Texas History is Crumbling to Dust
It's tragic and true. All over Texas, original 19th century documents and records that shed light on Texas history are facing an uncertain future because of poor preservation practices and limited resources. That's the finding of a task force charged with reviewing the situation by the Supreme Court of Texas
The records -- many that are decaying or being destroyed due to a mix of events and conditions -- contain information about famous Texans and ordinary residents during the historic periods. For some people, such as African Americans, the records may contain the only information that exists about their ancestors.
A Texas State Archives official says some counties store irreplaceable historic records in metal storage containers, poorly maintained buildings, and maintenance sheds that hold equipment, chemicals, and holiday decorations.
Many counties don't have secure, air-conditioned and humidity controlled storage for their records, which is the single best solution for their long-term preservation.
He says most local officials are aware of these problems, but they don't have the resources that are needed to store the records properly.
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson says "these documents are our living history, the parchment of our past, and we must preserve them so that our descendants will appreciate the Texas they have inherited."
The Task Force report identifies a number of preservation problems, and makes specific recommendations on what should be done to preserve historic documents.
The report will be presented to the Texas Supreme Court at a special hearing on September 26th.