Texas State Historical Association selects University of North Texas as new home

Texas Historical Association
The large number of books with Texas topics that have been published by University of North Texas faculty members helped to lead to the Texas State Historical Association selecting UNT as its new home.
Thursday, January 17, 2008

The University of North Texas will become the new home of the Texas State Historical Association, which furthers the appreciation, understanding and teaching of the unique history of the state. The agreement between UNT and TSHA is pending ongoing negotiations to move the organization to UNT's Denton campus.

 "I am personally pleased that the Texas State Historical Association Board recognized the opportunities for the organization to expand its reach by joining forces with the UNT faculty," said UNT President Gretchen Bataille. "UNT has long recognized the importance of Texas history and we have built a strong foundation of faculty and library resources that will support the mission of TSHA."

TSHA was founded on March 2, 1897 -- the 61st anniversary of the Texas Declaration of Independence -- and is considered in academic circles as the nation's most dynamic regional history organization as well as Texas' oldest such organization. Its office was previously located at the University of Texas at Austin. TSHA had considered various relocation options across the state, including several institutions of higher learning.

Gayle W. Strange, chairman of the UNT System Board of Regents, says the partnership between one of Texas' greatest universities and most active historical associations will serve the future of education in Texas well.

"UNT students, the North Texas communities and the entire state will benefit from this new collaboration, as together UNT and the association continue the work of preserving and strengthening Texas' heritage," she said.

UNT and TSHA representatives met in late December to discuss centrally located office space, substantial UNT staff support and access to the university library, computer support and university publishing resources.

UNT officials point out that association brings with it:

  • an established staff;
  • a tradition of sponsoring lectures, conferences and other historical programming;
  • a 110-year tradition of publishing the Southwestern Historical Quarterly and scores of books. The books include the popular Handbook of Texas, a comprehensive encyclopedia of Texas geography, history and historical persons.
  • Web resources, including The Handbook of Texas Online, and the Digital Gateway to Texas History, as well as a commitment to digitize the vast content of its publications; and
  • a growing fund to establish an endowed "TSHA Chair in Texas History," which would reside in UNT's Department of History.

According to its faculty members, UNT's Department of History has the strongest faculty research focus on Texas history at any university in the state, measured by the more than 25 books that faculty members have written or edited. In addition to faculty strength, UNT brings numerous assets to the partnership with TSHA, such as:

  • extensive library holdings, including government documents and historical archives;
  • digitization capabilities in the UNT Libraries' Digital Projects Unit: and.
  • publishing opportunities with UNT Press, which has Texas history as one of its core thematic areas. The UNT Press was founded by Fran Vick, who is the incoming president of TSHA.  

UNT faculty involvement in TSHA is already robust. UNT historians with strong ties to TSHA, including designations as "TSHA Fellows," include:

Dr. Randolph "Mike" Campbell, Regents Professor of history. A past president of TSHA, Campbell is the author of several volumes on Texas history and is the current editor of SWHQ.

Dr. Richard B. McCaslin, professor of history. McCaslin is the author of At the Heart of Texas: One Hundred Years of the Texas State Historical Association, 1897-1997, among other scholarly volumes.

Dr. Donald E. Chipman, professor emeritus of history and a scholar of Texas under Spanish rule. Chipman, who served on the UNT faculty for 38 years, is a former editor of The New Handbook of Texas, which the TSHA published in 1996 as an update to its original handbook. He is also a current SWHQ editorial board member.

Dr. F. Todd Smith, professor of history and an expert on indigenous peoples of Texas. Smith is also a current SWHQ editorial board member.

Other UNT specialists in Texas history include Dr. Richard G. Lowe, Regents Professor of history; Dr. Elizabeth Hayes Turner, associate professor of history, and Dr. Roberto Calderón, associate professor of history.

Campbell, whose involvement with TSHA dates back to the time he arrived at UNT more than 40 years ago, said he is delighted at the possibility of uniting UNT and TSHA expertise and missions.

"The genius of TSHA as an organization is the way it brings together academics and non-academics in support of Texas history," he said.

He anticipates that the addition of TSHA to the campus, where the Department of History is already very active in providing guest speakers and other programs to students, faculty, staff members and the general public, will result in an even greater emphasis on UNT's broad educational mission in the community and the state.

Dr. Michael Monticino, associate dean in UNT's College of Arts and Sciences, which houses the Department of History, coordinated UNT's efforts to bring TSHA to the Denton campus.

"The partnership between these two major Texas history powerhouses, whose resources and capabilities complement each other so well and whose missions of research, teaching and outreach are parallel, has the potential to be much more than the sum of its parts," Monticino said.

TSHA currently has a membership of approximately 2,200 scholars and history enthusiasts, including a significant number who reside in the Denton/Dallas-Fort Worth area.

J. Frank de la Teja, association president and Texas State Historian, said TSHA members are gratified by the interest that Texas' institutions of higher learning have shown in TSHA.

 "As the foremost history association in Texas, TSHA looks forward to forming a strong partnership with UNT, as the association embarks on its second century of serving to preserve and promote the state's history to all Texans," he said.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108