It’s no secret that Texas possesses a rich history that is a unique blending of cultures filled with a riveting collection of heroes and rogues. It is a story ripe with intrigue, one that is more complex than the history of many nations, which is only natural since Texas was once an independent nation itself. It is also a story that most Texans know only one-dimensionally, if at all.
The Birth of Texas Documentary Series is a multi-part series of feature length documentaries that chronicle the journey from Spanish Texas, along the road to Revolution, through the days of the Republic and on to statehood. The videos not only explore the complete stories of the famous military actions at the Alamo, Goliad and San Jacinto including recent breakthroughs in scholarship and archaeology, but also the roles played by Tejanos, American settlers, filibusterers, enslaved African-Americans, European immigrants and foreign governments in shaping the story of our state.
Each high-definition video, running between ninety minutes and three hours in length, tells these stories through the voices of the top historians in Texas. The backdrop of each installment is an historic location as it appears today. Renowned author, Stephen Hardin, leads the viewer to important “tour stops”. Following each location stop is a mini-documentary in which historians discuss a related topic with the aid of period drawings and photographs, video, re-enactors, maps and tone-setting music.
With a location-based backbone, these documentaries educate adults and students about the early history of our great State of Texas. They also serve as a powerful vehicle for history tourism, motivating people to visit these hallowed locations for themselves.
The first four documentaries in the series to be completed are Houston: A Nation’s Capitol, Spanish Texas, San Felipe and American Settlement and Washington-on-the-Brazos: The Politics of Revolution.The former explores how one of the great American cities began as a capital on paper only, born from a rowdy gathering of tents, clapboard houses and saloons along an overgrown bayou. Spanish Texas includes the mission and presidio system, Tejano settlers, Texas Indians, filibusters, pirates, the beginnings of Texas ranching and the Enlightenment in Northern Mexico. The San Felipe title explores the Austin family, the colonists and the start of Texas slavery. In Washington, we cover the whys of the Texas Revolution, ending with the Battle of Gonzales and the Texas Declaration of Independence
Other documentaries in the Birth of Texas Series will revolve around Goliad, the Alamo, San Jacinto and Austin. Each will follow the same pattern of telling not only the stories of what happened there, but exploring the broader themes that existed in Texas of the early nineteenth century and grounding them in solid and recognizable historical context.
The resulting DVDs will be made available for public purchase by individuals, schools and libraries. A certain number will also be donated to institutions around the state. Some of these films have aired on PBS stations around Texas, and we are working to expand that presence. A support site for teachers, students and others to learn more about this important documentary series is now online.
You may view more detail about each episode here.
Transcription Services for Birth of Texas Series provided by: