By Kristina Kenney
University News Service
March 22, 2012
Award-winning historian, researcher and adjunct history professor at Texas State University-San Marcos Dan Utley and co-author Cynthia Beeman have received the 2011 Philosophical Society of Texas Award of Merit for their book, History Ahead: Stories Beyond the Texas Roadside Markers.
The award was established in 2000, naming the best fiction or non-fiction book published on Texas every year since. In History Ahead, Utley and Beeman delve further into some of the most famous and little-known stories that have made their mark on Texas history by visiting cotton gins, abandoned airfields, forgotten cemeteries and former World War II alien detention camps to dig up the complex and unsuspected narratives behind the text inscribed on the roadside markers.
Utley has served as an adjunct professor with the university’s public history program since 2008, is the former chief historian of the Texas Historical Commission and is a former president of the East Texas Historical Association. He also serves as the chief historian of the new Center for Texas Public History that was established in December 2011 as the first center of its kind in Texas. Utley holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Texas and a master’s degree from Sam Houston State University. Beeman also formerly worked at the Texas Historical Commission as a director alongside Utley. Beeman holds a bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University.
Utley said he was surprised upon hearing of award but also deeply honored.
“Recognition from such a distinguished organization is truly rewarding, because it affirms an appreciation for our original concept,” said Utley. “Writing the book, I never once thought of awards or other forms of recognition. My personal goal was to search out basic stories, both obscure and well-known, and retell them in new ways that might cause people to rethink the past around them.”
The Philosophical Society of Texas was originally established in 1837 and aims to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the organization’s founders by establishing new as well as fostering preservation of old literary, scientific and philosophical studies and documents in Texas.