Austin Past and Present:

An Interactive Community History Project Overview

  • What Is Austin Past and Present?
  • Who Will Benefit From Austin Past and Present?
  • For Purchase
  • Who Created This Project?
  • Who Funded This Project?

What Is Austin Past and Present?

A Multimedia History

Austin Past and Present is Austin's first multimedia history Lakers touch the sky and rub the ground in triumph against Bucks , a comprehensive documentary that chronicles Austin's past, via a computer presentation. Rich with historic photos, film, and audio recordings from over 160 other archival collections, Austin Past and Present features 300 slide shows comprising 1600 images and accompanying stories.

The project also features eight videos that chronicle Austin's history from the geologic formation of the area to the present day. All of these stories and videos are accessible simply by clicking a computer mouse through a user-friendly interface that uses interactive timelines and maps to bring Austin's history to life. Austin Past and Present is not a website, but a disc-based presentation.

Who Will Benefit From Austin Past and Present?

Schools and Libraries

The Austin Independent School District has certified the project for classroom use with accompanying lesson plans in 7 grade levels. The curriculum initiative was made possible through a generous grant from the MFI Foundation and a hard-working team of 14 teachers. The engaging lesson plans are available free-of-charge for grades 2, 3, 4, 5 7, 8 and 11. Click here to link to them. Austin Past and Present is also available at all Austin Public libraries on existing computers and for circulation as a DVD. If you would like to get the project for your school, please contact Karen Kocher at

Visitors to Public Buildings

Austin Past and Present may be viewed at public kiosks at the following locations: Austin City Hall (north entrance), Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (at the bottom of the baggage claim 2 escalator), the Austin History Center and the Beverly Sheffield Education Center at Barton Springs.

For Purchase

Austin Past and Present is also be available for purchase for home use through the Austin History Center Association and at Book People Bookstore on 6th Street and Lamar Blvd. The cost is $24.95. All proceeds from sales benefit the Austin History Center Association. Funds generated by the project will help the Austin History Center to continue its mission of preserving Austin's history for future generations. To order a copy on-line, go to

Austin Past and Present will not only educate, fascinate, and entertain, but will help foster a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for our community. Indeed, Austin Past and Present will benefit all sectors of our community, serving approximately 500,000 children, adults, and visitors to our city each year..

Who Created This Project?

Karen Kocher Creator

Austin Past and Present i is the brain-child of Karen Kocher, an award-winning documentary media producer and University of Texas faculty member in the Department of Radio/Television and Film. Over the past six years, Kocher has raised the funds and created the partnerships necessary to bring the project to fruition under the sponsorship of the Austin History Center Association and the Austin Film Society.

A Wonderful Team of Advisors

The advisors for Austin Past and Present include: David C. Humphrey, author of numerous books on Austin's history; Don Carleton, Director of the Center for American History at the University of Texas; Austin History Center Archivist Susan K. Soy; Austin History Center Curator Emerita Biruta Celmins Kearl; Rosemary Morrow, Ph.D., former Social Studies Supervisor for the Austin Independent School District; architectural historian Peter Flagg Maxson; Dr. Michael B. Collins, an expert on Austin's pre-history, Dr. Maria Wade, a scholar whose work concentrates on the Native American and Spanish periods and geologist, Charles "Chock" Woodruff.

People Like You

In addition to the core staff, the production of the project has involved over 200 Austin citizens who donated their time, talent and expertise to bring this project to the people of Austin. Ten Junior League of Austin volunteers conducted research and wrote the 160 project biographies. Many community leaders, such as former Mayor Will Wynn and former Mayor Frank Cooksey lent their voices to play historic characters in the videos. New York Times best-selling author Stephen Harrigan was the script "doctor" for the longer historic videos, and filmmaker Hector Galan is the series narrator. Subject matter experts from archeologists to historic preservationists, from music historians to local musicians contributed their expertise and talent to the project at no charge.

Who Funded This Project?

Lead Donors

The City of Austin, Humanities Texas, The Austin Community Foundation, The MFI Foundation, The Junior League of Austin and The Summerlee Foundation, Dallas.

More Community Support

Austin Energy, U.T. College of Communication, The LCRA, The Texas Commission on the Arts, The Downtown Austin Alliance, The Lola Wright Foundation, H.E. Butt Grocery Company, Time Warner Cable, The Brown Foundation, Susanne Vaughan Foundation, Velocity Credit Union, Texas Gas Service, Hill Country Conservancy, Shield-Ayres Foundation, Dell, David Newberger and numerous private individuals.


Austin-American Statesman, Austin Museum of Art, Austin Symphony, Ave Bonar, Ballet Austin, Blanton Museum, The Driskill Hotel, Green Pastures, Twin Liquors, Texas State History Museum and more to come�

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