Stephen F. Austin State University

Archives & Museums

The Public History program has had numberous opportunities to work with area archives and museums on projects such as exhibit development, collections processing, facility management plans, and other activities. This secion will present each class's project(s) as they pertaining to respective partner institutions. HIS535 Introduction to Public History often includes archival and museum projects. Our HIS570 Collections Management course (Introduction to the broad fields of museum and archival work from the history of both areas to issues of theory and practice, to the development, care and use of collections. Staffing and management concerns, educational and exhibition development, and the social, economic, and political trends that shape collections.) always includes hands-on projects with local archives and museums. HIS583 Practicum in Public History provides students with the opportunity to have a semester-long internship at an archive or museum of their choice.

Bell County Museum

In Summer 2012 Krystal Hawk took advantage of the opportunity to complete an internship at the Bell County Museum. Enrolled in HIS583 - Practicum in Public History, Ms. Hawk assited in moving collections, accessioning items, and developing a new exhibit.
HIS583 Summer 2012 - Hawk

Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Home 125th Anniversary Exhibit

Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018. As part of this important year, students in Dr. Perky Beisel's Introduction to Public History in Fall 2018, in cooperation with the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston, the Stone Fort Museum at SFASU, and the East Texas Research Center at SFASU, researched, designed, and installed a two-room, 100+object exhibit about the history of the funerary industry in the USA and Cason Monk-Metcalf. This was an exciting opportunity to conduct artifact condition assessments, complete loan documentation to borrow items, and package materials for transportation from the NMFH, the Stone Fort, and the ETRC as well as items loaned by private individuals and Cason Monk. The exhibit opened on Saturday, October 20, however the night before Cason Monk held a gala and auction for which the HIS535 students made bidding paddles and worked the silent and live auctions. All told, the event netted $2,500 which was then donated to the historic Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches to support its preservation and interpretation projects. Attendees at the gala and auction had a preview the opportunity of the exhibit. We had over 100 attendees at the gala and an additional 75 people visited Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Home in the following two weeks to tour the 125th anniversary exhibit. The students and Dr. Beisel then dismantled the exhibit, repacked all borrowed materials and oversaw their return, and restored the exhibit space back to its usual purpose - visitation rooms. Below you will find a series of photographs highlighting the exhibit's creation and our students' great work. Congratulations to Emily Smith, Mary Tucker, Wil Carter, and Amanda Saylor. Special thanks to Constance Engelking & her staff at Cason Monk, Carolyn Spears of the Stone Fort, Linda Reynolds of the ETRC, and Genevieve Keeney at the NMFH. The project began with meetings between Dr. Beisel and Ms. Engelking in January 2018 and continued through the exhibit's final takedown in November 2018.

Read more about this project: Dr. Beisel and Constance Engelking speak in Donna McCollum for KTRE, Feb. 5, 2018; Kristen Dutton for KTRE, July 31, 2018; and our students featured in this post: Donna McCollum for KTRE, Oct. 18, 2018.

Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Home

Drennen-Scott House

The Drennen-Scott House is located in Van Buren, Arkansas and has been managed by the Historical Interpretation (B.A.) program of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith since 2004. The antebellum Greek Revival home was listed on the National Register in 1971 and is a living classroom and tourism site today.

Durst-Taylor House Museum

The Durst-Taylor House and Gardens is one of five historic sites owned, maintained, and interpreted by the City of Nacogdoches Historic Sites Department. The second oldest structure in its original location in Nacogdoches, it was a farmstead located north of town in the eighteenth century. Today it seems to be part of downtown due to two centuries of urban growth, but with its gardens, blacksmith shop, sugar cane press, and chicken coop, it remains a place to interpret the agricultural history of early Nacogdoches.

E. J. Campbell School Museum/Historic Site

June 13, 2016 - Exhibit Opening at the E. J. Campbell School, 449 South Shawnee Street - 6:00 p.m. NACOGDOCHES, Texas - An exhibition highlighting the history of African-American leaders in Nacogdoches is the final product for students in a history graduate course within Stephen F. Austin State University's College of Liberal and Applied Arts. "I taught a graduate-level history course at SFA this spring, and my students and I developed, designed and produced an exhibition titled, 'Leaders of Courage: Educating, Mobilizing and Preserving the African American Community of Nacogdoches,'" said Dr. Paul Sandul, Associate Professor in the SFA Department of History. "The title comes from a quote by local civil rights activist Arthur Weaver." The exhibition will be on display from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, June 14 through July 8, in the E.J. Campbell School, 499 South Shawnee St. An opening is schedule for the evening of June 13. "The focus of the exhibition is to highlight such Nacogdoches heroes and leaders as E.J. Campbell, Arthur Weaver and Birdie Wade and the good work they did toward sustaining the community, especially as they faced the difficulties of racism and violence in a Jim Crow Nacogdoches," Sandul said. "The exhibition highlights this last reality, while underscoring the courage and leadership of these three individuals-for the betterment of the African-American community and, really, for all of us calling Nacogdoches our home today." Students within Sandul's History 570 Collections Management course spent the entirety of the spring 2016 semester digging through East Texas Research Center archives to create 10 text-based, 40-by-32-inch poster boards. The Leaders of Courage posters will be filled with historical information, dozens of historical photographs, maps and an in-depth timeline. "This graduate course and project introduced students to the essential knowledge, skills and abilities required to conduct the management of archival and museum collections with a specific focus on serving and reaching a public audience," said Sandul. "In fact, each of these students aspires for a public history career in one of these fields and is the very reason each has enrolled at SFA. "While the students read essays, extended monographs and technical briefs to familiarize themselves with the processes and practices of archival and museum collections, they had a heavy 'hands-on' emphasis to provide them with real-world experiences. Functioning as a member of a team, the students thus created an exhibition highlighting collections at the local East Texas Research Center archive. The Leaders of Courage exhibition is the product of that hands-on experience," Sandul said. QR codes, or bar codes with the capability to be scanned by smartphones, also were developed by students for the exhibition. When scanned, the codes link to Internet sites with recorded oral histories and other additional historical information pertinent to the Leaders of Courage project. For more information, email Sandul at

Dr. Sandul and the graduate students (Annabella Gutierrez, Kurt Terry, Chris Cotton, Jennifer Kellum, Katie Hutto, Allison Grimes, and Hayley Hasik) discuss the project at the opening reception on June 13, 2016.

East Texas Research Center

The East Texas Research Center is a state-designated regional repository and as its purpose is to collect, preserve, maintain and make available archival materials that support the educational and research goals of Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) and the surrounding East Texas community. The director, Linda Reynolds, is a Certified Archivist and has been approved by the SFASU Graduate Council to serve on theses committees.

Heritage Center of Cherokee County

The Heritage Center of Cherokee County is located in beautiful downtown Rusk, Texas. The organization collects, preserves, and interprets the history of Cherokee County from the early American Indians through the present. Its exhibits include a variety of artifacts, archival materials, and interpretive panels. The museum is open 10-5 on Saturdays and 1-5 on Sundays. Next door it has the restored Bonner Bank building, a registered Texas Historic Landmark that housed Cherokee County's first bank from 1884-1887.

Houston County Visitors Center and Museum

Located in Crockett, Texas in a former railroad depot. The HCVCM is staffed by volunteers and open upon request. Its address is 303 S 1st St, Crockett, TX 75835 and its phone number is 936-544-9520. Here is the HCVCM, Inc.'s listing on MuseumsUSA.

Houston County Visitors Center and Museum (Fall 2006)

Millard's Crossing Historic Village, Inc.

Millard's Crossing Historic Village, Inc.was begun by Lera Millard Thomas in the 1970s as a way to save threatended structures in Nacogdoches and the surrounding areas and as a place to display her extensive collection of antiques. A native of Nacogdoches, Mrs. Thomas had returned to home after she served as the first woman representing Texas in the U.S. House (1966-1968). Her husband, Albert L. Thomas, was a lawyer who had represented the 8th District of Texas (Houston) from 1936 until his death in 1966. Over the years the collection became a museum and after her death in 1993 the museum continued with the support of the Brown Foundation until 2005 when a group of local supporters established a 501(c)3 to own and operate the site. Today the museum welcomes approximately 9,000 tourists a year, 3,000 of whom receive personal tours and interactive activities. It is located at 6020 North Street and its phone number is 936-564-6631. It is open seven days a week and has several buildings available for private events.

Millard-Lee House at Millard's Crossing Historic Village (Spring 2007)
HIS535 Spring 2011
Millard's Crossing Archival Collection (2010-2015)

Newton County Historical Commission Museum

The Newton County Historical Commission Museum is located in Newton, Texas.

NIBCO Nacogdoches

NIBCO is a national manufacturer of valves, fittings, and flow control products whose headquarters are in Indiana where it was founded in 1904. In 1942 the company opened its first foundry out-of-state in Nacogdoches, Texas where it had access to skill labor in proximity to the wartime production of Liberty ships and submarines who needed brass fittings. Since then the company has grown to incorporate numerous sites in the United States as well as in Poland and Mexico. Sherri Howard of NIBCO Nacogdoches contacted Carolyn Spears of the Stone Fort Museum, SFASU, who made contact with Perky Beisel in the summer of 2017. After our initial discussions about what NIBCO was looking for in a 75th Anniversary exhibition, we decided this would be a wonderful project for students in the Fall 2017 Collections Management course. Although we had only two students that semester, Amanda Saylor and Laura Turner, they did a wonderful job sifting through hundreds of photographs, dozens of publicity posters and advertising memorabilia, and a large quantity of valves! They decided to divide the project into three sections - people, plant, and products and linked each section with one of NIBCO's corporate themes. The Stone Fort Museum provided display cases which Turner and Saylor arranged in a room painted to their specifications. NIBCO covered all of the mounting and printing costs as well as incidental supplies. The result was eight weeks of hard work, lots of contemplation and re-organization, and finally, on a beautiful fall day, a ribbon-cutting opening on November 18th attended by over 100 people from the public as well as the company. This is the epitome of public history education: historians in training working with the public to design and implement a project at the request of the public yet placed within the relevant historic context in a way to educate visitors and instill a sense of community and a passion for preserving this important piece of Nacogdoches's 20th century history. Click here to read a press release from SFASU.
NIBCO Nacogdoches Photographs

Sam Rayburn House Museum

The Sam Rayburn House Museum in Bonham, Texas is operated by the Texas Historical Commission. Each year the THC offers a paid internship for students to work with the site's collections.

Stone Fort Museum

The Stone Fort Museum is located on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University. The Stone Fort is a 1936 replica of the Antonio Gil Y'Barbo's 1788-1791 structure which once stood on the edge of the Nacogdoches Square as a gateway to the city along the El Camino Real. Fortunately we have been able to partner with the museum several times to have students complete mini-internships working on collections mangement issues in HIS308 Intro to Public History (undergraduate), HIS535 Intro to Public History (graduate level) and HIS570 Collections Management as well as individual semester-long projects.

HIS308 Spring 2017 - Crime and Punishment Exhibit for Stone Fort Museum
Wet Textile Cleaning 11-13-15
Special thanks to Carolyn Spears, Curator of the Stone Fort Museum, for giving us a demonstration of wet textile cleaning. Video 1
Power Tools for Public Historians 11-13-15
Gary Parker, exhibit designer, installer, and fabricator extraordinaire gave us a thorough introduction to power tools for small museums. We proudly helped lift the wire panels to the top of the Stone Fort's new grape arbor! Video 1 Video 2

Texas Forestry Museum

The Texas Forestry Museum located in Lufkin, Texas has been a strong supporter of our program. Established as early as 1957 when the Texas Forestry Association began to collect foretry industry related materials, it is now the largest museum of its kind in the United States. Fortunately we have been able to partner with the museum several times to have students complete mini-internships working on collections mangement issues in HIS535 Introduction to Public History and HIS570 Collections Management as well as individual semester-long projects.

William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum

In February 2017 we had a multiday visit from Van Zbinden, an archivist at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. Zbinden has been at the archive for several years. Prior to that he worked for the Arkansas SHPO and the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover, AR. He earned his MA from Middle Tennessee State University. The students are still talking about the great discussions and what they learned.

In Summer 2017 Shelby Winthrop completed an internship (HIS583 - Practicum in Public History) at the WJC Presidential Library and Museum. As part of her internship she shadowed staff members in several areas of the archival section and worked on several steps of processing collections.