In many respects, we are a culture that embraces forward momentum. From an early age, we are instructed to never look back. Or that if we must, only do so to assess mistakes, learn from them, and move on. And, in many respects, this can be a positive tenet to live by. After all, the past can be emotional quicksand. However, it’s human nature to look back—Lot’s wife being an infamous example of this irrepressible desire, take from that biblical story what you will—and few are immune to the power of nostalgia. Even the most dispassionate among us have sentimental keepsakes: a flattened mortarboard in the bottom of a box, a baby blanket that smells of a childhood closet, a treasured postcard from an old friend.
It’s no different when it comes to ideas. At Texas Monthly we have long mined a shoebox of well-worn topics, pulling them out for further examination, turning them over again and again (looking at you, Willie). This is because looking back informs our current thoughts, gives us the much-needed context and perspective to flesh out the news of the day. And this propensity to dust off old stories has followed us into the digital arena. We fully embrace the #tbt phenomenon on our various social media accounts. For a long while, senior editor John Spong kept a Tumblr of digitized artifacts (some ours, some not) meant to disabuse the general public of Texas stereotypes. And today we launch TM Trove, a Twitter account dedicated to promoting stories from our archives.
In 43 years, we’ve produced journalism we’re proud of. But just because a piece was published ten, fifteen, or 25 years ago doesn’t mean it won’t resonate as much today as it did the day it hit newsstands. You may have heard this thing about history; it tends to repeat itself. For every political misstep or sports triumph or social injustice, there is a mirror occurrence in our state’s past. And there’s a good chance we wrote about it.
Pointing to archives is not a new or novel idea, but it’s still a good one and something we’ve done occasionally over the years. It’s just that now we want to be a more official tour guide through our stacks. We’ll choose stories that feel relevant to the day’s news, commemorate anniversaries, or are just good yarns that deserve to be read again. Starting with this gem that we’ll place right here . . .