This thesis considers how we make meaning in our individual lives and in practice as historians. From an initializing question —Why do people believe things that have either been proven false or shown improbable?— born out of historical discourse in the liminal space between mythology and history, this thesis embarks on a inquiry into meaning that is both deeply philosophical and practical. The work develops a historical method that falls within the tradition of Pragmatism, and then turns this method toward two case studies (Pedro Huízar and Señora Candelaria) from San Antonio, Texas. The aim is to explore two myths of local history, retaining respect for belief while examining its historicity. The argument that emerges is that meaning is always made with present factors in mind and by implication is always shifting and adjusting to the present moment. Finally, the thesis argues for a pragmatic approach to historical method due to its view of the world as plastic, its focus on human action, the necessity of a community of inquirers, its view that extremes are only far ends of a continuity, its openness to pluralistic beliefs, and that it is belief that leads to action.

Date of publication

Winter 12-6-2023

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Colin Snider, Matthew Stith, Robert Sterken


Master of Arts in History