During the spring of 2002 history professor Gene Allen Smith began developing ideas with AddRan College dean Mary Volcansek to create the Center for Texas Studies. After meeting with many potential constituents and discussing ideas, the consensus that emerged: TCU would become the first university in the state of Texas to have a Center for Texas Studies and an endowed chair in Texas history. Other institutions have Texas-inspired endowed chairs, but none focused exclusively on the history of Texas.
Few institutions of higher education in Texas were as prepared as TCU to make an involved commitment across a broad spectrum to a varied audience across the state. Fewer still had the unique combination of available resources, vision, and motivation. Through his long career at TCU, eminent Texas historian Dr. Ben Procter supervised the doctoral program in History, producing numerous Ph.D.’s that now author Texas history books, serve on the state’s university faculties, and care for the state’s historical artifacts, sites, and archives. The seeds sown by Dr. Proctor’s forty-plus-years of work ultimately led to the creation of the Center for Texas Studies in 2003.
That same year, through the generosity of Mary Ralph Lowe, TCU created an endowed faculty chair in Texas history, the first such position at any university in the state. In 2004, TCU hired Dr. Gregg Cantrell to fill the chair. These developments established TCU as one of the top universities in the state for the study of Texas history.
Since the spring of 2003, the Center has sponsored numerous projects to study, promote, and celebrate all that makes Texas culture distinctive. Through the “Preserve Our Past” Community History Workshop Series hosted in association with the Fort Worth Library, we provide free programs on the first Saturday of the month from September through May. Speakers share their research experiences to encourage everyone to preserve and document local history. Seasonally, teacher education workshops send TCU professors into school districts across the state to share teaching methods and the latest scholarship. Many Texans will remember our past traveling exhibits “Texas Flags: 1836-1945” and “Going to Texas: Five Centuries of Texas Maps” and should expect more in the future. Through TCU Extended Education, the Center organizes local historical tours and in-depth short courses on Lone Star culture. In conjunction with TCU Press, we underwrite the Texas Biography Book Series which publishes award-winning profiles of people whose contributions deserve a modern scholarly work. In addition to original programming, partnerships with a variety of organizations including the Texas State Historical Association, Humanities Texas, and more have enabled the Center to further advance its mission. Ultimately, our future ambition is limited only by time and financial support.