Description

    J. Frank Dobie. Minority Report of the Advisory Board of Texas Historians to the Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations. Austin: October 1, 1935. First edition. Inscribed by Dobie on title page to Marcelle Hamer, a friend of Dobie's who was a colleague at the Texas Folklore Society and head of the Texas Collection at the University of Texas library. Gray side-stapled wraps with brown cloth backstrip. 32 pp (mimeographed). Some fraying and minor loss to spine ends. Light rubbing and toning to covers and a couple of shallow creases to corners. A newspaper article relating to this report has been pasted to inside front cover, causing offsetting to title page, affecting a portion of Dobie's inscription. Throughout the text there are a few hand-written corrections, apparently in Dobie's hand. Very good.

    J. Frank Dobie, perhaps the most popular Texas writer of his era, was appointed to sit on the three-member Advisory Board of Texas Historians which was created to allocate $750,000 in available funds for statues, monuments, markers, and plaques memorializing historical figures and events throughout the state. Dobie felt that the board's Majority Report had contained several persons undeserving of monuments; he also felt that several deserving subjects had been overlooked. His recommendations (which, by the way, came in under budget) comprise this Minority Report.

    Blunt and opinionated, Dobie rails against what he feels are poor choices of the Board for pricey statuary immortalization: "A great many Texans would walk a long way to get a full glimpse of Sam Houston or Stephen F. Austin - or of Sam Bass, for pictorial and not heroic reasons. But who cares what Peter Hansboro Bell or Collin McKinney looked like?" He is clearly exasperated by several recommendations, including the one that $14,000 be spent on a statue of David G. Burnet: "The most remarkable feature about him was his beard," he writes, dismissively.

    Dobie's report is forceful and thorough. Not only does he present a full itemized budget for each senatorial district, he spends considerable time explaining his reasons for and against erecting each specific monument. Dobie's deep knowledge of - and his exuberant enthusiasm for - Texas history fills this report as he strives to ensure that the state will be filled with "works of art that will be beautiful, noble and inspiring."

    Several passages are quite colorful and amusing, such as the persuasive reasoning behind just who deserves a statue and who does not: "[C]ertain men because of their picturesqueness lend themselves to sculptural representation. To illustrate, I judge that Thomas J. Rusk was a nobler man than Jim Bowie, even though Bowie died in the Alamo, and that he did more for Texas civilization than Bowie did. [...] We may esteem a man without finding him very interesting. Jim Bowie riding alligators, wielding the Bowie knife, making love to the lovely Ursula de Veremendi, fighting Indians and looking for a fantastic lost mine at the same time, and then dying in the Alamo a death as brave as his whole life - this Bowie could be immensely interesting in bronze [...]." Rusk, apparently, was not quite so picturesque and, thus, according to Dobie's criteria, was not statue-worthy.

    This report is a surprisingly entertaining and informative read that, as far as we are able to determine, has not been reprinted. As the Advisory Board and the two Centennial commissions were comprised of less than fifty members, one might assume that there were only a very few copies of this report printed. An unusual Dobie item that rarely comes on the market.

    Reference: McVicker D18.


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