The Board of Regents of The University of Texas System has approved the renaming of the John Nance Garner Museum in Uvalde, Texas. to the Briscoe-Garner Museum, in honor of the late Governor Dolph Briscoe. Both Garner and Briscoe were Uvalde natives and historically important political figures from Texas.
The Briscoe-Garner Museum is one of five divisions of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, an organized research unit of The University of Texas at Austin.
“We want to establish an exhibit program in Uvalde, Governor Briscoe’s beloved hometown, that documents his legacy,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “I’m confident Gov. Briscoe would be pleased to have his name forever linked with his friend and mentor, John Nance Garner. By expanding the museum’s focus to include the life and career of Dolph Briscoe, our goal is to create a fitting tribute to Uvalde’s two most historically significant political leaders to date.”
The Briscoe-Garner Museum is located in Garner’s home of 30 years, a two-story brick house on 333 North Park Street in Uvalde. Its exhibit documents the life and career of “Cactus Jack” Garner, the first Texan to serve as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and vice president of the United States. The Briscoe Center plans to maintain the existing exhibit space devoted to Garner on the museum’s first floor and create new exhibits dedicated to Briscoe on the second floor, which had been closed to the public.
The Briscoe-Garner Museum is currently undergoing structural renovations with plans for completion in early 2012. Temporary exhibits are on display at the First State Bank in Uvalde.
“By expanding the scope of the museum to include two of the region’s most important political figures,” said Carleton, “we believe we can fulfill Gov. Briscoe’s vision for the museum and enhance its educational content for the Uvalde community.”
Since 1973, it has been the Garner Museum’s mission to educate the public about one of the most important and colorful political figures in Texas and American history.
As speaker of the House during the last two years of Herbert Hoover’s presidency (19311933) and vice president during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first two terms (19331941), Garner was a dominant national political figure who played a critical role in the passage of much of the New Deal legislation aimed at alleviating or ending the most severe economic crisis in U.S. history. The Briscoe Center archives include the extensive John Nance Garner Scrapbook Collection, the only existing significant body of Garner’s papers.
Garner served as a political inspiration and mentor to Briscoe, a member of the state legislature from 1949 until 1957. Briscoe was elected governor in 1972 and served through the oil-boom years of the 1970s, during which he increased spending for highway improvements, signed into law the Texas Open Records Act and streamlined state agencies. Briscoe was seen as a welcome political outsider with a conservative Democratic agenda that brought stability to Texas government. He was one of the state’s leading ranchers and president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
In 2008, The University of Texas at Austin named its Center for American History after Gov. Briscoe, in recognition of his support for preserving and promoting Texas and U.S. history.