It’s Pride Month! Pride Month is a celebration of the progress made in the fight for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) rights and the history of the community. Pride is held in June to commemorate the 1969 New York City Stonewall Uprisings, a six-day protest that transformed the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement. Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) collections document the progress toward equality and culture of the LGBTQ+ community.
There is a long history of criminalization of LGBTQ+ people, as well as a rich history of community organizing around gaining equal rights. All states had laws criminalizing same sex couples until 1962, when Illinois was the first to decriminalize same sex relationships. Nearly a decade later, the American Psychological Association issued a statement declaring that LGBTQ+ existence was not a mental disorder, and that people should not be discriminated against based on their sexuality. Despite this, many states, including Texas, retained laws criminalizing LGBTQ+ couples for decades until the 2003 United States Supreme Court Lawrence v. Texas case found these laws to be unconstitutional.  In 2015 the United States Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage with the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges case. 
The Texas Coordinating Committee approved a resolution, pictured below, demanding equal treatment of lesbians, demonstrating that LGBTQ+ women were engaged in this broad coalition and represented at the National Women’s Conference. A related publication titled “Sexual Preference,” also released by the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year, expands on the topic of lesbian civil rights, discussing discrimination against lesbians in areas including housing, employment, and child custody.
Titles in TSLAC collections document LGBTQ+ cultural traditions and contributions. Researchers can find materials on community history, film theory, literary studies, Latinx and Chicanx studies, and cultural studies. These books, some of which are listed below, preserve accounts of LGBTQ+ history and culture and highlight voices that are often overlooked by mainstream narratives.To illustrate e a nationwide picture of LGBTQ+ history, the National Park Service has produced internet resources that document LGBTQ+ historical sites across the United States. Tailored to students, the Pride Guide and LGBTQ America can be accessed from your home if you wish to learn more about the LGBTQ+ history in your hometown and all around the nation.
Finally, our Library Science Collection holds resources to help librarians and educators support the information needs of queer youth and adults. If you are a librarian, you may wish to borrow these books through Interlibrary Loan to assist with collection development, programming, and outreach for LGBTQ+ youth and adults. These books are information-rich resources for taking that next step towards making your library a more inclusive and welcoming space for the LGBTQ+ community.
Interested in learning more about LGBTQ+ culture and history in Texas? You can check out many of these resources for yourself through Interlibrary Loan, or by visiting TSLAC yourself. Happy Pride Month!
Texas State Library and Archives Commission Director and Librarian Gloria Meraz has appointed Chris McDougal to the nine-member Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) for a term set to expire on February 1, 2025. McDougal currently serves as the director of the archives and library at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. He holds a B.S. in History from the University of Hawai’i and an M.L.S. at the University of North Texas. In his current position, Mr. McDougal oversees an archive that preserves more than 1,000 linear feet of documents, publications, photographs and recordings contributed by Pacific War veterans and their families over the past 50 years, as well as research material collected by several esteemed World War II historians.
State Archivist and THRAB coordinator Jelain Chubb said, “We are so pleased to welcome Chris McDougal to the board and look forward to his contributions over the next few years. His particular expertise related to history museum archival work will be valuable as the board strives to support the preservation of historical records held by cultural heritage repositories around the state.”
THRAB works to promote awareness of historically significant records through education and training, supports public access to records, serves as a catalyst for improving storage conditions and supports the preservation efforts of institutions statewide. The board receives funding from and reviews grant requests submitted to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board was established in 1976. Board members, appointed in accordance with federal and state requirements, have experience or interest in the collection, management, administration and accessibility of historical records. They are dedicated to the preservation and use of Texas’ documentary heritage. The State Archivist serves as coordinator for the Board, and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission provides staff support.
May is Jewish American Heritage Month and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) pays tribute to the history and contributions of the Jewish people to the state of Texas and the United States. Our collections hold many items that tell the story of the diaspora of Jewish people, their history, and their lives as newcomers in a new land.
The history of Jewish people first arriving on the shores of what is now the United States can be traced back to the late 16th century. Escaping persecution throughout the world and seeking a place to safely practice their Yiddishkeit (Yiddish -‘way of life’) and fully participate as citizens in the larger society, Jewish immigrants began arriving on multiple shores including the Gulf Coast. Although several people of Jewish descent were known to have traveled through parts of what is now Texas, the first Jewish immigrants to actually settle in the state are known to have arrived through Galveston in the early 19th century. This port city became the primary access point for Jewish immigrants a century later during the Galveston Movement of 1907-14 when Jewish organizations coordinated the arrival of thousands of Jews and helped them navigate to other destinations in the U.S. Within its various reference collections, haberes buenos (Ladino – ‘good news’) —TSLAC makes available multiple historical, genealogical, and literary resources about, and often authored by, Jewish Americans.
As one of the repositories for United States government documents (USD), TSLAC holds copies of Congressional hearings and government publications related to Jewish life both in the United States and around the world. Included in these stacks are hearings related to the Holocaust and ongoing antisemitism in the United States and abroad, newsletters from the United States Holocaust Museum, and nonfiction books that tell myriad of stories of Jewish life in the United States military from World War II to present day.
TSLAC’s Texas Documents Collection (TXD) also includes many resources related to Jewish American heritage and Jewish life throughout the world. From Jewish soldiers in the War of 1812 and to famous artists and businessmen, one can find much in the way of informative and enjoyable reading among our stacks.
Interested in researching your Jewish American mishpocheh (Yiddish – ‘family’), locating long lost friends or community members, or studying the chronicles of Jewish Americans throughout the country? Take a peek at our Genealogy Collection (GEN). TSLAC holds several past volumes of the Jewish genealogical journal Avotaynu, as well as books on Jewish burials and guides to researching Jewish ancestry inside and outside the United States.
Not to make a big tzimmes (Yiddish – ‘a big deal’), but our main reference section (MAIN) also includes many titles relating to the history of Jewish American people and the familiar story of establishing livelihood in the land of strangers. Many of these titles speak directly to Jewish American life in Texas and include yearbooks and other information about synagogues around the state.
Many of the resources discussed here are available for circulation either through direct checkout from one of our locations or via interlibrary loan. Additionally, our reading rooms are open to everyone for on-site use of non-circulating materials. Ask your local librarian for more information about interlibrary loan or, for Texas residents, check out our website to find information about the TexShare program. For those who prefer electronic materials, no need to schlep (Yiddish – ‘a big journey’) all the way to TSLAC. We also offers hundreds of Jewish related materials including biographies and books about holiday celebrations, history, politics, and more. Engleneate! (Ladino – ‘enjoy’)
Ladino: A mixture of Hebrew and Spanish, Ladino was spoken by the Jewish people during the diaspora from Spain and Portugal in the 14th and 15th centuries.
Yiddish: A mixture of Hebrew and German, this language was spoken by the Jewish people of Central and Eastern Europe beginning sometime in the 9th century.
Both languages continue to be used today throughout Jewish communities around the world.
The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) is now accepting nominations for the 2022 archival awards. THRAB seeks nominations for the Archival Award of Excellence, Advocacy for Archives Award, and the David B. Gracy II Distinguished Archival Service Award.
Organizations, individuals, programs, and institutions are all eligible for the honors. Send nomination packets to THRAB coordinator Jelain Chubb at the street address or THRAB email address below by July 1, 2022. THRAB announces award recipients as part of Texas Archives Month celebrations in October.
Advocacy for Archives Award acknowledges an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to ensure the preservation and availability of the historical record of Texas.
Archival Award of Excellence recognizes significant achievements in preserving and improving access to historical records in any format by a Texas archival institution and individual achievements.
Distinguished Archival Service Award This award recognizes an individual, archival institution, education program, or nonprofit/government organization that has provided outstanding leadership, service or contribution to the archives profession in Texas.
Jelain Chubb, ATTN: THRAB Awards, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, P.O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78701 OR: via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board and its programs receive support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
This month we are celebrating the contributions of those Americans with Asian and Pacific Islander heritage, and in particular their special contributions to the state of Texas. This article focuses on the history and impact of Japanese Americans in Texas. The resources cited here come from TSLAC archival records, library publications, and our vertical files.
According to information found in the vertical file “Japanese in Texas,” the Texas Chamber of Commerce worked to attract Japanese immigrants to Texas during the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 and through the Japanese Consulate in New York. Many Japanese immigrants came to Texas and became rice farmers in areas near Beaumont and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. One such example was Kichimatsu Kishi, who founded a colony of Japanese immigrants near Terry in Orange County in 1907 and bought a 3,500-acre farm to grow rice and cabbage. Some images of rice farming are shown below in images from the William Deming Hornaday photograph collection.
Japanese immigrants in Texas did many different things. As shown in this close-up image from the 1904 Dallas City Directory, Hideo Muta had an art good store located at 314 Elm Street. Another page of the directory shows that George M. Sekiya was the proprietor of a Japanese Restaurant on Main Street. City directories can be a great resource to provide researchers with a glimpse of what a city was like at a particular point in time.
The influence of Japanese culture can be found in Japanese Gardens throughout Texas. The Sunken Japanese Tea Garden within Brackenridge Park in San Antonio was built in 1919 and designed with the help of Japanese artist Kimi Eizo Jinzu. San Antonio is also home to the Kumamoto En (“en” means garden in Japanese), which was built as a gift to the city of San Antonio from its sister city, Kumamoto, in 1989.
The Japanese Garden of Peace at The Admiral Nimitz State Historical Park in Fredericksburg was a gift from the people of Japan to the people of America as a symbol of peace and friendship. Files found within the “Admiral Nimitz State Historical Park, 1983-1988” of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Parks Division records provide a wealth of knowledge about this garden. The Japanese Garden of Peace was designed by Taketora Saita of Tokyo, Japan. A “Self-Guiding Leaflet” for the Garden includes detailed descriptions of each section of the Garden and their significance. For example, “The Japanese House” within the garden is a replica of the study of Admiral Heihachiro Togo. It was built in Japan before being brought to Texas and reassembled by the same builders. The pool and stream beside the house are also copied from Admiral Togo’s study in Japan. According to the leaflet, the pool is shaped as the Japanese characters meaning “one heart” or “loyalty”” and “the stream of life symbolizes the raindrop which finds its way to the sea.”
The Taniguchi Oriental Garden within the Zilker Botanical Garden was created by Isamu Taniguchi as a gift to the city of Austin and the University of Texas. While living in California in late 1941 Taniguchi, like so many other Japanese Americans during WWII, was arrested and placed in a Japanese Internment Camp. Later he was reunited with his wife and one of their children at the Crystal City Internment Camp in Texas, where the three of them lived with other imprisoned Japanese Americans until 1945. After the Taniguchi family was released from the camp, Isamu and his wife moved to the Rio Grande Valley and prospered as farmers. After many years, the couple retired to Austin where Taniguchi started creating the garden. He started developing the garden by hand at the age of 77 and completed the beautiful garden in 18 months. The garden opened to visitors in 1969.
Other Japanese gardens around the state include the Japanese Garden within the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, the Japanese Garden in Houston’s Hermann Park, and the Meiners Garden in Grand Prairie.
Want to learn more? Check out the resources used to create this blog post, and more, online:
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).
The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) ensured access to a comprehensive array of aging and disability services in local communities. In 2004, as a newly formed agency, DADS began a project to document the history of the Texas Department of Human Services. Records are composed of project files for this history project, dated 1946, 1949, 1954-1955, 1986-2008, and undated, bulk 2004-2008, and contain interviews (audiovisual and transcribed), printed ephemera (such as records from agency conferences and semiannual updates), manuscript drafts, audiocassettes, VHS, microcassettes, an open reel audiotape, and notes for a proposed book on the history of welfare services in Texas.
The DeBat family papers document the lives of some members of the DeBat family of Liberty, Liberty County, Texas, and various related families from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. The collection also documents the Travelers Hotel in Liberty, of which Martha E. Palmer DeBat was the proprietor from about 1882 to 1905. Materials consist of photographs, business ledgers, a diary, a family Bible, a scrapbook, and a postcard album. Dates are 1816-1976, with the bulk dating 1880s-1910s.
George Gordon lived at Moore’s Bluff, Liberty County, Texas, where he farmed and worked on steamboats that plied the Trinity River. The George Gordon papers document the lives of Gordon and his family during the 1870s as well as the steamboat trade on the Trinity River during that period. Materials consist of George Gordon’s diary, dating between 1873-1879; an 1862 document appointing Gordon to carry dispatches from the British Consulate in Galveston, Texas, to their consulate in Richmond, Virginia; transcribed Bible records on the Gordon family; a 1938 Houston Post clipping containing excerpts from the diary; and a book of poetry by Robert Burns, possibly dated around 1786, that belonged to Gordon. Materials date about 1786, 1862-1879, 1938, 1975, with the bulk dating 1873-1879. The manuscript diary of George Gordon described in this finding aid has been digitized and is part of the Texas Digital Archive.
The Liberty Woman’s Club was organized in March 1955 in Liberty, Texas, and affiliated with the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs the same year. The Liberty Woman’s Club collection documents the civic and social activities of the club and consists primarily of yearbooks, scrapbooks, correspondence, membership rosters, minute books, manuals, pamphlets, programs, and reports on club programs and projects. Materials date 1954-2010, with the bulk dating 1955-2004.
Vernon F. Poole served as chairman of the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District (CLCND) from 1961 to 1972. The Vernon F. Poole collection consists primarily of correspondence, legal and financial documents, minutes, reports, government documents, publications, and maps pertaining to the activities of the CLCND during Poole’s tenure as chairman. The collection documents the district’s efforts to improve the Trinity River for navigation and includes materials pertaining to the Port of Liberty development, construction of a cut-off or diversion channel in the river, the Livingston Reservoir project, and the Wallisville Reservoir and saltwater barrier project. Materials date 1930-1979, bulk 1967-1971.
Joseph Franklin (J.F.) Richardson was a retail merchant and rancher in Liberty, Liberty County, Texas. The J.F. Richardson papers consist primarily of correspondence, financial and business documents, certificates, deeds, military records, and notebooks documenting the lives and activities of various members of the Richardson family of Liberty County. Materials date 1858-1953, with the bulk dating 1872-1919.
Christine Moor Sanders is the author of the book, Spindletop: The Untold Story, published in January 2001, which relates the history of the Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company and the role it and her great-grandfather George Washington O’Brien played in the discovery of oil at the Spindletop oil field in Beaumont, Texas. The Christine Moor Sanders collection consists of copies of files of the Gladys City Company and other research materials collected by Sanders over a 50-year period pertaining to the company and the individuals who founded it, including George Washington O’Brien, George W. Carroll, and Pattillo Higgins. The majority of the materials are photocopies or transcribed documents, much of which was used as resource material for her book. Dates are about 1930-2000, with the bulk dating about 1990s-2000. Information dates 1719-2000.
Lois M. Short taught United States history classes at Liberty High School in Liberty, Texas, from 1925 to 1951. The Lois M. Short collection consists of clippings and notes pertaining to Short’s former students who served in World War II, school papers, and photographs. The collection originally included issues of a locally produced newsletter, “News and Chatter”, that was sent to Liberty-area World War II servicemen and women; these newsletters were transferred to a separate collection at an unknown time. Materials date 1931-1950 and undated, with the bulk dating 1932-1946.
In 1903 the U.S. Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) authorized and installed a river gage station for the Trinity River at Liberty, Texas, to record and compile meteorological data. The bureau engaged volunteer observers to assist in this process. The United States National Weather Service Trinity River weather-related materials consist of clippings, news stories, correspondence, memorandums, reports, maps, and graphs pertaining to the Trinity River gage station at Liberty and Trinity River flood events and other meteorological data in Liberty County. A portion of the materials were created by the Weather Bureau/National Weather Service (NWS), and another portion consists of files from Liberty radio station KPXE-AM/KSHN-FM, which acted as an observer for NWS beginning in 1978. A few materials were created by other federal government agencies. Materials date 1914-1990 and undated, with the bulk dating 1963-1978.
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, dating 1913 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.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) manages the conservation of the state’s natural and cultural resources, conservation education and outreach, and interpretation of cultural and historical resources. The USS battleship Texas served in both World War I and World War II and was decommissioned in 1948 in Texas to become a memorial and exhibit. The ship was first managed by the Battleship Texas Commission, then in 1983 administration transferred to TPWD with input from the Battleship Texas Advisory Board. In 2019, the ship closed to the public for a major restoration effect. These records document the ship during both active duty and as a memorial and exhibit. Materials consist of original ships plans and plans reproductions, prints, posters, audiovisual materials, and records of the Battleship Texas Commission and the Battleship Texas Advisory Board. Records are dated 1900-1990s, undated. Most of the original ships plans, as well as all of the reproductions, prints, posters, and audiovisual materials have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.
The Office of Comptroller of Public Accounts was initially created by the General Council of the Provisional Government of Texas on December 29, 1835, for the purpose of examining and approving or rejecting any monetary claims presented to him by the Auditor. These functions continued under the governments of the Republic of Texas (1836-1845) and the State of Texas (1845 onwards). These records document the claims (including pensions) that were audited and either accepted or rejected by the government of the Republic of Texas, and by the government of the State of Texas for civil and (especially) military service to the Republic of Texas, as well as for Confederate service, and for service in the Texas Rangers. Types of records include claim files, pension applications files, pension registers and indexes, public debt registers and indexes, drafts for payment, and associated records. They comprise more than 951 cubic ft. of loose records, plus 61 volumes, dating 1835-1990 and undated. A portion of these materials has been digitized and is part of the Texas Digital Archive.
The Texas Secretary of State is a constitutional officer of the executive branch of state government appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate for a term concurrent with the governor’s term. These records consist of correspondence, both incoming and outgoing, of the office of the Secretary of State, dating 1846-1932, undated, bulk 1860-1930. Most of the 19th-century correspondence is incoming, and most of the 20th-century correspondence is both incoming and outgoing, usually filed together. This correspondence covers the wide variety of duties of the Secretary of State, including the following: appointments and resignations of notaries public, oaths (particularly during Reconstruction years, 1867-1870), the filing of bonds, state printing contracts, distribution of state laws (both copies of individual bills and sets of bound volumes), distribution of Texas Reports (opinions of the Texas Supreme Court), elections (e.g., certificates of election, reporting of election irregularities, requests for election supplies, etc.), claims for rewards, requisitions for extraditions and the capture of fugitives, the filing of corporate charters (including railroad charters), commissions and certificates of qualification for appointed and elected officials, franchise taxes, statements on the condition of banks, and lists of cases on civil and criminal dockets. A portion of these materials has been digitized and is part of the Texas Digital Archive.
The 2022 Women’s History Month theme “WomenProviding Healing, Promoting Hope” honors the incredible impact and sacrifice of women in public and private roles throughout history.
As we enter the third year under the cloud of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we can look back at the collective sacrifice of caregivers and frontline responders as agents of healing and hope. We invite you to explore inspiring stories from our publications and online collections by and about Texas women as agents of change.
Agent of change : Adela Sloss-Vento, Mexican American Civil Rights Activist and Texas Feminist by Cynthia E. Orozco, 2021. Texas Documents collection, Z UA380.8 OR68ag Biography of essayist Adela Sloss-Vento (1901-1998) documents her rise from Jim Crow/Juan Crow era to prominent pioneer of the Mexican American civil rights movement.
On Juneteenth by AnnetteGordon-Reed, 2021. Main collection, 394.263 G658o Texas native and Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Gordon-Reed knits history, family, and memoir to create a compelling yet intimate portrait of Juneteenth and its unique impact on the narrative of Texas history.
The Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) Handbook of Texas Women features articles on a variety of women’s history topics, with related links and bibliographies for further reading. The project website includes additional resources for educators, enthusiasts, and students.
Find a site near you and register now for the THRAB workshop, Emergency Response and Salvage. Cultural Heritage Preservation Consultant Rebecca Elder presents at multiple locations an all-day, hands-on workshop on recovering collections from disasters. Registrants will be asked to view recordings from previous webinars on emergency planning before attending the on-site workshop. Emergency Response and Salvage will take place at each site from 8:30am – 4:30pm. Further details will be provided to registrants for their selected location. Funding for THRAB provided by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Space is limited.
Workshop locations and dates:
April 8, 2022 Fort Worth Public Library
April 12, 2022 Rosenberg Library (Galveston)
April 13, 2022 Mary and John Gray Library / Lamar University (Beaumont)
April 15, 2022 Archives and Research Center / Texas State University Library (San Marcos)
April 21, 2022 Victoria Regional History Center – UHV Library / University of Houston – Victoria
The recipients of the 2022 fellowships are Caitlyn Jones with “Texas Women and International Women’s Year,” Andrew Busch’s “High Tech Texas: Public Institutions, Regional Economic Development, and the Myth of Free Markets,” and Christopher Phillips with “Dissent and Disorder in the Southern Confederacy.” Caitlyn Jones is a graduate student at the University of Houston interested in the Texas International Women’s Year Coordinating Committee Records held at the State Archives. Jones will write a journal article that “analyzes the Texas Women’s Meeting through the lens of race and ethnicity” and may include the work as a chapter in her dissertation. Jones will also use her research to produce an essay as part of a digital humanities project at her institution about the National Women’s Conference, Sharing Stories from 1977. Jones’ research will raise awareness about this significant event and inform the academic community and the public about these key records at TSLAC.
Andrew Busch is an assistant professor at Coastal Carolina University wishing to conduct research at the State Archives as part of his forthcoming book project from University of Texas Press, High Tech Texas: Public Institutions, Regional Economic Development, and the Myth of the Free Market. Busch points to the collections in TSLAC’s holdings such as Texas Governor Mark White Records and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Records as being key to his research. The project offers potential insight into specific aspects of the history of the state in the twentieth century, including the history of technology, science and the political economy. Busch’s project represents a more current examination of recent Texas history and will help highlight collections used less often than others at TSLAC.
Christopher Phillips is a professor at the University of Cincinnati who has published extensively on Civil War topics and whose most recent book on the subject received numerous awards. While this era and the collections identified by Phillips are both quite popular with TSLAC researchers, Phillips has been looking at the diverse groups of dissenters and extracting interesting data from primary sources in a number of repositories, including TSLAC. Phillips’s work should offer new information about Texans and the Civil War.
“Each year, I am more impressed with the number of strong applications and the diversity of topics represented by the proposals,” said State Archivist, Jelain Chubb. “We are pleased to support projects that help students, the public and others form a greater understanding of the history of our state and the integral value of the primary sources.”
The Texas Library and Archives Foundation generously funds the fellowships each year. Those interested in submitting applications for the fellowship should check the TSHA listing in the fall when the next cycle begins. The 2022 TSLAC Research Fellowship in Texas History awards were announced Friday, February 25, at an awards luncheon at the TSHA annual meeting in Austin.
Prior to the Civil War, enslaved African Americans in the South were largely denied a formal education. Several states even passed legislation prohibiting teaching African Americans how to read, based on the belief that education would lead to “rebellion.” After the war ended in 1865, the federal government established an agency primarily to assist newly freed African Americans. The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, provided temporary relief and helped African Americans in the South with essential needs, including education. Despite epidemics, crop failures, natural disasters, and persistent local opposition, the Freedmen’s Bureau, in conjunction with various Northern missionary aid societies, managed to establish 66 schools throughout Texas. In July 1870, when the agency ceased operations, the freed African Americans owned 43 of the schools with 63 teachers and 3,248 students.
The crucial role the Freedmen’s Bureau played in the education of African Americans makes its records an important resource on this topic. While Bureau records have been duplicated on microfilm and are available in libraries and archives around the country, the nonprofit genealogy organization FamilySearch has digitized a significant amount of these materials and provides free access to them on their website. Their Freedmen’s Bureau Records of the Superintendent of Education and of the Division of Education contains images of scanned documents browseable by state or division. To help users navigate the site, FamilySearch also offers an overview of the types of documents and the kind of information one may find in these records. The collection contains monthly teacher reports and reports of the sub-assistant commissioners and agents. Reports include statistics about numbers of students and teachers and schools.
When searching the archival collections with the TARO search tool, try using the term “freedmen” to catch references to both the common name and official name of the agency. In addition, researchers may be interested in collections related to the history of education more generally in Texas. Please note that not all collections have descriptive guides available online. Contact the reference staff at email@example.com to assist with locating materials on topics of interest.
Those interested in the history of African American education in Texas may wish to consult our library collections for titles related to education, African Americans in Texas, and the period following the Civil War known as Reconstruction (1865-1877). Anyone hoping to learn about the history of African American education in Texas will find the story of the Freedmen’s Bureau essential.
We have identified the following counties as having school related records: Anderson, Bell, Blanco, Bowie, Brooks, Brown, Caldwell, Colorado, Collin, Cooke, Coryell, Ellis, Falls, Fayette, Gillespie, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Haskell, Henderson, Johnson, Kaufman, Leon, Llano, Marion, McLennan, Milam, Navarro, Parker, Robertson, Shackelford, Smith, Willacy, Wise, Young, Van Zandt, Waller, and Washington
 Federick Eby, The Development of Education in Texas (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1925), 263.
 Alton Hornsby, “The Freedmen’s Bureau Schools in Texas, 1865-1870,” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 76, no. 4 (1973): 416. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30238207,
A note about terminology: Some TSLAC library and archival holdings may contain language, imagery, attitudes, and/or perspectives from the past that may be offensive today. TSLAC does not endorse the language, imagery, attitudes, and/or perspectives presented in the content but provides it as a historical document.
For more information about the collections at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, contact our reference staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-463-5455.