Dispute Over Texas History : A long-standing disagreement about teaching Texas history in schools has been resolved. The TSHA was central to the year-long debate on the board of directors. Association rules require a balance between academics and non-academics, with the president having the final say in case of a tie. The TSHA board had 12 scientists and eight non-academic members in the past three years.
J.P. Bryan, the group’s executive director and a retired oilman, said this piece altered TSHA’s ideology by having academics criticize Texan heroes. Bryan thought this piece changed TSHA’s perspective. Bryan’s critics said he didn’t sufficiently credit non-Anglo communities’ role in Texas’s past. TSHA’s top historian, Walter Buenger, countered Bryan’s claim that the board was unfair by noting that previous non-academic presidents had doctorates, written books, and taught as adjuncts without objections.
Bryan sued the company in May, claiming rule violations in the board composition and an attempt by President Nancy Baker Jones to remove him. Jones and Secretary Cole both quit after a mediation meeting. Two non-academic individuals will join, and a third seat will be filled by another non-academic person. Bryan withdrew his lawsuit, ending any chance of a trial. Bryan said the settlement wasn’t about pride but aligned with TSHA’s original goal. He said it multiple times.
Bryan plans to nominate three people for the board of directors. “I’m confident we’ll find qualified people this week,” he said. Next week, we’ll have something for board approval. The TSHA was founded in 1897. Its role is to create research materials and educational programs about Texas. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Texas Almanac, and Handbook of Texas are important TSHA publications. Teachers, authors, and institutions often use these materials to shape the information shown at historic places in Texas, like museums, Spanish missions, and battlefields. The Texas Legislature funds the group, and its books greatly influence the teaching and interpreting of the state’s history in public schools.
As the debate nears resolution and the board approaches balance, it’s a turning point for the Texas State Historical Association and its role in teaching Texas history.