Inventing Texas
Early Historians of the Lone Star State
Texas History
6.125 x 9.25, 144 pp.
Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 02/11/2004
Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University
Price:        $29.95 s

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Inventing Texas

Early Historians of the Lone Star State

By Laura Lyons McLemore

Bluebonnets and tumbleweeds, gunslingers and cattle barons all form part of the romanticized lore of the state of Texas. It has an image as a larger-than-life land of opportunity, represented by oil derricks pumping black gold from arid land and cattle grazing seemingly endless plains. In this historiography of eighteenth– and nineteenth–century chronologies of the state, Laura McLemore traces the roots of the enduring Texas myths and tries to understand both the purposes and the methods of early historians.

Two central findings emerge: first, what is generally referred to as the Texas myth was a reality to earlier historians, and second, myth has always been an integral part of Texas history. Myth provided the impetus for some of the earliest European interest in the land that became Texas. Beyond these two important conclusions, McLemore’s careful survey of early Texas historians reveals that they were by and large painstaking and discriminating researchers whose legacy includes documentary sources that can no longer be found elsewhere. McLemore shows that these historians wrote general works in the spirit of their times and had agendas that had little to do with simply explaining a society to itself in cultural terms.

From Juan Agustin Morfi’s Historia through Henderson Yoakum’s History of Texas to the works of Dudley Wooten, George Pierce Garrison, and Lester Bugbee, the portrayal of Texas history forms a pattern. In tracing the development of this pattern, McLemore provides not only a historiography but also an intellectual history that gives insight into the changing culture of Texas and America itself.

Early Texas historians came from all walks of life, from priests to bartenders, and this book reveals the unique contributions of each to the fabric of state history . A must–read for lovers of Texas history, Inventing Texas illuminates the intricate blend of nostalgia and narrative that created the state’s most enduring iconography.

Laura Lyons McLemore is the College Archivist and curator of Special Collections at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She received her Ph.D. from the University of North Texas and specializes in nineteenth-century Texas historians.

What Readers Are Saying:

“. . . excellent . . . McLemore provides a well-supported foundation for her measured conclusions about romanticism, prejudices, and mythology in Texas historical writing of the nineteenth century. It is a unique study in Texas historiography and should find a ready interest among Texas scholars.”--David G. McComb, author, Texas, A Modern History

“. . . very well researched and pulls together in one place the work and impact of nineteenth-century historians.” --Walter Buenger, Texas A&M University

“To understand history one must first understand the historian writing it and his motives, techniques, and background, argues Laura McLemore in her book, Inventing Texas: Texas Historians, 1789–1899. In this study of Texas historiography of the 19th century, McLemore breaks new ground by looking at the roots of Texas historical romanticism and suggesting that the myths we generally associate with Texas history were largely products of popular historians who wrote in the post–Civil War period.” --Gerald D. Saxon, University of Texas at Arlington

“The mystique of the Lone Star State clearly rests on those writers who have written about its history as much as it is based on the actual characters from the past who lived that history. Well-written, meticulously researched, and downright entertaining, this book presents a solid scholarly analysis of early Texas historians who wrote about the state and its colorful history. It should be obligatory reading for any person who wants to know how Texas historians themselves have shaped the image of this state as a unique part of our nation.” --Light Townsend Cummins, Austin College

“Every Texas scholar should own this book. It is historiography, cultural history, intellectual history, and social history wrapped up in a small but elegant work.” --Panhandle-Plains Historical Review

“Her well-written book is enhanced by touches of humor and irony. Its most important quality is a thoughtful analysis of major cultural and political themes and of the pragmatic influences of historians.” --The Journal of Southern History

“. . . a well-researched study of the historiography of nineteenth-century Texas.” --East Texas Historical Journal

“...covers a great deal in a small space.” --Review of Texas Books


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