GALVESTON — Former state Sen. A.R. “Babe” Schwartz has donated his collection of papers and materials on the coastal public trust doctrine to Texas A&M University at Galveston.
The legislative papers, books and other materials are related to the doctrine that the beaches and waterways are publicly owned.
At a ceremony dedicating the collection Friday, university officials said they hoped to expand the collection.
“We want to make this collection the collection for public trust,” said David Baca, director of the university’s Jack K. Williams Library.
Schwartz, who was an architect of legislation guaranteeing the public access to the beaches, said that politicians today constantly refer to ownership of private property as something sacred.
“The single greatest property rights is the right of the public to its own property,” he said.
Schwartz said its vital to hold public property, including the beaches, as a public trust and to educate young people about the importance of doing so.
The collection is varied. One of the items on display is a photograph of oceanographer Jacques Cousteau with Schwartz at the dedication of Texas A&M’s Oceanography Building in 1973.
The collection also includes research materials on oil spills and coastal zone management legislation.
Schwartz, who attended Texas A&M, said now that A&M has a law school, its pre-law program should be based at the Galveston campus. He said the collection on the public trust doctrine might make a good starting point for a law program focused on maritime issues.
Schwartz said the idea of donating the collection to the university library came up as he was teaching classes with Tom Linton, a marine sciences professor.
Schwartz and his wife, Marilyn, made a gift to provide seed money to help the university expand the collection.
“A great part of my legislative career had to do with creation of a public trust doctrine, where Texans are aware of their rights to clean water, clean air and a decent environment. I want to provide professors who teach coastal and environmental courses with the best historical and most current literature available to help inform all of the public trust doctrine.”
— A.R. “Babe” Schwartz