Heritage, Volume 8, Number 1, Winter 1990 Page: 23
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Texas artist Buck Schiwetz was know nationwide
for his paintings of picturesque buildings, oil fields,
and other scenes of Texas. Art and artists from a
variety of media and backgrounds are central to the
picture of Texas depicted in the revised Handbook.
Photo courtesy of the Texas State Historical
to have shone even brighter as the "urban
cowboy" became a popular symbol and
"Texas chic" a mode of dress and talk.
Popular culture experts such as Dr. Don
Graham of UT Austin are helping us grapple
with these subjects.
The new Handbook will contain features
in addition to updated, revised, and
corrected articles. The most noticeable
changes probably will be maps and illustrations.
But there will also be different types
of articles. Taking a cue from historical
encyclopedias published during the last
decade or so, the Handbook staff designed a
series of chronological and topical articles
that will trace the history of Texas in crisp,
authoritative essays as well as address entire
topics, such as slavery, that are omitted
from the original work.
The work is vast and demanding, but
after the initial years of organization, it has
proceeded rapidly. Articles submitted to
the Handbook are reviewed by an editor
and assigned to an outside reader to decide
if it should be included. Accepted articles
go to research assistants for verification
and approval for entry into the computer.
By September of 1989 the Handbook staff
had completed more than 8,000 of the estimated
26,000 articles that will comprise
the final work. More than 5,000 of the
articles have come from volunteer contributors.
Some have questioned whether the new
Handbook should be published in book form,
suggesting that an on-line computer databank
or a compact disk would be a better
and less expensive method of publication.
To determine how the Handbook customers
and users felt about that question, the
Association polled reference librarians as it
began the project, and again in 1987. They
answered overwhelmingly in favor of a
printed book. A distant second choice, representing
less than 2% of those responding,
was for microfiche and microfilm. An online
computer or compact disk system was
not a statistically significant response,
probably a result of the fact that few Texas
libraries have computer or CD equipment,
rather than an indication of the potential
of such systems.
The fact that the new Handbook will be
on computer means that, at the very least,
type can be set from the disk, which will
also be available for whatever technology
renders possible or desirable by 1995,
whether it be an on-line database, a compact
disk, or some new format that might
not yet even be envisioned. Keeping the
Handbook on computer will also permit us
to correct, revise, or expand it in the future
without having to redo the entire project.
The new Handbook of Texas will provide
a source of basic information about our
state for tens of thousands of users: travelers,
journalists, students, scholars, investors,
lawyers-anyone who wants it. It is a
lengthy and expensive project, costing
probably more than $5 million by the time
it is complete, and we need help from all
who are willing to suggest a topic, undertake
to write an article (about a person,
place, event, or some other subject), or
provide funding. We, like Webb, are relying
upon the generosity and the literary
genius and scholarly ability of the people of
Texas to respond to a need that is important
for the Texans of the future, as the
venerable old Handbook takes its place on
the shelf with other pioneering efforts.
Ron Tyler is the director of the Texas State
Historical Association, professor of history at the
University of Texas at Austin, and editor-in-chief
of the revised Handbook of Texas.
Aviation pioneer Katherine Stinson at the controls of her Wright aeroplane in 1914. The revised Handbook
will provide extensive coverage of the role of women in the development of Texas. Photo courtesy of the
Harry H. Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin.
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HERITAGE * WINTER 1990 23
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 1, Winter 1990, periodical, Winter 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45426/m1/23/: accessed December 10, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.