The Frontier Centennial

The Frontier Centennial

Fort Worth and the New West

Grover E. Murray Studies in the American Southwest

by Jacob W. Olmstead

Published by: Texas Tech University Press

Imprint: Texas Tech University Press

320 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.00 in

  • Hardcover
  • 9781682830833
  • Published: August 2021


  • eBook
  • 9781682830840
  • Published: August 2021


In 1936, the Texas centennial was celebrated across the state. In The Frontier Centennial, Jacob Olmstead argues that Fort Worth’s celebration of the centennial represented a unique opportunity to reshape the city’s identity and align itself with a progressive future. Olmstead draws out the Frontier Centennial from its inception as a commemorative fair to theme park enshrining the mythic West to show the various ways centennial planners, boosters, and civic leaders sought to use the celebration as a means to bolster the city’s identity and image as a modern city of the American West.

Olmstead’s retelling of the Frontier Centennial looks at two distinctive processes. The first addresses the interplay of memory, identity, and image in the evolution of the celebration’s commemorative messages. Fort Worth’s image as a progressive western metropolis also impacted other areas, less central, to Frontier Centennial planning. Debates over how outsiders would interpret features of the celebration, carried on by club women and others, reveal the interest the citizenry held in upholding or contesting the city’s modern image. Overlapping with the issues of memory and identity, the second process addresses how the larger narratives of the mythic West influenced the content of the celebration. Though drawn from actual events and people, the myth reduces the past to its “ideological essence.” Mythmakers, like historians, draw upon facts to explain and give meaning to a particular worldview.