After a two-year closure for a renovation project, the Balmorhea State Park pool in West Texas has reopened, offering visitors the opportunity for a refreshing dip into the spring-fed waters once again. In celebration of this Texas landmark, let’s dip into the collections at the State Archives for a look at historic images related to Balmorhea.
The popular summer swimming destination has been attracting travelers for decades. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the park and its structures, including the pool, as part of the federal government’s effort to provide employment and a reliable paycheck for Americans suffering poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Image: Swimming pool springs 4-miles out, Balmorhea, Texas, 1936. William Deming Hornaday Photograph Collection,1975/070-5412. TSLAC. View in TDA.
The State Archives has in its collections the CCC drawings for Balmorhea and other Texas State Parks. Explore the collection online through a searchable database specifically designed for these materials here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/apps/arc/CCCDrawings/
Texas State Parks Board records housed at the State Archives include images, promotional materials, correspondence and other items connected to the Balmorhea project. Though most of these records have not been digitized, several images below offer a glimpse of the kinds of research materials one might discover in these files.
In a 1944 letter, the district engineer for the Texas Highway Department seemed perplexed by a request from the Texas State Parks Board to “place a reflectorized sign at the entrance to Balmorhea State Park.” The sketch in the image below was provided as evidence of the work having been completed several years prior.
Would you rent a bathing suit at a swimming pool? According to this “notice to the public” about Balmorhea, bathing suits for sale or rental were available on site.
The State Archives library collections also have publications on Balmorhea State Park and related topics. Here are examples of titles with links to the records in the online catalog:
The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) invites nominations for its 2021 archival awards. THRAB bestows annual awards in the categories of excellence, advocacy, and distinguished service.
The Archival Award of Excellence honors archival institutions and individuals in Texas who have made significant achievements in preserving and improving access to historical records in any format. The Advocacy for Archives Award acknowledges an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to ensure the preservation and availability of Texas’s historical record.
In 2020, THRAB named the service award in honor of its first recipient, nationally renowned Texas archivist and archival educator Dr. David B. Gracy II. The David B. Gracy II Distinguished Archival Service Award recognizes an individual, archival institution, education program, or nonprofit/government organization that has provided outstanding leadership, service, or contribution to the archival profession in Texas.
THRAB is accepting nominations through August 6 and will announce the recipients in October during Texas Archives Month. For nomination forms and additional information, visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/archivalaward.
Recent recipients of the Archival Award of Excellence include the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) and Travis Williams, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian at St. Edward’s University.
The inaugural Advocacy for Archives Award was presented to the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and the Distinguished Service Award, as mentioned earlier, went to David B. Gracy II. The awards are funded by a State Programming Board grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
In 1976, Governor Dolph Briscoe established THRAB, the State Historical Records Advisory Board for Texas. THRAB is a nine-member board that supports public access to records; serves as a catalyst for improving storage conditions within the state; supports the preservation and access efforts of historical and genealogical societies, archives, museums, libraries, colleges, local governments, and other institutions; and reviews grant requests submitted to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). THRAB initiatives are funded by the NHPRC.
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 spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The quarterly column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We close out the piece highlighting 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 and researchers may determine whether 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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).
Wright Chalfant Morrow was a lawyer, Democratic state senator, and Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The W.C. Morrow papers focused on W.C. Morrow’s campaign for judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas in 1916. The papers also provide insight into his personal finances through a collection of personal letters, receipts, and checks.
Zarh Pritchard, born Walter Howlison Mackenzie Pritchard, was an artist best known for painting underwater landscapes while underwater. The Zarh Pritchard collection documents his work, travels, and interest in numerology and the occult. Included are letter and card correspondence; pamphlets and invitations; administrative files detailing his personal finances, business dealings, and properties; books and literary efforts; magazine and newspaper clippings; memorabilia collected through his travels, friendships, and business dealings; photographs, drawings, and postcards; and artifacts and artwork. Dates covered are about 1870s-1959, undated, bulk 1904-1953.
These records include conveyances, maps, and titles for property owned by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Right of Way Division. The Right of Way Division coordinates the acquisition of land to build, widen, or enhance highways and provides relocation assistance when needed. The division also coordinates utility adjustments, and the disposition and leasing of surplus real property owned by TxDOT. The records document these land transfers and date from 1920 to 2017, and undated. The records are part of an ongoing digitization project by TxDOT that has begun with the Austin District; the project will continue with other major-municipality districts and finish with the less populous ones.
Pearl Beer commercial promoting recycling program:
Video: Pearl Beer 30-second spot, about 1973. Television and radio spot films and audiotapes, Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation Travel and Information Division films and audiotapes, 2013/063 TXDOT. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. View in TDA.
The Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation (TSDHPT) was responsible for the building and maintenance of Texas roads and highways and for developing public mass transportation in state from 1975 to 1991. The agency was formed in 1975 when the Texas Legislature merged the Texas Highway Department and the Texas Mass Transportation Commission into this single agency. Both TSDHPT and the Texas Highway Department operated a Travel and Information Division that promoted travel to and within the state of Texas, highway safety, and tourism through the distribution of publications, audiovisual programs, and news media materials. Records consist of 76 film projects made up of 16mm motion pictures and motion picture components, 0.25-inch open reel audiotapes, a 35mm work print, and an audiocassette, dating 1963-1990, bulk 1970-1985. Projects comprise Texas tourism and other films, as well as radio and television news stories, commercials, and public service announcements that were produced by the division. Subjects include bridge construction, anti-littering campaigns, tourist attractions around Texas, highway safety, highway funding, and public transportation. Included are different motion picture production components, such as work prints, internegatives, soundtracks, film clips, and stock shots. A portion of these materials have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.
Texas Tourist Development Agency photographs and audiovisual materials document the activities of the Texas Tourist Development Agency (TTDA) and its work to increase the state’s share of the national tourist market using a variety of mass media. The materials include photographic color slides, transparencies, negatives, photographic prints, videotapes, motion picture films, and audio tapes and date from 1964 to 1997 and undated. Portions of the slides and negatives have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive. In addition, a portion of digitized slides is available through the Texas State Archives Flickr page.
The Economic Development and Tourism Division (EDT) of the Texas Governor’s Office under Governor Rick Perry specialized in encouraging in-state business expansion and relocation as well as promoting domestic and international tourism via partnerships with local convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, and private travel-related organizations. These records document the regular activities of several sections of EDT, along with predecessor agencies the Texas Department of Commerce and Texas Department of Economic Development, during the terms of Governors Rick Perry, George W. Bush, and Ann Richards. Efforts to convince corporate entities to relocate or expand into the state of Texas are a particular emphasis. Records include paper, audiovisual, and electronic record types encompassing incoming and outgoing correspondence, memorandums, reports, publications, presentations, speeches, organization charts, clippings, press releases, notes, working papers, strategic plans, agendas, meeting materials, calendars, promotional materials, project files, videocassette tapes, audiocassette tapes, and digital images. Records date 1989-2015.
The Texas State Board of Education in conjunction with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction administered state management of public schools in Texas until the passage of the Gilmer-Aiken laws in 1949. The Texas State Board of Education school district records consist of annual/term reports, bonds of indebtedness, notices of incorporation, scholastic censuses, and treasurer’s annual statements. These records provide details on school district finances, student and teacher demographics, and school facilities and date 1879-1938 and undated, bulk 1880-1912.
The Minnie Sneed Wilcox collection is an assembly of scrapbooks, correspondence, organization reports, and other materials that document the activities of Minnie Sneed Wilcox in three Texas music clubs between 1920 and 1945, bulk 1923-1941: the Wednesday Morning Music Club, the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, and the Texas Music Teachers Association.
For information about access to TSLAC collections please contact our reference staff at email@example.com or 512-463-5455.
TSLAC joins the rest of the country in recognizing the contributions of those Americans with Asian/Pacific Islander heritage throughout the month of May. Though primary source documentation may be sparse at the State Archives, secondary sources like Nancy Farrar’s 1972 study, The Chinese in El Paso offer valuable descriptive information and data pulled from newspapers, census records and city directories.
The earliest arrival to Texas of Asians in any significant number were laborers from China who worked on the rail lines that were rapidly expanding across the state and connecting the country during the last decades of the nineteenth century. The Chinese migrants were young men who worked together on construction teams and would typically move from one site to another and often planned to eventually return home to China.
When the Southern Pacific Railroad was completed in 1881, the border city of El Paso was on the route to and from the west coast. While many laborers departed once the railroad line was built, some remained and established Chinese-run businesses located within a few city blocks of each other. A neighborhood referred to as “Chinatown” developed in downtown El Paso. A popular business to open was a laundromat, as the Chinese steam method had little competition in town
Image: Farrar, Nancy. The Chinese in El Paso. Texas Western Press, The University of Texas at El Paso, 1972. Texas Documents Collection, ZUA590.7 SO89 NO.33. Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Socially, the immigrants lived separately from the rest of the city early on. Because of strict immigration laws aimed specifically at Asians, women were not joining the men who had made the journey. The area was therefore comprised almost entirely of men. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 stemmed the flow of laborers coming to the U.S. and the exclusion continued with the Geary Act of 1902. Some exceptions were made, such as for merchants and teachers, and the prohibition was not always strictly enforced.
While the Chinese population in El Paso would start to decline in the early twentieth century, other groups from countries in Asia were creating communities in Texas. Farmers had arrived from Japan to work the rice fields of Southeast Texas and other Japanese immigrants opened restaurants and shops in Houston and the surrounding counties, for example.
Discovering information about the growth of Asian communities in Texas can sometimes occur by chance. A closer look at this Houston streetscape from about 1927 reveals a restaurant called the Chop Suey Café on the right side of Travis Street.
Here is a close-up view of the sign for the Chop Suey Café. The restaurant is in the shadow on the right-hand side of the street.
After the immigration laws changed in 1965 and restrictions on Asian immigrants were lifted, many more groups from regions across Asia would make their way to Texas. Houston emerged as a particularly attractive destination for various groups and is today one of the most diverse cities in the country.
Learn more about Asian Texans with resources from TSLAC.
The American Library Association (ALA) has declared April 25 – May1, 2021 as Preservation Week. They provide on their website a page called Saving Your Stuff, with handy tips on preserving a range of items, from audio to scrapbooks. Here at the State Archives, we work hard to ensure the important historical collections that tell the story of Texas are preserved. We share our own helpful hints on a page called Preservation Tips from the State Archives. In addition, this year we are presenting an online program from TSLAC Conservator, Heather Hamilton, who will offer tips on taking care of family treasures.
Join us as we celebrate Preservation Week at TSLAC with an informative program on how to make sure your personal archive stands the test of time. Register now for a virtual peek into the Conservation Lab at the State Archives. Caring for Your Family Artifacts takes place on Thursday, April 29 at 2:00 pm. Register here: https://zoom.us/j/92318114739.
Are you a Texas K-12 educator seeking primary sources for your classroom? Would you like to see the State Archives offer programming for you and your students? Our education outreach team wants to hear from you! Let us know more about what we may offer you and your students by completing this short survey by May 15: https://forms.gle/CJeetRmxeDbzR2oq9
In celebration of Newton County’s 175th anniversary, the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center (SHC), part of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), has digitized records salvaged from the 2000 Newton County Courthouse fire and made them freely available online.
The records were donated to the SHC, located in Liberty, for professional conservation treatment after being damaged. Although the records survived the flames, the water used to fight the fire left them moldy, covered in dirt and soot and, in some cases, torn and unbound.
Around 200 volumes of Newton County government records, totaling more than 40,000 pages of information, had to be treated. Staff vacuumed each page by hand to remove mold spores and debris. After careful cleaning, staff and volunteers gently packaged each volume for transport to Austin, where they could be inspected by TSLAC’s professional conservator and receive further treatment if needed. Finally, the surviving records were transported back to the SHC, where an archivist began creating descriptive guides to the collection for researchers.
This multi-year project saved all but nine of the original volumes. Those volumes were so extensively damaged by mold that keeping them would have been hazardous to the rest of the collection, so TSLAC staff digitized the volumes to preserve their contents and make them available online instead. The first batch of these scanned volumes is now available on the Texas Digital Archive.
“The Center’s primary purpose is to preserve local government records from Southeast Texas for future generations, but it’s rare for that service to involve something as devastating as a courthouse fire,” said Center Manager Alana Inman. “Being able to help save records from Newton County is one of the most historically important projects I have worked on while leading the Center.”
The full collection of Newton County government records at the Center includes a variety of documents, such as land and school records, tax rolls, marks and brands, and probate files. Online guides are currently available for two government offices: district clerk, ranging in date from 1847-1898, and tax assessor-collector, dating 1846-1936. These series include court records, women’s voter registration receipts, poll tax receipts and other items of significant historical interest.
Three volumes, a 1912 tax roll, 1847-1852 district court minute book and 1852-1884 record of jurors, are available online:
Tax Roll: Tax roll, 1912, Assessment and rendition of property (tax rolls), 1846-1932, Newton County (Tex.) Tax Assessor-Collector records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. View online in the TDA.
Minute book: Minute book, district court, volume A, 1847-1852, Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. View online in the TDA.
Record of Jurors: Record of jurors, 1852-1884, Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. View online in the TDA.
The effort to create online guides to all Newton County government records continues. Next, staff will release scanned volumes and a guide to the records of the county clerk. In the meantime, anyone interested in accessing the records can contact SHC staff or visit the Center.
A component of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 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.
The Center is located at 650 FM 1011 in Liberty, Texas. Operating hours are Tuesday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Visits to the research library may be set in advance by appointment. For more information, please contact Center staff at 936-336-8821, firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.tsl.texas.gov/shc.
When Elizabeth Howard West was hired as state archivist at the Texas State Library in 1911, she had been through library training, worked in manuscripts at the Library of Congress, and held a master’s degree in history from the University of Texas. Her first task was to organize more than a thousand boxes from the Comptroller’s Office that had been collecting in a basement, and she went on to create the calendar (annotated listing) for the Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar papers. She departed in 1915 and went to the San Antonio Public Library, where she served as director.
Today we recognize Elizabeth Howard West as a pioneer in Texas history. In 1918, she became the first woman to direct any state agency when she accepted the position as state librarian. West had a vision for a state library that expanded library services to reach all Texans. When she began as state librarian, only 16 percent of citizens in Texas had access to a free public library. She worked to improve this statistic by serving as president of the Texas Library Association and helping establish a county library system. West was so skilled at this work that she helped other states do the same.
West also provided library services to groups and individuals who had limited or no access to books. She initiated library services for the blind in 1916 while serving as director of the San Antonio Public Library and brought these services to the Texas State Library in 1919. She acquired books in earlier forms of braille to better serve this population. She also provided services to African American library patrons despite the segregation practices of the era. Schools serving African American students were regular customers of the Texas State Library, but these patrons were not welcomed by everyone working in the Texas Capitol at the time. West developed a process to serve this group by having their requests prepared in advance and ready for pick-up when they arrived.
West was a strong advocate for maintaining a professional staff and added staff raises to her budget requests. She also stipulated training requirements for library and archives positions so that the legislature did not place well-connected but unqualified individuals in library jobs, as was a common practice by Texas politicians of the day.
After years of battling for higher budgets, more space, and better staff support, West eventually sought work outside of state government. In her wake she left behind a library that was made better by her diligence and care. Most important, she left TSLAC as a library that served everyone, not just a privileged few.
Elizabeth West’s records can be found in several collections:
Understanding the search options in the Texas State Library and Archive Commission’s (TSLAC) library catalog can help patrons more quickly and efficiently retrieve records pertinent to their research needs. Earlier posts covered The Basics of the catalog search engine and The Secrets to using search fields and Boolean operators. This post takes a closer look at the available search fields – shown in Figure 1 below – and how they can be used in conjunction with the search-type options displayed in Figure 2.
TSLAC catalog’s homepage displays these basic search options:
Below the library drop-down menu is a series of buttons that tell the search engine where – that is, in what fields – to search in the catalog (Figure 1).
Words or Phrase. This is the broadest option. It returns any records that contain the search terms, including in the title, in the author’s name, and in the book’s summary.
Author. This button looks for the search term in the author field. The author may be a person or an agency.
Title. This option looks for the search term within the title only.
Subject. This option looks for the search term within all the subjects that have been assigned to items. Subjects are chosen by catalogers from Library of Congress Subject Headings.
Series. This option looks for the search term only in the titles of a series.
Periodical Title. Similar to Title, this function narrows the search to only the titles of periodicals and journals.
Above the search bar are three options that tell the search engine how to search for your terms within the selections described above (Figure 2).
Keyword: When this option is selected, the search engine will display results that include the search term(s) anywhere within the field it is told to search. For example, conducting a Title search for “Texas women” with the Keyword option selected will return all titles that include “Texas” and “women” in the title.
Browse: This option tells the search engine to find records that begin with the search term, then returns an alphabetical list of records. Results always first display the record immediately preceding your search results, then the list of titles that match your search terms.
Browse/Title: A Title search for “Texas women” with the Browse option selected returns a list of titles beginning with “Texas Woman’s University, Science and Mathematics Center for Women” followed by “Texas Women” and then ending with “Texas women : interview and images” (Figure 3).
Browse/Subject: A Subject search for “Texas women” with the Browse option selected returns an alphabetical list of subject terms used in the catalog. A number to the right of each subject tells how many records have been assigned that term. Clicking on the subject term generates a list of these records (Figure 4).
Exact: Choosing this option tells the engine to look for the search term exactly as entered.
For example, a Title search for “Texas ranger” with the Exact option selected returns ten records with that exact title. “Texas women” returns only one result, as that title is an exact match for only one resource. If there are no exact matches, the engine will return the same alphabetical list that would be generated by a “Browse” search for the same term.
Note that the title in the Item Information may not exactly match the search term, as in the result for “Texas women” in Figure 5 below. This is because the engine is also searching variant titles, which can be found in the item’s catalog record (Figure 6).
Happy Searching! Feel free to contact reference staff with further questions about the catalog or your research needs: email@example.com or 512-463-5455.
Please note: Access to our library materials is currently limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. Many items in our library collections are available online, through interlibrary loan (ILL), or at other libraries. If you are interested in specific library materials found in our catalog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with those details and we will be happy to help you with access options.
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 spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We close out the piece highlighting 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 and 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).
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 bound volumes containing briefs to litigation in which the Texas Attorney General’s office played a part or had an interest, dating 1913-1938. Subjects include banking, conflicts with other states, oil and gas, railroads, taxation, and transportation.
The San Jacinto River Authority, established by the Texas Legislature in 1937, develops, conserves, and protects water resources of the San Jacinto River Basin. The agency activities include supporting municipal and industrial water supply, water quality management, wastewater treatment, and water and soil conservation projects. Records consist of minutes dating 1990-2019.
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission was charged to protect the environment and public health and safety by reducing the release of pollutants and contaminants in the air and water, regulating the management and disposal of waste, and expediting the cleanup of contaminated sites. Records consist of hearing examiner files compiled by the commission’s Office of the Hearing Examiner’s predecessors—Texas Air Control Board, Texas Department of Health, and Texas Water Commission—as part of the permit application process, dating 1920s-1996, undated, bulk 1977-1992. The majority of the records dating prior to 1977 are exhibits.(A portion of these records are available in the TDA.)
The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, established in 2009 and administratively attached to the Texas Historical Commission, ensures that resources are available to students, educators, and the general public regarding the Holocaust and other genocides. These efforts aim to prevent future genocides. Records consist of commission meeting minutes, dating 2010-2018. (All records are electronic and available through the TDA after review for restricted information, upon receipt of a researcher request.)
The United States Bureau of Reclamation is the federal agency responsible for managing water resources in the western United States. Originally, management projects focused on reclamation of lands considered inhospitable due to lack of water through irrigation, but over time they have come to include maintenance of existing projects and development of environmental protection strategies for water resources. These records, from the bureau’s Austin Development Office, document water reclamation studies undertaken in Texas related to the bureau’s proposed and completed projects within Texas borders and include memorandums, reports, and plans regarding various infrastructure projects for water resource diversion, distribution, use, and development, dating 1940-1967, bulk 1946-1966.
Samuel Erson Asbury was a chemist, Texas historian, and collector of Texana and materials of prominent Texans of the Revolution-era. The Samuel E. Asbury papers comprise research correspondence, papers, photographs, primary source transcriptions, and genealogy notes about prominent Republic-era figures and Texas Reconstruction, dating 1922-1951.
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. Records of Mark White’s tenure as attorney general from 1979 to 1983 include correspondence, memorandums, newspaper clippings, photographs, legal briefs, court opinions, press releases, and newsletters, dating 1975-1982, undated, bulk 1979-1982.
Subjects include the drafting and explanation of attorney general opinions, filings of lawsuits, analyzing proposed legislation at the state and federal levels, enforcement of the Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act, the state’s criminal justice system, energy issues, Minister Lester Roloff’s children’s home and the enforcement of the Child Case Licensing Act, public education issues, and drug paraphernalia and illegal drug dealing. Image: Governor Mark White