Texas Insights - August 2015

Volume VI, Issue 1
 

What’s New?

TSHA's Upcoming Texas History Webinars

This summer the Alamo and the four Spanish colonial missions in San Antonio were named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations, making them the first places in Texas deemed to be of “outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity”. Now, these 18th-century missions are listed alongside world treasures such as Stonehenge and the Taj Mahal. Unesco’s recognition of the Spanish colonial missions inspired the Texas State Historical Association to announce Understanding Spanish Texas through the Life of Fray Margil as the topic of its first distance learning broadcast, in a series of digital educational programs, kicking off this fall. 

Featuring Dr. Frank de la Teja, Director for the Center for the Study of the Southwest, Understanding Spanish Texas through the Life of Fray Margil is free for TSHA members.  De la Teja will discuss the role of Antonio Margil de Jesús in Imperial Spanish Texas at Mission San José. Tune in live Monday, September 28th at 6:00 pm to learn more about this fascinating topic, including an interactive Q&A session with our scholar. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.

Houston History Alliance

On the Cusp of War: Houston in the 1860s is the fifth annual Houston History Conference's theme, which includes twenty exhibits from local history, preservation and neighborhood organizations, as well as plenary presentations exploring a variety of time periods in the city’s rich, multifaceted history. The conference takes place Saturday, September 12, 2015 at the M.D. Anderson Library at the University of Houston from 8:30 am to 3:45 pm. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org

 

Texas History Teacher Workshop

The Texas State Historical Association and the Region 4 Education Service Center present the Encountering Texas History Conference, November 5-6, 2015, at the Region 4 ESC in Houston. This workshop covers Texas history from 1836 - 1900. Teachers choose from a variety of breakout sessions addressing historical content, geography, economics, civics, teaching strategies and resources, all based on the TEKS for 4th and 7th grade Texas History. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information.

Featured Institution

The San Jacinto Museum
By Jeanne Albrecht

Created in 1939 when the San Jacinto Monument opened, the San Jacinto Museum of History Association owns and operates the San Jacinto Museum. A State Historic Site, attracting more than 1,500,000 visitors annually, it is the most visited historic park in Texas.  Besides its incredible exhibits, library and battlefield markers, the institution also offers online educational initiatives, including a Texas History Teacher Curriculum Guide with 90 complete lessons and 40+ student activities, an Image Gallery containing photos, documents, articles, artifacts, and transcriptions, a website providing complete access to collections, and an Earth Cam of the monument with live-streaming video 24/7.

An annual reenactment of the Battle of San Jacinto is undeniably its most engaging education initiative. The annual admission-free San Jacinto Day Festival, held in late April, brings Texas independence to life with hundreds of history reenactors, cannons, horses and pyrotechnics.
 
The Museum also offers a special exhibit "A Destined Conflict:  The U.S. Mexican War; Texas Forever!” Entrance to its permanent gallery, the San Jacinto Battleground, and marsh trail are always free.  For more information about exhibits, admission, and school discounts, please call 281-479-2421 or visit www.sanjacinto-museum.org. Find out more at TeachingTexas.org.

Have you ever gone to a museum and wanted to touch the artifacts or costumes?   Or for those who are still a kid at heart, wanted to talk with the costumed manikins?  On a more serious note, have you ever asked yourself, “What is my connection to this place?”  At Texas Parks and Wildlife, all of these experiences are possible.   The Buffalo Soldier Heritage and Outreach Program (BSOHP) is an educational outreach program in State Parks that features costumed interpreters, interactive exhibits, and offers participants unique cultural and historical experiences.
      Primarily focused on the African American military experience in Texas, BSHOP also features the life and times of Tejanos, Native Americans, and Frontier Women.  Targeting ethnic minorities and urban populations, the program’s goal is to create connections for audiences unfamiliar with State Parks and Historic Sites, as well as offer new historical insights. The story of the Buffalo Soldiers, the first African American men to serve in the regular Army in the late 19th Century, is an excellent example of an important part of Texas History seldom elaborated in traditional textbooks. By sharing these stories, TPWD opens doors into communities that once questioned their stake in Parks. 
      BSHOP has three component programs to accomplish this task.  First is the educational outreach program, Texas Buffalo Soldiers.  This program brings the museum to the audience and features authentic military camps, uniforms, horses, and even firing demonstrations.  This unique vehicle provides BSHOP the opportunity to bring interactive programming to audiences ranging from traditional classrooms to State Parks.
      The second program component is the Blazing New Trails program. In addition to lack of being stakeholders, studies have found that urban and some ethnic minorities also shy away due to lack of outdoor experience.  Blazing New Trails partners with multiple entities, such as the National Buffalo Soldier Museum, to offer these audiences the opportunity to experience State Parks and Historic sites with a minimal investment of their time or monetary resources.  For many participants, this represents the first time they have ever camped, cooked over an open fire, or even played baseball.
      Finally, for those looking for expert advice about the Buffalo Soldiers and other Texas History components, the program offers research assistance.  Exploring Texas Roots is the program’s research component. Tasked originally with identifying African American Heritage sites, this program now also provides support to educators and community groups who desire to share these stories as well.
      If interested in learning more about the Buffalo Soldiers and all the other voices of Texas History, please feel free to pay a visit to the following events:
March
2-3 “Life’s Better Outside: Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo” Houston
23-24 “McKavett Western Heritage Days” Fort McKavett State Historic Site
April
27-28 “Life’s Better Outside: Buccaneer Day’s” Corpus Christie
May
3-5 “Buffalo Soldier Education Day and Open House” Lake Brownwood State Park
18-19 “Buffalo Soldier and Frontier Education Day” Lake Arrowhead State Park
August
11 “Buffalo Soldier and Texas State Parks Heritage Expo” Old Settlers Park, Round Rock Have you ever gone to a museum and wanted to touch the artifacts or costumes?   Or for those who are still a kid at heart, wanted to talk with the costumed manikins?  On a more serious note, have you ever asked yourself, “What is my connection to this place?”  At Texas Parks and Wildlife, all of these experiences are possible.   The Buffalo Soldier Heritage and Outreach Program (BSOHP) is an educational outreach program in State Parks that features costumed interpreters, interactive exhibits, and offers participants unique cultural and historical experiences.
      Primarily focused on the African American military experience in Texas, BSHOP also features the life and times of Tejanos, Native Americans, and Frontier Women.  Targeting ethnic minorities and urban populations, the program’s goal is to create connections for audiences unfamiliar with State Parks and Historic Sites, as well as offer new historical insights. The story of the Buffalo Soldiers, the first African American men to serve in the regular Army in the late 19th Century, is an excellent example of an important part of Texas History seldom elaborated in traditional textbooks. By sharing these stories, TPWD opens doors into communities that once questioned their stake in Parks. 
      BSHOP has three component programs to accomplish this task.  First is the educational outreach program, Texas Buffalo Soldiers.  This program brings the museum to the audience and features authentic military camps, uniforms, horses, and even firing demonstrations.  This unique vehicle provides BSHOP the opportunity to bring interactive programming to audiences ranging from traditional classrooms to State Parks.
      The second program component is the Blazing New Trails program. In addition to lack of being stakeholders, studies have found that urban and some ethnic minorities also shy away due to lack of outdoor experience.  Blazing New Trails partners with multiple entities, such as the National Buffalo Soldier Museum, to offer these audiences the opportunity to experience State Parks and Historic sites with a minimal investment of their time or monetary resources.  For many participants, this represents the first time they have ever camped, cooked over an open fire, or even played baseball.
      Finally, for those looking for expert advice about the Buffalo Soldiers and other Texas History components, the program offers research assistance.  Exploring Texas Roots is the program’s research component. Tasked originally with identifying African American Heritage sites, this program now also provides support to educators and community groups who desire to share these stories as well.
      If interested in learning more about the Buffalo Soldiers and all the other voices of Texas History, please feel free to pay a visit to the following events:
March
2-3 “Life’s Better Outside: Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo” Houston
23-24 “McKavett Western Heritage Days” Fort McKavett State Historic Site
April
27-28 “Life’s Better Outside: Buccaneer Day’s” Corpus Christie
May
3-5 “Buffalo Soldier Education Day and Open House” Lake Brownwood State Park
18-19 “Buffalo Soldier and Frontier Education Day” Lake Arrowhead State Park
August
11 “Buffalo Soldier and Texas State Parks Heritage Expo” Old Settlers Park, Round Rock Have you ever gone to a museum and wanted to touch the artifacts or costumes?   Or for those who are still a kid at heart, wanted to talk with the costumed manikins?  On a more serious note, have you ever asked yourself, “What is my connection to this place?”  At Texas Parks and Wildlife, all of these experiences are possible.   The Buffalo Soldier Heritage and Outreach Program (BSOHP) is an educational outreach program in State Parks that features costumed interpreters, interactive exhibits, and offers participants unique cultural and historical experiences.
      Primarily focused on the African American military experience in Texas, BSHOP also features the life and times of Tejanos, Native Americans, and Frontier Women.  Targeting ethnic minorities and urban populations, the program’s goal is to create connections for audiences unfamiliar with State Parks and Historic Sites, as well as offer new historical insights. The story of the Buffalo Soldiers, the first African American men to serve in the regular Army in the late 19th Century, is an excellent example of an important part of Texas History seldom elaborated in traditional textbooks. By sharing these stories, TPWD opens doors into communities that once questioned their stake in Parks. 
      BSHOP has three component programs to accomplish this task.  First is the educational outreach program, Texas Buffalo Soldiers.  This program brings the museum to the audience and features authentic military camps, uniforms, horses, and even firing demonstrations.  This unique vehicle provides BSHOP the opportunity to bring interactive programming to audiences ranging from traditional classrooms to State Parks.
      The second program component is the Blazing New Trails program. In addition to lack of being stakeholders, studies have found that urban and some ethnic minorities also shy away due to lack of outdoor experience.  Blazing New Trails partners with multiple entities, such as the National Buffalo Soldier Museum, to offer these audiences the opportunity to experience State Parks and Historic sites with a minimal investment of their time or monetary resources.  For many participants, this represents the first time they have ever camped, cooked over an open fire, or even played baseball.
      Finally, for those looking for expert advice about the Buffalo Soldiers and other Texas History components, the program offers research assistance.  Exploring Texas Roots is the program’s research component. Tasked originally with identifying African American Heritage sites, this program now also provides support to educators and community groups who desire to share these stories as well.
      If interested in learning more about the Buffalo Soldiers and all the other voices of Texas History, please feel free to pay a visit to the following events:
March
2-3 “Life’s Better Outside: Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo” Houston
23-24 “McKavett Western Heritage Days” Fort McKavett State Historic Site
April
27-28 “Life’s Better Outside: Buccaneer Day’s” Corpus Christie
May
3-5 “Buffalo Soldier Education Day and Open House” Lake Brownwood State Park
18-19 “Buffalo Soldier and Frontier Education Day” Lake Arrowhead State Park
August
11 “Buffalo Soldier and Texas State Parks Heritage Expo” Old Settlers Park, Round Rock  Have you ever gone to a museum and wanted to touch the artifacts or costumes?   Or for those who are still a kid at heart, wanted to talk with the costumed manikins?  On a more serious note, have you ever asked yourself, “What is my connection to this place?”  At Texas Parks and Wildlife, all of these experiences are possible.   The Buffalo Soldier Heritage and Outreach Program (BSOHP) is an educational outreach program in State Parks that features costumed interpreters, interactive exhibits, and offers participants unique cultural and historical experiences.
      Primarily focused on the African American military experience in Texas, BSHOP also features the life and times of Tejanos, Native Americans, and Frontier Women.  Targeting ethnic minorities and urban populations, the program’s goal is to create connections for audiences unfamiliar with State Parks and Historic Sites, as well as offer new historical insights. The story of the Buffalo Soldiers, the first African American men to serve in the regular Army in the late 19th Century, is an excellent example of an important part of Texas History seldom elaborated in traditional textbooks. By sharing these stories, TPWD opens doors into communities that once questioned their stake in Parks. 
      BSHOP has three component programs to accomplish this task.  First is the educational outreach program, Texas Buffalo Soldiers.  This program brings the museum to the audience and features authentic military camps, uniforms, horses, and even firing demonstrations.  This unique vehicle provides BSHOP the opportunity to bring interactive programming to audiences ranging from traditional classrooms to State Parks.
      The second program component is the Blazing New Trails program. In addition to lack of being stakeholders, studies have found that urban and some ethnic minorities also shy away due to lack of outdoor experience.  Blazing New Trails partners with multiple entities, such as the National Buffalo Soldier Museum, to offer these audiences the opportunity to experience State Parks and Historic sites with a minimal investment of their time or monetary resources.  For many participants, this represents the first time they have ever camped, cooked over an open fire, or even played baseball.
      Finally, for those looking for expert advice about the Buffalo Soldiers and other Texas History components, the program offers research assistance.  Exploring Texas Roots is the program’s research component. Tasked originally with identifying African American Heritage sites, this program now also provides support to educators and community groups who desire to share these stories as well.
      If interested in learning more about the Buffalo Soldiers and all the other voices of Texas History, please feel free to pay a visit to the following events:
March
2-3 “Life’s Better Outside: Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo” Houston
23-24 “McKavett Western Heritage Days” Fort McKavett State Historic Site
April
27-28 “Life’s Better Outside: Buccaneer Day’s” Corpus Christie
May
3-5 “Buffalo Soldier Education Day and Open House” Lake Brownwood State Park
18-19 “Buffalo Soldier and Frontier Education Day” Lake Arrowhead State Park
August
11 “Buffalo Soldier and Texas State Parks Heritage Expo” Old Settlers Park, Roun

Historian's Corner

La Belle at the Bullock Museum: La Salle's Ship Thrills Modern Audiences
 By Jim Bruseth, PhD
La Belle Guest Curator, Bullock Museum 

In 1684, French King Louis XIV sent explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, across the ocean with four ships and 400 people to North America. The explorer was to land at the mouth of the Mississippi River, establish a colony and trade routes, and locate Spanish silver mines. That plan was never realized. Instead, in a series of remarkable circumstances, La Salle lost ships to pirates and disaster, sailed past his destination, and was murdered by his own men. 

In 1686, La Belle, the one remaining expedition ship, wrecked in a storm and sank to the muddy bottom of Matagorda Bay where it rested undisturbed for over 300 years. In 1995, archaeologists located the 17th-century ship and began a decades-long and often unprecedented process of excavating, analyzing, conserving, and exhibiting the ship's hull, along with more than 1.6 million artifacts.

The discovery and excavation of the remains of La Belle riveted the world’s attention on Texas. Publicized as one of the most important archeological projects in North America, thousands of visitors came to view the recovery site or saw the traveling exhibits, marveling at the trove of priceless artifacts. La Belle not only changed the course of history, she also changed the face of Texas archeology forever.
 
La Belle also changed the way museum exhibits are planned and implemented. After 18 years of conservation, the Texas Historical Commission, Texas A&M University, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum (Bullock Museum) joined forces to prepare for the installation of the ship into her final resting place on the main floor of the Bullock Museum. Transported from A&M’s Conservation Research Laboratory in 600 pieces last summer, the ship’s hull was reassembled in full view of the general public.  The exhibition “La Belle: The Ship That Changed History” opened October 25, 2014 to great acclaim, and attracted more than 150,000 visitors over the next months.
 
Dr. Peter Fix, with the assistance of Dr. Jim Bruseth, led the reassembly. The two archaeologists each spent almost two decades with La Belle: Dr. Bruseth directed the excavation of the ship and Dr. Fix directed the preservation of her timbers. Museum visitors had an unprecedented opportunity to watch an exhibition unfolds. 
 
The exhibition has been an enormous success, generating significant increases in attendance, media coverage, and the number of Bullock volunteers. It also garnered honors, including the 2015 Award of Merit from the Leadership in History Awards Committee, American Association of State and Local History. Thousands of schoolchildren have seen the exhibition in person or through the livestream coverage, and many were thrilled by the 4D film, “Shipwrecked,” in the Bullock’s Texas Spirit Theater. Students viewed unique and remarkable artifacts from the ship’s cargo, watching history come to life through the hull reassembly and the 4D film. Educating the public is at the core of the Bullock’s mission, and the La Belle project allows for expanding programming and public outreach, especially for schoolchildren and educators.  Many online resources are also available from the Bullock Museum’s website, www.TheStoryofTexas.com.
 
Riveting film footage accompanying the exhibition tell the story of an excavation that became as historic as the ship itself. Though La Belle was hailed as one of the most important shipwrecks in North America, the untested but extremely successful solution of excavating a ship in dry conditions within a cofferdam was a significant milestone in American maritime archaeology. 
 
On May 21, 2015, the ship moved from the temporary gallery to her permanent location in the heart of the Bullock Museum. The rebuilt remains of the ship and more than 40 original artifacts are now on display as the centerpiece of the Texas History Galleries. Other exhibit highlights include a bronze cannon, muskets, trade goods such as axe heads and glass beads, pieces of the ship’s rigging, and tools for farming and carpentry. Replica skeletal remains of a sailor who died aboard the ship are also on display in the bow, where it was found during the excavation.
 
The La Belle exhibition enhances the Bullock’s lure as a major tourist destination and is providing opportunities for new displays, innovative educational programs, and a more balanced study of state, national, and world history. The discovery, recovery, and preservation of La Belle offer a broader understanding of the people and the forces that shaped our cultural legacy. The ship is not only a “time capsule” of European colonization in the New World, but is also an ongoing case study in how we preserve, understand, and interpret evidence of the past. 
 
The wreck of La Belle and the collapse of La Salle’s doomed colony changed the course of history for Texas, for America, and for the world.  The unique public-private joint venture to excavate, preserve, and display La Belle, now almost two decades in the making, has educated the public about a little-known early chapter in the story of Texas. This magnificent historical icon reveals new dimensions to Texas's French connection to world history and provides a critical lesson in the preservation, interpretation, and curation of one of the most compelling stories of our past.
 

Featured Lesson

Death on Board La Belle – Texas Beyond History

As you begin planning your lesson on early Texas history, check out Texas Beyond History’s lesson, which asks students to analyze the skeleton found onboard the La Belle shipwreck by completing an illustrated online interactive and printed report form. Based on the actual analysis of the skeleton and the French shipwreck, the lesson enables students to learn about the sailors’ life during the voyage of La Salle to the New World. Go to TeachingTexas.org for more. 
 
 

Texas History News

Several opportunities for Texas history educators and students are available or are on the near horizon:

Returning for its sixth year, the 2015 Save Texas History Symposium, hosted by the Texas General Land Office, November 14, 2015, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, will examine the history of Austin in a whole new light. In the Shadow of the Dome: Austin by Day & Night looks at diverse aspects of Austin’s history, including the Texas Supreme Court, the destruction of one Capitol Building and the construction of another, and some of the less celebrated aspects of Austin’s history. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org.
 

The University of North Texas Department' of History's Teaching of History Conference (TCON) is intended for grades 4-12 educators and will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2015, 8:00 am - 1:00 pm. TCON provides an opportunity to hear outstanding scholars discuss topics relating to events that shaped Texas, the United States, and the World through exploration, encounters and exchanges on the personal, economic, and cultural level. For more information, visit TeachingTexas.org

More than 1,200 years ago, a group of Caddo Indians known as the Hasinai built a village 26 miles west of present-day Nacogdoches. This site was the southwestern-most ceremonial center for the great Mound Builder culture. Today, three earthen mounds still rise from the lush Pineywoods landscape at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, where visitors discover the everyday life and the history of this ancient civilization. For more, visit TeachingTexas.org

 

The Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) is proud to showcase their favorite amateur films from across the state in their new local and state history web exhibit, Amateur Auteurs. Examine this unique history of Texas amateur filmmakers, some never before seen by anyone outside of the filmmaker, his or her family and friends. For additional information, visit TeachingTexas.org.

The Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco’s Indians and Rangers in 19th Century Texas virtual exhibit examines the pervasive myth that Rangers were exclusively Anglo males.  Since 1823 Rangers have counted Hispanics, African Americans, and especially in the early years, American Indians in their ranks. Take a look at the various native groups, including the Karankawa, Tonkawa, Comanches, Waco, and Lipan Apache, living in the Texas frontier who worked with Rangers. For more, visit TeachingTexas.org

 

The Texas State Historical Association and the Region 10 Education Service Center are proud to present the Energizing Texas History Conference, February 1-2, 2016, at the Region 10 ESC in Richardson, Texas. This event, for 4th and 7th grade Texas history educators, will focus on the history of Texas from 1900 to the present. Participants will be able to choose from a variety of breakout session addressing historical content, geography, economics, civics, teaching strategies, and resources. Visit TeachingTexas.org for more information. 

"Austin Town" by Brazoria County Historical Museum allows visitors to step back in time in its Tenth Annual Austin Town event, November 6-7, 2015. A living history re-enactment, Austin Town, recalls and celebrates the lives of those pioneers who settled Colonial Texas from 1821-1832. Set just north of Angleton, the fictitious town features character interpreters, demonstrators, settlers, militia drill units, and period games. The purpose of this event is to provide an educational and entertaining experience for all. Learn more at TeachingTexas.org

 
   
 
The Portal to Texas History offers in-depth resources for educators, including lessons utilizing primary sources for Native Americans, Cabeza de Vaca, and Coronado's expedition. These primary source adventures analyze Cabeza de Vaca’s lost years in the New World as an explorer, slave, trader, shaman and surgeon. Coronado’s Misfortune’s Explorer delves into the debacles Coronado and his men faced as they journeyed in search of “gold, God and glory in the Southwest.” For more, see TeachingTexas.org.
 

Texas Insights is a publication of the Texas State Historical Association
in cooperation with The University of Texas at Austin.

Texas State Historical Association
1155 Union Circle #311580
Denton, TX 76203-5017

Stephen Cure - Editor
Caitlin McColl - Associate Editor

 

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