Next year, Humanities Texas will partner with Uvalde's El Progreso Memorial Library to establish an archive at the library preserving community and national responses to the tragic shooting that took place at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022.
Nineteen children and two adults were killed in the shooting. In the time since, the library has become a source of support and resilience for the Uvalde community. The library has also become a site of grief and remembrance. Individuals throughout the state and nation have donated thousands of books. Countless others have sent cards, letters, and works of art, all expressions of mourning and sympathy.
Beginning in January, the library will organize and catalog these materials as part of its Virginia Wood Davis Archives, which documents the history of the families, businesses, and organizations of Uvalde and its eleven surrounding counties. Nationally recognized experts in archival organization and preservation from the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin will serve as advisers to the project.
Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History will assist the library in developing an oral history program. Experts from Baylor will lead workshops for staff and local volunteers, training them in oral history techniques.
The project is made possible with major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
"Humanities Texas is deeply grateful for NEH’s support of our efforts in Uvalde," said Humanities Texas Executive Director Eric Lupfer. "We are honored to partner with the El Progreso Memorial Library and expand the critical role they play in Uvalde and South Texas."
Mendell Morgan, director of El Progreso Memorial Library, noted that "Uvalde area citizens have relied on this library as a center for reading, information, learning, and inspiration since 1903."
He added, "We are grateful for the NEH grant and confident it will provide the necessary resources to gather, organize, catalog, and preserve items in all formats, including oral history, generated by the Robb School tragedy with the highest professional standards to ensure full access for researchers. For that, we and future generations are thankful for NEH’s generosity and foresight."
"In the months since the horrific killing of nineteen children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School, the El Progreso Memorial Library has served as a community center and gathering place to help the residents of Uvalde share and process their grief," said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo).
"NEH is honored to partner with Humanities Texas and the El Progreso Memorial Library to help support the Uvalde community and ensure the stories of their lost loved ones and the tragedy of May 24 are never forgotten. We hope the memorial archive being created will assist the community in healing and move our country forward in building the empathy and understanding needed to prevent acts of violence."