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The Katherine Drake Hart Award

Community award presented by the AHCA recognizing a deserving citizen of Travis County who made the most impact on our history from a singular achievement or their collective work over time.

Hart Award Sculpture.jpg

Pictured above left is Katherine Hart chatting with a group of women, including to the left Audray Bateman Randle, who would succeed her as Curator. Pictured above right is the sculpture, “Pop the Whip,” designed by the late Bob Coffee and chosen as the award presented to the Katherine Drake Hart Award recipients.

 The Katherine Drake Hart History Preservation Award was established by the Austin History Center Association in 1991. It honors the founder and first Director of the originally named Austin-Travis County Collection. This collection of archival materials is now called the Austin History Center and is supported by the Austin History Center Association.

Who Was Katherine Drake Hart?


Katherine Drake Hart’s family has deep roots in Austin and Travis County. Dr. Hart was a leader in both historic preservation and the preservation of the history of Austin and Travis County. In addition to founding the archival collection that became The Austin History Center, she helped found the Heritage Society of Austin (now Preservation Austin) and served as its President, helped write the City of Austin’s historical zoning ordinance, and served on the boards of numerous historical societies and committees. It is due to her work, for example, that many buildings in Austin were saved, including The Old Bakery land the Littlefield Home.


Dr. Hart helped found Waterloo Press, where she oversaw the publication of a number of books. For the press she edited and annotated Pease Porridge Hot, featuring Austin’s Pease family and Alphonse in Austin, about Alphonse Dubois the French consul to Texas who lived in the French Legation during the years of the Texas Republic. Dr. Hart wrote a weekly column for the Austin American-Statesman called “The Waterloo Scrapbook.” She is buried in the Texas State Cemetery.


This lovely portrait of Katherine Hart hangs in the foyer of the Austin History Center. Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, PICB-03651 


Charles Peveto, former chair of the Katherine Drake Hart Award and the late Bob Coffee, a founding member of the Austin History Center Association, hold the Katherine Drake Hart Award. Coffee's sculpture, "Pop the Whip," is given to the winner of the Katherine Drake Hart Award.

Purpose of the Award


The purpose of the Katherine Drake Hart Award is to recognize outstanding individuals who have made a significant contribution to preserving the rich and diverse history of Austin and Travis County history. The award is presented at the Annual Meeting of the Austin History Center Association.

Nominee Achievements


The contributions may be through research and writing books or articles; historic documentation through writing, video or photography, archiving histories of cultural heritage; or preservation by archival donation to the collections of the Austin History Center. 

Who has received the award in the past?


Austin’s most prestigious historians and historic preservationists have received this award. For a list of award winners see Katherine Drake Hart Award Winners.

Hart History Preservation Award Committee


The Katherine Drake Hart Award Committee is chaired by Martha Hartzog. Judges include Amalia Rodriguez-Mendoza, Lori Martin, Roxanne Evans, John Butler, and Evan Taniguchi.


Former AHCA President Lee Cooke and Charles Peveto, former chair of the Katherine Drake Hart Award Committee, present Gloria Mata Pennington with the 2020 award.

Recognition of Winner


The 2023 award winner will be recognized at the Annual Meeting of the Austin History Center Association.

Deadline for Submission


2023 Candidates are being solicited now. The deadline for receipt of these applications is Friday, April 12, 2024. Instructions for applications can be found here.



A small version of the late Bob Coffee’s “Pop the Whip” sculpture was chosen in 2020 to present to the winners of the Katherine Drake Hart Award. The sculpture celebrates the well-known children’s game, “Pop the Whip,” in which children form a line and swing around. The combined energy of all the children together is more powerful than single child’s would be. This message of working together is important for preserving history. Bob Coffee was one of the original founding members of the Austin History Center in 1979. A brief interview of him can be found here. An expression of thanks to the Coffee Family is extended for allowing this sculpture to be presented.

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