The exhibit left the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in March 2007 — but the good folks who run the library left an on-line version. It’s a gallery of 100 photographic portraits of important Texans. Click on the photo, you get a short biography of each person.
Red Adair holds the first spot on the list, and ZZ Top occupies the last (the list is alphabetical). The list is eclectic, and useful. The list focuses on the 20th century, leaving out the usual Texas luminaries Austin, Houston and de Zavala, and that’s good. This is a great list for junior high Texas history students to use, for learning Texas history, or for selecting the “famous Texan” who will be the subject of their biography project.
A handful of these people are commonly reported on in classrooms. Most are not, however. You’ll learn more about Texas folklore and Texas’s Mexican heritage in music from these short biographies than you can learn in many Texas history courses. Adair to ZZ Top, including John Henry Faulk, John Nance Garner, Walter Cronkite, Bobby Layne, Janis Joplin, Scott Joplin, Michael DeBakey, George Foreman, Lydia Mendoza, Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins, Hector Garcia, and Bessie Coleman, and 86 others. All the major Texas industries are represented, and all parts of Texas. If a student knew all of these people, the student would have a heck of a bunch of Texas knowledge.
Use this exhibit to broaden your knowledge of Texas history, or to invent new teaching points. A savvy teacher could use these to create 100 bell ringers, I suspect — and do a lot more.
It would be great if the library were to publish a poster featuring the 100 portraits. Anybody in College Station listening?
How do you use this exhibit in your classroom?