The Junior Historians of Texas is an extracurricular program for 4th through 12th grade students. Junior Historians was founded in 1939 by Walter Prescott Webb, the respected Texas historian who wanted students to get involved in the actual “doing of history”.
Junior Historian chapters usually form through organized clubs functioning within the established school instructional program; however, students without a chapter can also participate as a member-at-large. Guided by a school-approved sponsor, students participate in chapter activities that enable them to discover and research history, both in the classroom and in the community. While encouraging the exploration and documentation of state and community history, the Junior Historian program creates opportunities for students to learn research, critical inquiry, analytical reading, writing, critical thinking, and debate skills.
One of the major objectives of the program is to encourage chapter members to research a topic on state or local history and to record their findings in a research project. Cross-curricular applications arise in the varied options for project presentation. Students may choose a project category according to their abilities and interests: individual historical paper, individual or group exhibit, individual or group performance, individual or group web site, or individual or group documentary. Topics may vary from major events such as the 1900 Galveston storm, to personal stories such as that of one student’s grandmother who immigrated to Texas from Germany. While learning about history in a personal venue, these experiences also enable students to develop skills of formal writing, public speaking and presentation, media visual design, and public performance, among others.
The Junior Historian Annual Meeting and History Fair marks the high point of the year’s activities, as chapter members, along with their sponsors and cosponsors, assemble to share ideas, problems, achievements, and the results of the year’s activities. In addition to possibly receiving awards at the end of the meeting, their work may be published in the Junior Historians’ journal, the Texas Historian, one of the few historical journals in the nation dedicated to publishing secondary students’ work. The Texas Historian is published in October. See the Texas Historian Archive for access to all back issues and purchase of available hard copies.
The Annual Meeting and History Fair is usually held in late March or early April. Previous meeting locations have included San Antonio, Arlington, Houston, Galveston, Abilene, Mesquite, and Austin.