Since I started my work here in March 2015, I have been asked countless times: “What is the difference between the El Paso County Historical Society and the El Paso County Historical Commission? Is there a difference at all?”
Indeed there is. This post should clarify some of the confusion.
1.) We are different types of organizations.
The El Paso County Historical Society (EPCHS) was founded in 1954 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. As such, we receive no funding from the federal, state, or local government. Our funding is cultivated through memberships and donations.
The El Paso County Historical Commission (EPCHC), conversely, is a volunteer commission appointed by El Paso County Commissioner’s Court. They serve the Commissioner’s Court and the Texas Historical Commission. Their founding is based in Texas legal statutes.
2.) Our missions are different.
Per our mission statement, the El Paso County Historical Society (EPCHS), “shall…study the history of the city and county of El Paso and of the surrounding territory…conduct and foster research in the history of the area…acquire and preserve documents, papers, and other objects of historical interest and value pertaining to the area…make such material available for the information of the community…publish and encourage the publication of historical writing pertaining to this area…develop public consciousness of the rich heritage of our historical background…and engage in such activities which contribute to the restoration and maintenance of the Richard F. Burges house, home of the Society.”
Per the El Paso County Historical Commission’s (EPCHC) website, “The El Paso County Historical Commission has a statutory responsibility to initiate and conduct programs suggested by the County Commissioners Court and the Texas Historical Commission. Additionally, our CHC is charged with preserving our county’s heritage for the education, economy, and enjoyment of future generations.”
3.) Our daily activities are different.
The El Paso County Historical Society (EPCHS) is primarily a research organization. We possess an archive of over 20,000 photos, thousands of documents, hundreds of maps, hundreds of books, and some artifacts, nearly all of them pertaining to El Paso and the surrounding areas. We also publish Password, a scholarly journal released to our members once a quarter.
The El Paso County Historical Commission (EPCHC) focuses on gaining historical designations for various sites throughout El Paso County and should, “institute and carry out a continuing survey of the county to determine the existence of historic buildings and other historical and archeological (sic) sites, private archeological (sic) collections, important endangered properties, or other historical features within the county, and should report the data collected to the commissioners court and the Texas Historical Commission” (Tex. Local Government Code § 318.006).
Still confused? That’s ok. Just remember, you’re reading this post on the El Paso County Historical Society’s website, and we’re the research library that is also a non-profit.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (915) 533-3603.
Robert Diaz, Second Vice President