The purpose of the Dallas Historical Society is to institute and encourage historical inquiry; to collect, preserve and exhibit the material of history; and to spread historical information, especially concerning the city and county of Dallas and North Texas.
The Dallas Historical Society was organized on March 31, 1922, by 101 prominent citizens who wished to encourage historical inquiry. In 1938, the Society assumed the management of the magnificent Hall of State at the request of the City of Dallas. The Hall of State is one of the finest examples of art deco architecture in the country and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a part of Fair Park. In 1986, the building was restored at a cost of approximately $1.5 million and the G.B. Dealey Library was opened. The Historical Society is the oldest historical organization in Dallas County that is committed to preserving the area's entire history. The Historical Society operates with a full and part time staff of ten and an annual operating budget of approximately $1,000,000.
Preservation and Exhibition:
The Historical Society preserves rare Dallas and Texas related three dimensional objects, including James Fannin's watch and Santa Anna's Texas Campaign medal. The G.B. Dealey library holds more than ten thousand bound volumes and three million historic documents, including Sam Houston's handwritten account of the battle of San Jacinto. All materials are stored in the Society's archives in the Hall of State and in a storage facility nearby.
The Society draws on its objects and exhibits to educate visitors about Texas history. More than 12,000 schoolchildren enjoy guided tours of the Hall of State each year. Tours include the remarkable murals depicting the history of Texas. The Society also has initiated a new series of tours of historical parts of Dallas aimed at adults. Outreach programs give students who are unable to visit the Hall of State the opportunity to experience educational programs on historical topics (such as Cowboys and Their Equipment) in their own classrooms. Teacher materials focus on a variety of curriculum related subjects. All materials are written in compliance with state mandated essential elements. Society members have enjoyed guest lecturers such as David McCullough, Stephen Ambrose and Shelby Foote. The Society has published several books, including Dallas Rediscovered: A Photographic Chronicle of Urban Expansion, 1870 - 1925 and publishes a newsletter for members.
The Dallas Historical Society publishes a semi annual magazine of Dallas history entitled Legacies for our members in conjunction with the Dallas County Heritage Society, the Old Red Museum and The Sixth Floor Museum. Our educational program is supported by The Meadows Foundation, with our Hispanic Heritage program being developed with the help of Southern Methodist University. The Historical Society provides office space to Texana Living History in exchange for educational services.
The Dallas Historical Society actively promotes the rental of the Hall of State for meetings, lectures, weddings, or other special events. The G.B. Dealey Library sells reproductions of historic photographs from the collections to publishers, business establishments and the public. The revenue from all these activities supports the Society's exhibits and educational programs.