UHD's Webb Historical Society Tours Hill Country Historic Sites
Students can learn quite a bit about state and local history by taking Texas or Houston history courses, but beyond classroom learning, some students take advantage of opportunities to discover and engage in local history by visiting historic sites.
On Oct. 21 and 22, officers, members, and advisers for the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) Garna Christian Chapter of the Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society attended the Society's annual Fall Meeting in Fredericksburg, Texas, exploring the area's historical sites.
The students visited the Fredericksburg area of the Texas Hill Country, the Gillespie County Historical Society Pioneer Museum, the Texas Ranger Heritage Center and Fort Martin Scott, and the National Museum of the Pacific War. After the meeting, the Garna Christian chapter representatives visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Ranch and National Historic Park in Stonewall, Texas. The meeting was hosted by Steve Cure, Texas State Historical Association Chief Operating Officer and TSHA Adult Program Manager Charles Nugent. Other Webb Historical Society chapters included representatives from Texas A&M University San Antonio, Lee College, Northeast Texas Community College, and the San Jacinto Colleges.
UHD's chapter is comprised of any student interested in Texas and local history, broadly defined. Many of the active members are students enrolled in the Texas History honors program course taught by UHD History Professor Gene Preuss.
Students that attended the two-day meeting were UHD Webb Society president Juan Leija, vice president Julie Morillon, historian Archie Gayle, Mascot "Kevin" Nguyen, and member Jasmine Major. Chapter advisers included Preuss and Mari Nicholson Preuss, UHD professor and director of the University's Honors Program.
The Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society is a service of the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), the oldest learned association in Texas. The Webb Historical Society works to promote local, community, and regional history through college and universities chapters. It "encourages students to discover, research, write, and publish the history of Texas as they find it where they live." The Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society was created in 1973 to work with college-aged students, and the society was named in honor of Webb, a celebrated Texas historian.
At the October 2015 Webb Historical Society Fall Meeting, UHD chapter president Francisco Delgado announced that it had changed its name to honor the dedicated service of Garna Christian, who taught at UHD for more than fifty years. In 1977, he organized the university's chapter of the Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society and has served as advisor through 2015.
In 2004, he was named a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association, and in 2012 the TSHA honored Christian with its most prestigious honor, the Mary Jon and J. P. Bryan Leadership in Education Award. He is a dedicated instructor whose commitment has been recognized by the East Texas Historical Association's Ottis Locke Educator of the Year Award. In honor of his service, scholarship, and teaching, Christian was named UHD Emeritus Professor of History.
The trip was made possible in part by support from the Elkins Foundation Legacy Trust for the Teaching of Texas History and the Texas State Historical Association.