Disaster Declared in Seven Texas Counties: FEMA Assistance Available

Dear Texas Colleagues, 

I hope you and your loved ones are managing to stay safe from the continued impacts of the severe storms, straight-line winds, tornadoes, and flooding. The Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF), a public-private partnership between FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution, is supporting response and recovery efforts of Texas’ arts and culture sector—and the public. I am forwarding information that may be useful to you if you need recovery assistance.

FROM FEMA:

A major disaster declaration has been made on May 17, 2024, for the events that began on April 26 and are continuing.

Individual Assistance is now available in 7 counties: Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, Polk, San Jacinto, Trinity, and Walker counties(please see Designated Areas for further location and assistance details).  

  1. Individual Assistance is available to individuals and households. For disasters declared on or after March 22, 2024, FEMA’s Individual Assistance program was expanded to include quicker access to needed funds including simplifying assistance for self-employed individuals such as self-employed artists and entrepreneurs. Learn more about this update in the Press Release.   

FEMA is working to gather reports of damage, identify any unmet needs, and share the following resources:   

  1. Was your cultural institution or arts organization affected? If so, how? Please fill out one of the following Rapid Damage Assessment Forms:  
  2. Cultural Institutions  
  3. Arts Organizations  
  4. Individual Artists and Performing Groups  
  • Cultural institutions, arts organizations, and artists and performing groups can call the National Heritage Responders hotline: 202-661-8068. The National Heritage Responders, a team of trained conservators and collections care professionals administered by the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation, are available 24/7 to provide advice and guidance.      
  • Members of the public and individual artists who have questions about saving family heirlooms and personal collections can email the National Heritage Responders at NHRpublichelpline@culturalheritage.org.  
  • HENTF’s Save Your Family Treasures guidance is available at www.fema.gov/assistance/save-family-treasures. Here you can find the downloadable FEMA fact sheets “After the Flood: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures” and “Salvaging Water-Damaged Family Valuables and Heirlooms,” available in multiple languages.     

For additional questions on FEMA assistance, please contact Please email fema-hentf@fema.dhs.gov

Please let us know if we can be of any assistance.

Sincerely,

Gloria Meraz
Director and State Librarian
Texas State Library and Archives Commission


Nominations Open for THRAB Archival Awards 2024

The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) invites nominations for their 2024 archival awards. These annual awards honor archival institutions, programs and individuals in Texas for their service to the profession. THRAB grants awards in the categories of excellence, advocacy and distinguished service. 

Nominations for 2024 Archival Awards will be accepted through June 20. THRAB will announce the recipients in October during Texas Archives Month. For nomination forms and additional information, visit www.tsl.texas.gov/archivalaward.

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. 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.

Recent recipients of the Archival Award of Excellence include Robert Weaver of the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University and the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive in Houston. The 2023 David B. Gracy II Award for Distinguished Archival Service went to Texas State Historian Monte L. Monroe, also of the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech. The awards are funded by a State Programming Board grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

About the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board:
THRAB serves as an advisory body for historical records planning and supports efforts to preserve and provide access to archival collections throughout the state. Funding for THRAB is provided by the National Historical Publications Records Commission, the grant-making arm of the National Archives and Records Administration. The state archivist is appointed by the governor to preside over the nine-member board. 


TSLAC Announces 2024 Research Fellowships in Texas History

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is pleased to announce the recipients of 2024 Research Fellowships in Texas History. With support from the Texas Library and Archives Foundation, Inc. (TxLAF), fellowships of $2000 each will be awarded to scholars for research at TSLAC. Noah Crawford of Texas A&M University and Patrick Sheridan from the University of Georgia are this year’s fellows.

Noah Crawford’s project, “The American Civil War Refugee Crisis on the Battlefield, the Home Front, and the Border” requires the use of archival collections at both the State Archives in Austin and the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty. Crawford currently serves as graduate assistant lecturer at Texas A&M University in College Station while working on a doctorate in history. Patrick Sheridan, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Georgia in Athens, is also a doctoral student working on a dissertation in history. Sheridan will visit the State Archives in Austin to conduct research on his project, “South-to-Southwest: The Texas & Pacific and the Early Sunbelt.”

TSLAC offers each year the Research Fellowship in Texas History for the best research proposal utilizing collections of the State Archives in Austin or the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, Texas. Research topics should be significant to Texas history, with preference given to fresh areas of study and/or under-sourced archival collections. Follow TSLAC on social media @TSLAC and subscribe to TSLAC events ( https://www.tsl.texas.gov/subscribe ) to be notified about the next fellowship cycle and other opportunities, programs, collections, and services. For full details about this fellowship opportunity, visit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/researchfellowship.


New Online: Recent Updates to Finding Aids and Digital Images

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, along with fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items. For a comprehensive list of all recently added and updated finding aids visit Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised).

New Finding Aids

black and white photograph of customers in line at a concession stand called The Little Kitchen. The customers are mostly children with two older men at the back of the line.
“The Little Kitchen,” Monahans Sandhills State Park, undated. Texas Parks and Wildlife Division photographs, 2011/434-21-957.

State Records

Texas Education Agency Historical School District Action Files
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the entities which proceeded it (State Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Board of Education, and State Department of Education) administered agency oversight of public school districts. TEA historical school district action files, 1883-2005, bulk 1935-1992, document the existence of and changes to common, independent, and rural high school districts as well as juvenile detention facilities. Volumes listing districts document each district’s existence during the span of 1883-1954 (not inclusive). The historical school district actions, 1935-2005, document changes in district boundaries through consolidation and annexation, which affect apportionment of school funding. The records are mainly correspondence and copies of county election records, with copies of scholastic census lists, hand-drawn maps, or other documents occasionally included.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Public Relations Social Media Records
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) preserves the record of government for public scrutiny, secures and makes accessible historically significant records and other valuable resources, meets the reading needs of Texans with disabilities, and builds and sustains statewide partnerships to improve library programs and services. TSLAC engages in public relations activities to disseminate information about its events and programs through press releases and other forms of communication. These TSLAC public relations social media records, 2010-2022, were produced to publicize agency resources, services, and events through the utilization of social networking tools.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Wildlife Division Photographs
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is responsible for the management and conservation of the state’s wildlife and fish resources. The TPWD Wildlife Division manages and conserves the natural and cultural resources of Texas and provides hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. These photographs date 1938-1990s, undated, and span the Texas State Parks Board; Texas Game, Fish, and Oyster Commission; Game and Fish Commission; and TPWD, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. Formats include black-and-white negatives, color transparencies, black-and-white prints, color slides, and contact sheets, documenting Wildlife Division activities including agency staff and property; flora and fauna of Texas; TPWD facilities such as fish hatcheries and laboratories; outdoor activities such as fishing, hunting, and camping; and state parks.

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Celebrate National Library Week with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

The Texas State Library Archives Commission (TSLAC) in downtown Austin offers library collections and resources to the general public on weekdays and the second Saturday of each month. Perhaps known more for its archival documents and records from Texas history, TSLAC also manages an extensive collection of library materials with a team of reference librarians on staff ready to assist patrons.

The agency dates back to 1909 when the library was located in the Texas State Capitol. Books, newspapers, paintings, and artifacts were a part of the State Library and visible in the photographs below. (The Texas State Archives was a division of the library and housed in the basement.)

State Library Room about February 10, 1909. Before new shelving was installed. Prints and Photographs collection,1/103-131.
Main Library from north window, 1915. Capitol. Prints and Photographs collection, 1/103-135.

The Texas State Library and Archives needed a separate building to properly store and provide access to the extensive collections and serve the growing populace in the twentieth century. Eventually, in 1959 Governor Price Daniel was able to coordinate with legislators and state agencies to oversee the construction of a new repository. Opening to the public in 1961, the Texas State Archives and Library Building (now the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building) was a prominent element in centralizing state facilities around the Capitol to create the Capitol Complex.

Texas State Archives and Library Building, about 1961. Prints and Photographs collection, 1/103-008.

TSLAC’s modern reading room now offers computer access to the library catalog, commercial and in-house databases, Texas newspapers, digital archives, and so much more.

Reference librarians staff our public services desk and are available to assist patrons in person, via email and telephone.
Visit the Reference Reading Room to explore library collections during the week and the second Saturday of each month.
Public computers provide access to the library catalog, newspaper databases, genealogy resources such as Ancestry, Family Search, and Fold3, plus the full range of TexShare resources.
Collections and services on offer at TSLAC. CLICK the image to download the flyer.

Contact our reference staff with inquiries about our resources at ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455. Visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc for online access and information.


Last Week for TSLAC Research Fellowship Applications

graphic with a photo of a researcher working on a tablet computer with archival documents on the table in front  of them. The text reads TSLAC research fellowship in texas history, $2000 stipend, accepting applications through march 31, 2024.

One more week to apply for our 2024 TSLAC Research Fellowship in Texas History

The fellowship includes a $2,000 stipend and is awarded for the best research proposal utilizing the collections of the State Archives in Austin or the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, Texas.

The TSLAC Research Fellowship in Texas History is made possible by the generous support of the Texas Library and Archives Foundation. The application must include the purpose of the proposed research, collections of interest, a discussion of how this research will contribute to a greater understanding of Texas history, plans for dissemination, and a curriculum vitae. The recipient of the fellowship will be asked to present the results of their research at a TSLAC event. The award will be announced May 1. Judges may withhold the award at their discretion. 

Visit www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/researchfellowship to apply by March 31.


Works Cited: Oscars Edition

By Caroline Jones, Reference Archivist

Works Cited is a series showcasing publications and other products of research where the creator used collections housed at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). We trace citations and pull sources from the stacks for a look at the original. Explore publications with a TSLAC connection by visiting Titles that cite TSLAC Collections under Newly Added Titles in our library catalog.


The movie Killers of the Flower Moon, based on the book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann, was nominated in multiple categories, including Best Picture, at this year’s Academy Awards. The work tells the story of the “Reign of Terror” against the Osage in 1920s Oklahoma and its lasting effect. The author conducted research in libraries and archives to find information and develop the story of this episode in American history. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is named among the many “Archival and Unpublished Sources” listed in the back pages of his book.

The 2023 film, Killers of the Flower Moon was based on this book by David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, 2017. TSLAC Main 976.6004 G766k.

Unlike the film, the publication focuses more on Tom White, the agent sent to investigate the situation in Oklahoma. Given that White was a former Texas Ranger, Grann’s research included TSLAC archival records from the the Texas Adjutant General Department, a rich resource in ranger history. In his notes section, Grann cites two archival documents at TSLAC:

148 “proved an excellent”: Adjutant General to Tom Ross, Feb. 10, 1909

149 “One wagon sheet”: Adjutant General to J. D. Fortenberry, Aug. 1, 1918

What exactly did the Adjutant General write to Tom Ross and J.D. Fortenberry? I conducted a little research of my own to find out.


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Texas Tragedies That Inspired Innovation

by Stephanie Brown, Reference Archivist

Extra! Extra! Eyes of the World on Texas, the new exhibit now on display in the Texas State Library Commission (TSLAC) lobby, features major news events of the past that made headlines beyond the state’s borders. The historic events were sometimes triumphant, such as the legendary moon landing in 1969, but many were tragic. After such devastating occurrences as the New London school explosion in 1937 and the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, there were some positive outcomes meant to help prevent future tragedies. From legislation to technical innovations, this exhibit includes some of the results still in use today. For instance, Texans built a seawall to protect citizens from coastal flooding, created a network of radar stations to improve storm detection, and passed laws regulating the dispensing and odorization of natural gas. These innovations made an impact that laid the groundwork for changes on a national level.


colorized postcard of a scene at the Galveston sea wall. The text reads, The Sea Wall Boulevard, Beach and Murdock Bath House, Galveston, Texas. Pedestrians walk along a boardwalk atop the sea wall and others on the sand below.
Sea Wall Boulevard in Galveston, 1915. Postcards of Texas collection, AC61/8-152, PP105.

The Great Storm of 1900

The 1900 Galveston Hurricane, the deadliest natural disaster in United States history, killed an estimated  8,000 people and damaged or destroyed more than 3,500 homes and buildings. At the time of the great storm, the highest point of elevation on the island was 8.7 feet above sea level. The 15-foot storm surge easily inundated the island, causing widespread erosion and destruction of property.

As Galvestonians began the slow process of recovery and rebuilding following the devasting storm, leaders looked for ways to prevent future catastrophes and loss of life. The Texas Legislature passed a resolution signed by Governor Joseph D. Sayers on September 7, 1901, allowing for the construction of a seawall to protect the island from deadly storm surge. Legislation also authorized Galveston County to issue bonds to raise funds to build the seawall.

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Reading About Libraries, Archives, and Museums: SHC Kicks Off New Quarterly Book Club

The Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center (SHC) in Liberty has announced a new quarterly book club starting February 27.

Featuring fictional works with a connection to the world of museums, archives, and libraries, the Sam Houston Center book club is open to all and will take place from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday in February, May, August, and November 2024, meeting in the Center’s main building at 650 FM 1011 in Liberty. Home to extensive archival holdings documenting Southeast Texas, a library collection, and a museum, the Center offers an ideal setting for discussions about novels tied to these fields. Each meeting will be led by SHC staff.

The first book club on February 27 will focus on The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. Based on a true story, this novel focuses on financier J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, who curated the collections for his library in New York City in the early twentieth century. Greene was keeping her identity, and the fact that she was African American, a secret as she operated in New York’s intellectual and artistic circles. This work of historical fiction has been a popular book club selection and fits nicely with the theme of libraries, archives, and museums.

Future quarterly book club titles include:

The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes
May 28, 2024, 6:00 pm

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
August 27, 2024, 6:00 pm

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
November 26, 2024, 6:00 pm

Interested participants may obtain a copy of the novels through their local library or favorite bookstore to prepare for the conversation. For more information, contact SHC staff at (936) 336-8821 or via email at SamHoustonCenter@tsl.texas.gov.


The Sam Houston Center is a component of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and serves as the official regional historical resource depository for the 10 Southeast Texas counties of Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Newton, Orange, Polk, San Jacinto and Tyler.

The Center’s primary mission is to collect, preserve and provide access to historically significant state and local government records and publications of the designated region and secondarily to serve as a library of Texana and genealogical resources.


Featured Titles on Display: African American History

by Alec Head, Reference Librarian

In honor of Black History Month, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is featuring materials related to African American history. These materials range from historical accounts to genealogical guides and can be useful to researchers exploring the history of their own family or African American history as a whole.

Resources described in our guide, “African American Genealogy at the Texas State Library and Archives” may be helpful when researching family histories. The guide includes a mixture of resources available on-site and those digitized and available online and serves as a great starting point for a genealogical research adventure. We additionally have a variety of guidebooks for genealogy on display in our Reference Reading Room, with more information listed below.

Nell Plants a Tree, by Anne Wynter, 2023. TSLAC- Main 813.6 W993n.

This year, TSLAC’s Center for the Book named Nell Plants a Tree as their Texas Great Read Youth Selection. Exploring themes of family across generations through the lens of a pecan tree growing alongside Nell’s family, this beautifully illustrated book is perfect for introducing younger readers to genealogy. For those who wish to plant a genealogical seed of their own, this flier includes online resources that can be paired with the book to further familial research for all ages.

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