Opening up any box is an adventure. There are boxes within boxes. And within a few of these boxes within boxes, there are boxes filled with artifacts – shards of doll’s faces, flatware from the 1800s, old bottles of cure all, old pipes, many different colors of shards of glass, and shards of pottery. All these tidbits of history housed in one box within a box.
Alexander M. Troup grew up in Dallas and witnessed firsthand the transformation the city underwent to become what it is today – an ever-changing metro-plex. But one thing about Dallas and its insatiable appetite for growth is that many times valuable pieces of history become cannibalized in the process. This is where Mr. Troup saw a need for the city’s history which was being torn down and buried for the next luxury high-rise apartment building or the next strip mall. Mr. Troup is a preservationist. His process begins by identifying a demolition site or an area. He sets up sites and begins to excavate and preserve items by meticulously packing them in boxes. He documents the site and documents the artifacts he has collected after intensive research. His collection contains an abundant amount of artifacts, but also boxes and boxes of resources on material culture, archaeology, and Dallas History.
Not only a historian, and material culture preservationist, but Mr. Troup is an artist whose works echo his assemblages of artifacts. The Troup Family is steeped in the art history of Dallas. The family owned a gallery, Gallery Trohafole, which showcased items made by Dallas Artists and many pieces of folk art. The folk art is mainly whirly gigs – whose characters and themes are wholly Texan. One whirly gig is an oil well complete with a tall steel derrick. Another is made of egg beaters. Other pieces of the Folk Art include pottery from Dallas potters, rare penny dolls, a Hispanic wooden box, a bronze cast of an animal’s skull, and African American sculptures.
With all of this inspiration at his fingertips, it’s no wonder Mr. Troup became an artist. His work includes a piece with wall paper found on a dig site combined with found china, an assemblage of found magazine clippings and wood honoring railroad baron Jay Gould, a canvas to which a found door was attached which can be opened to reveal a women (this piece is inspired by a recluse who lived in her attic), as well as a handmade newspaper clipping box filled with clippings and old fashion magazine excerpts. There are also boxes within boxes that are filled with items that were once memories – small bottles, trinkets, charms, found marbles or stones. The collection, itself, is a piece created with intent. It is an art installation, but also a historic collection designed for Dallas History and the socio-cultural climate to be preserved and remembered. The collection has over twenty series which detail the material culture history of African Americans, Hispanics as well as history of many different neighborhoods in Dallas such as Deep Elm, Laws St., Camp St, and San Jacinto.
The collection’s multitudes of items are items that were once memories – small bottles, trinkets, charms, found marbles or stones as well as shards of glass and ceramics. Each item resonates with these memories, a history of people and places that are long gone, that are now covered by concrete.
Series 1: Alexander M. Troup Papers
Series 2: Troup Family Papers
Series 3: Art
Series 4: American Airlines/Dallas Arena Recovery, 1965-2000
Series 5: Arctic Research
Series 6: Austin-Market-Jackson Streets
Series 7: Deep Elm-Fairmont Streets
Series 8: Dealey Plaza
Series 9: Fair Park
Series 10: French Brick Study
Series 11: Folk Art
Series 12: Hollywood, Film, Fashion, and the Image
Series 13: Howard Hughes
Series 14: JFK Archives
Series 15: Laws Street
Series 16: Material Culture
Series 17: Material Culture of Ethnic Communities in Dallas Co.
Series 18: Newspaper Collection
Series 19: Oak Cliff-Cedar Creek
Series 20: Red Light District
Series 21: San Jacinto-Camp Streets
Series 22: St. George Hotel
Series 23: Swiss Avenue
Series 24: Separated Materials
Series 25: Accretion