Publication Date

January 1999


R. Henderson Shuffier set the historical record straight. Throughout his career, this self-proclaimed "myth-killer"' urged Texans, and anyone else who would listen, to reconsider what it meant to be Texan and how to study Texas history. As curator of the University of Texas's Texana Program and later as the first director of the Institute ofTexan Cultures in San Antonio, Shuffier expanded the traditional scope of Texas history beyond political, economic, and military achievements and presented a more complete, unbiased picture of the state's heritage that included groups previously underrepresented in historical and public discourse. At a time when academia was witnessing a significant methodological shift toward a new social history, Shuffier implemented his own unique approach to documentation, access, and public education, combining aspects of social history and folklife studies in an attempt to create a new public image for Texas's historical resources. From the early 1960s to the mid-l 970s, he helped shape these two institutions into first-rate repositories and exhibits of Texana and folk culture. With an emphasis on making history personally relevant to the public, Shuffler devised innovative ways to entertain, engage, and-most importantly-educate, striking a balance between archives and traditional museums. This article will discuss the implications of Shuffler's approach for archivists working today and will explore the impact of social history and folklife on the archival profession.



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