"As a Twig Is Bent": Childhood in Texas, 18oo-19o00.* Exhibition at
The Star of the Republic Museum (administered by Blinn Col-
lege), Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park, Washington, Texas,
March 1-October 31, 1988. Sherry Humphreys, curator and de-
signer. Open daily from 10:00 A.M. to 5:oo P.M. September 1-
February 28, open Wednesday through Sunday from lo:OO A.M.
to 5:oo00 P.M. Admission free. No catalogue available. Wheelchair
Of all members of pioneer society, children have been the most ne-
glected by historians. This is so despite the undeniable contributions of
the youngest westerners and the insights they offer into the world
around them. Now the Star of the Republic Museum has produced an
exhibit on childhood in Texas during the nineteenth century. Despite
its limitations, it is a worthy effort that should encourage a widening
interest into a revealing area of historical study.
The exhibit is not as comprehensive as the title implies, for there is
little or nothing on black, hispanic, or Indian children. Instead, "As a
Twig Is Bent" uses displays of artifacts, illustrations, and excerpts from
contemporary sources to suggest the broad outlines of childhood among
European Americans in early Texas. In the main hall are exhibits
on work, discipline, clothing, amusements, education, and mortality.
Through the choice of items and accompanying labels, furthermore,
these displays interpret as well as describe children's experiences.
One running theme, for instance, concerns the reach of cultural in-
fluences from the East into the developing West. By quoting authorities
like Lydia M. Child and setting frontier artifacts beside articles from
Harper's and Godey's Lady's Book, the point is made that Texas families
were far less isolated than is often thought. Even on the far fringes of
the frontier, "modern" attitudes on discipline, affection, parental roles,
and the child's essential nature took root early.
To make these points, curators have brought together a remarkable
*This review is the first of a series that the Quarterly hopes to pubhlish on exhibitions of inter-
est to our readers
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed December 20, 2014.