Adán Benavides retired from the University of Texas Libraries on December 22, 2012, ending a career that spanned parts of three decades. His departure marks the end of an era; he was the last member of the Benson Collection’s professional staff directly influenced by Miss Benson, herself.
As Librarian for Special Programs, Adán was the embodiment of the often-used library requirement to “perform other tasks as assigned.” He was a very successful grant writer, a skilled publicist and an underappreciated development officer. He received two grants from the NEH, totaling nearly $500,000, that preserved Mexican newspapers on microfilm and through film sales, established the nucleus of a Benson preservation fund. The quality of Adán’s work was recognized by his peers and awarded by both his employer and professional organizations.
While he became a jack of many trades, Adán resisted the pressure to become a generalist. His Hispanic heritage and historical training underlay an abiding interest and deep knowledge of early Texas and the Southwest, a body of expertise impossible to replace. Although never gainfully employed as a historian, Adán never lost a historian’s appreciation for the importance of bringing documentation to light. His monumental The Bexar Archives (1717-1836): A Name Guide, published in 1989, remains an essential tool for researchers. Adán also conceived the project which became Primeros libros, recognized as a model for presentation of rare materials in digital formats.
Adán joined SALALM immediately upon his appointment to the Benson Collection. Vocal in the organization’s deliberations and active in its committees, he was elected to a term as Member-at-Large of SALALM’s Executive Board in 2009.
Adán left a number of marks on the profession: influencing colleagues, producing scholarship, serving SALALM. He left the Benson Collection a stronger institution than he found it. We think Nettie Lee would be pleased with Adán’s work, although we doubt that she would have told him so.
David Block and Margo Gutierrez
Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection
University of Texas, Austin