Archival Animals

By Caroline Jones, Reference Archivist

Enjoy watching cat videos? Follow any cute pugs on Instagram? It feels like every day we see friends posting selfies with their pets or videos of their pets, and even creating social media accounts for their pets. It is clear we love our animal friends, and based on some finds in our archival collections, it appears that we have always loved them. Here are a few highlights from our collections that are cute, funny, and simply adorable images of some pets in the archives:

Before they ruled the internet, cats stole our hearts in these family albums:

Robert Jasper Hunnicutt, Elizabeth H. Stroud (center), and sitting on a porch holding kittens

Robert Jasper Hunnicutt, Elizabeth H. Stroud (center), and sitting on a porch holding kittens. Citation: 1968/029-75, J.R. Hunnicutt collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Doris Ruth Hunnicutt, crouching holding a cat. Citation: 1968/029-340, J.R. Hunnicutt collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Mary Lowry with cat, Black Bess

Mary Lowry with cat, Black Bess. Citation: 1946/1-38, Reynolds Lowry – Thomas F. McKinney Collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Man seated on porch in rocking chair with cat.

Man seated on porch in rocking chair with cat. Citation: 1995.112-60, Clyde and Thelma See glass plate negatives collection. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.]

Man’s best friend has always been like a member of the family:

Unidentified young child with bulldog

Unidentified young child with bulldog. Citation: 73.2222.122, Samuel Bell Maxey photograph collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Woman posing with dog

Woman posing with dog. Citation: 1964/306-1675, Photographs, Graham (R. Niles) collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Dog sleeping on porch

Dog sleeping on porch. Citation: 1964/306-1676, Photographs, Graham (R. Niles) collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

A couple of children with a couple of dogs

A couple of children with a couple of dogs. Citation: 1976/031-10, William Deming Hornaday photograph collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

A little girl and a dog

A little girl and a dog. Citation: 1976/031-16, William Deming Hornaday photograph collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Child with dog

Child with dog. Citation: 2011/348-20.95, Miscellaneous photographs, Photographs, Richard Bachman collection. Archives and Information Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

3 puppies in front of the J.T. Young Home

Three puppies in front of the J.T. Young Home. Citation: 1970/101-156, Fannie Ratchford photograph collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Couple with small dog

Couple with small dog. Citation: 2001078_005_70_080_023ac, Fields, Farms, and Landscapes, Texas Department of Agriculture photograph collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Even these unlikely animal friends have gotten into the spirit:

Governor O'Daniel and Cuero turkey

Governor O’Daniel and Cuero turkey. Citation: 1976/008-593, Photographic and film media, Texas Department of Public Safety records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Cowboy with parrot

Cowboy with parrot. Citation: 1991077_704_084ac, Attractions, Activities, and Events, Audiovisual material, Texas Tourist Development Agency. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Couple with peacock outside Mission San Jose

Couple with peacock outside Mission San Jose. Citation: 1991077_105_041ac, Forts, Parks, and Historic Sites, Audiovisual material, Texas Tourist Development Agency. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Our photograph collections include original photographs, born digital images, and digitized versions of original photographs. Many of the images included in this post are digitized and accessible through the Texas Digital Archives, the Texas State Archives Flickr, and our online exhibits page. For more information on accessing images currently unavailable through the web, please contact the Reference Desk by phone or email at 512-463-5455 or ref@tsl.texas.gov.

As a bonus, here are some more recent images of a familiar face with some unusual guests at the Texas Capitol!

Governor Perry with penguin

Governor Perry with penguin. Citation: Penguin2, Photographs, Texas Governor Rick Perry Press Office media files. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.]

Governor Perry with snake

Governor Perry with snake. Citation: Snake, Photographs, Texas Governor Rick Perry Press Office media files. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

In Remembrance – Tony Black

By Jessica Tucker, Archivist

On September 21, 2017, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) lost of one of its greatest treasuresTony Black, longtime archivist, coworker, and friend, following a brief illness. Tony faithfully served the state of Texas for over 35 years. Beginning in 1981 as a typist and receptionist in the Library Development Division, Tony eventually became an appraisal and processing archivist at TSLAC, dividing his time between assessing the historical value of state agency records (such those of the Texas Adjutant General, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the Secretary of State) and arranging and describing a wide variety of archival records ranging from the Howard Hughes estate litigation papers to the gubernatorial records of Governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry. In addition to Tony’s extensive work with the records of the Adjutant General, the Comptroller of Public Accounts, and the Department of Human Services, there are finding aids written by Tony on Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) for the records of over 30 other state agencies. (These finding aids are available online at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/browse/browse_tslac1.html.)

Tony Black with an unidentified group of students touring the State Archives, 2017, Archives and Information Services Division records.

Tony Black with an unidentified group of students touring the State Archives, 2017, Archives and Information Services Division records.

Tony was always a bright spot in the halls of TSLAC, known for his good nature and humor. When named Employee of the Quarter in 2012, one coworker described him as “…one of the nicest, most helpful individuals I have ever met… He is not the type of person to ever make you feel that your question is silly, or not important, or that you are bothering him with it. This consideration and warm approachability extends to everyone in the agency, including members of other divisions and patrons.” Others commented on “the amazing depth and breadth of his knowledge of [TSLAC’s] records.” Another colleague remarked that the only time she had ever seen Tony angry was when he was accidentally locked in the stack for a few hours on a Friday afternoon over a decade ago. Tony frequently recounted this cautionary tale to new employees with a laugh, throwing up his hands in his characteristic gesture of amused bafflement.

Tony Black with other State Archives staff members during a disaster recovery exercise, 2006, Archives and Information Services Division records.

Tony Black with other State Archives staff members during a disaster recovery exercise, 2006, Archives and Information Services Division records.

Born in Roswell, New Mexico, and raised in El Paso, Texas, Tony’s passion for history began early. Tony received a B.A. in history from the University of Texas at El Paso in 1968, and followed by an M.A. in medieval history from the University of Texas at Austin in 1970. After a year in Spain, researching the socio-economic structure of Vic (a Catalan city) during the 1390s, Tony returned to El Paso to teach United States history, where he met and married his wife, Carole. Tony never lost his love of teaching. After the couple returned to Austin, Tony began teaching U.S. History at Austin Community College, which he continued to do while employed full time at TSLAC. Tony began work at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in the Library Development Division in 1981. He then worked briefly in the Secretary of State’s office, administering one of the ethics laws for the Campaign and Ethics section of the Elections Division, followed by a job editing the Texas Administrative Code for the Texas Register Division, but he returned to TSLAC in 1984.

Tony was devoted to his wife Carole, sister Pam, and his much-discussed dogs. He was also known for lovely cello playing during the annual TSLAC holiday fundraiser.

Justifiably proud of his work at TSLAC, Tony once exclaimed to a researcher, “I have the perfect job!” His legacy is clear in his many processing and appraisal projects, the archivists he mentored, and the researchers he helped.

 

 

Angelina Fires Her Cannon: The Archives War of 1842-1843

By Anna Reznik, Archivist

In the early hours of December 30, 1842, a group of men lead by Colonel Thomas I. Smith and Captain Eli Chandler began loading Republic of Texas’ government archives into wagons. Smith and Chandler had instructions from President Sam Houston to move the records for safekeeping.

In Houston’s eyes, the advancing Mexican army made Austin unsafe. Earlier in 1842, Houston instructed the government to move to a safer location. Government officials began operating from Washington-on-the-Brazos; however, the archives remained in Austin. In December 1842, the president ordered men to move the archives.

Citation: File No. 1713, “To Arm! To Arms! Texians!!” broadside warning citizens of Austin of the approaching Mexican Army, March 5, 1842, Texas General Land Office incoming correspondence, 2015/087-7.

Citation: File No. 1713, “To Arm! To Arms! Texians!!” broadside warning citizens of Austin of the approaching Mexican Army, March 5, 1842, Texas General Land Office incoming correspondence, 2015/087-7. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

In the eyes of Austin citizens, Houston’s orders were an excuse to move the capital away from a city the president disliked. Many felt that Houston’s peace negotiations with Native American peoples made Austin safer than it had been previously.

Citation: A Texas scrap-book: made up of the history, biography, and miscellany of Texas and its people by Baker, D. W. C., 976.4 B17s 1875.

Citation: A Texas scrap-book: made up of the history, biography, and miscellany of Texas and its people by Baker, D. W. C., 976.4 B17s 1875. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Under the cover of darkness, Smith, Chandler, and twenty men loaded three wagons before widow Angelina Eberly realized the implications of the archives leaving Austin. To alert other Austinites, Eberly fired a cannon outside her boarding house. Her shot missed the men but hit the General Land Office building. Smith, Chandler, and clerks from the General Land Office fled with three wagons. The vigilantes followed with the cannon. Shortly after, near Brushy Creek, the vigilantes forced Smith and Chandler to surrender. The archives returned to Austin.

This letter, sent to the citizens of Bastrop after the Archives War, states that in the haste of securing the wagons containing the removed records, some archival materials may now be missing. The citizens of Bastrop are urged to search any passing wagons for stolen and missing records.] [Citation: File No. 1757, Letter to the citizens of Bastrop to search wagons, April 12, 1843, Texas General Land Office incoming correspondence, 2015/180-7.

This letter, sent to the citizens of Bastrop after the Archives War, states that in the haste of securing the wagons containing the removed records, some archival materials may now be missing. The citizens of Bastrop are urged to search any passing wagons for stolen and missing records. Citation: File No. 1757, Letter to the citizens of Bastrop to search wagons, April 12, 1843, Texas General Land Office incoming correspondence, 2015/180-7. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Both houses of the legislature investigated the matter.  The House Select Committee stated that Houston requested that the Congress order the archives be removed from Austin, but Congress had refused. The committee also found that Houston had acted beyond his powers in moving the capital to Washington-on-the-Brazos. The full House rejected the committee’s report by a vote of 19 to 18.

Message of his excellency, the president in relation to the removal of the archives to the House of Representatives, January 4, 1843, Andrew Jackson Houston collection, 2-22/184.

Message of his excellency, the president, in relation to the removal of the archives to the House of Representatives, January 4, 1843, Andrew Jackson Houston collection, 2-22/184. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

On January 13, 1843, the Senate Committee on Public Lands recommended that the government should move back to Austin to save taxpayer money. Despite strong words from the legislature, the Republic government continued operating in Washington-on-the-Brazos for two more years.

Without the government, many Austin businesses closed, and the city almost became a ghost town. But the records created before the 1843 remained in Austin. In 1845, Austin once again became the capital, and the government records were united. Five years later, in 1850, Austin became the permanent capital of Texas.

In the 175 years since Angelina fired her cannon, the Archives War has become symbolic of the importance of government records. Archives allow citizens to monitor government operations, understand actions of all three branches of state government, and assist in determining property rights.

The Archives War is reflected in the following materials at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission:

The Andrew Jackson Houston collection contains correspondence to and from Sam Houston throughout his life. Of special interest is an order to remove the archives from Austin and a draft of Houston’s response to Congress’ investigations of the Archives War.

The materials at the center of the Archives War were the Republic’s land records. Though many of Texas’ land records are preserved and maintained at the Texas General Land Office, TSLAC holds the General Land Office’s incoming correspondence from the 19th century. Included in these records are a warning about the Mexican Army in San Antonio, efforts to recover “lost” records, and the government struggling to operate in Washington-on-the-Brazos while the archives remained in Austin.

Our publications collections include books and articles about the Archives War as well as Angelina Eberly and others who played central roles in the Archives War.

Additional publications can be found by searching the library catalog.

Title Author Call number Collection
The Archive War of Texas Jewett, Henry J. 976.404 AR25w Main (non-circulating)
The Archive War in Texas Yager, Hope 976.404 Y103a OVER-T Main (non-circulating)
The Houston Story; A Chronicle of the City of Houston and the Texas Frontier from the Battle of San Jacinto to the War Between the States, 1836-1865 Bartholomew, Ed Ellsworth 976.414 B283 Main (circulating)
A Texas scrap-book: made up of the history, biography, and miscellany of Texas and its people Baker, D. W. C. 976.4 B17s 1875 Main (non-circulating; available online from the Internet Archive)
The Lady Cannoneer: A Biography of Angelina Belle Peyton Eberly, Heroine of the Texas Archives War King, C. Richard 976.404 K58L Main (circulating)
Sam Houston: A Biography of the Father of Texas Williams, John Hoyt 923.273 H818WILJ Main (noncirculating)
Peg Leg: The Improbable Life of a Texas Hero, Thomas William Ward, 1807-1872 Humphrey, David C. 327.73 H884p Main (non-circulating)
Journals of the Senate of the Republic of Texas, 7th Congress Texas. Congress. Senate. L1793.6 J826 7TH Texas Documents (non-circulating; available online from the Legislative Reference Library)
Journals of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas, 7th Congress Texas. Congress. House of Representatives. L1791.6 J826 7TH-9TH Texas Documents (non-circulating; available online from the Legislative Reference Library)
Secret journals of the Senate, Republic of Texas, 1836-1845 Texas. Congress. Senate. L1793.6 J826sj 1836-45 Texas Documents (non-circulating; available online from the Legislative Reference Library)
Southwestern Historical Quarterly. (Indexes) Texas State Historical Association 976.406 SO8 INDEX V. 1-107 Reference Reading Room (non-circulating)

For more about the Archives War and its importance to Texas history, check out our website at https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/republic/archwar/archwar.html.

 

 

 

 

Meet the Staff – Taylor Fox

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Photograph of Taylor Fox

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

I’m a Reference Librarian, and I answer questions from people researching or just plain curious about Texas history, government, and culture! I’m the lead for our Genealogy and Main collections, which involves identifying very old books that need maintenance and very new books to collect and make available to researchers.

Why did you choose your profession?

I was a student worker at my university’s library because I heard it was a fun place to work, and figured if I wanted to fully immerse myself in academia, I better understand how to use the library. I started in technical services, then moved to circulation, then to interlibrary loan, where I really found the heart of what libraries are all about: making information available to the public without discrimination or judgment. It’s a wonderful sentiment that speaks strongly to me, and so I pursue it!

What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection?

This changes over time as I’m exposed to more and more of what TSLAC has to offer, but currently my favorite publication in our collection is a periodical called The Woman’s Viewpoint. This was a female-led periodical published in Houston between 1923 and 1926 which sought to provide a space and vehicle for Texas women to share their opinions “fully, frankly, and fearlessly.” The magazine offered articles on a variety of topics which the editor considered of interest to women: government, politics, and women’s right to vote; environmental concerns; the importance of maintaining good health and recreation; and fashion, movies, music, and other cultural affairs.

Image of The Woman’s Viewpoint, Vol. 1 No. 1 Sterling, Florence M. The Woman’s viewpoint magazine. Houston: Woman's Viewpoint Publishing Co., 1923.

Image of The Woman’s Viewpoint, Vol. 1 No. 1
Sterling, Florence M. The Woman’s viewpoint magazine. Houston: Woman’s Viewpoint Publishing Co., 1923.

One of the reasons I enjoy this periodical so much is because it’s very easy for me to think of Texas in the 1920s the way my family has described it: lots of cows, farms, and not much to do. This magazine transports me to a grander view of Texas: one of daring, educated, urban women dedicated to building strong homes and communities, with the understanding that their voices were critical to the shaping of our state and country.

When you’re not busy what do you like to do for fun?

I play guitar in a prog-rock band called Dream Eater, and enjoy writing, rehearsing, and playing shows around town; come see us! I also practice yoga regularly and occasionally try to lift weights with my husband, a guaranteed good time. My kind of fun involves eating breakfast tacos, drinking coffee, reading, jamming, and hanging out with my crazy cow-dog, Dingo.

Removing Barriers for All: Disability History at the State Archives

By Rebecca Romanchuk, Archivist

December 3 was International Day of Persons with Disabilities, as proclaimed by the United Nations. Observed since 1992, this day “aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.” The theme of this day for 2017 is “Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all.”

The State Archives recently uncovered a piece of disability history from 1970 in its holdings among open reel audiotape recordings created by the state legislature. The tapes are of three public hearings held by the Texas Legislative Council Study Committee on Programs for the Handicapped, which conducted a comprehensive study of services and rehabilitative programs for Texans with disabilities, with a focus on vocational needs. These recordings are just a small portion of the archival records we hold that document state agencies and programs that have served those with disabilities since the early 20th century.

Senator Criss Cole shaking hands with a guest using a walker at his Governor for a Day ceremony, January 10, 1970

Senator Criss Cole shaking hands with a guest at his Governor for a Day ceremony, January 10, 1970, 1970/151-36. Current Events Photographic Documentation Program collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The story of these recordings was featured earlier this year in the Disability Archives/History Consortium newsletter in two parts (part 1 and part 2) and they are available for listening in TSLAC’s Texas Digital Archive, with a companion finding aid on Texas Archival Resources Online. Among the experts testifying was Dr. William Spencer, founder of the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR), Texas Medical Center, and a nationally recognized pioneer in rehabilitation, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Rehabilitation.” Senator Barbara Jordan served as the committee’s citizens advisory commission chair and Senator Criss Cole, blinded during World War II, served as a director of the study committee.

The topics discussed are those that continue to be of concern for persons with disabilities today, including structural barriers in and around buildings, educating the public about disabilities, vocational training and opportunities, rehabilitation programs, hospital services, and health care insurance coverage.

In the words of the UN Secretary-General’s message, “On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us remove physical and cultural barriers, build resilient societies, and create opportunities that truly leave no one behind.”

 

Announcing the 2018 TSLAC Research Fellowship in Texas History

TSLAC logo

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission Research Fellowship in Texas History is awarded for the best research proposal utilizing collections of the State Archives in Austin. The fellowship includes a $2,000 stipend.

The application, which should be no longer than two pages, must specify the purpose of the research, collections of interest, need for the money, and a description of the end product (article, book, or exhibition, etc.) that will result from the research. TSLAC may ask the Fellowship Awardee to make a presentation of the results of their research at a TSLAC event. Please include a complete vita with the application. The award will be announced at the Texas State Historical Association’s annual meeting in March 2018. Judges may withhold the award at their discretion.

Individuals should submit an entry form, four (4) copies of a vita in addition to four (4) copies of the proposal to the TSHA Office by December 28, 2017. The entry form can be found here.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Research Fellowship in Texas History Committee
Texas State Historical Association
3001 Lake Austin Blvd., Ste. 3.116
Austin, TX 78703

Friends of Libraries & Archives of Texas logoTSHA logoThe TSLAC Research Fellowship in Texas History is made possible by the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas through a generous donation from the Edouard Foundation.

 

October is Archives Month!

2017 Texas Archives Month poster, featuring the headline "Texas and the Great War: 'Over There' and Online," and four images from World War One: Signal Corps Photo 157305, a black and white photograph of General Pershing decorating men of the 36th Division with D.S.C., Melissey Younne, France, Texas Digital Archive; a Boy Scouts of America annual report from 1918 with a colorful cover showing Lady Liberty carrying a shield alongside a Boy Scout with a sword, Boy Scouts of America, Scouting, Volume 6, April 15, 1918, periodical, New York, New York, Boy Scouts of American National Scouting Museum, from the Portal to Texas History; a black and white photograph of Texas solider Private Henry Dugat, Henry Lloyd Dugat Sr. Archives, Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas Digital Archive; Signal Corps Photo 30558, a black and white photograph of Miss Adele Birdsall and Miss Thomas, of the American Red Cross, dispensing chocolate to men just in from the line, American Red Cross, Senoncourt, Meuse, France, Texas Digital Archive.

Once again, the Lone Star State will join archival institutions across the nation in celebrating October 2017 as Archives Month. Throughout October, archival repositories and organizations in Texas will be holding special events to increase public awareness of the importance of preserving and making these historical treasures available for use by present and future generations.

Find out more about Texas Archives Month activities here–including learning about exhibits at other Texas archives, getting ideas for how to celebrate, and reading the governor’s official proclamation.

The 2017 Texas Archives Month poster commemorates the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. We have chosen to highlight a few of the digital, online collections that shed light on this period of American history. In providing access to these collections, we honor the contributions of those soldiers and civilians. Additionally, we recognize the work of archives, archivists, staff members, and volunteers in making these records available.

Our current TSLAC exhibit, Texans Take to the Trenches: the Lone Star State and the Great War, is on display in the lobby of our headquarters at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, 1201 Brazos Street, Austin, throughout the month. More information, including photographs of selected items now on view, can be explored on the exhibit website.

The publication and distribution of the 2017 Texas Archives Month poster was made possible with generous funding by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board. We hope you enjoy the poster and will display it proudly in celebration of Archives Month in Texas!

Download the poster as a PDF here.

October is American Archives Month banner

Meet the Staff – Steven Kantner

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Photo of Steven Kantner at a light table between two film reels.

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

I oversee digitization projects for various formats in TSLAC’s holdings including photographs, documents, sound and video recordings, and motion picture film. I also prepare metadata for digitized items and manage our local file storage. In addition, I package metadata and files together for ingest into the Texas Digital Archive.

Why did you choose your profession?

The digital preservation of archival materials, especially audiovisual formats, combines my interest in media history, and history in general, with my technical skills from my previous experiences as a recording engineer and audiovisual media educator.

What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection?

It’s hard to choose just one. We had an interesting find recently while digitizing the original laws of Texas. We knew we were approaching the Civil War era, and upon opening the next volume in line to be digitized, the first document in the volume was the Ordinance of Secession from 1861. That pivotal moment in Texas and American history, done behind the back of Sam Houston, is documented on that one sheet of paper and was very interesting to read and handle.

Page one of the 1861 Ordiance of Secession from the Texas 8th Legislature, 1st Called Session.

An Ordinance to Dissolve the Union between the State of Texas and the Other States United Under the Compact Styled “The Constitution of the United States of America” Identifier: 08_leg_extra_ord_001

I suppose some favorites include old films we have digitized from collections such as the Texas Highway Department films and Governor Allan Shivers films. These aren’t available just yet online, but should be soon. Keep your eyes peeled.

When you’re not busy, what do you like to do for fun?

Smoking brisket or ribs; Movies; Travel; Long distance cycling.

 

 

Meet the Staff – Susan Floyd

Meet the Staff is a Q&A series on Out of the Stacks that highlights the Archives and Information Services staff of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Photo of Susan Floyd.

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

As an archivist, I spend most of my time processing—that is, arranging and describing—state records, along with some historical manuscript collections. I also serve as the accessions archivist and legislative records specialist, responsible for working with donors and legislators who transfer records to the state archives.

Why did you choose your profession?

I have always been interested in history; I also have a master’s in English, and I’d considered going back to get a PhD in one of those two subjects. However, after working at UT-Austin for a few years and taking a bibliography and textual studies class there with Professor Michael Winship that met at the Harry Ransom Center, I realized my calling was to work in archives to preserve records and make them accessible. So I went back to graduate school at the iSchool at UT. I’m kind of stunned that I hadn’t considered this career path earlier—I got my MSIS and first archivist job (this one!) at age 36.

What is your favorite document, photo, or artifact in TSLAC’s collection?

This is an impossible question! The two photo-engraved panoramic postcards showing the downtown square in Paris, Texas, taken after the devastating fire of 1916 are definitely special. These photos were displayed in TSLAC’s lobby gallery last year in the East Texas section of our exhibit, Wish You Were Here: Historic Postcards From Texas.

I’m from Paris, and I grew up seeing prints of these photos in people’s homes and offices; because of the fire, almost all of the buildings in our historic town center date to 1916 and still bear witness today—almost every one prominently declaring the year on its cornice or upper facade. Two of the four New Deal-funded murals by Paris native Jerry Bywaters on display in the Paris Public Library depict the fire and its aftermath. Memory of the event persists in Lamar County; last year, Paris commemorated the one hundredth anniversary of the fire.

When you’re not busy, what do you like to do for fun?

Since going back to school in 2013, I find I’m somehow always busy! In my “free” time, I’m usually watching soccer, especially Liverpool FC; studying Welsh, which I’ve been learning for the past nine months or so; cooking and trying new foods; walking or hiking, both around downtown and on Austin’s amazing trails; volunteering with the Junior League of Austin; planning my next trip; or, of course, reading—mostly nonfiction, especially history.