Wednesday, February 23; 5:00—6:15 PM


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Enslaved persons were a primary source of labor in early Hays County as they were throughout Texas. African Americans constituted more than one-third of the county population by the mid-1860s, builders and craftsmen undoubtedly among their ranks. Twenty years later, however, fewer than 20 percent of Hays County residents were African American. In her talk, Dr. Tara Dudley will explore the contributions of African Americans to the architectural development of Hays and adjacent counties in the antebellum and Reconstruction eras, chartering their movement to and later impact on growing urban areas throughout Central Texas, including the state capital at Austin.

Tara Dudley is an Assistant Professor in The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Her research examines the contributions of African American builders and architects to the American built environment, focusing on the antebellum and Reconstruction eras in Austin and Texas.  She is the author of “Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and Their Influence” (University of Texas Press, 2021), winner of the Association of American Publishers 2022 Prose Award in Architecture & Urban Planning. Dr. Dudley obtained her master’s (historic preservation) and doctorate (architectural history) degrees from The University of Texas at Austin. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in art history from Princeton University.