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Texas Czech Heritage: Culturally, Educationally, & Genealogically Fostered in Temple

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If your lineage is from the Texas Hill Country, then there’s a good possibility you’ll want to make the journey up I-35 to Temple, Texas, to tour and discover all that makes up the Czech Heritage Museum & Genealogy Center. Not only will you discover parts of what may be your family’s heritage, or your neighbors (explaining the wonderful smells that waft from their kitchen window each night), but you’ll also get to enjoy the amazing repository of unique and amazing items on display which have been donated over the years to this monument to Texan Czech heritage.

Texas Czech Heritage: Culturally, Educationally, & Genealogically Fostered in Temple

Photo: Facebook/Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center

Dedicated to fostering Czech cultural, educational, and genealogical opportunities, the museum houses artifacts and develops heritage programs under three categories:

  1. The history and rich culture of the Czech lands from 500 c.e. to present;
  2. The story of Czech immigrants in Texas from 1850 to the early 1900s;
  3. The story of Czech-Americans connecting with their identities and families during the Cold War and in today’s Czech Republic.

Located on the cusp of the central business district and the historic residence district of Temple, the Czech Heritage Museum & Genealogy Center sits in a mosaic-tiled 1931 storefront on one of the main arteries through town. Although it was established in 2000, the collection itself has been accumulated since 1963 under the name of the SPJST (Slovanská Podporující Jednota Statu ) Library, Archives and Museum – a fraternal organization in Texas, started by Czech immigrants in the 1800s. When a call for donations went out in the organization’s weekly newspaper, almost immediately it was inundated with items from Czech families around the state who were willing to help establish the collection. Over the years, these items were curated by volunteers, and in 2001, the museum opened in its current location, which is next door to the main offices of the SPJST.

Texas Czech Heritage: Culturally, Educationally, & Genealogically Fostered in Temple

Photo: Facebook/Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center

Recent exhibits that have been displayed at the museum include the American premiere of the traveling Josef Lada Exhibit, featuring a history and background of the world famous Czech writer and illustrator, best known for illustrating Jaroslav Hašek’s World War I novel, “The Good Soldier Švejk,” as well as writing and illustrating his own series of adventures entitled “Mikeš,” about a little black cat that could talk. But of particular interest to many visitors are the numerous donations of family objects, as well as the genealogy component, which figures prominently in the center’s work. One such recent example is the Bell County Schools Photo ID Project, which was hosted at the center. Organized by Richard Lesikar of Granbury, its intent was to identify individuals that were pictured in old school photos from a number of Bell County communities; a genealogy example that encouraged today’s youth to participate and learn community and family ties.

Texas Czech Heritage: Culturally, Educationally, & Genealogically Fostered in Temple

Photo: Facebook/Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center

With a number of Czech communities in and throughout Texas as well as the Texas Hill Country, the Czech Heritage Museum & Genealogy Center of Temple is a treasure trove of rich background, family histories, lifestyle, and lineage details that many a Texan can appreciate. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the museum and center invite families, schools, and the community at large to visit, learn, and participate in their heritage programs. Visit their website for more details, and enjoy a day in Temple, Texas!