Texas Historical Foundation Funds Court Records Database Project

The Texas Historical Foundation (THF) has awarded the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) $5000 to create an online reference tool for searching a set of court records held by the State Archives.

At the June 4 meeting of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, State Archivist Jelain Chubb joined with commissioners to accept a $5,000 grant from the Texas Historical Foundation.

THF’s Marshall J. Doke Texas Legal History Preservation Trust grant will support TSLAC’s efforts to transcribe and make available key information from Texas 3rd Court of Appeals case files. Through previous grants from the THF, the Archives and Information Services Division has already converted 2500 Texas Supreme Court case files into digital records that may be searched online.

That ongoing project has involved much more than scanning documents, as many of the original papers need time and labor-intensive preservation treatments before imaging may begin. In addition, the historical records require handwriting and other analyses in order to add information to a searchable database.

Archives staff take preservation measures to prepare these legal documents for digitization. These court records have been humidified and flattened and the adhesive is being dissolved.

The new project focuses on Texas Court of Appeals (3rd) 1891-1923 case file indexes and also entails more than converting paper documents into electronic records. The grant makes possible the development and implementation of a transcription process to improve access. TSLAC will hire transcribers to analyze cursive handwriting from the original records and input the information into data fields, such as appellant and appellee, with the end result a searchable index available online. The transcription component will serve as a pilot project to enhance online access to the State Archives’ extensive collection of handwritten historical documents.

Transcribers will type the names and other information from court record indexes like this one into a searchable database.

Recently, State Archivist Jelain Chubb coordinated and hosted a virtual presentation to the THF with an overview of the important work the Foundation has made possible thus far and plans for the current grant. Presenters included Senior Reference Archivist, Tonia Wood; Reference Archivist, Richard Gilreath; and Archivist, Tiffany Criswell. Those interested in more details about the current and past projects funded by the THF may view a recorded version of the presentation below.


New Online: Recent Updates to Finding Aids and Digital Images Available Online

As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe, and make available to the public the materials under our care, we spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We close out the piece highlighting fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items.


New Finding Aids

Manuscripts

Price Daniel Audiovisual Materials and Related Papers
http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/00041/tsl-00041.html

Price Daniel served as Texas attorney general, US senator, and Texas governor. These audiovisual materials and related papers date 1952-1962, 1980, undated, and encompass Daniel’s service in these offices, as well as his US Senate and Texas gubernatorial campaigns, and contain one item from after his political career.

Topics covered include narcotic laws, segregation, states’ rights, traffic safety, and Texas business and agriculture. The most common film format is 16mm black-and-white film, and audio materials include open reel audiotapes and instantaneous recordings. Some audiovisual materials include accompanying documents. These materials and accompanying documents have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.

Texas State Archives Broadsides and Printed Ephemera Collection http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/12014/tsl-12014.html

The Broadsides and printed ephemera collection is an artificial collection assembled by Texas State Archives staff beginning in the early 20th century. It consists of approximately 700 documents related to Texas and United States history. Printed ephemera was produced to distribute information as events unfolded, and it offers unique snapshots of Texas’s and the nation’s past.

Image: $1000 Reward, 1873. Broadside 276, Broadsides and printed ephemera collection. TSLAC. View in the TDA.

The ephemera in this collection includes both originals and copies of various formats, dating 1645-1999, bulk 1835-1930s. The original documents in this collection have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.

Local Records

Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk Records
http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/00042/tsl-00042.html

Record of jurors, 1852-1884, Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, TSLAC. View in the TDA.

District courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction in law and equity, which includes criminal cases of the grade of felony and misdemeanors involving official misconduct, divorce, cases of title to liens on land, election contests, and civil actions where the amount in controversy is at least $200. The district clerk serves as the clerk and custodian of all records for the district courts, indexes and secures all court records, and collects filing fees. These Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk records consist of civil and criminal docket books of the district court, a fee book, a district court minute book, and a record of jurors for the district court. Records date 1847-1898, with the bulk dating 1860-1879. The last two items listed are in digital format and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.

Newton County (Tex.) Tax Assessor-Collector Records
http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/00040/tsl-00040.html

Newton County (Tex.) Tax Assessor-Collector records reflect the office’s duties related to the assessment and collection of taxes and voter registration. The records include tax assessment rolls, delinquent tax rolls, abstract books, poll tax receipts, and voter registration receipts of women voters. Records date about 1846-1936, bulk 1847-1932. A 1912 Newton County tax roll is in digital format and is part of the Texas Digital Archive.

State Records

Texas National Research Laboratory Commission Records
http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/40147/tsl-40147.html

Established in 1985 by the 69th Texas Legislature, the Texas National Research Laboratory Commission oversaw the process of siting the Superconducting Super Collider in Texas. Records include correspondence, memorandums, minutes, agenda, meeting summaries, meeting supporting documentation, reports, financial reports, studies, plans, agreements, settlements, contracts, proposals, photographs, maps, drawings, speeches, news releases, news clippings, publications, transcripts, audiocassettes, videocassettes, magnetic tapes, design specifications, environmental impact statements, socioeconomic studies, property inventories, research files, construction schedules, biographical sketches, administrative records, and notes, dating 1980-1997. Subjects include the site characterization and selection process of the Superconducting Super Collider, costs for the design and construction of a particle accelerator, geological features of Amarillo and Ellis County, collection and analysis of environmental data, and potential socioeconomic impacts of the project. External entities reflected include the US Department of Energy, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Morrison Knudsen.

Texas Comptroller’s Office Executive Administration Division Correspondence
http://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30202/tsl-30202.html

The Texas State Comptroller’s Office is responsible for collecting state revenue, tracking state expenditures, and monitoring the financial condition of the state. Documenting those duties, these are records of the Comptroller’s Office Executive Administration Division consisting of administrative correspondence (both incoming and especially outgoing letters, emails and memoranda, and attachments), superseded correspondence concerning executive orders and directives, legislative correspondence, and unprocessed correspondence on microfiche, dating 1940-2017, undated, bulk 1991-2017. Typically, correspondents are state legislators, state agency officials, the lieutenant governor, the governor, local officials (at the city, county, and school district level), federal officials, and corporate entities.


Revised Finding Aids

State Records

Texas Comptroller’s Office Executive Administration Division Records
https://legacy.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/50101/tsl-50101.html

The Texas State Comptroller’s Office is responsible for collecting state revenue, tracking state expenditures, and monitoring the financial condition of the state. These records document those duties, representing activities of the various division directors, the deputy comptrollers, and comptrollers Bob Bullock, John Sharp, Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn, and Susan Combs. The records consist of correspondence, memorandums, reports, speeches, clippings, invitations, thank-you notes, computer printouts, press releases, and other administrative documents, dating 1948-2000, bulk 1973-1988, as maintained by the Executive Administration Division of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

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Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center Makes Newton County Historical Records Available Online

In celebration of Newton County’s 175th anniversary, the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center (SHC), part of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), has digitized records salvaged from the 2000 Newton County Courthouse fire and made them freely available online.

The records were donated to the SHC, located in Liberty, for professional conservation treatment after being damaged. Although the records survived the flames, the water used to fight the fire left them moldy, covered in dirt and soot and, in some cases, torn and unbound.

Around 200 volumes of Newton County government records, totaling more than 40,000 pages of information, had to be treated. Staff vacuumed each page by hand to remove mold spores and debris. After careful cleaning, staff and volunteers gently packaged each volume for transport to Austin, where they could be inspected by TSLAC’s professional conservator and receive further treatment if needed. Finally, the surviving records were transported back to the SHC, where an archivist began creating descriptive guides to the collection for researchers.

Sam Houston Center staff work to clean and inventory government records salvaged from the 2000 Newton County Courthouse fire.

This multi-year project saved all but nine of the original volumes. Those volumes were so extensively damaged by mold that keeping them would have been hazardous to the rest of the collection, so TSLAC staff digitized the volumes to preserve their contents and make them available online instead. The first batch of these scanned volumes is now available on the Texas Digital Archive.

Record of jurors, 1852-1884, Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

“The Center’s primary purpose is to preserve local government records from Southeast Texas for future generations, but it’s rare for that service to involve something as devastating as a courthouse fire,” said Center Manager Alana Inman. “Being able to help save records from Newton County is one of the most historically important projects I have worked on while leading the Center.”

The full collection of Newton County government records at the Center includes a variety of documents, such as land and school records, tax rolls, marks and brands, and probate files. Online guides are currently available for two government offices: district clerk, ranging in date from 1847-1898, and tax assessor-collector, dating 1846-1936. These series include court records, women’s voter registration receipts, poll tax receipts and other items of significant historical interest.

Three volumes, a 1912 tax roll, 1847-1852 district court minute book and 1852-1884 record of jurors, are available online:

Tax Roll:
Tax roll, 1912, Assessment and rendition of property (tax rolls), 1846-1932, Newton County (Tex.) Tax Assessor-Collector records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
View online in the TDA.

Minute book:
Minute book, district court, volume A, 1847-1852, Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
View online in the TDA.

Record of Jurors:
Record of jurors, 1852-1884, Newton County (Tex.) District Clerk records. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
View online in the TDA.

The effort to create online guides to all Newton County government records continues. Next, staff will release scanned volumes and a guide to the records of the county clerk. In the meantime, anyone interested in accessing the records can contact SHC staff or visit the Center.

About SHC:

A component of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center houses local government records, rare books, manuscripts, archival materials, photographs and other media formats covering a wide range of Southeast Texas history. In addition to the archives and museum, four historic buildings and the Jean Price Daniel Home and Archives are located on the Center’s grounds.

The Center is located at 650 FM 1011 in Liberty, Texas. Operating hours are Tuesday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Visits to the research library may be set in advance by appointment. For more information, please contact Center staff at 936-336-8821, samhoustoncenter@tsl.texas.gov or by visiting www.tsl.texas.gov/shc.

New Online: Recent Updates to Finding Aids and Digital Images Available Online


As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe, and make available to the public the materials under our care, we spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We close out the piece highlighting fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items.

Archivists create finding aids for collections once they are processed and add these descriptive guides to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO). TARO hosts finding aids from institutions around the state and researchers may determine whether or not to limit searches to the State Archives. Not all collections have been processed and therefore the list of finding aids does not represent the entirety of our holdings. The Archives & Manuscripts page of the TSLAC website provides more information and guidance on how to access archival collections.

Contact ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455 with questions about using TSLAC’s archival resources. For a comprehensive list of all recently added and updated finding aids visit Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised).


New Finding Aids

State Records

Texas Attorney General’s Office bound briefs – AG II.05

The attorney general is the lawyer for the people of Texas and is charged by the Texas Constitution to defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas, represent the State in litigation, and approve public bond issues. Records consist of bound volumes containing briefs to litigation in which the Texas Attorney General’s office played a part or had an interest, dating 1913-1938. Subjects include banking, conflicts with other states, oil and gas, railroads, taxation, and transportation.

San Jacinto River Authority minutes – TCEQ I.11

The San Jacinto River Authority, established by the Texas Legislature in 1937, develops, conserves, and protects water resources of the San Jacinto River Basin. The agency activities include supporting municipal and industrial water supply, water quality management, wastewater treatment, and water and soil conservation projects. Records consist of minutes dating 1990-2019.

Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Office of the Hearing Examiners hearing files – TCEQ I.10

The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission was charged to protect the environment and public health and safety by reducing the release of pollutants and contaminants in the air and water, regulating the management and disposal of waste, and expediting the cleanup of contaminated sites. Records consist of hearing examiner files compiled by the commission’s Office of the Hearing Examiner’s predecessors—Texas Air Control Board, Texas Department of Health, and Texas Water Commission—as part of the permit application process, dating 1920s-1996, undated, bulk 1977-1992. The majority of the records dating prior to 1977 are exhibits.(A portion of these records are available in the TDA.)

Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission minutes – OAH II.040

The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, established in 2009 and administratively attached to the Texas Historical Commission, ensures that resources are available to students, educators, and the general public regarding the Holocaust and other genocides. These efforts aim to prevent future genocides. Records consist of commission meeting minutes, dating 2010-2018. (All records are electronic and available through the TDA after review for restricted information, upon receipt of a researcher request.)

Manuscripts

United States Bureau of Reclamation Region 5 (Texas) reclamation studies – MS I.11

The United States Bureau of Reclamation is the federal agency responsible for managing water resources in the western United States. Originally, management projects focused on reclamation of lands considered inhospitable due to lack of water through irrigation, but over time they have come to include maintenance of existing projects and development of environmental protection strategies for water resources. These records, from the bureau’s Austin Development Office, document water reclamation studies undertaken in Texas related to the bureau’s proposed and completed projects within Texas borders and include memorandums, reports, and plans regarding various infrastructure projects for water resource diversion, distribution, use, and development, dating 1940-1967, bulk 1946-1966.

Samuel E. Asbury papers – MS XII.23

Samuel Erson Asbury was a chemist, Texas historian, and collector of Texana and materials of prominent Texans of the Revolution-era. The Samuel E. Asbury papers comprise research correspondence, papers, photographs, primary source transcriptions, and genealogy notes about prominent Republic-era figures and Texas Reconstruction, dating 1922-1951.

Revised Finding Aids

State Records

Texas Attorney General Mark White records – AG II.11

As the chief legal officer of the state of Texas, the attorney general is charged by the Texas Constitution to defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas, represent the State in litigation, and approve public bond issues. Records of Mark White’s tenure as attorney general from 1979 to 1983 include correspondence, memorandums, newspaper clippings, photographs, legal briefs, court opinions, press releases, and newsletters, dating 1975-1982, undated, bulk 1979-1982.

Subjects include the drafting and explanation of attorney general opinions, filings of lawsuits, analyzing proposed legislation at the state and federal levels, enforcement of the Deceptive Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act, the state’s criminal justice system, energy issues, Minister Lester Roloff’s children’s home and the enforcement of the Child Case Licensing Act, public education issues, and drug paraphernalia and illegal drug dealing. Image: Governor Mark White

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New Online: Recent Updates to Finding Aids and Digital Images Available Online

As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe, and make available to the public the materials under our care, we spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We close out the piece highlighting fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items.

Archivists create finding aids for collections once they are processed and add these descriptive guides to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO). TARO hosts finding aids from institutions around the state and researchers may determine whether or not to limit searches to the State Archives. Not all collections have been processed and therefore the list of finding aids does not represent the entirety of our holdings. The Archives & Manuscripts page of the TSLAC website provides more information and guidance on how to access archival collections.

Contact ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455 with questions about using TSLAC’s archival resources. For a comprehensive list of all recently added and updated finding aids visit Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised).


New Finding Aids

State Records

Texas Health and Human Services Commission advisory committee meeting files – OAH V.132

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is the oversight agency for certain state agencies with health or human services functions. Records are the meeting files of many of the commission’s advisory committees, dating 1996-2019. Records are electronic as well as paper.

Texas Prescribed Burning Board meeting minutes and agenda and other records – AGR I.06

The Texas Prescribed Burning Board (PBB) was created within the Department of Agriculture in 1999, for the purpose of establishing minimum standards for prescribed burning in Texas. The PBB certifies commercial, private, and not-for-profit prescribed burn managers to ensure they have the proper training to execute prescribed burns designed to confine fire to a predetermined area and to accomplish planned land management objectives. Records include board meeting minutes and agenda, research and publication development files, Prescribed Fire School documents and curriculum, planning records, personnel documents, and audiocassettes, dated 1995-2018 and undated, bulk 1998-2010. The audiocassettes have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.

Texas Senate recordings – LEG I.04

The Texas Senate is one arm of the Legislature of the State of Texas (the other being the Texas House of Representatives), which the Texas Constitution (Article III, Section 1) vests with all legislative power of the state. Senate recordings contain floor debate, press conferences, speeches, interviews, hearings, ceremonies, and joint meetings with House committees. They span the 62nd Legislature, 4th Called Session, through the 79th Legislature, Interim Term. These digital copies of the original audiotape recordings, created by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission with grant funding provided by the Library Services and Technology Act, Institute of Museum and Library Services, are part of the Texas Digital Archive. The Texas Senate Recordings search page allows searching of these recordings by legislative session, date, committee name, recording number, and keyword.

Revised Finding Aids

State Records

Texas Tourist Development Agency photographs and audiovisual materials – OAH VIII.213

Texas Tourist Development Agency photographs and audiovisual materials document the activities of the Texas Tourist Development Agency (TTDA) and its work to increase the state’s share of the national tourist market using a variety of mass media. The materials include photographic color slides, transparencies, negatives, photographic prints, videotapes, motion picture films, and audio tapes and date from 1964 to 1997 and undated. Portions of the slides and negatives have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive. In addition, a portion of digitized slides is available through the Texas State Archives Flickr page.

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Search Texas Supreme Court Records Online

By Richard Gilreath, Reference Archivist

M-12a, M case files, Case files, Texas Supreme Court records. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. This case file is available on the TDA.

In an earlier post, we wrote about the recovery and preservation of Supreme Court case files removed from state custody. Today, we highlight recent efforts by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) to improve public access to early Texas Supreme Court case files.

TSLAC holds Texas Supreme Court case files dating from 1841 to 2004. Case files that date between 1841 and 1892 are known as M case files. These files are known as M case files because the Court renumbered them in the 1940s with an M prefix to resolve problems caused by duplicate numbering systems. These case files include Supreme Court cases from the Republic era, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and cover important topics from the 19th century, including slavery, property, and the rights of women, freed people of color, and other minorities. They document the workings of government, matters of business and law, and the experiences of past Texans. 

Digitizing the M case files makes these records available to the public through any internet-connected device, while also preserving the original documents from regular exposure and handling. Early case files are fragile due to pest destruction, iron gall ink deterioration, water damage, the nature of the materials (such as “onion skin” paper), and the age of the documents. Below, we will go over the Supreme Court M case files available on the Texas Digital Archive (TDA) and ways to access M case files.

Texas Supreme Court Records on the TDA

The Supreme Court records that have been digitized are available on the TDA. If you need help navigating or finding a case file, try using our webpage about accessing Supreme Court case files on the TDA.

M-119, M case files, Case files, Texas Supreme Court records. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. This case file is available on the TDA.

M case files provide information about the lives of Texans between 1841 to 1892. Many of these files are available on the TDA, such as M-119, Maria Jesus Delgado de Smith v. Samuel Smith. This file provides details regarding Maria Jesus Delgado de Smith’s 1844 petition to the Supreme Court of Texas to be made the executor of her late husband’s will. While not all M case files have been added to the TDA, we are scanning and uploading files regularly.

These case files can vary in length, as sometimes only portions of a case file survived. As we discussed in our previous blog post about recovering Supreme Court case files, sometimes we recover portions of case files that had been lost or stolen. 

TSLAC has also digitized records helpful in finding case files and providing procedural details about them. The records available on the TDA include dockets and indexes.

M case files direct and reverse index, Indexes and registers, Texas Supreme Court records. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Available on the TDA.

Researchers can review the direct and reverse index to M case files for the names of the parties, the old case file number, the M case file number (if one was assigned), a citation to the published opinion in the Texas Reports, and the filing date. The Texas Reports are also available through the Portal to Texas History. Some card files also cite the South Western Reporter. Not all case files from this time period survived and received M case file numbers, so the citation to the opinions can help find published information when the case files have been lost.

201-3, Supreme Court dockets (circuit court period), Dockets, Texas Supreme Court records. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Available on the TDA.

Dockets from this period are also available on the TDA. Dockets provide the original number of the case, the attorneys, the parties, the county filed in, and notes about actions that occurred related to the case. The Court also sometimes stamped the dockets with M case file numbers.

Bar docket, Austin term, 1870. 201-35, Supreme Court dockets (circuit court period), Dockets, Texas Supreme Court records. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Available on the TDA.

Both dockets and indexes can be used to locate an M case file number, which is necessary to locate the case file. Our Texas Supreme Court case files from this period are organized by M case file number, on both the Texas Digital Archive and in our Austin, Texas, facility.

Other Texas Supreme Court records from this period are not available through the TDA and are still accessible through the original paper records. This includes the minutes of the Court, indexes of attorneys registered to practice before the Court, and opinions. These paper records are described in more detail in the finding aid.

Searching for Supreme Court Case Files

A search tool to locate Supreme Court case files on the TDA may help with locating case files. You can search all of the case files that are have been uploaded onto the TDA, by party, M case file number, presiding judge of the District Court, originating county, and more. The cause of action field identifies the legal basis for a lawsuit, such as assault, debt, and probate. This allows you to locate multiple cases on a particular issue.

As a reminder, not all case files in our holdings are available on the TDA yet. We are still scanning and uploading case files dated 1841-1892 onto the TDA, so if a case isn’t available, it is a good idea to check with us.

Remember, if a case does not have an M case file number in the index or dockets, the case file could be missing or stolen. We maintain a list of missing M case files on our website, which is updated biannually. If a case file is missing or stolen, the published opinion in the Texas Reports may provide information about the circumstances of the case. Many volumes of the Texas Reports are available electronically through HathiTrust.

Please contact the reference desk for information about case files. Whether you need assistance locating one on the TDA, confirming the location of one that is not on the TDA, or help with restricted case files (dated after 1943), our reference staff are ready to help. You can contact the reference desk at ref@tsl.texas.gov.

New Online: Recent Update to Finding Aids and Digital Images Available Online

As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe and make available to the public the materials under our care, we spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We close out the piece highlighting fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items.

Archivists create finding aids for collections once they are processed and add these descriptive guides to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO). TARO hosts finding aids from institutions around the state and researchers may determine whether or not to limit searches to the State Archives. Not all collections have been processed and therefore the list of finding aids does not represent the entirety of our holdings. The Archives & Manuscripts page of the TSLAC website provides more information and guidance on how to access archival collections.

Contact ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455 with questions about using TSLAC’s archival resources. For a comprehensive list of all recently added and updated finding aids visit Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised).


New Finding Aids

State Records

Texas General Land Office Special Board of Review agenda, minutes, and exhibits – GLO I.11

Administratively attached to the Texas General Land Office, the Special Board of Review considers various aspects related to the development of real property belonging to Texas, the Permanent School Fund, or any other dedicated state fund. Records consists of agenda, minutes, and exhibits, dating 1995-1998.

Texas Governor Allan Shivers press files – GOV IV.08

Press staff of the Texas Governor’s Office were responsible for issuing press releases and media advisories on the activities and actions of the governor, writing speeches for the governor and collecting, copying, and distributing information about the governor and first lady. Records are the press files for Governor Allan Shivers and consist of clippings, press releases, speeches, notes, publications, proclamations, correspondence, and related records, dated 1937, 1941-1943, 1946-1957, bulk 1946-1957.

A portrait of Governor Allan Shivers,January, 1953. 1983/112 M-351-1, Texas Department of Public Safety photographs.Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Texas Governor Allan Shivers scheduling files – GOV IV.09

As the chief executive of the State of Texas, the governor has many responsibilities and duties that require a full schedule to fulfill. The governor’s scheduling files document Governor’s Office responses to requests for the governor’s time as well as logistical organization of the governor’s attendance at local, state, national, and international events. Records are the scheduling files of Governor Allan Shivers and consist of correspondence, invitations, schedules, and related records, dated 1949-1964 and undated, bulk 1951-1957.

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New Online: Recent Updates to Finding Aids and Digital Images Available Online

As our archives staff work on an ongoing basis to arrange, preserve, describe and make available to the public the materials under our care, we spotlight new additions to the website in a regular feature from Out of the Stacks. The column lists new and revised finding aids recently made available online. We close out the piece highlighting fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items.

Front elevation, February 13, 1883,1994/083-8a, Architectural drawings and derivatives. Texas Capitol Building Commission administrative records and architectural drawings. Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Archivists create finding aids for collections once they are processed and add these descriptive guides to Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO). TARO hosts finding aids from institutions around the state and researchers may determine whether or not to limit searches to the State Archives. Not all collections have been processed and therefore the list of finding aids does not represent the entirety of our holdings. The Archives & Manuscripts page of the TSLAC website provides more information and guidance on how to access archival collections.

Contact ref@tsl.texas.gov or 512-463-5455 with questions about using TSLAC’s archival resources. For a comprehensive list of all recently added and updated finding aids visit Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised).


New Finding Aids

State Records

Texas Department of Transportation Right of Way Division records – HWY II.15 (these electronic records are available on the Texas Digital Archive)

These records include conveyances, maps, and titles for property owned by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Right of Way Division. The Right of Way Division coordinates the acquisition of land to build, widen, or enhance highways and provides relocation assistance when needed. The division also coordinates utility adjustments, and the disposition and leasing of surplus real property owned by TxDOT. The records document these land transfers and date from 1924 to 2017, and undated. The records are part of an ongoing digitization project by TxDOT that has begun with the Austin District; the project will continue with other major-municipality districts and finish with the less populous ones.

Right-of-way easement, 000006032, Texas Department of Transportation Right of Way Division records. Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Texas Board of Commissioners of Public Grounds and Buildings records – OAH II.022b

The 8th Texas Legislature (Chapter 40, Regular Session) created the Board of Commissioners of Public Grounds and Buildings in February 1860 to supervise the care, maintenance, and improvements of buildings and grounds upon the capitol square, including the Capitol, the Treasury Building, the Supreme Court Building, the General Land Office, and the Governor’s Mansion. The board was also tasked with directing and controlling the investment of all appropriations made by the legislature for the purchase of books for the State Library and establishing rules for the management of the library. Records date 1860-1876, undated, and include minutes, financial records, correspondence, reports to the governor, various inventories, and payroll records.

Texas Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds records – OAH II.022b (all of the records have been digitized and are available on the Texas Digital Archive)

The 14th Texas Legislature (Senate Bill 335, Regular Session) created the Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds in 1874 to take charge of the public halls of the Capitol and State Library as well as the safekeeping and preservation of the Capitol grounds and State Cemetery. This office also briefly worked with the Governor’s Mansion, Treasury Building, and Comptroller Building. In 1879, the office came under the supervision of the Commissioner of Insurance, Statistics, and History (Revised Civil Statutes, Chapter 2, Title 76). The office was abolished in 1919 and its duties absorbed by the Texas State Board of Control (Senate Bill 147, 36th Legislature, Regular Session). Records date 1877-1916, undated, and include financial records, reports, various inventories, payroll records, bids, specifications, blueprints, drawings, and prints. These records have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive.

 Wire glass enclosure no. 118, 2019/118-8-14, Texas Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds records. Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
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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.

The State Archives Digitization Team Works from Home

By Angela Swift, Archivist

Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) Archives staff, including the digitization team, are working remotely during the recently enacted Stay Home – Work Safe order put in place to curtail the spread of COVID -19. What can a digitization team do from home? As we covered in last summer’s blog post, Why Isn’t Everything in the Archives Available Online?, digitization involves more than the act of creating digital versions of archival materials. When preparing a collection for the Texas Digital Archive, staff usually spend about 25 percent of their time and labor on the digitization portion of the project. Although the team does not have remote access to physical items or scanning equipment while working from home, there are many other tasks that can be done.

Broadside announcing quarantine of Harrisburg against persons from Galveston and other coast towns on Sept. 29, 1870, br0095, The Broadsides collection. Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Archivist Angela Swift has been working to make the Broadsides collection available online. The Broadsides is a collection of over 700 advertising and other printed notices, dating from 1646-1999, such as this Yellow Fever quarantine notice from 1870. Since TSLAC had previously digitized these items, Angela is able to work from the images to create the descriptions and metadata that are essential for access.

Photo archivist Cait Burhans is updating the State Archives photo database, clarifying copyright and permissions information for our patrons and staff, and editing images for an upcoming exhibit.

Archivist Tiffany Criswell has created a home office space to work on our Supreme Court case files, among other projects.

Archivist Tiffany Criswell has been working on the Supreme Court M case files missing list and database.  Due to floods, fires and thefts, thousands of cases are missing from the collection. She uses a combination of a digitized card file index, digitized dockets and Texas Reports (available through the Portal to Texas History) to gather information about the missing cases. Tiffany says there is a much more thorough and detailed missing list coming soon.

Digital Asset Coordinator Steve Kanter has been busy with image processing, file management and consulting on metadata. He’s also researching speech-to-text technologies to improve the captioning of online film and video.

Other archivists at TSLAC are hard at work as well. Their hasty notetaking, imaging and copying of collections before the Stay-at-Home order was issued allows them to continue their work on processing and appraisal projects.

Archivist Anna Reznik’s home work space and cat. On view is the ArchivesSpace interface.

Archivists Anna Reznik and Rebecca Romanchuk are working on developing ArchivesSpace, our collections management system.

Trading cubicles and coworkers for home and furry office assistants has been a bit challenging for an archive, but we’re learning new technologies and ways of working so we may continue to increase the number of digitized archival materials available for the public.

Note: Reproductions of archival materials for patrons, including all photocopy, digitization, and microfilm requests will be greatly delayed. You are welcome to submit payment, but please be aware that requests may take several weeks to be filled. Additionally, requests that require extensive review for restricted materials, conservation treatment, or staff research may be delayed until our agency status has changed. Please check our website for updates: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/

Please contact our Reference Staff with your inquiries regarding our collections at 512-463-5455 or ref@tsl.texas.gov..