The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982 Page: 430
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The Handbook of Texas
Shortly after becoming director of the Texas State Historical Associ-
ation in the late 193os, Walter P. Webb began discussing with various
people around the state his concept of a handbook of Texas. He was
bothered by the lack of a general reference work that one could turn
to for information about Texas. To find information on the Big
Thicket, or the Big Bend, or Stephen F. Austin, or the Comanche In-
dians, or the discovery of oil in Texas, for example, one had to go to a
different source for each and have at one's disposal a general library in
order to obtain information on all these subjects.
Webb realized that the preparation and publication of such a work
would be costly and time consuming. He did not want to undertake the
effort until he was assured it could be carried through to completion.
Webb found a sympathetic hearing with the University of Texas ad-
ministration. The president thought the concept an excellent one, and
he saw the advantage of tying various groups around the state into a
closer relationship with the University and the TSHA, and of binding
the Association more closely to the academic departments at the Uni-
versity. The administration realized that by helping the Association
with Webb's projected handbook, the University would be providing
a public service to the school's constituency: THE PEOPLE OF TEX-
AS. The University also immediately perceived the advantage of hav-
ing such a reference work available to everyone, whether in Texas,
other states, or abroad, who wanted or needed accurate informative
knowledge about Texas.
To assist Webb the administration established the Department of
Research in Texas History (now called the Center for Studies in Texas
History). The Association and the University began the joint project,
The Handbook of Texas. To secure additional financial aid, Webb
interested the Rockefeller Foundation and the Texas legislature in the
project, and both contributed substantially toward the funding. But
throughout the long period of preparation the University remained
the prime supporter.
When the Executive Council assembled at the annual meeting in El
Paso in March, 1981, it approved a completely new, revised edition of
the Handbook of Texas. The new Handbook will be the most extensive
scholarly work of its kind ever undertaken in Texas. The four-to-six
volume Handbook is to be published in 1995 on the occasion of the
sesquicentennial of the annexation of Texas. Although the work will
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982, periodical, 1981/1982; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101208/m1/488/: accessed October 16, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.