Honey, Ain’t You Glad We’re Texan: The Mythic Narrative of Texas in the Texas Centennial

Abstract: 

The Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936, held in Dallas, was the first exposition of its kind in the state. Texas celebrated its 100th anniversary of independence from Mexico with a permanent Fair Grounds and a 176-day celebration. Focused on Texas history, the Centennial would be so large and important it would attract the attention of the rest of the nation. Texas history could then be utilized for advertisement, and also to communicate a Texas historical narrative. As such, the Centennial was important in not only celebrating Texas history and improving the economy, but also defining a Texan identity. In this paper, I expand current scholarship, examining the Texas Centennial and one of its focal points, the State of Texas Building. With the new scholarship on Texas identity and myth making, such as the new publication of Lone Star Pasts, I argue alongside Cummins that the Texas Centennial poses a significant shift in Texas identity. However, rather than the argument that Cummins proposes, crafting an idea of a Western Texas, I propose that the Centennial was used to encapsulate and perpetuate the Texas myth and identity. The acres of Dallas Fair Park came together to create an exposition that combined the large state population into one collective Texas identity. This mythic historical narrative is crafted by the emphasis placed on the State of Texas building and the murals within its different rooms. In conjunction with the ideas of Regionalism and the New Deal, visual narratives, and historical memory, this building serves as a case study for the new developments over mythical historical narrative in Texas.

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