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

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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Based in Texas: World War II Military Sites

Stephanie Brown, Reference Archivist

black and white photo of about 136 military officers in uniform sitting in elevated rows posing for the picture. In the background, there is one long, one-story building on the left.
Photograph of Officer’s Communication Class #14 at Camp Hood (now Fort Cavazos), January 1943. Military Places collection 2019/053-8. Click image for larger version.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States officially entered World War II and the size and number of military posts in Texas grew in support the war effort. The state’s central location and temperate climate made Texas an ideal place for airfields, training facilities, and naval stations. There were more than 150 installations across the state, and more than 1.5 million military personnel came to Texas during the war. (More than 750,000 Texans served in World War II.)

black and white photo spread of soldiers training on various military equipment.
Photo spread from Picture Parade of Fort Bliss, Texas, showing anti-aircraft training at Fort Bliss during World War II. Military Places collection 2019/053-6. Click image for larger version.

Military installations in the state included 65 Army airfields, 35 Army forts and camps, and seven naval air stations and bases. Built in 1848, El Paso’s Fort Bliss expanded to one million acres during WWII and became an artillery training facility. Sheppard Field (Sheppard Air Force Base) near Wichita Falls trained glider mechanics and B-29 Superfortress flight engineers while Pampa Airfield in the Texas panhandle trained more than 6,000 aviation cadets and 3,500 mechanics in just three years. Beginning in 1942, up to 100,000 troops learned anti-tank, field artillery, and infantry tactics at Camp Hood (now called Fort Cavazos) in Killeen.

Cover of booklet titled Camp Hood, Texas with orange background behind image of soldiers on the ground in a village with the name Gestapo on one building.
Cover of booklet titled Sheppard field, Texas and a black and white image of a mechanic posing in front an airplane propeller.
Cover of booklet featuring a the cartoon face of a man peering down at a card with the text in a written font that reads, Strictly G.I. is intended to give you an idea of what Pampa Army Air Field looks like to enlisted men and incidentally, G.I. stands for government issue. At the bottom is the sketch of barracks and a tower.

Booklets published for new soldiers arriving for training in Texas at what was then Camp Hood (Fort Cavazos), Sheppard Field (Sheppard Air Force Base), and Pampa Airfield. Military Places collection, 2019/053-6. Click image for larger version.

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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

State Records

Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Reclamation Engineer records
The Texas State Legislature created the office of Texas State Reclamation Engineer in 1913. The Reclamation Engineer measured the flow of streams, approved plans concerning the organization of irrigation and water-supply districts, made plans for storage and use of floodwater, conducted topographic surveys, conducted evaporation studies and silt studies, investigated underground water supplies, prepared and encouraged the adoption of conservation plans, and made various other statistical compilations in cooperation with the US government.

These Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Reclamation Engineer records contain information predating the existence of the office of Texas State Reclamation Engineer and consist of correspondence, maps, charts, blueprints, photograph albums, field notes, hearing transcripts and records, reports, financial and administrative records, litigation records, speeches, procedure manuals, and project descriptions, dating 1870-1998. These records also include photostats and transcriptions of documents dating to the 1820s and 1830s. The records contain information regarding all of the essential operations of the Reclamation Engineer in its various administrative manifestations, including but not limited to flood control and levee building, litigation, and administrative matters.


Sepia toned photo of African American soldier standing in WWI uniform.
Henry Dugat I in World War I Army uniform, 1918. Henry Lloyd Dugat Sr. papers, 1995.049-2. SHC.

Henry Lloyd Dugat Sr. papers (at Sam Houston Center)
Henry Lloyd Dugat Sr. was an African American church and civic leader in Liberty, Liberty County, Texas. The Henry Lloyd Dugat Sr. papers consist of programs, certificates and awards, clippings, event materials, church materials, school materials, subject files, photographs, scrapbooks, audio and videotapes, computer disks, and artifacts pertaining to Dugat’s life and career, the Dugat family, and the history of African Americans in Liberty County, Texas. Material dates 1900-2016, bulk about 1955-2009.

Liberty (Tex.) city officials photograph collection (at Sam Houston Center)
In the 1960s, the Liberty Historical Committee, appointed by the Liberty city manager, began collecting numerous images of Liberty mayors and city council members who had held office since the city’s incorporation in 1837. The Liberty (Tex.) city officials photograph collection consists of 126 images, both black-and-white and color, of mayors and city council members of the City of Liberty, Texas, who served from the 1840s to 2001. The collection consists of individual portraits and some group photographs. Most of the individual portraits were originally mounted in frames on display at Liberty City Hall for many years. The group photographs may have been obtained from the local newspaper, the Liberty Vindicator , or may have been taken by City of Liberty staff. Group photographs depict mayors, council members, and other city staff from the 1950s-1980s and 2001 in both formal and informal settings. Photographs consist of originals and reproductions. Materials date about 1964-2001, bulk about 1964-1967.

McKinney & Williams Company records
The McKinney & Williams Company was the largest commission merchant firm in early Texas history. Founded by Thomas F. McKinney and Samuel M. Williams in 1834, the firm played an integral role in financially aiding Texas during the Texas Revolution. Using the steady stream of credit coming from the United States, the company contracted with the provisional government of Texas to convey troops and provide financial aid and supplies throughout the war and into the early Republic era. These records of the company predominately consist of financial records related to provisioning and transporting the Texian Army and US volunteer units and include promissory notes, claim vouchers, ledger sheets, requisition orders and receipts, invoices, correspondence, and auditor’s affidavits, dated 1835-1840, 1873-1948, bulk 1835-1839.

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Historical Pageants: A Cornerstone of Texas Musical History

Alec Head, Reference Librarian

Pageants depicting events of historical significance to Texas are a longstanding tradition. These performances, accompanied by music and epic reenactments of battles, romances, triumphs, and tragedies span decades, serving as both entertainment and education for new generations of Texans.

Gambill, Birdie Brenholtz, We are Texas: a Texas pageant, c1936. TSLAC-Main.
Green, Paul, Paul Green’s Texas; a musical romance of Panhandle history, 1973. TSLAC-Main.

The images below show that the Texas Federation of Music Clubs hosted multiple such pageants over the years, including a 1937 performance of “Legend of the Blue Bonnet” and a 1939 staging of “Austin’s Conquest of a Century.”

Scrapbook, Wednesday Morning Music Club, 1934-1941. Minnie Sneed Wilcox Collection, 1959/059. View in the TDA:
Scrapbook,Wednesday Morning Music Club, 1934-1941. Minnie Sneed Wilcox Collection, 1959/059. View in the TDA:

Over time, these pageants would change their mediums in an effort to reach as many Texans as possible, as seen in the 1985 program described below. In it, the 1938 epic pageant “The Fort Griffin Fandangle” performed in Albany, Texas, makes the jump to the small screen, broadcasting via public access television. This pageant is hosted in Albany to this day.

Notes on the history of the Capitol. Allen McCree Papers, 2022/030-04.
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Visit Our Liberty Site for a Holiday Celebration in December

The Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty has announced a holiday food drive to benefit Meals on Wheels of South Liberty County starting Nov. 28 ahead of the Center’s Holiday Celebration in December.

Donations of non-perishable food are being accepted at the Sam Houston Center, located at 650 FM 1011 in Liberty from Nov. 28 through Dec. 16. While visiting the Center to see its Southeast Texas history museum, research family history in the genealogy collections, explore the archives and view books in its Texana collection, be sure to bring your non-expired food items for this drive.

Donations will be used to create the meals and emergency kits distributed by the Meals on Wheels local office, part of the national nonprofit that delivers to home-bound people in South Liberty County who cannot adequately prepare their own meals because of illness, physical disability or age.

Color photo of large, two-story house with white paint and black shutters. There are six columns, a balcony, a wing on each side.
Jean and Price Daniel Home at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty will be the site of festive holiday celebrations Dec. 15 and 16.

Southeast Texans are invited to mark their calendars for the Sam Houston Center’s Holiday Celebration, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 15 and Saturday, Dec. 16. The Center will remain open after its normal operating hours for a very special, festive evening event from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. on both days.

All are invited for free holiday activities for all ages, including sweet treats and hot cocoa, caroling, glittering decorations and multiple opportunities to take your own holiday photographs at the Jean and Price Daniel Home on the Center’s campus, modeled on the Governor’s Mansion in Austin—including photos with Santa! Food donations for the food drive will be accepted during both evenings.

Image: The Jean and Price Daniel Home decorated for the holidays.

The Sam Houston Regional Library and Research 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. Learn more at

We’re Hiring! Help TSLAC Care for Our Collections as Conservator

The TSLAC conservator mends a bound volume.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s Archives and Information Services Division welcomes applicants for the position of conservator. The TSLAC conservator manages a well-equipped lab and performs complex treatments on rare and unique archival and library materials. The conservator develops and monitors work procedures for the unit, establishes priorities, and makes treatment decisions.

Muster roll after de-silking in the TSLAC conservation lab.

In addition, the conservator assists with exhibits and other outreach and educational programs, preservation planning and surveys, emergency response; and environmental control. The position is available December 1, 2023. Those interested in this position should apply by November 30.

The TSLAC conservator plays an essential role in exhibit planning, preparation, and installation.

Learn more about the conservation work at TSLAC on the Conservation blog:

Find details about this position and apply by November 30 here:

Join Us for an Open House and Author Panels During the Texas Book Festival

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission, a longtime Texas Book Festival community partner, is thrilled to be open to the public throughout this year’s event, as well as serving as the site of three author panels.

The Texas Center for the Book will welcome festivalgoers to the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, where visitors can learn about the Center’s annual statewide reading and literacy programs; view the current lobby exhibit, Beyond the Badge: The Work and Records of the Texas Rangers; record an oral history interview; talk with librarians, archivists, and staff; tour the State Archives; and more!

Image: Ranger J.R. Hunnicutt standing by his horse, about 1919. J.R. Hunnicutt collection, 1968/029-178.

Special, behind-the-scenes tours of the archives’ closed stacks will take place each day at 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 p.m. and are limited to 15 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

Special Texas Book Festival TSLAC Open House hours:
Saturday, November 11, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, November 12, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Note that our usual Second Saturday service is suspended, with Public Services at the Zavala Building closed for all research as we host this special event.

Since 1909, when the state founded the agency, TSLAC has supported the reading, learning, and historical preservation needs of Texas and its people. Explore the TSLAC website at and discover our online exhibits, family history research resources, Texas Center for the Book initiatives, and ongoing programs and events.

Saturday, November 11 – Texas Book Festival Author Panels

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Worth Repeating: San Antonio Stories with Paul Flahive, Tori Pool, and Burgin Streetman

1:00 – 1:45 p.m. | Glitter and Gaming: Research-Based Picture Books with Chris Barton and Don Tate

2:30 – 3:15 p.m. | Playing to Win: Professional Sports in Texas with Michael Granberry, Burk Murchison, and Jonathan Silverman

Solar Eclipses in Texas, Then and Now

Sam Wassink, Metadata Librarian

Photo of large book open to title page with text: Report of the Observations of the Total Solar Eclipse, July 29, 1878, Made at Fort Worth, Texas, edited by Leanord, assistant at the observatory at Harvard College, Cambridge, Press of John Wilson and son, 1879. the page is stamped with the words, This book not for circulation. On the opposite side of the book is a frontispiece featuring an albumen print situated sideways, with seven people lined up with telescopes of various sizes and other equipment.
Frontispiece and title page, Report of the Observations of the Total Solar Eclipse, July 29, 1878, Made at Fort Worth, Texas, edited by Leonard Waldo, published by Press of John Wilson and Son: Cambridge, MA, 1879. Call no. 523.78 W147r OVER-T, TSLAC Main. [Click on image for larger version.]

On July 29, 1878, a group of astronomers from around the country gathered at the S.W. Lomax Farm outside of Fort Worth to study and photograph a total solar eclipse. Reporters from the Fort Worth Daily Democrat wrote that citizens were encouraged to observe the eclipse using a piece of “lightly smoked” glass as a viewing protector and then report their findings. Their results were recorded in several publications.

Closer view of albumen print plate from book Report of Observations of the Total Solar Eclipse, with seven men lined up outdoors with telescopes on tri-pods and other equipment.
Astronomers and their equipment, frontispiece of Report of the Observations of the Total Solar Eclipse July 29, 1878, Made at Fort Worth, Texas, edited by Leonard Waldo, published by Press of John Wilson and Son: Cambridge, MA, 1879. Call no. 523.78 W147r OVER-T, TSLAC Main. [Click on image for larger version.]

Leonard B. Waldo of Harvard College (now University) Observatory coordinated the “Fort Worth Eclipse Party” and invited astronomers R. W. Willson, J. K. Rees, W. H. Pulsifer, and F. E. Seagrave to particpate. Waldo then published in 1879, Report of the Observations of the Total Solar Eclipse July 29, 1878, Made at Fort Worth, Texas. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has in its holdings an original copy of the text, which includes a photograph of the five astronomers and their equipment in a plate at the front of the book.(According to the article, History Was Made in the Shade When “Scientists Scooped Old Sol in Pantherville,” also featured in the photo were Dallas photographer Alfred Freeman and vice president of City National Bank, Alfred M. Britton.) The Report contains detailed explanations of their aims in the introduction and reports from each astronomer as individual chapters. The publication concludes with a summary of observations from others who experienced the event and four more plates with images from the eclipse.

photo of large book open to a page with a drawing of an eclipse that appears as a black circle surrounded by white etched in a circle around it all centered in a black square.
“Plate III, Naked-eye view of the corona. Drawn by Professor S. H. Lockett,” Report of the Observations of the Total Solar Eclipse July 29, 1878, Made at Fort Worth, Texas, edited by Leonard Waldo, published by Press of John Wilson and Son: Cambridge, MA, 1879. Call no. 523.78 W147r OVER-T, TSLAC Main. [Click image for larger version.]
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Research Your Hispanic Heritage at TSLAC

Alec Head, Reference Librarian and Rachel Union, Library Assistant

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) joins the country in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15. In honor of this event and its relevance to Texas history, TSLAC is highlighting resources in our collection that can aid researchers studying their own Hispanic heritage and genealogy. TSLAC has numerous publications and government records to assist family historians. We invite the public to visit us during the week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to start your journey or come in when we open for our monthly Second Saturday hours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Second Saturday in October happens October 14, 2023.

TSLAC’s collections contain a variety of materials that could be helpful to researchers studying their Hispanic heritage. This post highlights genealogy publications along with examples of government records on microfilm. The books listed below are currently on display in TSLAC’s Reference Reading Room. Other items in our collections can be found by searching the library catalog. Information on our location and hours can be found on our “Visit Us” webpage.

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