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Texas Beyond History
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About TBH

Texas Beyond History (TBH) is a public education service of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, and in partnership with the Department of Anthropology at Texas State University and 15 other organizations. Begun in 2001, its purpose is to interpret and share the results of archeological and historical research on the cultural heritage of Texas with the citizens of Texas and the world.

In this virtual museum you will find information on and images of many different aspects of the cultural legacy of Texas, a legacy spanning at least 13,500 years. Yes, people have been living within the borders of the modern political state of Texas for at least 13,500 years. In more concrete terms, that is over 540 human generations! For most of that immense time span, there is no recorded history, no books, and no eyewitness accounts. Instead all we have to tell the stories of much of the cultural heritage of Texas are mute stones, ancient campfires, broken bones, and delicate traces of once-flourishing societies. This is the "material evidence" upon which archeologists base most of our interpretations. The arrival of the first Spanish explorers in the region in 1528 ushered in the historic era in Texas and the creation of the written documents and drawings upon which historians depend.

Our collective cultural heritage is complex and fascinating, if sometimes painful to recount. The sixteenth-century arrival of the Spanish, for instance, also marks the beginning of over 300 years of often-brutal cultural conflict between Texas' native peoples—Indians or Native Americans—and the mainly European-derived immigrants who made the land their own. In a few short centuries the native population of Texas was decimated. Texas Beyond History covers not only the prehistory and history of Texas' true native peoples, but also much of the early history of the Spanish, French, Mexican, and Anglo explorers, missionaries, soldiers, miners, traders, and settlers who lived and often died in Texas. And later history, too—that of German farmers, Black freedmen, and Mexican-American laborers among many others.

What sets Texas Beyond History apart is that by focusing on the broad subject of Texas' cultural heritage, we overcome the traditional boundaries between the disciplines of archeology and history as well as the bureaucratic and political fences between institutions of higher education, state and federal agencies, museums, and private organizations. By working in partnership and collaboration with dozens and dozens of individuals, institutions, and organizations, our aim is to help tell the stories of the peoples who have settled the land we call Texas. To do that we reply on diverse experts as well as the documents and images that help put the stories of the past into meaningful context.

The other sections under About TBH and the Credits & Sources sections throughout the website acknowledge the many individuals and organizations that make this website possible.

The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory

The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL) of the University of Texas at Austin is a nationally recognized archeological research facility and the largest archeological repository in the state. We are an organized research unit under the College of Liberal Arts at UT-Austin. Our mission is to collect, preserve, and curate archeological specimens and records, train students, conduct archeological research, and disseminate information about Texas' archeological legacy.

The Texas Archeological Research Laboratory was created in 1961 to consolidate the University's archeological collections and provide stronger institutional support for continued research. As a repository, TARL safeguards the collections and records from literally thousands of archeological investigations conducted by UT-Austin and many other universities, state and federal agencies, and private firms across the state. Because we are not set up as a physical museum, Texas Beyond History now serves as TARL's virtual museum and provides ready access to information and images about Texas archeology. TARL staff members support the website in many ways from administration to collections and records. You can learn more about the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory by checking out our organizational website.

TBH Staff

Texas Beyond History is created and managed by Co-Editors Susan Dial and Steve Black. Both are major contributors to the writing and photography used on the website, and they also plan and develop exhibits from outside contributors.

Susan Dial is the TARL Editor and Director of Texas Beyond History. She holds an MA in anthropology from UT-Austin and BA in journalism and has worked as a professional archeologist, newspaper reporter and editor. A fifth generation Texan who grew up in San Antonio, Dial has a keen interest in telling many of the little-known stories about Texas' history and prehistory. Her role overlaps with that of Co-Editor Steve Black's in conceptualizing, writing, and developing web exhibits. Dial also serves as Education Editor, creating many of the Kids Only sections and supervising development of curricula with the TBH Educational Consultants.

Steve Black is the TxState Editor of Texas Beyond History. He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard and has worked for more than three decades as a professional archeologist in Texas, Mesoamerica, and the Southwest. He grew up in Austin and lived and worked in San Antonio and parts south for many years while working at the Center for Archaeological Research at UT San Antonio. He is also a writer and author of many technical studies as well as popular articles on a variety of subjects including archeology. He is the author (with Kevin Jolly) of Archaeology By Design (Altamira Press, 2003), a practical guide to the process of planning and carrying out successful archeological research projects. In 2008 Black joined the faculty at Texas State University where he teaches in the Anthropology Department, carries out research in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, and continues his work on TBH.

Heather Smith has served as TBH Web Developer since 2005 and also serves as a TBH Editorial Associate. Heather completed her M.A. in anthropology in 2010 and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in 2015. She is currently continuing her research on Clovis and other fluted points, Paleoindian behavior and technological adaptation. She holds a B.A. in Photocommunications from St. Edwards University, where she received web and graphical training. For TBH, Heather does exhibit development, artistic design, and web programming. She also has created several K-12 interactives and contributes to research and writing.

Since the website's inception, the TBH staff has been assisted by undergraduate and graduate students mainly from the Department of Anthropology at UT-Austin who have helped build Texas Beyond History while learning about the state's cultural history and developing useful skills. Most of the UT-Austin students who have begun as interns have continued as full-fledged editorial assistants, working part-time on the project. The editorial assistants have scanned and manipulated thousands of images, maps, and documents, carried out background research, created graphics, and helped with writing and editing. Heather Smith is one of the key former students who followed this route.

Major help in web development has also come from UT students working through the College of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services. Assistant Dean Joe Tenbarge is director.

painging of caddo man
A Caddo man in bird headdress as visualized by artist and archeologist Reeda Peel based on a description of Caddo men in state dress for a meeting with General Manuel Mier y Terán in 1828.
painting of Coahuiltecan scene
A Coahuiltecan Indian holds a rabbit felled by the wooden "rabbit stick" in his hand, while his son holds a net carrying bag. Artist Frank Weir draws on more than 30 years experience as a professional archeologist in Texas.
photo of collections cabinet
TARL collections. Important organic artifacts (fiber, wood, bone, and shell), stone tools, pottery, and metal artifacts, are curated in a secure, temperature -controlled facility at TARL. The artifacts are stored by site in state-of-the-art museum cabinets.
photo of Susan Dial
TARL Editor Susan Dial
photo of Steve Black
TxState Editor Steve Black
photo of Heather Smith
Web Developer Heather Smith

Education Advisors

We are fortunate to have had four talented educators who are passionate about Texas history and archeology serving as TBH Education Advisors.

Carol Schlenk brings to the website her considerable experience as a classroom teacher, curriculum specialist, and teacher trainer as well as her work as education coordinator for the Texas Council for the Humanities. In addition to developing first-rate K-12 curricula for teachers, Carol has created interactive games and learning activities for students and has worked as a curriculum specialist with the Texas Education Agency.

Laine Leibick has taught in Austin I.S.D. since 1976, serving as a classroom teacher in third and fourth grade and a science specialist for grades K - 5. She has worked with gifted students in language arts, science and social studies, conducted teacher in-services, and written curriculum used in a number of A.I.S.D. G/T programs.  She also works with archeologists at the L.C.R.A. to provide summer in-service for teachers interested in using archeology in their classrooms. In 2012, Laine's dedicated and innovative work was recognized with the HEB Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in teaching at a Texas elementary school, and in 2014, she received an Outstanding Teacher of the Humanities Award from Humanities Texas.

Mary Black was founding education editor for TBH. A former assistant professor in the UT-College of Education, Mary has also worked as an educational consultant, developing curricula blending archeology with social studies and science. She is also the author, with Bruce Jordan, of Early Texas Schools (2008, University of Texas Press). Mary contributed many of the TBH lesson plans including those developed in classes she taught at UT-Austin in the College of Education.

Amy Pokorney is the social studies facilitator for Leander ISD. She develops
curriculum and assessments and provides staff development for social studies
teachers throughout the district. Amy taught 6th , 7th and 8th grades for more than a decade and teaching remains her first love. In 2000, Amy served on the Education Ad Hoc Committee of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. She is currently a member of the executive board of the Texas Council for Social Studies.

Other Staff and Consultants

Artist Frank Weir, a retired archeologist with more than 30 years experience, creates many of the colorful interpretive scenes seen on the pages of TBH. Frank's artistic talents, coupled with his knowledge of native peoples and the archeological traces they left behind, are an unusual blend which translate into sensitive and compelling depictions of the past. Other evocative artwork has been contributed by artist and archeologist Reeda Peel of Sul Ross University, as well as Nola Davis of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

About half of the website's content is donated by individuals and organizations around the state and beyond—see Content Contributors. Three individuals who have voluntarily worked with TBH since its founding are Contributing Editor Steve Dial, Website Consultant Meg Kemp, and Reviewer and Contributor Ken Brown. Their expertise and efforts helped shape the success of TBH, and they continue to contribute their talents when called upon. An avocational historian, Steve planned and wrote most of the special exhibits on Texas' Frontier Forts and has consulted on numerous historic site exhibits. Meg Kemp was the pioneer Web Developer for TBH, and is responsible for the innovative design, structure, and many of the most popular exhibits and features of the website. Ken Brown is a TARL Research Fellow and specialist in paleoenvironmental analysis and the study of wooden artifacts. In addition to his expert review of numerous exhibits, he wrote the McFaddin Beach exhibit for TBH.

The late Dee Ann Story, Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin and former TARL Director, contributed both content and insightful critiques of TBH exhibits through the years. Her deep well of knowledge about Caddo culture and archeology, in particular, is a sorely missed resource. We are fortunate to have had all these stalwarts among our contributors.

Contacting Us

At Texas Beyond History we value what you have to say about our efforts—praise and criticism alike. And if you notice a mistake, large or small, let us know, and we'll do our best to fix it. Or perhaps you have a suggestion for how we might improve the website. While we do not have a general links page, we do provide links on the Credits & Sources pages throughout the website to non-commercial websites that have useful content directly related to any of the exhibits featured on TBH. If you are aware of such a website, please let us know.

Feel free to email the TBH staff at:

Susan Dial sdial@mail.utexas.edu

Steve Black sblack@txstate.edu

Carol Schlenk carol.schlenk@gmail.com

Or contact us by mail at:

The University of Texas at Austin
Texas Beyond History
Texas Archeological Research Laboratory
1 University Station R7500
Austin, TX 78712-0714

photo of Carol Schlenk
Carol Schlenk
photo of Carol Schlenk
Mary Black
photo of Carol Schlenk
Laine Leibick
photo of Carol Schlenk
Amy Pokorney
photo of Frank Wier
Artist Frank Weir
TBH reviewer and contributor Dee Ann Story . Photo by Anne Dibble.