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.
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.
The United States Congress first proposed the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1917. This amendment was ratified in January of 1919 and later that year became the subject of federal legislation, called the Volstead Act, prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol. Congress passed this legislation, which was then vetoed by President Woodrow Wilson and later overridden by Congress in that same year. The era of American history where the federal government banned alcohol (1920-1933) became known as Prohibition. Texas amended the state constitution and instituted “dry laws.”
Originally, limiting the use of grains for the manufacture of alcoholic beverages began during WWI in an attempt to ensure food security in the United States and for other purposes such as the production of medicine and fuel. Post WWI, the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol became the rallying cry for those in the temperance movement who felt that the consumption of alcohol poisoned people and lead to ills in society.
In 2023, Texas celebrates 100 years of its State Parks program. Governor Pat Neff encouraged the state legislature to create the State Parks Board in 1923, something he later said was his proudest achievement. The board worked to develop better infrastructure, allowing for camping by Texans who were by then commonly driving modern automobiles and able to travel hundreds of miles into the great wilderness. What better way to celebrate a century of Texas State Parks than to pack up and embark on an age-old Texan tradition: camping!
From its humble beginnings in 1923, the Texas State Parks Board has grown enormously to designate 76 separate State Parks. Encompassing more than 580,000 acres, the possibility for adventure is endless. Each year, more than 8 million people visit Texas parks. To celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Texas State Park system, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission—formed by a 1968 merger of the Texas State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission—is hosting a series of events each week through the end of the year. More information about where and when these events take place can be found on the Parks and Wildlife Commission Website.
As legislators and staff return to the Texas State Capitol for the start of the 88th Texas Legislature, we’re looking back at the legendary Texas Governor Ann W. Richards. Thirty-two years ago this month, Governor Richards was inaugurated as the 45th Governor of Texas. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has in our collections papers, photographs, and publications connected to Texas governors dating back to the first chief executive of the state, including Richards.
Last fall, TSLAC’s Texas Center for the Book selected as the Texas Great Read for 2022 the new picture book biography about Governor Richards, Indelible Ann: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards by Meghan P. Browne and illustrator Carlynn Whitt. The author spoke about her work and the importance of the TSLAC collections in supporting her research in the promotional video for the Texas Great Read, which also includes images of Richards from our State Archives.
Browne is not the first author to publish a book on Richards. Our library stacks contain numerous titles focusing on the governor, some of which are currently on display in the Reference Reading Room. See below for a list of featured titles.
The thorny rose of Texas : an intimate portrait of Governor Ann Richards
Where is Sam Houston Buried? : A Tour of the Graves of the Governors of Texas
With Ann : a journey across Texas with a candidate for Governor
Women and Texas history : selected essays
To search for these books and more, visit our library catalog. If you are interested in checking out a title from this post, please visit the Reference Desk or contact your local library about borrowing books through the interlibrary loan program. Call us at 512-463-5455 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions about our collections.
I did not want my tombstone to read, ”She kept a really clean house. I think I’d like them to remember me by saying, “She opened government to everyone.” Ann Richards, from Indelible Ann: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards by Meghan P. Browne and Carlynn Whitt.
The 2022 Women’s History Month theme “WomenProviding Healing, Promoting Hope” honors the incredible impact and sacrifice of women in public and private roles throughout history.
As we enter the third year under the cloud of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we can look back at the collective sacrifice of caregivers and frontline responders as agents of healing and hope. We invite you to explore inspiring stories from our publications and online collections by and about Texas women as agents of change.
Agent of change : Adela Sloss-Vento, Mexican American Civil Rights Activist and Texas Feminist by Cynthia E. Orozco, 2021. Texas Documents collection, Z UA380.8 OR68ag Biography of essayist Adela Sloss-Vento (1901-1998) documents her rise from Jim Crow/Juan Crow era to prominent pioneer of the Mexican American civil rights movement.
On Juneteenth by AnnetteGordon-Reed, 2021. Main collection, 394.263 G658o Texas native and Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Gordon-Reed knits history, family, and memoir to create a compelling yet intimate portrait of Juneteenth and its unique impact on the narrative of Texas history.
The Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) Handbook of Texas Women features articles on a variety of women’s history topics, with related links and bibliographies for further reading. The project website includes additional resources for educators, enthusiasts, and students.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) Archives and Reference staff are pleased to welcome researchers back to our research rooms on Second Saturdays and throughout the week at our Lorenzo de Zavala building in Austin! We have exciting changes to share and look forward to helping with your research needs.
New Titles at the Library
Our staff have been busy processing new books and adding them to the catalog and the shelves at TSLAC. While many may know us for our historical collections of original documents in the State Archives, we are also home to the Texas State Library’s book collections. We regularly acquire titles about Texas, family history, US government documents, periodicals, and more through state and federal depository programs, librarian selections, and donations. The books in our library collections are available for on-site research, with many titles also available for checkout from our library and through interlibrary loan (ILL). Contact your local library about ILL or contact the Reference Desk for availability. Typically, books that are not available for check-out will have a note in the catalog record that reads “non-circulating.” Our staff is happy to provide information about circulation procedures and other library services.
So, what’s new? Here’s a brief sample of some of the recently added titles currently on display in our Reference Reading Room:
Explore more new titles at TSLAC by browsing our online library catalog. The catalog includes a link to Newly Added Titles with a list of recent additions to the collections.
Beginning in January, TSLAC will welcome patrons into the Reference and State Archives reading rooms each second Saturday in 2022. Second Saturdays are a great opportunity to catch up on your genealogy or research projects, and our staff are here to help. Both reading rooms will be open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the following days:
2022 Second Saturday Dates
The State Archives and Reference reading rooms are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and for our Second Saturday hours. Library materials and public computers with internet access are available in the Reference Reading Room. No registration or appointments are required, but we do appreciate advance notice and scheduling an appointment if you will be accessing archival materials. We have an FAQ on our website for standard questions about research at TSLAC and the Before You Visit page contains a lot of helpful information.
New Topics and Time for the Friday Research Webinars in 2022
Our Research Webinar series continues every fourth Friday of the month, with a new slate of topics for 2022 and a new time. Research webinars on newspapers, African American genealogy, maps, the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, the Texas Digital Archive, and the Republic of Texas will take place via Zoom at 3:00 p.m. on scheduled Fridays. The first webinar of 2022 will take place on January 28 on the subject of newspapers. Join our Reference staff as they present these 20-minute live webinars or view recorded sessions on our webpage and YouTube channel. Sign up in advance and come with your questions! Visit our Research Webinars page to preview the schedule, register to attend, or to watch past recorded sessions.
After a two-year closure for a renovation project, the Balmorhea State Park pool in West Texas has reopened, offering visitors the opportunity for a refreshing dip into the spring-fed waters once again. In celebration of this Texas landmark, let’s dip into the collections at the State Archives for a look at historic images related to Balmorhea.
The popular summer swimming destination has been attracting travelers for decades. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the park and its structures, including the pool, as part of the federal government’s effort to provide employment and a reliable paycheck for Americans suffering poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Image: Swimming pool springs 4-miles out, Balmorhea, Texas, 1936. William Deming Hornaday Photograph Collection,1975/070-5412. TSLAC. View in TDA.
The State Archives has in its collections the CCC drawings for Balmorhea and other Texas State Parks. Explore the collection online through a searchable database specifically designed for these materials here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/apps/arc/CCCDrawings/
Texas State Parks Board records housed at the State Archives include images, promotional materials, correspondence and other items connected to the Balmorhea project. Though most of these records have not been digitized, several images below offer a glimpse of the kinds of research materials one might discover in these files.
In a 1944 letter, the district engineer for the Texas Highway Department seemed perplexed by a request from the Texas State Parks Board to “place a reflectorized sign at the entrance to Balmorhea State Park.” The sketch in the image below was provided as evidence of the work having been completed several years prior.
Would you rent a bathing suit at a swimming pool? According to this “notice to the public” about Balmorhea, bathing suits for sale or rental were available on site.
The State Archives library collections also have publications on Balmorhea State Park and related topics. Here are examples of titles with links to the records in the online catalog:
In recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in July of 1990, we offer a sampling of our collections and publications related to disability history. As part of our mission to preserve records produced by state government and agencies, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) houses materials relevant to the historical efforts to provide services to Texans with disabilities. TSLAC also preserves materials from other entities and individuals that contains information related to this theme. Our reference library serves as a federal depository and therefore includes numerous US government publications on the ADA along with titles specific to Texas. All of the publications listed are also available online.
Archival Collections Related to Disability Historyin Texas
Texas State Board of Control records, 1854, 1885-1890, 1909-1979, undated (agency with oversight of the state schools and hospitals, and schools for the deaf and blind from 1920-1949).
Anne Michel valedictory address (valedictory address made by Annie Michel at the Texas Institution for the Blind, dated 1884).
Zachary Taylor Fulmore biography (contains photographs, correspondence and biographical notes pertaining to his support for education in Texas including the Stuart Female Seminary; Austin Public School; State School for the Blind; Colored Deaf, Dumb and Blind School and others, dated 1954. Fulmore (1846–1923) was a lawyer, judge, author and charter member of the Texas State Historical Association).
“The Lone Star” Graduation Numbers (Graduation editions – referred to as numbers – of the “Lone Star,” a magazine produced by the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, Texas. The magazines are dated 1933-1938).
Republic Claims, particularly pension claims, which may include claims by veterans injured while serving in the Republic of Texas:
Every ten years, the United States Census Bureau conducts a census of population and housing. As the 2020 census begins, it is interesting to consider the variety of uses this accumulated data will have. The current Featured Collection focuses on the Census Bureau’s efforts over the years to retrieve, analyze, and distribute that data, as well as other institutions’ use of demographic information.
Our featured book display,”The U.S. Census,” includes questionnaires, signs, reports, guides, and maps from the Texas State Library and Archives collection. For information about the current census or pasts censuses, please visit www.census.gov.
U.S. Imports & Exports: Information Now Available on Compact Disks for Use on Your Personal Computer; TSLAC U.S. Document collection.
Although our reading room is currently closed to the public, a booklist of all featured titles is listed below. For more information about access to the titles on display, please contact TSLAC reference services at email@example.com or call 512-436-5455.
Women-Owned Businesses 1972; TSLAC U.S. Document collection.
An essential component of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s (TSLAC) mission of providing Texans access to the information needed to be informed, productive citizens is preserving the archival record of Texas. But what if archival materials are too fragile to be regularly handled? How do we balance preservation with access to the information? Efforts to both preserve records and maintain public access to them has changed over time as technology advances. In celebration of the American Library Association’s Preservation Week (April 26-May 2,2020) we are highlighting one of our collections that exemplifies this balance: Texas Adjutant General’s Department Civil War military rolls.
The Texas Adjutant General’s Department Civil War military rolls include muster rolls, payrolls, rosters, returns, and election returns of Confederate States Army, Texas State Troops, and Army of the United States units that were stationed in Texas during the Civil War. A typical military roll includes the soldiers’ names and ranks, their commanding officer, a description of the organization, enlistment and discharge data, descriptions of individuals, when and where they were stationed, and arms issued. Much of this information can be seen in the muster roll for Company C, 15th Brigade, Cavalry, Texas State Troops included below. Because of the level of individual information contained within the military rolls, researchers and genealogists consider this a highly valuable resource.
Preserving Original Documents with Conservation Treatments Many of the military rolls are extremely fragile. The more the paper is handled, the more likely it is to tear or curl. In addition, inks, like iron-gall ink, eat through paper and can make the rolls illegible, while also destroying the stability of the paper. In the early-to-mid 1900s many of these rolls underwent a common conservation treatment of the time called “silking.” Silking was a process of adhering a thin piece of silk to the front and back of the paper to support it. Despite best intentions, archivists and conservators now know that the silks’ acidity causes the paper to become more brittle and discolored over time. Between 2010 and 2019, TSLAC Conservation tackled this collection and addressed these issues in the military rolls. The oversized Confederate military rolls were conserved by removing the silk, deacidifying the paper, stabilizing the iron gall ink, and mending tears. This extensive project has allowed for more access to the physical rolls and prepared them for the digitization process.
Enhancing Access through Digitization These Civil War military rolls are currently being digitized to preserve the original records while still making them available to the public. Digitized military rolls are available online through our Texas Digital Archive (TDA) at: https://tsl.access.preservica.com/tda/texas-state-agencies-homepage/tmd/#civilWarRolls Researchers can view and download watermarked versions of these military rolls on the TDA.
Prior to the conservation and digitization of these military rolls, their information was only accessible through transcriptions. In the early 1900s almost all of the Civil War military rolls were transcribed onto three by five inch index cards. These cards provided researchers with a way to find the information included within the military rolls without having to pull the rolls out of archival storage. There are three different sets of index cards: “Abstracts of Muster Rolls,” “Captains,” and “Units.” The largest of these is the “Abstracts of Muster Rolls” which fills 65 drawers of the card catalog in the Archives Reading Room. An example of a typical abstract card is shown below.
This abstract card is for 2nd Sergeant Isaac Stewart of Company C, 15th Brigade, Cavalry, Texas State Troops. Below is a closer look at the Texas State Troops muster roll from Figure 1, showing Stewart’s rank, age, and enlistment information.
Not only do these transcriptions help preserve the original rolls, they allow researchers to search by name without needing to know what unit an individual served in. These cards are regularly consulted instead of pulling the original military rolls. This has helped to preserve these documents for future generations of researchers. For those unable to visit our location in Austin, there has always been an option to contact our Reference team to have up to five names searched in the card index.
The Civil War military rolls index cards became accessible online through Ancestry.com within the database “Texas, Muster Roll Index Cards, 1838-1900.” The digitization of these cards not only preserves these heavily used reference materials for future use but allows for greater access to them. The database gives researchers the opportunity to browse the cards as well as search by name, date, location, or keyword. This database is accessible to all Texas residents through our website at: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/ancestry
TSLAC continues to fulfill its mission to preserve archival records while maintaining public access to them. As shown by the history of our Civil War military rolls, methods of preservation and access evolve as new technologies become widely available.