Lamar scholars bring Texas history into 20th century
Lamar University faculty members John Storey and Mary Kelley have provided scholars and history lovers alike with a new take on Texas history – one that focuses on the state’s transformation during the 20th century.
The result is “Twentieth-Century Texas: A Social and Cultural History” published by The University of North Texas Press.
While standard histories of Texas traditionally focus on political, military and economic topics, with emphasis on the 19th century, Storey and Kelley have compiled and edited 15 essays covering a diversity of topics, from ethnic groups and women to music, literature, film and art to philanthropy, education, the environment, science and technology. Until recently, all are topics often neglected or marginalized in traditional history books.
“I spend a lot of time in my class covering the founding period of Texas but came to the realization that 20th century history is rather sparse,” said Kelley, an associate professor of history and resident of Beaumont . “We’re very different than we were in the 19th century because so much demographic change had occurred. I developed the concept of focusing on society and culture because traditional history is political, economic and military.”
She approached Storey, regents’ professor and history department chair, and he urged her to proceed. “I told Dr. Storey the only way I would do it is if he would serve as co-editor – so this was collaboration. We were able to find 15 experts on various social and cultural topics. They wrote the essays, and our job was to edit them and produce an anthology focusing on the important social and cultural topics of the 20th century.”
Storey, who lives in Port Neches, is pleased that a diverse array of historians and scholars is represented – from across and outside Texas . From Lamar, essayists include Kelley, Storey and Ralph Wooster, distinguished professor emeritus of history. Their essays are “Private Wealth, Public Good: Texans and Philanthropy” (Kelley), “Pagodas amid the Steeples: The Changing Religious Landscape” (Storey) and “Over Here: Texans on the Homefront” ( Wooster ).
Historian Bill O’Neal traces the history of sports in the state with his essay, “The Games Texans Play,” while Don Graham reviews “Lone Star Cinema: A Century of Texas at the Movies.” Yet another perspective comes from Gary Hartman with “From Yellow Roses to Dixie Chicks: Women and Gender in Texas Music.”
“ Texas changed enormously in the 20th century, and much of that transformation was a direct product of social events,” writes the book’s publisher. “Standard histories of Texas traditionally focus on political, military and economic topics with emphasis on the 19th century. In ‘Twentieth-Century Texas: A Social and Cultural History,’ editors John W. Story and Mary L. Kelly offer a much-needed corrective.”
Storey, a Lamar faculty member since 1968, is the author of “Texas Baptist Leadership and Social Christianity” and co-author of “Southern Baptists of Southeast Texas,” “The Religious Right” and “Religion and Politics.” In 2007, the East Texas Historical Association honored him as East Texas Educator of the Year.
Kelley has published “The Foundations of Texan Philanthropy” and numerous scholarly articles. She is working on a volume about Texas women in the 20th century. A Fulbright scholar, Kelley joined the Lamar faculty in 2002.
“Coordinating the essays proved to be quite a task,” Storey said, “but we’re extremely pleased with the result.”
The book may be ordered at 1-800-826-8911