and telling the story, of Texas and all Texans.