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Nadine Eckhardt Papers

Identifier: SWWC-105

Scope and Contents

The Nadine Eckhardt Collection spans from the 1920s-2009. The collection is comprised of photographs, correspondence, business materials, newspapers clippings and early and final versions of Duchess of Palms. The original order of the Nadine Eckhardt Collection was maintained with minimal changes. The collection was originally arranged chronologically by Duchess of Palms materials, correspondence between Nadine and Billy Lee Brammer 1956-1968, correspondence between Bob, Nadine, and her family 1970s-1983, and Nadine’s personal correspondence, 1944 through 1999. The chronological order was maintained, but the materials were organized into five series: Personal Papers - restaurant and scrapbook materials, Family Papers - Billy Lee Brammer, Bob Eckhardt, family, and personal, Photographs - organized chronologically, Print Materials - newspapers and other articles, and Duchess of Palms Materials - drafts, timelines and notes.

Original folder tiles are in quotation marks.


  • 1920-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1944-2009


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials from the Wittliff Collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user assumes responsibility for determining copyright status, obtaining permission to publish, and abiding by U.S. copyright laws.

Biographical Notes

Nadine Ellen Cannon was born in McAllen, Texas on January 20, 1931. After graduating from high school in 1948, Eckhardt enrolled in North Texas State College in Denton, Texas to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree. While there she met her first husband, writer Billy Lee Brammer, whom she married in 1950 when she was nineteen years old. In 1951, she and Brammer moved to Austin where she worked for the University of Texas and briefly at the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. Two daughters, Sidney and Shelby, were born during this time. After several years in Austin, she and Brammer moved to Washington D.C. in 1955 to work on the staff of Texas Senator Lyndon B. Johnson. The marriage to Brammer began to deteriorate, and she moved back to Austin pregnant with their third child, William. The couple eventually divorced in 1961. During this time, Brammer released his critically acclaimed, but controversial book, The Gay Place, a fictional account of Texas politics.

Now single and working at the State Capitol, Nadine met Robert “Bob” Eckhardt, a Texas state representative from Houston, whom she married in 1962. The couple moved to Houston, Eckhardt’s hometown, and the birthplace of their only child, daughter Sarah. In 1966, Bob Eckhardt ran for Congress. Eckhardt won, and Nadine moved to Washington, D.C. There she performed the duties of a congressman’s wife as well as helping to manage Eckhardt’s congressional staff. She became involved in women’s rights issues and the Civil Rights movement of Dr. Martin Luther King. The Eckhardts separated in 1976 and divorced in 1977. Nadine moved back to Austin, Texas. After her divorce from Bob Eckhardt, Nadine opened a restaurant in east Austin – Nadine’s, and she ran it for a year and a half.She moved to New York City and worked for another restaurant, also named Nadine’s, owned by her daughter Sarah’s boyfriend. In 1991, Nadine moved back to Austin permanently. While living in Austin, Eckhardt worked as an assistant to writer Molly Ivins, in real estate, and worked on Ann Richards’ gubernatorial campaign in 1992. In 2009, Eckhardt released, Duchess of Palms, a memoir of her life and work in Washington D.C. and Austin, Texas.  The title was inspired by a beauty pageant she had won as a teenager.

Eckhardt passed away on December 8, 2018.


6 Linear Feet

14 boxes

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

  • The descriptive data created for this finding aid is licensed under the CC0 Creative Commons license and is free for use without restriction.


Correspondence, photographs, personal papers, and other research materials represent the life of Nadine Eckhardt, author of Duchess of Palms. The materials were collected over the life span of Eckhardt, born in 1931, and were used in research for her memoir. The materials are arranged into five series: Personal Papers, Correspondence, Photographs, Printed Materials and Dutches of Palms.

Physical Location

Materials may be stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use:

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Nadine Eckhardt, 2010.

Related Materials

For additional Billy Lee Brammer material, see the Billy Lee Brammer Papers (Collection 007).

Additional Bob Eckhardt papers can be found at the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

Guide to the Nadine Eckhardt Papers
Buck Cole, Megan Galindo, Sarah Marshall, and Stacey Wilson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Revised for ArchivesSpace by Susannah Broyles.

Repository Details

Part of the The Wittliff Collections Repository

601 University Drive
San Marcos Texas 78666 USA