Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987 Page: 45
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War-reared six children on the Texas
frontier. Luckily the members of the immediate
and extended family were close
to one another and wrote frank and affectionate
letters when separated. And
someone always seemed away from home,
conducting business in Houston, attending
to affairs of state in Austin, going to
school in Galveston or Huntsville, serving
in the Confederate army at Vicksburg.
As a result of these absences the mails
were kept busy, and the pungent, humorous,
down-to-earth correspondence of
the Hardin family provides a unique
record of Texas life during the revolution
with Mexico, the early days of the republic,
then statehood, the stirring Civil
War days, and finally the controversyfilled
era of Reconstruction.
A brief introductory chapter provides a
family background before the principals
came to Texas, and a succinctly written
narrative bridges the gaps in the story
that the letters do not relate, but this is
primarily a book of letters. The narrative
serves merely to support the letters, most
of which are quoted in full. This technique
points out both the strengths and
weaknesses of the volume. Unlike analytical
history written by scholars, where
portions of letters and other documents
are quoted to support an interpretation,
here the documents are largely left to tell
their own story. They are shoved to center
stage, with just enough explanatory . . - 4
and connecting material to give the story ]
coherence. Letters are quoted in their entirety
because they contain colorful detail ' - "'. (J
about virtually every aspect of society and
the correspondents' lives, not because
they document an interpretative statement.
Readers seeking an analytical reappraisal
of early Texas history should look t !
elsewhere; those who want a documen- wM
tary stroll through a portion of Texas history-with
interesting and leisurely v
pauses to examine social customs and the -so
nitty-gritty of everyday life, along with '
revealing comments about coming of age, -
courting, going to parties and school,
making a living, and experiencing the
Civil War from both the civilian and the
military perspective-will find here an
enjoyable excursion into the past. A SUIT I-AlNt W5S q PKJ9T6
The editorial work that supports the
transcribed letters is most helpful when it 01 W. st, 'j )y yn b
serves to identify places and persons and ,
explains archaic terms. When it provides (,l, 12)+. * .
historical context on such larger issues as
the coming of the Civil War and Recon45
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 1987, periodical, Spring 1987; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45438/m1/45/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.