Lilly Texana: one hundred eighty broadsides and other ephemera relating to Texas printed and published in Mexico before 1849 in the Lilly Library of Indiana University

By Everett C. Wilkie. Bloomington, IN: The Lilly Library, 2010. 110 pp. $40.00 (paperback), ISBN 978-0977752973.

Everett C. Wilkie’s richly titled Lilly Texana: one hundred eighty broadsides and other ephemera relating to Texas printed and published in Mexico before 1849 in the Lilly Library of Indiana University is an exciting publication that that will be of great interest to historians of Mexico-Texas relations and to information professionals interested in archives and bibliographic description. Wilkie, an independent researcher, discovered among the approximately 15,000-item Bernardo Mendel Collection in the Lilly Library at Indiana University, a hidden collection of printed materials pertaining generally to Mexican-U.S. relations and to Texas specifically; with a fellowship from the Lilly Library, Wilkie set about curating and describing the one hundred and eighty items featured in Lilly Texana.

Though Wilkie discovered more items than are considered here, the one hundred eighty documents in this text are presented as a result of Wilkie’s curation and careful consideration for the holding institution and for the geographic and temporal significance of a given item. Writing that “no pretension is made to historical inclusiveness,” (xii) Wilkie explains that this work is meant to convey the significance of the items in the Lilly Library alone, a point which distinguishes this work from others on the topic of Texas history, most notably Streeter’s Bibliography of Texas, 1795-1845. Wilkie also considers specific places of publication another inclusion criterion, noting that “all items published by the state of Coahuila and Texas[…]are included on the theory that no matter what their content they were issued by Texas’ governing authority and are therefore pertinent” (xii). Finally, Wilkie scopes the collection chronologically by beginning with a work published in 1788 (a print regarding a general amnesty law for military deserters) and by concluding this collection with a work from 1848, the year in which the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, thus ending the Mexican-American War. Wilkie helpfully includes a table (xiii) detailing the publication years represented in this work as well as the corresponding number of items included for that year.

The content of the items that comprise this collection is tremendously interesting for the way in which it chronicles the political history of the region. Regarding an entry from November 1821, Wilkie describes a failed attempt at achieving for Texas, “as a political entity”, representation in Mexico and how “political flip-flops…were an irritant in the process of establishing an orderly colony with reasonable political processes” (5). Wilkie adeptly explains the consequences of another flashpoint, occurring eight years later in 1829, wherein a law providing for the abolition of slavery is enacted; the law “nearly cost Texas slaveholders their human property,” but the law was, in fact, never published in Texas (33). Another item from 1835 establishes Wilikie’s talent at curating and describing that which is both significant and rare (“Streeter himself knew of no copy of this edition”). Describing an enacted law designed to nullify previous legislation for raising public funds for an emergency, Wilkie notes that the law and ensuing controversy led to an increase in Mexican military presence in Texas and eventual armed opposition (49). Throughout the items in this work, Wilkie superbly demonstrates his skill for highly focused selection and for comprehensive description.

While a great body of literature presently exists on Mexican-U.S. relations through 1848, Wilkie’s collection of printed materials is a new and significant addition to the existing works on the subject and is particularly meaningful given the survival of these materials through a period of archival destruction in Mexico. By discovering, describing, and making available in both print and electronic form (two DVDs containing high resolution scans of all one hundred eighty items accompany the work) previously inaccessible documents, Wilkie makes a significant contribution to historians as well as to information professionals who can benefit from and be privy to the methods of a sophisticated bibliographer.

Ivey Glendon, University of Virginia