The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994

Book Reviews

ginning process in the 188os by the invention of the pneumatic system of mov-
ing cotton into the gin. In so doing, much hard labor was eliminated. (Ginning,
like other agricultural technologies, strove to be capital- rather than labor-inten-
sive). Munger eventually helped form Continental Gin Company, which with the
Lummus Cotton Gin Company was among the giants of the business. Although
both these firms were based east of the Mississippi, such was the importance of
Texas as a cotton state that each maintained a vigorous presence in Texas, and
competition was fierce between each firm for the custom of supplying modern
In order to make sense of the technological makeup of cotton ginning, Brit-
ton conducted a series of interviews with gin personnel who had an interest in
the history of the business. Their interviews are often quoted at length and pro-
vide the reader with a non-technical explanation of a complex industrial
process. Another welcome feature of the book is that some effort is made to
reach down to the grass roots and explain how change in agriculture affected
ginning at the level of the local gin. Britton uses the example of the gin at Stan-
ford, on the Brazos River, to demonstrate why a single gin succumbed to techno-
logical change, government programs, and agricultural modernization.
Eventually the Stanford gin went out of business in 1969 when it became impos-
sible to compete with other areas in the production of cotton. A final chapter
provides the reader with insights into the way the contemporary cotton business
is conducted. The introduction of modules, four-row pickers, modern ginning
systems, and sophisticated packaging are all discussed in some detail.
All in all, Bale o'Cotton fulfills its purpose admirably. As is traditional in the
Texas A&M Centennial Series, the book is nicely produced, with well over a hun-
dred illustrations and photographs. Britton's volume should become a standard
source for twentieth-century Texans interested in the technical aspects of gin-
ning and the cotton business.
Texas Tech University MARK FRIEDBERGER
A Special Kind of Doctor: A History of Veterinary Medicine in Texas. By Henry C.
Dethloff and Donald H. Dyal. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press,
1991. Pp. x+2 16. Preface, acknowledgments, black-and-white photographs,
tables, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. $29.50.)
This handsomely produced book is a model of its kind. The authors have not
only produced an institutional history of the Texas Veterinary Medical Associa-
tion, but have also provided the reader many insights into the evolution of ani-
mal care while Texas moved from the frontier to the postmodern age.
The care of animals provides historians with a social indicator of the modern-
ization of a society. For animal and human relationships change as population
moves away from its rural origins. In an impersonal urban environment, most
domesticated animals were no longer kept for economic reasons. Rather, the an-
imal-human bond became one of companionship. At the same time, the func-
tions of veterinarians changed. More and more practices were geared to serving


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 19, 2014.