Many are familiar with the Texas Historical Commission and the great work they have done to promote and preserve the history of Texas. Many are probably not as familiar with the Texas Historical Foundation, what they do, and how they were once connected with the Commission.
In 1953, the Texas Legislature established the Texas State Historical Survey Committee and tasked them with surveying and recording Texas history and sites. They were also charged with the review of historic sites for their worthiness before the state purchased them.
The Texas Historical Foundation was formed as a nonprofit one year after the Survey Committee to provide most of the funding for the Survey Committee’s work. The two organizations worked together closely for many years.
In 1962, the historical marker program for Texas was established under the Survey Committee’s authority with a goal to record historic sites in all 254 counties in Texas. The scope of the Survey Committee’s work was broadened in 1968 with the addition of the state archeological program and a museum services program. The responsibility for the National Register of Historic Places program in Texas was also given to them as part of their designation as the State Historic Preservation Office after the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966.
In 1971 the state assumed the funding role for the Survey Committee. After that, the Texas Historical Commission began independently seeking out worthy preservation projects, exploring critical preservation efforts, and establishing endowments to support projects around the state.
Fifty years ago, the Survey Committee was renamed by the Texas Legislature to the Texas Historical Commission. Their role was expanded at that time with additional powers to protect historic places in Texas and a mandate to educate Texans about the importance of historic sites and the role they played in the development of the state.
As the endowments have grown at the Texas Historical Foundation, it has established itself as a champion for Texas history by providing quarterly grants to nonprofits who are working to conserve artifacts, archive documents, restore historic buildings and sites, pursue archaeological investigations, gather and share stories relating to Texas history and the Lone Star culture.
Since 1990 over $2 million in grants have been given out by the Texas Historical Foundation to over 400 projects around the state. One of the Foundation’s largest projects has been the restoration of the Goodnight House which is now part of the Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight Ranch State Historic Site administered by the Texas Historical Commission. Recent grants have been awarded to the Bolivar Point Lighthouse, Archer County Museum, African American Heritage Project, Friends of the Texas Historical Commission, Council of Archeologists, Tom Lea Institute, Hemisfair Conservancy, Friends of Aldredge House, Kathyln Joy Gilliam Museum, Dallas Mexican American Historical League, Texas State Historical Association and more.
The Texas Historical Foundation also recognizes excellence in preserving the history and culture of the state with its Star of Texas award, which honors individuals or businesses for those exceptional contributions. Past recipients have included Frost Bank, J.P. Bryan, and Red McCombs. In March of this year, the prestigious award was presented to the Cavender family who were selected for their work to preserve the culture of Texas through Cavender’s Boot City, an iconic Texas company and leader in the western-wear industry.
Next spring, the Texas Historical Foundation will be giving out its largest grants ever with the Micheal C. Duda Preservation Awards which will recognize three outstanding preservation projects in Texas with grants of $100,000, $30,000, and $20,000.
The Texas Historical Foundation will be joining the Authentic Texas family though a new partnership beginning with the 2024 spring issue. The Foundation is excited and honored to join such a tremendous publication focusing on the heritage of Texas. In future issues you will be able to read more about our work across the state and the amazing projects that we fund, along with the people that are working to preserve the unique aspects of our diverse history. We look forward to being a part of this dynamic magazine and helping to bring the stories of the history and heritage of the great state of Texas to life!
Visit texashistoricalfoundation.org to find out more about the work of the Texas Historical Foundation.