Texas Public Information Act and Researching in the State Archives
Provisions of the Public Information Act (PIA)
Some government records held by the State Archives are subject to the Texas Public Information Act (PIA). These are primarily executive and local government records. The PIA makes records open for research with certain exceptions. Restricted information applies to both physical and electronic records. As laws change, statutory restrictions may be added to or removed from these records.
Before records with restricted information can be used for research, they may require an archivist's review for confidential information. If there is potentially confidential information, the requester can agree to have the confidential information redacted and/or removed in order to access the unrestricted parts of a record. If the requester needs access to confidential information, the request will be sent to the Attorney General's Office for decision. Only the Texas Attorney General can determine if information cannot be released.
For other details, see the Frequently Asked Questions section below.
The Archives normally redacts or removes:
- Social security numbers
- E-mail addresses
- Home addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and personal family information of government employees and officials
- Physical and mental health information
- Account numbers (e.g., credit cards, FedEx accounts, bank accounts, etc.)
- Driver's license numbers
- Names of juvenile offenders
- Private information about an individual
- Names and other identifying information about recipients of social services
- Information about jurors and prospective jurors
Requesting State Archives Materials
The Texas State Archive Material Request Form must be submitted to request archival materials as required by Texas Government Code, Section 441.1935
A PIA request for State Archives materials is required only if the records were:
- Created by a governmental body
- Include restricted information (as described above), and
- You do not agree to the redaction or removal of that information
The Texas State Archive Material Request Form provides additional information about the different between a Research Request and a PIA. It also includes a worksheet to assist you with determining the type of request to submit.
You can change your request to a PIA or research request at any time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Staff will photocopy the records, then redact those records (i.e. remove or block out restricted information). Staff will only redact information that is restricted under law. We make researchers aware about the types of information that will be redacted from the specific records being requested.
For PIA requests, redaction may incur an additional charge. See our fee schedule for more details.
We try to respond to all reference requests within a 7-10 business day turnaround (and often sooner!). We will respond to all PIA requests within 10 business days. We may seek clarification, provide a price quote, or note how long we expect the work to take. The amount of time to close a request depends on the specific records being requested.
TSLAC cannot fulfill PIA requests for the following types of materials:
- Judicial records
- Legislative records
- Manuscript collections
These materials do not fall under the Public Information Act. We will always answer these requests as reference requests.
You can request Governor George W. Bush records by contacting email@example.com
Not all Governor George W. Bush records are subject to a PIA request. If the specific records do contain restricted information and you are requesting access to that restricted information, you will need to complete a PIA request as described on this webpage.
Please note that Governor George W. Bush’s gubernatorial records are held at the George W. Bush Presidential Library, but remain under the custody of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Learn more about requesting Governor George W. Bush records
Although the PIA does not cover judicial records, restricted information is covered by the following rules:
- For court records: Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 76A
- For records of the judiciary: Texas Rules of Judicial Administration, Rule 12
If you require access to restricted information within court records, you will need to identify the court and ask the court directly for permission. As with executive state government records, requesters can agree to have the confidential information redacted and/or removed in order to access the unrestricted parts of a record.
For further assistance with accessing materials within the State Archives, contact the Reference Desk: firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-463-5455.