14 Jun

A Night for Our Nation


Thomas M. Hatfield

inaugural recipient of the Award for Distinction in Patriotic Service
presented by The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Texas

Monday, November 12th, 2018
6:00 p.m.
Cocktails & Dinner

Neill-Cochran House Museum
2310 San Gabriel Street
Austin, Texas 78705


About the Honoree

Thomas M. Hatfield the historian is an internationally recognized scholar of World War II.  He lectures on that history and has extended that impact through the Briscoe Center’s Military Institute and UT’s esteemed Normandy Scholar Program, an undergraduate program co-founded in 1989 to focused on the war.

Hatfield the author has written biographies of two illustrious WWII veterans:  James Earl Rudder (Rudder: From Leader to Legend, 2011, Texas A&M Press) and Frank Denius (On the Way: My Life and Times, 2016, UT Press).  These accounts blend scholarly precision, lyrical narrative, and deeply-felt sensitivity to the human condition.

Many people know, admire, and love Tom Hatfield because of highly regarded study tours around Western Europe.  Participants in his explorations of Normandy, the Low Countries, Italy, and England, have experienced intimate familiarity and deepened understanding of the events and places of WWII.   Through Hatfield’s eyes, those travelers have seen the heroics of the Allies, the moving and powerful sites of tragedy and triumph, and the many ways in which honor, reverie, and remembrance are kept alive.

Hatfield articulates his commitment this way: “This is absolutely what drives me on.  When I walk over those old battlefields I sense so much passion and emotion and sacrifice.  And it’s not only the sacrifice of the men who fought and died there.  It involves the sacrifice, the concerted effort of our whole nation.”

He has said that he strives each day better to “uncover the facts and tell the story of our nation’s experience . . . There is a premium on historical accounts that are well researched, analyzed and told in ways that enable young and old to have perspective on our country and its role in the world, to be better citizens and to make informed decisions in the voting booth.  There is no better way to do that than from an understanding of the patterns of the past.”


Our sponsorship levels are named for “flowers of remembrance.” These flowers are symbolic of the sacrifices of those who fought and the many who died in active military service.

$15,000 Poppy — Two Premier Tables for 8 each
(tax deductible value $14,040)
All of the benefits of Forget-Me-Not sponsorship, plus:

  • An additional 8 Tickets to NSCDA-TX Modern Times Lecture Series at the Neill-Cochran House Museum

$10,000 Forget-Me-Not — One Premier Table for 8
(tax deductible value $9,520)
All of the benefits of Tulip sponsorship, plus:

  • Participate in honoring Dr. Hatfield by presenting the donation check to the Military History Collection during the event
  • Exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Military History Collection with
    Tom Hatfield for you and a guest
  • Premier on-site event recognition and acknowledgment on invitation

$5,000 Tulip — One Prime Table for 8
(tax deductible value $4,520)
All of the benefits of Daisy sponsorship, plus:

  • Prime on-site event recognition and acknowledgment on invitation
  • 8 Tickets to NSCDA-TX Modern Times Lecture Series at the
    Neill-Cochran House Museum

$2,500 Daisy — Reserved seating for 8
(tax deductible value $2,020)
Includes all of the benefits of the Laurel sponsorship

$750 Laurel — Reserved seating for 2
(tax deductible value $630)

  • Hatfield Book of your choice with a personal inscription
  • Recognition in the NSCDA-TX’s annual report and on-site event

A portion of all funds raised will be donated to the Military History Collection at the Briscoe Center for American History in Tom Hatfield’s name.

Click the button below to register for your table or tickets in sponsorship of this event.  Online giving is also available for those who will be unable to attend but wish to make fully tax-deductible contributions.

About The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Texas

The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America expresses in its mission “the promotion of our national heritage” . . .  the stimulation “of true patriotism and a genuine love of country,” and to “impress upon the young the sacred obligation of honoring the memory of those heroic ancestors whose ability valor, sufferings, and achievements are beyond all praise.”

For his admirable, sustained, and effective commitment to kindred ideals, we are proud to recognize Thomas M. Hatfield as the inaugural recipient of our Award for Distinction in Patriotic Service.

05 Jun

Booth’s Richard III

In 1861, John Wilkes Booth was an admired touring actor. Four years later he will become one of America’s most detested villains. Using Booth’s original promptbook and 19th century original practices, the Hidden Room Theatre will resuscitate the ghost of his infamous Richard, and examine the dangers of division, reckless rhetoric, and radicalization.

read more
30 May

Beyond Function: The Art of the Folding Fan

Beyond Function: The Art of the Folding Fan

On view May 23 – September 2, 2018

FAN, noun [Latin vannus.]

  1. An instrument used by ladies to agitate the air and cool the face in warm weather. It is made of feathers, or of thin skin, paper or taffeta mounted on sticks, etc.
  2. Something in the form of a woman’s fan when spread, as a peacock’s tail, a window, etc.
  3. An instrument for winnowing grain, by moving which the grain is thrown up and agitated, and the chaff is separated and blown away.
  4. something by which the air is moved; a wing.
  5. An instrument to raise the fire or flame; as a fan to inflame love.

Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition

What is a fan?  The word sparks immediate associations – blades that, when in motion, provide a cooling breeze.  In that moment, the moment when you first thought “fan,” you likely didn’t think of courtship or etiquette.  Or fashion.  Or social or economic status.  All of these uses take the folding fan far beyond the utilitarian and practical function of a cooling breeze.  But step back in time to read Noah Webster’s 1828 definition, and all of those associations come to life.

The fan first came to Europe in the 16th century.  Europeans had fanned themselves before then, but the introduction of Eastern handscreens and folding fans elevated the fan as an object to something beyond the practical.  Within a century, fans had become necessary accessories for royalty and wealthy Europeans. 

At the same time, folding fans were objects of great monetary value.  Beautiful, intricately carved ivory, tortoise shell, and bone sticks were imported to Europe by the East India Company and others and combined with beautifully painted vellum or silk leaves.  Often silver and gold paint adorned the leaves, and sometimes gems were inset into the guard sticks.

As time passed, fans became more eclectic.  Painted vellum and paper leaves were joined by silk and lace leaves studded with sequins, and into the 20th century dramatic floral fans designed to make a statement across the room joined more art nouveau restrained designs.

Returning to our original question – what is a fan?  While its function may define it, after viewing this exhibit you may believe that function is only the beginning.

Fan 2 clean(1)
Fan 6 clean
Fan 4 clean
Fan 8 clean
28 Feb

The War at Home: World War I Comes to Texas

Texas and the Great War

On June 28, 1914, a Serbian terrorist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, along with his pregnant wife Sophie, in Sarajevo.  This single, albeit horrific, event over 5,000 miles away from Austin, Texas reverberated across the world as much of Europe became embroiled in war.  Americans watched from the sidelines for over two years as hundreds of thousands died, hoping to avoid military engagement while providing supplies to the Allied forces of France, Britain, and Belgium.

When this all changed in early 1917, Texas found itself at the heart of the United State’s decision to go to war.  In January 1917, German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman sent an encoded telegram to the President of Mexico in which he encouraged Mexico to join the Central Powers in exchange for support in the reconquest of parts of the United States once claimed by Mexico (Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona).  Intercepted and decoded by British cryptographers, the “Zimmermann Telegram” was the fuse that compelled Congress to declare war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

Over the eighteen short months the United States was at war, 4.7 million Americans served.  53,402 soldiers were killed in action, while even more (63,114) died of disease or other causes, the vast majority from the Spanish Flu epidemic.  Here in Texas, 198,000 were in the armed forces along with 450 women who served as nurses.  Over 5,000 Texans died, more than one-third succumbing to Spanish Flu without ever deploying to Europe.

This exhibit takes us back in time 100 years to life as experienced by Texans during World War I.  The war was disruptive to family life in many ways.  Enlistments certainly separated families, but everyday life was also impacted in many ways, from pressure to purchase war bonds, to the impact of the Spanish Flu, to a certain level of militarization of society, and food rationing.  Finally, the image of the “dough-boy” that has come down to us today is of a white American soldier.  Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, and German-Americans in many ways struggled to prove their Americanness while the country was at war, a struggle that was as acute in Texas as in the rest of the country.

The Cochran family lived in our historic house throughout the war era.  Thomas B. Cochran had died in 1913, but his wife and five children (three daughters and two sons) all participated in the war effort in some way.  Using their experience as well as the experiences of other Austinites as a guide, we explore the impact of the Great War on the lives of the people who remained on the home front and the relationships they maintained with soldiers who served elsewhere and abroad.

Service Flag
Red Cross Deep Eddy
Negros Hold Thrift Stamp Rally

Opening Lecture: The Great War Effort

Dr. Scott Wolford, University of Texas at Austin

Presented in partnership with the Bullock Texas State History Museum and the Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, join us and Dr. Wolford for a discussion of the role that everyday Americans played in the nation’s efforts during the Great War.

17 Aug

Is Now The Dream?

From the other side of the world

“Though these are but the faces of dolls, I am entranced with their unique expressions, and the secrets and mystery they suggest. It is left to the imagination to flesh out each one more fully and hear her poetry from across the centuries.”

– Pat Brown

Is Now the Dream? Hina-ningyō Portraits + Landscapes, on display in our downstairs gallery from January 17th through May 6th, features the work of Pat Brown, a local Austin photographer, who explores the cultural aesthetic of Japan, both past and present.

Hina-ningyō—hand-crafted Japanese dolls collected by the photographer—represent members of the Japanese imperial courts. The photographer’s work brings out the unique expressiveness in each doll, revealing the human and poetic dimensions of their unchanging and timeless expressions.

The title of the exhibit is taken from a poem written by a woman who served in the court of Empress Tokoku, who lived in the 12th century. Describing the decline of her court and thus her way of life, she writes:

Is now the dream?
or was long ago the dream?
I wander on, lost—
unable to convince myself
that this is reality.

Landscape and architectural photographs of Japan round out the exhibit, suggesting what one might have seen during the Edo period prior to Commodore Perry’s opening of Japan to the West in the 1850s, and thus, at the same time Abner Cook was completing our historic house in a young Austin, Texas.

ReceptionFeb. 3 (3)
Kita-Ku, Kyoto
Lady Izumi
Mount Fuji from Hakone
ReceptionFeb. 3 (5)
Prince Kinashikaru
Black Pine - Takayama
Ono no Komachi
ReceptionFeb. 3 (2)
Chiyojo II
Blossoming Tree - Takayama - Hachikemmachi
The Shinkyo Bridge Spanning the Daiya River, Nikko II

Is Now The Dream? Opening Reception: Saturday, February 3rd 4:00 to 6:00pm

Join us and local photographer Pat Brown from 4pm to 6pm on Saturday, February 3rd for a special look at this exhibit. Complimentary refreshments served.

15 Aug

Experience’s Treasures

What our collections say about who we are

Why do we collect? What do we collect? What does it mean to have a collection? In an age defined by consumerism and the easy availability of things, how do we determine which objects we will carry with us through life?

Consider it from our perspective: the only reason that the objects in our collection (whether they date from the nineteenth century or before) have survived is because they were prized for their beauty, their inherent monetary value, their utility, or because of their owners’ sentimental attachments. In most cases, objects fit into more than one category and serve to show us the human dimensions of their particular histories.

The Sonnenberg collection, on display in our gallery from September 2nd through December 17th, presents a century of one family’s collecting, and explores the ways in which the objects we hold on to document our interests and our journeys through life. Throughout their lives, the objects the Sonnenbergs have prized are not simply things, they are signposts for meaning in both relationships and experiences. An eclectic collection that features fine art, folk art, and ephemera, Experience’s Treasures will challenge viewers to consider our relationship to the objects that surround us in our own lives.

Basket Small
Ark small
Women small
Uncle Sam small
Sailor small
Rooster Small
Coyote small
Ceramic Guys Small
Bowl small

Experience's Treasures Opening Reception: Saturday, September 23rd 4:00 to 6:00pm

We invite you to join us for an evening of conversation about the questions we raise in this exhibit. Complimentary beverages served.