The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925 Page: 94
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
been said of the memories of the old men and women. Scarcely
less important are the Land Office county maps. With these,
investigations could be started that would throw light on almost
every question raised in this paper. And this brings us to one
rich field as yet scarcely touched by historians. I refer to the
records of the General Land Office of Texas. Sometimes, I feel
that I could spend there five years with profit on the problems
that arise in connection with my cycle of Texas music-plays.
Almost equally rich are the records of the courthouses of the
old counties of Texas. Many years could be spent in them, too,
with great profit, if combined with field work among people now
living in those counties. But often the cost is prohibitive to any
but rich men. A dollar an hour is far too rich for most of us.
A much exploited field is the family papers of famous Texans.
Yet so much remains unknown as to these. Where are the
papers of McArdle, the artist? Judge Raines called him the
greatest authority known upon the topography of the San Jacinto
campaign. Where are the letters which William Fairfax Gray
wrote to his speculating employers in Kentucky and Virginia?
In these letters he elaborated fully for business purposes what
are mere memoranda in his diary. Where are the Yoakum
papers? It is said Yoakum gave them to Judge Gray, and the
Judge willed them with his own papers to the Masonic Grand
Lodge in Waco. And then, where are the Rusk papers? In-
deed, where are the Houston papers? Here is a curious situa-
tion. Two men, Houston and Rusk, dominate Texas for a gen-
eration yet there are no Houston papers, no Rusk papers, like
the Austin papers, the Lamar papers, or the Bryan papers. Yet
these papers must exist, or have existed, somewhere. And so
one might go on listing names of men who should have accumu-
lated papers, but which have not come down to us, or else are
scattered far and wide, or are held in private hands.
I admit real, professional historians were better employed for
all these tasks held out to amateur historians, but these trained
historians are few indeed; and the possible amateurs in Texas
are as the sands of the sea. The work is so great, and the doors
and windows continue closing down so ceaselessly, that nothing
but the large enlistment of the amateur historians will save this
great body of historical material from complete loss.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925, periodical, 1925; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101087/m1/98/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.