WALTER PRESCOTT WEBB
If any historian familiar with the Southwestern materials
were asked to name three notable collections of records bearing
on the Spanish period of Texas history, he would give two of
them immediately, the Bexar archives and the Nacogdoches
archives. Very few scholars would be able to recall a third,
either by personal acquaintance with the documents or by
The story of the Laredo archives, as related by Seb S. Wilcox,
is historical news of the first importance. In his patient and
sustained effort - finally resulting in success -to save these
records and make them available to all scholars, Mr. Wilcox
has achieved for himself, even apart from his writing, a per-
manent place among the historians of the Southwest. Mr.
Wilcox is not a professional historian. He is rather one of
those laymen who gravitate towards original documents, musty
records, letters and old newspaper files. Such men are not
paid for what they do except by the gratification of that insa-
tiable desire to know. I do not recall hearing one speak of
"my research" as something that entitled him to special credit.
There is no outside compulsion "to produce," but there is a
great inner compulsion to probe, to dig, to investigate further,
to compare and to know how things really were.
There are certain occupations which seem to open the door
to history. The law is one of them. The lawyer works in records
and documents and has great respect for originals. Land titles,
abstracts, wills and probate records become familiar to him.
This does not mean that all lawyers become historians, but I
have observed that the outstanding lawyers of a community
usually know a great deal of history. Mr. Wilcox has for many
years been the official reporter for the Forty-ninth Judicial
District of Texas, which comprises Dimmitt, Jim Hogg, Webb,
and Zapata counties. His occupation made him familiar with
the historical records at Laredo.
[ 498 1
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 44, July 1940 - April, 1941. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146052/. Accessed March 27, 2015.