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Center for Texas Public History grant to aid small historical groups

By Ann Friou
University News Service
September 27, 2012

A $50,000 grant from the Summerlee Foundation of Dallas will help the Center for Texas Public History (CTPH) at Texas State University-San Marcos to provide public history assistance to small historical organizations in Texas.

“We are extremely grateful to the Summerlee Foundation for being a partner in our endeavor to work with public historians around the state,” said Lynn Denton, CTPH Director.

“The CTPH receives numerous requests from county historical commissions and small non-profit historical organizations for assistance on projects that range from cataloging collections and conducting local oral history projects to planning new exhibits,” Denton explained. “The grant will enable us to help more communities meet their needs for documenting and preserving their history.”

Under the one-year grant, the CTPH will focus on five areas of demand that also reflect the Center’s expertise: assistance with historical marker research and applications, Historic Texas Cemetery designations, fundamentals of oral history training and research design, interpretive planning and research for museum exhibits, and assessments of the management and preservation of historical collections.

The work will be done by Texas State graduate students trained in public history and supervised by Denton and CTPH Chief Historian Dan K. Utley, who collectively have decades of experience in a wide variety of public history endeavors throughout the state.

“Students will be hired based on their previous coursework, skills, and experience applicable to each project and will be organized into project teams,” Denton said. “While the students obviously will gain additional practical field experience on these projects, we will put a priority on utilizing students who can bring demonstrated background and accomplishments to each project.”

In all cases, Denton, Utley and students will be available to make onsite visits to project sites as appropriate to and delineated in the scope of work, Denton said. “This direct, one-on-one interaction is a primary strength of the initiative since it addresses requests from county historical commissions and small non-profit organizations for such in-person consultations that may no longer be met by government agencies due to staff and budget reductions.”

Although the CTPH plans to make its assistance available statewide under the grant, Denton anticipates that the Center will focus its efforts initially on projects in Central Texas. “We are in the process of determining what types of projects we will be able to accept,” she said.

The grant will help the CTPH to meet three goals: to foster diverse partnerships with private and public sector institutions and organizations; to collaborate with partners and students to make a significant contribution to understanding the past; and to enhance career opportunities for students through service and practice.

More information is available by contacting CTPH Director Lynn Denton, pd16@txstate.edu, or CTPH Chief Historian Dan K. Utley, du11@txstate.edu.