Thursday, February 22, 2018

ETHA Spring Symposium

On Saturday, February 17, the East Texas Historical Association held a Spring Symposium at The History Center in Diboll. Diboll was founded in 1893 as a company town by timber magnate T.L.L. Temple. One of the civic philanthropies provided to Diboll by Temple Industries is The History Center, which opened in 2003 and which features an excellent museum and archival collection. Indeed, early in my tenure as State Historian, my wife Karon and I came to Diboll to create a blog on The History Center.

Behind the main building of The History Center
is a well-preserved lumber train.

One of the statues on The History Center grounds is of Arthur Temple, Jr.
Standing in front of one of the excellent museum displays
The theme of the ETHA Spring Symposium was "The Presidents Speak Again." Two past presidents of the ETHA, Milton Jordan and Dan Utley, have compiled a book that has just been released by the Stephen F. Austin State University Press: The Presidents Speak: Addresses from the Leadership of the East Texas Historical Association, 2000-2016. Each year, at the ETHA Fall Meeting, the Association President delivers a presidential address, and Jordan and Utley have collected these addresses since 2000. The Presidents Speak was introduced at the 2018 Spring Symposium, and a panel of the presidential contributors was assembled at The History Center to discuss their addresses and to answer questions from the audience. The official presider was Portia Gordon, an ETHA board member and the longtime aide to former ETHA Executive Director Archie McDonald.

Dan Utley and Milton Jordan with their book, The Presidents Speak, which provided the theme for the ETHA Spring Symposium

Portia Gore (standing at right), longtime ETHA secretary and board member, presided over the panel.

Milton Jordan at the speaker's stand

Former Texas State Historian Light Cummins (left) with ETHA board member Monte Monroe from Texas Tech
There were about 40 ETHA members in attendance, and we enjoyed refreshments provided by The History Center. Following the presidential panel, we divided into two groups and, led by History Center staff members, we were toured through the museum and the archival collection. As always, it was a pleasure to visit with friends and fellow ETHA members. 

ETHA Executive Assistant Chris Gill makes these events work.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Exploring Texas Workshop Series

On Monday and Tuesday, February 5 and 6, the Texas State Historical Association and the Aldine ISD presented an event for Texas History teachers in the Exploring Texas Workshop Series. This "Encountering Texas History Conference" explored the period 1900 to the present. Charles Nugent, TSHA Adult Program Manager, and M.K. Marshall, K-12 Program Manager, put together a varied program which featured 30 session possibilities for attendees. Numerous breakout sessions covered historical context, teaching strategies, and resources. A number of vendors, from book publishers to the Texas Historical Commission to the Bryan Museum of Galveston, were present, offering door prizes during a reception at the end of the first day.

Charles Nugent and M.K. Marshall at the registration table

More than 60 fourth-grade and seventh-grade Texas history teachers attended the conference. Two teachers from Canyon in the Panhandle had found a TSHA workshop in their area so fruitful that they flew to Houston for this event.


I was asked to address the group on Tuesday morning, from 8:30 to 10:00, on Texas in World War II. The Second World War, of course, was the biggest and most important event of the 20th century. Texas played a key role in America's war effort, from manpower (830,000 Texans, including 12,000 women, served in the military) to combat exploits (36 Texans earned the Medal of Honor, including Audie Murphy - America's most decorated soldier - and submarine commander Sam Dealey - America's most decorated sailor) to the development of the world's largest petrochemical industry. Indeed, Texas oil production fueled the Allied war machine. Upper level leadership included such Texas natives as Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe, Admiral Chester Numitz, Naval Commander of the Pacific, Gen. Ira Eaker, commander of the 8th Air Force in Europe, and Gen. Claire Chennault, founder of the famed Flying Tigers, as well as Col. Oveta Culp Hobby, commander of the Women's Army Corps . More than 150 generals and 12 admirals were from Texas. Texas A&M College provided more than 20,000 fighting men, including seven Medal of Honor winners. More than 23,000 Texans died from military action, including 900 Aggies. Texas was America's largest training field, with 80 bases developing 20 combat divisions and 1.5 million soldiers, aviators, and sailors. With shipyards and airplane manufacturers and munitions plants, Texas played a significant part in the miracles of war production achieved by American industry.

I brought a number of WW II artifacts to demonstrate classroom possibilities to the teachers, who examined these items carefully at the end of my presentation. These teachers were an unusually responsive audience, and I had a most enjoyable and, I hope, productive session with them.