Alana Inman

Manager, Sam Houston Center

Southeast Texas Glass Plate Negative Collections Online

Tuesday, March 7, 2017 • Liberty, TX • News Release

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has digitized the Clyde and Thelma See Glass Plate Negatives Collection and the L.J. Whitmeyer Glass Plate Negatives Collection as part of TSLAC's Texas Digital Archive (TDA). TDA is a searchable online repository designed to preserve and provide access to the state's historical records collections. The See and Whitmeyer collections include portraits, street scenes, and other images from Hardin County, particularly the communities of Batson and Saratoga. About 160 original images can now be seen online at

Both sets of glass plate negatives are housed at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, a part of TSLAC’s Archives and Information Services Division. Prior to the development of photographic film, images were created by placing light sensitive emulsion on a glass support. The use of glass plate negatives ended in the early twentieth century, around the time that the last images in the See and Whitmeyer Collections were created. 

The Whitmeyer Collection offers the older glass plate negatives, with images in its inventory ranging from the 1890s to the 1910s. Much of the collection was produced by photographers Hughes and Lane of Batson.

Though the content for both collections is very similar, the See Collection is considerably larger than the Whitmeyer Collection. Spanning from 1905 into the 1920s, the collection includes over 120 images. The source of nearly all of the See glass plate negatives is unknown.

“The See and Whitmeyer glass plate negatives help tell the story of Hardin County and the residents that lived there during the turn of the last century,” said Center manager Alana Inman. “We are pleased to add that story to the growing number of collections available online through the Texas Digital Archive.”

Both collections were donated to the Center by L. Jack Whitmeyer in 1997. Whitmeyer was a longtime resident of Colmesneil, Texas, and a publisher who promoted local history in a variety of ways. He was active in a number of historical organizations, including the Tyler County Heritage Society, Tyler County Historical Commission, Tyler County Heritage Village Museum, Colmesneil Cemetery Association, and the Texas State Archeological Society. Whitmeyer also established the Whitmeyer Genealogy Library, which included many resources from his personal collection.

The Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center’s holdings include over 12,000 cubic feet of historical materials related to Southeast Texas, comprised of local government records, manuscripts, fine art prints and photographs, blueprints and maps, newspapers, books and journals, three-dimensional artifacts, and audio-visual materials and microfilm. The Center serves as the official regional historical resource depository for the ten counties of Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Newton, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto, and Tyler.

The public is invited to learn more about the collections within the Center’s holdings at an open house to be held on Saturday, March 18, 2017, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Visitors will have the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the archival holdings, to view current museum exhibits one last time before a new exhibit is unveiled in the late fall, and to bring personal items in order to consult with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s professional conservator on their preservation.  For more information on the Center and its collections, including the See and Whitmeyer Glass Plate Negatives Collections, please call 936-336-8821 or visit

PHOTO ATTACHED Photo Caption: The Round Up in Batson, Texas, about 1890-1910. 1997.108-18, L.J. Whitmeyer glass plate negatives collection. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.