This past weekend I passed on Texian Market Days and attended this conference sponsored by Victoria College/University of Houston-Victoria. (While I felt bad not going to TMD as it was the 25th year, after seeing some of the photos I'm glad I didn't as it seemed to lack authenticity. Lots of netting on hats, false ringlet falls in unnatural colors and badly made up Simplicity patterns in upholstry fabric. I don't think I would have had a good time.)
The conference was well done with many well-qualified speakers. I was pleased to see several papers on minority populations. But not a lot of new information, although I did learn about some new sources I wasn't aware of. A new book to look out for: the letters between KM and Minerva Van Zandt. Being edited and I hope is published soon. The talk by Terry Alford on Booth and the assassination of Lincoln was very good. Very indepth information and background on Booth. Information you don't get from the History channel programs :). I also found the session on Bernard Bee Jr. very entertaining.
The obligatory "home front" papers were interesting. One paper was on the effect of the war on the home front, basically the same that I did for the Harrisburg conference even with the same sources, but with a completely different thesis. In this talk there was a lot of starvation and lives turned upside down. Sounded like she was talking about the upper south rather than Texas. She seemed to take the experience of people in Galveston and Corpus Christi and apply it to the entire state. Even one of the other speakers addressed this saying it was hard, a challenge, but nothing like what they experienced in other southern states.
I also enjoyed the session on the German population and their experiences in the war. But again, not much new information. I did learn quite a bit during the Latino topic session. That is a population I have not yet researched. There was an interesting session on Sally Skull; a kind of first person performance. Some of the speakers took roles of some of Skull's relatives, husbands, and acquaintences and commented on her life. It sounded like a lot of what they read was taken from letters, diairies and other period accounts. An interesting way to explore a person's life and discuss contradicting accounts.
The rest of the sessions concentrated on military and reconstruction topics. There were a few books there, but I either have them or were not a topic of interest.
Next weekend I'm going to a symposium on material culture of the mid-19th century south. I'm hoping it meets my expectations; the topics sound wonderful. After that, events dry up. There is Imprisoned on the Frontier in November but I think money is going to be an issue getting up there so I may have to pass. Not much else on the calendar. Leaves me time for research.