Texas Historical Markers, Marking the Places of Our Past
By Joan Whetzel
The State of Texas has a huge number of stories about its cultural history as well as how this wild country came to be the State of Texas. The historical markers that tell these stories, forever preserve the history of events, historic sites, archaeological and architectural landmarks and historical cemeteries.
What Are Historical Markers?
Historical markers commemorate history on the local, state, national and international level. The stories may be a simple fact sheet about a site or tell a story from the romantic, patriotic, funny, sad point of view, or even odd, little known stories about a person, place or event. Historical markers draw awareness of these places and the importance of preserving or State and national histories.
Who Issues Historical Markers?
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) administers the Texas historical marker program. It consists of 17 Texas residents appointed by the Texas State Legislature, and its staff of 175 people. They provide the funds to produce the historical maker plaques, but the bulk of the money for getting any site designated as an historical site comes from the private sector, specifically the person(s) or organizations asking for the historical designation.
What Are the Criteria for Obtaining a Historical Marker?
The two main factors for historical designation are age (depending on the subject) and historical significance (ascertained by an assessment of the sites importance to local history). The time frame for the application process is from September 1 through November 15 for the next year's marker cycle.
Person(s) or group making the application should thoroughly research the subject for the proposed marker and write a brief narrative (4 to 5 pages with footnotes), as well as provide documentation backing their claims to historical significance. They also must work with the county historical commission, not only to gain their backing, but so that the historical commission can review the application, narrative and documentation prior to the application materials being forwarded to the THC. A pre-application review to determine if the eligibility for historical status, as well as a review of the THC rules and regulations is highly recommended.
Historical Marker Designations
For people to be named on an historical marker, they must have been dead for at least 10 years (e. g. Lyndon Johnson). For an event to be narrated on a marker, it must have occurred at least 30 years earlier. For inclusion of institutions, organizations, or businesses on historical markers, they must be at least 50 years old. For cemeteries to be listed as historic cemeteries, they must have records and/or grave markers indicating that burials have taken place at this site dating back at least 50 years.
Historical designations are given for historical events, historic places, archaeological and architectural landmarks (including buildings, objects, sites, and districts), and historical cemeteries.
The next time you visit the State of Texas or drive around the area of Texas where you live, stop by the local historical markers. Who knows? You may just be inspired to become a part of history yourself.
The Texas Historical Commission Atlas:
"The Atlas features nearly 300,000 site records, including data on Official Texas Historical Markers and National Register of Historic Places properties in Texas. Also included are courthouses, museums, and sawmills across the state"
Or contact the THC
The Texas Historical Commission
P.O. Box 12276
Austin, TX 78711-2276