The TSLAC Research fellowship in Texas history is administered in partnership with TSHA and made possible by the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas through a generous donation from the Edouard Foundation.
The application must include the purpose of the proposed research, collections of interest, a description of the medium of the product of the research, a complete vita and why the fellowship is necessary to complete the project. The recipient of the fellowship may be asked to present the results of their research at a TSLAC event. The award will be announced at the TSHA’s annual meeting in February 2022. Judges may withhold the award at their discretion.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with TSLAC Resources
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s (TSLAC) Archives and Information Services Division holds a wealth of primary source archival documents, genealogy research resources, books, and more to spark your own research. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s kick things off with an overview of a few of our holdings that may be of interest.
State Archives Collections
The Hispanic heritage of Texas is integral to our history. Our flagship building, the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, located in the Capitol Complex in downtown Austin, is named for Manuel Lorenzo Justiniano de Zavala y Sáenz, first vice president of the Republic of Texas. TSLAC holds many original documents relating to Zavala’s life and work, including writings, correspondence, documents from the Texas Revolution and early Republic period. Explore these on our Giants of Texas History: Lorenzo de Zavala website.
The significance of the Hispanic foundation of Texas is also reflected in part through early records held by the State Archives. The Nacogdoches Archives is a collection that includes 18th century Spanish colonial and Mexican national government records. TSLAC also has in our holdings the draft 1836 constitution for the republic with the bill of rights both in English and Spanish.
Correspondence, publications, broadsides and maps in Spanish illustrate how significant Hispanic culture is to what is now the state of Texas. Last year, we highlighted the Harry Lund collection in our Hispanic Heritage Month blog post. The Harry Lund collection contains more than 200 photos from the Morales Studio depicting the people of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) in the first half of the 20th century. This collection is now fully digitized and browseable in the Texas Digital Archive (more below). Learn more about how to explore the Prints and Photographs Collections by visiting our research guide on the Archives and Reference website.
The Texas State Archives preserves and documents the heritage and culture of Texas by identifying, collecting, and making available for research the permanently valuable official records of Texas government, as well as other significant historical resources. Maintaining the official history of Texas government, the State Archives includes archival government records dating back to the 18th century, as well as newspapers, journals, books, manuscripts, photographs, historical maps, and other historical resources. By these records, all three branches of Texas government are accountable to the people. Taken together, the holdings of the Texas State Archives provide a historical foundation for present-day governmental actions and are an important resource for Texas studies.
Browse hundreds of archival collections, maps, prints and photographs, and more on our website. We make many thousands of digital resources available, as well—visit our Online Collections to learn about accessing records, databases, and Ancestry.com through TSLAC (free for Texas residents). There is also a wealth of curated online exhibits available to view on our website, with topics ranging from historic flags to women’s suffrage.
The Texas Digital Archive (TDA) manages, preserves, and facilitates access to the electronic records collections of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, including those transferred by state agencies or digitized by the State Archives. The TDA now makes more than 5.5 million records of state government, as well as business, family, and organizational papers, prints and photographs, artifacts, audio, and video available for free online at www.tsl.texas.gov/texasdigitalarchive, with more being added every day. All records in the TDA are unrestricted, and are thus available for public use, including for scholarly research, journalism, teaching using primary source documents, genealogy and family history, and creative arts purposes. Patrons may browse collections, perform keyword searches, and view and download records through the online portal.
An overview page listing all of our collections—archival and historical, digital, exhibits, genealogical, library, local, maps, newspapers, oral histories, and photographs—is also available on our website.
Genealogy Resources at TSLAC
Vital statistics indexes are an important part of the genealogical resources available at the library. While we do not have access to the certificates themselves, the library does own selected indexes to Texas births, deaths, marriages and divorces. The indexes are available for on-site use.
By searching the library catalog, many of TSLAC’s titles and holdings can be discovered from the comfort and convenience of home.In the library catalog, you can find publications covering topics such as: Texas history, genealogy, United States federal documents, and much more! In fact, the State Archives’ finding aids can also be found in the library catalog. Check out our previous blog post, Out of the Stacks and into the Catalog: The Basics, which explores the features, functions, and various search strategies that you can use for navigating the library catalog.
The Texas Talking Book Program (TBP) recommends titles on its blog. The “Staff Picks” series can be browsed going back to 2012, and many of the titles focus on Texas, the Southwest, the border region, and several titles are specifically recommended as Hispanic Heritage Month reads.
Texas Center for the Book Programs
The Texas Center for the Book, based at TSLAC, chooses a Great Read each year to promote statewide. The 2018 Texas Great Read, Shame the Stars by Guadalupe García McCall, is set during the explosive years of Mexico’s revolution, and has been called “a Texas reimagining of Romeo and Juliet.” Information about this book, as well as a video interview with the author and educator resources, are available on the Texas Center for the Book’s website.
This summer, the Texas Center for the Book launched the 2021 Literary Landmarks Roundup to double the number of landmarks in Texas. Four new sites were announced in August, including the Dr. Gloria E. Anzaldúa Literary Landmark at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Library In Edinburg, Texas. Anzaldúa’s book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, published in 1987 became a foundational work in the areas of border studies, Chicana feminism, and LGBTQ rights. A ceremony unveiling the new Literary Landmark will be held this fall. Stay tuned to the Literary Landmarks website for more information.
This year, Texans celebrated 25 years of Children’s Day, Book Day / Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, a national initiative founded in 1996 by author and literacy advocate Pat Mora in celebration of children, culture, and literature. The Texas Center for the Book coined the term Lone Star Día for the Texas event and encourages statewide participation. On even numbered years, grants for the First Book Marketplace are made available through the Texas Center for the Book. Nationally, libraries, schools, churches and organizations are encouraged to discover “bookjoy” year-round—most events occur around the official national celebration, April 30th. TSLAC Information about the 2022 celebration will be posted in the new year. Meanwhile, a wealth of resources is available year-round on the Lone Star Día website, including a video from founder Pat Mora, information documents, handouts, downloadable artwork, and more. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by starting to plan for your community’s 2022 Día now!
The Texas Historical Foundation (THF) has awarded the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) $5000 to create an online reference tool for searching a set of court records held by the State Archives.
THF’s Marshall J. Doke Texas Legal History Preservation Trust grant will support TSLAC’s efforts to transcribe and make available key information from Texas 3rd Court of Appeals case files. Through previous grants from the THF, the Archives and Information Services Division has already converted 2500 Texas Supreme Court case files into digital records that may be searched online.
That ongoing project has involved much more than scanning documents, as many of the original papers need time and labor-intensive preservation treatments before imaging may begin. In addition, the historical records require handwriting and other analyses in order to add information to a searchable database.
The new project focuses on Texas Court of Appeals (3rd) 1891-1923 case file indexes and also entails more than converting paper documents into electronic records. The grant makes possible the development and implementation of a transcription process to improve access. TSLAC will hire transcribers to analyze cursive handwriting from the original records and input the information into data fields, such as appellant and appellee, with the end result a searchable index available online. The transcription component will serve as a pilot project to enhance online access to the State Archives’ extensive collection of handwritten historical documents.
Recently, State Archivist Jelain Chubb coordinated and hosted a virtual presentation to the THF with an overview of the important work the Foundation has made possible thus far and plans for the current grant. Presenters included Senior Reference Archivist, Tonia Wood; Reference Archivist, Richard Gilreath; and Archivist, Tiffany Criswell. Those interested in more details about the current and past projects funded by the THF may view a recorded version of the presentation below.
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.
Price Daniel served as Texas attorney general, US senator, and Texas governor. These audiovisual materials and related papers date 1952-1962, 1980, undated, and encompass Daniel’s service in these offices, as well as his US Senate and Texas gubernatorial campaigns, and contain one item from after his political career.
Topics covered include narcotic laws, segregation, states’ rights, traffic safety, and Texas business and agriculture. The most common film format is 16mm black-and-white film, and audio materials include open reel audiotapes and instantaneous recordings. Some audiovisual materials include accompanying documents. These materials and accompanying documents have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.
The Broadsides and printed ephemera collection is an artificial collection assembled by Texas State Archives staff beginning in the early 20th century. It consists of approximately 700 documents related to Texas and United States history. Printed ephemera was produced to distribute information as events unfolded, and it offers unique snapshots of Texas’s and the nation’s past.
Image: $1000 Reward, 1873. Broadside 276, Broadsides and printed ephemera collection. TSLAC. View in the TDA.
The ephemera in this collection includes both originals and copies of various formats, dating 1645-1999, bulk 1835-1930s. The original documents in this collection have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.
District courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction in law and equity, which includes criminal cases of the grade of felony and misdemeanors involving official misconduct, divorce, cases of title to liens on land, election contests, and civil actions where the amount in controversy is at least $200. The district clerk serves as the clerk and custodian of all records for the district courts, indexes and secures all court records, and collects filing fees. These Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk records consist of civil and criminal docket books of the district court, a fee book, a district court minute book, and a record of jurors for the district court. Records date 1847-1898, with the bulk dating 1860-1879. The last two items listed are in digital format and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.
Newton County (Tex.) Tax Assessor-Collector records reflect the office’s duties related to the assessment and collection of taxes and voter registration. The records include tax assessment rolls, delinquent tax rolls, abstract books, poll tax receipts, and voter registration receipts of women voters. Records date about 1846-1936, bulk 1847-1932. A 1912 Newton County tax roll is in digital format and is part of the Texas Digital Archive.
Established in 1985 by the 69th Texas Legislature, the Texas National Research Laboratory Commission oversaw the process of siting the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas. Records include correspondence, memorandums, minutes, agenda, meeting summaries, meeting supporting documentation, reports, financial reports, studies, plans, agreements, settlements, contracts, proposals, photographs, maps, drawings, speeches, news releases, news clippings, publications, transcripts, audiocassettes, videocassettes, magnetic tapes, design specifications, environmental impact statements, socioeconomic studies, property inventories, research files, construction schedules, biographical sketches, administrative records, and notes, dating 1980-1997. Subjects include the site characterization and selection process of the Superconducting Super Collider, costs for the design and construction of a particle accelerator, geological features of Amarillo and Ellis County, collection and analysis of environmental data, and potential socioeconomic impacts of the project. External entities reflected include the US Department of Energy, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Morrison Knudsen.
The Texas State Comptroller’s Office is responsible for collecting state revenue, tracking state expenditures, and monitoring the financial condition of the state. Documenting those duties, these are records of the Comptroller’s Office Executive Administration Division consisting of administrative correspondence (both incoming and especially outgoing letters, emails and memoranda, and attachments), superseded correspondence concerning executive orders and directives, legislative correspondence, and unprocessed correspondence on microfiche, dating 1940-2017, undated, bulk 1991-2017. Typically, correspondents are state legislators, state agency officials, the lieutenant governor, the governor, local officials (at the city, county, and school district level), federal officials, and corporate entities.
The Texas State Comptroller’s Office is responsible for collecting state revenue, tracking state expenditures, and monitoring the financial condition of the state. These records document those duties, representing activities of the various division directors, the deputy comptrollers, and comptrollers Bob Bullock, John Sharp, Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn, and Susan Combs. The records consist of correspondence, memorandums, reports, speeches, clippings, invitations, thank-you notes, computer printouts, press releases, and other administrative documents, dating 1948-2000, bulk 1973-1988, as maintained by the Executive Administration Division of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
After a two-year closure for a renovation project, the Balmorhea State Park pool in West Texas has reopened, offering visitors the opportunity for a refreshing dip into the spring-fed waters once again. In celebration of this Texas landmark, let’s dip into the collections at the State Archives for a look at historic images related to Balmorhea.
The popular summer swimming destination has been attracting travelers for decades. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the park and its structures, including the pool, as part of the federal government’s effort to provide employment and a reliable paycheck for Americans suffering poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Image: Swimming pool springs 4-miles out, Balmorhea, Texas, 1936. William Deming Hornaday Photograph Collection,1975/070-5412. TSLAC. View in TDA.
The State Archives has in its collections the CCC drawings for Balmorhea and other Texas State Parks. Explore the collection online through a searchable database specifically designed for these materials here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/apps/arc/CCCDrawings/
Texas State Parks Board records housed at the State Archives include images, promotional materials, correspondence and other items connected to the Balmorhea project. Though most of these records have not been digitized, several images below offer a glimpse of the kinds of research materials one might discover in these files.
In a 1944 letter, the district engineer for the Texas Highway Department seemed perplexed by a request from the Texas State Parks Board to “place a reflectorized sign at the entrance to Balmorhea State Park.” The sketch in the image below was provided as evidence of the work having been completed several years prior.
Would you rent a bathing suit at a swimming pool? According to this “notice to the public” about Balmorhea, bathing suits for sale or rental were available on site.
The State Archives library collections also have publications on Balmorhea State Park and related topics. Here are examples of titles with links to the records in the online catalog:
The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) invites nominations for its 2021 archival awards. THRAB bestows annual awards in the categories of excellence, advocacy, and distinguished service.
The Archival Award of Excellence honors archival institutions and individuals in Texas who have made significant achievements in preserving and improving access to historical records in any format. The Advocacy for Archives Award acknowledges an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to ensure the preservation and availability of Texas’s historical record.
In 2020, THRAB named the service award in honor of its first recipient, nationally renowned Texas archivist and archival educator Dr. David B. Gracy II. The David B. Gracy II Distinguished Archival Service Award recognizes an individual, archival institution, education program, or nonprofit/government organization that has provided outstanding leadership, service, or contribution to the archival profession in Texas.
THRAB is accepting nominations through August 6 and will announce the recipients in October during Texas Archives Month. For nomination forms and additional information, visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/archivalaward.
Recent recipients of the Archival Award of Excellence include the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) and Travis Williams, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian at St. Edward’s University.
The inaugural Advocacy for Archives Award was presented to the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and the Distinguished Service Award, as mentioned earlier, went to David B. Gracy II. The awards are funded by a State Programming Board grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
In 1976, Governor Dolph Briscoe established THRAB, the State Historical Records Advisory Board for Texas. THRAB is a nine-member board that supports public access to records; serves as a catalyst for improving storage conditions within the state; supports the preservation and access efforts of historical and genealogical societies, archives, museums, libraries, colleges, local governments, and other institutions; and reviews grant requests submitted to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). THRAB initiatives are funded by the NHPRC.
As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe, and make available to the public the materials under our care, we spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The quarterly column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We close out the piece highlighting fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items.
Archivists create finding aids for collections once they are processed and add these descriptive guides to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO). TARO hosts finding aids from institutions around the state and researchers may determine whether to limit searches to the State Archives. Not all collections have been processed and therefore the list of finding aids does not represent the entirety of our holdings. The Archives & Manuscripts page of the TSLAC website provides more information and guidance on how to access archival collections. Contact 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).
Wright Chalfant Morrow was a lawyer, Democratic state senator, and Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The W.C. Morrow papers focused on W.C. Morrow’s campaign for judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas in 1916. The papers also provide insight into his personal finances through a collection of personal letters, receipts, and checks.
Zarh Pritchard, born Walter Howlison Mackenzie Pritchard, was an artist best known for painting underwater landscapes while underwater. The Zarh Pritchard collection documents his work, travels, and interest in numerology and the occult. Included are letter and card correspondence; pamphlets and invitations; administrative files detailing his personal finances, business dealings, and properties; books and literary efforts; magazine and newspaper clippings; memorabilia collected through his travels, friendships, and business dealings; photographs, drawings, and postcards; and artifacts and artwork. Dates covered are about 1870s-1959, undated, bulk 1904-1953.
These records include conveyances, maps, and titles for property owned by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Right of Way Division. The Right of Way Division coordinates the acquisition of land to build, widen, or enhance highways and provides relocation assistance when needed. The division also coordinates utility adjustments, and the disposition and leasing of surplus real property owned by TxDOT. The records document these land transfers and date from 1920 to 2017, and undated. The records are part of an ongoing digitization project by TxDOT that has begun with the Austin District; the project will continue with other major-municipality districts and finish with the less populous ones.
Pearl Beer commercial promoting recycling program:
Video: Pearl Beer 30-second spot, about 1973. Television and radio spot films and audiotapes, Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation Travel and Information Division films and audiotapes, 2013/063 TXDOT. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. View in TDA.
The Texas State Department of Highways and Public Transportation (TSDHPT) was responsible for the building and maintenance of Texas roads and highways and for developing public mass transportation in state from 1975 to 1991. The agency was formed in 1975 when the Texas Legislature merged the Texas Highway Department and the Texas Mass Transportation Commission into this single agency. Both TSDHPT and the Texas Highway Department operated a Travel and Information Division that promoted travel to and within the state of Texas, highway safety, and tourism through the distribution of publications, audiovisual programs, and news media materials. Records consist of 76 film projects made up of 16mm motion pictures and motion picture components, 0.25-inch open reel audiotapes, a 35mm work print, and an audiocassette, dating 1963-1990, bulk 1970-1985. Projects comprise Texas tourism and other films, as well as radio and television news stories, commercials, and public service announcements that were produced by the division. Subjects include bridge construction, anti-littering campaigns, tourist attractions around Texas, highway safety, highway funding, and public transportation. Included are different motion picture production components, such as work prints, internegatives, soundtracks, film clips, and stock shots. A portion of these materials have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.
Texas Tourist Development Agency photographs and audiovisual materials document the activities of the Texas Tourist Development Agency (TTDA) and its work to increase the state’s share of the national tourist market using a variety of mass media. The materials include photographic color slides, transparencies, negatives, photographic prints, videotapes, motion picture films, and audio tapes and date from 1964 to 1997 and undated. Portions of the slides and negatives have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive. In addition, a portion of digitized slides is available through the Texas State Archives Flickr page.
The Economic Development and Tourism Division (EDT) of the Texas Governor’s Office under Governor Rick Perry specialized in encouraging in-state business expansion and relocation as well as promoting domestic and international tourism via partnerships with local convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, and private travel-related organizations. These records document the regular activities of several sections of EDT, along with predecessor agencies the Texas Department of Commerce and Texas Department of Economic Development, during the terms of Governors Rick Perry, George W. Bush, and Ann Richards. Efforts to convince corporate entities to relocate or expand into the state of Texas are a particular emphasis. Records include paper, audiovisual, and electronic record types encompassing incoming and outgoing correspondence, memorandums, reports, publications, presentations, speeches, organization charts, clippings, press releases, notes, working papers, strategic plans, agendas, meeting materials, calendars, promotional materials, project files, videocassette tapes, audiocassette tapes, and digital images. Records date 1989-2015.
The Texas State Board of Education in conjunction with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction administered state management of public schools in Texas until the passage of the Gilmer-Aiken laws in 1949. The Texas State Board of Education school district records consist of annual/term reports, bonds of indebtedness, notices of incorporation, scholastic censuses, and treasurer’s annual statements. These records provide details on school district finances, student and teacher demographics, and school facilities and date 1879-1938 and undated, bulk 1880-1912.
The Minnie Sneed Wilcox collection is an assembly of scrapbooks, correspondence, organization reports, and other materials that document the activities of Minnie Sneed Wilcox in three Texas music clubs between 1920 and 1945, bulk 1923-1941: the Wednesday Morning Music Club, the Texas Federation of Music Clubs, and the Texas Music Teachers Association.
TSLAC joins the rest of the country in recognizing the contributions of those Americans with Asian/Pacific Islander heritage throughout the month of May. Though primary source documentation may be sparse at the State Archives, secondary sources like Nancy Farrar’s 1972 study, The Chinese in El Paso offer valuable descriptive information and data pulled from newspapers, census records and city directories.
The earliest arrival to Texas of Asians in any significant number were laborers from China who worked on the rail lines that were rapidly expanding across the state and connecting the country during the last decades of the nineteenth century. The Chinese migrants were young men who worked together on construction teams and would typically move from one site to another and often planned to eventually return home to China.
When the Southern Pacific Railroad was completed in 1881, the border city of El Paso was on the route to and from the west coast. While many laborers departed once the railroad line was built, some remained and established Chinese-run businesses located within a few city blocks of each other. A neighborhood referred to as “Chinatown” developed in downtown El Paso. A popular business to open was a laundromat, as the Chinese steam method had little competition in town
Image: Farrar, Nancy. The Chinese in El Paso. Texas Western Press, The University of Texas at El Paso, 1972. Texas Documents Collection, ZUA590.7 SO89 NO.33. Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Socially, the immigrants lived separately from the rest of the city early on. Because of strict immigration laws aimed specifically at Asians, women were not joining the men who had made the journey. The area was therefore comprised almost entirely of men. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 stemmed the flow of laborers coming to the U.S. and the exclusion continued with the Geary Act of 1902. Some exceptions were made, such as for merchants and teachers, and the prohibition was not always strictly enforced.
While the Chinese population in El Paso would start to decline in the early twentieth century, other groups from countries in Asia were creating communities in Texas. Farmers had arrived from Japan to work the rice fields of Southeast Texas and other Japanese immigrants opened restaurants and shops in Houston and the surrounding counties, for example.
Discovering information about the growth of Asian communities in Texas can sometimes occur by chance. A closer look at this Houston streetscape from about 1927 reveals a restaurant called the Chop Suey Café on the right side of Travis Street.
Here is a close-up view of the sign for the Chop Suey Café. The restaurant is in the shadow on the right-hand side of the street.
After the immigration laws changed in 1965 and restrictions on Asian immigrants were lifted, many more groups from regions across Asia would make their way to Texas. Houston emerged as a particularly attractive destination for various groups and is today one of the most diverse cities in the country.
Learn more about Asian Texans with resources from TSLAC.
The American Library Association (ALA) has declared April 25 – May1, 2021 as Preservation Week. They provide on their website a page called Saving Your Stuff, with handy tips on preserving a range of items, from audio to scrapbooks. Here at the State Archives, we work hard to ensure the important historical collections that tell the story of Texas are preserved. We share our own helpful hints on a page called Preservation Tips from the State Archives. In addition, this year we are presenting an online program from TSLAC Conservator, Heather Hamilton, who will offer tips on taking care of family treasures.
Join us as we celebrate Preservation Week at TSLAC with an informative program on how to make sure your personal archive stands the test of time. Register now for a virtual peek into the Conservation Lab at the State Archives. Caring for Your Family Artifacts takes place on Thursday, April 29 at 2:00 pm. Register here: https://zoom.us/j/92318114739.
Are you a Texas K-12 educator seeking primary sources for your classroom? Would you like to see the State Archives offer programming for you and your students? Our education outreach team wants to hear from you! Let us know more about what we may offer you and your students by completing this short survey by May 15: https://forms.gle/CJeetRmxeDbzR2oq9