The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987

Book Reviews

disrupted economic patterns, altered work habits, and prompted popu-
lation shifts.
There are two weaknesses in this work. First, the title is somewhat
misleading. Although a large portion deals with Thurber, a larger part
centers on Mingus, which is where Spratt actually grew up and about
which he speaks most authoritatively. Second, if the author's objective
was to present a study of the impact of technological change in these
Texas towns, he needed to consult the pertinent primary and second-
ary sources. He does not use either, and the book suffers as a result. In
the main this is more a nostalgia trip. Perhaps a better title for the book
would be Reminiscences of Life in the West Texas Coal Fields. As written, it
gives only a shallow analysis and interpretation of one of the central
thrusts of Texas history in the twentieth century.
North Texas State University RONALD E. MARCELLO
Curtain Call: The History of the Theatre in Austin, Texas, 1839-1905. By
Joe Edgar Manry. (Austin: The Waterloo Press, 1985. Pp. xiii+ 122.
Preface, introduction, illustrations, photographs, notes, index.
$19.95.)
In this handsome, oversized, coffee-table volume, theater historian
Joe E. Manry has undertaken to provide a comprehensive, scholarly
chronicle of the Austin stage from its beginnings to the advent of mo-
tion pictures in 1905. His research-based largely in the local press and
scattered contemporary references to theatrical matters gleaned from
the files of the Austin History Center of the city's public library-is
thorough, and the end result is likely to be the definitive account of the
subject. This fact, along with the excellent illustrations accompanying
the text, renders the work valuable to students of local theater history
as well as to devotees of Austiniana and Texas history generally.
Manry's findings point to a rather active theatrical record, consider-
ing the remoteness of location and paucity of population Austin could
claim in the nineteenth century. Although theatrical activity was inter-
mittent and sparse until well after the Civil War, the turn of the century
saw the development of a substantial theater-going public, and the
playhouses necessary for their accommodation. Beginning with the
Austin Opera House in 1871, the local population could claim a real
theater (as opposed to the multipurpose "halls" that served to house
the theater in prior days). And while the dramatic fare afforded the city
tended to be of the amateur minstrel, vaudeville, and burlesque variety,
touring companies of professional players occasionally offered legiti-
mate drama, and several of the foremost stars of the period (including

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 90, July 1986 - April, 1987. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117152/. Accessed May 25, 2015.