Houston Matters

Why we sometimes are too precious about historical mythologies

Two Houston-area history professors weigh in on how we teach and think about Texas history.


Painting of the Battle of the Alamo
Public domain
Dawn at the Alamo by Henry Arthur McArdle, depicting one of the major events in Texas history


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It's not just a Texas thing, but maybe it is largely a Texas thing. When we teach our state's history, there's a narrative — a mythology — that sometimes gets challenged by historical fact, and that doesn't sit well with everyone.

Case in point: Recently Texas State Sen. Mayes Middleton from Galveston sent a letter to the University of Texas asking the Texas State Historical Association not to renew the contract for their Chief Historian, who Middleton says in the letter "frequently paints our exceptional Texas history in a negative light."

The state senator’s letter raises intriguing questions about how we teach and think about Texas history. Such as: What happens when the mythology built up across generations doesn't jibe with objectively gathered facts? Why do some care so much about the idea that something that happened in the past has to fit a particular and clean narrative? Why are some of us so emotionally invested in the version of history we were taught?

In the audio above, we delve into those questions, and discuss some examples, with Raúl Ramos, associate professor of history at the University of Houston, and Gene Preuss, associate professor of History at UH-Downtown.

Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on Houston Public Media Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews...

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