The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 212
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212 Southwestern Historical Quarterly
vealing." This massive collection is "one of the most important sources
in Negro history." In this collection the most salient records are not the
papers of the Bureau head and his chief assistant, but rather the papers
of the field agents in such places as Huntsville, Waco, or Marshall,
Texas.2 Similar materials exist for many other Texas towns including
Boston, Columbus, Houston, Jefferson, Liberty, Martin, Palestine, Rich-
mond, Sumpter, Tyler, Wharton, or even Cotton Gin, to name but a few.
Before indicating the treasures contained in the Texas Bureau ma-
terials, it should be noted that although the information therein pertains
almost exclusively to the freedmen, the accounts are mainly written by
whites, like so many other contemporary records about blacks. The
skillful and imaginative historian may, however, use these narratives by
whites to reveal much about black life though the observers themselves
may well have been oblivious to the significance of the events they were
An analogous situation exists in the way slavery records have been
utilized. Until the past decade the general view of slavery has been taken
from plantation manuscripts left by planters or other whites. Not until
quite recently have historians realized the full potential of ex-slave nar-
ratives and fugitive slave accounts and used them extensively in com-
bination with plantation papers to present a much more rounded view
of slavery.3 The Bureau papers need to be mined in the same manner.
Fortunately, there is a project now in progress which will detail at length
what blacks, both slave and free, were doing during the Civil War and
shortly thereafter, what changes the war wrought in their lives, and how
2David Donald, "Reconstruction," in Interpreting American History: Conversations with
Historians, ed. John A. Gariaty (2 vols.; New York, 1970), I, 354 (quotations). For problems
in writing about this period see David Donald, "The Grand Theme in American Historical
Writing," Journal of Hutorical Studies, II (Autumn, 1969), 186-201; Richard O. Curry,
"The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877: A Critical Overview of Recent Trends
and Interpretations," Civil War History, XX (Sept., 1974), 215-238.
sThe present studies include Stanley 1'eldstein, Once a Slave: The Slaves' I'tew of Slavery
(New York, 1971); John W. Blassingame, The Slave Community: Plantation Life in the
Ante-Bellum South (New York, 1972); George P. Rawick, From Sundown to Sunup: The
Making of the Black Community (Westport, Conn., 1972); Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jor-
dan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made (New York, 1974); Herbert G. Gutman, The Black
Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-z925 (New York, 1976); Lawrence W. Levine, Black
Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-A merican Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom
(New York, 1977). A recent survey of some of the new literature is Robert William Fogel,
"Cliometrics and Culture: Some Recent Developments in the Historiography of Slavery,'
Journal of Social History, XI (Fall, 1977), 34-51. The Texas slave narratives are volumes
4 and 5 of the series George P. Rawick edited, entitled The American Slave: A Composite
Autobiography (19 vols.; Westport, Conn., 1972). See also Jan Hillegas and Ken Lawrence
(eds.), The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, Supplement, Series I (12 vols.;
Westport, Conn., [1978- ]), I, iv-h i.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/m1/256/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.