I love stories and how they connect us to history. I learned this as a boy wandering around the public library, always finding myself in the history section, and on the many evenings I spent with a history book after long duty days in the military. But I truly discovered the magic of stories as a history teacher and the singular privilege of working at a Texas state archive filled with personal letters written by ordinary folks like you and me. Their voices add authenticity and richness to our study of the past. Please join me as we look back at history through the words of those who lived it, one historical document at a time. And please, lend your voice to the conversation. I look forward to hearing from you.
What is Historify?
According to the Collins Dictionary, Historify means “to tell the history of something.” Scratch the surface of a historical document and one might discover all sorts of interesting things. A casual reference in a personal letter can lead to us to a deeper understanding of the author’s context, purpose and place in history. I’m no scholar but I love a good story. Over the years I’ve come to realize that one document can tell us a lot about a time and place, if we just take a closer look.
How it works…
Each month I will introduce one historical, primary source document from a Texas archive or other source of historical records. The highlighted document is found under The History menu heading and is downloadable for your convenience. The Story menu heading includes a narrative of background information about the document. From there I encourage your feedback and discussion! My goal is a simple one; to introduce you to the richness and authenticity of voices from our past and gain a fuller understanding of history, one document at a time.
Over the years, I created presentations on various topics that might be of interesting to you and your organization. I’ve also developed a mini workshop, a hybrid of those I conducted across the state, as an introduction to the study of primary sources in history. Both are an hour in length and are listed under this menu heading. I look forward to sharing these with you!
Let’s get started!
“In the Name of the King” The San Jose Papers, The Founding of Mission San Jose, 1720,Introduction. Unlike most English colonial religious communities hugging the Atlantic coastline in the early 1700s, the Spanish brought to their possessions in the New World one religion, Catholicism. Under the energetic and zealous leadership of the Governor of Tejas, the Marques de Aquayo, the Spanish set out to establish communities in their easternmost province to deter encroachment by other European powers, mainly the French. The missions, under the direction of Franciscan friars, and protected by Spanish soldiers garrisoned in nearby presidios (forts), the