Past Matters Fall 2023; posted on 10/12/2023
Greetings! It is wonderful to connect with you after what has been a history-making summer by way of temperatures! While trying to stay cool, we at the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission (FTHC) also wrapped up our fiscal year on August 31st, continuing critical ongoing projects while also flexing our outside-of-the-box thinking (a post-pandemic reality for most nonprofits) to take on and address new projects. In all this, we continue to be a strong and ever-present partner to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) in its preservation and education mission.
But none of what we do would be possible without YOUR support! I want to take this opportunity to share some of the impact you made on Texas history over the last 12 months, and the real places and real people whose stories you helped preserve through your support of the FTHC.
Last fall we began the work, in partnership with staff at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, on an archeology masterplan for the entire site as well as the Almonte Surrender Site. This master-planning process was made possible with support from the Meadows Foundation, Inc., and the Summerlee Foundation, and is aimed at guiding future archeological investigations at the battleground and serving as the foundation for the development of a public archeology program at the site.
In the fall, we also completed the Crisis and Trauma Response Toolkit for Cultural Workers, part of the THC’s “Digital Engagement and Crisis Response Program” funded by a CARES Act grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This grant funded the creation of the THC’s Virtual Learning Portal, which offers TEKS curriculum-based Texas history lessons, virtual field trips, tours, and educator resources from across the THC’s historic sites.
We also continued our partnership with the Texas Land Title Association for the Courthouse Stewardship Program, hosted yet another successful Real Places Conference in February in partnership with Phoenix I Restoration and Construction, Ltd., received support from the Robert E. and Evelyn McKee Foundation for capital improvements at the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site, and again placed seven Preservation Scholars in 10-week-long summer internship positions at the THC. Last spring, we successfully acquired two properties adjacent to the Bush Family Home State Historic Site and conveyed these properties to the THC as additions to the site complex, allowing the THC to preserve and maintain the look and feel of the original historic neighborhood.
The FTHC received a grant of $150,000 to support the development of the THC Texas Navigator Mobile App, which is available for download on Apple and Android app stores. The THC is now working on additional enhancements to the app, which will be released as updates to the app in the next few months.
Over the last year we have continued to build our ongoing and growing virtual programming offered free throughout the year, and we have hosted workshops and webinars on a variety of topics of interest to small- and mid-sized nonprofits, especially ones in the field of historic preservation.
We are also thrilled to welcome new leadership on the Friends Board of Trustees – Joe Thrash, Vanessa McElwrath, and Kristine Navarro-McElhaney. These board members bring years and depth of experience in the law and public service, financial planning and accounting, education, and nonprofit management fields to the FTHC to help us continue to refine and improve how we operate.
In all this work, we are privileged to be a partner to the incredibly committed leadership and staff at the Texas Historical Commission. And we are deeply grateful to you, our friends, for your support. Your gifts help us preserve the stories and histories of all Texans, so we can continue to build community through storytelling. We look forward to your continued support!
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission—warm regards and best wishes for a wonderful fall season!
Anjali Zutshi, Executive Director