The Handbook of Texas: A History
Dec 17, 2013 | 1013 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

"First in point of actual need is a Handbook of Texas History. . . . Such a work as this would be cooperative; it would require the assistance of every scholar in practically every field of study in Texas. . . . It would be indispensable to every editor, reporter, library, scholar, and teacher in Texas. It would be necessary for every library in the world that made any claim to being a working library. It would set the standard for spelling and pronunciation, and furnish the starting point of every investigation of things pertaining to Texas history."

--Walter Prescott Webb, "A Program for Texas History," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 1(1939): 102.

Dear Texas Enthusiast,

My story begins with this man: Walter Prescott Webb.

As the current Executive Director of the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), I have the honor and responsibility to do my part to preserve, protect, and further a project that was the "impossible dream" of Professor Walter Prescott Webb: The Handbook of Texas.

Walter Prescott WebbWalter P. Webb was an extraordinary person. He was a scholar who wrote for a broad audience and became well-known for such books as The Great Plains (1931), The Texas Rangers (1935), Divided We Stand (1937), and The Great Frontier (1952). In 1918, he first joined the history faculty at the University of Texas, and he remained a part of that department, despite brief sojourns elsewhere, until his death in 1963 from an automobile accident at the age of 74. 

Webb also was director of the Texas State Historical Association from 1939 to 1946.

Handbook of Texas HistoryIn 1939, Webb put forth an ambitious "Program for Texas History," and the most ambitious, by far, of the projects he mentioned in his address was a Handbook of Texas History.

"Cooperative," "collaborative," "indispensable," "necessary," "set the standard," and "starting point of every investigation of things pertaining to Texas" were the terms he used to describe his visionary Handbook of Texas History.

Handbook of Texas History"Some may be appalled at the magnitude of such an undertaking," Webb continued. "I readily admit the task is great, but I do not consider it impossible. I think the task is in keeping with the magnitude of Texas, and I dare to believe that the people of Texas are more likely to be interested in a big job that is worthwhile than in a number of insignificant and inconsequential ones. It is the sort of job that will confer prestige on the Texas State Historical Association."

Since the time of Webb, the digital revolution has wrought a seismic shift upon the modern information landscape that has done nothing less than remake our world. With stunning speed, advances in technology and digitization continue to transform and reshape nearly every aspect of how people access, experience, and understand the world around them.

Handbook of Texas OnlineFollowing Webb’s pioneering spirit, TSHA is continuing to push the envelope when it comes to making Texas history accessible to all. For example, over the past year, The Handbook of Texas Online web site has received more than 11.8 million views--and it continues to grow!

That is why at this moment in history, as we witness a renewed interest in the Lone Star State, the Texas State Historical Association is more committed than ever to keeping Texas history alive.

You can help us continue to tell the deep, rich story of Texas by joining us today as a member of TSHA.

With your support, TSHA will ensure that Texas history is accurately preserved and effectively passed on for generations to come.

I know you agree with me when I say that Texas history is too unique and too important to just let slip away. So today, I personally invite you to join me in keeping it alive.

Thank you for supporting the Texas State Historical Association.


Kent Calder

Executive Director

Texas State Historical Association

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