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Preserving the History of Those Who Lived It

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Preserving the History of Those Who Lived It

  • Dr. Monte Monroe, Texas State Historian

In September 2018, Monte Monroe, Ph.D., became the first archivist and the first West Texan selected to serve as Texas State Historian, appointed by the governor upon the recommendation of both the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas State Historical Association. As noted in Gov. Greg Abbott’s official statement, “[Monroe] is responsible for increasing public knowledge about the rich and diverse history of the state, encouraging the teaching of Texas history in public schools, consulting with state leaders to promote Texas history, and making presentations on Texas history topics.

Monroe serves as the archivist for the Southwest Collection/ Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University. He earned a bachelor’s in literature and history from Stephen F. Austin University and a master’s and doctorate in history from Texas Tech. He’s a former board member of the East Texas Historical Association, the West Texas Historical Association and the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board. He currently serves as chair of the Texas State Historical Association Archives Committee, which supports the mission of the Texas State Library and Archives, as well as educates state leaders about the importance of keeping state records open for public research and educational use.

A profile of Monroe, “For a Man Who Went From School Janitor to Texas State Historian, the Stories of People Who Lived History are What Matter,” was published in December 2018 in Texas Tech Today. A link to the full article is at the bottom of this page; however, an excerpt follows.

Through his position with the Southwest Collection, Monroe has interacted with many interesting people and has become well known in Texas historical circles.

When asked about his favorite records in the Southwest Collection, Monroe shakes his head. “All you have to do is hold a letter or a diary,” he said. “You hold these things in your hands, and you’re hooked on history. They’re just priceless nuggets; they put flesh on the bones of history.”

That’s what makes it especially galling to Monroe when such treasures are lost.

“To me, history from the ground up – from average people up – is important,” Monroe said. “We’ve got presidents’ papers in the national and other archives. At the Southwest Collection, we even have many congressmen’s papers, including George

Mahon, Kent Hance, Larry Combest and Randy Neugebauer. We have all those leaders’ papers, or what’s left of them. What we don’t have are the stories of those common people who lived history, too.”

n his newest role, as Texas State Historian, Monroe will have numerous opportunities to talk to people around the state and encourage them to preserve their nuggets of history. In fact, that’s one of his key duties.

“I want to talk about average people and how they lived history, their experiences,” Monroe said. “I want to help them preserve that history … For scholars to document history, they have to have these nuts and bolts. My job is to try and preserve history, care for it and make it accessible for research purposes.”

Excerpt reprinted with permission: “For a Man Who Went from School Janitor to Texas State Historian, the Stories of People Who Lived History are What Matter,” by Glenys Young, Texas Tech Today, Dec. 17, 2018. Read the story online at: today.ttu.edu/posts/2018/12/Stories/monte-monroe

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