Researcher Profile: John Richardson
The researchers who access DRT Library collections in the reading room or who contact us via email or phone bring interesting projects, questions, and interests. Here at “Inside the Gates” we’re going to periodically highlight some of our patrons and their stories.
A twelve-year veteran of the Alamo’s education department, John Richardson is a familiar face at the DRT Library and one of our most frequent patrons. His many research projects have covered a wide variety of topics related to the Siege and Battle of the Alamo, the Texas Revolution, and the broader contexts in which these events occurred. Examples of Richardson’s recent projects include:
- determining the first mention of the Bowie knife at the Battle of the Alamo, information he found in the library’s copy of The New Yorker from May 14, 1836;
- authenticating a sword allegedly presented to Sam Houston using a variety of library sources, including Madge Thornall Roberts’ four-volume Personal Correspondence of Sam Houston;
- examining library vertical files for information about Alamo defender Gregorio Esparza, his family, and his descendants;
- creating a staff ride for the Battle of Bexar using sources such as the Veramendi property title abstract, which provided detailed descriptions of its size and various owners after the Texas Revolution; and
- using San Antonio city directories to research the location of the Alamo defenders’ funeral pyres for a tour for descendants of David Crockett.
While personal edification drives some of his research, Richardson also undertakes projects on behalf of other Alamo scholars and enthusiasts. Questions from Alamo visitors, who either talk with him on the grounds or contact him by mail or email, also bring Richardson to the DRT Library to conduct research. He uses the information he finds here to follow up with them and retains it for future conversations with other visitors. Richardson recently became the Alamo’s Staff Ride Coordinator, and in this position he provides systematic analysis and site tours of the Alamo battlefield for visiting military personnel. Because each group is interested in a particular element of the battle that relates to its specific mission, Richardson’s new position has compelled him to substantially expand his knowledge about the event; this in turn has led him to gather additional information, an endeavor facilitated by the DRT Library.
“I tell people that the library is one of the Alamo’s best-kept secrets,” Richardson said. “I especially like the fact that anyone can come in and do research, no appointment or credentials needed. All you need is an interest in Texas history. Yes, I work here, but the accessibility would still be there even if I wasn’t an Alamo employee.” We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves, John!