Evelyn Barker is a librarian at the University of Texas at Arlington and the former curator of library and archive collections at the Dallas Historical Society.In 1935, Texas was preparing for its biggest celebration to date: a world's fair to commemorate the centennial of its independence from Mexico.
Centennial officials eager to publicize the event needed an abundance of photographic images that would put the state in the best possible light. They hired a young photographer, Polly Smith, who had recently returned from studying in New York, to travel the length and width of the state. Her mission was to capture the people and places that made Texas unique. The result of Smith's journey is a remarkable collection of images that range from the missions of San Antonio to dockworkers in Houston and on to the cotton fields of East Texas. Only twenty-eight when she began the project, Smith traveled alone across the state in a Ford pickup that she converted into a portable darkroom. Since the centennial, the Dallas Historical Society has preserved many of her photographs, and several have been on permanent display in the Hall of State in Fair Park. A Texas Journey: The Centennial Photographs of Polly Smith is the first book-length examination of Smith's life and work. The images presented here offer a revealing portrait of the Lone Star State in 1935."In 1936, Texas rode into the middle of America's Great Depression at a gallop, brandishing its Western color, Southern charm, and abundant natural resources for all to admire. The state was staging its Centennial celebration and intended to reinvent its image from an uncivilized frontier to that of a bountiful, diverse, and modern state. Centennial organizers proposed an unparalleled advertising blitz to entice visitors to see the state for themselves, but there was a hitch: In 100 years, no one had ever documented the state photographically. With time running short before the opening of Dallas's Centennial Exposition, officials hired Polly Smith,a 27-year-old photographer undertaking her first major professional assignment. Her task: to crisscross the state by air, rail, and car and illustrate Texas for America. In this historical account, author Evelyn Barker tells the story of the Texas Centennial and the woman who, with the support of her extraordinary family, rose above early hardships to become one of Texas finest photographers and the first to compile a comprehensive picture of the state."--BOOK JACKET.
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