Heritage, Volume 3, Number 4, Spring 1986 Page: 9
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and travelled extensively to provide thousands
of promising images for final editing. Each of
the three editors suggested further clues from
their years of experience with Texas photography.
State, county, and business archives provided
most of the imagery, but a great effort
was made to consider as many sources as
The images are presented chronologically, and
this structure has its problems. The first dat
PO. Box 2085
able image in the book is an 1853 portrait,
and the book proceeds by decades through the
1970's to the final photograph, an Apollo
space shot of Texas. It is hard to do justice to
the earliest years because so little photography
has lasted. The most recent years are even
more difficult; there are too many photographs
to review them all well. That we are all too
close to the present to have well considered
and distanced judgements compounds the
HERITAGE SPRING 86
problem. The book's coverage is uneven, suffering
for lack of available material at its beginning;
and, if Historic Texas does not adequately
represent the last several decades, its
companion volume, Contemporary Texas
makes up for this deficit. Such comprehensive
coverage is probably unreasonable to ask of
one book, and the 360 photographs are a generous
offering. The choices made do a remarkably
successful job overall of showing the diversity
of Texas and the experience of its
The photographs emphasize social history
rather than the official events of textbook history.
Some of the big events are there-the
burning of the Colonial Capitol (1881), the
aftermath of the Texas City Explosion (1947),
and Lyndon Johnson taking the oath of office
aboard Air Force One (1963). But the majority
of the photographs seem to have been
chosen, as Sandweiss says, ". .. because they
said something about uncelebrated lives or uncelebrated
places that, taken as a whole, suggest
the fabric of Texas life. . ." Two of the
greatest concerns of Texas history, oil and
cowboys, are well represented in some of
the books finest imagery. "Matador Range"
(1909-1910) by Erwin Evans Smith recalls
trail life with beauty and nostalgia. The pretensions
and foibles of the elite are delightfully
shown in photographs such as "Four west
Texas dandies making New Year's Day calls"
(1900) and Geoff Winningham's "Society
Ball" (1970), in which a gentlemen in tails
tries to carry a very happy young woman
across the dance floor with dignity.
Harsher realities are well represented, including
disaster, people at work, and the lives of
the poor and of minorities. It would be interesting
to see more of the individuals and their
labor, especially woman and home chores, but
photographers were not inclined to record
matters so mundane. The federal government's
efforts in the 1930's to record the plight
of the nation's rural poor turned photographers'
cameras to a different population and
gave those subjects their first large photographic
currency. Some of those documents
make an important contribution to this book.
A serious effort to include minorities is seen
throughout the book with Blacks seeming to
have a larger representation than Hispanics.
One reason is suggested by the image of Pablo
Baiza with his horses, wagon, and family
headed across the river back to Mexico in
1930-he noted harassment by Texas officers
as his reason for leaving. Apparently there
were fewer Hispanics (and photographs of
them) for many decades than our sense of the
pervasiveness of Hispanic culture would make
seem likely. Another example of the book
avoiding a whitewash of the minority experience
is four photographs about the lynching of
Henry Smith in 1893. 9
THE JENKINS COMPANY
RARE BOOKS & DOCUMENTS
Literature - 19th & 20th Century
Latin America & Spanish Southwest
Texas & The Trans-Mississippi West
Southern, Civil War & Black History
Austin, Texas 78768
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 3, Number 4, Spring 1986, periodical, March 1, 1986; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45441/m1/9/: accessed August 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.