Harlingen Happenings

By Mary Torres, Special to the Star

May is National Preservation Month also known as Historic Preservation Month. This month celebrates the nation’s heritage through historic places. The National Trust for Historic Preservation established a week in May as National Historic Preservation week in 1973. The events included film series, balls, home tours, special units in schools, symposiums, and much more.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “A Joint Congressional Resolution was introduced on February 15, 1973, by Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee to designate the week of May 6-12, 1973, as National Preservation Week. President Richard Nixon signed the resolution into law on May 5, 1973. In his proclamation, President Nixon commented “As the pace of change accelerates in the world around us, Americans more than ever need a lively awareness of our roots and origins in the past on which to base our sense of identity in the present and our directions for the future.”

Organizations across the country promote a variety of activities on the local, state, and national levels. Although the pandemic has affected the operation of many historical sites, including those in our area, you may still have the opportunity to tour those sites and help preserve the history in your backyard. Just be sure to check the status of the site before your visit.

You can also make it a point to learn about volunteer opportunities in your area such as becoming involved in rehabilitating a historic building or sort archived material. If you’re interested in applying for a State of Texas Historical Marker for your property, the Texas Historical Commission’s website, www.thc.org has information on the process and the different types of markers. The deadline for applying this year is May 15.

Do you have historical documents or photos that may contribute to your community’s history? Check your attic, basement, garage, or other storage areas and consider donating them to your local library, museum, or historical society. Visit local museums such as the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum, 2425 Boxwood St. to learn the history of your community. Get excited about the history around you and celebrate the places, stories, and people behind them, even those not yet discovered.

On the topic of preservation, What plans have you made for preserving your years of genealogy research? What will happen to your research once you die? All genealogists should be concerned about leaving a legacy through their years of research. It always saddens me to see old photos and other memorabilia for sale in antique stores and garage sales.

This is another one of those “I don’t want to deal with it” projects that continuously gets pushed off to tomorrow. The truth is: life is tenuous and death can be unexpected. Will your family simply throw away all your research, records, and more? Have you written a will and will your family follow those directives? In his blog, www.genealogybargains.com, Thomas MacEntee is offering free access to his e-book, After You’re Gone: Future Proofing Your Genealogy Research. Also on this site by clicking on “The Archive Lady” tab, you will find a post by Melissa Barker who shares her step-by-step method for preserving family scrapbooks. Better still, subscribe to this site to get all the latest genealogy news and bargains.

The Harlingen Public Library is offering “Spanish for Beginners” via Zoom every Wednesday at 6 p.m. starting on May 5. You will enjoy step-by-step lessons as you learn different sentences and new vocabulary words. For login information visit the library’s Facebook page or for more information email the library at reference@harlingenlibrary.com.

The Valley Byliners, a nonprofit writer’s organization that provides support to writers in the Rio Grande Valley and the Harlingen Public Library invite you to participate via  Zoom in their general meeting and writing competition on Saturday, May 8 at 1:30 p.m.  The Byliners are waiving membership fees until they can meet face-to-face and you’re invited to join the group. For more information visit the Byliners Facebook page.