Established in 2002, The Portal to Texas History (Portal), began with the mission to provide students and lifelong learners a digital gateway to primary source materials held in Texas libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, and private collections. One way in which the Digital Libraries Division has worked towards achieving this mission is through the Rescuing Texas History (RTH) grant program.
Originally called Rescuing Texas History through the Digitization of At-risk Photographs and Maps, RTH has enabled the Portal to be populated with a rich variety of unique materials for public access. This mini-grant program is open to institutions and individuals who own historic Texas-related materials. Grant winners, called partners, enjoy the benefits of having their materials digitized, described, and hosted on The Portal to Texas History. After digitization, the original materials are returned to partners along with digital copies for their own use.
The program began in 2006 with nineteen applications and 11 funded projects. It was originally funded with a $7,500 grant from the Summerlee Foundation of Dallas. The funds are spent on the wages of our imaging and metadata workers, costs of hosting the images, and mailing of materials.
So far, RTH has digitized over 37,000 items for 130 partners. Many partners have gone on to apply for and receive larger funding for bigger projects. One example is the Tocker Foundation Grant won by Texas Southern University to digitize speeches and scrapbooks from their Barbara Jordan Archive. Concordia University also received a Texas State Library and Archives TexTreasures grant to digitize over 600 of their university’s Texas Records. After providing access to their materials in the Portal, many partners have also received the benefit of increased reprint and licensing requests for their images to be used in books and documentaries .
Thanks to RTH, institutions such as the Dallas Police Department and the Dallas Municipal Archives have allowed access to collections relating to the John F. Kennedy Assassination and Bonnie and Clyde.
Today the Rescuing Texas History program is funded by the UNT Libraries. Current and future partners are encouraged to apply for $1000 grants to digitize newspapers, photographs, books, documents and other materials deemed valuable to Texas history.