Austin College Historian and Student Film Maker Premiere New Book and Documentary Film about Stephen F. Austin’s Sister

SHERMAN, TEXAS – Austin College History Professor Light Cummins and student film-maker Austin Tooley, a senior from Sherman, will present their recent projects on the life of Emily Austin, sister of Stephen F. Austin, on Thursday, May 7, at 11 a.m. in Hoxie Thompson Auditorium of Sherman Hall. The session is free and open to the public.

The event will feature short talks by Cummins and Tooley, and autographed copies of the book and DVDs of the film will be available for purchase. The Austin College Department of History and the Center for Southwestern and Mexican Studies sponsor this session.

Cummins, Guy M. Bryan, Jr., Chair of American History, has written a biography of Emily Austin, who lived from 1795 to 1851. This new book, Emily Austin of Texas, 1795-1851, was published in April by the TCU Press as part of its Texas Biography Series.

Emily, the daughter of Moses Austin and the sister of Stephen F. Austin, was married twice, first to James Bryan and after his death, to James F. Perry. The Perrys settled Peach Point Plantation on the Texas Coast. In 1840, Emily Austin Perry gave the Reverend Daniel Baker the first financial donation to what would become Austin College in memory of her brother Stephen and was acknowledged with the naming of the college. Emily Austin Perry became one of the most prominent women in pre-Civil War Texas and was a successful plantation mistress, a consummate hostess, and an astute businesswoman. Cummins details her life in his new book.

Austin Tooley has just completed a 30-minute documentary film dealing with the life of Emily Austin, based on Cummins’ new book. Titled Emily Austin: Sister to an Empire, the film was undertaken as Tooley’s senior honors project and was sponsored by the Erwin E. Smith Foundation and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Tooley filmed interviews with prominent historians who have written on Texas history and also interviewed descendants of Emily Austin during the making of the documentary. Much of the footage was shot on the historic Peach Point Plantation and at other locations associated with the life of Emily Austin.

Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges that Change Lives.

-Press Release from Austin College

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