Stories from Wimberley 1928-29

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New Journalism Project is pleased to announce the publication of a new book available at Lulu.com.

Stories from Wimberley 1928-29 by Eleanor Jennings provides a glimpse into small town life in the Texas Hill Country in the last century.  Eleanor Jennings was eight years old when she moved to Wimberley.  Her stories are childhood memories of family gatherings, school, the Wimberley Square, and the natural beauty of Cypress Creek and Blue Hole. 

The author’s daughter, Ann de Rouffignac, compiled the stories, family photos, and historical photos that enhance the written words.  The author, Eleanor Jennings, died in 2019.  New Journalism Project is pleased to mark what would have been the author’s 100th birthday with the publication of her stories.

John W. Poe, an officer of the Wimberley Institute of Cultures, knows local history is familiar with Eleanor Jennings’ childhood home.  He writes:

Eleanor Jennings’ stories really make the history of Wimberley in the late 1920s come alive.  The Wimberley Institute of Cultures (WIC)… was fortunate to acquire and preserve the old Wimberley-Hughes House a few years ago.  Eleanor Jennings lived in the house at the time of her stories which makes them all the more special to us.

Peter Wray, the founder of Blue Hole Park, says:

I have been coming to Wimberley continuously since 1945 to a house my grandfather built.  It is just downstream on the Cypress Creek from the Rock House.  Eleanor Jennings’ stories bring alive the life in Wimberley in 1928 and 1929 and will be treasured by our entire family.

And Mike August, formerly with Houston’s Pacifica radio station KPFT, and more recently involved with Wimberley Valley Radio, provides this insight:

These stories show how much and how little Wimberley has changed over the years.

New Journalism Project is pleased to collaborate with the author’s daughter in the publication of these stories.  The book’s cover, designed by Carlos Lowry, features a Hill Country vista painted by a relative of the author.

Talkin’ Union: Texas Women Workers

More than four decades ago, an enterprising group of young independent historians produced a path-breaking book and documentary, Talkin’ Union. It featured one of the first scholarly accounts of the great San Antonio pecan sheller strike of 1938, amplifying the powerful but overlooked voice of lifelong organizer Alberta Zepeda Snid. It uncovered interracial unions among Black, white, and Mexicana women garment workers in Dallas, of all places, as well as their union sisters along the border—long before anyone had heard of maquiladoras. The rare oral history interviews and pioneering scholarly essays in this book have clearly withstood the test of time and will now bring the power of people’s history to a new generation of activists!

Professor Max Krochmal, author of Blue Texas: The Making of a Multiracial Democratic Coalition in the Civil Rights Era

NJP Publishing is proud to announce that Talkin’ Union:Texas Women Workers is now available for purchase at Lulu.com. Edited by Richard Croxdale and Melissa Hield with a preface by Glenn Scott, Talkin’ Union is the third book published by NJP Publishing as part of a 2019 series featuring women’s work, memoir, poetry and history. Talkin’ Union tells the groundbreaking story of Texas women pecan shellers and seamstresses who organized for economic and social equality in the ’30s. Researchers with People’s History in Texas relied on first-hand oral histories and extensive archival research to bring this history to life. The Pecan Shellers Strike is now acknowledged as an historic mass movement, the largest mass strike in Texas, and the foundation for Hispanic organizing for a generation.  The Texas garment workers who organized in the ’30s with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union have never received the attention they deserve.  Essays from 1979 about African American women and Chicanas in the Texas workforce capture the beginning of a sea change in women’s workforce participation that would soon transform women’s lives, family dynamics, and the U.S. economy. The material was available for limited distribution as a booklet in 1979, but has been published by NJP Publishing with a 2019 introduction to make this history available through online platforms. Talkin’ Union:Texas Women Workers can be purchased at Lulu.com and will be available soon through Amazon, Ingram, and Barnes and Noble.   

People’s History in Texas

photo of Emma Tenayuca at San Antonio pecan shellers strike.
Emma Tenayuca at San Antonio pecan shellers strike.

New Journalism Project is collaborating with People’s History in Texas (PHIT) to publish two new editions of previous works released by PHIT.  As a new generation of activists finds inspiration in the history of organizing in Texas before they were born, these books will resonate with new audiences.

Talkin’ Union: Texas Women Workers is in the final stages of production. This book was originally published under a different title in 1979 to accompany the Peoples History in Texas documentary, “Talkin’ Union.” The film and the book use oral histories and archival photos to tell the story of Texas women garment workers and pecan shellers who organized successful labor actions in the 30s.  The 1979 edition of Women in the Texas Workforce: Yesterday and Today was edited by Richard Croxdale and Melissa Hield with a preface by Glenn Scott. That earlier edition relies on workforce research and transcribed interviews with participants in the labor actions of the 30s. A new introduction by Richard Croxdale frames the material for new readers.

A second edition of another People’s History in Texas book is also in production. Clarksville: Whose Community? by Jennifer Sharpe was first published in 1982 and chronicles an important fight against gentrification in a west Austin neighborhood.  Clarksville was founded in 1871 as black freedom town where former slaves reunited with family separated and displaced by slavery.  In the late 70s, this community waged a battle against developers. This upcoming book will add to the history of gentrification in Austin.

About People’s History in Texas: PHIT’s first project in 1976 was the Women in Texas History Calendar, one of the first compilations of Texas women’s history facts.  PHIT’s research uncovered stories of women workers and activists who organized labor unions in the 1930s and l940s. With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Youth Grants Program and the Texas Committee for the Humanities, they collected oral histories of Texas women labor organizers and produced “Talkin’ Union” (1979, 58 mins., b/w film/video), an oral history of four women who participated in the pecan shellers and garment workers unions. PHIT published Women in the Texas Workforce: Yesterday and Today (1979), essays on women’s work for wages.

Peoples History in Texas (PHIT), a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1975 by five women including a writer, an elementary school teacher, a librarian, and two graduate students.  PHIT brings to life the stories of ordinary people and significant socio-political movements through its research, publishing, and media production.