Margaret Lea Houston’s Summer Spread

Summer spread, by Margaret Lea Houston, ca. mid-19th century [Cotton textile, 98 x 80 1/4. 1983.125.0007, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, TSLAC].

Margaret Lea Houston, the wife of famed Texas politician and war hero Sam Houston, is thought to have sewn this lightweight “summer spread” decorated with imagery from the   Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Similar to a quilt but without the batting, the spread consists of 45 hexagonal blocks and measures 80 1/4 x 98 inches long. Art historian Lynne Adele analyzed the imagery and determined that, since some of the symbols were removed from the Fraternal Order in 1880, the spread was made before that year.

Imagery included on the spread are a lamb, symbolizing innocence; three links of chain, indicating friendship, love, and truth; and the sun, representing God and the soul. The heart on the palm of the hand symbolizes sincerity and the cornucopia, abundance.

Close-up of  imagery used on the summer spread. Here we see the lamb, the chain links of truth, love, and friendship, and a bow and quiver. Edges of the hexagonal blocks are visible.

The interest in the Odd Fellows symbolism is unclear, as Sam Houston was a member of another fraternal organization, the Freemasons. The provenance of the spread has been attributed to Margaret through family history and now belongs to TSLAC’s Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, TX. Visitors to the Center may view the spread on display as part of a new museum exhibit through December 2018.

For more information on fraternal symbols in art, see the book As Above, So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society 1850/1930 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015) by Lynn Adele.

Registration Open! Workshop: Introduction to Grant Proposals

Learn how to fund your next project by participating in a free workshop on writing grant proposals. “Introduction to Grant Proposals” surveys the types of state, federal, and private foundation grants available and provides information about researching and writing grant proposals. Topics include types of grants, types of funding, elements of a grant proposal, the grant review process, managing your grant project, reporting requirements, and funding resources.


7/24/2018  Stephen F. Austin University, Nacogdoches, Texas.
8/21/2018  University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.

Learn more and register here:

Supported by the National Archives’ National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) presents professional development workshops free of charge for archivists, librarians, and other staff members in Texas archival repositories in fulfillment of its initiative to support education and training for professionals.

Featured Collection: Western Landscapes and Beyond

By Caroline Jones, Reference Archivist

Display of books on Western art.

Selection of titles on the subject of Western art available in the Texas State Library and Archives collections. The display is currently on view in the Reference Reading Room.

Our newest featured collection is now on display in the Reference Reading Room. “Western Artists: Texas Landscapes and Beyond” features the works of Tom Lea, Frank Reaugh, Charles M. Russell, and many other Southwestern artists who captured the sights of the Wild West. Browse through tranquil images of longhorns in their pastures and bluebonnets in bloom. Study the images of Native American hunters and horse- wrangling cowboys. Whichever book you choose, you’ll be sure to enjoy this sampling of artistic publications from our collections.

John Canfield Ewers’ “Plains Indian Painting,” Stanford University Press, 1939.

To search for these books and more, check out our catalog at You may search for subjects like “Texas in art” or “West (U.S.) –In art” or for the names of specific artists. If you are interested in a title on our Featured Collection shelf, please visit the Reference Desk in room 109. Below is the complete list of titles you’ll find on our Featured Collection shelf for June and July. Download the list of the featured collection. .

The Art of Tom Lea Lea, Tom 700.924 AR75 OVER-L MAIN
The West of the imagination Goetzmann, William H. 700.978 G555w MAIN
Plains Indian painting : a description of an aboriginal American art Ewers, John C. (John Canfield) 759.011 EW38 MAIN
Painting in Texas : the nineteenth century Pinckney, Pauline A. 759.1 P651 OVER-T MAIN
Gallery of Western Paintings Carlson, Raymond 759.13 C197 OVER-T MAIN
H.W. Caylor, frontier artist Caylor, H. W. (Harvey Wallace) 759.13 C318H OVER-L MAIN
Bluebonnets and cactus; an album of southwestern paintings Salinas, Porfirio 759.164 SA33 MAIN
Artists who painted Texas Von Rosenberg, Marjorie 759.164 V897A MAIN
Artists of the Old West Ewers, John C. (John Canfield) 759.18 EW38 MAIN
Frank Reaugh, painter to the longhorns Reaugh, Frank 920.71 R236F OVER-L MAIN
The Charles M. Russell book; the life and work of the cowboy artist  

McCracken, Harold

927.5 R912m OVER-T MAIN
Hecho en Tejas : Texas-Mexican folk arts and crafts Graham, Joe Stanley Z N745.7 T312f NO.50 TXD
Walls that speak : the murals of John Thomas Biggers  

Theisen, Ollie Jensen

Z N745.8 T341wa TXD
Of Texas rivers & Texas art Sansom, Andrew Z TA475.8 SA58of TXD
Art of West Texas women : a celebration Hopper, Kippra D. Z TT422.8 H778AR TXD
Thomas Moran : watercolors of the American West : text and catalogue raisonné Clark, Carol Z UA380.8 T365 TXD
Windows on the West : the art of Frank Reaugh Mears, Peter Z UA380.8 W724we TXD
Treasured landscapes : National Park Service art collections tell America’s stories National Center for Cultural Resource Stewardship and Partnerships (U.S.) I 29.2: AR 7/5 USD
An Eye for History: The Paintings of William Henry Jackson Knudsen, Dean I 29.2: P 16 USD
Picturing America Hindley, Meredith NF 3.2: AM 3/8 USD
American Art in the Making: Preparatory Studies for Masterpieces of American Painting, 1800-1900 Sellin, David SI 1.2: Am 1/3/800-900 USD
Cast and recast : the sculpture of Frederic Remington Shapiro, Michael Edward SI 6.2: R 28 USD

Governor Abbott Reappoints Malinda Cowen to the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB)

Governor Abbott has reappointed Malinda Cowen to serve on the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board. Cowen will serve as one of two public members appointed by the governor. The other public member, Bob Glenn, was appointed in 2017. Cowen is the director of Special Education at St. Mary’s Academy Charter School in Beeville and has served in several leadership positions, including chairman of the South Texas Library System Advisory Council, and president of the Bee County Library Board, Soroptimist Club, and the Rosetta Club.

The nine-member board includes the State Archivist, Jelain Chubb, and six members appointed by the Director and State Librarian Mark Smith. Smith recently appointed Melissa Gonzales, Director of Records Management at the Houston Community College System, to serve a three-year term beginning in 2018.

Visit the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board webpage for more information.

High School Student Learns the Ropes at the Library

By Bailey Judis

High School student Bailey Judis (center) with the TSLAC library staff (l-r) Taylor Fox, Stephanie Andrews, Brianna Cochran, Angela Kent, Maria Barker, and Mackenzie Ryan

I am a high school student at the Austin Waldorf School, and as part of our school’s curriculum, we are given two weeks during the Spring semester to experience a type of work featuring a process. Given my passion for history and interest in museums and archives, I chose to do my work experience at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).  I have very much enjoyed learning the many processes that go into storing, preserving, and digitizing the TSLAC’s many artifacts. I was able to witness many dedicated and hardworking staff members as well as numerous steps taken to ensure all of the archival materials and artifacts are available to everyone for research.   Accessibility is a key motivation for this organization.

One of the processes I observed was the TSLAC’s process of digitization. By putting scans of artifacts and documents onto the Texas Digital Archive, I learned that this allows patrons and researchers to access and observe them from anywhere in the world. It also helps preserve the life of the artifact and documents. I was able to observe the project and process of digitizing the Texas Supreme Court documents. The first thing I learned about this process is that in order for the documents to be scanned, they must be flat. Since most of the documents had been rolled very tightly and stored in boxes for many years, they definitely needed to be flattened. After removing the documents bindings, such as ribbons and brads, the documents were then humidified using a simple method of container humidification. After being humidified, the documents were laid between pieces of blotting paper and transferred to the book press. Some documents however were bound with homemade glue, requiring a tedious process of removing the adhesive before they could be pressed. After being left in the book press for two weeks, the now flattened documents were stored in the stacks as they waited to be scanned and put onto the Texas Digital Archive. An overview of what was said in each document would be added with the document’s scan to the Texas Digital Archive, that way a researcher would be able to look through the Texas Supreme documents and have an easier time finding what they were looking for.

Bailey Judis with State Archivist Jelain Chubb in the stacks at TSLAC.

One of the most surprising things I learned was how organized and neat the stacks are. There is so much detail and so many little steps that are key to ensure no artifacts and documents become lost. The Archives and Library staff put so much care into what they do, and their passion for what they do has been very inspiring for me. I was able to learn so much about how the Archives and Library works, and I also had the privilege of seeing their Talking Book Program, working on my skills of scanning and learning about digitization, looking at old photographs and nineteenth century microfilm and much more. I feel very honored to have had the privilege to work with so many inspiring and compassionate people and the opportunity to learn about such an amazing organization.  Their passion for their jobs was incredibly inspiring.

Celebrate Juneteenth: Emancipation Day in Texas

By Stephanie Andrews, Library Assistant

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission joins Texans across the state in celebrating the holiday known as Juneteenth. The state holiday honors the anniversary of June 19, 1865, which was the day Texans were officially notified that slavery had ended in the United States.

While President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was in place as of January 1, 1863, Texas did not consider itself under the United States’ control and, therefore, considered itself exempt from the proclamation. It wasn’t until General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, with a force of federal troops and General Order Number 3, that Texas slaves were officially freed. The general order states that the “people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

General Orders, No. 3. U.S. House, 54th Congress, 1st Session (H. Doc. 369, Part 2). “General Order Number 3,” 1896. U.S. Documents Collection. Y 1.1/2: SERIAL 3437

Juneteenth is an opportunity for Texans to participate in the various celebrations that take place across the state every year. Over the generations, Juneteenth has been celebrated with parades, picnics, and dancing. To honor this historic occasion, we have gathered resources from our collections to help enrich Texans’ knowledge of the holiday.

Newspaper articles and library resources related to Juneteenth.

Newspaper articles and library resources related to Juneteenth.

To find out more about Juneteenth’s history and celebrations over the years, visit our webpage from the About Texas section of our website. If you would like to find more resources in our collections pertaining to Juneteenth, search our catalog or visit our Archives and Manuscripts webpage to learn more about our archival materials.

Resources Available Include:

U.S. House, 54th Congress, 1st Session (H. Doc. 369, Part 2). “General Order Number 3,” 1896. U.S. Documents Collection. Y 1.1/2: SERIAL 3437. GeneralOrders3_Juneteenth

Let’s Pretend: Mae Dee and Her Family Join the Juneteenth Celebration, 1978. Ada DeBlanc Simond. Main collection. 976.431 SI56J.

Juneteenth at Comanche Crossing, 1983. Doris Hollis Pemberton. Main Collection. 976.400496073 P369J.

Juneteenth Texas: Essays in African-American Folklore, 1996. Francis Edward Abernathy. Texas Documents Collection. Z N745.7 T312f No.54.

Juneteenth!: Celebrating Freedom in Texas, 1999. Anna Pearl Barrett. Main Collection. 394.263 B275j.

Texas Monthly, “Texas Primer: Juneteenth,” 1988. Chester Rosson. Main Collection. 976.4005 T312mo V.16 No.1-6.

Subject Vertical File, “Juneteenth Celebrations,” various dates. Main Collection. Vertical File Index.


Sam Houston Center Grand Reopening

The grand reopening of our museum at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center was June 9, and we were so happy to celebrate this wonderful new space and its exhibit showcasing the history of Southeast Texas with so many members of the community. Here are some photos of the event, and some before and after shots to show the amazing transformation of the museum. Thank you to everyone who came out! And if you haven’t made the trip to Liberty to see the new exhibit, we hope you’ll visit soon!

For more information on the SHC click here.

Texas State Library and Archives Commissioner Sharon Carr welcomes the crowd to the grand reopening of the SHC museum.

Continue reading

Celebrate Women Veterans Day with Books from Archives & Reference Services

By Stephanie Andrews, Library Assistant, with contributions from ARIS staff

books related to women veterans

Selection of books in honor of Women Veterans Day from the collection at the Texas State Library & Archives. The books are available for use in the Reading Room. See the list below for call numbers.

In honor of Women Veterans Day, ARIS has created a booklist for our readers. Our list features books about women in many service areas and over various periods of military history. In addition to representing women veterans, these titles also reflect the many ways women assisted military efforts in history before they could serve in an official capacity.

On June 12th, 1948 President Truman signed into federal law the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, making it possible for women to serve as regular, permanent members of the armed forces. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of that signing. During the last Texas legislative session, Senate Bill 805 established Women Veterans Day as June 12th and was signed into law in June of 2017. This summer will mark the first observance of this day.

For more information about Women Veterans Day, visit To learn more about the Texas Veterans Commission’s official opening ceremony events visit

If you’d like to search for these books and more, check out our catalog at If you are interested in checking out a title from this booklist, please visit the Reference Desk in room 109. Below is the complete list of titles you’ll find in our Women Veterans Day booklist.

Title Author Call No. Collection
A History of the Women Marines, 1946-1977 U.S. Marine Corps D 214.13:W 84/2 USD
Air Force Women: A Heritage of Excellence Air Force History and Museums Program D 301.76/5:W 84 USD
American’s Youngest Women Warriors Brandt, Dorothy Hinson 355.0082 A512 MAIN
Beyond the Latino World War II Hero Rivas-Rodriguez, Maggie and Zamora, Emilio ZUA 380.8 B468LA c.2 TXD
Breaking Codes Breaking Barriers U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command D 101.2:C 64 USD
Department of Defense Celebrates: March 1997, Women’s History Month Department of Defense D 2.9:D 36/2/No.110 USD
Finding Dorothy Scott Rickman, Sarah Byrn ZTT 422.8 R425fi c.2 TXD
Kate: The Journal of a Confederate Nurse Cumming, Kate and Harwell, Richard Barksdale 973.776 C912k 1959 MAIN
More than a Uniform: A Navy Woman in a Navy Man’s World Collins, Captain Winifred Quick ZN 745.8 M813 1997 TXD
Nancy Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II Rickman, Sarah Byrn ZN 745.8 R425NA TXD
Oveta Culp Hobby: Colonel, Cabinet Member, Philanthropist Winegarten, Debra L. ZUA 380.8 W725ov c.2 TXD
She Rode with Generals Dannett, Sylvia G.L. 973.781 D233 MAIN
Survey of Female Veterans Veterans Administration VA 1.2:F 34/5 USD
Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State’s Military History Mendoza, Alexander and Grear, Charles David ZTA 475.8 M522te c.2 TXD
The Women’s Army Corps, 1945-1978 Morden, Bettie J. D 114.19:W 84 USD
United States Women in Aviation: 1940-1985 Douglas, Deborah G. SI 1.42:7 USD
WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deeds Rickman, Sarah Byrn ZN 745.8 R425wa c.2 TXD
Women are Veterans, too! Department of Veterans Affairs VA 1.19:10-109/990 USD
Women Doctors in War Bellafaire, Judith and Graf, Mercedes Herrera ZTA 475.8 B414wo c.2 TXD
Women in Civil War Texas Liles, Deborah M. and Boswell, Angela ZN 745.8 W842 c.2 TXD
Women in Defense – DoD Leading the Way Department of Defense D 1.2:W 84/6 USD
Women in the Military: A Proud Heritage Department of Defense D 2.9:D 36/2/No.63 USD
Women Marines in the 1980’s U.S. Marine Corps D 214.2:W 84/5 USD
Women Pilots of World War II Cole, Jean Hascall 940.54 C675W MAIN
Women who Spied for the Blue and the Gray Kinchen, Oscar A. 973.785 K574 MAIN

Managing the Minutes

By Anna Reznik, Archivist

NOTE: In this article, we answer frequently asked questions state agencies may have about the transfer to the archives of meeting minutes.This post is aimed at those who manage such records and is published in conjunction with The Texas Record‘s article, Conversation with TSLAC Archivist About Meeting Minutes.

1856_minutes.jpg. Handwritten text of minutes from Texas School for the Blind, 1856.

Minutes to two Texas State Asylum for the Blind board meetings, August 1856. Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired meeting files, 1989/073-23. These minutes are some of the earliest state agency minutes in TSLAC’s holdings.

When others ask what I do at the State Archives, a task I highlight is my minutes duties. This record type may not seem flashy at first glance, but meeting minutes often contain a rich documentation of who, what, why, and when a government body took the actions that it did. Since minutes are a record of what transpired in a meeting, this series can provide the most information bang for one’s buck.

Due to the important documentation found in open top-level meetings, the minimum retention period for both Local Governments and State Agencies is permanent at the agency with a copy sent to the designated body. For state agencies, that body is the State Archives at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). Note that meeting notes and minutes to staff meetings fall under different series and have a different retention period.

QUESTION: “I’m with a state agency and we’ve been sending copies to the Texas Legislative Reference Library (LRL). That’s enough, right?”

No, sending copies of minutes to the State Archives meets the record retention schedule requirement, while sending a copy to the LRL meets requirements outlined in that government body’s statute (Texas Government Code, Section 324.008). TSLAC keeps minutes permanently, but LRL does not.

QUESTION: “How do I transfer the minutes?”

The answer is “it depends.” To find the best fit for you within the range of acceptable transfer methods, I generally ask a few questions to provide the pros and cons of the available options.

My first question is “what is the format of the records?” Not surprisingly, the transfer options available for minutes in paper or microfilm form differ from those in electronic form. For paper and microfilm, the total extent affects your options. The easiest and simplest transfer method is interagency mail.  Cover letters and inventories assist with our documentation as well as help you identify what was sent to the Archives and when. I am the primary archivist working with minutes, so I am the point person for most minutes-related questions and transfers.

For larger physical transfers, let’s touch base. This happens more with the related meeting documentation series; however, larger transfers of minutes occur when there are gaps in the State Archives’ holdings.

inbox.jpg. Anna Reznik standing in her work area with her inbox full of minutes received through inter-agency mail.

My work area with my inbox full of minutes received through interagency mail.

QUESTION: “But the record copy is electronic, do we have to print a copy for the State Archives? Do you want me to kill all those trees?”

In the last few years, the State Archives has begun to accept records in electronic form. Our internal procedures for electronic are less tested than our practices with paper, so procedures will evolve. It’s highly recommended that you have a consultation with me before sending minutes in electronic form. I promise the chat is short and painless. Our Transferring Electronic Records resource provides guidance on acceptable transfer methods.

QUESTION: “How often should I send minutes?”

Another frequently asked question is how often agencies should be sending minutes. In other words, should minutes be transferred as they are approved or in bulk at a specific date (e.g., beginning of the fiscal or calendar year)? Again – “it depends.” For some agencies, the former is easier to integrate into current workflows. Other agencies like being able to see the entire year’s worth of minutes to make sure every meeting is sent. As my workflow is similar for both approaches, I defer to each agency’s preferences.

A peek at the “magic” used to make records accessible. Folders of minutes (left) store records, with a summary of the contents written across the top. Archivists create finding aids to provide the context on the who, what, and why of the records being described. They encode all of the information into an online document using a standard XML called EAD, depicted in the image in the center, with the resulting finding aid pictured on the right. Finding aids are used to learn about what is contained in any given collection and to request items from that collection. Call numbers are added for requesting items.

QUESTION: “Does TSLAC have all the minutes from my agency?”

An important part of my duties involves creating EAD finding aids, which includes an inventory for the records being described. If a finding aid has been created for your agency, it’s a good starting point to see what we have; however, finding aids with minutes are often out of date by the time they are uploaded online. Please contact us if you would like an updated list of our holdings.

I hope this post helps state agencies prepare to send minutes to the State Archives. Please contact me with any questions you may have about preserving your minutes!

Anna Reznik:

Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center Museum Renovation Celebration

A component of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, Texas will hold a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of its renovated museum on June 9, 2018. The new exhibit, Atascosito: The History of Southeast Texas traces the development of the 10-county area from prehistoric times to the modern age and is the centerpiece of the celebration. The exhibition chronicles the history of the region through dynamic displays of artifacts, photographs, and historical documents that are part of the Center’s collections. Find out more and let us know you are coming by clicking on the link below!

Celebration Invitation