The TSHA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to foster the appreciation, understanding, and teaching of Texas history to encourage and promote research, preservation, and publication of historical materials. Handbook entries are written by volunteer historians and professionals, reviewed by TSHA staff, vetted by scholars, and approved by TSHA’s Chief Historian before appearing online. The development of new entries is driven by current events, user suggestions, and internal identification of missing topics, which are reviewed by the TSHA Chief Historian for consideration. Existing entries are continuously revised or updated according to user suggestions and a routine revision schedule. Authors utilize secondary and primary sources such as books, census records, newspapers, military service records, obituaries, diaries, and letters to craft historically accurate entries. The sources are compiled into a bibliography and updated regularly to provide readers with the most current scholarship. The Handbook editors fact-check, copyedit, and format entries using appropriate language for users ranging from middle school to college. The TSHA impacts the educational landscape in Texas by serving at least 1,467,724 students and 15,063 teachers through resources such as the Handbook, teacher workshops, and Texas History Day.
The Handbook of Texas Online is a digital state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) that is free and accessible on the Internet for students, teachers, scholars, and the general public. The TSHA was organized in Austin on March 2, 1897, and the Handbook began as two printed volumes in 1952, with a supplemental third volume in 1976. Twenty years later, the Handbook expanded to a six-volume set. With the onset of the digital age, the TSHA chose to digitize the existing Handbook to create a user-friendly digital repository of Texas history that currently includes more than 27,000 encyclopedic entries. The Handbook consists of overview, general, and biographical entries focused on the entire history of Texas from the indigenous Native Americans and the Prehistoric Era to the state’s diverse population and the Modern Age. These entries emphasize the role Texans played in state, national, and world history. The TSHA continuously expands the Handbook through multi-year spinoff projects that focus on diverse topics to preserve all Texans’ history. The most recent additions include the Handbook of Texas Music (2003, 2012, 2015), Handbook of Civil War Texas (2011), Handbook of African American Texas (2013), Handbook of Tejano History (2016), Handbook of Houston (2017), and the Handbook of Texas Women (2020).