ORAL HISTORY PROJECT GROWS
September 2017 saw the debut of Voices of Blackwell on Marfa Public Radio. This series of short stories was produced by Diana Nguyen and featured the voices of former students.
Hear Mario Rivera's story HERE.
Hear Lionel Salgado's story HERE.
Hear Maggie Marquez's story HERE.
Hear Dawn Shannon's story HERE.
Hear Jessi Silva's story HERE.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!!
StoryCorps is a nationally distributed radio program featuring ordinary people with unordinary stories. They came to Marfa and recorded Maggie Marquez and Jessi Silva. Hear that story HERE.
The Blackwell School Alliance (BSA) is also expanding our oral history collection with a partnership with UTEP. You may remember that in 2014 and 2015, New York-based artist Lisa Bateman interviewed more than 25 former Blackwell School students and recorded their stories to better understand the history of the Blackwell School. In 2016, she obtained for us another grant from Humanities Texas to grow our oral history collection.
Ms. Bateman connected us with Dr. Yolanda Leyva and the Oral History Institute at the University of Texas at El Paso. Dr. Leyva and her colleagues are now working with the BSA to record interviews with El Paso-area alumni, properly catalog and archive our collection, and make our interviews available on their website as The Blackwell School Collection.
Tell Us YOUR Story
Everyone has a story to tell. Please tell yours. Contact Gretel Enck to make an appointment in Marfa: or 432.295.3359.
Blackwell School Receives Dougherty Grant
The Blackwell School Alliance is pleased and grateful to announce that we have received, for the second year in a row, a grant in the amount of $4000 from the Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation. This year’s grant will go to the expansion of our oral history program: partnering with UTEP to conduct and archive interviews and research along with purchasing equipment and materials to conduct, preserve, and share interviews.
Last year’s grant was used to install a heating and cooling system in the band room of the historic Blackwell School building. Climate control allows this room to be used for meetings, presentations, and other community activities.
Dudley T. Dougherty (1923-1978) was a successful oilman and cattle rancher in Beeville, Texas, in the Gulf Coastal Plains area, as well as being a decorated World War II veteran, two-term state legislator, and journalist. His love of knowledge and humanity became key facets of his life, and the foundation established in his honor supports worthy causes such as medical research, education, fine arts, and health care. The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation was established in 2002 to support those who wish to be a part of the many worthy forces for change in our world. “We are a foundation whose purpose is to look ahead towards the future, giving the past its due, by remembering where we came from and how much we can all accomplish together.”
The Blackwell School Alliance grant applications are championed by legendary Texas stateswoman Sissy Farenthold who has had a life-long commitment to civil rights advocacy and social justice. She believes that the Blackwell School has national historical significance as well as current social implications. The Blackwell School Alliance is gratified to have its efforts at preserving the site and contributing to community reconciliation be recognized as an expression of the values held dear by Ms. Farenthold and the Dougherty Foundation.
The story of Blackwell School is more than a Hispanic story, more than a Marfa story: it is part of our American story. Blackwell School Alliance invites everyone to visit Blackwell School and get involved: as members, volunteers, donors, and guests.
What IS Oral History?
Everyone has a story to tell. We organize our memories and experiences into stories. Oral history is the systematic collection of living people’s testimony about their own experiences—conducted through a recorded interview. Everyday memories of everyday people have historical importance. Oral historians gather these memories and stories and place them into an accurate historical context, storing them appropriately for use by scholars—today and into the future. Oral history projects are often organized around a shared heritage, event, or experience—in this case, the Blackwell School.
Oral history allows for the recording of perspectives of people who might not otherwise appear in the historical records. Certainly the history of the Blackwell School cannot be told without the voices of those directly involved—students, faculty and staff, neighbors, and community members. Newspaper articles, speeches, and government documents may reveal useful information, but those kinds of sources often neglect more personal and private experiences. Through oral history, we can learn about the hopes, feelings, aspirations, disappointments, family histories, and personal memories of the people who were there.
M a r f a R e p e t i c i ó n !
The Blackwell School received its first grant for community programming in 2015. From August 27 to September 7, 2015, Blackwell opened its doors to the public for a series of oral history
recordings from alumni and the community to create a historic archive for the school.
Humanities Texas was the sponsor for this series of events, which included a visit from the Children of Giant co-producer Karen Bernstein, who presented seminars on the importance of recording family histories, Marfa’s unique
and diverse residents, and the documentary as an art form.
Richard Williams, Marfa historian and archivist, screened a 500-student ‘portrait’ slide-show of Blackwell students on the big screen. Many families and volunteers, new and old, visited the historic site during the Marfa Lights Festival. The event was organized by Lisa Bateman, artist and project director.