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Texas Monthly: Thirty Years

FEBRUARY 1—JULY 31, 2003

As Texas Monthly celebrates its 30th year of publication, TxState’s Southwestern Writers Collection joins in with an anniversary exhibit showcasing the Collection’s extensive Texas Monthly archives.

Production paste-up boards for the 1975 “Bum Steer Awards” illustrate how this award-winning magazine was painstakingly crafted by hand in the early days. Notated galley proofs for William Broyles, Jr.’s story on Barbara Jordan testify to the editorial department’s extensive fact-checking. A panorama of books from writers in the Collection speaks volumes of the magazine’s influence on Texas authors--and vice versa.

Also on display, a Texas cultural history primer for the past thirty years: all 361 TM covers, including the printer’s color-plate separations for the memorable July 1992 cover, “White Hot Mama,” featuring Governor Ann Richards.

Texas Monthly began in February 1973 as the dream of 26-year-old publisher Michael Levy, who believed that his state was ready for an upscale, literary-minded magazine similar to the great “city” magazines on the East Coast. Levy interviewed some 300 potential editors before choosing William Broyles, Jr., a 27 year-old Vietnam Veteran with little journalism experience.

Most observers believed that Levy’s experiment would fail. Instead, circulation rose steadily as TM quickly gained a reputation for its daring and editorial excellence. In 1974, after just one year of publication, Texas Monthly received a National Magazine Award-the industry equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize-for the “entire body of its work.” This was an unprecedented accomplishment for any new magazine. For the award to go to a regional publication far removed from either coast was even more shocking.

In the years ahead, Texas Monthly would continue to flourish, becoming one of the state’s dominant cultural institutions and an influential publication at the national level. In addition to William Broyles, Jr., TM's other editors have been Gregory Curtis (1981 - 2000), Evan Smith (2000 - 2009), and Jake Silverstein (2009 to present).

In 1994, Texas Monthly began donating its extensive archives to TxState's Southwestern Writers Collection. Comprising over 1,000 linear feet and housed in a special annex beneath the Alkek Library, the wealth of editorial, advertising, art, circulation, and production files provide a remarkable record of how this ground-breaking magazine has been produced over the years.

Click here for the guide to the Texas Monthly collection.