The Material Culture of German Texans

German immigrants of the nineteenth century left a distinctive mark on the lifestyles and vernacular architecture of Texas. In this first comprehensive survey of the art and artifacts of German Texans, Kenneth Hafertepe explores how their material culture was influenced by their European roots, how it was adapted to everyday life in Texas, and how it changed over time - at different rates in different communities. The Material Culture of German Texans is about the struggle to become American while maintaining a distinctive cultural identity drawn from German heritage.

Including materials from rural, small town, and urban settings, this masterful study covers pioneer generations in East Texas and the Hill Country, but also follows the story of German Texans into the Victorian era and the early twentieth century. Houses and their furnishings, churches and cemeteries, breweries and businesses, and paintings and engravings fill the pages of this thorough, informative, and richly illustrated volume.

Recent decades have seen a sharp increase in the study of vernacular architecture - which can range from traditional buildings to ethnic expressions to landscape ensembles - and an intensified study of American furniture and other decorative arts. Incorporating these vernacular and decorative arts methods and building on the work of cultural geographers, curators, and historians, The Material Culture of German Texans offers a definitive contribution that will inform visitors to the region as well as those who study its history and culture.

Dr. Kenneth Hafertepe is professor of Museum Studies at Baylor University and chair of the department. He is the author of six books, co-editor of and contributor to two others, and the author of many articles on historic Texas buildings. He teaches courses on museum history and philosophy, American material culture, American decorative arts, and historic preservation.

His first book, America’s Castle: The Evolution of the Smithsonian Building and Its Institution, 1840-1878 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984) explored then politics of public architecture in Washington, D.C., using the first building of the Smithsonian building as case study. He and wife with Kim lived for three years in the Neill-Cochran House Museum in Austin, built by the same architect who designed the Texas Governor’s Mansion, which led to his book on Abner Cook: Master Builder on the Texas Frontier. In addition to his comprehensive survey of German Texan material culture, he has also published A Guide to the Historic Buildings of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County, which covers a wide variety of buildings, from German fachwerk, log and rock houses of Fredericksburg to the dance hall in Luckenbach to the Texas White House at the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall.