The University of Texas Press, the publishing house of the University of Texas at Austin, has published books since 1950 that make lasting contributions to international scholarship and preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Texas. An integral part of Texas's largest university, the press reports to its vice president and dean of graduate studies. The press has published and distributed books, journals, and electronic publications in diverse fields to reach scholars and general readers with new information on and interpretations of important subjects. While one side of the press directly relates to Texas-its nature, history, folklore, and literature-its publishing programs also extend beyond the borders of the state, with significant works on regions as diverse as Latin America and the Middle East, and in fields ranging from natural science through anthropology to literature in translation.
Books bearing the imprint of the University of Texas Press had been printed by the university's printing division at the request of faculty authors since 1922, but the imprint carried no guarantee that any particular standards had been met until the press was organized as a coordinated program of publication and founded in 1950. Under Frank H. Wardlaw, who served as press director from 1950 to 1974, the press issued its first book in 1951, John and Jeannette Varner's translation of Garcilaso de la Vega's The Florida of the Inca, an acclaimed book still in print forty-four years later. Encouraged by historian Walter Prescott Webb, Wardlaw originally emphasized two principal subject areas-regional studies and Latin American studies. In the mid 1990s that interest and emphasis continues, with literature in translation forming an important component of the Latin American studies program. After Philip Jones succeeded Frank Wardlaw as director in 1975, UT Press established a journals division with three journals in its program. By 1995 it was publishing or distributing fourteen journals that make scholarly contributions to the humanities and social sciences. It is one of fewer than twenty American university presses with a journals department. Notable press journals include the Journal of Politics, Social Science Quarterly, Cinema Journal, and American Short Fiction, a finalist for the 1993 and 1995 National Magazine Awards for fiction. Most of the journals published by the press are related to its book acquisitions and to the academic areas in which the University of Texas is strong. In 1977 the University of Texas Press moved into its present premises next to the university's Printing Department to the east of the main campus in Austin.
Under the directorship of John H. Kyle (1977–91), the press established an endowed fellowship program in 1985, appointing its first fellow in 1986. The fellowship provides a University of Texas graduate interested in pursuing a career in publishing with one year of paid employment and training in editorial work, design and production, marketing, rights and permissions, journals, or business.
The early and mid 1990s have been years of rapid growth for the press, with strong acquisitions in conservation and the environment, anthropology, the visual arts (including cinema and media studies), and classics and the ancient world, and continued expansion in the press's traditionally strong areas such as Latin-American studies and Texana and the Southwest. In addition, the press began an innovative program of publication in electronic media, complementing its strong lists in fields where information is best transmitted aurally or through visual sequences. In 1995 the press was chosen to participate in a program, sponsored by the Association of American University Presses and the Coalition for Networked Information, to advance university presses in the networked information environment and to encourage cooperation between the university press, library, and computer center. The press also reprints older works and assists other academic and cultural organizations with publishing projects. In 1994 it published eighty-five new books and by 1995 had 900 titles in print. The press distributes books worldwide for museums and other academic and cultural organizations and is the instate sales representative for the university presses of Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech. Numerous distinguished series reflect the breadth of the press's publications programs: these include the Corrie Herring Hooks Series in natural history, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Imprint Series, the Mexican American Monograph Series, the Modern Middle East Series, the Texas Archaeology and Ethnohistory Series, the Texas Film and Media Studies Series, and the Texas Pan American Series in Latin American literature. In addition, series are published in cooperation with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, and the Institute of Latin American Studies, as well as several other associations and organizations.
To support its program, the University of Texas Press depends primarily on income from the sales of its books and journals. It also receives ongoing support from the University of Texas at Austin, in addition to publication subsidies from a variety of sources. Grantors have included the National Endowment for the Humanities; numerous foundations, including the Sid W. Richardson Foundation and the Getty Foundation; foreign agencies, such as the Spanish and French Ministries of Culture; other universities; and individual donors. In 1995 the University of Texas Press Advisory Council was established to support and promote the work of the press. The University of Texas Press is a member of national professional organizations, including the Association of American Publishers, Incorporated, the Association of American University Presses, and the American Booksellers Association, as well as regional trade organizations, such as the Texas Library Association and the Book Publishers of Texas. Since 1950 its books and journals have garnered national awards, gained broad readerships in many subject areas, and brought the press to the forefront of modern scholarly publishing.