Brett J. Derbes, Ph.D.

Austin, TX


Brett J. Derbes was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, and grew up in Dallas-Fort Worth.  He began his undergraduate degree at Tarrant County College (TCC) and transferred to the University of North Texas (UNT), where he earned his B.A. and M.A. in History (2007, 2011).  He accepted an academic scholarship to Auburn University in Alabama, where he earned a Ph.D. in History (2018).  His research focuses on inmate labor at state penitentiaries in the Antebellum and Civil War South.

Dr. Derbes joined the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) as a member in 2008 and began working as a graduate student intern on the Handbook of Civil War Texas the following year.  He contributed thirty-six entries and helped fact-check other entries.  At Auburn University he was a graduate student assistant for the Encyclopedia of Alabama in 2012 and contributed twenty-three articles.  He also earned a certificate in Archival History and focused his research on Digital State Encyclopedia (DSE) projects.

His publications include chapters in Incarcerated Women: A History of Struggles, Oppression, and Resistance in American Prisons (2017), Reconsidering Southern Labor History: Race, Class, and Power (2018), as well as articles in the Journal of African American History, Louisiana History, and Alabama Review.

Dr. Derbes joined the TSHA Staff in June 2015 as Managing Editor of the Handbook of Texas.  In that role he manages all aspects of the Handbook and coordinates with project directors to continually expand and improve content. The role requires him to hire, train, and supervise interns, graduate students, and Handbook staff who work in the office and remotely. He participates in department and board meetings, as well as assigning, fact-checking, editing, revising, updating, and improving online entries focused on people, places, and events in Texas History. 

Dr. Derbes also teaches U.S. and Texas history courses online for Tyler Junior College as an adjunct professor.  He is married to Kimberly and they have a son, Alex.



Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)
3001 Lake Austin Blvd.
Ste. 3.116
Austin, TX 78703

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