How We Got Here

The Beginnings

When the Texas Historical Survey Committee was formed in 1953, the Legislature called for the creation of a private foundation—the Texas Historical Foundation—to raise philanthropic support for the committee.

The Committee and the Foundation worked closely for 20 years until 1973, when the committee earned its new name (the Texas Historical Commission), and with it, more protective powers, an expanded leadership role, and broader educational responsibilities. With its new state resources, it no longer relied heavily on the foundation that had supported it.

That was until the discovery of La Belle in 1996. Once the THC discovered the shipwreck and Fort St. Louis, the need for greater philanthropic support and an affiliated nonprofit became imperative. Thus, the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission (FTHC) was brought to life, created by THC staff members Dr. Jim Bruseth, Dr. Curtis Tunnell, and Anice Read.

Our nonprofit was incorporated in 1996 as a 501c(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Harriett Latimer became the first volunteer chair and president.

Growing Responsibility

In 2007, per donor requests, the FTHC was approved to update its IRS designation to a 501c(3) nonprofit organization further designated as a 509a(1) public charity.

In 2003, we received our first endowment gift—the Bob & Kathleen Gilmore Fund—to support French and Spanish colonial archeology and research in Texas. That same year, we created the Texas Heroes program, now known as the Spirit of Texas Program, comprised of donors who make an annual unrestricted gift to support strategic initiatives, critical needs, and unique opportunities.

As fundraising for the excavation and conservation of La Belle and Fort St. Louis came to a close, the Friends of the THC began actively raising funds for the THC’s growing list of other special projects and future successes.

Looking Forward

History is an essential component of a rich and rewarding life. It drives our desire to know our past, enrich our present, and cultivate the future. We are fortunate, as citizens of Texas, to be surrounded by a magnificent history that has shaped all of our lives. The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission is pleased to play a vital role in preserving the real places that tell the real stories of Texas. We hope you will join us on this great adventure.