Oil in Houston

Wildcats and sweet crude.

Live in Houston long enough and you’ll learn that wildcats are exploration oil wells and the price of sweet crude – the high-quality, low-sulfur oil used for processing gasoline – is a closely watched economic indicator. But if you just got here or want a refresher on what the oil industry has meant to the growth and development of the nation’s fourth largest city, make sure you order a copy of the Spring 2011 issue of Houston History magazine, “Oil in Houston.”

In it, Editor Joe Pratt reflects on how both wildcatters and refinery workers combined their dreams and skills to embody the spirit of Houston, making it a city of opportunity. Pratt, the Cullen Professor of History and Business, is a leading historian of the petroleum industry.

The magazine opens with “The Faces of Texas Oil,” which features historic photographs from the collection of Story Sloan Gallery in Houston. Other features in this edition include:

  • “We’re Sticking by Our Union: The Battle for Baytown” by Michael Botson looks at the struggle between unions for worker loyalty during the 1940s at the Humble Oil & Refining Company Baytown facility.
  • Houstonian Bob Nicholas, one of the first Exxon representatives on the scene of the Exxon Valdez spill, relates his experiences in a conversation with Jason Theriot.
  • An interview with Jane Blaffer Owen, daughter of Humble president R. L. Blaffer, in which she recalls Houston’s early days and its oil men.
  • Archivist Terry Tomkins-Walsh summarizes what’s in the Houston History Archive, a collection that focuses on energy, environment, and diversity and includes the records of leading Houstonians such as oilman Joseph S. Cullinan.

The Spring 2011 issue closes with the second part of its series, “When There Were Wards.” This installment features “Third Ward, Steeped in Tradition of Self-reliance and Achievement” by Ezell Wilson; “Two Worlds a Mile Apart, A Brief History of the Fourth Ward” by Trilla Pando; and “Freedmen’s Town, Texas: A Lesson in the Failure of Historic Preservation” by Tomiko Meeks.

To get an annual subscription to Houston History for $15, please visit the magazine’s new website, www.houstonhistorymagazine.org, or call 713-743-3087. A limited number of copies will be available for purchase in mid-April at Brazos Bookstore,  2421 Bissonnet St., and River Oaks Bookstore, 3270 Westheimer @ River Oaks Blvd.

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