Between the Mythic and the Material: Texas Exceptionalism and Early Austin History

Author(s): Noel Harris

Year: 2017


Popular histories portray the Republic of Texas capital city of Austin between 1839 and 1846 as a crude frontier town, characterized by Anglo-American heroism and material deprivation. By stressing these aspects of Republic-era life, such histories omit many facets of early Austin’s social history, including enslaved forced migration and individualism that diverge from this narrative. This research carefully examines extant objects, architecture, and primary source documents to suggest an alternate historical reading of early Austin’s cultural identity that contradicts the mythic identity of Texas exceptionalism. Material evidence belies the stoic acceptance of a handmade, hard-scrabble existence. Rather, this telling reflects an attempt to recreate established social institutions and material comforts through commercial trade and by the work of enslaved people, a narrative which broadens and complements popularly accepted notions of early Texas cultural identity. 

Cite this Record

Between the Mythic and the Material: Texas Exceptionalism and Early Austin History. Noel Harris. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435431)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Temporal Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 384