Come Out to the Sam Houston Center for a Look at the Stars

Mark your calendars for Friday, June 14, when the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center invites you to stargaze with an expert at the Center’s Amateur Astronomy Night. Village Creek State Park Interpreter Alex Stamatis will lead visitors on a tour of the night sky from 8:30 until approximately 10:00 p.m. Learn to locate constellations and view some of the season’s most fascinating celestial objects using telescopes, binoculars and the naked eye.  

With assistance from Trinity National Wildlife Refuge Biologist Laurie Gonzales and the Refuge’s interns, Stamatis will also explain the impact of light pollution on observation and the environment. Visitors are encouraged to bring along flashlights, especially red-light flashlights, and join the fun on the Center’s grounds at 650 FM 1011, Liberty, Texas. (In the case of inclement weather or poor viewing conditions, the event will be moved to Friday, June 21.)

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. 

For questions about events, collections, and services at the Sam Houston Center call (936) 336-8821 or send an email to: Visit their website at:

Featured Titles on Display: What’s Cooking, Texas? Texas Cuisine Through the Ages

Aly Head, Reference Librarian

Photo of books on display on a 3-shelf bookcase. Books about Texas and Texas cuisine are on top of the case and on the shelves sitting on easels facing out.
Display featuring titles related to Texas cooking and cuisine on view through July 2o24. Reference Reading Room, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Food is the great unifier, a staple of every major occasion from celebration of life to mourning of loss. It reflects culture, socioeconomic status, and history. As such, by looking at the food of a people, researchers may learn more about them. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is therefore celebrating Texas food in all its forms with a new featured book display.

Photo of a a chili tasting at a chili festival. Two woman are at a table under a sign reading Curtis Stewart, San Marcos, Tex. A man at the booth holds a bowl in one hand.
[Chile Festival], undated. Texas Tourist Development Agency photographs and audiovisual materials, 1991/077-703-10. TSLAC.

TSLAC has a variety of artifacts related to dining throughout Texas history. Many of these artifacts were included as part of our exhibit, “Setting the Texas Table.” Want another taste? Check out our blog post, “Setting the Texas Table: ‘Dishing’ on the Artifacts Collection at the Texas State Archives,” which explores some of the dishes intertwined with Texas history at the Governor’s Mansion in detail.

Sepia-toned drawing of people and horse-drawn carriages and wagons fill an open town square surrounded by 19th or early 20th century buildings. There are tables set up with food being served. The drawing is called Military Plaza Chile Con Carne or Mexican Supper.
Drawing, “Military Plaza-Chili-Con-Carne or Mexican Supper,” undated. Places Collection, 1/103-628. Prints and Photographs. TSLAC.

Whether you believe beans belong in chili or not—a debate for the ages—TSLAC has materials relevant for a variety of diets, historic and modern. Food can be viewed through the lens of genealogy to build a timeline into the past, affected by availability of certain foods and spices through trade, exploration, climate, and times of economic hardship or prosperity.

photo of buffet-style food on display with chickens and other dishes set up at the chili festival.
[Chili Festival], undated. Texas Tourist Development Agency photographs and audiovisual materials, 1991/077-703-1. TSLAC.

While food isn’t allowed in the Reference Reading Room, the collections at TSLAC hold a wide variety of materials highlighting Texas cuisine, both historical and modern. Some of these materials are currently on display in the Reference Reading Room through July. Other items, listed below, are available remotely via E-Books. More information about our location and hours can be found on our “Visit Us” webpage. For more information about access to the titles on display, please contact TSLAC reference services at or call 512-463-5455.

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Disaster Declared in Seven Texas Counties: FEMA Assistance Available

Dear Texas Colleagues, 

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


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

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

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

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

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

For additional questions on FEMA assistance, please contact Please email

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


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

Nominations Open for THRAB Archival Awards 2024

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

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

The Archival Award of Excellence honors archival institutions and individuals in Texas who have made significant achievements in preserving and improving access to historical records in any format. The Advocacy for Archives Award acknowledges an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to ensure the preservation and availability of Texas’s historical record. The David B. Gracy II Distinguished Archival Service Award recognizes an individual, archival institution, education program or nonprofit/government organization that has provided outstanding leadership, service or contribution to the archival profession in Texas.

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

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

TSLAC Announces 2024 Research Fellowships in Texas History

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

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

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

New Online: Recent Updates to Finding Aids and Digital Images

As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe, and make available to the public the materials under our care, we spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online, along with fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items. For a comprehensive list of all recently added and updated finding aids visit Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised).

New Finding Aids

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

State Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact our reference staff with inquiries about our resources at or 512-463-5455. Visit for online access and information.

Last Week for TSLAC Research Fellowship Applications

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

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

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

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

Visit to apply by March 31.

Works Cited: Oscars Edition

Caroline Jones, Reference Archivist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Texas Tragedies That Inspired Innovation

Stephanie Brown, Reference Archivist

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

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

The Great Storm of 1900

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

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

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