Organize A Chapter
The following steps are recommended in forming a Junior Historian chapter:
- Administrative Approval. The chapters function as educational adjuncts to the regular instructional program and should have administrative approval and support. Come with a plan and justification. Find out what level of financial support (transportation, admission fees and, supplies) you can expect. Discuss meeting times, time out of classes for research or meetings, and opportunities for students to contribute to the campus environment. The vast learning potential of the chapter experience is the program's greatest selling point.
- Select a Sponsor. The chapter sponsor is generally a teacher or instructor. Social studies, Texas history, and American history teachers comprise the majority of chapter sponsors; however, librarians, English teachers, special education, science teachers, social studies supervisors, and lay persons with the school administration's approval have developed some outstanding organizations. In fact, anyone who is willing to accept the responsibility may sponsor a chapter.
- Select a Cosponsor. The cosponsor may be either a teacher (some chapters have several cosponsors, all teachers) or a lay person interested in community history. The cosponsor is a key person in the chapter organization as he or she performs many support services--planning meetings, planning student projects, arranging field trips, contacting speakers and resource people, etc.
- Membership. There is no minimum number of students required to organize a Junior Historian chapter. Numbers and selection varies. In some schools chapter membership is a composite of both junior and senior high school students; in others it is limited to a single grade, a single class, or a combination of grades and/or classes. The organization and administration of the chapter is left to the discretion of the individual sponsor and should be structured to serve best each local situation.
- Organization. Organization creates the machinery for chapter activity, defines objectives, states how they will be achieved, identifies who will share the responsibilities, and cites terminal dates when the objectives will be completed.
The first chapter meeting, should initiate the organizational process and should be well planned in advance with a printed agenda duplicated for distribution to everyone present. Announcements on the school bulletin board, on the public address system, and in the school newspaper will help assure good attendance. The sponsor should preside at the first meeting, or until a temporary student chairman is selected. The election of permanent officers should be postponed until all members are thoroughly familiar with the purposes of the organization. This also allows time for the members to become better acquainted, as the informed nomination and election of officers is one key to chapter success. The number and type of student officers is left to the discretion of each chapter; however, only functional positions should be designated. Non-functional officers, existing in name only, tend to destroy chapter purpose.
- Constitution. Many chapters adopt a constitution which defines specific objectives and outlines general operational procedures of the organization. A sample constitution follows; however, this should be adapted to meet the needs and requirements of each local organization. At the first or second chapter meeting a constitutional committee (see Committees below) may be appointed to draft a document for chapter consideration and approval.
- Chapter Meetings. Well planned and regularly scheduled meetings are essential for chapter success. Nothing destroys student morale quicker than a pointless meeting, called for no particular purpose, where time is consumed with undirected chatter, and ends with nothing accomplished.
Time and location of all regular chapter meetings should be announced early in the school year and should be included on the first meeting agenda. A copy of the chapter's annual calendar in the hands of each chapter member helps minimize meeting absenteeism.
Meeting time, frequency, location, and the types of programs planned, vary from chapter to chapter. Some chapters hold weekly, semimonthly, and monthly meetings, and meet before or after school, at activity periods, during history class, at night, or on weekends. Meetings are held at schools, churches, community centers, on local college and university campuses (with Webb Society co-sponsorship), bank auditoriums, public libraries, courthouses, youth centers, or at the homes of chapter members, sponsors, and cosponsors. Some chapters hold all meetings at the same location while others rotate meeting sites.
- Committees. Committees (assuming they are functional) assure an equal sharing of chapter responsibilities, simplify the sponsor's administrative role, define specific duties, and increase the opportunities for individual leadership and responsibility among chapter members. Committees fall into two categories: 1) standing committees; and 2) special committees. Standing committees might include the program committee, the field trip committee, the museum committee, the publicity committee, etc. Special committees should be formed to develop chapter projects and activities (see Section I, Units 2 & 3) as these objectives are defined by the executive committee. The executive committee, composed of chapter officers and standing committee chairman, functions as the chapter's top policy making body. Of course, the number and types of committees will vary, according to chapter size and the number and variety of active projects.
- Chapter Dues. Some chapters assess either monthly or annual dues. This is a local matter as no dues are sent to the state office.
- Charter. Once a chapter has established a constitution and elected officers, it is now ready to request its charter. If a chapter has existed previously at that school or organization, the original charter number will be re-issued. The Texas State Historical Association prepares an official charter for each Junior Historian chapter. In order to keep the form and process as updated as possible, the charter request and renewal forms are available on the Association’s website.
- Texas Historian Magazine. There is a minimum requirement of five subscriptions per chapter to the Texas Historian, the official publication of the Junior Historians. This journal contains the writings of Texas’s outstanding student historians, a variety of contests for subscribers, and serves as a communication channel between the state office and members. Subscriptions to the Texas Historian are also important because these small fees help to fund the entire Junior Historian program. Many chapters have 100 percent membership subscriptions.
- Southwestern Historical Quarterly. The Quarterly should be available to both teachers and students in the school or college library. This publication, representing the outstanding Texas history scholarship, is usually ordered by the librarian as part of the general library budget.
- Annual Chapter Renewal. Each fall the chapter sponsor will receive a reminder with the first Roadrunner newsletter on how and when to renew the chapter’s affiliation. That year’s subscription to the Texas Historian can be taken care of then, though additional subscriptions to the Texas Historian can be made until November 1 or as long as supplies last.
- National History Club Membership. As a member of the Junior Historians of Texas, all chapters located on school campuses with members in grades 6-12 will have to option to register as a member of National History Club. As a member of National History Club the chapter will receive the National History Club newsletter and be eligible to participate in their student recognition programs. The sponsor will automatically receive additional materials directly from National History Club.
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