The Papers of George Lister: "Mr Human Rights"

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About the Project


When George Lister died in 2004 at the age of 90, he left behind the paper trail of a career as a government official-boxes and boxes of memos, speeches, newspaper articles, essays, and other documents. In July 2005, Lister's family donated the papers to The University of Texas at Austin's Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, the preeminent academic library in the U.S. specializing in materials from and about Latin America.

Soon after the papers were donated, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the School of Law made it a goal to ensure that the papers were mined for their importance on human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Lister's papers were the centerpiece of a multidisciplinary conference held at the School of Law in December 2006 entitled, ''The Life and Legacy of George Lister: Reconsidering Human Rights, Democracy, and U.S. Foreign Policy.'' The conference brought together policymakers, journalists, public servants, activists and academics to consider the development and deployment of human rights in U.S. foreign policy through the lens of Lister's life and papers. Among the highlights of the conference was a conversation between Senator Tom Harkin and former Congressman Don Fraser, moderated by NPR's Steve Inskeep. The conference was co-sponsored by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies and the Humanities Institute.

Additionally, in order to make Lister's story and papers available to the public, the Rapoport Center assembled a group of faculty, students, staff, archivists, and others from across The University of Texas to create an online exhibit. This web site is the result of a truly collaborative effort. It has been greatly enhanced by the participation of friends and colleagues of Lister, who have generously offered their time. Funding for this web site has been generously provided by the UTopia Project of the University of Texas General Libraries.

We are enormously thankful to the many people who have worked on this project over the past two years. It has been a delightful learning experience.

The content of the web site was edited and written by Karen Engle, Jennifer Hoyt, Lena Khor, and Gregory Krauss with the assistance of Sarah Cline, Gabriela Redwine, Gerald Torres, and Tracy Wahl. A Masters thesis on Lister's career prepared by Gregory Krauss and submitted to the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs in May 2007 has aided in the development of the narratives.

Most of the interviews included on the site were conducted by Tracy Wahl and Karen Engle.

The interviews and conference were videotaped by Theresa Manzaneras, Donald Dodson, David Gallessich, Daniel Griffin, and Fernando Frias. Video editing was done by Donald Dodson and Evan De Wandler.

Transcripts of the interviews were produced by Sarah Cline and Michael O'Neill.

Archival work was performed by Christian Kelleher and Jennifer Cummings.

Designs for the web site were created by Lena Khor and Matthew Villalobos. Final stages of the design and production were conducted by Sarah Cline, Matthew Dunlap, Gregory Krauss and Adam Norwood. Many people advised on this project from its earliest stages. We are grateful to Margaret Eubank, Jesse Franzblau, Jeremy Freeman, Elizabeth Frumpkin, Diane La Voy, Derek Jinks, Alan Kuperman, Mark Lawrence, Kumar Percy, Elspeth Rostow, Alvaro Santos, Jim Steinberg, and Michael Widener. We are especially grateful to Aleta Lister for donating the papers and Tracy Wahl for ensuring their arrival at The University of Texas.

Material on this site may be quoted or reproduced for use by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. Any commercial use of this material is prohibited without prior permission from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. Material reproduced here for which copyright is held by another entity must not be used without the copyright holder's permission. When crediting the use of portions of our site or materials within it that are in the public domain or clearly created by us, please use: ''Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, The University of Texas at Austin.'' If you are unsure about proper usage of our content, please contact us at or (512) 232-4857.