Richard S. Orton Collection
- Event: Donated 10/9/2008
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0.75 Cubic Feet
Biographical / Historical
After graduating from the University of North Texas in 1968 with a B.A. in Music he served two years in the United States Peace Corps in Liberia. After the Peace Corps he moved to Austin where he lived for 36 years before returning to Nacogdoches in 2007. While in Austin he earned a M.M. in Musicology from the University of Texas at Austin, produced several summer music festivals, worked fifteen years in the field of sexual assault prevention and crisis services for the Austin Rape Crisis Center, the Child Assault Prevention Project (which he co-founded), and the State of Texas.
In the early and mid-80’s he developed an interest in photography and spent three years documenting life in three elementary schools in Austin. In the late 80’s, after becoming acquainted with the Upshaw family in the freedom colony of County Line in northwest Nacogdoches County, he began a project documenting the community’s history through photographs and oral history. That project resulted in the publication of his book, ‘The Upshaws of County Line: An American Family’, by the University of North Texas Press in 2014 after twenty-five years of preparation. The book won a best book award from the East Texas Historical Association in 2015. Several of the images in the book first appeared in ‘Freedom Colonies: Independent Black Texans in the Time of Jim Crow’ by Thad Sitton and James Conrad published in 2005 by the University of Texas Press, a book to which he also contributed oral histories from three freedom colonies.
In 2003 he became a photographer for the Texas House of Representatives, a position he maintained through the 2007 session.
In Nacogdoches, he is active on the boards of the Friends of the Visual Arts and the African American Heritage Project and continues to work on photography projects.
- Guide to the Richard S. Orton Collection
- Kyle Ainsworth
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