AUSTIN — With the holiday gift-giving season upon us, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is once again urging Texans to give the gift of history.
Historic map reproductions from the archives of the Texas General Land Office are available for as little as $20. The colorful maps are rich with historic details such as old forts, Spanish missions, land grants and roads to colonies and settlements. Suitable for framing, they can be purchased securely online and delivered to your doorstep.
Best of all, proceeds from map sales go directly toward the preservation of other historic maps and documents that tell the tale of Texas. Donations made to Save Texas History are tax-deductible.
"This is a gift any proud Texan would love to get," Patterson said. "These maps are also something any proud Texan should love to give - when you buy a map from us, you're saving Texas history."
Patterson began the annual holiday season map sales push in 2004. That effort helped to nearly double the amount raised for the conservation fund - from $10,520 in December 2003, to $19,356 in December 2004. Map sales each year since have broken records, and every dollar earned is deposited into the conservation fund.
This means more maps and other historical documents will be preserved, digitized and made available online for historians worldwide to use with the click of a mouse.
"Of the 80,000 or so maps at the Land Office, many have suffered from repeated use and poor 19th century storage conditions," Patterson said. "The Land Office has done all we can to treat these Texas treasures with the respect they deserve, but for some, it may be too late."
The maps - with intricate details drawn by hand - are works of art. Among the most popular are early maps of the Republic of Texas dating to the early 1840s and Stephen F. Austin's 1837 map of Texas.
Purchasing a map replica is easy, and they make great gifts for home, office, or classroom. The collection can be viewed by logging on to www.savetexashistory.org.
Most maps are just $20. Maps over 48 inches in size are $40. Shipping is $8 per map. Each map is printed on demand, and orders processed before December 15th can be shipped in time for Christmas Eve delivery. Orders can be purchased online or called in directly to the Archives and Records Division of the GLO at 1-800-998-4GLO (4456). Maps may be purchased as late as December 22nd by walking into the General Land Office in Austin at 1700 N. Congress Ave.
The Save Texas History Program is a unique campaign that brings together private and government efforts to preserve the 35 million maps and documents at the Texas General Land Office. The maps, land grants, surveys and field notes - the very documents that trace the creation of modern-day Texas, include Stephen F. Austin's original Spanish field notes, and records bearing the signatures of Alamo defenders Jim Bowie, William Barret Travis, and Juan Seguin. Also at the Land Office is a document granting 1,280 acres to the heirs of Davy Crockett.
After items are conserved they are digitally preserved and made available to the public via the Internet. The Digital Preservation Project of the Save Texas History Program has been recognized by the Texas Historical Commission for its monumental effort to digitally preserve these historic treasures.
"It is our goal to scan and digitize all 35 million documents housed in our archives," Patterson said. "This is a weighty task, and when completed, will be unparalleled by any other historic preservation initiative in Texas. I am proud to lead this initiative and I hope all Texans will join this effort."
To search for maps, place orders, or make a monetary donation to the Save Texas History Program, visit www.savetexashistory.org or call the GLO toll-free at 1-800-998-4GLO.