Launching the Texas Digital Archive

We were very excited to announce a few days ago that The Texas Digital Archive is now officially opened to the public on our website. The TDA can be accessed at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/texasdigitalarchive. The TDA is live at this point with the first set of documents from Governor Rick Perry as well as some historical photographs and other materials from our collection. Staff are working with the three target state agencies (Texas Historical Commission, Office of the Attorney General, and the Railroad Commission) to bring their materials into the archive as promised to the Legislature during this biennium.

The launch was reported in both Library Journal and American Libraries magazines as well as in several Texas newspapers. And indeed this is big news for us and for the state. The launch of the Texas Digital Archive is a significant milestone for the agency and for researchers, state government, libraries and archives, and information seekers everywhere. This is the first time a centralized depository of state agency digital resources has been available in Texas and over time we expect it will grow to be a very important resource for the state on a level of the physical archives housed in our building. The project was the effort of many people at TSLAC, including our state archivist Jelain Chubb, Assistant State Archivist Laura Saegert, Electronic Records Specialist Mark Myers, and many of our archivists, technical, and administrative staff who worked on various aspects of the project. We look forward to providing more information and updates on this important project as it progresses.

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The cover for “The Inferno” by Dante for the Recovering the Classics project.

In other news, our Texas Center for the Book is now working on a number of very interesting projects to promote books, reading, literacy and library use statewide. Recently we were approached by a university librarian in West Texas, Cynthia Henry, who as a personal project not affiliated with her institution, wanted to purchase┬áposter versions of the 50 striking new book covers recently completed for the Recovering the Classics project and make them available in a touring exhibit. We thought the idea was exciting and innovative and we have the capability in-house to print 20 of the posters. Cynthia has found other backers to help purchase the rest of the posters and we look forward to hearing from her when the exhibit will first be appearing. This is just the sort of project that we love–one that combines an excitement about books and reading, encourages a rediscovery of the classics, reaffirms the link between libraries, books and reading, and leverages small investments from several organizations to make a creative librarian’s idea a reality. A big thank you to Cynthia for bringing this project to us. You can see the all the covers at Recovering the Classics at http://recoveringtheclassics.com/.

And in a teaser for later, I will mention we are at work on another interesting project in partnership with the organization Little Free Libraries (http://www.littlefreelibrary.org/), that has placed many thousands of these little libraries across the country. I look forward to telling you more soon about a partnership between the Texas Center for the Book and Little Free Libraries to place these libraries in Texas while promoting books, reading, literacy, and library use.

Adventures in Texas History

Donaly Brice speaking about his book, The Governor's Hounds, at TSLAC.

Historian and author Donaly Brice speaking about his book, The Governor’s Hounds, at TSLAC.

Last night at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, we welcomed back a distinguished alumnus, Donaly Brice, for a very interesting and informative lecture on his book, The Governor’s Hounds: The Texas State Police, 1870-1873. Donaly worked for TSLAC for 37 years as Historian, or, as we thought of him, our walking encyclopedia of Texas history. We estimate that during his tenure, Donaly answered more than 50,000 reference questions–many of them by mail–about concerning the archives and Texas history.

The Governor’s Hounds┬árecounts the short but controversial history of the Texas State Police, created in 1870 during Reconstruction by Governor Edmund Davis. The Texas State Police were intended to restore order to what was largely a lawless state. Murder was rampant and crimes against African-American Texans were particularly widespread, heinous, and mostly unpunished. But the Texas State Police were despised by many Texans who accused the Republican Governor of creating51ziJn1N-WL__SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ an expeditionary force of blacks to take their toll on whites. The Governor’s Hounds is a revisionist history that dispels many of the stories that surround the Texas State Police. This is a fascinating read and one that resonates with themes that have echoed through Texas history such as race relations, violence, uses of authority, and individual rights.

The Governor’s Hounds was meticulously researched over 20 years by Donaly and his late co-author, Barry A. Crouch, a professor at Gallaudet University. The book reminds us why it is so important preserve, maintain, and make available the resources in the State Archives as well as other public archives and libraries across Texas and the nation. And we are reminded why it is so important to have scholars, writers, and researchers like Donaly Brice to examine the historical records and to reveal to us the importance of these resources in understanding our past and our present.