CHCs & Cemetery Preservation Study Project

Background Jeffrey Blair, Wharton CHC, cleans a gravestone

County Historical Commissions (CHCs) provide an annual report of activities to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) to fulfill statutory reporting responsibilities. In recent years, these annual reports have identified an increasing number of CHCs actively involved in cemetery preservation.

While the information gathered from the annual reports is helpful, it is limited in scope. The THC’s Cemetery Preservation Program has initiated a study project to better understand the full range of our CHCs’ cemetery-related activities and to identify the ways THC can best support CHCs in their efforts. Contractor Steph McDougal, proprietor of McDoux Preservation LLC, is leading the project from August 2018 to February 2019.

What Can CHCs Expect?

We believe every CHC has something valuable to contribute, no matter where they are on the path to cemetery preservation. Our goal for this study is to collect information that will help THC plan for the types of programming that can improve the capacity of CHCs already working in cemetery preservation, as well as those not currently involved in that kind of work. Therefore, we need input from every CHC!

McDoux Preservation will analyze THC’s existing data and identify a select group of CHCs to participate in short telephone interviews about their cemetery preservation projects. Using this information, we’ll construct a comprehensive survey that we’ll distribute to every CHC for response. Participation is highly encouraged—we’ll plan future workshops, publications and other assistance based on what we learn about what and where the need is.

CHC chairs can expect regular communication about this project from our contractor Steph McDougal and THC staff throughout the fall. We’ll be encouraging participation in the survey phase and providing updates about our findings. Each CHC should identify one appointee who is most knowledgeable about the CHC’s cemetery preservation efforts to respond to the survey this fall (more instruction regarding this coming soon). Regular updates will be posted to this webpage, too, so bookmark this page and check back often.

Project Updates & News

February 2019 Update - A hearty thank-you goes out to the 126 counties that completed our survey! We've seen a preview of the final results and are eager to dive in and begin planning for resources that will help our CHC partners do all they can to protect and preserve Texas' irreplaceable historic cemeteries. Once we receive the final report, we'll being sharing relevant results with CHCs over the CHC listserv and other THC communication outlets. Stay tuned!

November UpdateThe telephone interviews are complete. Thank you to everyone who took time to talk with us. We're now soliciting information from all CHCs through an online survey. A link to the survey was sent to the CHC chair of each county on November 14, along with instructions for how to participate. Survey responses are due by December 21. The survey should be completed by the person most knowledgable about the cemetery preservation efforts in the county and will take about 15-20 minutes to complete. We'll post periodic updates to this website to let you know which counties have completed the survey. 

September Update - Project consultant Steph McDougal is currently scheduling and conducting telephone interviews with CHCs; this activity will continue through mid-October. Interviews typically take about 20 minutes and can be scheduled at your convenience. She specifically would like to talk to your county’s cemetery chair, if you have one, or the CHC chairperson. To make sure she has the correct contact person for your county, or if you want to know how to participate, contact Steph.

August Update - McDoux Preservation completed the preliminary analysis of cemetery-related data from three years’ worth of CHC annual reports. Now we’re developing lines of inquiry for the next research phase—in-depth phone interviews with a select number of CHCs. McDoux will conduct telephone interviews with about 50 CHCs during the month of September.