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Story of the Legation Papers

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Photograph of Governor and Mrs. 'Pappy' O'Daniel, AJ Houston and his daughters taken in the Houston home taken in 1941.

Photograph of First Lady Merle O’Daniel, daughter Marguerite Houston, Andrew Jackson Houston, daughter Ariadne Houston and Governor W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel (left to right) in the La Porte home, April 21, 1941 (Prints & Photographs 1/109-9)

For decades, the legation documents in the Andrew Jackson Houston Collection were the only known records of the Texas legation, covering the years 1839-1845; the earlier records remained unaccounted for until 2004, when they were offered for auction. The earlier records, all of which pertain to the official actions of the Texas Legation, were separated from the bulk of the collection sometime after 1961 but prior to 1973 when the Andrew Jackson Houston Collection was donated to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The Legation Papers document the period of time from the establishment of the legation in 1836 to February 1839.

On behalf of the people of Texas, the Commission and the Attorney General’s Office claimed these documents as official records of the Republic of Texas government and sought to reunite them with the legation documents already in state custody.

Photograph of the exterior of the Andrew Jackson Houston home in LaPorte, Texas.

Photograph of the exterior of the Andrew Jackson Houston home in LaPorte, Texas where the papers resided for many years, April 1941 (Prints & Photographs 1/109-7)

Over the next two years, the Commission worked with the Texas State Historical Association to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement between the state and the individuals in possession of the documents. The agreement allowed the Association to auction the display rights to the records for a period of five years at an institution of higher learning in Texas, after which they would be transferred to the physical custody of the Commission. The auction was held during the Association’s annual meeting in March 2006, with Texas Christian University named as the temporary home of the records. Prior to the transfer to Texas Christian University, the Commission and Association worked together to obtain professional conservation treatments for the collection. While at Texas Christian University the records were researched and transcribed and are now published as The Texas Legation Papers, 1836-1845, edited by Kenneth R. Stevens and Gregg Cantrell, and published by TCU Press.

Returned to Austin at the end of 2012, these unique documents are now part of the permanent collections of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and are housed at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building.


Page last modified: February 21, 2014