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Bill Wittliff

A Guide to the Bill Wittliff Papers, 1968-1995

517 boxes total (498 linear feet)

Note: Additional Bill Wittliff archives have been received since this on-line inventory was compiled. Contact the archivist for the latest information on our holdings.

Click here for complete inventory

Acquisition: Donated by Bill and Sally Wittliff since 1988. Note: Contact the SWWC for information about additional materials from this writer that have not yet been fully processed.

Access: Restricted. Contact the SWWC for information about access.

Processed by: Gwynedd Cannan, September 1995

Biographical Note:
Bill Wittliff was born in Taft, a small town in south Texas, in 1940. After his parents divorced, he and his brother Jim moved with their mother to Gregory, Texas, where Mrs. Wittliff ran a small telephone office during World War II (these experiences provided the basis for "Raggedy Man," Wittliff's feature film). Later, when his mother remarried, the family moved to a ranch in Blanco, a rural community of 700 in the hill country of central Texas.

In 1964, shortly after graduating from the University of Texas, Wittliff, with his wife Sally, founded a book publishing company, The Encino Press, which specialized in regional material about Texas and the Southwest. To date, Encino has won over 100 awards for quality of design and content. The press operated out of a 19th-century Victorian house in Austin in which O. Henry once lived and wrote

An accomplished photographer, Wittliff's photographs documenting the life of the Mexican vaquero (taken 1969-71) have been exhibited in numerous galleries and institutions throughout this country and in Mexico, including the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, and the Texas Capitol. In Japan, they represented the United States during its bicentennial year. After twenty years, the exhibit is still shown as a traveling display in the U. S. and Mexico under the auspices of the Institute of Texan Cultures.

At 29, Wittliff was elected to the Texas Institute of Letters. He served as president during 1974-78, and sat on the Executive Council until 1990. In 1993, he was elected Fellow of the the Institute. He is a member of the historic Texas Philosophical Society, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; and he served for six years on the Executive Board of Trustees of Robert Redford's Sundance Institute.

In 1985, with the donation of their lifelong collection of original manuscripts and books, Bill and Sally founded the Southwestern Writers Collection at Southwest Texas State University. Since that time the collection has grown rapidly, supported by donors from all over the country. It features original manuscripts by J. Frank Dobie, John Graves, Larry McMurtry, Walter Prescott Webb, Bud Shrake, Larry L. King, Horton Foote, Preston Jones, Sam Shepard, Willie Nelson, and many others. It also includes paintings by numerous regional artists including William Lester, Tom Lea, John Groth, Jerry Bywaters, Kermit Oliver, Robert Wade. Expanding the scope of the current facility, in 1996 the Wittliffs endowed the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography which already includes works by Russell Lee, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Ansel Adams, Keith Carter, Henri Cartier Bresson, Lola Bravo, Laura Gilpin, Edward Weston, Graciela Iturbide, Edward Curtis, Nacho Lopez, Erwin E. Smith, Marco Antonio Cruz, Jim Bones, Paul Strand, Mariana Yampolsky, and many others. Both collections are housed in eight specially designed rooms and a large, chambered gallery on the top floor of the Albert B. Alkek Library on the university campus.

The Wittliffs have two grown children and live in Austin, Texas.

Scope and Content Note:
The Bill Wittliff papers document the book publishing, photography, and screenwriting and filmmaking aspects of Mr. Wittliff’s various professional and personal pursuits, ranging in date from 1968-1995, and including the following formats: correspondence, typescript drafts, bibliographies, woodcut blocks, illustrations, photographs, screenplay drafts, film storyboards and other production materials. See series descriptions for more detailed information.