The 1920s oil boom changed every aspect of life in the sleepy town of Breckenridge, Texas--employment, social activities, housing, religion, and education--and with these changes came the beginnings of modern American culture.
Suddenly ranchers became oilmen, public school teachers became oil wildcatters, and enterprising businessmen moved in to provide this small town with sustenance, housing, and entertainment. Within two years, Breckenridge's population grew to nearly thirty thousand, and this roughneck oil boomtown became a vigorous commercial city of schools, churches, and modern housing.
Jazz-Age Boomtown: Basil Clemons's Photographs of Breckenridge, Texas, in the 1920s depicts the social history of small-town America and the oil boom phenomenon in a stunning photographic essay. Photographer Basil Clemons photographed not only the oil fields but also many other aspects of Breckenridge's boom--views of main streets, fires, floods, the circus, movie theaters, sporting events, schools, ranches, shops, and restaurants--capturing the essence of the boomtown atmosphere.
Clemons, the town's only professional photographer and most eccentric resident, traveled to California, the Pacific Northwest, and Alaska before returning to Texas in 1919 and settling in Breckenridge. His pictures reflect the transformation of rural to urban values in the early twentieth century, providing a visual history of modern American culture.
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