The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
The history of Port Arthur is to be recounted through the eyes of environmental and cultural historian Chris Sellers, associate professor of history at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Chris has spent the last week in the Port Arthur History section of the library reading, reviewing, and photographing reports, studies, and analyses of the city and environs. He is especially interested in the impact of the oil refining industry on the local society. He is also studying the refinery port in Mexico, in preparation for a cross-cultural history, tentatively titled “The Uneven Development of Industrial Hazards: Lead and Oil in the U.S. versus Mexico.”
Chris is also interviewing several long-time Port Arthurians to learn of their experiences of living in an environment largely defined by major refineries. He has several projected books, including “Unsettling Ground: Suburban Nature and Environmentalism in Post-WWII America.” Possessing degrees in both medicine and American Studies, he is previously the author of “Hazards of the Job: From Industrial Disease to Environmental Health Science,” which will be available in the library in May.
One of the many sources Chris is the “Report of a Community Study of Port Arthur, Texas” by the American Red Cross (1922), a fascinating look at every phase—desirable and otherwise—of life in Port Arthur, “a boom town, an oil town, and a seaport town,” with the attendant problems of all three.
Richard Whitaker is assistant director of the Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 Ninth Ave. Contact him at 409-985-8838, ext. 2241.