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Credits and Sources

The Belle exhibit is based on the work of many individuals. TBH Editor Susan Dial created the exhibit and is the lead author, working in collaboration with Jim Bruseth, director of the Texas Historical Commission (THC) Archeology Division, and Donny Hamilton, Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Texas A&M University, and historian Robert Weddle. Web development was done by TBH Web Developer Heather Smith, assisted by David Choi of the University of Texas at Austin Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services. TBH Education Advisors Carol Schlenk and Laine Leibick contributed toward the K-12 activity, Clues from the Bones, and teacher's lesson.

Bruseth, THC Collections Manager Maureen Brown, State Marine Archeologist Steve Hoyt, and Regional Archeologist Jeffrey Durst contributed content and imagery and served as reviewers. At Texas A&M, Hamilton and Helen Dewolf, Head Conservator of the Texas A&M Conservation Research Laboratory, served in similar roles. Dewolf contributed the section, Excavations in the Laboratory. The Mystery Chest section was contributed by Michael C. West and Hamilton, drawing from a webpage originally appearing on the Texas A&M University Nautical Archaeology Program website. Data and imagery on the La Belle skeleton used in Skeleton of a French Sailor and the Clues from the Bones student activity draw from the analysis done by D. Gentry Steele and Michelle Raisor.

The Belle exhibit on TBH was supported by grants from the THC's Texas Preservation Trust Fund, the Educational Foundation of America, the National Endowment for the Humanities, William P. Clements Foundation, and Summerlee Foundation. The College of Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Service at the University of Texas at Austin also provided funding and web development support through their student technical assistant program. Donations from the Texas Archeological Society, Southern Texas Archaeological Society, Council of Texas Archeologists, Travis County Archeological Society, and many individuals also supported this exhibit as well as the larger project, "Prehistoric and Early Historic Peoples of the Texas Coastal Prairies and Marshes," upcoming in early 2009.

Images used throughout the exhibit were provided by the THC Archeology Division Archives and the Texas A&M-CRL Archives.

Jim Bruseth serves as Director of the THC Archeology Division and Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer. He received his B.S. from the University of New Orleans, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University. He has been active in Texas archeology for more than 33 years, specializing in Native American, French colonial and Spanish colonial archeology. Dr. Bruseth was project director for the excavation and recovery of the Belle and also directed the archeological excavation of La Salle's Fort St. Louis colony. His book highlighting this work, From a Watery Grave: The Discovery and Excavation of La Salle's Shipwreck, La Belle, won a national award from the Society for American Archaeology as the best book presenting archeology to the public in the U.S. during 2005.

Donny Hamilton is chairman of the Department of Anthroplogy at Texas A&M University and director of the University's Conservation Research Laboratory, Nautical Archaeology Program. A native of Pecos, Texas, Dr. Hamilton earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. He has been a faculty member at Texas A&M University since 1978. Specializing in underwater archeology, artifact restoration and conservation, American historic and prehistoric archeology, Hamilton's past and present research has included the conservation of artifacts recovered from the shipwreck of the 1554 Spanish Fleet, excavated off the coast of Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico; the excavation and conservation of the material from the sunken, 17th-century English town of Port Royal in Jamaica; and the conservation of artifacts recovered from La Salle's shipwreck, La Belle. Dr. Hamilton is the author of the Grandao Cave exhibit in Texas beyon History.

Helen Dewolf is Chief Conservator and Illustrator for the Texas A&M University Conservation Research Laboratory. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Texas A&M University with a specialization in historical archeology. In addition to La Belle, Dr. Dewolf's projects have included conservation and restoration of artifacts from shipwrecks and other historic sites across the nation and in the Virgin Islands, including Port Royal, Fort St. Louis, Red River Wars, San Jacinto battle site, the CSS Denbigh, CSS Alabama, and CSS Hunley. An illustrator and multi-media artist, she also holds a BA on Fine Arts from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

Robert S. Weddle, a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association, has been recognized by King Juan Carlos II of Spain with the Order of Isabel la Católica for his writing on Spain's history in North America, much of it based on his research in the principal archives of Spain. A graduate of Texas Tech University and a former newspaper journalist, Weddle is a recognized authority on La Salle. He is the prize-winning author of more than a dozen books on the French and Spanish colonial experience in Texas and the Gulf region, the most recent being The Wrecking of La Salle's Ship Aimable and the Trial of Claude Aigron (University of Texas Press, 2009). Weddle retired in 1981 to his Fannin County farm, near his birthplace, where he still lives.

D. Gentry Steele is an Emeritus Professor at Texas A&M University. A physical anthropologist, his specialty is skeletal biology. His projects have included the study of human remains from early man sites and historic period projects. Much of Steele's focus has been on understanding the peopling of the Americas, and he has been a forceful proponent for the scientific investigation of early human remains, such as Kennewick Man. Dr. Steele is the author, with Claud Bramblett, of The Anatomy and Biology of the Human Skeleton (1988 Texas A&M Press), as well as books featuring his photography of Texas landscapes.

Michael West obtained his B.A. in Archeology from Cornell University in 2001. His interest in nautical archeology grew from a summer spent excavating at the coastal city of Tel Dor, Israel, in 1999, one of the Levant's only ancient safe harbors for ships. He earned his M.A. in Anthropology with a Specialization in Nautical Archaeology and Certificates in Archaeological Conservation and Historic Preservation from Texas A&M University in 2005. He will complete his law degree from the University of Houston in May 2009, after which he plans to work in the field of maritime litigation.

Michelle Raisor co-authored the report on the skeletal remains with Steele and also served as reviewer on several exhibit sections. She holds an M.A and Ph.D in Physical Anthropology from Texas A&M University and has also trained at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Dr. Raisor currently teaches forensic anthropology at Baylor University and Blinn College and is also doing molecular biology work for Texas A&M University.

Numerous staff and volunteers at regional museums also helped with this effort. These partner museums are listed in the Museums and Resources section of this exhibit.

Print Sources

Bruseth, James E., and Toni S. Turner
2005 From a Watery Grave: The Discovery and Excavation of La Salle's Shipwreck, La Belle. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

Grieco, Glenn P.
2003 Modeling La Belle: A Reconstruction of a Seventeenth-Century Light Frigate. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University Department of Anthropology.

Joutel, Henri , Johanna S. Warren (Translator), William C. Foster (Editor)
1998 The La Salle Expedition to Texas: The Journal of Henri Joutel, 1684-1687. Texas State Historical Association, Austin.

Prag, John and Richard Neave
1997 Making Faces: Using Forensic and Archaeological Evidence. Anthropology Series, Number 1, Texas A&M University Press.

Robert S. Weddle
1973 Wilderness Manhunt: The Spanish Search for La Salle. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

1991 The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682-1762. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

2001 The Wreck of the Belle, the Ruin of La Salle. Number 48: Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University Press, College Station.

2009 The Wrecking of La Salle's Ship Aimable and the Trial of Claude Aigron. University of Texas Press.

Weddle, Robert S. (editor)
1987 La Salle, the Mississippi, and the Gulf: Three Primary Documents. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, Texas.

Reese, Nancy
2007 French Pottery from La Belle. In French Colonial Pottery: An International Conference edited by George Avery, Northwestern State University Press, Nachitoches, Louisiana.

West, Michael
2005 An Intact Chest from the 1686 French Shipwreck La Belle, Matagorda Bay, Texas: Artifacts from the La Salle Colonization Expedition to the Spanish Sea. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University Department of Anthropology.

Links

La Salle Shipwreck Project
An overview of the project and findings from the Texas Historical Commission, Archeology Division, including a feature on the burial of the Belle sailor.

Texas A&M University Conservation Research Laboratory Webpage
Several sections focus on work on the La Belle conservation process at this laboratory.

Voyage of Doom
Nova exhibits featuring several interactive sections on La Salle and the shipwreck.

See the Museums and Resources section for additional links and resources for K-12 teachers and students.

Donny Hamilton (left) and Jim Bruseth examine a trader's chest recovered from the Belle shipwreck and analyzed at the Texas A&M University Conservation Laboratory.
D. Gentry Steele and Helen Dewolf examine the skull of the skeleton found on board La Belle.
JimBruseth, Project Director for the excavation and recovery of the Belle.
Donny Hamilton, director of the Texas A&M University Conservation Research Laboratory.
Helen Dewolf, Chief Conservator of the Texas A&M University Conservation Research Laboratory.
Michael West, analyst of the "mystery chest" recovered from La Belle.
Cover of "From a Watery Grave" by Jim Bruseth and Toni Turner. The book, based on the recovery of La Belle, won a national award from the Society for American Archaeology in 2005 as the best book presenting archeology to the public in the U.S.
The wreck of La Belle and its impact on La Salle's plan for a colony in the New World is the focus of this book by noted Texas historian Robert Weddle. The author served as an historical consultant for the Belle project.