Monday, July 29, 2013

Stealing a Scene in Alpine, Texas

Michael Hall
He wore faded blue jeans, an unbuttoned plaid shirt over a crisp white T-shirt, and a pair of Keds-style sneakers, the latter a kind of low-top once an obligatory fashion statement for every all-American boy back in the 1950s. Today, in many parts of the fashion world, Keds are about as rare as Studebakers or DeSotos. Yet, if you can find them, they remain sensible shoes to wear, especially if one lives in blue-state Austin. He had found them. He wore his Keds with panache as he headed to his place at the front of the room, an impish grin spread across his face.
“Welcome to the seminar,” he said. “I’m Mike Hall, senior editor of Texas Monthly magazine. We will be dealing with long form journalism for the next five days.” We already knew that, of course, because he was the reason why we found ourselves seated in front of him. Our group of thirteen people constituted a baker’s dozen of writers who had come to Alpine, Texas to hear him say that. We would be his students for the week in a Writer’s League of Texas workshop held on the campus of Sul Ross State University.
Those of us seated around his seminar table had already spilled much ink in our respective writing careers, in some cases achieving wordsmithing success well beyond novice levels. His students for the week had authored books, served as magazine editors, and regularly wrote non-fiction articles appearing in academic journals, mass-distribution periodicals, and newspapers including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and most of the major ones in Texas.
Mike grabbed a magic marker and began writing on large white poster paper attached to an easel. He diagrammed in detail the structure of an article from the March 2013 issue of Texas Monthly he had written about bicyclist Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace. He dissected the essay with a brain surgeon’s precision as he peppered us with observations about how he worked. “All good long form journalism, “he explained,“ starts with a scene. Articles are like movies, they have to be written as if readers are seeing them in their heads. Good magazine pieces are composed of blocks, each of which should have a scene.”  He stressed that the “nut graph” is the most important block of the story. This is the part of the piece that contains the main point of the article, stated concisely and clearly. "Any questions?" They came quickly and steadily for the next hour.

Light Cummins reading at Front Street Books from his seminar
article as edited by Michael Hall
This set the scene for an intense week of writing, editing, revising, and rewriting. We found new ways to say old things, while we learned how to smile in the face of "upend editing," which constitutes a thorough rearranging and restructuring down to the heart of the matter. A successful upend edit can deflate a writer's ego much like a pin against a balloon. Nonetheless, we happily took upending in stride and pressed on with vigor. We discussed up and down for five days the ins and outs of long form journalism. We talked a lot, laughed a lot, thought a lot, and wrote a lot. Mike Hall edited a lot. He taught us how to write scenes. And,  in the process of all this, he stole the scene himself in our estimation. There was only one disappointment: his seminar lasted for one week, not two.

Click here for the Writer's League of Texas

Click here for Michael Hall's March 2013 Texas Monthly article on Lance Armstrong

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Sad Day for the Austin College Community

Sherman -- Austin College Information Services: "The Austin College community lost a treasured and much-beloved friend with the death of Sara Bernice Moseley, 95, on July 19. Her contributions to the life of the College and the thousands of alumni, faculty, staff, and friends she has touched are beyond measure. The community offers heartfelt condolences to her family, including three children, Sara Caroline, John, and Rebecca, and their spouses, plus four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.For a quarter of a century, 1953 to 1978, Mrs. Moseley served the Austin College and Sherman communities as first lady of Austin College while her late husband John D. Moseley served as one of the most successful and forward-thinking leaders in the College’s history. Upon his retirement in 1978, he spent three years as chancellor, at which time the Moseleys built a home in Sherman and remained on Grand Avenue, right across from the College.

Since that time, Mrs. Moseley has been a welcome participant in nearly every major activity at the College—through the arrival of three new presidents to the College. Her home on Grand Avenue gave her a view of the College and her interest in its students and their activities never waned. She watched with excitement as construction changed the face of the campus just outside her front door—from the Sandra J. Williams Founders Plaza to the cottages of the Village on Grand that brought her many new student neighbors that she delighted to see. This May, she attended her 60th Commencement exercises, as proud of the graduates today as she was when her husband presented the graduates’ diplomas.
“Sara Bernice’s love for the College, established as she served as First Lady, continued throughout all her remaining years,” said Austin College President Marjorie Hass. “She helped welcome me to the Austin College family and was a great advisor and friend to me.”
Mrs. Moseley was a trailblazing Presbyterian woman. In 1965, she became the first woman elected as a ruling elder of First Presbyterian Church, Sherman. In 1975, she became the first woman in the Presbyterian Church in the United States to be endorsed by a presbytery for moderator of the General Assembly, the highest elected official of the church, and in 1978, Mrs. Moseley became the first woman elected moderator of the General Assembly. In that role, she was an instrumental figure in the reunion of the two major branches of the Presbyterian Church, which came about in 1983. She served as co-chair of Friends for Reunion in 1981-1982 and as the first chair of the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1983-1984.
Reporting on an interview after she was elected moderator in 1978, The Presbyterian Outlook quoted Mrs. Moseley as holding two “profound hopes” for the Presbyterian Church: one, that “God will equip His people in effective ways to live out their faith,” and two, that “with the integrity of the Presbyterian system, we will keep the church open to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.”
Born Sara Bernice Honea, a native of Anson, Texas, Mrs. Moseley served as vice president of the Synod of Texas Youth Council in 1935. (The president that year was a young man named John D. Moseley.) She graduated from Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman’s University) in 1937 with a B.A. in music. She studied further at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas. She married John D. Moseley in 1941. She was 34 years old when the couple moved to Sherman in 1953, when her husband was appointed the 12th president of Austin College.
Austin College named Mrs. Moseley an honorary alumna in 1974, and she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the College in 1978. TWU named Mrs. Moseley a distinguished alumna in 1977, and she was named the American Association of University Women’s Outstanding Woman in Sherman in 1980.
The Austin College Board of Trustees approved the establishment of the Sara Bernice Moseley Scholarships for Outstanding Presbyterian Students in 1995, recognizing Mrs. Moseley’s contributions to the church and the College. In 2002, The Moseleys’ nearly 50 years of service to the College were recognized with the dedication of the College Green in Honor of John D. and Sara Bernice Moseley and Distinguished Faculty. In 2012, the Board of Trustees approved the naming of the John D. and Sara Bernice Moseley Covenant Society, which recognizes individuals who have included Austin College in their estate planning.
For those of the College community who had the privilege to know her, no amount of recognition and honor are sufficient to memorialize the graciousness and loyalty of the quintessential First Lady of Austin College. She will be greatly missed.'

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Researching West Texas Women at the Southwest Collection Texas Tech

Southwest Collection Building
Victoria Cummins and I are just back from spending a lively and productive week researching in the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech, where our work was greatly facilitated by our old friend, archivist Dr. Monte Monroe. He knows more about the history of the South Plains than just about any other person. We particularly enjoyed having a gala lunch with Monte at the elegant Texas Tech Club which sits behind plate glass windows high up in the stands above the impressive new football stadium.
The Southwest Collection at Texas Tech is one of the premier historical archives in the state, especially for the history of West Texas, the Panhandle area, and the Caprock area through the High Plains. This collection hearkens back to the early work in the 1920s of Tech librarian Elizabeth Howard West when she began collecting materials on the history of the region. The collection expanded tremendously due to the hard work and dedication of Dr. W. C Holden and his wife Frances, who became legendary historians and historical writers at Tech, where they established themselves at Tech from the late 1920s until their passing. Curry Holden died in 1993 and Frances in 2007. It was my honor to have known both of them personally and it is always a pleasure to sit in the reading room named for Dr. Holden. My favorite place is the table nearest to the portrait of Frances Mayhugh Holden by Henriette Wyeth Hurd. It vividly captures all of Fran Holden's dignity and nobility.
H. Allen Anderson is
writing the history of
Texas Tech
We also enjoyed visiting with historian H. Allen Anderson, who was also working in the archives. Allen, a long-time friend, has won a number of awards for his Texas history publications. These days he is writing the official history of Texas Tech University. I enjoyed discussing this project with him because I wrote a history of Austin College that was published in 1999. We traded stories about the legendary Pete Cawthon, who was the football coach at Austin College before he went to Tech in the 1930s, helping to establish that sport at both schools. Importantly, Vicki and I found a tremendous amount of material directly relating to our project "Muses to Modern Culture: Women and the Promotion of the Visual Arts in Texas, 1919-1942." It is our working hypothesis that Texas women, especially those involved in the club movement and the various groups affiliated with the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, did much to promote the visual arts in Texas through patronage activities, sponsoring art shows, and the founding of museums prior to World War II. The Southwest Collection contains an impressive group of records that detail the early twentieth century history of these women's clubs for a number of towns including Anson, Colorado City, Lubbock, Sterling City, Sudan, and several others. Our visit once again proves that any Texas historian researching on the western parts of the state must visit the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech.

Click here for the Southwest Collection Web Site.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Reading II: The Great Texas Wind Rush

I have just finished reading The Great Texas Wind Rush written by journalists Kate Galbraith and Asher Price. Both authors have spent a good bit of time over recent years tracking the story of wind power in the state, in the process writing a number of articles for Texas newspapers and magazines. Galbraith, although she will soon be leaving Austin and the Texas Tribune for new ventures in California, has established herself as an accomplished Texas journalist dealing with energy and environmental issues. So too has Asher Price, whose articles on the environment and related concerns regularly appear in the Austin American-Statesman. Published by the University of Texas Press, on first glance one might consider the book to be current events. What attracted my attention as a Texas historian is the fact that it is predominately a history book dealing with events that transpired during the last four decades. Galbraith and Price detail the history of wind power in Texas from the early days of self-generated electricity on the part West Texas farmers before rural electrification in the 1930s up to the modern era of mega-wind farms scattered across the state. The primary area of focus in this volume falls squarely on West Texas because this is were where the Texas wind power industry began, grew over the 1980s and 1990s, and where it predominates today. The authors do note that in recent years the Gulf Coast has also become an important area for Texas wind generation. 

This book is the result of exhaustive library research along with a significant number of interviews. In fact, interviews form the bedrock of sources for this volume. The authors talked on the record to over seventy-five people who have been involved in Texas wind power from the 1930s until the present day. Their research is also based on extensive use of the online New Handbook of Texas and the growing bibliography about wind as a national energy resource. In that regard, Galbraith and Price highlight as their background the work of the distinguished Texas historian T. Lindsay Baker, who knows more about windmills on the frontier than any other person today.

The authors present a very even-handed and balanced discussion of wind power without engaging in polemics, taking care to offer the reader all of the pros and cons surrounding the ongoing debate about the environmental, aesthetic, and economic issues associated with wind farms. They 
clearly establish that wind power depends economically on a partnership between private initiative and governmental support, the latter coming in the form of tax abatements and favorable legislation that encourages development of new facilities. In that regard, the authors acknowledge the support of Texas governors Ann Richards and George W. Bush as important motivations for the development of the Texas wind power industry. 

This book also drives home the point that much of the viability of wind power depends on the availability of transmission lines to the urban areas of Texas where the electricity is needed. Transmission lines can be just as expensive and controversial in their construction as the wind farms themselves. All in all, this book marks an important milestone in writing about the history of Texas because wind power has become a inescapable reality for the state. 

Click here for the University of Texas Press

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Texas New Deal Conference

Victoria Cummins and I both gave papers this Saturday at the first Texas New Deal Conference, a gathering that seeks to become an annual event. This conference was sponsored by the East Texas Historical Association, the American Cotton Museum, Texas Wesleyan University, and Collin College. The conference took place at the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Musem in Greenville. It brought together a group of active scholars and historians who represent most of the research that is currently being done today on the New Deal in Texas. George Cooper of Lone Star College served as the organizer of the conference, with assistance from various other historians. Those presenting papers included: Keith Volanto, Carroll Scoggins-Brincefield, Geir Bentzen, Carol Taylor, Brenda Taylor-Mathews, Victoria Cummins, and me. The title of my paper was "With Stone, Canvas, and Mortar: When Art and Archecture Went to Work for the New Deal." Plans are already underway for a second annual conference to take place next year on the campus of Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Reading I: "Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps"

I have just finished reading a fine book published earlier this year dealing with the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps in building state parks across Texas. It is entitled "Texas State Parks and the CCC: The Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps" by Dr. Cynthia Brandimarte, with Angela S. Reed. Historian Cynthia Brandimarte has curry-combed the records of the government agencies that worked with CCC in creating the foundations of the modern park system as we know it. Although some 50,000 men worked for the CCC in the Lone Star State during the 1930s and early 1940s, not all of them were Texans and they accomplished many other tasks in addition to working to create and augment state parks. Nonetheless, today Texas has a number of state parks that flow directly from the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps. As the promotional material for this book notes of these men and their work: "Between 1933 and 1942, they constructed trails, cabins, concession buildings, bathhouses, dance pavilions, a hotel, and a motor court. Before they arrived, the state’s park lands consisted of fourteen parks on about 800 acres, but by the end of World War II, CCC workers had helped create a system of forty-eight parks on almost 60,000 acres throughout Texas.Accompanied by many never-published images that reveal all aspects of the CCC in Texas, from architectural plans to camp life, Texas State Parks and the CCC covers the formation and development of the CCC and its design philosophy; the building of the parks and the daily experiences of the workers; the completion and management of the parks in the first decades after the war; and the ongoing process of maintaining and preserving the iconic structures that define the rustic, handcrafted look of the CCC." This book is distinguished by containing dozens and dozens of photographs, some from the CCC era and others from the modern era documenting their work. It also contains an alphabetical listing, park by park, of those facilities that today contain structures, cabins, and other constructions dating from the CCC era. This book provides a modern-day look at the creation of the Texas State Park system while it highlights the unique contribution that the Civilian Conservation Corps played in that process from 1933 until 1944. Dr. Brandimarte, who is on the staff of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, served as project directro for a survey of parks that contain constructions and improvements built by the CCC. This project resulted both in this book and in a very informative website that anyone who reads this volume should consult. Click here for the website entitled: The Look of Nature: Designing State Parks During the Depression."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Women and the Promotion of the Visual Arts in Texas, 1920s-1940s

Ethel Drought Obituary
Victoria Cummins and I have both been on a research sabbatical during the spring semester of 2013. We are  researching a book with the tentative title "Muses to Modern Culture: Women and the Advancement of the Visual Arts in Texas, 1920-1940." A major thesis to be advanced in this book is that women involved in the visual arts in Texas during the interwar period during the 1920s through the 1940s played a significant role in advancing the cause of Texas culture as artists, art museum curators, art critics, art educators, and club women interested in art. One of them was Ethel Tunstall Drought of San Antonio, whose obituary appears to the upper left. Our project will survey the considerable and varied activities that women's clubs and club women played in the promotion of Texas visual arts.We will examine the role that women played as art instructors, starting with the work of Vivian Anspaugh, Eva Flower, and others.  We will survey the major art critics of the period who were women, including Frances B. Fisk, Esse Forrester O’Brien, Goldie Capers Smith, Minnie Cameron, and Stella Shurtliff. Our book will also examine the activities of women in founding art museums and serving as curators, including Eleanor Onderdonk and others. Thus far this spring, we have conducted research in over two dozen Texas libraries and archives.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The E. Richardson Cherry Exhibit and Historical Research at the Metropolitan Research Center of the Houston Public Library

Victoria Cummins and I spent the week in Houston doing historical research at the Metropolitan Research Center of the Houston Public Library, located in the Julia Ideson Building downtown across from City Hall. This magnificent building, constructed in 1926, is an architectural treasure that has recently been completely renovated including a new archives wing that blends neatly into the style of the original facility.

Victoria Cummins in the new Metropolitan Research Center at the Julia Ideson Building
Randy Tibbits
Doing research in this building also gave us the opportunity to see the fine exhibit in the upstairs gallery focused on the life and work of Houston artist E. Richardson Cherry. This show contained several dozen of her works drawn across the entire scope of her career, which lasted from the late nineteenth century until the years following World War Two. This show was organized by Houstonian Randy Tibbits, a retired member of the staff of the Rice University library. Tibbits, an accomplished and well-known collector of art dealing with Houston, is an acknowledged and respected authority on the life of Cherry. He has spend a number of years researching her life, including visiting most everywhere she lived and painted. For a full discussion of E. Richardson Cherry, see her biographical entry in the New Handbook of Texas. The exhibit that Tibbits organized began on February 1 of this year and will end next week. As the flyer for this exhibition notes: "Cherry was Houston’s first modern artist. She, her students and their students (for as one commentator said “all that Mrs. Cherry does comes back to us, for when she is not creating she is imparting”) formed a core of forward-looking artists in the city decades earlier than is generally recognized. Newly available paintings and documents now make it possible to tell and illustrate the story of her amazing accomplishment."

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Writing the Story of Texas History at the Bullock State History Museum in Austin: A Panel Discussion

Patrick Cox. Light Cummins, Michael  Collins, Nancy Baker Jones, Dan Utley

Yesterday I participated in a panel discussion held at the Bullock Museum in Austin. The event marked the recent publication of a new book entitled "Writing the Story of Texas," edited by Patrick Cox and Kenneth Hendrickson, Jr. It was recently published by the University of Texas Press.  I have a chapter in this book. It deals with the life and scholarly career of Texas Historian Charles Ramsdell, who taught at the University of Texas for over four decades before his death in 1942. Each of the chapters in the book deals with the scholarly contributions of a Texas historian. As the press notes of this book: "The history of the Lone Star state is a narrative dominated by larger-than-life personalities and often-contentious legends, presenting interesting challenges for historians. Perhaps for this reason, Texas has produced a cadre of revered historians who have had a significant impact on the preservation (some would argue creation) of our state’s past. An anthology of biographical essays, Writing the Story of Texas pays tribute to the scholars who shaped our understanding of Texas’s past and, ultimately, the Texan identity." The authors of the various chapters are me for Charles Ramsdell; Patrick Cox for Eugene C, Barker; Michael L. Collins for Walter Prescott Webb; Dan Utley for Ernest W. Winker; Kenneth Hendrickson, Jr. for LLerna Friend; Don Graham for J. Frank Dobie; Byron Price for J. Evetts Hailey; Archie P. McDonald for Robert Maxwell; Felix D. Almaraz, Jr. for Carlos E. Castenda; Mary L. Sheer for Robert Cotner; Carolina Crimm for Amerco  Paredes; David G. McComb for Joe  B. Frantz, Nancy Baker Jones for Ruthe Winegarten; and Frank de la Teja for David Weber. I participated in the panel discussion about this book with Patrick Cox. Michael Collins, Dan Utley, and Nancy Baker Jones.

Click here for more information about this book.

Click here for this title and my chapter on google books.

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Talk on Frances Battaille Fisk at the Grace Museum, Abilene, Texas

Part of the Women's Club exhibit at the Grace Museum
I gave a talk yesterday at the Grace Museum in Abilene dealing with the life and times of Frances Battaille Fisk, an Abilene club woman from the 1920s to the 1940s. This is the notice of that talk which appeared in the Abilene Reporter-News:

"Today, Abilenians take for granted the city’s multitude of cultural offerings, from classical concerts by the Abilene Philharmonic to art exhibits at The Grace Museum.They may not know, however, that Abilene’s artistic bent goes back decades. Tonight, the monthly Museum Matters program at The Grace Museum will feature a presentation on an Abilene woman whose 1928 book on Texas art history still is used in art history classes.Frances Bataille Fisk is the author of “A History of Texas Artists and Sculptors.”Presenting the program will be Light T. Cummins, a history professor at Austin College and former State Historian of Texas. Cummins will talk at 6 p.m. about Fisk’s book and its place in Texas art history. Fisk wrote her book from her home in Abilene. In the book, Fisk labeled Abilene as “The Athens of West Texas,” with its schools, colleges and private art studios. The pride she took in her hometown was further evident in her writings.“There was a cultural and artistic atmosphere at a much earlier date (in Abilene) than in some sections of the state,” Fisk wrote. After Cummins’ presentation, The Grace will open a new exhibit, “The West Texas Club Woman 1880-1950.” In February, the museum opened a series of exhibits highlighting the 75-year history of the fine arts in Abilene. Collectively, the exhibits are titled, “The Lasting Legacy of the Abilene Fine Arts Museum.” “This is the last component,” said Emerald Cardenas, director of marketing and communication for The Grace. The new exhibit, which will run indefinitely, will feature photos, scrapbooks, vintage clothing and other memorabilia from early day women’s clubs. An added attraction will be Abilene’s own “lasting legacy,” Roy Helen Ackers, who is well known for her extensive and exotic collection of hats and clothing. “She’ll dress in theme, I’m sure,” Cardenas said. Items in the exhibit will come from the museum’s collection, Ackers’ collection and from The Cat’s Meow store in Midland.Store owner Steven Porterfield will be at the program to describe the items. He is an appraiser for the “Antiques Roadshow,” the poplar PBS program, and is recognized internationally for his vintage clothing collection, Cardenas said."

Click here for the Grace Museum website

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The 2013 CASETA Symposium on Early Texas Art


The Witte's new South Texas Heritage Center

Victoria Cummins and I attended the annual meeting of the Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art held at the Witte Museum in San Antonio on April 13 and 14. Among the speakers were Ron Tyler, Emily Neff, Randy Tibbits, Shirley Reese Hughes, Scott Barker, and Amy Fulkerson. I found the talk by the Amon Carter Museum's Shirly Reese Hughes to be particularly interesting because it dealt with the subject of Texas regionalism, a subject upon which I am publishing. Her presentation, which dealt with the regional viewpoints of Texas artists during the 1920s and 1930s, proved to be most enlightening and very informative to me. A highlight of the meeting was a tour of the new South Texas Heritage Center at the Witte, made possible by a grant from the Robert J. and Helen Kleberg Foundation. As the Witte notes about this new center, it "is a place where the stories of 1850s South Texas come to life through interactive exhibits, art, artifacts and live performances" A striking feature of this new facility is a 160 foot long photo mural of bluebonnets in the Texas hill country created from the paintings of Porfiro Salinas, upon whose work Witte curator Amy Fulkerson talked during the CASETA meeting. This mural is the largest such photo mural in the world, representing the combined efforts of art historians, museum curators, and computer specialists to produce it. The meeting also featured tours of several private residences in San Antonio that contain outstanding collections of early Texas art, along with a visit to Villa Finale, the home of the late art patron Walter Mathis.

Click here for the CASETA website

Click here  for the Witte Museum website.

Monday, April 8, 2013

West Texas Historical Association

Michael Collins speaks on the Texas Rangers
The West Texas Historical Association met in Wichita Falls on April 5 and 6 on the campus of Midwestern  State Univesity. My wife Victoria and I had the pleasure of attending, seeing many friends, and going to some excellent sessions dealing with the history of the western region of the Lone Star State. The West Texas Historical Association is one of the oldest and most venerable historical orgnaizations in the state, having been founded back in 1924. It is currently housed at Texas Tech University where Tad Kriedler is the executive director. As its website notes: "Throughout its long and distinguished history, the WTHA has encompassed a wide range of both professional and non-professional historians--from lawyers and physicians to ranchers, business people, and teachers. Although their interests vary, members share a common desire to preserve the rich history of the West Texas region for present and future generations." One particularly interesting session that I attended featured talks by Michael Collins, Donly Brice, Stephen Hardin, Tom Crum, and Chuck Parson on the subject of the Texas Rangers. It was also a pleasure to see the current Texas State Historian, Bill O'Neal, attending this meeting. He is an acknowledged authority on the western history of Texas, having written a number books on frontier violence, especially outlaws. Bill, like me, maintains a blog about his activities. Click here to see it. Below is a picture of Bill O'Neal autographing one of his books at the meeting.
Bill O'Neal autographs one of his books
at the West Texas Historical Assocation meeting

Monday, March 25, 2013

President of the Louisiana Historical Association

Janet Allured Speaks on Louisiana Womens's History
I attended this weekend the annual meeting of the Louisiana Historical Association held in Alexandria, Louisiana. This was a special time for me because I was installed as the president of this organziation. I joined this association back when I was a graduate student at Tulane University in New Olreans. Two of my graduate professors earlier served as president of this association: my dissertation advisor Hugh F. Rankin and Bennet H. Hall, who was a significant influence of my career as an historian. For many years, I have been an author of Louisiana: A History, a long-standing history textbook currently published by John Wiley and Sons. Ben  Wall was the originator of this textbook back in the 1960s. Over the years, I have attended many annual meetings of this group, published in its journal, served on its board of directors, and regulary served as one of its book reviewers in addtion to reading papers, presiding, and commenting on academic sessions held during its annual meeting. I will serve as president of this group between now and its annual meeting in March of 2014, at which time I will deliver the presidential address at a a formal banquet. This year, the presdient was my friend Janet Allured of McNeese State University. She gave an excellent presidential address dealing with women's history in the state of Louisiana.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Liz Carpenter Award

Jan Reed and Light Cummins at the TSHA 
Contributors to Women and the Texas Revolution at the
Awards Luncheon
The Texas State Historical Association’s Liz Carpenter Award for this year went to two books, Jan Reed’s Let the People In: The Life and Times of Anne Richards and Women of the Texas Revolution, edited by Mary L. Shccr. The award was presented during the Women’s History luncheon of the association recently held in Fort Worth, Texas. I wrote one of the essays contained in Sheer’s Women of the Texas Revolution. Jan Reed, one of the most respected journalists in Texas, has been an editor at Texas Monthly for over three decades. He is the author of ten books and dozens of articles, the latter of which have been published in a wide variety of high-circulation magazines and newspapers. His book on Anne Richards draws both from the extensive biographical research he conducted for this volume in addition to reflections and insights from his having known Governor Richards personally across the entire course of her career. His book is a balanced, rich, and full examination of Richards that captures her personality and while it provides an even-handed assessment of her career in Texas politics. A  review in the Washington Post notes that in chronicling Ann Richard’s story “Reid, a veteran of Austin literary and political circles, tells it with sympathy, insight and a deep knowledge of contemporary Texas politics." The other prize winner, Women and the Texas Revolution, contains six essays by historians familiar with that era of the state’s history. Each article examines some aspect of female participation in that conflict. My essay deals with women and the Runaway Scrape. Other essays assess various important ways in which women participated in the Revolutions. The additional authors are Mary L. Kelley, Jean Stuntz, Lindy Eakin, Angela Boswell, and Dora Elizondo Guerra

Click here for more on Let the People In: The Life and Times of Anne Richards

Click here for more on Women and the Texas Revolution

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Writing the Story of Texas

I have a biographical essay in a new book entitled Writing the Story of Texas. This book contains a biography of fourteen Texas historians of the twentieth century who have helped to shape the literature dealing with the history of the Lone Star State. As the press information for this book notes: "Edited by esteemed historians Patrick Cox and Kenneth Hendrickson, this collection includes insightful, cross-generational examinations of pivotal individuals who interpreted our history. On these pages, the contributors chart the progression from Eugene C. Barker’s groundbreaking research to his public confrontations with Texas political leaders and his fellow historians. They look at Walter Prescott Webb’s fundamental, innovative vision as a promoter of the past and Ruthe Winegarten’s efforts to shine the spotlight on minorities and women who made history across the state. Other essayists explore Llerena Friend delving into an ambitious study of Sam Houston, Charles Ramsdell courageously addressing delicate issues such as racism and launching his controversial examination of Reconstruction in Texas, Robert Cotner—an Ohio-born product of the Ivy League—bringing a fresh perspective to the field, and Robert Maxwell engaged in early work in environmental history." I wrote the essay dealing with Charles Ramsdell. 

Click here for more information on Writing the Story of Texas including a full list of the authors and their biographical essays.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Essays Honoring Randolph B. Campell

I have the honor of having an essay in a new book that is being published in honor of Randolph B. Campbell, a distinguished professor of History at the University of North Texas and the Chief Historian of the Texas State Historical Association. The title of my essay is "History, Memory, and the Rebranding of Texas as Western during the Centennial of 1836." The promotional material for this book from the University of North Texas Press notes: "In this collection of seventeen original essays, Campbell’s colleagues, friends, and students offer a capacious examination of Texas’s history—ranging from the Spanish era through the 1960s War on Poverty—to honor Campbell’s deep influence on the field. The first section addresses questions of Texas identity and the ongoing struggle of historians to define the southern and western heritage of the region. The second section focuses on defining influences and people—Spaniards, Mexicans, Indians, Anglo Americans, African Americans—who continually remade Texas throughout the early nineteenth century. The third section focuses on one of the defining moments in Southern and Texas history, the Civil War and its legacies through the Reconstruction era. The fourth section addresses Texas in the late nineteenth century, as the region became a crucible of the economic, political, and social upheavals that overtook the United States during those years. The final section examines an urbanizing Texas that struggled to find a balance between the heritage of the nineteenth century and the challenges of the twentieth century.”

Click here for more about Randolph B. Campbell

Click here for information on This Corner of Canaan

Monday, February 25, 2013

Recieving the Ralph Steen Award, ETHA

Receiving the Ralph Steen Award, l. to r., Victoria Cummins, Scott Sosebee, and  Light Cummins

The East Texas Historical Association met in Galveston from February 21 to 23. I was gratified to receive the Ralph Steen Award at this meeting. This award is conferred at the annual spring meeting of the East Texas Historical Association for outstanding service to historical efforts in East Texas. Victoria Cummins and I also attended the annual women’s breakfast that takes place at this meeting. Since the origins of this breakfast many, many years ago, the main activity has always been an absolutely simple but most important and elegant occurrence. People talk about their research and teaching, or museum work, others talk about what is happening in their towns or about what their personal interests might be if they are a lay historian. Some folks talk more than others, and often we question each other and make comments about what is being said. Then, as the meeting winds to a close, individuals usually seek each other out to have conversations about their mutual interests. Personally, I have learned so much over the years at this breakfast for that reason. And, to my personal knowledge, several recent conference sessions and an historical article, along with some essays in several books of readings, have come from contacts or information traded at that breakfast.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

David Dike Fine Art Auction

This January 19 marked the return of the David Dike Fine Art Auction, which was recently held in Dallas. David Dike has operated a Dallas art gallery since 1986 and is an authority on early Texas art and artists, the specialty of his enterprise. For a number of years, he sponsored an annual auction of early Texas art in addition to items exhibited in his gallery on Fairmount Street. Now, after an absence, his early Texas art auction had returned. My wife and I attended, and were pleased to see that the event attracted an unusually large number of collectors, other dealers, artists, curators and other museum people, and a group of art historians.  I am not a collector, per se, but I enjoy attending this auction because of the educational value of seeing all the art work and talking to others who are attending about early Texas art. And it is apparent that events such as this do have an educational value because David Dike, as the organizer and sponsor, customarily begins the event with a guest lecturer who talks on a topic dealing with early Texas art or similar subject of interest. This year the opening lecture was given by long-time collector Edward J. Denari who talked about his own personal experiences in collecting and evaluating early Texas art.

Click here for the David Dike Fine Art Gallery