Paperback. The past has long fingers into the present, but they are not just the fingers of fact. How we remember the past is at least as important as the objective facts of that past. The memories used by a people to define itself have to be understood not just as (sometimes) bad history but also as historical artifacts themselves. Texas’ pasts are examined in this groundbreaking volume, featuring chapters by a wide range of scholars.
Current historians’ views of Texas in the nineteenth century and especially the significance of the Alamo as a site of memory in architecture, art, and film across the years comprise a major element of this volume. Other nineteenth-century historical events are also examined through their memorializations in the twentieth century: the construction of Civil War monuments by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, public and private Juneteenth celebrations, and the Tejano memorial on the Capitol grounds commemorating the history of Mexicans in Texas. Twentieth-century chapters include collective memories and meaning attached to the Ku Klux Klan, the significance of the civil rights movement in the eyes of different generations of Texans, and the lasting (or fading) Texan memories of Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The volume editors offer these studies as a model of how Texas historians can begin to incorporate memory into their work, as historians of other regions have done. In the process, they offer a more nuanced and even a more applied version of Texas history than many of us learned in school.