The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945

A Plea for 34ore Jistory
i r usiecss
EUGENE C. BARKER*
T HE TEXAS State Historical Association comes into this
pleasant celebration appropriately by way of a book. The
book is Martin Schwettmann's Santa Rita, which the Asso-
ciation recently published. It is a history of the completion of
the discovery well which opened the University's oil empire
in West Texas. Wholly incidentally, it is also a monument to
the courage and dogged determination which has characterized
individual enterprise in American industry. We need more such
books. We need them for an understanding of the complex
strands of American civilization. We need them also for a
fair appreciation of the services of big and little business.
This brings me to the text of my sermon, which is a plea
for more history in business. From the historians' point of
view, business men-and particularly business organizations-
are too reticent. We suspect that they are too reticent for their
own good. Explanations of their policy leap to mind: partly,
no doubt, it is a survival of the buccaneering era of "the public
be damned"; partly it is due to the competitive character of
business and the natural desire to withhold information from
rivals. Whatever the cause may be, the policy creates an at-
mosphere that is inhospitable to historical investigators, facil-
itates propaganda that is hostile to business, and stimulates
public suspicion.
There is a problem here. The blankest page in Texas history
today is that which ought to tell of the growth and contribution
of business and industry in the building of the state. The page
is blank, not because historians do not appreciate the im-
portance of the subject, but because they can rarely learn
enough of the record to enable them to put pen to paper and
write. The same is true of industry in the nation. To be sure,
there is no lack of reports that corporations and associations
*An address commemorating the Twenty-first Anniversary of the Santa
Rita Discovery Well, delivered at Austin, Texas, May 27, 1944, at a dinner
of the Texas Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, honoring The Univer-
sity of Texas and the Texas State Historical Association.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 48, July 1944 - April, 1945. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146055/. Accessed July 31, 2014.