Oakwood Education Banner

Resources and Exhibits

We research the history of the people buried in Oakwood Cemetery. "Residents" helped build the culture of the city, and the Capitol of Texas. We publish digital exhibits quarterly, often in collaboration with community groups and individuals.

Our exhibits include digital maps, audio, photo, video, biographies, legacies and more. We expect this scholarship will continue for a very long time with the help of staff and volunteers. Because the exhibits are digital, we have the opportunity to add and correct the information as we learn.


Featured Exhbit

To Change

To Change shows Austin as a place with beautiful natural resources that has attracted people for over 16,000 years. These people created the culture and communities that define Austin. With colonial settlement and land development, economic and social factors did not create equitable experiences or opportunities for all its residents. This exhibit looks at land use, demographics, and family histories. The exhibit shows the process of digitizing information about the 23,000 "residents" buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

To Change, digital exhibition


Additional Exhibits

To Carve, Monument Shapes and Symbols, web banner

To Carve looks at the monuments and markers of the Oakwood Cemetery. Attention is given to the shapes, symbols and carved details found in the different types of stone within the cemetery grounds. These functional works of art are also interpreted and paid tribute to by Austin artists through different mediums of expression.

To Carve, digital exhibition

To Emancipate: From Slavery to Freedom

To Emancipate shares stories of the lives of African Americans buried in Oakwood Cemetery, and the impact they had on the Austin community. To Emancipate includes a timeline that contextualizes slavery in Austin within a greater world history. The accomplishments of Black Texans are highlighted through biographies, photographs, oral histories, and family recipes.

A digital reproduction of the George Washington Carver Museums exhibit “The African American Presence in 19th Century Texas” contextualizes the men, women and children buried in Oakwood Cemetery whose lives were affected by slavery. 360* VR tours are included of the Carver exhibit and the “Historic Colored Grounds.” A new GIS map of Freedom Communities in the Austin area is included.

To Emancipate, digital exhibition

To Fika Swedish Cultural Heritage image of Swedish man

In Swedish culture, fika is a coffee and snack break with friends and colleagues. It is essential to fika every day. The Swedish Hill Neighborhood is adjacent to Oakwood Cemetery. Hundreds of Swedes and their descendants now rest for eternity just steps from where they originally built homes, worked, and attended schools and churches.

To Fika, digital exhibition

To Liberate: The Watson Chateau

To Liberate reveals the cultural history of the Watson Chateau, believed to have been built in 1853 by Margaret Neville Bowie, Rezin Bowie’s wife. Subsequent owners included doctors, land speculators, attorneys, farmers, a hairstylist, a secretary, and lastly, a gay couple. Arthur P. Watson and Bob Garrett lived together at The Chateau for almost 50 years, hosting parties for the elite of Austin and more quietly for the city’s gay men. The house still stands but is rapidly deteriorating.

To Liberate, digital exhibition

To Liberate: Gretchen Phillips Interview

To Liberate: Peter Flagg Maxson on the Watson Chateau

To Liberate: Carl McQueary on the Watson Chateau

To Relate: Indigenous views on Native American historical events in Texas

To Relate includes maps and timelines of Native American homelands of tribes that were Indigenous to Texas over many centuries. Some were Native to areas within Texas long before European settlement, some tribes were in Texas because of American expansion. The word “Texas” comes from an Indigenous word meaning ally or friend, as many tribes were collaborative with one another and settlers. 

To Relate, digital exhibition

El Camino Real de los Tejas: A Documentary on the Historic Native Trail video

El Camino Real de los Tejas: Crankie Suite video of performance in Onion Creek Metropolitan Park of musician Brian Beattie and artist Valerie Fowler

To Serve, Honoring Military Veterans in Austin's Cemeteries

To Serve looks at Texans’ long history of military service, identifying local veterans who served in conflicts from the War of 1812 to the present. Approximately 3,500 military veterans buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Oakwood Cemetery Annex, Evergreen Cemetery, Plummers Cemetery, and Austin Memorial Park Cemetery have been identified so far. This project features videos, photographs, digital maps, and other multimedia content dedicated to honoring the men and women who served their country and to preserve their histories.

To Serve, digital exhibition

To Serve: Cemetery Symbolism and Veterans Monuments with Tui Snider

Part 1: Conversation with Charles Clinger about early Austin Memories video

Part 2: Conversation with Charles Clinger about his Service in the Korean War video

To Elevate: To raise or lift up to a higher position: the legacy of Huston-Tillotson University, Austin's own HBCU

To Elevate demonstrates the legacy of Huston-Tillotson University, an HBCU (Historic Black College/University) in Austin, Texas. The exhibit tells the story of those that planted the seeds of Huston-Tillotson’s beginnings, those that carefully tended and spent their life’s energy on managing, improving, and building upon HT, as well as those that continue to pass the torch onward in the elevation of its mission.

To Elevate, digital exhibition

Huston-Tillotson University website

Greg Farrar presents a description of "To Elevate" video

Larry Williams interview about Austin and Huston-Tillotson University video

"What does HT mean to me?" survey

The outreach focus of the project is a social media challenge: “What does HT mean to me?” Austinites, HT alumni and all who care about African American legacies are invited to answer that question and share online using the hashtags #HT2me  #BlackandEducated  #HBCU and tagging @hustontillotsonuniversity @htiaa_austin and @austincityparks 

See some #HT2me videos on Instagram or Facebook to get inspired to share your own story.


To Remember/Recordar: An exploration of grief, loss and love across cultures

To Remember considers the various types of grief, loss, and love across cultures. This exhibit shows many different forms of remembrance including burial and funeral practices, memorial anniversaries, cemetery maps, and genealogy research. “To Remember” features photo, video, oral history, and digital map content to describe how cultural traditions help us hold the space for grief and loss.

To Remember, digital exhibition

360* Virtual Reality Tour of "Historic Old Grounds" and Oakwood Cemetery Chapel

Alan Garcia presents "The Presence of our Ancestors" video

"Remembrance for Those We've Lost," public online event to grieve those lost to COVID-19 video

"To Remember: Interview with Robert Tieman & Kay Boyd" on their project documenting monuments at Oakwood Cemetery video

Collective Remembrance: A Musical Memorial by Douglas Laustsen video

All Together Here: A Community Symposium for Discovery and Remembrance

All Together Here interprets the archaeology project at the Oakwood Cemetery Chapel. During the rehabilitation of the Chapel in 2016, there was a painful discovery: the Chapel had been constructed over preexisting burials.

All Together Here, digital exhibition

All Together Here, symposium website

All Together Here, symposium session videos published on the Parks and Recreation Department YouTube Channel

To Vote: Austin's suffragists during the anniversary of all women gaining the right to vote in America

To Vote recognizes Austin's suffragists in 2020 during the 100th, 55th, and 45th anniversaries of all women gaining the right to vote in America. Many people who worked hard for that right are buried in Austin’s municipal cemeteries.

To Vote, digital exhibition

Women in Texas History by Dr. Angela Boswell author talk video

Voting Rights for All or Some? panel discussion by Cecilia Gutierrez Venable, Jessica Brannon-Wranosky and Joy Diaz video

Save Austin's Cemeteries gravesite tour of people who contributed to the fight for the independence for Texas from Mexico in 1835-1836. The Republic of Texas was an independent country from 1836 - 1845, before it became part of the United States.

Texas Independence, digital tour

Save Austin's Cemeteries

To Hear: Music and musicians in Oakwood and Austin's history

To Hear appreciates Austin’s musicians, including the Besserer Orchestra, the Gant Family, Ernest "Ernie" Mae Crafton Miller and Gene Ramey. They played in music halls such as Scholz Garten, Pressler Beer Garden, and the New Orleans Club. John and Alan Lomax were known for traveling the world to record folk music as musicologists.

To Hear, digital exhibit 

Gant Family Songs from the Library of Congress (link to files on Box.com)

Lomax Digital Archive by the Association for Cultural Equity

Ghost Notes by Michael Corcoran book available to order for direct shipping

Ghost Notes Michael Corcoran Spotify Playlist (a few songs have explicit content, so if you don't want to hear those songs on the playlist, change your settings in Spotify

Author and artist talk: Ghost Notes by Michael Corcoran and Tim Kerr video

Caminar: Austin's Tejano history and Mexican American Burials

This exhibition remembers Tejanos and Mexican Americans buried in Oakwood Cemetery, and honors their legacy in Austin, inspired by Danny Camacho's research.

Caminar, digital exhibit

Spectrum News article on Caminar

Caminar event: Solsticio video

Caminar event: El Sacrificio video

Caminar event: La Tamalada video

Robert Ojeda and the Bronze Band on a history of Mexican American music program video

To Believe: Legacy of Reverend Jacob Fontaine

Featuring videos, photography, digital maps and performances, we explore Black East Austin's historic and contemporary practices of faith and belief, as inspired by Reverend Jacob Fontaine.

To Believe, digital exhibit

To Believe, video exploring faith in East Austin churches by Amaz1n Entertainment, supported by iACT, Heimsath Architecture, Preservation Austin, the Austin Foundation for Architecture, Big Medium and Sightlines Magazine

Murder Mayhem Misadventure: Save Austin's Cemeteries Fall Tours

Save Austin's Cemeteries annual graveside tours cover the chilling, untimely deaths of “residents” of Oakwood Cemetery portrayed by graveside actors. Tour route and stories vary each year.

Murder, Mayhem and Misadventure,digital tour with video - 2021

Murder, Mayhem and Misadventure, digital tour - 2020

Save Austin's Cemeteries

To Write: Author talks at the Oakwood Chapel

To Write is an ongoing series of online and in-person author talks on books related to the Oakwood Cemetery Chapel and its mission. If the book references people buried at Oakwood Cemetery, we often make a StoryMap to help visitors find the gravesites and learn about the lives that made Austin. This series is a collaboration with Save Austin's Cemeteries.

Forget the Alamo by Bryan Burrough, Jason Stanford and Chris Tomlinson

The Museums and Cultural Programs Division of the Parks and Recreation Department of the City of Austin hosted an author talk at the outdoor Zilker Hillside Theater in October, 2021. The event was hosted by Laura Esparza, an Alamo descendant as well as the Division Manager for the Parks Department. It was moderated by historian Dr. Andrés Tijerina. The authors discussed how the book came to be, what surprises they encountered, and what accountability for our shared history means.

To Write: Forget the Alamo video

Barton Creek by Ed Crowell

For an author talk at the Chapel by Ed Crowell on the book Barton Creek, this digital story map shows burials in Oakwood of individuals mentioned in the book whose lives affected Barton Creek.

To Write: Barton Creek, digital exhibit

Austin American-Statesman article about the book

Cedar Choppers by Ken Roberts

For an author talk at the Chapel by Ken Roberts on the book The Cedar Choppers, this story shows burials in Oakwood of a community whose culture depended on chopping cedar along creeks in West Austin.

To Write: The Cedar Choppers, digital exhibit

The Cedar Choppers website photos, interviews and songs

The Big Book of the Dead by Marion Winik

For an online author talk by Marion Winik on the book The Big Book of the Dead, this book is filled with remembrances of people, showing how we love, grieve, and grow. 

To Write: The Big Book of the Dead video


To Read: Book discussions at the Oakwood Chapel

To Read is an ongoing series of online and in-person discussions on books related to the Oakwood Cemetery Chapel and its mission. Facilitators include volunteers who may be researchers, philosophers, and historians.

The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

An online book discussion on the psychological foundations about death and dying in Summer 2020.

YouTube video of the online discussion

At the Chapel, Dr. Fatemah Keshavarz led a discussion on death, dying and transitions in Rumi's poetry in Fall 2019.