Archivists Showcase Rarely-Seen Texas Historical Records

Archivists Showcase Rarely-Seen Texas Historical Records
Austin Texas

Austin--Let archivists be your guide as you examine some of the state’s most fascinating historical records. Archives À la Carte: Staff Picks, the most recent exhibit at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, looks at how the Texan identity is captured and perpetuated through items selected by state archivists and librarians.

This “behind-the-scenes” tour of the State Archives features surprising historical finds – including items for music lovers and nature buffs. From our love of travel and frontiers to our fascination with myth and outlaws, the Texan experience in captured through some rarely-seen artifacts, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and recordings.

Among the items on exhibit are letters and ledgers that highlight some of the state’s most notorious outlaws. Correspondence regarding the reward for the capture of John Wesley Hardin and convict ledgers detailing the crimes and fate of Clyde Barrow (one half of the famous Bonnie and Clyde duo) will be on view and show the documented imprint of these well-known figures.

State Archivist Jelain Chubb selected a pair of letters written from Samuel F. B. Morse to Sam Houston. In his first letter, dated 1838, Morse offers the Republic of Texas “unconditional” rights to his new Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. Having never heard back, Morse writes to Houston again in 1860 revoking the offer. Chubb asks, “how might our history and our communications have changed if Texas had taken up Morse on his offer?”

State Librarian and Director Mark Smith adds, “historical records are a trove of insights and evidence – we learn about things that happened, and we also learn about the possibilities and context surrounding decisions that can sometimes remain hidden.”

Through the exhibit, the public can experience history through the lens of research staff, whose insights into sometimes overlooked resources sparks a personal connection or curiosity about elements of our past.

The public is also invited to a free event on Tuesday, March 6 at the State Library. Tours of the building begin at 5 pm. A special program showcasing these archival treasures starts at 6 pm, beginning with a musical performance of selections from the historic sheet music collection. Archivists will then highlight some of the manuscripts and rare items on display

The exhibit opens February 15 and runs through August 31, 2018 at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building at 1201 Brazos Street just east of the Capitol Building in Austin.


The Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides Texans access to the information they need to be informed, productive citizens by preserving the archival record of Texas; enhancing the service capacity of public, academic, and school libraries; assisting public agencies in the maintenance of their records; and meeting the reading needs of Texans with disabilities.  For more information visit

Gloria Meraz
Page last modified: February 20, 2018