The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) is pleased to offer an educational opportunity free of charge to individuals working with historical collections and who lack a background or formal training in archives. Through funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), THRAB has partnered with the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) to reserve a select number of spots in their upcoming beginner’s course, Basics of Archives. Designed for those with little to no archival experience, the AASLH instructor presents modules online over five weeks, with lessons covering the essential components of archives work from acquisition to outreach. For more information about applying for free registration, visit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/workshops.
Call for Nominations for Archival Awards of Excellence, Advocacy, and Distinguished Service
The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) is pleased to announce an expanded awards program for 2020. In addition to the Archival Award of Excellence for an individual and institution, THRAB seeks nominations for the Advocacy for Archives Award and a Distinguished Service Award. Organizations, individuals, programs, and institutions are all eligible for the new honors. Send nomination packets to THRAB coordinator Jelain Chubb at the address below by August 10, 2020. 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.
Distinguished Service 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.
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.
For institutions: All Texas institutions responsible for archival records that provide public access to at least a portion of their collection are eligible. Achievements include recent projects and/or on-going programs that build collections, enhance access to archives, develop effective digitization programs, or implement preservation strategies.
For individual: An archivist or individual who has made an outstanding contribution in the areas of management, preservation, access, advocacy, or use of historical records in Texas. Nominees must have accomplished the work within the state of Texas during the five years preceding the year in which the award is presented. Current THRAB members are not eligible.
Nomination Process: Submit a complete nomination packet to THRAB coordinator Jelain Chubb. Nomination packets include the appropriate award nomination form, a statement of work accomplished, two letters of support and any supporting materials. For more information, visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/archivalaward.
While our Sam Houston Center exhibit, Atascosito: The History of Southeast Texas is not currently open due to the coronavirus, we are offering a bit of off-site fun and games for kids with a museum activity book available for download. Atascosito chronicles the region’s past through informative displays from the Center’s collections of artifacts, photographs, maps, and historical documents. Although the exhibit appeals to an audience of all ages, the displays serve as engaging educational tools for teaching the history of the area. Interactive devices built into the exhibit are aimed at capturing the attention of younger visitors. TSLAC celebrated in 2018 the museum renovation with a “grand reopening” party and tours. View images of that event here.
The exhibit showcases the developments of this corner of Texas, including its river economy, timber industry, rice agriculture, and expansive oil fields, while also sharing stories of the thousands of years of growth and movement of people through what has become the ten-county region of Jasper, Jefferson, Hardin, Liberty, Orange, San Jacinto, Polk, Newton, Chambers, and Tyler. Two bases of Clovis points dated to around 11,000 B.C.E. that offer the earliest evidence of human activity in the region are highlights of the exhibit, along with a tooth fragment from a Columbian mammoth. More recent items on view are an executive record book kept by Texas Republic President Sam Houston and artifacts from 19th century steamboats. The museum activity book references subjects covered in the exhibit and other Texas themes in word puzzles, coloring pages, and more.
DIY Museum Activity Book
Explore themes related to the Atascosito District of Texas with the puzzles, games, and coloring pages inside. Click on the image or the link below and print out your own color copy.
Dachau was the first regular concentration camp set up by the Nazi government. It was located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the northeastern part of the town of Dachau, about 10 miles northwest of Munich, Germany. The internees were initially political opponents of the Nazi regime, such as German Communists, Social Democrats, and trade unionists. Over time, other groups including homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, and Jews were also interned there. The number of prisoners incarcerated in Dachau between 1933 and 1945 exceeded 188,000, and the number who died there between January 1940 and May 1945 was at least 28,000. It is unlikely that the total number of Dachau victims will ever be known.
Seventy-five years ago, on April 29, 1945, as World War II was drawing to a close in Europe, the Dachau concentration camp was liberated by the United States Army. In early May, Army medical corps units entered the camp to care for the ill and emaciated survivors, many of whom were suffering from typhus, tuberculosis, or other diseases. One of the first such units was the 116th Evacuation Hospital, to which Liberty, Texas, native Thomas Samuel (Sam) Partlow was assigned.
Sam Partlow compiled a scrapbook documenting his military experiences in Europe, including his unit’s time at Dachau. It includes numerous photographs along with details of his service and some clippings concerning the Nazi concentration camps. Entitled “Snaps and Scraps: My Life in the Army,” the scrapbook is one that was created especially for service members. This scrapbook is housed at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center.
We are on the edge of summer and many students and educators are starting to put their books away and perhaps log off Zoom for a while. Why not take a break and have a little fun with our images? Explore the detail of the mural Texas Moves Toward Statehood, featured in the lobby of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, while clicking together the pieces in an online puzzle.
Learn more aboutTexas Moves Toward Statehood
Get the image: Would you like to print your own copy of the image? Visit this page.
Who are these people? Find out who the figures are and what the other elements indicate in the mural with a handy guide here.
Who painted the mural? The story of how Texas Moves Toward Statehood came to be is a fascinating one and who better to share it than the artist himself? Visit our online exhibit for that story and more details about the work in our online exhibit here.
The State Archives’ collections contain thousands of letterpress copybooks. Recently, our digitization team has been scanning copybooks kept by Texas governors and providing access to them in the Texas Digital Archive. The goal of this article is to briefly explore their history, condition problems, and what can be done for them today.
As office recordkeeping practices expanded in the 19th and early 20th centuries, methods were sought to create multiple copies of documents at one time. One of the earliest strategies, invented in 1780, was the letterpress copying method. Not to be confused with letterpress printing, letterpress copying used a piece of equipment called a copy press. Copy presses can still be found in antique shops and are frequently mistaken today for small book presses. Letterpress copying was very common throughout the 19th century. Its use began to decline around 1900 as office workers turned increasingly to typewriters and carbon copy sheets.
To make a copy using a copy press, an individual first wrote on a sheet of paper with a special, water-soluble ink. The paper was placed in the press and covered with a dampened sheet of thin, translucent paper. Then, the press was tightened, creating a partial transfer of the ink from the bottom sheet onto the top sheet. The copied text is then read from the opposite side of the translucent sheet (it appears backwards on the side with the actual impression).
Because the process was so popular, stationers and office supply manufacturers sold pre-bound books filled with translucent copy sheets. The copies were made in the copy press straight into the books. These are what we know today as letterpress copybooks.
Special inks and papers were used to facilitate this process. The inks were often iron gall ink mixed with a humectant like sugar or glycerin to keep the ink wet for a longer time. Dyes were frequently added to make the copied ink more readable.The copying paper was made translucent by using very short paper fibers and occasionally by adding a waxy or oily coating. This reduced the tiny air pockets that naturally make paper appear opaque.
The materials and methods that enabled letterpress copying created a variety of aging difficulties. Iron gall ink is already well known for its ability to “burn” through paper and cause inked areas to drop out completely. Added dyes are unstable and can fade over time, sometimes even without significant light exposure. Humectants like sugar and glycerin can cause the ink to become sticky in moist environments, even years later. Translucent papers made from short paper fibers are inherently fragile and extremely sensitive to moisture. Any water exposure can cause the paper to expand irregularly and dramatically. Waxy or oily coatings may have made the papers highly acidic. These papers are very prone to break, especially in areas where iron gall ink and water exposure have already damaged them. And to further complicate matters, inks and papers were often made from proprietary formulations of ingredients; their details varied among manufacturers and even among batches.
Today, many letterpress copies are so fragile that their content can be lost by simply turning a page. Such damage seems to cry out for major conservation treatment. Unfortunately, logistical issues complicate this approach. Letterpress sheets are bound into books of many hundreds of pages. These books cannot be practically disbound, creating access issues for treatments that involve washing. Further, the sheer number of sheets per volume, and volumes per collection, make treatment prospects daunting. The level of treatment required to address these materials’ severe degradation issues simply does not scale up in any manageable way.
So what can be done for these books? Three broad options are available:
Prioritize: Given the large number of copybooks and often their poor condition, prioritization is key. Focusing on critical topics, people, or years helps to target our most significant resources with finite preservation time.
Treat as possible: The most achievable conservation treatment is basic mending, likely with heat-set or solvent-set tissue to avoid unnecessary water exposure. Conservators have explored a variety of chelating treatments (which help stabilize iron gall ink,) but the inherent difficulty of washing bound sheets makes these treatments impractical at scale. If desired, targeted deacidification can be pursued with a spray such as Bookkeeper.
Digitize: Because there is no satisfactory, scalable conservation treatment, the ultimate solution for letterpress copybooks is digitization. Because of the translucency of the sheets, white paper must be placed beneath each sheet during digitization to improve legibility. Careful handling is essential, and mending may first be necessary to stabilize damaged sheets. Given the time-intensive nature of this work, again, prioritization is key.
Cleveland, Rachel-Ray. 2000 “Selected 18th,19th and 20th Century Iron Gall Ink Formulations Developed in England, France, Germany, and the United States, for use with the Copy Press Process.” Postprints of The Iron Gall Ink Meeting, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England: University of Northumbria, 23-30.
Rhodes, Barbara and William Wells Streeter. 1999. Before
Photocopying: The Art and History of Mechanical Copying. New Castle, DE:
Oak Knoll Press & Herald Bindery.
Titus, Sonja, et al. 2006. “The Copy Press Process: History
and Technology, Part 1.” Restaurator 27 (2): 90-102.
Titus, Sonja, et. al. 2009 “Stabilising Local Areas of Loss
in Iron Gall Copy Documents from the Savigny Estate.” Restaurator 30 (1-2):
Ubbink, K. and R. Partridge. 2003. Preserving Letterpress Copying Books. Canadian Association for Conservation of Cultural Property 28: 38-45.
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).
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 1924 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.
Texas Legislature (Chapter 40, Regular Session) created the Board of
Commissioners of Public Grounds and Buildings in February 1860 to supervise the
care, maintenance, and improvements of buildings and grounds upon the capitol
square, including the Capitol, the Treasury Building, the Supreme Court
Building, the General Land Office, and the Governor’s Mansion. The board was
also tasked with directing and controlling the investment of all appropriations
made by the legislature for the purchase of books for the State Library and
establishing rules for the management of the library. Records date 1860-1876,
undated, and include minutes, financial records, correspondence, reports to the
governor, various inventories, and payroll records.
The 14th Texas Legislature (Senate Bill 335, Regular Session) created the Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds in 1874 to take charge of the public halls of the Capitol and State Library as well as the safekeeping and preservation of the Capitol grounds and State Cemetery. This office also briefly worked with the Governor’s Mansion, Treasury Building, and Comptroller Building. In 1879, the office came under the supervision of the Commissioner of Insurance, Statistics, and History (Revised Civil Statutes, Chapter 2, Title 76). The office was abolished in 1919 and its duties absorbed by the Texas State Board of Control (Senate Bill 147, 36th Legislature, Regular Session). Records date 1877-1916, undated, and include financial records, reports, various inventories, payroll records, bids, specifications, blueprints, drawings, and prints. These records have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.
Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
In 50 words or less, describe what you do. I am the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center’s maintenance worker responsible for cleaning the archives, museum, and historic buildings. I make small repairs, from replacing doorknobs to toilet handles, and maintain the grounds so visitors can enjoy them, trimming trees, mowing, weed-eating and more.
Why did you choose your profession? I chose my profession because I enjoy working on multiple things. My job always keeps things interesting.
What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection? My favorite building is the Jean and Price Daniel Home and Archives, with all its beauty and history. The home and its contents document the Daniels’ lives and years of public service.
Every ten years, the United States Census Bureau conducts a census of population and housing. As the 2020 census begins, it is interesting to consider the variety of uses this accumulated data will have. The current Featured Collection focuses on the Census Bureau’s efforts over the years to retrieve, analyze, and distribute that data, as well as other institutions’ use of demographic information.
Our featured book display,”The U.S. Census,” includes questionnaires, signs, reports, guides, and maps from the Texas State Library and Archives collection. For information about the current census or pasts censuses, please visit www.census.gov.
U.S. Imports & Exports: Information Now Available on Compact Disks for Use on Your Personal Computer; TSLAC U.S. Document collection.
Although our reading room is currently closed to the public, a booklist of all featured titles is listed below. For more information about access to the titles on display, please contact TSLAC reference services at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-436-5455.
Women-Owned Businesses 1972; TSLAC U.S. Document collection.
The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) invites participants to develop an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for their archival repositories with a free webinar series launching May 20. Over the course of five weeks, professional consultant Rebecca Elder of Elder Cultural Heritage Preservation will guide participants through the step-by-step process of creating an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for their archival repositories. Each 90-minute webinar will focus on components of building a plan, with the final installment an opportunity to assess draft plans and review potential implementation concerns. The topics are as follows:
Week 1: Emergency Planning Basics and the Emergency Team
Week 2: Risk Assessment and Choosing a Plan Template
Week 3: Contact Lists and Salvage Priorities
Week 4: Procedures, Supplies and Implementation
Week 5: How Did It Go?
Registration is for the series. Please note that week two covers risk assessment, which would typically require access to the repository. Those not able to make on-site visits because of COVID -19 may need to address the more specific details of this module at a later date. Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1539294695231443212
Support for this project provided by the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the funding arm of the National Archives.