The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977

Book Reviews

of the archives of Guadalupe County published by the Texas Historical
Records Survey in I939.
This is not the place for an essay on the potential uses of local archives
in historical research. Some of the materials inventoried in these publica-
tions are obviously more valuable than others. For example, probate
records with their wills and estate inventories and appraisals are an es-
pecially rich source on social and economic arrangements. It is doubtful
that the constable's records are quite so revealing. Taken as a unit, how-
ever, county archives are definitely one of the most valuable collections
of historical material in Texas. And they are probably the single most
valuable source on the lives of the "common" citizens of Texas-the "in-
articulate" men and women who formed the mass of her society. The in-
ventories being produced by the Texas County Records Inventory Pro-
ject provide an excellent place to begin in exploiting these archives.
North Texas State University RANDOLPH B. CAMPBELL
The Big Bend: A History of the Last Texas Frontier. By Ronnie C. Tyler.
(Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1975. Pp. vii+288.
Photos, maps, bibliography, index. $5.10.)
This volume received the Texas State Historical Association's Coral H.
Tullis Award for the most outstanding contribution to Texas history in
1975, a distinction it well deserved. Tyler, curator of history at the Amon
Carter Museum of Western Art, has produced a thoroughly researched
and well-written history of the Big Bend region. It should satisfy both the
specialist and the layman for the author intimately knows his complex
subject, one which has frustrated some of the ablest historians of the
Southwest.
From an overview of the area's physical setting, Tyler proceeds to Span-
ish exploration in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. The Spanish
had a name for the Bend-despoblado, or uninhabited land-and never
really considered it more than an obstacle to the pacification of the frontier.
In the late 1830s and for a decade after, Anglo-Americans unsuccessfully
tried to develop a trade route through the Big Bend between Mexico and
the United States. The efforts to establish the Chihuahua Trail, however,
met with defeat at the hands of Indians and the harsh, uncompromising
terrain. Lack of water and forage and the rugged geography postponed
the development of the area until after the middle of the century when 'it
could be surveyed by the topographical engineers of the United States
Army. The noteworthy accomplishments of William H. Emory, Joseph E.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 80, July 1976 - April, 1977. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101204/. Accessed August 29, 2014.