Heritage, Volume 9, Number 3, Summer 1991 Page: 25
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By John Peterson
Clues from the Past: A
Resource Book on
Edited by Pam Wheat and Brenda Whorton,
illustrated by Eileen Thompson. A Special
Publication in Cooperation with the Texas
Archeological Society, Hendrick-Long Publishing
Company, Dallas, 1990, paper $17.95.
The Texas Archeological Society has
performed yeoman service throughout the
state in its educational and preservation
efforts. The Society annually supports an
archeological field session to promote archeological
awareness and to contribute to
statewide research needs. The effectiveness
of any volunteer organization comes
from the commitment and the knowledge
of its members, and the TAS has provided
excellent training through its field sessions,
annual meetings, and publications.
This resource book continues that fine
tradition. The book provides a brief overview
of the kinds of sites and artifacts that
might be found, and presents a cultural
background for the major regions of the
state. There's plenty of thoughtful material
here for newcomers to get their feet
As importantly, the book has an extensive
section on doing archeology. The
activities of archeology are often tedious
and dull, even to zealous converts to the
field. Even so, they are essential to systematic
and replicable studies. The activities
are set out here for elementary and junior
high curricula, but would be fun for any age
group just learning the ropes.
There is a need for training manuals for
basic field and laboratory techniques.
Anyone who attends a TAS field session or
a university field school generally gets a
field manual or handbook. Simple tasks
like compass reading or locating the
Universal Transverse Mercator grid points
for a site are often terrifying to beginners.
Reference to a manual takes some of the
fear out of approaching some of these
straightforward but unfamiliar tasks.
The bibliographies and appendices are
good starting points for further work,
although some of the sources and resources
may not be accurate. For example, I called
the 800 telephone number for the National
Geographic Society audio-visual service
and got a pressure sensitive tape company.
On further investigation I found that there
is no 800 number for National Geographic
audio-visual, although the Society will refer
callers to a private company in Pennsylvania
that rents and sells their products.
A Borderlands History
W.H. Timmons, Texas Western Press,
University of Texas at El Paso, 1990.
Timmons' latest El Paso history takes its
rightful place on the shelf next to his own
earlier books and the fine work of C.L.
Sonnichsen. He is conversant with the
archival as well as colloquial history of the
area, having supervised the microfilming
of archives in Chihuahua and Durango,
and having lived and worked with the
history of El Paso for over forty years. As
professor emeritus of History at the
Universty of Texas at El Paso, he has had
access to the local archives and local lore of
a dynamic and vital area. Its history
reaches back across 400 years of desert and
embraces Indian occupations several
thousand years earlier. El Paso now has the
honor and the hardship of being our
nation's largest trading center with
Mexico; with the problems come a diversity
of peoples and an historic process sufficient
to brighten any historican's palette.
This book takes the fine work of
Sonnichsen into the present, and updates
many of the sketchier themes and problems
that he presented in his monumental Pass
of the North: Four Centuries on the Rio
Here in Timmon's volume is more of
the Mexican side of the story, with accounts
of Benito Juarez and the desert
immigrants from south of the border who
make up nearly 70% of the population.
This volume provides a readable and up-todate
history of a complex and dynamic
John Peterson is a professional archeologist and the
book review editor of HERITAGE.
HERITAGE * SUMMER 1991 25
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 9, Number 3, Summer 1991, periodical, Summer 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45423/m1/25/: accessed August 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.