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Introduction

 

The New Handbook of Texas is a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture. It comprises more than 25,000 articles on people, places, events, historical themes, institutions, and a host of other topic categories. The scope is broad and inclusive, designed to provide readers with concise, authoritative, and accessible articles that provide factual, nonpartisan accounts on virtually every aspect of Texas history and culture.

A natural question in making such an encyclopedia is Where to start? What subjects to include and who to write them? The starting point for the editors of the New Handbook was clear. The two-volume Handbook of Texas, published in 1952, and the Supplement published in 1976 provided a wealth of information and a solid conceptual base from which to develop this new edition. Consequently, almost every topic that received an entry in those three volumes has been retained in the New Handbook. The primary exception to that rule involves subjects which, upon further examination, proved not to have an adequate connection with Texas history. In many cases, particularly with biographical subjects, it was possible to reprint the original entry with only minor changes and to include new bibliographical material. For some articles, significant corrections and revisions were needed. And in other instances it was necessary to prepare completely new entries in order to represent the current state of historical knowledge. To the Handbook base of approximately 16,000 articles the editors have added more than 9,000 entries that dramatically expand both the scope of topical coverage and the level of detail. All in all, the New Handbook includes an almost fourfold increase in material.

Its articles represent the efforts of more than 3,000 authors from many walks of life. They include professional scholars, amateur historians and genealogists, college and university students, and numerous other individuals with special knowledge and a willingness to write about it. Given the diverse nature of our authorship and the special enthusiasm they have brought to the New Handbook, the editors have made special efforts to give credit where credit is due. Most entries carry a byline designating their author or authors. The primary exceptions are unsigned entries from the original Handbook for which authorship could not be determined and the large number of staff-written entries on minor geographic features, where bylines were omitted in order to conserve space. Reprinted entries from the original Handbook bear the names of the original authors where they were known; in the event of substantial corrections or revisions the name of the reviser is also generally given.