The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955

THE SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY
VOL. LVIII APRIL, 1955 No. 4
rZeas tistary aId exas folklore '
HARRY RANSOM
N AN AGE which has professionalized and specialized every-
thing from philosophy to haircutting, Texas history and
Texas folklore have left room for the amateur. In only a
few other fields of learning have experts been so tolerant and so
hospitable toward the outsider. The number of Texas historians
and folklorists who talk the language of ordinary Texans has not
fallen off; it has increased. What is more noteworthy, perhaps, is
the growing number of ordinary Texans who talk back.
Partly because of this talking back and forth, both professional
and amateur historians and folklorists have been prolific. The
past two generations have seen more Texas history into print
than the previous three centuries. But insight, not quantity, has
been the main result of this ferment. It has made some regional
historians capable of finding facts and ideas quite different from
those which their grandfathers received ready-made in books.
As for Texas folklore, a whole library of it has gone on the
shelves since the first world war-shelves of tall tales and the
magical stuff of imaginations; imagining of cowboys, sheepmen,
and oil-field workers; legends, traditions, and talk reflecting the
German, Mexican, English, Scottish, Czech, and French cultures
in the state. Out of this mixture of human experience-records
of historians and memories of the people-a kind of folk-wisdom
is now and then distilled. It bears to the greatest historical art a
relationship comparable to that which the oral tale may bear to
artistic narrative.
In order to get so much within its view, history must include
everything worth remembering. In or out of books, this broad
*In a different form this paper was read at a meeting of the American Associa-
tion for State and Local History at Houston on October 23, 1952.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, July 1954 - April, 1955. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101158/. Accessed December 25, 2014.