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The History of County Historical Commissions 

In 1956, the Texas Legislature mandated that each county commissioners court appoint a historical survey committee. The county historical survey committees were to be affiliated with the Texas State Historical Survey Committee. The name changed to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) in the 1970s. According to the Texas Local Government Code, a county commissioners court “may appoint a county historical commission for the purpose of initiating and conducting programs suggested by the commissioners court and the Texas Historical Commission for the preservation of the historical heritage of the county.”

By statue, county historical commissions are required to maintain a continuing survey of the county historical sites, structures and memorabilia. With approval and financial support from the county judges and commissioners, they may operate museums, publish county histories, prepare grant applications, designate special areas of historic interest, and promote area historic sites for tourist and residents alike.

What are County Historical Commissions? 

The Texas Legislature authorized counties to establish County Historical Commissions (CHC) to assist county commissioners courts and the Texas Historical Commission in the preservation of our historic and cultural resources--this is the mission of each CHC.

The responsibilities of a CHC are set forth in the Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 318. The statute is fairly broad, leaving latitude for CHCs to organize and undertake activities appropriate to their county’s size and resources.

These statutory assignments make CHCs primary points of contact for individuals who need more information about particular aspects of history and historic sites in Texas. Not every county has a CHC and activity levels of CHCs vary from county to county; however, Bastrop County has had an active historical commission for many years and continues to be active under the current direction of Judge Paul Pape.

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