Everyone has a Place in Texas History (Spring 2024)

Past Matters Spring 2024; posted on 2/16/2024

Supporting the Varied and Complex Stories of Texas

by Sally Anne Schmidt, Chair

Sally Anne Schmidt
Sally Anne Schmidt, Chair

I support the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission because I am passionate about Texas history and Texas places! As a young child growing up in Austin, my parents and grandparents regularly took me to historic places and told me stories about the important Texas events that took place in our hometown. History was just part of everyday conversation. My grandfather restored the home of the first insurance agency in Austin and ran his insurance agency from the historic 1871 building. My mother watched me from the second-floor windows of that building on Congress Avenue as I celebrated Texas history by walking as a Brownie in the Texas Sesquicentennial Parade. I will never forget being taken downtown on two separate occasions to watch two different types of helicopters attempt to re-place the Goddess of Liberty onto the Texas Capitol Dome. As a seventh-generation Texan on both sides, you could say Texas history is in my blood. It is not a coincidence that I work as a historical curator and have a PhD in history.

The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission is an organization dedicated to supporting the Texas Historical Commission, as it does the work to tell the real stories of the real places of Texas. The Friends works to promote inclusive and proactive collaboration without shying away from the varied and complex stories of Texas. I appreciate that the Friends operates with authenticity, dependability, and trust. The staff and volunteers of this worthwhile organization work tirelessly to promote these values and our vision that everyone finds a place in the history of Texas.

I appreciate the work of the Texas Historical Commission and the Friends now more than ever, as I take my two young daughters to Texas historic sites and talk to them about the history of our state. It’s a big task to raise little Texans with a sense of place, and I thank the THC’s education staff for the work they do for families and children.

Seeing Ourselves in Our State’s History

by Donna Carter, Vice-Chair

Donna Carter
Donna Carter, Vice-Chair

First and foremost, I love history and I love places. Helping to ensure that history, the places and artifacts, are available to everyone is what the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission works hard to achieve. Each of us can see ourselves in the richness, breadth, and depth of Texas’ historic stories. Yet, I am constantly reminded that for every person who is drawn to the narratives of past generations, there are others who do not care to listen to these critical stories and feel it is a waste of time and resources to preserve them, and there are still others who think of restoration as a luxury that only affluent communities can afford. This is why I love the fact that the Texas Historical Commission continues to tell these stories and that the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission helps provide the resources to make the discovery, preservation, and celebration of our many legacies possible.

Education is the key to making the past, present. Our support augments curriculum-based resources and field trips for K-12 education and has continued to grow the Preservation Scholars Program, our post-secondary internship initiative. Through the Preservation Scholars Program, we have introduced the multi-faceted career opportunities available in historic preservation to students from underrepresented backgrounds. Our alumni have gone on to pursue careers in historic preservation, bringing their unique perspectives to their work and continuing to broaden and enrich Texas’ cultural history. Seeing the impact we have on the preservation of Texas’ historic places and spaces is what keeps my work with the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission exciting.