In September 2006, the Southwestern Writers Collection (SWWC) announced the opening of the Dick J. Reavis Papers for research. Since then, Reavis’s manuscript archive has become one of the most frequently accessed in the collection for one reason—his extensive research materials on the 1993 Branch Davidian-FBI standoff outside Waco, Texas, collected while writing his 1995 book, The Ashes of Waco. Still in print today, Reavis’s book remains one of the most comprehensive and balanced accounts of this highly controversial incident in U.S. history.
Recognizing the raid, siege, and burning of the Branch Davidian center as a major story being covered by the press only from the government’s perspective, Reavis spent two years reporting and investigating the incident, its players, and causes. Reavis’s research went beyond the book’s publication. His role as an investigator expanded, and he became one of the few impartial experts on the subject. Reavis eventually testified in Congressional hearings as an expert witness, based on his investigation of the topic.
This April marks the 15th anniversary of the tragic ending of the siege at Mount Carmel, and the SWWC is working to secure grant funds to create an online exhibit with the Reavis materials. Because of the international attention the incident received, the chaotic and violent nature in which it began and ended, and the further domestic terrorism it engendered in Oklahoma City, research interest remains high. The Dick J. Reavis Papers at the SWWC have been used as sources for at least two documentaries, including “Assault on Waco,” aired on the Discovery Channel.
The proposed website will provide an overview of the incident and a brief history of the groups involved, as well as a case study in law enforcement and “cult” relations. The bulk of the digitized objects to be made available are the negotiation transcripts and recordings, and the video created by the federal government during the siege.
For more information or to access the Reavis files to do research of your own, call (512) 245-2313, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the SWWC at The Wittliff Collections on the library’s seventh floor. Research hours are posted online.