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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

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Houston history conference held at UH


Former Houston Mayor Bill White was the keynote speaker at the luncheon and presented writer Betty Trapp Chapman with the organization’s History Hero Award. | Brianna Leigh Morrison/The Daily Cougar

To commemorate Houston’s 175th anniversary, the Houston History Association hosted its first annual history conference, “Milestones and Arrivals,” Saturday at the Hilton University of Houston.

The 7-hour conference was open to the public and featured former Houston Mayor Bill White as the keynote speaker during the event’s luncheon hour. White’s speech centered on the beginnings of the city and its founders, in particular the arrival of Jesse H Jones.

During the event’s luncheon, White also presented the organization’s History Hero Award to Betty Trapp Chapman, a local historian, former teacher, and author of several books that document Houston’s history over the past 25 years.

“My goal has always been to be an educator and to try to spread the spirit of Houston’s history everywhere we can,” Chapman said in her brief speech after recieving the award.

The event also featured lectures from some of Houston’s top researchers, educators and historians, including Rice University’s Stephen L. Klineberg, whose land survey research has tracked the city’s migratory and demographical changes for the past 29 years, UH professor of History and Business Joseph H. Pratt, and Bernadette Pruitt, a member of the History Department at Sam Houston State University and the first African-American woman to obtain a doctorate degree at UH.

The HHA was created in 2005 as an effort to educate the public about the city’s past and diversity as well as to preserve its history through collaborations with local historical, archival and preservation organizations.

William Kellar, who is on the HHA’s board of directors contributed in bringing the conference to the University of Houston. Kellar received his bachelors, master’s and doctoral degrees at UH and is a life member of the Alumni organization.

Involved with the University for more than 30 years, Kellar said it was important for the school to be distinguished and to take part of HHA’s first conference.

“I’m proud how the University is moving forward (with) its Tier One status and reconstruction. I wanted to highlight the University,” Kellar said.

The HHA will have its second conference on June 2 and will focus on the buildings and infrastructure of Houston.

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