What’s New (and Revised) at the Texas State Archives?

By Rebecca Romanchuk, Archivist

The Zavala Building as seen from San Jacinto Street. Now easily accessible by scooter.

If you drive, cycle, scooter, ride the bus, or walk past the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building often enough, you might have noticed that this large, pink granite edifice stays the same size year after year, nestled in its spot next door to the Capitol. Next time you go by, think again. The Texas State Archives located within constantly grows and evolves, and the archivists at the State Archives continually receive historically valuable materials—primarily records from state agencies. We already provide online descriptions about our state and local records and our manuscript and photograph collections: Check out the finding aids we contribute to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) and view or download digitized and born-digital materials on our own Texas Digital Archive (TDA). But what if you want to know what’s been recently inventoried and described at the State Archives?

The answer: Go to Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised) to browse a list of all archival materials we’ve created a new finding aid for or that have been updated in the last 90 days. This list is pulled from our online public access catalog, and each item has a can’t-miss-it red link that goes directly to the TARO finding aid. The blue title link takes you to the full item information and catalog record, both of which also feature the TARO finding aid link. And if any of the materials are available in the Texas Digital Archive, a link for that will be there, as it is in the TARO finding aid (we do our best to make sure you really can’t miss these links!). We also maintain a list of anything new and updated in the TDA, if your focus is on the digital world.

Say you already knew that the State Archives has Texas Supreme Court records from the earliest days of the court in the 1840s through the 20th century. That’s true, but we’ve recently revised our description of these records to include cases through 2004. And you might be excited to learn that we’ve begun digitizing the earliest cases, which are becoming available here on the Texas Digital Archive, along with Supreme Court indexes and registers. The image below is an example of an early court document now available online and is the first Texas Supreme Court case that concerns a murder.

So keep checking back to keep up with the latest additions to the Texas State Archives!

M is for Murder: The first Texas Supreme Court M case file that concerns a murder is a charge made against a man named Pleasant I. Slaughter in 1848. M-275, M case files, Case files, Texas Supreme Court records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. (Click the image for zoom features offered in the TDA.)

Electronic Records Day and the TDA

Archival repositories must preserve electronic records along with materials in physical formats. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission established the Texas Digital Archive (TDA) to handle the enormous amount of electronic files contained in the papers of the former governor of Texas, Rick Perry. The TDA manages, preserves, and facilitates access to an increasing number of “born digital” electronic records accessioned with the archival collections transferred by state agencies.

The TDA also provides an access point to items that have been converted to electronic form through digitization. Researchers will find photographs, film, and recordings from state agencies and the Texas government available online. Some wonderful examples of this reformatting are the The Texas State Department of Public Highways and Public Transportation (now the Texas Department of Transportation) films their tourism division created to promote the use of roads and highways. The TDA also includes materials from historical collections like the Mabel H. Brooks photographs digitized from scrapbooks.

Capitol in the snow, about 1920. 1932/005-1, Mabel H. Brooks photograph collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Learn more about the TSLAC materials in the TDA and how to search for records by taking on this scavenger hunt on “Texas Governors and the Capitol” we created for the occasion. Happy Electronic Records Day!

The Texas State Library and Archives division for State and Local Records Management (SLRM) has compiled a list of Electronic Records Day activities, events, and sites on their blog, The Texas Record.

Celebrate Texas Archives Month!

We are celebrating Texas Archives Month throughout the month of October along with repositories around the state. Visit our webpage for news of awards, events, exhibits and proclamations happening in Texas. The page features the virtual Texas Archives Month poster, which allows visitors to click through to the home repositories housing the digital images. Part of the celebration is recognizing the efforts to preserve and make accessible the cultures and cultural traditions of Texas. Out of the Stacks blog posts in October will highlight archival activities and collections. Be sure to follow @TSLAC on social media for the most current happenings!

https://www.facebook.com/tslac

https://www.twitter.com/tslac

https://www.instagram.com/tslac

 

Archivists Recover Stolen Documents

Archivists at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) recently recovered legal documents stolen years ago. The Archives and Information Services Division of TSLAC maintains a webpage detailing the types of documents known to be missing from the State Archives, and a Houston lawyer contacted Assistant Director Laura Saegert to notify her of the six-page item for sale through an online bookdealer. Archivist Tiffany Criswell was tasked with investigating the online images and comparing the descriptive information to in-house databases listing Texas Supreme Court files. The red “M number” stamp was the key detail in identifying the papers as state property.

The documents are from the 1845 state Supreme Court case, James M. Johnston v. James Perkins.

State Archivist Jelain Chubb notified the bookdealer of the status of his merchandise, citing Texas Government Code §441.192 that allows TSLAC to demand the return of items removed from state agencies in an unlawful manner. (More information about the sale of government records is available here.) The bookdealer was very cooperative and quickly returned the documents to the archive. After receiving the package, Tiffany began the process of restoring the papers to their rightful place in the repository.

Archivist Tiffany Criswell opens the package containing recovered legal documents from a bookdealer.

Archivist Tiffany Criswell with a recovered legal document. She will prepare the papers for storage in the repository.

Legal documents from nineteenth century court cases are typically folded, sealed, and tied with ribbon. In order to flatten the documents without damaging the paper, Tiffany will humidify them in a crate placed over a pail of water. After humidification, she will carefully smooth out the pages and place them in a press for about a month.

Typical court case document packet from the 1800s.

This simple humidification chamber will loosen the folds in the paper and allow the archivist from to flatten the pages for storage in archival boxes.

Hundreds of documents have been returned to the State Archives through this recovery process, legally referred to as replevin. If you discover documents that may belong to TSLAC, visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/missingintro.html to learn more. We are always eager to locate missing items and restore, preserve, and make them freely available to the public in fulfillment of our role as custodians of government records.

TSLAC Fellowship Recipient Researches the Experiences of Black Soldiers in Texas in the Late 1800’s

TSLAC Research Fellow Edward Valentin Jr. sits at a table in the State Archives reading room. Valentin is opening hand-written documents.

TSLAC Research Fellow Edward Valentin Jr. conducts research in the State Archives reading room.

Texas State Library and Archives Research Fellow, Edward Valentin Jr. visited the State Archives to conduct research on his dissertation topic, “Black Regiments on America’s Imperial Frontier: Race, Citizenship, and Military Occupation.” Supported by the Friends of Libraries & Archives of Texas, the Texas State Historical Association administers the fellowship with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) for the best proposals incorporating research at the State Archives.  Valentin’s project explores the experience of black soldiers in Texas during the late 19th century, including their relationship with Texans.

Reference Archivist Richard Gilreath (left), Senior Reference Archivist Tonia Wood (center) and TSLAC Research Fellow Edward Valentin Jr. (right) in the State Archives Reading Room.

Reference Archivist Richard Gilreath (left), Senior Reference Archivist Tonia Wood (center) and TSLAC Research Fellow Edward Valentin Jr. (right) in the State Archives Reading Room.

Currently a doctoral candidate at Rice University, Valentin has been awarded their Fondren Fellowship, History Graduate Fellowship, and a Southern Historical Association Fellowship with the Journal of Southern History. The TSLAC award provides funds to travel to Austin and conduct research at the State Archives. Valentin is investigating papers from the late 1800’s, including the records of the adjutant general, the papers of governors Richard Coke and Edmund J. Davis, and military records from Fort Stockton, Texas.

Reference Archivist Richard Gilreath and Senior Reference Archivist Tonia Wood assist TSLAC research fellow Edward Valentin Jr.

Reference Archivist Richard Gilreath and Senior Reference Archivist Tonia Wood assist TSLAC research fellow Edward Valentin Jr.

We look forward to reading the compelling scholarship Edward Valentin will no doubt produce from his research at the State Archives. The Texas State Historical Association is currently accepting proposals for the 2019 TSLAC fellowship award. Follow the link for more information: https://tshaonline.org/awards-and-fellowships/2422.

 

Featured Collection: Secret Societies in Texas

By Taylor Fox, Reference Librarian

Our newest featured collection is now on display in the Reference Reading Room. Secret Societies in Texas features publications from our Main and Texas Documents collections on the history of these organizations in Texas and the south. From Freemasons to the Woodmen to the Oddfellows, and more, we hope you find this collection intriguing.

Our mascot, Lorenzo the Gargoyle, has also gotten into the spirit and will be dressed up for the duration of the display:

Call No. Title Author Collection
366 D297h History of the Improved Order of Red Men and Degree of Pocahontas, 1765-1988 Davis, Robert E. MAIN
366.1 C245 1958 Masonry in Texas : background, history, and influence to 1846 Carter, James David MAIN
366.1 C245e 1846-61 Education and Masonry in Texas, 1846 to 1861 Carter, James David MAIN
366.1 C245h History of the Supreme Council, 33° : mother council of the world, ancient and accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S.A., 1861-1891 Harris, Ray Baker MAIN
366.1 H55h History of Austin Lodge Number 12, Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons Hill, C. L. MAIN
366.1 M199 1946 V.1-3 Encyclopedia of freemasonry Mackey, Albert Gallatin MAIN
366.1 W119m Masonic dictionary, Republic of Texas : [with identifying record of those master Masons who participated in the Texas revolution or rendered worthwhile service towards the success of the Republic of Texas Wade, Houston MAIN
366.1 Z85s A short history Grand Commandery Knights Templar of Texas Zumwalt, J. Lee MAIN
366.3 W154o Odd fellowship in America and in Texas Walker, William Henry MAIN
366.3 W832a Album of Odd Fellows homes Wolfe, Joseph M. MAIN
366.4 L586 1941 Rosicrucian questions and answers : with complete history of the Rosicrucian Order Lewis, H. Spencer MAIN
366.973 W553 Handbook of secret organizations Whalen, William Joseph MAIN
366.9764 C245 The first century of Scottish Rite masonry in Texas, 1867-1967 Scottish Rite (Masonic order) MAIN
368 L329W The Woodmen story : our first 100 years

 

Larson, Leland A. MAIN

 

370.9764 C245 Education and Masonry in Texas to 1846 Carter, James David MAIN
973.7 K675D Dark lanterns : secret political societies, conspiracies, and treason trials in the Civil War Klement, Frank L. MAIN
973.713 K243kn Knights of the Golden Circle : secret empire, southern secession, Civil War Keehn, David C. MAIN
Z UA380.8 AD32as c.2 As above, so below : art of the American fraternal society, 1850/1930 Adele, Lynne TXD

 

Registration Open! Participate in a Free Workshop: Introduction to Grant Proposals

UTEP Libary image

“Introduction to Grant Proposals” will take place at the U.T.E.P. Library in El Paso on August 21, 2018.

The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) presents the second of two free workshops this summer for Texas archives professionals. Registration is open for “Introduction to Grant Proposals,” which takes place on August 21, 2018 at the U.T.E.P. Library in El Paso. This course surveys the types of state, federal, and private foundation grants available and provides information about researching and writing grant proposals. Topics include types of grants, types of funders, elements of a grant proposal, the grant review process, managing your grant project, reporting requirements, and funding resources. To learn more and register, visit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/workshops.

THRAB workshops are presented in conjunction with the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and supported by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

TSLAC Conservation Blog Moves to New Home

By Sarah Norris, Conservator

TSLAC Conservation is moving to a new digital home!  Please reset your bookmarks to https://www.tsl.texas.gov/conservation/  . E-mail subscriptions will continue as always, with no updates needed.  Come visit us at our new address for upcoming posts on a POW Journal; fragile, tracing-paper maps from Texas Supreme Court case files; our upcoming exhibit, “Setting the Texas Table”; and more.  See you soon!

Conservator Sarah Norris applies heat-set tissue with a tacking iron to a manuscript with iron gall ink.

Margaret Lea Houston’s Summer Spread

Summer spread, by Margaret Lea Houston, ca. mid-19th century [Cotton textile, 98 x 80 1/4. 1983.125.0007, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, TSLAC].

Margaret Lea Houston, the wife of famed Texas politician and war hero Sam Houston, is thought to have sewn this lightweight “summer spread” decorated with imagery from the   Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Similar to a quilt but without the batting, the spread consists of 45 hexagonal blocks and measures 80 1/4 x 98 inches long. Art historian Lynne Adele analyzed the imagery and determined that, since some of the symbols were removed from the Fraternal Order in 1880, the spread was made before that year.

Imagery included on the spread are a lamb, symbolizing innocence; three links of chain, indicating friendship, love, and truth; and the sun, representing God and the soul. The heart on the palm of the hand symbolizes sincerity and the cornucopia, abundance.

Close-up of  imagery used on the summer spread. Here we see the lamb, the chain links of truth, love, and friendship, and a bow and quiver. Edges of the hexagonal blocks are visible.

The interest in the Odd Fellows symbolism is unclear, as Sam Houston was a member of another fraternal organization, the Freemasons. The provenance of the spread has been attributed to Margaret through family history and now belongs to TSLAC’s Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center in Liberty, TX. Visitors to the Center may view the spread on display as part of a new museum exhibit through December 2018.

For more information on fraternal symbols in art, see the book As Above, So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society 1850/1930 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015) by Lynn Adele.

Registration Open! Workshop: Introduction to Grant Proposals

Learn how to fund your next project by participating in a free workshop on writing grant proposals. “Introduction to Grant Proposals” surveys the types of state, federal, and private foundation grants available and provides information about researching and writing grant proposals. Topics include types of grants, types of funding, elements of a grant proposal, the grant review process, managing your grant project, reporting requirements, and funding resources.

Dates/Locations:

7/24/2018  Stephen F. Austin University, Nacogdoches, Texas.
8/21/2018  University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, Texas.

Learn more and register here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/workshops

Supported by the National Archives’ National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB) presents professional development workshops free of charge for archivists, librarians, and other staff members in Texas archival repositories in fulfillment of its initiative to support education and training for professionals.