The Bookshelf, Young Texas Reader, Blog Notes, & Texana Youtube Channel

The Texas Bookshelf is for single, specific books' reviews and author interviews . The Texas Parlor ranges more broadly than my other websites. The Young Texas Reader focuses on the youngest through teenagers. Texas Blog Notes surveys blogs of historical and literary interest. I've started a Will's Texana Youtube collecting channel where 1,000 videos are collected in 100 playlists . Find Will in Houston or at willstexana {at} yahoodotcom

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Texas Bison Association

  Self-description:  "The Texas Bison Association is dedicated to sharing its knowledge and passion for the Native American Bison. These majestic animals are woven into the fabric of our country, a symbol of our rich past as well as our bright future.
Watching Bison graze your pasture is an experience unequaled in ranching today. The Texas Bison Association is here to help you get started with your own herd, or visit one of ours to learn more about raising bison.
Whether you call them Buffalo or Bison, don't call 'em late for dinner! Bison meat is lower in fat and cholesterol than chicken, delivering a robust beef flavor that is rich and satisfying. Looking for meat? We have sources!
Looking for dinner? We can show you where!
Looking for recipes? We've got you covered!
Join the herd and learn more about Texas bison."  Chew more at

Friday, February 26, 2010

History of Texas Auto License Plates

Nick DiFonzo's The Bolthole has an interesting, long, casual chronology of Texas automobile registration and license plates.  Very well illustrated.  He begins thisly:


  • The first automobile in Texas, owned by Col. E.H.R. Green of Terell, terrorizes the Texas countryside.


  • 1907: Texas House Bill #93 required that all motor vehicles used on public roads be registered with the county clerk. The vehicle recieved a number in the order registered in each county. That number, at least six inches in height, was required to be displayed "in a counspicuous place" on the vehicle.
  • Registration began on Aug. 10, 1907. The first Texas license number is issued, registered to a bus owned by W.B. Chenoweth of Colorado City, TX.
  • Each county had its own series, from "1" onward, so many duplicate numbers existed.


  • Owners provided their own plates, often made from aluminum house numbers attached to leather, or from wood, tin, etc. Most of these showed only the number, with no indication of the state or county.
  • Many motorists used porcelain "kit plates" with interchangeable numbers and often the name of the city or county. These kits were made by a company in Chicago.
  • Some motorists simply painted the number on the vehicle!
  • These pre-1917 plates are called "pre-state" plates.
  • Some cities had county or city licenses in addition to that required by the state."

Some selections teach us:  A star was inserted amid the numbers in 1923.  Licenses became yearly in 1925.  An orange color was used in 1933 and maroon in 1935.  In 1939, the edges were "turned in" so that car washers wouldn't be likely to cut themselves.  Read more at



Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Travis Writes Letter Today

Today on February 24, 1836  William Barret Travis, commander of the Alamo, wrote his letter
Travis' Letter from the Alamo by adhoc alley
AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved Creative Commons
Travis' Letter from the Alamo by adhoc alley.
This bas-relief sculpture is on the exterior of the San Jacinto Monument.
The letter begins: "To the People of Texas and All Americans in the World," and the text declares
"I am beseiged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna -- I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man -- The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken -- I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls -- I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, & every thing dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch -- The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country --


William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.

P.S. The Lord is on our side -- When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn -- We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves --



Swante Palm Born Today

Swante Palm was born today in Sweden, as Swante Magnus Swenson, February  24 (actual life dates 1816-1896) and came to Texas in 1838.  He became a major planter and rancher (SMS brand), operated an immigration service, a mercantile business, and a financial house, served as a public official, promoted the Unionist cause, and seriously boosted UT's library with donation.  Swante Palm was a truly magnificent person.
Palm Library Historical Marker  by elkit
AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved Creative Commons

Palm Library by elkit.

Read more from the Handbook of Texas at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gillespie County and Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock with Trees Growing from Cracks

by Greg Carley AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by Creative Commons, Attribution and Noncommercial

Enchanted Rock with Trees Growing from Cracks by Greg Carley.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chicana and Chicano Studies

db-image UT's Center for Mexican American Studies will host n February 25,26, & 27 a National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies meeting under the title 

Tejas Foco Regional Conference: Pasado, Presente, y Futuro: Forty Years of Chicana and Chicano Studies in Texas

The conference is self-described:  "The year 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the formal establishment of Mexican American Studies in the academy in Texas. Since the early 1970s, many approaches have been developed and employed in the field of Chicana and Chicano Studies, some focusing on political economy, others on cultural studies, some focusing on the specificity of the Tejano experience, others focusing on how Texas fits into the larger experience of Mexican Americans in the United States and linkages to Mexico and Latin America. Chicana and Chicano Studies in Texas has drawn from many intellectual approaches and fields, and struggled to expand the definition of the academy, activism, and intellectual life.

The goal of the 2010 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) Tejas Foco Regional Conference is to examine questions around a "Texas School" of Chicana and Chicano Studies. Scholars of Chicana and Chicano Studies, members of NACCS, and the general public will engage the question of whether there is (or is not) a Texas-based approach to Chicana and Chicano Studies. Presentations will look at the past, present, and future of Chicana and Chicano Studies in Texas to outline such a "Texas School" of thought or may call into question the very idea of such a proposition. The conference will also consider whether there is more than one school of thought within Texas."

Attendance is free to the public.


Texas Mall History

MALL HALL OF FAME CURATOR     (Image of the Hall's Curator).  Online is the Mall Hall of Fame, a description of many across America.  Some Texas (mostly Houston and Dallas) are represented.  The articles are lengthy for the casual reader with photos.  Self-description: "One of many classic mall and retro retail internet sites, the MALL HALL OF FAME is a "Mid-mod" mall museum, covering shopping centers of America's mid-20th century (1950-1979). There are short articles, a few photos, and at least one physical layout drawing for every mall inducted. Please feel free to post any additional info you may be aware of. Thanks much."  Some Texas sites include:

*Hancock Center
*Highland Mall
*Manor East Mall
*Big Town Mall
*Seminary South Center
*NorthPark Center
*Irving Mall
*Bassett Center
*Gulfgate Shopping City
*Meyerland Plaza
*Sharpstown Mall
*Northline Shopping City
*Memorial City Mall
*Northwest Mall
*Galleria Post Oak / Galleria
*Wonderland Shopping City
*North Star Mall
Read the articles at The search box doesn't always bring up all entries when searched for "Texas."  Try different words.

Historical Marker Database

The international Historical Marker Database now has 748 markers that respond to the keyword "Texas."
  Is your community represented?

Texas State Historical Meeting in Dallas

The Texas State Historical Association
One Hundred and Fourteenth Annual Meeting

March 4-6, 2010

Dallas, Texas

Registration Available Online
Sign-Up Now
Marriott Quorum in Dallas

Make plans now to attend the Texas State Historical Association's 2010 Annual Meeting. The 114th annual meeting will be held March 4-6, 2010 at the Marriott Quorum Hotel in Dallas, Texas located at 14901 Dallas Parkway, just south of Beltline Rd. at Dallas North Tollway. Directions and a map are available.

Special rates of $135 per night plus tax have been extended through February 24, 2010. Parking for the meeting will be complimentary. Book online: TSHA Room Block at Marriott Quorum Hotel or call (972) 661-2800 or Toll-free (800) 811-8664 and ask for the TSHA Annual Meeting." 

In addition to the many programs are

Joint sessions with the Texas Oral History Association, the Texas Folklore Society, the Society of Southwest Archivists, the Texas Catholic Historical Society, the Texas Baptist Historical Society, and the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society are planned. Also scheduled are the Handbook of Texas workshop, the Quarterly and publications workshops, and the business meeting.


Texas Labor Management Hall of Fame

Logo: Texas Labor Management ConferenceThe Texas Labor Managment Conference established a Hall of Fame in 2002 to recognize labor, management, and academics that have made major contributions to labor-management collaboration.

See Hall of Fame Inductees  (2003 --- 2004 --- 2005 --- 2006 --- 2007 --- 2008)

The criteria include

  1. Potential nominees must have a minimum of 2 years experience in the labor-management relation field while serving as a management official, union official or in academia:
  • Potential nominees must have held important leadership roles in the labor-management relations field while serving as a management official, union official or academia: and 

  • Potential nominees must have made a significant impact on labor-management relations while serving as a management official, union official or academia.

  • The 2008 Inductees are

    Colleen C. Barrett - President and Corporate Secretary,
    Southwest Airlines

    Jackie St. Claire (Retired) - United Association of
    Plumbers & Pipefitters

    Read more about it:

    Charlie Wilson Died

    The London Times informs their readers that Charlie Wilson died.

    "Charlie Wilson, US politician who secretly funded CIA in Afghanistan, dies"

    The article begins: "Charlie Wilson, the Texan Democrat who championed covert CIA support for Afghan Mujahidin in the 1980s and whose life was chronicled in a Hollywood film, has died. He was 76." Read more at
    There was something in the Lufkin Congressman Wilson of David Burnet who fought in Venezuela for the freedom of Latin America in 1807; something of Bangs and McLaren who hired on as printers for Francisco Mina to free Mexico; something of the brash Sam Houston.  Charlie Wilson has died, and as he would say, "Let's party!"
    Or see the movie or read the volume Charlie Wilson's War.

    Librarian Lillian Bradshaw Dies

     Lillian Moore Bradshaw: Library director cleared path for women in city government

    Friday, February 12, 2010 By JOE SIMNACHER / The Dallas Morning News 

    The article begins: "Lillian Moore Bradshaw blazed a 38-year path in Dallas that cleared a management path for women in city government.

    In 1946, she was one of the first married women hired at the Dallas Public Library, where she was the first female director 16 years later. She was the first woman to lead a major U.S. library. And she capped off her decades of public service as an assistant city manager/liaison when Dallas played host to the 1984 Republican National Convention.

    Mrs. Bradshaw, 95, died Tuesday of natural causes at an Avalon Residential Care Home in Dallas."  Read more of this remarkable librarian at

    Preservation of African American Schools in Texas

    "SE Texas group works to save black schoolhouses"

    By KYLE PEVETO of the Beaumont Enterprise via the AP in the Houston Chronicle report begins:
     "JASPER, Texas — Fifty years ago, a teacher in a one-room Jasper County schoolhouse faced a class full of rural African-American children and issued a challenge.

    "Everyone of you is going to college," Viola Tukes told them.

    Some of those students did go to college, while others, like Jesse Woods, took the first good-paying job they could find. But in the small school, situated in the Rock Hill community between Kirbyville and Jasper, students were given an education and opportunities that barely existed for previous generations.

    "I've seen some good times in Rock Hill," said Woods, 62, whose father never learned to read or drive a car. Woods attended the Rock Hill school in the 1950s.

    The schoolhouse was built in the 1920-21 school year through the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which supplied funding and architectural planning for 5,300 African-American schools from1912 to 1932."

    Read more of the effort to save these Rosenwald schools at

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Billy Porterfied Archives Go To Texas State University

    Brad Rollins in the San Marcos Mercury filed a report Texas State acquires Billy Porterfield archives.

    The Rollins report begins:  "Billy Porterfield, the legendary Texas journalist and award-winning author of several books, has donated his major archive to the Wittliff Collections at the Alkek Library, Texas State University.

    Born in 1932 in East Texas, Porterfield grew up the son of an itinerant oilfield worker and attended dozens of schools before graduating from Woodsboro High School in 1950. His nomadic childhood informed his work, much of which takes place on the road, as well as his approach to gathering ideas for newspaper columns. Curiosity, a notepad, a map, and a full tank of gas were the tools of his trade."

    Porterfield's book include include LBJ Country (1965), A Loose Herd of Texans (1978), Texas Rhapsody: Memories of a Native Son (1981), The Greatest Honky-Tonks in Texas (1983), and Diddy Waw Diddy: The Passage of an American Son (1994).  His journalism spread wide.  All of this and more summed up in 35 boxes.  Read more about it at  and at

    Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore in Houston

    Happy 25th anniversary!

    Asad Walker of the Defender newspaper reported on the 25th anniversary of the Shrine Cultural Center and Bookstore in Houston.  It's a good long article, an extract reads:

    "Part of the largest Black-owned bookstore chain in the nation, Houston's Shrine Bookstore opened in December 1986. What was once a decaying bowling alley in South Park, was renovated and transformed into the 23,500 square feet "crown jewel" of the trio of cultural centers owned by the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church. The other two stores are located in Atlanta and Detroit, the city where the first one opened its doors in 1970.

    Born at the tail-end of the Black Power Era, the Detroit store gave African American authors a place to sell their books long before mainstream stores began carrying such items.

    "The original name of the first Cultural Center was the Sudan Import Specialty Shop," recalled Anika Sala, Detroit native and manager of the Shrine Bookstore in Houston. "Our church founder, Reverend Albert B. Cleage Jr. assigned his sister, Barbara Martin to create a center for Black culture, heritage and self-determination. What Martin did was start an incredible legacy that has celebrated our history and made some history of its own." "  Read more at

    Horton Foote's Trip to Beaumont

    Harrison, Texas: Three One-Act Plays By Horton Foote enjoyed a brief run at Lamar University Studio Theatre this month.  If Texas were to select a playwright for all seasons, it may be the now passed Foote (1916-2009).  His body of work will surely persist across generations and stages from international to local.  The Horton Foote Review is published by the Horton Foote Society.  See

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Texas # 2 state for novel settings

    Bowker, a long-standing source of book publishing information declares in an article entitled "New York and London Are Most Popular Settings for Novels" also considers state locales.  An extract states
    "In addition to London, the other non-U.S. city to make the top 10 fictional settings was Rome. California was the setting for more novels than any other state, followed by Texas, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina."
    Texas novelists take note!

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Texas Chicano Literature

    In Somos en escrito a posting by Felipe de Ortego y Gasca, Scholar in Residence/Chair, Department of Chicana/Chicano and Hemispheric Studies, Western New Mexico University, provides "Forging a literature of opposition on the outside: Chicano Literature and Critical Theory" a lengthy summary essay on the development of Chicano / Hispanic literature, quite applicable to Texas.
    Extracted from Ortega y Gasca one finds "To my knowledge, the first symposium on Chicano literature and critical theory was held at Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas, on September 16, 1971. [Note the date.] Edward Simmen, professor of English there, organized the event and invited Tomás Rivera, Jose Reyna and me to present papers covering a spectrum of critical theory about Chicano literature, a barely emerging field then."
    Modern Tejano literature as a body is sometimes bookended as Ramund Paredes and others point out by Texas-related Josephina Niggli's Mexican Village (a novel, 1945), but  the larger corpus can be easily extended.  Identifing Tejano literature within Chicano literature can sometimes be a challenge.  The difficulty can be compared to identifing the Texas titles within the broader Cowboy titles. And it can be compared to the identifing of Texas titles within the broader Buffalo Soldiers titles.  Armando Rendón's  Somos en escrito and La Bloga and other sources do not always note a geographical distinction, intended of course to serve a wider audience, but they are good places to hunt Texana.
    Other treatments abound but see also Paredes' "Teaching Chicano Literature: An Historical Approach" 

    Texas Roots of Spanish Educators

    In Armando Rendón's "Somos en escrito" a posting The roots of Texas education planted in Colonial Spanish days by Brownsville native Dr. Lino García, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Spanish Literature at University of Texas-Pan Ameican, provides a lengthy revival to and extension to Max Berger's earlier work "Education in Texas during the Spanish/Mexican Periods" in the July 1947 Southwestern Historical Quarterly.  The commentary covers the Indian mission efforts, local schooling, government decrees, supportive land grants, etc.  The primary focus is San Antonio but other locales are included.  Read more at
    another version from last September is at

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    San Jacinto Battleground Designated Endangered

    From KUHF:  San Jacinto Battlefield Named an Endangered Historic Site

    February 5, 2010  by: Melissa Galvez

    For the first time, the non profit group Preservation Texas has placed the San Jacinto Battlegrounds

    on their Most Endangered Historic Places list. The group says that the LaPorte battle field needs a

    comprehensive plan to keep it from falling prey to the 21st century. Melissa Galvez has the story.
    "Every time you give an inch to a building, you are losing an inch of the battlefield."

    That's Jan DeVault, President of the Friends of the San Jacinto Battlefield.  Her organization

    is working with Preservation Texas to raise awareness of the need for better planning around

    the historic site.  They're concerned about development encroaching on the battlefield, as well

    as pollution from nearby industry.  DeVault says the group does not oppose building in the area,

    but wants to preserve the 19th century character of the landscape."

    Hear the fuller segment at 


    Texana at Calaca Press

    Cal A. Vera    Searching Calaca Press, a specialist in Hispanic titles, one can find 14 titles using the keyword "Texas."  The first 4 citations are
    1. Lunar Braceros 2125-2148
    (Calaca Titles/Books)
    ...illustrations by San Diego, Califas artist Mario A. Chacon Twenty-second century Cholos living on Cali-Texas Reservations have few options.  One of them is signing up as Moon Tecos, technicians...

    2. raúlrsalinas Poetry Contest Winner
    ...ook, a $500 honorarium and travel to and from book release readings in San Diego, California and Austin, Texas. Joe Montoya's poetry reflects the heartbreaking realities of life on the rez. ...

    3. Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas
    (Calaca Titles/Books)
    ...versity of California at Santa Cruz and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso.  This is her first book.   Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas by Olga...

    4. Los Many Mundos of raúlrsalinas
    (Calaca Titles/Spoken Word CD\'s)
    First CD by Critically Acclaimed Xicanindio Poet Activist raúlrsalinas Texas bred firebrand combines spoken word with jazz blend Los Many Mundos of raúlrsalinas / ISBN 0-9660773-5-0 /

    Generals Carroll "Curly" Lewis & Sam Houston - Texas Army

    K.K. Searle, in his "Texas History Page," passes along Jim Peddy's and David Martin's news of Carroll "Curly" Lewis' death and of  of Sam Houston IV's succession as General of the Texas Army.
    Salutes to both fine gentlemen.


    Tuesday, February 09, 2010

    Prison Exhibit at Texas State Library

    Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System's First Hundred Years 1848-1948
    Laura Saegert passes along this news from TSL on its new exhibit:
    Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System's First Hundred Years, 1848-1948
    "Announcing the latest online exhibit from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. 
    "Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System's First Hundred Years,
    1848-1948" is a new online history exhibit from the Texas State Library and
    Archives. Drawing from the Archives' extensive collections of historic
    penitentiary records, the exhibit documents in words, photographs, and
    archival images how, from humble beginnings with little money or public
    support, the Texas prison system eventually transformed into a self-supporting
    network of sugar and cotton farms. But hellish conditions and brutal
    punishments led to one of the greatest scandals in Texas history, and began a
    cycle of reform that brought Texas to a new era of professional penology."

    In addition, the website contains a complete list of links to the online
    finding aids to the original records. The exhibit may be found at:
    At the site you will find it progresses chronologically:
    Rough Beginnings, 1849-1861
    War and Collapse, 1861-1871
    The Lease Era, 1871-1883
    Convict Leasing, 1883-1909
    Scandal and Reform, 1909-1911
    Perpetual Inquiry, 1911-1927
    Reform and Reaction, 1927-1948

    Jack Johnson, 1909

    Jack Johnson, 1909 by John McNab.

    Jack Johnson, 1909  by John McNab

    World Heavyweight Champion 1908–1915.
    Creative Commons CopyrightAttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved

    Wired Horses in Plano - Madison Berndt

    Plano, TX by Madison Berndt

    Plano, TX

    Original annotation:
    "Plano, Texas: These horse sculptures are located on Plano Road. I drive by them each day on the way home. The land is currently being developed and will be covered with housing and office buildings within a few years. I decided to take these pictures now while there are no buildings in the way." 

    Monday, February 08, 2010

    Tuesday, February 02, 2010

    Jenkins Garrett Dies

    image of Jenkins Garrett     Kent Calder sends a Special Report from the Texas State Historical Association brings news of the death of Jenkins Garrett, a fellow whose life became both a foundation and a pillar advancing our historical awareness of outselves and others:
    Special Report:
    Dear Texas State Historical Association Members and Friends,

    I regret to inform you that Jenkins Garrett, TSHA President 1988 - 1989, passed away Thursday, January 28, 2010, in Fort Worth at the age of 95.

    Mr. Garrett was the husband of Virginia Williams Garrett and the father of Dianne Garrett Powell, who is the Association's Vice-President.

    A tribute to Mr. Garrett appears in today's Fort Worth Star Telegram, which is available in an
    online version. The article includes details about the services planned for Monday, February 1 in Fort Worth. The link also has a Guestbook, with options to write a comment and to read those of others.

    I am sure you will join me, the Board, and the staff in the sadness of losing a great Texan,


    J. Kent Calder