"In August of last year, a demented sniper sat with an arsenal of weapons at the top of a University tower and coldly and systematically killed and maimed 44 Americans.
"The horror of that senseless slaughter shocked the entire Nation. Yet, today, 13 months later, Congress has failed to enact a gun control law. In those intervening 13 months, guns were involved in more than:
6,500 murders
10,000 suicides
2,600 accidental deaths
43,500 aggravated assaults
50,000 robberies.
"FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has just reported that the use of firearms in dangerous crimes is on the upswing. For the first six months of 1967 there was a:
24 percent rise in the use of guns in aggravated assaults.
37 percent rise in the use of weapons in robberies.
"A civilized nation cannot allow this armed terror to continue."

-Lyndon B. Johnson: "Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Urging Enactment of Gun Control Legislation," September 15, 1967. 
Photo of UT Tower by daleexpress

"In August of last year, a demented sniper sat with an arsenal of weapons at the top of a University tower and coldly and systematically killed and maimed 44 Americans.

"The horror of that senseless slaughter shocked the entire Nation. Yet, today, 13 months later, Congress has failed to enact a gun control law. In those intervening 13 months, guns were involved in more than:

  • 6,500 murders
  • 10,000 suicides
  • 2,600 accidental deaths
  • 43,500 aggravated assaults
  • 50,000 robberies.

"FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover has just reported that the use of firearms in dangerous crimes is on the upswing. For the first six months of 1967 there was a:

  • 24 percent rise in the use of guns in aggravated assaults.
  • 37 percent rise in the use of weapons in robberies.

"A civilized nation cannot allow this armed terror to continue."

-Lyndon B. Johnson: "Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Urging Enactment of Gun Control Legislation," September 15, 1967. 

Photo of UT Tower by daleexpress

April 2, 1967. The Johnsons are on their way from San Antonio to Austin: 

"While flying over San Marcos, the President had the chopper divert off regular flight pattern and circle over the college (Southwest Texas State College)…
Arrive Balcones Research Center, landing in a field of bluebonnets which afforded much delight to the President and Mrs. Johnson.”

They are shown possible materials for the exterior of the LBJ Library, on the University of Texas campus. One type is emerging as a favorite: 

"Several buildings are made, around the University and Austin, of the shellstone — the museum of history, etc. Mrs. Johnson said she favored this, for it has such as interesting texture and history since ‘it once lived on the floor of the ocean.’ Mrs. Johnson seemed to lean toward a shellstone with the Italian travertine floors….
The President said that all three — the shellstone and the New Mexico and Italian travertine—should be bid for the sake of good business. Thus also it could be justified that the reason a foreign product was imported was for economies sake, since a State Institution (The University of Texas) must take the most economical route.”

—The President’s Daily Diary, April 2, 1966. Pg. 4.  Photo of UT via Wikimedia Commons.  

April 2, 1967. The Johnsons are on their way from San Antonio to Austin: 

"While flying over San Marcos, the President had the chopper divert off regular flight pattern and circle over the college (Southwest Texas State College)…

Arrive Balcones Research Center, landing in a field of bluebonnets which afforded much delight to the President and Mrs. Johnson.”

They are shown possible materials for the exterior of the LBJ Library, on the University of Texas campus. One type is emerging as a favorite: 

"Several buildings are made, around the University and Austin, of the shellstone — the museum of history, etc. Mrs. Johnson said she favored this, for it has such as interesting texture and history since ‘it once lived on the floor of the ocean.’ Mrs. Johnson seemed to lean toward a shellstone with the Italian travertine floors….

The President said that all three — the shellstone and the New Mexico and Italian travertine—should be bid for the sake of good business. Thus also it could be justified that the reason a foreign product was imported was for economies sake, since a State Institution (The University of Texas) must take the most economical route.”

The President’s Daily Diary, April 2, 1966. Pg. 4.  Photo of UT via Wikimedia Commons 

March 18, 1967. Lady Bird records in her diary:

“This morning I went into the Yellow Oval Room to meet a student group from Texas, brought here by the Texas State Society for their annual brunch. Horace Busby was the entrepreneur and the purpose was to honor ‘the campus generation’ in Texas and especially the University of Texas. This provided an opportunity to show another face of our young people and another face of Texas.
The honor guests were the members of the University of Texas College Bowl Team, which has just won the championship on television in a contest of academic knowledge against teams from other major colleges. The competition was a cliff-hanging thriller. Dr. Harry Ransom, Chancellor of the University of Texas, ordered the lights on the Main Building tower turned orange when they won, just as for a triumphant football team.”

 Texas-Ex Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 503. Photo by Smarter Within via flickr.

March 18, 1967. Lady Bird records in her diary:

“This morning I went into the Yellow Oval Room to meet a student group from Texas, brought here by the Texas State Society for their annual brunch. Horace Busby was the entrepreneur and the purpose was to honor ‘the campus generation’ in Texas and especially the University of Texas. This provided an opportunity to show another face of our young people and another face of Texas.

The honor guests were the members of the University of Texas College Bowl Team, which has just won the championship on television in a contest of academic knowledge against teams from other major colleges. The competition was a cliff-hanging thriller. Dr. Harry Ransom, Chancellor of the University of Texas, ordered the lights on the Main Building tower turned orange when they won, just as for a triumphant football team.”

 Texas-Ex Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary, New York: Dell Books, 1971, pg 503. Photo by Smarter Within via flickr.

January 27, 1967. A reporter learns that there is, well, no story to speak of about the creation of the LBJ Presidential Library. From the Daily Diary: 

"Andrew Glass of the Washington Post came into talk to the President about the Johnson library at Austin. He is doing a story for the Washington Post on the Johnson library, obviously inspired by the recent controversy in the Post over the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. 
"Glass had been to Austin for four days talking to University officials and others concerned with the Johnson library. He asked the President whether any other sites had been considered for the library, and the President replied that consideration was given to a number of others, including Baylor, Johnson City, San Marcos, Syracuse University, and the Library of Congress. 
"The President described the reasons for the ultimate selection of Austin—the University of Texas provided important collateral sources for scholarly use and that as Mrs. Johnson’s and Lynda’s alma mater it had strong personal claim on the affections of the Johnsons. The President said the importance of the library to him was principally that it would house papers going back 35 years and encompassing many of the important public events of our times. Glass told the President that he had found—to his surprise—that there was no controversy over the library, no bad feelings or suspicion of any kind, and that he intended to write a story that would be favorable in tone.”

LBJ Presidential Library photo #d1773-3a, public domain. 

January 27, 1967. A reporter learns that there is, well, no story to speak of about the creation of the LBJ Presidential Library. From the Daily Diary

"Andrew Glass of the Washington Post came into talk to the President about the Johnson library at Austin. He is doing a story for the Washington Post on the Johnson library, obviously inspired by the recent controversy in the Post over the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. 

"Glass had been to Austin for four days talking to University officials and others concerned with the Johnson library. He asked the President whether any other sites had been considered for the library, and the President replied that consideration was given to a number of others, including Baylor, Johnson City, San Marcos, Syracuse University, and the Library of Congress. 

"The President described the reasons for the ultimate selection of Austin—the University of Texas provided important collateral sources for scholarly use and that as Mrs. Johnson’s and Lynda’s alma mater it had strong personal claim on the affections of the Johnsons. The President said the importance of the library to him was principally that it would house papers going back 35 years and encompassing many of the important public events of our times. Glass told the President that he had found—to his surprise—that there was no controversy over the library, no bad feelings or suspicion of any kind, and that he intended to write a story that would be favorable in tone.”

LBJ Presidential Library photo #d1773-3a, public domain. 

October 10, 1966.  Austin’s first underground newspaper The Rag publishes its first issue.  Check out the oral history with founder Thorne Dreyer from the Houston Public Library and the rest of The Rag Archives online.

October 10, 1966.  Austin’s first underground newspaper The Rag publishes its first issue.  Check out the oral history with founder Thorne Dreyer from the Houston Public Library and the rest of The Rag Archives online.

August 1, 1966. The University of Texas at Austin campus becomes a scene of unimaginable horror when Charles Whitman opens fire from the UT Tower. This video is the feed that went out from the Johnsons’ television station KTBC, at that time the only TV station in Austin. 

What happened that day, from the Handbook of Texas Online article by Alwyn Barr:

"During the pre-dawn hours of August 1, 1966, Whitman killed his mother in her apartment and his wife at their residence.  Later in the morning he bought a variety of ammunition and a shotgun; about 11:30 A.M. he went to the university tower, taking with him a footlocker, six guns, knives, food, and water.  After clubbing the receptionist (who later died) on the twenty-eighth floor about 11:45 A.M., he killed two persons and wounded two others who were coming up the stairs from the twenty-seventh floor.  On the observation deck of the tower, at an elevation of 231 feet, Whitman then opened fire on persons crossing the campus and on nearby streets, killing ten more people and wounding thirty-one more (one of whom died a week later).  Police arrived and returned his fire, while other policemen worked their way into the tower.  Several of the dead and wounded were moved to cover by students and other citizens while the firing continued.  At 1:24 P.M. police and a deputized private citizen reached the observation deck, where police officers Ramiro Martinez and Houston McCoy shot and killed Whitman.  Altogether, seventeen persons were killed, including Whitman, and thirty-one were wounded in one of the worst mass murders in modern United States history.  An autopsy on Whitman’s body revealed a brain tumor, but medical authorities disagreed over its effect on Whitman’s actions.  His body was returned to Lake Worth, Florida, for burial."

Video from the Neil Spelce Collection at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Lots of primary and secondary resources on Whitman and the shootings, including police case files, photographs, newspaper articles, and oral history interviews, are available at the Austin History Center.

January 1, 1964. The University of Texas Longhorns finish their undefeated 1963 season under coach Darrell Royal by winning the Cotton Bowl against Navy by a whopping 22 point margin. In attendance: UT student Lynda Bird Johnson.

LBJ calls Royal to congratulate him. Hook ‘em!

Photo in video is by Tom Haymes via Flickr.


(Source: youtube.com)

July 27, 1960

LBJ spends the afternoon in Austin making plans to go to Hyannis Port to meet with JFK. He also meets with aide Horace Busby and Dr. Harry Ransom, asking Ransom to supply him with ideas and possibly get others at the University of Texas to do the same.


Meanwhile, Richard Nixon receives the Republican nomination for president; Henry Cabot Lodge is picked as his running mate the next day.

1934: Claudia (Lady Bird) Taylor graduates from UT-Austin. She had already earned a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1933, and she received a degree in Journalism the following year.
Lady Bird would later be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from UT in 1964 and was appointed to the UT Board of Regents in 1971. 
Additionally she held honorary degrees at the following institutions: Texas Woman’s University, Middlebury College,  Williams College, Southwestern University in Georgetown, the University  of Alabama, Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State  University-San Marcos), Washington College, George Washington  University, Johns Hopkins University, State University of New York,  Southern Methodist University, St. Edward’s University and Boston  University.
LBJ Photo Archive: Image B7029-3. Public domain.

1934: Claudia (Lady Bird) Taylor graduates from UT-Austin. She had already earned a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1933, and she received a degree in Journalism the following year.

Lady Bird would later be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from UT in 1964 and was appointed to the UT Board of Regents in 1971. 

Additionally she held honorary degrees at the following institutions: Texas Woman’s University, Middlebury College, Williams College, Southwestern University in Georgetown, the University of Alabama, Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University-San Marcos), Washington College, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, State University of New York, Southern Methodist University, St. Edward’s University and Boston University.

LBJ Photo Archive: Image B7029-3. Public domain.


Lady Bird’s time at UT-Austin helped reinforce her lifelong love of learning and of reading. This book, The Doges of Venice, was in her personal library and the Johnsons’ library at the White House. It is currently in the LBJ Library Museum collection. [1970.12.2487]

1930: Claudia “Lady Bird” Alta Taylor, the future Lady Bird Johnson, around the time she started college at UT-Austin. She has a Mona Lisa-style mischievous look, don’t you think?
[Photo # B1077. The Johnson Library has no information about the  original source of this item. Copyright restrictions may apply.]

1930: Claudia “Lady Bird” Alta Taylor, the future Lady Bird Johnson, around the time she started college at UT-Austin. She has a Mona Lisa-style mischievous look, don’t you think?

[Photo # B1077. The Johnson Library has no information about the original source of this item. Copyright restrictions may apply.]

Austin as it looked when Lady Bird was attending the University of Texas. Do you recognize anything? (University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,  http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin  Public Library, Austin, Texas.)

Austin as it looked when Lady Bird was attending the University of Texas. Do you recognize anything? (University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.)