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HISTORICAL ORGANIZATIONS. Over 820 historical associations and organizations concerned with Texas history exist in the state. The vast majority of these organizations are involved in historical preservation; many maintain historic sites or historic buildings. Others operate museums, and about a third are genealogical in nature. Many of the state's historical associations are primarily research and publication oriented. Others oversee libraries and archives. A smaller percentage describe themselves as living history groups, reenactment or dramatic organizations, or archeological societies. The majority of Texas's historical associations are small, modestly funded, volunteer-run, membership-driven groups, dedicated to preserving and presenting local history. Over 60 percent had an annual budget of less than $10,000 in 1992; however some of the larger associations listed operating budgets in excess of $1 million. By far, the primary means of funding historical organizations is through membership support. However diverse financial resources also include gift shops, publication sales, admission fees, and endowment income. Special fund-raising events and grants from corporations, individuals, governments, and foundations are also sought and received. Most of the organizations are relatively young. Less than 20 percent were founded prior to 1950, and the majority were established after 1970. Among the oldest historical associations in continuous existence are the Texas State Historical Association, founded in 1897, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, organized in 1921, and the Dallas Historical Society, founded in 1922. Historical organizations provide a wide range of services. Public or educational programming includes guided tours, outreach programs to schools, lectures, seminars, and workshops. Most groups collect, preserve, or provide information related to local history. Geographically, the groups are spread fairly evenly across the state in both rural and urban areas.

Joseph A. Hill, The Panhandle-Plains Historical Society and Its Museum (Canyon, Texas: West Texas State College Press, 1955). The Report of the Summerlee Commission on Texas History (La Porte, Texas, 1992). Paula and Ron Tyler, Texas Museums: A Guidebook (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983).
D. Ryan Smith

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Handbook of Texas Online, D. Ryan Smith, "Historical Organizations," accessed November 22, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.