Striking a Balance: Preserving Delicate Documents while Providing Access

by Caroline Jones, Reference Archivist

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.

Figure 1: #101, Captain John W. Bone, Captain J.J. Harrison, Company C, 15th Brigade, Cavalry, Texas State Troops, July 24-August 6, 1863. Image accessed through the Texas Digital Archive (TDA).

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.

Figure 2: A “de-silked” military roll in the conservation lab.

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.

Figure 3: Abstract card file for 2nd Sergeant Isaac Stewart, Civil War Index- Abstracts of Muster Rolls, Texas, Muster Roll Index Cards, 1838-1900. Image accessed through Ancestry.com

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.

Figure 4: Portion of roll #101, Captain John W. Bone, Captain J.J. Harrison, Company C, 15th Brigade, Cavalry, Texas State Troops, July 24-August 6, 1863.

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.

More information on conservation at TSLAC can be found in our blog “TSLAC Conservation” at: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/conservation.

More information on our Civil War military rolls can be found in the online finding aid at: https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30073/tsl-30073.html.

Learn more about Preservation Week at www.ala.org/preservationweek.

Reference and Research Assistance at the Ready: Remote Services Are Here for You

By Maria Barker, Access Librarian

Did you know that you can still visit us virtually from home during this period of social distancing? Not only is our reference staff ready to respond to your questions via email and voicemail, you may also access material through our digital collections and databases. For details about resources available to you from home, read on. For information about COVID-19 and the status of all TSLAC services please visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/services.

Although our reference staff are away from their familiar spot at the reference desk while TSLAC”s reading rooms are closed, librarians are still available virtually to assist patrons with reference and research inquiries.

Reference Staff at the Ready

In addition to answering your reference questions at ref@tsl.texas.gov and 512-463-5455, consider seeking assistance with your research through the following services and resources.

  • City Directory Look Ups

We can search names or addresses in our collection of City Directories and respond with scanned results if a match is found. If we cannot find a match, we will provide referrals and alternative resource suggestions based on your area of research.

  • Vital Statistics Look Ups

Staff can search up to five names in our collection of Vital Statistics indexes and report back the results over the phone or via email. In addition, staff can provide background and referrals on the availability of this information based on the time period of interest and your research goals. 

  • 2nd Saturday Workshop Topics

While our live presentations have been suspended, workshop content and links to relevant resource pages can be found on our website. Here are a few select topics:

o   Introduction to Newspaper Collections

o   Introduction to the Texas State Archives

o   Ancestry.com Texas Collections

Research Using Online Collections

Put away the gloves and magnifying glass, our staff has done the heavy lifting. Learn more about our publications and original documents by visiting the databases and information pages tailored to our collections.

Publications and Government Documents

While state agencies may be closed, a record of their service and history lives on through the following TSLAC resources.

TRAIL captures and preserves information posted to state agency websites. Whether you are looking for a specific report or simply want to see a state agency website as it existed at a certain point in time, TRAIL can help.

Energize your research with a search through our online catalog. As a depository library for both state and federal documents, a home to archival collections, and an institution with roots dating back to the early years of our state, the range and depth of our material is substantial. See our Newly Added Titles and On Display pages for a slice of our latest collections. Contact reference at ref@tsl.texas.gov with questions about our records and access.

Recently registered?

If your registration is current, TexShare services are still available to you via your TSLAC library account. With a library of databases covering everything from health news to craft tutorials, this is a resource to have on hand if you want to learn something new. Email ref@tsl.texas.gov to confirm your current registration and receive the password to access this service.

We look forward to assisting you via ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455.

Discover the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s Online Collections from Home

By Gina Watts, Reference Librarian

Unexpectedly find yourself spending some extra time at home? Have you run out of library books and need something new to entertain yourself? The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) has just the thing.

Did you know TSLAC has more than five million records online? Governors’ records, historic maps, drawings, photographs and much more are all available for viewing from the comfort of your home. Here are just a few of TSLAC’s collections that are available online now.

Don Kelly Southeast Texas Postcard Collection

Postcard from Beaumont.
Figure 1: 1991.183-18, Don Kelly Southeast Texas postcard collection. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Don Kelly was a community leader in Southeast Texas. He collected 1,473 postcards depicting notable scenes of the life, locale, and architecture surrounding the cities of Orange, Beaumont, and Port Arthur. These postcards also feature the Spindletop Oil Field, Sabine Pass, Sour Lake, the Sabine River, and the Neches River. Flip through the collection in the Texas Digital Archive (TDA): https://tsl.access.preservica.com/uncategorized/SO_65bc4475-f1f1-48f3-948e-f5184505306d/

Civilian Conservation Corps Plans and Drawings

CCC drawing for Inks Lake Park.
Figure 2: SP.64.30, Texas Parks Civilian Conservation Corps Drawings collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The United States Congress created the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 at the request of President Franklin Roosevelt as an emergency program devoted to the care of natural resources. The program provided jobs and income to young men and served as an instrument for preserving natural resources and developing state park lands. TSLAC has digitized over three thousand of these drawings that were created in the process of improving state parks. These beautiful images, like the one of Inks Lake pictured above, include plans and renderings of state parks across Texas. Browse the collection on Flickr: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/exhibits/ccc_flickr.html or search the CCC database here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/apps/arc/CCCDrawings/.

TSLAC Map Collection

1720 map of New Mexico and Louisiana  Territory.
Figure 3: Map 00401, Texas State Archives Map collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Old maps are a window into the way people saw and thought of Texas long ago. This particular map was created circa 1720 and depicts New Mexico, the Louisiana Territory including Texas, and Florida. It includes geographic features like rivers and forests, man-made features like trails, forts and cities, as well as notes regarding Indians, explorers, topography, and French and Spanish battles and establishments. So if you’ve ever wondered what a part of Texas looked like on a map fifty, one hundred, or even 200 years ago, take a look here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/maps/introduction.

Other Online Collections

Many other collections can be accessed on our Online Collections webpage: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/onlinecollections. For example, if you had ancestors in Texas during the Republic era, you may be interested in the Republic Claims database, which includes records of payments made to Texas citizens by the Texas government between 1836 and 1845.

Republic of Texas claim by George Cartwright.
Figure 4: Cartwright, George W., reel 207. Texas State Archives Republic Claims collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

This particular document relates to a claim for George W. Cartwright and details his service in the Battle of Nacogdoches. Use the online search form to find more claims in the database by visiting here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/apps/arc/repclaims/.

Exhibits

All of our exhibits past and present can be viewed online: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/exhibits/index.html. Lobby exhibits feature digitized versions of the same historical documents, photographs, and audiovisual materials that can be accessed in person. For example, our current lobby exhibit titled “Women’s Power, Women’s Vote” is available here: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/lobbyexhibits/womensvote.

Figure 5: “Governor for a Day, Barbara Jordan, June 10, 1972,” image 1973/054-36, Current Events Photographic Documentation Program collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

This photograph features Barbara Jordan serving as Governor for a Day on June 10, 1972, during her tenure in the State Senate. You may notice that many of the examples we have given are part of the Texas Digital Archive. This is the primary location to find digital and digitized archival materials: https://tsl.access.preservica.com/.

We hope you and your families are staying safe and well, and that our online collections spark some interesting conversations.

Featured Collection: Texas Visions and Voices

By Gina Watts, Reference Librarian

To celebrate the Texas Center for the Book’s 2019 Texas Great Read selection, “What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan” by Chris Barton and illustrated by Ekua Holmes, our new featured collection focuses on the subject of that book, Barbara Jordan.

Featured Collection: Texas Visions and Voices on display in the Reference Reading Room.

Jordan, a former Texas Senator and Representative in the U.S. Congress, was a skilled orator known for her deep, very recognizable voice. The video on the Texas Great Read page provides an excellent sampling.

Along with books about the notable Texan, the featured collection includes titles in which the authors have employed the use of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s diverse and fascinating collections, especially those with audiovisual components.

Take a look through the Visions and Voices of Texas titles below:

Barbara Jordan
James Haskins
328.73092 J761H
Main

Barbara Jordan, a self-portrait
Barbara Jordan and Shelby Hearon
923.2764 J761b
Main

Barbara Jordan : American hero
Mary Beth Rogers 
923.2764 J761r
Main

Barbara Jordan : freedom medalist and Texas treasure
Crystal Sasse Ragsdale
P2350.8 B232
Texas Documents

Barbara Jordan : speaking the truth with eloquent thunder
Barbara Jordan and Max Sherman
Z UA380.8 J761BA 
Texas Documents

Breaking the ice : the racial integration of Southwest Conference Football
Richard Pennington  
796.332 P384B
Main

Houston Cougars in the 1960s : death threats, the veer offense, and the game of the century
Robert Jacobus
Z TA475.8 J159ho
Texas Documents

Thursday night lights : the story of Black high school football in Texas
Michael Hurd
Z UA380.8 H934th 
Texas Documents

Tomlinson Hill : the remarkable story of two families who share the Tomlinson name – one white, one black
Chris Tomlinson
305.896 T597t 
Main

Wil the thrill : the untold story of Wilbert Montgomery
Edward J Robinson
Z TT422.8 R561wi 
Texas Documents

The Carrasco tragedy : eleven days of terror in the Huntsville prison
Aline House
365.641 H816C 
Main

Eleven days in hell : the 1974 Carrasco prison siege in Huntsville, Texas
William T Harper
Z N745.7 C868crj NO.3
Main

Texas state parks and the CCC : the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps First edition.  
Cynthia A Brandimarte 
Z TA475.8 B733te
Texas Documents

Fighting their own battles : Mexican Americans, African Americans, and the struggle for civil rights in Texas
Brian D Behnken
305.8 B395f  
Main

Landscapes of exclusion : state parks and Jim Crow in the American South
William E O’Brien
305.8 OB69LA
Main

Who gets a childhood? : race and juvenile justice in twentieth-century Texas
William S Bush
364.36 B963w
Main

Parks for Texas : enduring landscapes of the new deal
James Wright Steely 
333.783 St325p
Main

Please pass the biscuits, Pappy : pictures of Governor W. Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel
Bill Crawford
976.4063 OD1p
Main

Ten dollars to hate : the Texas man who fought the Klan
Patricia Bernstein 
Z TA475.8 B458te 
Texas Documents

The featured collection display is on view in the Reference Reading Room in the Lorenzo de Zavala Texas State Archives and Library building at 1201 Brazos St. Austin, Texas 78701. For more information about the books and other materials available at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, contact the Reference staff at ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-436-5455.

Second Saturday Workshops Continue with Introduction to Newspaper Collections

Researchers encounter newspapers in libraries and archives on microfilm, in old bound volumes and through online databases that allow users to keyword search entire collections of digitized issues dating back decades and even centuries. The next installment in the Texas State Library and Archives Commission’s monthly workshop series covers the various methods of locating and using these resources with an Introduction to Newspaper Collections.

Brenham Banner-Press, 12-8-1941. Original newspaper from the Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

TSLAC reference staff will guide participants through our newspaper resources in a free, 20-minute orientation session beginning at 10a.m. on September 14, 2019. Registration is encouraged but not required. Visit our workshop page for descriptions and a full schedule of topics or go ahead and register here.

TSLAC Reading Room Transition Complete

UPDATE (10/7/19) Due to work on the new library programming and event space, the Genealogy Collection will be temporarily unavailable from October 14-16, 2019. All other collections will be open and available.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has completed the remodel of the Reference Reading Room on the first floor of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building and welcomes visitors to explore the new configuration with the images below and in person during our regularly-scheduled hours.

Essential Genealogy resources like vital statistics indexes and city directories, along with a new Genealogy Reference section are now located on the first floor. Patrons will find all public computers, microfilm readers, photocopier and scanning equipment, and assistance from Reference Staff available in the Reference Reading Room.

Questions about our collections or conducting research at TSLAC? Contact Archives and Information Services at: ref@tsl.texas.gov.

Inquiries about improvements at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building may be addressed to: pio@tsl.texas.gov.

TSLAC Staff Participate in Council of State Archivists / Society of American Archivists National Conference

When the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) / Society of American Archivists (SAA) held their joint annual meeting in our hometown of Austin,Texas this summer, the name badges of Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) staff could be spotted throughout the conference. TSLAC archivists gave presentations, facilitated panel discussions and obtained vital information on current trends in the field. Colleagues from the State and Local Records Management (SLRM) division of TSLAC also presented and attended sessions relevant to government records.

TSLAC Archives and Information Division Director and State Archivist, Jelain Chubb served on a panel discussion about controversial monuments.

The CoSa/SAA program featured a number of TSLAC presenters. State Archivist and the division director for TSLAC Archives and Information Services, Jelain Chubb, chaired a timely panel discussion on the role government archives play in relation to controversial public monuments. Jelain also facilitated the session for CoSA’s invited speaker, former State Archivist for Texas and retired University of Texas professor David Gracy.

Archivist Anna Reznik found deeper meaning in records dealing with radioactive waste for a Science, Technology, and Health Care Section presentation and Jessica Tucker, another TSLAC archivist, facilitated a session on how student employees contribute to archival work. Both Anna Reznik and Rebecca Romanchuk, the team lead for our TSLAC archives unit, presented at a forum for the archives information database, ArchivesSpace.

TSLAC Archivist Rebecca Romanchuk presents at the 2019 CoSA/SAA joint annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

TSLAC invited conference attendees to explore the home of the State Archives with two behind-the-scenes tours of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building. Archives and Information Services personnel offered close-up views of the Summerlee Conservation Lab, archival storage and processing areas, the digital program, and reading rooms.

Digital Asset Coordinator, Steven Kantner gives a talk on TSLAC digitization projects for a tour group.

Digital Asset Coordinator, Steven Kantner, played a little hoe-down music from a Pappy O’Daniel radio program that he had reformatted to digital audio. Conservator Sarah Norris described how she approached a recent project to conserve a Texas Ranger company muster roll from the 19th century.

Conservator Sarah Norris provides a tour of her lab at TSLAC.

Sarah Norris describes the conservation techniques she applied to a Texas Ranger muster listing from the 19th century.

We had a great time hosting our guests and sharing a few of our techniques and procedures with fellow archivists from around the country. The annual national conference takes place in a different city each year and we look forward to when Austin once again welcomes archivists back to town. 

 

More scenes from CoSA/SAA 2019:

  • Archivists Angela Swift, Rebecca Romanchuk and Anna Reznik pose with former ARIS Preservation Officer, John Anderson.
  • State Archivist, Jelain Chubb gives a behind-the-scenes tour of the State Archives.
  • Rebecca Romanchuk stands ready at the registration desk for the ArchivesSpace forum.
  • Anna Reznik, second from left, with TSLAC colleagues from the State and Local Records Management division (L-R Erica Siegrist, Sarah Jacobson, Craig Kelso and Megan Carey)
  • Conference name badges with ribbons indicating presenters, first-time attendees, etc.
  • Archivist Tiffany Criswell demonstrates how a large trash can serves as a humidification chamber.
  • Tour group ready to explore the State Archives.
  • Anna Reznik speaks at the ArchivesSpace forum.

Collections on the Move! Summer Changes Coming to TSLAC Reading Rooms

UPDATE: (August 16, 2019) TSLAC has made significant progress relocating frequently-accessed materials from the second floor to the reconfigured first-floor Reference Reading Room. While work continues on converting the second floor to a library event and educational programming space, many of the key changes to collection locations and service points are complete. Patrons may now expect to conduct (non-archival) research and use all library resources in the Reference Reading Room. New additions to the space include:

  • Vital statistics, city directories and other essential research tools.
  • A new Genealogy Reference section.
  • Expanded area for display of featured collections and new books.

Questions about our collections or conducting research at TSLAC? Contact Archives and Information Services at: ref@tsl.texas.gov.

Inquiries about improvements at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building may be addressed to: pio@tsl.texas.gov.

Read more about the project in our original post here:

UPDATE: Starting Tuesday, at 12 p.m. August 6, 2019: All reading room services will be provided in the Archives Reading Room. Researchers planning a visit between August 6 and August 13 may contact reference staff for more information at 512-463-5455 or ref@tsl.texas.gov.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is pleased to announce an exciting transition coming to the Reference and Genealogy public service areas in the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building. Frequently accessed materials such as Texas vital statistic indexes and city directories from the Genealogy and Family History collection will be relocated to the Reference Reading Room.

The current Reference Reading Room in the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building.

This transition will begin on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 with as little disruption to services as possible. We do not anticipate closing to the public during this period. Please consult with reference staff upon arrival to confirm which reading room will be available for research while the change is underway, which we expect to be completed within a few days.

Key changes include:

  • Ready Reference shelving will be relocated to the current microfilm computer area to make room for additional research tables and microfilm stations will be moved to a central location in the reading room.
  • The updated space will include a refreshed Reference Collection, expanded display area for featured and new books, as well as periodicals.
  • The second floor will be enclosed to create a new public events and educational programming venue.

According to TSLAC Director and State Librarian, Mark Smith, “This change allows us to increase the visibility of our collections and concentrate our staff to work more closely with researchers.” Smith adds, “We are also pleased to be able to dedicate space for public programming and enhance our slate of educational activities.”

Check back here at Out of the Stacks for updates. Thank you for your patience as we work to improve services for our patrons.

Questions about our collections or conducting research during the transition? Contact Archives and Information Services at: ref@tsl.texas.gov.

Inquiries about improvements at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Building may be addressed to: pio@tsl.texas.gov.

Margie Neal, First Woman Elected to the Texas Senate

By Susan Floyd, Archivist

In 1927, two years after Miriam “Ma” Ferguson became the state’s first woman governor, four years after Edith Wilmans entered the Texas House of Representatives as the first woman in the Legislature, and only eight years after Texas women’s suffrage rights were acknowledged and enforced by the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, Margie Neal became, as Governor Allan Shivers said at Margie Neal Appreciation Day in Carthage in 1952, “the first woman to invade the masculine sanctity of the Texas Senate.”

Margie Elizabeth Neal was born in 1875 in Clayton, Panola County, Texas, to William Lafayette and Martha Anne Gholston Neal. Later in life, she recalled that her interest in politics was sparked at age ten, when she saw then-Governor John Ireland speak in Carthage in 1885 or 1886. She attended, but did not graduate from, Sam Houston State Teachers College.

In the spring of 1893, Neal earned a first-grade teaching certificate and began her career in the Mount Zion community in east Panola County. She subsequently taught in several schools, including in Forney, Scottsville, Marlin and Fort Worth, before returning home to Carthage in 1904 to be the primary caregiver of her mother, whose health was failing. However, this move also provided her a new professional opportunity. From 1904 to 1911, Neal was publisher and editor of the Carthage East Texas Register. A large portion of the newspaper’s content was editorial writing. Neal used its pages to champion the establishment of a Y.M.C.A. in Carthage, push for city clean-up and tree-planting projects, argue for the creation of a chamber of commerce and press for improvements to county roads. But the Register’s most consistent editorial interest was in public education. As editor, Neal argued for improvements to school facilities and sponsored scholarships to local business colleges.

Photograph: “Margie E. Neal—The Progressive Editor.” From Harris, Walter L. The Life of Margie E. Neal, MA thesis, University of Texas, 1955. Available from TSLAC-MAIN Collection (non-circulating) ARC 923.2764 N254H.

From 1912, her mother’s health worsened, and Neal was forced into semi-retirement for four years. Despite these family obligations Margie Neal was also instrumental in the founding and development of both the Carthage Circulating Book Club from 1907 and the Panola County Fair, first held in 1916. Her interest in women’s suffrage also continued to grow, and she became secretary of the Panola County Equal Suffrage Association.

In 1918, the Texas Legislature recognized women’s right to vote in state primary elections.[1] In an effort to bolster women’s turnout in Panola County, Margie Neal ordered professionally printed buttons reading “I have registered” and distributed them among women. At the end of the 1918 voting drive, more than 500 women in the county had registered. Margie Neal was, unsurprisingly, the first woman to cast a vote in Panola County.

Margie Neal was the first woman to serve as a member of the State Teachers Colleges board of regents (1921-1927) and the first woman to serve as a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee in 1918. She was also a delegate to the 1920 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. In 1922 and 1924, she turned down first Governor Pat Neff’s and then Governor Miriam Ferguson’s offer to appoint her Secretary of State.

Photograph: Margie E. Neal in 1925. From Harris, Walter L. The Life of Margie E. Neal, MA thesis, University of Texas, 1955. Available from TSLAC-MAIN Collection (non-circulating) ARC 923.2764 N254H.

Neal’s work as a regent was the primary impetus for her 1926 Senate run. She was a frequent visitor to Austin during legislative sessions; in an interview later in life, she recalled a specific visit during which she became concerned about the direction certain legislation was heading, leading her to think to herself, “If I had a vote… I might do more for education than I am doing as a college regent sitting in the gallery.”[2] She returned to Carthage and sought advice from trusted colleagues, family, and friends, then decided, in March 1926, that she would run for the Texas Senate from District 2.

This district included Panola, Harrison, Gregg, Rusk and Shelby Counties. Neal’s only opponent in the Democratic primary was Gary B. Sanford of Rusk County, who had prior experience as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Neal launched her campaign on June 12 in the Carthage County Courthouse, followed by five weeks of intensive campaigning in all five counties of the district. Her platform consisted of four components: better public schools—especially rural schools, to be achieved through an increased per capita apportionment; an improved state highway system, to be achieved through a new gasoline tax; more aid for farmers, labor, and capital; and a streamlining of laws for improved law enforcement. In the end, Neal defeated Sanford in every county but his own, and, facing no opponent in the general election, was elected to the Senate on July 28, 1926.

Continue reading

Women’s History Month, 2019: Women in the Texas Legislature

By Stephanie Andrews, Library Assistant

Display of titles on Texas women from the collections of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Every March, we as a country celebrate women and their role in our nation’s history with Women’s History Month. According to the United States Statutes, Public Law 100-9, the first celebrated Women’s History Month was in March 1987.

Visit the Law Library of Congress’ Women’s History Month webpage for more information about the federal government’s role in this yearly event. In addition to the annual proclamation, the National Women’s History Alliance suggests a theme for each year’s celebration. This year’s theme is, “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.”

As the Texas Legislature is currently in session, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) would like to share some of our resources about women in the Texas Legislature. These women embody this year’s theme by the way they have brought about change in peaceful and nonviolent ways. Whether they were serving unfinished terms for their husbands, lobbying for a woman’s right to vote, or becoming the first of many to serve in the Texas Legislature, Texas women have had a vibrant and important role in the history of Texas politics.

A selection from the TSLAC collections highlighting the contributions of Texas women.

Some of the more notable women in Texas politics include: Edith Wilmans, the first woman to be elected to the Texas Legislature; Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the first woman to be elected as Texas Governor; Barbara Jordan, the first African-American woman to be elected to the Texas Legislature; and, Irma Rangel, the first Mexican-American woman to be elected to the Texas Legislature. Read more about Texas’ female Legislators in Nancy Baker Jones’ book, Capitol Women: Texas Female Legislators, 1923-1999.

Below you will find a reading list of publications that cover people or topics related to Texas women in politics. The list is not intended to be comprehensive, but can be a starting place for learning more about Texas women legislators.  

“The majority of the American people still believe that every single individual in this country is entitled to just as much respect just as much dignity,
as every other individual.”     
Barbara Jordan, Texas State Senator 1967-1973

Publications and Electronic Materials

Title

Call Number

Format

Collection

A Texas Suffragist: Diaries and Writings of Jane Y. McCallum

322.44 M124H

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Barbara Jordan: A Self-Portrait

923.2764 J761B

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Black Texas Women

305.48 W725B

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Black Texas Women: A Sourcebook

305.48 W725BS

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Brave Black Women

305.48 W725

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Celebrate the World

PE 1.12:W 84/2

Electronic File

U.S. Documents

Claytie and the Lady

976.4063 T578c

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Democratizing Texas Politics

Z UA380.8 M348de

Print

Texas Documents

Finder’s Guide to the Texas Women: A Celebration of History Exhibit Archives

305.40976 F492

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Joint Resolution to Designate the Month of March, 1987, as “Women’s History Month.”

AE 2.111:101/PT.1

Print

U.S. Documents

Latina Legislator: Leticia Van De Putte and the Road to Leadership

Z TA475.8 N228La

Print

Texas Documents

Oveta Culp Hobby: Colonel, Cabinet Member, Philanthropist

Z UA380.8 W725ov

Print

Texas Documents

Picturing Texas Politics

Z UA380.8 B151pi

Print

Texas Documents

Profiles in Power: Twentieth Century Texans in Washington

923.2764 P943 2004

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Quotable Texas Women

305.4 Q57

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Senators 83rd Legislature

L1803.1 SE55 83

Print

Texas Documents

Texas Through Women’s Eyes

Z UA380.8 M118TE

Print

Texas Documents

Texas Women in Politics

329.009764 W413T

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women: A Celebration of History

976.4042 T312

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women: A Pictorial History

305.4 W725T

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women: Interviews and Images

305.409764 L334T

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women’s Hall of Fame

976.4092 M814t

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women’s Hall of Fame: A Sesquicentennial Celebration

976.4092 SE64

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Texas Women’s History Project Bibliography

305.4 T312B

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

The Capital Book

328.764092 C172

Print

TSLAC-MAIN

Tributes Delivered in Congress: Kay Bailey Hutchison

Y 1.1/3:113-8

Print

U.S. Documents

Women in Decision-Making

PE 1.12:W 84

Electronic File

U.S. Documents

Women in Texas

976.4042 C856W 1992

Print

ARC-REF

Archival Materials

Title

 

Collection

Records of Representative Anita Hill, 1979-1992

 

Archives

Representative Patricia Harless records, 2007-2015

 

Archives

Representative Debbie Riddle records, 2003-2015

 

Archives

Representative Molly White records, 2007-2016

 

Archives

Representative Myra Crownover records, 2003-2015

 

Archives

Representative Patricia Gray records, 1991-1993, 1995-2002, undated, bulk 1995-2001

 

Archives

Representative Harryette Ehrhardt records, 1991, 1994-2001, undated bulk 1995-2001

 

Archives

Records of Representative Ernestine Glossbrenner, 1977-1990 (bulk 1987-1990)

 

Archives

Records of Senator Cyndi Taylor Krier, 1974-1992 (bulk 1985-1992)

 

Archives

To search for these collections, books and more, check out our catalog at www.tsl.texas.gov/catalog. To learn more about our archives collections visit our Descriptive Guides webpage.

Contact the Reference Desk with any inquiries regarding these or other materials at TSLAC at ref@tsl.texas.gov, call us at 512-463-5455 or visit in person at 1201 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701 room 109.

Quotes above were referenced from Susie Kelly Flatau and Lou Halsell Rodenberger’s “Quotable Texas Women” (State House Press, 2005).