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In a recent release of the Texas Originals podcast by Humanities Texas, the story of Lorenzo de Zavala is documented. Zavala had a strong commitment to fighting oppression. Zavala was a leading official in the Mexican government under Santa Anna in the early 19th century, but he began to disapprove of Santa Anna's consolidation of power in Texas in the 1830s. At this time, Zavala became a prominent...
In a recent release of the Texas Originals podcast by Humanities Texas, the story of Lorenzo de Zavala is documented. Zavala had a strong commitment to fighting oppression. Zavala was a leading official in the Mexican government under Santa Anna in the early 19th century, but he began to disapprove of Santa Anna's consolidation of power in Texas in the 1830s. At this time, Zavala became a prominent...
 This digital collection contains over one hundred posters that illuminate the lived experience of the war from the point of view of its participants and observers worldwide
This is a lecture sponsored by Humanities Texas and published online in July 2016. David Oshinsky’s lecture was funded by the Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Initiative in observance of the one-hundred-year anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize. The lecture was delivered as part of Humanities Texas's 2016 "Post-War America, 1945–1960" teacher institute in Austin. Who could have imagined that Ron Chernow's fine...
American Prisoners of War" includes compelling firsthand narratives from World War II POWs Robert Preston Taylor, Rufus W. Smith, and Roy Maxwell Offerle; World War I POW Pat O'Brien; Vietnam War POW Congressman Sam Johnson; and Andersonville prisoner Prescott Tracy, as well as resources on American prisoners of the Korean War and a selection of POW-related film and radio documentaries. Most of the veterans featured...
In the 1920s, writer Winifred Sanford's stories of the Texas oil boom captured the anxieties of a state on the verge of modernization. Born in Minnesota, Sanford moved to Wichita Falls in 1920, as her husband sought his fortune in the new oilfields of North Texas. At first, Sanford found the small town stifling. But she soon realized the oil boom made Texas more complex than it had first seemed. Swift change made...
Acclaimed singer and actress Etta Moten Barnett was born in Weimar, Texas, in 1901. By the age of ten, she was singing in the choir of her father’s church. Thirty-three years later, at the invitation of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, she became the first African American woman to sing at the White House. Barnett's career led her to Hollywood, where she appeared in films such as Busby Berkeley's Gold Diggers of 1933...
Karle Wilson Baker was Texas's most celebrated poet in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Arkansas in 1878, she moved to Nacogdoches in her early twenties and soon fell under the spell of her adopted state, writing about the role of Texans in the American drama. Her collection of poems Dreamers on Horseback was nominated for the 1931 Pulitzer Prize. Texas Originals is also available on iTunes!...
In the early 1880s, a young African American boy in Texarkana named Scott Joplin was trained in the fundamentals of classical music and opera by his German-born teacher. Born near Linden, Joplin was the son of a former slave—and a budding musical talent. By his early twenties, he left home to become an itinerant musician. While living in St. Louis, Joplin encountered a kind of music that juxtaposed a steady,...
Librarian and historian Nettie Lee Benson rose from a bookish South Texas childhood to assemble one of the world’s leading archives for research on Latin America. Born in 1905, Benson grew up on a family farm outside Sinton, not far from Corpus Christi, and earned her undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin. In 1925, she took a teaching job in Monterrey. There, as she later explained, she “drank...
The singer who first performed the song "Ol' Man River" is an obscure figure today. Baritone Julius Bledsoe was among the first African Americans to appear on Broadway, but he made few recordings and his fame was soon eclipsed by the great Paul Robeson, who succeeded him in the role of Joe in the classic musical Show Boat. A critic from the New York Morning Telegraph described him as "a singer who can pick the heart...
In December 1984 and February 1985, Michael L. Gillette, then director of the LBJ Library's Oral History Program, conducted his only two video interviews with Lady Bird Johnson in the dining room at her home on the LBJ Ranch. Though the interviews were recorded to accompany an LBJ Library exhibition, A White House Diary, most of this footage has not been seen by the public. In the excerpt featured, Mrs. Johnson...
Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca first set foot on land that would become Texas in 1528, when his crude raft ran aground near Galveston Island. The raft held survivors of an ill-fated Spanish expedition to settle Florida. Cabeza de Vaca then embarked upon what one scholar described as "the most remarkable [journey] in the record of American exploration." He lived for several years among Texas Indians,...
As a public official, suffragist, and educator, Annie Webb Blanton devoted her life to women's rights. She said, "Everything that helps to wear away age-old prejudices contributes towards the advancement of women and of humanity." Born in Houston in 1870, Blanton pursued a career in teaching to demonstrate her independence. After graduating from The University of Texas in 1899, she worked at Denton's North Texas...
Mildred Didrikson Zaharias, nicknamed "Babe" for her childhood prowess on the baseball diamond, dominated women's sports from the 1930s through the '50s. She was born in 1911 in Port Arthur, Texas, and quickly became known as not just a gifted athlete, but a fierce competitor in every arena she entered. Though best remembered for her accomplishments in golf and track and field, she also excelled in...
Born in Galveston in 1894, King Wallis Vidor grew up with the movies. Over the course of his career, he directed both silent and sound films and worked with many of Hollywood's top stars, from Charlie Chaplin to Audrey Hepburn. Vidor began his career in film as a teenager, working as a projectionist in a Galveston theater. His first hit came in 1925, with The Big Parade, the highest grossing silent film of all...
William Barret Travis was only twenty-six years old when he died defending the Alamo. He came from Alabama just five years before, in 1831, leaving behind a failed career and marriage. Texas, a land he came to love, gave Travis a new life—and an early death. Travis clashed with authorities in Anahuac shortly after arriving in Texas, feuding over Mexico's antislavery laws. He spent two months in prison and...
When Belle Starr was shot to death in 1889, a newspaper declared her to be "a most desperate woman." Her killer was never identified. Many suspected her son, whom Belle had recently beaten for mistreating her horse. Her unsolved murder was a fitting end to a life that was a whirlwind of violence, crime, and legend. She was born Myra Maybelle Shirley in 1848, and at the age of sixteen moved to the North...
Texas revolutionary Juan Seguín was a politician, a soldier, a businessman, even a suspected traitor. Yet he was also a hero and an honored veteran. The contradictions of Seguín's life illustrate how complicated loyalty was during the struggle for Texas independence—especially for Tejano citizens of the Republic. Seguín was born in San Antonio in 1806. As a young man, he formed a...
According to one of his fans, actor and Texas native Zachary Scott had an air of sophistication that made him look like he had "been born in a dinner jacket." Best known for portraying scoundrels, playboys, and villains, Scott was one of Texas's most recognizable faces during Hollywood's golden age. Born in Austin in 1914, Scott studied acting at The University of Texas. He worked in regional...
In 1925, an anonymous novel called The Wind spotlighted the West Texas town of Sweetwater. The Wind told the tragic tale of Letty Mason, a Virginian who moves to Sweetwater during the drought-stricken 1880s. By book’s end, Letty has committed murder and suicide—driven in part by the relentless West Texas wind. Reviewers praised the book for depicting the West with "cold truth." However, many...
The German army considered Pointe du Hoc a perfect spot for defending the coast of France from Allied forces during World War II. From atop its hundred-foot cliffs, German guns could reach both Omaha Beach and Utah Beach. The Germans thought their position was secure. And it was—until June 1944, when Texan James Earl Rudder and his Second Ranger Battalion began to climb those cliffs. Rudder graduated from...
The series of pastels titled Twenty-four Hours with the Herd depicts an iconic Texas scene: the cattle drive. Artist Frank Reaugh completed the series in the 1930s, but they portray an earlier chapter of Texas history, when fences had not yet crossed the landscape, and men and cattle moved freely on the open range. Born in Illinois in 1860, Reaugh moved to Texas when he was fifteen. His family grew cotton, but young...
The Gutenberg Bible, completed in 1454, is the first substantial book printed with movable type. Of the twenty-one complete copies in existence, one is on view at The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center. This book—and the center that houses it—are the proud legacy of Chancellor Harry Huntt Ransom, known as "The Great Acquisitor." Born in Galveston in 1908, Ransom came to UT...
William Sydney Porter—better known by his pen name, O. Henry—was born in North Carolina and died in New York. But his sixteen years in Texas, from 1882 to 1898, made a lasting mark on his life and work. In Texas, Porter developed an abiding love for the American West. He worked as a ranch hand, a pharmacist, a draftsman; edited his own newspaper; and met his wife. It was also in Texas where Porter was...
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