Heritage, 2011, Volume 3 Page: 35
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Seeing a group of middle school stu-
dents traipsing through a cemetery, one
might think of a Halloween prank or
other mischief. However, when the
cemetery in question is the Union Hill
Cemetery in Round Rock, the young
people walking among the tombstones
are most certainly not there for nefari-
ous purposes. They are certified RIP
Guardians (a statewide network of vol-
unteers who help preserve and protect
historic burial grounds) from Hopewell
Middle School (see photograph above)
who are tending to the cemetery. These
young citizens care about their com-
munity, Texas, and the people who
came before them. They proudly repre-
sent the Junior Historians of Texas.
As one of the oldest and most respect-
ed youth historical groups in the state,
the Junior Historians of Texas currently
serves students from the Piney Woods
to the Franklin Mountains. Walter
Prescott Webb, a noted historian and
director of the Texas State Historical
Association from 1939-1946, initiated
the program in 1939. Webb wanted
young people to get involved in "the
doing of history." Today, chapters exist
across the state, and during the nearly
By Kate Hopfer-
75-year history of the program, almost
900 chapters have been chartered.
Junior Historian chapters are as indi-
vidual as the institutions that house
them. Groups range from between five
and 300 members. Some are busy year-
round with volunteer activities and
trips, while others focus on one activity.
There is a range of activities that chap-
ters can choose to participate in, but the
mission is to enable young people to
develop an interest and respect for his-
tory, while actively participating in its
preservation. Projects can range from a
local architecture survey and inventory
to producing a video on a community's
All groups are invited to the Junior
Historians of Texas Annual Meeting
and History Fair held each spring. That
event is comprised of activities at cul-
tural institutions, a competitive history
fair where students present their work
to judges and their peers, and an awards
luncheon recognizing students and
sponsors. At the 2010 meeting, Danny
Corbett from Copperas Cove was hon-
ored for 35 years of service to the Junior
Historians program. Sponsors, like
Corbett, who voluntarily work with
Photo provided by the Texas
State Historical Association.
junior historians, have been essential to
the success and longevity of the pro-
Junior Historians have the unique
opportunity to be published in one of
the few student journals devoted to
youth writing in the country. The Texas
Historian publishes papers from stu-
dents in grades 4-12 and is distributed
to schools and libraries across the coun-
try. Imagine being a published author
at age 11!
It is inspirational to think of how
many students have been imparted
with a love of history since the first
Junior Historians of Texas charter was
issued to Dallas' Forest Avenue High
School in 1940. These budding histori-
ans help to assure that Texas history
continues to be celebrated and protect-
ed for generations to come.
For information on starting a chapter,
visit www.TSHAOnline.org. Member-
ship is free and includes five complimen-
tary copies of the Texas Historian.
Kate Hopfer is the K-12 student program
coordinator for the Texas State Historical
Association in Denton.
Volume 3 2011 I TEXASHERITAGE 35
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2011, Volume 3, periodical, 2011; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254222/m1/35/: accessed April 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.