Help the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) improve our website by completing the TSLAC Website Survey. The survey does not require any knowledge or opinion of the Commission and takes less than ten minutes of your time. Responses are completely anonymous.
Are you considering running for office? If you win, you’ll need to swear an oath. Public officials swear oaths of office to assure their loyalty to the government and to affirm their promise to uphold the duties of the position. Until 1938, Texas’ oath included a promise that the individual had never fought in, challenged someone to, or accepted a duel!
The oath of office changed slightly from 1846 to 1938, but more or less read as: “I, _____ do solemnly swear, (or affirm), that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _____ according to the best of my skill and ability, agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm), that since the adoption of the Constitution of this State, I being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons, within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, or aided, advised or assisted any person thus offending. And I furthermore solemnly swear, (or affirm), that I have not directly, nor indirectly paid, offered or promised to pay, contributed, nor promised to contribute any money, or valuable thing, or promised any public office or employment, as a reward for the giving or withholding a vote at the election at which I was elected, (or if the office is one of appointment, to secure my appointment.) So help me God.”
You can explore more Texas oaths of office online through Ancestry or Ancestry.com Texas in the collection: Texas, Bonds and Oaths of Office, 1846–1920. TSLAC offers access to a number of digital collections through the Ancestry database. Learn more about Ancestry Texas by viewing the Second Saturday workshop presentation on our workshops page.
For more information about TSLAC’s library and archives collections and how to access them contact Reference Services at email@example.com or call 512-463-5455.
Eager to identify military supply routes from Texas to California, U. S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis convinced Congress to approve the purchase and import of camels in 1855for use on the harsh western frontier. This was the beginning of the “Camel Experiment” in Texas. The camels that arrived at Indianola, Texas in 1856 were housed with their handlers at Camp Verde in Kerr County. Despite successful expeditions throughout West Texas, the camels’ general unpopularity and the onset of the Civil War brought an end to the camel experiment. After Confederate forces captured Camp Verde in Spring 1861, many of the camels were left to roam and fend for themselves and eventually succumbed to hunger and slaughter. Read more about the fate of these members of the “U.S. Camel Corps” in publications available from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission collections.
Our featured collection, “Camels in Texas,” will be on display in the Reference Reading Room in the Lorenzo de Zavala Texas State Archives and Library building at 1201 Brazos St. Austin, Texas 78701 through March 2020.
See below for a list of titles with links to our online catalog and other electronic resources. For more information about the books and other materials available at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, or to send a reference request, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-436-5455.
The end of one year and the beginning of the next is often a time for reflection and planning. “Hindsight is 20/20” is a fitting theme for the first Featured Collection of 2020. You can explore these and other questions using TSLAC library resources:
What have we as a state or nation learned from earlier wars, disasters and crises?
How have our past ideas of the future been fulfilled?
The following list of publications, many on view through January 2020 at the Lorenzo de Zavala building, room 109, is just a small sampling of what is available in our collections. Please note that some of the items are only available online.
Click on a title to access the catalog record which contains links to online resources. To search for additional publications, check out our catalog at www.tsl.texas.gov/catalog.
As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe and make available to the public the materials under our care, we will spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column will list new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We will close out the piece with a list of fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items.
Archivists create finding aids for collections once they are processed and add these descriptive guides to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO). TARO hosts finding aids from institutions around the state so researchers may determine whether or not to limit searches to the State Archives. Not all collections have been processed and therefore the list of finding aids does not represent the entirety of our holdings. The Archives & Manuscripts page of the TSLAC website provides more information and guidance on how to access archival collections. Contact email@example.com or 512-463-5455 with questions about using TSLAC’s archival resources. For a comprehensive list of all recently added and updated finding aids visit Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised).
ABSTRACT: The attorney general is the lawyer for the people of Texas and is charged by the Texas Constitution to defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas, represent the State in litigation, and approve public bond issues. Records consist of selected working files relating to litigation and major investigations handled by the Office of the Texas Attorney General (OAG), closed in or before 1985 and closed in 2004. Materials date 1959-1985, 1995-2004, bulk 1967-1985.
ABSTRACT: As the chief legal officer of the state of Texas, the attorney general is charged by the Texas Constitution to defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas, represent the State in litigation, and approve public bond issues. Crawford Martin served as attorney general of Texas from 1967 to 1972. He filed successful litigation against commercial drug manufacturers for price-fixing of antibiotics and encouraged Texas consumers to file claims for a refund from money awarded in the suit. This 1969 recording informs Texas consumers how to file for the refund.
ABSTRACT: The Texas Adjutant General’s Department oversees the military interests of Texas to serve the state civil authorities and the citizens of Texas. During the Congressional phase of Reconstruction, the military affairs of the State of Texas, and many aspects of civil government, were controlled by the commander of the District of Texas (1866-1868) or of the 5th Military District (1868-1870). These records are of those districts, and of the State Police and the State Guard and Reserve Militia, both created in 1870 and commanded by a newly restored state adjutant general. Types of records include military orders; correspondence, petitions, and sworn statements; reports of crimes, arrests, and fugitives from justice; certificates of disability; court martial proceedings; annual militia returns; militia rolls; a hospital report; affidavits of loss and damage; quartermaster records (especially vouchers), pay vouchers, ordnance records, and accounts for moneys collected and disbursed; and other financial records, dating 1865-1874, and undated.
ABSTRACT: The objectives of the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Authority (TLLRWDA) were to update existing statutes governing radioactive materials and to establish a state-operated low-level radioactive waste disposal program. Records include correspondence, memorandums, environmental monitoring and experimental data, minutes and agenda, reports, studies,news clippings, maps and drawings, photographs, land records, contracts, publications, public relations materials, planning documents, board orders and resolutions, court documents, manuals, organizational charts, audio and video recordings, magnetic media, and other background material related to the various stages of the site selection process, dating 1917, 1920, 1933-1999, undated, bulk 1992-1998.
Subjects include the site characterization and selection process, low-level radioactive waste disposal trends, waste management planning, public perception of TLLRWDA and similar entities, development of Hudspeth County infrastructure, legislation related to agency operations, geological features of Texas, collection and analysis of environmental data, status of the agency’s license application, quality assurance tasks and audits, TLLRWDA’s relationships to external entities, socio-economic impacts of the project, and environmental justice issues. Electronic records are present in addition to analog materials.
ABSTRACT: The Texas Supreme Court has final appellate jurisdiction in most civil and juvenile cases. It also has the authority to conduct proceedings for the removal or involuntary retirement of state judges; supervises State Bar operations; promulgates rules and regulations for the discipline, supervision, and disbarment of lawyers; and has supervisory and administrative control over the judicial branch. The records consist of case files, applications, opinions, dockets, indexes, registers, and minutes covering the period 1840-2004. Also present are the records of the Texas Commission of Appeals, consisting of opinions, dockets, and minutes, dating 1879-1892, 1918-1943. A portion of these materials has been digitized and is part of the Texas Digital Archive.
ABSTRACT: The Texas Department on Aging was responsible for addressing the social and physical well-being of Texans aged 60 years and older through the development, coordination, oversight, and advocacy of aging services. Records include meeting documents, correspondence and memoranda, legislative documents, legal documents, financial documents, reports, grant applications, media documents, responses to surveys, organization charts, and resumes, dating 1957-2004, bulk 1979-1999. They comprise records of the Texas Department on Aging, its predecessor the Governor’s Committee on Aging, and the affiliated State Citizens Advisory Council. Also well-represented are the records documenting Texas’ participation in the White House Conferences on Aging of 1971 and 1981.
More Items Recently Added to the Texas Digital Archive
Jacob de Cordova Letter Book, 1851-1856: Copies of outgoing correspondence from de Cordova relating to his business as a land agent, dating from 1851 to 1856. The book consists of two sections: “Assessors and Collectors” and “Letters to Phineas de Cordova and Commissioner of the General Land Office Austin and other persons,” each with an alphabetized index of correspondents.
In 2007, Texas House of Representatives’ Media Services transferred to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) about 350 reels of audiotape. Most of the recordings dated between 1975 and 1984 and covered the House floor debates from the entire 63rd through 68th Legislative sessions. Many House committee recordings were included as well. At the time the tapes were transferred to TSLAC, the majority of the reels were described by House media staff as “unplayable.” Having been marked as damaged and unplayable, the audiotapes were stored in TSLAC’s climate-controlled stacks awaiting deaccessioning.
State Archives staff revisited this collection in 2017 after digitizing recordings from the House Textbook Committee and others from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Digital Asset Coordinator Steven Kantner, with a background in recording engineering along with a graduate school focus on the preservation of audiovisual materials, recognized the primary issue facing these tapes.
The bulk of the audiotape used in the House recordings from this time period was Ampex 407. Ampex was once a well-known manufacturer of recording devices and produced their own brand of audiotape.
As years pass, audiotape is known to suffer from binder degradation, also known as “sticky-shed” or “sticky-binder” syndrome. Post-1970 audiotape construction has multiple layers that keeps magnetic and carbon particles attached to the support tape. Over time, these chemical bonds break down from exposure to humidity. Ampex 407 is no exception.
Tapes with this condition will squeal upon playback and can lock up the tape player altogether. This can damage the tape and the players too. While there have been various methods applied to attempt remediation of this degradation, the most successful and widely used is a heat treatment. A pilot test consisting of a random sample of the tapes was conducted to prove salvaging these recordings was possible.
Soon after the first project meeting in April 2018, the effort was underway. Using a scientific lab oven in the State Archives, a dozen reels of tape at a time were carefully heated at 130F/54C for a total of 24 hours. The tapes were cooled down for at least 24 hours before they would be played.
The original Studer ReVox and Sony recorders used to create the tapes were not available. TSLAC bought a brand new Otari MX-5050 reel to reel player in 2014, about one year before Otari ended manufacture of these last modern reel-to-reel players. The original recorders had a tape speed option to slow the tape down to audio-cassette speed (1.875” per second). The Otari does not have that option and only uses faster consumer and production tape speeds.
Since no new reel players are on the market today, and working old ones are hard to come by, the recordings were captured at double their original speed, but at a very high digital resolution. This high resolution was to compensate for time duration adjustments after the digitization of the tape. This provided quality better than compact discs and kept audio transfers within digitization guidelines and standards from organizations such as the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives.
While the bulk of the tapes just required heat treatment, some tapes exhibited other damage that occurred during the original recording or subsequent handling.
Some tape had strange white residues that formed around old fingerprints left on the tapes. It was determined after viewing under a microscope that it was not mold and was safe to handle.
Nearly all tapes were missing leader tape at the head or tail of the reels.
Log books of the recordings were part of the original accession and contain useful metadata about the activities captured in the recordings. These were handwritten notes that included the “counter” information on the original recorder, which unfortunately is information only helpful with the original playback equipment and doesn’t equate to an accurate “time stamp.” However, representatives speaking and bill number information is useful to narrow down what was happening on any given day. These log books were digitized and are provided as a PDF file to browse through to look for names, bill numbers, and any other information a researcher may need. Each page of the PDF is bookmarked with Tape and Side where the audio resides and can be cross-referenced with the recordings.
The original project plan was to provide these to the public as MP3 files along with the PDF log books as an index. However, after some testing, it was found that using artificial intelligence for Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) could be a powerful discovery tool for this collection. For over 1,000 hours recordings, it could cost the State thousands of dollars to send off to a vendor to perform. To hire people to manually write transcriptions would cost even more. Instead, an open source video software tool called ffmpeg was used to convert MP3 audio files into an MP4 video file using a placeholder “frame” for the video image. Then the MP4 was uploaded into a private channel on YouTube. Many of the recordings were just under the time limit set by YouTube, and YouTube (owned by Google and likely using a light version of Google’s ASR) would provide captions within about 24 hours after upload.
The captions are not perfect as there are heavy accents, people speaking simultaneously, and other background chatter on the tapes that confuses the AI – but a large majority of the captioning is accurate. The caption files were downloaded and placed with the recordings. When topics are mentioned or House bill numbers are mentioned, this text is now searchable across the entire Texas Digital Archive – a text search will lead you to the captions – once the caption file is open, then use the FIND feature in your browser to search through the text in the record. A time stamp is included with each line of captioning to help the user pinpoint the audio in the recording. Using ffmpeg, captions were also permanently burned into the video frames so whole recordings are available not only as MP3 audio files, but also as video files with the captions.
The last audiotapes were captured about 15 months after the project kick-off, and within a couple of months all metadata and files were ready for ingest into the Texas Digital Archive. The collection, much of which was inaccessible for many years due to the tape condition, was now available to the public online.
Researchers using this collection have two options: use the log books to locate topics on a given day, or try a text search across a session or the entire collection. If using a text search, it is recommended to try several varieties of how a house bill or other topic could be mentioned. For example, “house bill 131”, “HB 131”, or just “131”. As technology advances further, future discovery improvements may be implemented to make searching and discovery within this large set of recordings even better.
The Texas State Archives maintains a wealth of material relating to the Native American peoples of Texas. The holdings, which range from the colonial era of Spanish rule during the eighteenth century through the years of the Republic and to the present day, depict the cultures and histories of those tribes which once resided, and in some instances still live, in Texas.
Rich collections such as the Nacogdoches Archives and the Texas Indian Papers provide narrative and statistical evidence concerning the encounters and varied relationships that colonists, settlers, and well-known historical figures had with the indigenous peoples of Texas. Other collections from the nineteenth century such as the Mirabeau B. Lamar Papers and the Andrew Jackson Houston Papers contain plentiful correspondence that details the differing perspectives of Mirabeau Lamar, Sam Houston, and other leaders concerning the status of Indians during and after the Republic.
Records produced by state agencies that provided economic and material aid to those
tribes remaining in Texas following the nineteenth century are especially
informative. The assistance provided by the State Board of Control and its
successor, the Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools, to help the
Alabama-Coushatta Indian Reservation gain economic sustenance and political control
of their affairs from the early through the middle of the twentieth century is well
documented, with correspondence and reports providing daily snapshots of the
challenges and achievements stemming from this era.
Management of Native American reservations and other affairs in Texas during the later twentieth century can be found in the administrative, financial, and legal records of the Texas Indian Commission. The political emergence of the Tigua and Kickapoo Indians in Texas after decades of political neglect and administrative oversight, as well as the timely assistance provided to these tribes by the Commission, are just two of the compelling events recorded within the agency’s history.
Other collections in the State Archives provide records and materials that give glimpses into the cultures of the state’s tribes. One of the goals of the Texas Tourist Development Agency was to make various tourist attractions and facilities more widely known to the general population in and out of Texas; its visual records of Alabama-Coushatta and Tigua villages are instances of such an effort.
Another collection, the James L.D. Sylestine papers, contains considerable amounts of stories, legends, and songs from the Alabama and Coushatta tribes in both textual and audio form. Lastly, the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, a branch of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Liberty, Texas, has a large collection of arrowheads and spear-points from tribes that once lived in southeastern Texas; there are also collections of handcrafts and baskets made by the nearby Alabama-Coushatta tribe.
These collections and others with entries in this guide are just some of the larger and well-known holdings in the State Archives pertaining to Native American tribes in Texas. Additional collections are available at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), most available through this website, for those interested in accessing material not mentioned in this guide.
A “Subject Guide to Native American Holdings at the Texas State Archives, about 1700-2004” is available in full online at: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/90021/tsl-90021.html#series1. For more information about the holdings at the State Archives and conducting research in our collections, contact the Reference Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-463-5455.
The TSLAC Research Fellowship in Texas History is administered in partnership with TSHA and made possible by the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas through a generous donation from the Edouard Foundation.
Proposals must specify the purpose of the research project, collections of interest at the State Archives, a description of the end product of the research and a statement of need for funding.
In addition to the one to two page narrative, the application packet should include a complete vita. Fellowship recipients may be asked to present the results of their research at a future TSLAC event. The award will be announced at the TSHA’s annual meeting in February 2020.
Individuals should submit an entry form, four (4) copies of a vita and four (4) copies of the proposal to the TSHA office by Dec. 28, 2019. Applicants should address their entry forms to:
Texas State Library and Archives Commission Research Fellowship in Texas History Committee Texas State Historical Association 3001 Lake Austin Blvd., Ste. 3.116 Austin, TX 78703
Archives bazaars are an increasingly popular way for repositories, libraries, historical and genealogical organizations, museums and others to join together and present to the public the research collections, services and educational opportunities available in various regions of Texas. The DFW Archives Bazaar took place Saturday, November 2 in the Patterson-Appleton Arts Center in Denton and both the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) participated with exhibit booths. We enjoyed meeting our colleagues from North Texas and members of the community who stopped by to learn more about our efforts. Below are some photos from the event. The Houston Archives Bazaar will be held on Sunday, November 17 from 10a.m. – 2p.m. at White Oak Music Hall. See you there!
The Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center presents the exhibit, “Wish You Were Here!” now on display in the Center’s museum. “Wish You Were Here!” highlights historic Southeast Texas vacation spots, industry, culture and recreational opportunities through a selection of postcards, tourism publications and historic documents curated from the research collections.
Among other sources, the exhibit pulls from the substantial Don Kelly Southeast Texas Postcard Collection, which covers almost the entirety of the 20th century and features visual documentation of the Southeast Texas oil refineries, architecture, rivers, railroads and much more.
Postcards promoted tourist attractions in the region and tell us about what appealed to those seeking leisurely adventure at a particular moment in time. Pleasure Pier in Port Arthur entertained visitors to the Gulf Coast and became a hot-spot for the local young people after the Pleasure Pier bridge was constructed in 1931. The amusements included a roller coaster, midway games and a dance hall with live music.
Built in 1927, Beaumont’s historic Jefferson Theater was the site of a world premier of the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” twenty years later. The lovely theater is still in operation and stands as an impressive reminder of the glamorous era of film in the United States.
Sour Lake’s springs and hotel were a draw because of the purported health benefits of the sulphur in the water. The sulphur was also an indicator of oil in the area and the petroleum industry transformed the community into a boomtown in the early 1900s.
Postcards and promotional materials contribute to our material culture and reveal how people interacted with their environment and each other. Visit “Wish You Were Here!” for a fascinating view of the past.
A component of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center houses local government records, rare books, manuscripts, archival materials, photographs and other media formats covering a wide range of Southeast Texas history. In addition to the archives and museum, four historic buildings and the Jean Price Daniel Home and Archives are located on the Center’s grounds. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/shc for more information.