Humanities Institute

Writing Austin's Lives

"Writing Austin's Lives" is a life-writing and community discovery project on the experiences, perspectives, and family histories of ordinary Austinites. In the spring of 2003, the Humanities Institute first put out the call for residents to share their stories about life in Central Texas. Out of the over 800 short personal narratives submitted in English and Spanish came a play, numerous public readings, and a book, Writing Austin's Lives: a community portrait.

Published in 2004 in partnership with the Austin History Center Association, Writing Austin's Lives is a 412-page anthology featuring 127 stories from practically every Austin zip code written by people of diverse ages, backgrounds, and life circumstances, including many new and inexperienced writers. Together, these stories capture a compelling portrait of Austin, an Austin not found on any map, a landscape as rich in spirit as the people who live here.

The project attracted widespread newspaper, radio, and television features, was recognized by The Austin Chronicle as a "Best of Austin" Critics' Pick in 2004, and was named as the 2005 Mayor's Book Club selection. It has since inspired a film contest, Filming Austin's Lives, and a website, Write On, Austin!, where Austinites continue to share their stories.

To learn more about the 2007 Filming Austin's Lives contest, including entry rules, and to download submission forms, please visit the Filming Austin's Lives website.

For more information, please contact the Institute at (512) 471-2654 or

We all fell in love with Austin at first sight. Writing Austin's Lives helps explain why."

—Arnold Garcia, Jr., Editorial Page Editor,
Austin American-Statesman





  • Humanities Institute

    University of Texas at Austin
    HRC 3.360
    Mailcode F1900
    Austin, Texas 78712