The Handbook of Texas Medicine
By Brett Derbes Texas Medicine January 2021


Texans lay claim to a dynamic medical history. 

The state has borne witness to deadly disease outbreaks, the establishment of world-renowned medical institutions, and the discovery of therapeutics and cures. Today, the health care industry represents a significant share of the Texas economy, contributing more than $108 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Yet, despite the fundamental role medicine has played in shaping the growth and development of the state, a comprehensive and authoritative medical history of Texas remains unfulfilled.

With the development of the Handbook of Texas Medicine, the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) proudly presents a unique opportunity to address this disparity.

The genesis of this initiative began in the early 1990s with an initial effort by TSHA to increase the number of entries pertaining to the history of medicine in the larger Handbook of Texas. Of the more than 27,000 entries currently included in the larger Handbook of Texas, approximately 652 focus on topics related to the history of medicine in the state. Existing Handbook entries include notable biographies, overviews of prominent health care facilities, and details of epidemics within Texas communities.

As a TSHA special project, the Handbook of Texas Medicine will add 400 new entries featuring a broad array of topics, as well as revise several hundred existing entries. New Handbook entries will promote a greater understanding of the past while providing valuable context for present-day issues and crises. Upon completion, the Handbook of Texas Medicine will become the first state-based online medical encyclopedia in the U.S.

TSHA is honored to collaborate in this endeavor with two venerable institutions: the Texas Medical Association and The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). 

In September 2019, TSHA Board Member Carlos Hamilton, MD, approached the TMA History of Medicine Committee and J. Marvin Smith III, MD, who strongly supported the goals of the project. On Jan. 24, 2020, the TMA Board of Trustees voted unanimously to support the Handbook of Texas Medicine project. By merging research from the hard sciences and humanities, this project will help educate and inspire students to pursue careers in the medical field. 

The Handbook of Texas Medicine is led by TSHA Chief Historian Walter L. Buenger, PhD, of The University of Texas at Austin, and medical historian Heather Wooten, PhD, a member of the UTMB faculty. They are joined by an Executive Advisory Committee of physicians, professors, scholars, librarians, archivists, and authors, who assist with various aspects of the project.

We are excited to announce that the editors of Texas Medicine will feature Handbook of Texas Medicine entries in the coming months for readers to learn more about the unique history of medicine in Texas. For more information on the Handbook of Texas Medicine project visit

Tex Med. 2020;117(1):9
January 2021 Texas Medicine Contents
Texas Medicine  Main Page 

Last Updated On

July 22, 2021

Originally Published On

January 05, 2021

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