Grad Research: Kirsten Ronald and the Public History of the Red River District


UT AMS grad student Kirsten Ronald (pictured in the archive, above) has been taking her teaching out of the classroom and onto the streets of Austin in a project she’s been developing with local organization Preservation Austin. Kirsten has been working with high school students, teaching them to do oral history and archival research focusing on Austin’s Red River cultural district. Kirsten sez:

Austin’s vibrant Red River Cultural District is currently being threatened by encroaching development and rising rents, so Preservation Austin is working with the Vandegrift High School FFA chapter to raise awareness about the historic and cultural importance of the area and its buildings.  The stretch of Red River Street between 6th and 10th Streets is home to  iconic bars and music venues like Stubb’s, Elysium, Mohawk and the now-shuttered Emo’s, all of which have helped make Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World.”  With many properties dating back to the mid-1800s, the District can also provide valuable insight into what makes Austin tick.  I’m excited to be teaching a new generation of preservationists and oral historians that while growth, development, and change are important components of any living city, the forms they take are not inevitable.

The website for the project is now live and the work that the students do producing an audio tour of the area will eventually be featured on Preservation Austin’s app.

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