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April 5, 2012

Texas Historical Commission honors Star of the Republic

Museum receives Nau Award of Excellence for identifying Declaration signers’ descendants

From left: Star of the Republic Director Dr. Houston McGaugh, Texas Historical Commission History Programs Division Director Bratten Thomason, Carlson and Blinn College President Harold Nolte.

The Texas Historical Commission honored Dr. Shawn B. Carlson, curator of collections and exhibits at the Star of the Republic Museum, with the John L. Nau, III Award of Excellence Thursday in recognition of her efforts to identify the descendants of those who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Star of the Republic was recognized for its “Adopt a Signer” project in which Carlson organized an effort to research the lineage of the 59 delegates who signed Texas’ Declaration of Independence from Mexico in March 1836. Those descendants were then invited to be recognized at the 175th anniversary celebration of Texas’ independence on Feb. 26-27, 2011, at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site.

Carlson designed and organized the effort, enlisting the aid of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Sons of the Republic of Texas, the Burleson County Historical Commission and College Station’s Texas Research Ramblers, including volunteers from as far away as California. By the project’s end, volunteers had contributed more than 4,000 hours to researching Texas’ heritage.

Their efforts resulted in roughly 1,500 descendants attending the 175th anniversary celebration, representing the families from 50 of the Declaration’s 60 signers, including the 59 delegates and Secretary of the Convention Herbert Simms Kimble.

The results of the lineage research can be viewed at, and a form on the website allows additional descendants to submit their lineage with documentation.

“Dr. Carlson’s leadership at the Star of the Republic Museum and her ingenuity in the development of this research project brought this real story of Texas history to life in a very unique way,” said THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe. “Enlisting the aid of volunteers from across the state to participate in this exercise in Texas history demonstrates the commitment Texans share to preserve and promote the Lone Star State’s unique and exciting legacy.”

The Nau Award, named in honor of the former Texas Historical Commission chair, recognizes an individual or institution in the museum field for significant achievement in the areas of historical interpretation, museum education, conservation of collections and/or community involvement.

The Texas Historical Commission selects no more than one winner each year.

Star of the Republic Museum was created by the Texas Legislature and is administered by Blinn College as a cultural and educational institution. Its purpose is to collect and preserve the material culture of the Texas Republic from 1836-1846 and to interpret the history, cultures, diversity, and values of early Texans.