Images of the Past: Imprints from the Republic of
KATHERINE J. ADAMS AND GEORGE B. WARD*
THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS WAS MORE THAN A GEOGRAPHIC AND POLITI-
cal entity. It was also a complex culture, a culture formed by what
anthropologist Clifford Geertz has called the "webs of significance"
spun by man. The historian is an interpretor in search of meaning
among these intricate webs. His aim is to "draw large conclusions from
small, but very densely textured facts." To understand a people's collec-
tive life, the historian must examine the obscure and the ordinary as
well as the obviously significant.'
The following portfolio of documents printed during the years of
the Republic (1836-1845) contains pieces of history from daily life,
rather than the letters, diaries, proclamations, and speeches of the Re-
public's statesmen and military heroes. Each is a small part of the larger
world that was the Republic. Taken together, they reflect a diversity
and richness that belies the stereotype of the Republic as little more
than a rough frontier.
These documents were all printed on presses operating in the Re-
public of Texas. Issued in an age when the printed word served as the
main form of mass communication, they were created to serve a single,
short-term purpose by announcing, informing, or persuading. Many
* KatherineJ. Adams is assistant director of the Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center, Uni-
versity of Texas at Austin. She is author of "The Beginnings of Library Education in Texas,"
Texas Library Journal, LXII (Spring, 1986) and is coauthor of "'A Work Peculiarly Our Own':
Origins of the Barker Texas History Center, 1883-1950," Southwestern Historical Quarterly,
LXXXVI (Oct., 1982).
George B. Ward is the assistant to the director of the Texas State Historical Association and
managing editor of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly. He is the author of Boone and Crockett:
National Collection of Heads and Horns and a forthcoming history of the Boone and Crockett
Club, and has published articles on a range of western topics.
'Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures (New York, 1973), 5 (1st quotation), 28 (2nd
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 December 1, 2015.