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     A Publication of THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN
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April 3, 2002
Vol. 28, No. 16

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Heroes emerge from daring water rescue

Take two cold viruses and call me tomorrow

Heman Sweatt Symposium features Johnnie Cochran

Honors Day to celebrate achievements of students

UT Remembers memorial service scheduled for May 3

Bridging the language gap

Explore UT showcases unlimited potential of people

Pharmacologist explores myths about addiction

The personality of personal spaces

Hispanic girls and their mothers prepare for college

New employee orientation program debuts April 15

Center for American History showcases Crockett exhibit

A passion for fashion

Surprise salute!

Chirinos wins Truman Scholarship

Guadalupe Street construction will cause traffic

Stressfest 2002 set for Wednesday, April 10

Admissions task force affirms current approach

Faculty Council

Meeting on transatlantic relations to be at the university

Repair work on turtle ponds under way

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Sunrise in His Pocket: The Life, Legend and Legacy of Davy Crockett

By Richard Bonnin

"I know that obscure as I am, my name is making considerable deal of fuss in the world. I can't tell why it is, nor in what it is to end. Go where I will, everybody seems anxious to get a peep at me." — Davy Crockett, 1834

Davy Crockett painting by John Gadsby Chapman
Davy Crockett painting by John Gadsby Chapman, courtesy of the Art Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, assisted by items on loan from The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for American History (CAH), is celebrating the “King of the Wild Frontier” with a temporary exhibit Sunrise in His Pocket: The Life, Legend and Legacy of Davy Crockett, on display through Aug. 18.

Fourteen items from the CAH are included in the exhibit, continuing a working partnership with the museum that enhances the center’s mission of teaching and research.

Texas State History Museum
The Texas State History Museum, through a working partnership with the university and others, provides an opportunity for visitors to celebrate Davy Crockett's life and legacy in American folklore. The Crockett exhibit opened March 2.
“Our strong and close relationship with the museum has resulted in the center serving as a major donor to the current exhibit on David Crockett,” said Dr. Don E. Carleton, director of the center. “Not only are we displaying the famous page in the Jose Enrique de la Pena narrative describing Crockett's execution at the Alamo, but also such treasures as the personal manuscript diary of Col. William B. Travis (1833-34) and an 1849 daguerreotype photograph of the Alamo Chapel that is the oldest datable photograph taken in Texas.”The exhibits that CAH has at the Bullock Museum and at other places help the center fulfill its mission by providing information about its collections to potential researchers and to the general public, Carleton said.

“This helps to encourage research and other use of our holdings,” he said. “In addition, the public display of items from our collections provides materials that primary and secondary education teachers can incorporate into lesson plans relating to field trips. Another benefit is that these exhibits often attract donations of related material to the center.”

Equestrian portrait of Santa Anna
Equestrian portrait of Santa Anna from Center for American History, on display for the Davy Crocket exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.
CAH's relationship with the Bullock Texas History Museum began soon after the announcement that the state would build it.

"I was among the team of historians who helped plan the exhibits," Carleton said. "I helped with the 20th century section. After the exhibits were planned, CAH served as the primary provider of historical documents for various displays.

"We have more than 60 individual items in the Bullock 's main exhibit area, including Elizabeth Ney's life size plaster statue of Sam Houston, the prison diary of Stephen F. Austin, Big Foot Wallace's buckskin coat and items from our Sam Rayburn collection.

Famous page from the Jose Enrique de la Pena narrative describing Crockett's execution at the Alamo
The Crockett exhibit includes the famous page in the Jose Enrique de la Pena narrative describing the popular frontier hero's execution at the Alamo.
"Because of its location, the quality of its staff and its status as a public institution, we view the Bullock Museum as an outstanding venue to display the center's Texas history treasures that the university has been collecting for more than 110 years.”

Although Crockett was in Texas only for three months or so, his influence on the creation and evolution of the founding myth of the state has been enormous, Carleton said.

“Almost immediately after his death at the Battle of the Alamo, Crockett's legacy assumed legendary status in American popular culture through plays and dime novels,” he said. “His actions in defending the Alamo, and the fact of his martyrdom there, played a significant role in the formation of Texas’ identity, and as a place ‘created’ by prototypical American heroes.”

With his death at the Alamo, a willing sacrifice to Texas’ freedom, Crockett became a mythic figure, said Dr. Paul Andrew Hutton, exhibit curator and director of the Western History Association.

The Texian Grand March for Piano Forte by Edwin Meyrick
The Texian Grand March for Piano Forte by Edwin Meyrick 1835. "Respectfully dedicated to Gen. Sam Houston and His Brave Companions in Arms." (Center for American History). It is on view in conjunction with the Davy Crockett exhibit at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum.
“His name has never since been absent from the marketplace of American folklore and entertainment,” Hutton said. “The subject of plays, tall tales, films, television programs, and souvenirs and toys of successive generations’ popular culture, Crockett allows us to examine the way in which the West of the popular imagination both created, and was created, by its heroes.

“Crockett’s legend illustrates the process of commercial hero-making. More than a discovery of the real vs. imputed hero, this exhibition sets out to show ‘the complete Crockett.’”

Organized with the cooperation of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo., the exhibit pays homage to both the man and the myth by displaying artifacts from Crockett's life, along with objects that reflect his ongoing influence in American culture.

The exhibit explores Crockett as the quintessential frontiersman, the inspiration for the American image of the “hunter-hero,” a symbol of the “Age of Common Man,” a martyr for the cause of America's Manifest Destiny and a celebrity of popular culture.

Museum visitors will be able to see some of Crockett's belongings, such as his personal letters and rifles, as well as the “Davy Crockett Almanacs” that helped create his celebrity status both during and after his lifetime.

The exhibit contains six video segments from the television documentary, Boone & Crockett, The Hunter-Heroes, produced and donated by The History Channel. Also on display are objects and artifacts inspired by Crockett's story created in the years after his death, such as an original script with notations from a Victorian-era theater production, dime novels, portraits — even Fess Parker's rifle from the popular TV program that aired in 1955 and John Wayne's buckskin costume from the 1960 film.

A recreated child's room from 1955 at the height of Crockett mania Douglas Taylor performs a one-man show as Davy Crockett at the Bullock Museum's Spirit of Texas Theater
Items from the Davy Crockett exhibit

LEFT: A recreated child's room from 1955—the height of Crockett mania. CENTER: Douglas Taylor performs a one-man show as Davy Crockett at the Bullock Museum's Spirit of Texas Theater. RIGHT, from left: Portrait of Gen. Cos, c. 1840, in Frost's Pictorial History of Mexico and the Mexican War (Benson Collection); Equestrian portrait of Santa Anna by W. H. Dodd (the Center for American History); Fuerte de San Antonio de Valero, llamado comunmente del Alamo, 1836, a drawing by Jose Juan Sanchez Navarro (Center for American History); and Manifesto de sus Operaciones en la Campana de Tejas, by Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Veracruz, 1837 (Texas Collection Library).

Photos by Marsha Miller

A figurehead of Davy Crockett from an 1853 clipper ship and a recreated child's room from 1955 — complete with Davy Crockett wallpaper, curtains, bedspread, furniture, pillowcases, pajamas and toys — are just a few examples of the many featured items that span more than a century of Crockett mania.

For more information about the Davy Crockett exhibit, visit the Texas State History Museum Web site. For information about the Center for American History, visit the Center for American History Web site.

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