An Introduction to the Harry Ransom Center
Enjoy an insider's glimpse into the Ransom Center.
This 10-minute video provides a broad overview of collections, scholarship, conservation, exhibitions, and programs.
Curators, students, members, and conservators discuss their work and how the Center shares and celebrates the creative process. The video showcases the range of materials that are housed at the Center, from a Houdini movie poster to letters by Edgar Allan Poe, from Jack Kerouac's notebook to Robert De Niro's make-up stills.
Visit the Ransom Center to make your own discoveries in the collections.
Eli Reed: The Lost Boys of Sudan
In 2001, Eli Reed (b. 1946) traced the path of some of the more than 20,000 "Lost Boys," as aid workers have called them, some as young as five years old, forced to flee after their families were massacred or enslaved during the Second Sudanese Civil War.
Reed's powerful series documents their journey as they leave the camp and adjust to life in the United States, acclimating to a starkly different culture and a new world of formidable challenges.
Norman Bel Geddes
Donald Albrecht, exhibition organizer and curator of architecture and design at the Museum of the City of New York, discusses industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes's influence on the American landscape. Albrecht—editor of Norman Bel Geddes Designs America (Abrams)—emphasizes the breadth of the Bel Geddes collection at the Ransom Center, which includes Bel Geddes's plans and sketches of his futurist visions.
Conserving the Gone With The Wind Costumes
In 2010, the Ransom Center raised funds to conserve original costumes from Gone With The Wind, which are part of the Center's David O. Selznick archive. Donors from around the world graciously contributed more than $30,000 to support the conservation work, which will enable the Ransom Center to display the costumes safely in a fall 2014 exhibition, loan the costumes to other institutions, and display the costumes properly on custom-fitted mannequins.
The Ransom Center's detailed and careful conservation work took more than 180 hours and occurred between fall 2010 and spring 2012.
The Making of the King James Bible
Helen Moore, editor of Manifold Greatness: The Making of the King James Bible and Fellow and Tutor in English at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, spoke at the Harry Ransom Center on April 26, 2012. At the event, which was co-sponsored by Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford and The Wall Street Journal, Moore spoke about the history of the King James translation.
Moore was lead curator of Manifold Greatness: Oxford and the Making of the King James Bible, an exhibition held at the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford in 2011 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the translation of the King James Bible. Her illustrated talk addressed the role played by Oxford in the translation of the King James Bible, the methods used by the translators, and some of the items displayed at the Oxford exhibition.
The King James Bible: Its History and Influence
Four hundred years after its first printing, the King James Bible remains a vital work whose language permeates contemporary literature, music, film, and everyday speech. The exhibition examines the history of this translation and its influence on the arts and humanities.
I Have Seen the Future:
Norman Bel Geddes Designs America
Norman Bel Geddes (1893-1958) was an innovative stage and industrial designer, futurist, and urban planner who created and promoted a dynamic vision of the future—streamlined, technocratic, and optimistic. His most notable effort was his Futurama display for the General Motors "Highways and Horizons" exhibit at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair.
The Harry Ransom Center's exhibition I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America (September 11, 2012 - January 6, 2013) will demonstrate how Bel Geddes shaped and continues to influence American culture and the American lifestyle. Using his collection at the Ransom Center, the exhibition will bring together never-before-exhibited drawings, models, photographs, and films.
A World of Interest: Frida Kahlo's Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird
Watch a video documentary about one of the Harry Ransom Center's most famous and frequently borrowed art works, Frida Kahlo's Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940).
Featuring interviews with curators and installers, the video narrates the painting's return to the Ransom Center, its unpacking and assessment, and finally, its installation on the first floor. The painting will be on display for a limited time in the Ransom Center's lobby through March 31, 2015.
Membership: Experience the Harry Ransom Center's Treasures
Members speak about what they enjoy most about their involvement with the Harry Ransom Center.
Members of the Ransom Center enjoy exhibition openings, events with the Director, complimentary parking at select events, private exhibition and collection tours, and the latest news of acquisitions, programs, and more. Our members receive a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the cultural wonders we keep secure for the future.
We invite you to join today to experience all that the Ransom Center has to offer.
Consider the Archive:
An Evening of David Foster Wallace
The Harry Ransom Center commemorated the opening of the David Foster Wallace archive with readings of Wallace's work by writers and actors on September 14, 2010. Readers, including Wayne Alan Brenner, Elizabeth Crane, L. B. Deyo, Doug Dorst, Owen Egerton, Chris Gibson, Kurt Hildebrand, Shannon McCormick and Jake Silverstein, shared selections of Wallace's fiction, essays, and correspondence. Wallace's archive is housed at the Ransom Center. The program was co-sponsored by American Short Fiction and Salvage Vanguard Theater.
Associate Curator of Film Steve Wilson elaborates about Making Movies, an exhibition that focuses on the artistic collaboration that is unique to the medium. Wilson shares how the Ransom Center’s holdings document the history of the motion picture industry to illustrate the highly collaborative nature of the movie-making process.
A costume can reveal much about a film character. For example, a character's social and economic class can be represented through the style and quality of her or his clothes, shoes, and jewelry, and whether those clothes are clean and fresh or tattered and soiled. Clothing also exposes a character's unique personality traits and self-image. Steve Wilson, the Ransom Center's Associate Curator of Film, talks about Robert De Niro's costume in Taxi Driver, and how it supports and enhances the interpretation of the character Travis Bickle.
Jim Crace reading from his novel All That Follows (2010)
Jim Crace reads from his novel All That Follows (2010) in the stacks of the Harry Ransom Center. The Ransom Center holds Crace's papers, which include the research notes and early drafts of All That Follows as well as the edited page proofs. Consisting of more than 45 boxes of the materials, Crace's archive is open and available for research.
¡Viva! Mexico's Independence
The year 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, pivotal events in Mexico's struggle for self-governance. In honor of this bicentennial and centennial, the Ransom Center's exhibition ¡Viva! Mexico's Independence showcases items from the Center's holdings that relate to the history of Spain's original conquest of Mexico, Mexico's independence from Spain and subsequent revolutionary activities within Mexico.
Rosalba Ojeda, Consul General of México in Austin, discusses the value of seeing original materials that illuminate these historic touchstones.
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Edgar Allan Poe: Poet and Storyteller
Isaiah Sheffer of Selected Shorts, heard on public radio stations across America, hosted "Edgar Allan Poe: Poet and Storyteller" on September 24, 2009.
The program, held in conjunction with the Ransom Center's exhibition From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe, featured actors René Auberjonois and Fionnula Flanagan. They read works by Poe, including "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," "The Black Cat," "Alone," "To Helen," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Sphinx," and "The Bells."
The event was made possible by The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.
Curators discuss the cataloging of the Robert De Niro film collection and how the materials are processed upon their arrival at the Ransom Center. The collection, which opened in April 2009, covers many different aspects of filmmaking, from the scripts and the screenwriting to the costumes and film and videotape. Listen to the curators' share the discoveries about the collection.
Watch broadcast journalist Mike Wallace's interviews from the television program The Mike Wallace Interview. Wallace donated the show's footage on 16mm kinescope to the Ransom Center in the early 1960s. Most episodes have not been seen since they aired.
Fellows on Fellowships
Since the inception of its fellowship program in 1990, the Ransom Center has hosted more than 500 scholars as fellows.
The Curse of the "Great Omar"
Around 1909, bookbinder Francis Sangorski decided to produce the greatest binding of all time: a jeweled edition of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám with illustrations by Elihu Vedder. The magnificent book was created and contained almost 1,200 jewels, but the book and its binder seemed doomed from the beginning. Hear the curators of The Persian Sensation: The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám in the West tell the tragic story of what happened to the greatest binding ever created.
Harry Huntt Ransom: A Celebration
The Ransom Center celebrated the 100th anniversary of Harry Ransom's birthday in November 2008. This video shares some of the enormous contributions made by Harry Ransom to higher education, American libraries, and the establishment of an internationally renowned humanities center in Texas.
Inside the Harry Ransom Center
Take an insider's look into the manuscript, rare book, film, performing arts, and photography collections at the Ransom Center. This video explores treasures at the Center, ranging from film costumes and screen tests to a short story that Arthur Miller wrote when he was 17, which turned out to be a precursor for Death of a Salesman.
This video feature was created by Mason Jones and Christopher Palmer of The University of Texas Office of Public Affairs.
Research Curator of Photography Roy Flukinger talks about the collection of panoramic photographer E. O. Goldbeck.
Associate Curator of Film Steve Wilson explains the breadth of the Center's film collection, which includes much more than Gone With the Wind artifacts.
Associate Curator of Art Peter Mears discusses the opportunities that the Ransom Center gallery space has created for curators.
Associate Director and Hobby Foundation Librarian Rich Oram describes one of the Center's rarest, most valuable books.
Associate Curator of Performing Arts Helen Adair talks about the Center's Harry Houdini collection.
Fritz Henle's Family on Fritz
To prepare for the exhibition Fritz Henle: In Search of Beauty, curator Roy Flukinger interviewed Henle's family on St. Croix in July 2007.
The pieces share an intimate personal and professional portrait of Henle through the eyes of his children Tina and Martin and his wife Marguerite.
Curating Inside El Salvador
David Coleman, Curator of Photography at the Ransom Center, describes the process behind putting together the exhibition Inside El Salvador, from exhibition preparation to selecting the show's identity.
This video was created by Bruno Morlan.
The Daily Texan recently produced a video about the museum theater program Beat Voices, a series of brief plays, produced in conjunction with the exhibition On the Road with the Beats. The pieces illuminate objects and people featured in the exhibition, including Beat figures Peter Orlovsky and Diane DiPrima, specific letters exchanged by Beat authors, and a painting by artist Alfred Leslie.
Video courtesy of Jackie Stone and The Daily Texan
Celebrating 25 Years of Conservation
Ransom Center conservators repair and preserve artifacts to allow access to unique holdings.
Conservation efforts are an integral part of the Center's mission to preserve and make accessible the creations of our cultural heritage through the highest standards of cataloging, conservation, and collection management.
David Douglas Duncan Remembers Life
For his 1999 retrospective exhibition at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, David Douglas Duncan sat for an interview about his years with Life magazine. This 11-minute excerpt is condensed from the full interview and was used in the exhibition on a continuous loop.
Duncan donated his archive, valued at more than $15 million, to the Ransom Center in 1996. The archive contains more than 50,000 images, as well as the cameras and other equipment that Duncan used to make some of his greatest photographs.
David Douglas Duncan in Vietnam
During his days of covering Con Thien and Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War, Duncan carried with him a small portable tape recorder to capture the sounds and voices associated with the Marines engaged in those important military operations. The following presentation was compiled and edited from his audio tapes and his still imagery by James Watson and Roy Flukinger and was shown as part of the retrospective exhibition in 1999. It was dedicated to all his fellow U.S. Marines and military who served in Vietnam.