Dorman H. Winfrey to Jean Houston Daniel, May 24, 1960
The Republic of Texas had established the Texas State Library in 1839. Books and maps were acquired in a haphazard fashion in the early years and in 1872, Joseph Lancaster, appointed as librarian by Governor Davis, described the library as a "wreck of grandeur." Many books had been stolen, others were mutilated, and the library lacked even a broom to clean the floors. The library occupied a large room on the third floor of the Capitol building, and most of the early library collection was destroyed when the Capitol burned in 1881. The library was without a home for a decade. As for the archives, Texas was fortunate. A remarkable amount of Texas history from the 18th and 19th century had been collected, and despite war, fire, and neglect, most of this collection survived.
The library and archives found some friends in the 1890s, eventually getting space in the new Capitol and coming under the direction of a commission that expanded its duties to include county libraries, traveling libraries, and books for the blind. Despite this increased attention, the primary problem for the State Library and Archives remained housing. Over the years the archives was stored in the basement of the Capitol, the Texas Confederate Home, Camp Mabry, and a cowbarn and annex in North Austin. In the 1950s, the archives were forced to move into a quonset hut in northwest Austin. Something had to be done.
Governor Daniel obtained funding and designed the building with two purposes in mind: to adequately house the collections and offices of the state library and archives, and to provide education for the public. Today, the Texas State Library and Archives preserves and makes available historical documents and current documents of state government, aids state and local government in record management, provides reference services to state officials and the public, offers library services by mail to the blind and reading impaired, and undertakes a wide range of activities to promote library use and development across the state.
In 1973, the Daniels donated 114 acres of land in Liberty to build the Sam Houston Center, a division of the State Library and Archives. The Center houses local records pertaining to Southeast Texas and holds many other archival treasures, most notably the papers of Governor Daniel, the Julia Duncan Welder Collection of private letters and artifacts, and the Jean Houston Baldwin Collection of Sam Houston images, the largest known collection of photographs and illustrations of the Texas hero. It also operates museum exhibits on Southeast Texas and several historic homes, including the Jean and Price Daniel House, which preserves and displays the library, archives, furniture, and mementos of the Daniels' lives and years of public service.
Dorman H. Winfrey to Daniel, May 24, 1960, Texas Governor's Mansion Collection, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.