Online Exhibits

Dynamic displays of rare and unique items, with historical narratives, transcriptions, and links for further research.

In the Spotlight

Historic Flags of Texas

 In this exhibit, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission presents its collection of historic flags -- forty in all -- for the first time. Information on each flag includes a high-resolution image and the documentation held by this institution. Many of these flags are too large and too endangered to be exhibited or handled. This digital exhibit makes possible the most extensive exploration yet of these rare treasures of Texas history.

Under the Rebel Flag: Life in Civil War Texas

 From 2011-2015, the United States commemorates the Sequiscentennial of the American Civil War. Texas was among those states voting to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy in 1861. From the embattled cotton port of Galveston to the besieged Indian frontier, from the Louisiana border to the Rio Grande, Texans would spend the next four bitter, desperate years learning the reality of war.

Civilian Conservation Corps Plans and Drawings

 Congress created the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 at the request of President Franklin Roosevelt as an emergency program devoted to the care of natural resources. The program provided jobs and income to young men and served as an instrument for preserving natural resources and developing state park lands.Thanks to a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, the Texas State Library and Archives has digitized a collection of 3900 large-format drawings documenting park development and construction activities by the CCC that took place in Texas from 1933-1958.


More online exhibits:

Focus on Treasures of the Texas State Archives

Focus on Texas History

Focus on Government and Public Policy

Focus on Teachers and Students


Focus on Historic Treasures of the Texas State Archives

Texas Treasures 

Texas Treasures This exhibition highlights the greatest treasures of the Texas State Library and Archives, from Travis' Letter from the Alamo to the original Ordinance of Secession, from historic flags to wanted posters for Sam Bass and Clyde Barrow. New treasures and topics will be added on a periodic basis.


The McArdle Notebooks

 Henry McArdle's battle paintings, Dawn at the Alamo and The Battle of San Jacinto, have become Texas icons. The painstaking detail of the paintings was reflected in exhaustive research. McArdle's notebooks are packed with letters, notes, and photographs documenting the paintings and the events they depict.


 Pioneer Texas Architects

 In the years from 1877 to 1900, the Gilded Age in American history, F. E. "Ernst" and Oscar Ruffini were part of the first wave of professional architects to practice in Texas. A large collection of their drawings, specifications, and correspondence can be viewed on site at the Texas State Library and Archives. Representative examples of their work are included in this exhibit.


Texas 175: A Dozen Documents That Made A Difference

 2011 marked the 175th anniversary of the Texas Revolution. To commemorate the 175th anniversary of Texas independence, the Texas State Library and Archives is proud to present a dozen selected documents that showcase the people and events of the Texas Revolution.


Focus on Texas History

Indian Relations in Texas

For more than three centuries, relations between whites and Indians occupied a central place in Texas life. The Texas State Library and Archives is home to a massive collection called the Texas Indian Papers. These and other documents and photographs from our collections tell the story of an epic clash of cultures.

Hard Road to Texas: Texas Annexation 1836-1845

 At the time of the Texas Revolution, most Texans and Americans assumed that the Republic of Texas would be swiftly annexed to the United States. Instead, the process of annexation took nine long and bruising years. In hindsight, Texas annexation seems inevitable. But it all could have been so different.


Triumph and Tragedy: Presidents of the Republic of Texas

 For ten years, four very different men led the Republic of Texas down a difficult and unknown path as an independent nation. Although these men were different--sawmill operator, soldier, poet, doctor--they were also much alike. To a man they had known crushing failure. Each had the heart and nerve to take the helm of a penniless, lawless land and dream of the mighty Texas it might one day become. Each of them, for good and for ill, shaped that destiny. This is their story.

Fortune Favors the Brave: The Story of the Texas Navy

 The sailors of Texas were vital to the survival of the Republic; they defended the coastline, ensured Texas supply lines, and brought in much-needed revenue from prizes and captures. In this exhibit, adventure in the Gulf is paired with a political blood feud which brought the Navy crashing down amidst charges of piracy, mutiny, and murder.

Forever Free

 Fifty-two African-American men served Texas as either state legislative members or Constitutional Convention delegates during the last half of the 19th century, representing the first significant political achievement by the African-American citizens of this state.


Votes for Women!

 Diaries and letters of Texas women, political cartoons, government documents, and photographs and postcards tell the little-known story of the women activists who fought to overcome societal attitudes and entrenched power and won the rights of full citizenship.



Focus on Government and Public Policy

From Pioneer Paths to Superhighways: The Texas Highway Department Blazes Texas Trails 1917-1968

 Historians have called the construction of the Texas highway system one of the greatest building projects in world history. Dozens of vintage photographs and documents from TSLAC’s collection of Texas Highway Department project files tell the story of Texas’s journey from frontier backwater to transportation power player.

Fear, Force, and Leather: The Texas Prison System's First Hundred Years, 1848-1948 

From humble beginnings with little money or public support, the Texas prison system eventually transformed into a self-supporting network of sugar and cotton farms. But hellish conditions and brutal punishments led to one of the greatest scandals in Texas history, and began a cycle of reform that brought Texas to a new era of professional penology.

To Love the Beautiful: The Story of Texas State Parks

Created in 1923, the State Parks Board struggled until the New Deal poured millions of federal dollars into creating state parks for Texas. In the decades to follow, Texans who loved the outdoors promoted state parks as a public good that provides fun and serenity to the public while preserving the natural beauty of Texas. But always the parks have competed with other state needs and priorities.

Hazardous Business: Industry, Regulation, and the Texas Railroad Commission

 Government documents, photographs, political cartoons, and other artifacts help tell the story of the agency founded in 1891 on a tide of populist resentment of the railroads that went on in the 20th century to wield legendary power over the supply and price of oil and natural gas. 


Portraits of Texas Governors

Biographies of all of the governors of Texas, complete with official portraits, timeline of events, revealing documents, and rare photos.



Focus on Teachers and Students

Texas in Transition: Railroads, Oil, and the Rise of Urban Texas

 Made possible by a grant from Humanities Texas, the lesson plans and activities here are intended for middle school Texas history teachers to introduce students to the practice of using historical archival materials on the web. This website focuses on the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a period of intense change which transformed Texas from a predominantly rural state into a modern industrial power.

Page last modified: November 25, 2013