2017 Save Texas History Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Michael D. Visconage and Dr. Thomas Hatfield
Want to know more about the Save Texas History Symposium? Check out these previews and biographies provided by the speakers who will be presenting this year.
Michael D. Visconage — The Centennial Commemoration of Texas and Texans in the Great War
5,171 Texans died in WWI and approximately 200,000 served in uniform. The Texas World War I Centennial Commemoration (TXWWICC) was established in 2015 to provide information, coordination, and assistance in planning Centennial Commemoration events.
Stakeholders include over 250 organizations around Texas; museums, schools, civic and veteran organizations, state agencies, businesses, historical sites, academic institutions, and the military.
A grassroots endeavor, Texans are encouraged to develop activities that best serve their community or organization. TXWWICC also provides a number of ready “off-the-shelf” ideas that are available for any organization, school, or group.
The Texas WWI Centennial is part of the United States World War I Centennial Commission effort, established by Act of Congress. The TXWWICC works in cooperation with the Texas Historical Commission, the State’s lead agency for the Centennial.
About Michael D. Visconage
Mike Visconage is a Director with the Texas WWI Centennial Commemoration Association where he has helped grow the WWI Centennial organization to over 250 stake-holder organizations around Texas, including museums, civic and veteran organizations, historical sites, academic institutions, state agencies, and military bases.
Visconage served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve, retiring as a Colonel. In addition to commanding various operational organization, he was the Historian for multi-national forces in Iraq in 2007–08. In 2003 he was a Field Historian and documented Marines during the initial invasion of Iraq — collecting key documents, taking photographs and conducting oral history interviews.
In private industry Visconage has held leadership positions in healthcare, franchising, and construction for over 20 years. He has authored over 30 articles and a book on Marine Corps aviation.
Dr. Thomas Hatfield — Some Effects of World War One in Texas
After the United States went to war in 1917, Texas mobilized and urbanized rapidly. The prosperity of the early years of the century was enhanced by the war, which stimulated agricultural and housing demand, both for military facilities, and for civilians.
Increased pressures for transportation accelerated highway developments. The need for expanded merchant shipping aided the construction of wooden ships. Texas became aviation conscious. In 1917, there was one airfield. By 1919, there were fifteen.
An estimated fifty percent of all U.S. ground troops trained at army posts in Texas, which increased in number from six to twenty-four. The war inspired social and cultural changes, notably the shifting of people from rural areas to cities, more African Americans migrating north, women taking jobs outside of their homes, and President Wilson persuading Congress that women’s suffrage was a war measure, all of which had consequences in Texas.
About Dr. Thomas Hatfield
Dr. Thomas M. Hatfield is director of the Military History Institute at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and Dean Emeritus of Continuing Education at UT Austin.
Hatfield is an internationally known military historian whose main professional interest is the improvement of public understanding about America’s military heritage with lectures, publications, and historical tours. In the Briscoe Center, he concentrates on increasing archival collections relevant to American military history by acquiring memorabilia, photographs, papers, and oral accounts as well as research and writing.
His writings include the acclaimed biography of James Earl Rudder — Rudder: From Leader to Legend and he is the co-author of On The Way: The Life and Times of Frank Denius. He is an authority on the water problem in Texas, and his studies of drought are often quoted in reports of government agencies.
A former member of the Texas Historical Commission, Tom Hatfield remains a Professional Advisor to the Commission with special responsibilities regarding the World War One Centennial Commemoration.
To help commemorate the centennial of American involvement in World War I, and the Texans who fought in the Great War, the Texas General Land Office Save Texas History program has released a brand-new, limited-edition, custom map — Texas and the Great War, sponsored by the Veterans Land Board.
This limited-edition, hand-numbered map, with a production run of only 500 prints, will be given to all registrants of the Save Texas History Symposium. The reverse features artwork reminiscent of a U.S. World War I propaganda poster encouraging Americans to get involved with the war (and also to register for the Save Texas History Symposium on Saturday, September 16 in Austin).
For more information and to register online for the 2017 Save Texas History Symposium, Texas and the Great War, please check out the Save Texas History website.
Attendees at the Save Texas History Symposium will receive a complimentary copy of Dwight R. Messimer’s Escape from Villingen, 1918 and Hugh S. Thompson’s Trench Knives and Mustard Gas — With the 42nd Rainbow Division in France courtesy of the Texas A&M University Press.
Special thanks to our generous sponsors:
The Portal to Texas History
Texas Department of Transportation
Texas Historical Commission
Austin History Center/ Waterloo Press
Texas Historical Foundation
Friends of the Governor’s Mansion
Central Texas Historical Association