“I Duel Solemnly Swear:” Oaths of Office on File

By Taylor Fox, Reference Librarian

Are you considering running for office? If you win, you’ll need to swear an oath. Public officials swear oaths of office to assure their loyalty to the government and to affirm their promise to uphold the duties of the position. Until 1938, Texas’ oath included a promise that the individual had never fought in, challenged someone to, or accepted a duel!

The oath of office changed slightly from 1846 to 1938, but more or less read as:
“I, _____ do solemnly swear, (or affirm), that I will faithfully and impartially
discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _____ according to the
best of my skill and ability, agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the United
States and of this State; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm), that since
the adoption of the Constitution of this State, I being a citizen of this State,
have not fought a duel with deadly weapons, within this State nor out of it, nor
have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have
I acted as second in carrying a challenge, or aided, advised or assisted any person thus offending. And I furthermore solemnly swear, (or affirm), that I have not
directly, nor indirectly paid, offered or promised to pay, contributed, nor promised
to contribute any money, or valuable thing, or promised any public office or
employment, as a reward for the giving or withholding a vote at the election at
which I was elected, (or if the office is one of appointment, to secure my
appointment.) So help me God.”

Below is an example of an oath from 1870, accessed online through Ancestry in the collection Texas, Bonds and Oaths of Office, 1846–1920 from TSLAC’s Secretary of State Bonds and Oaths of Office:

Charles L. Abbott (April 26, 1870), Bond and oath, Texas Secretary of State. Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Available from Ancestry.com; Internet; accessed February 2020.

The oath was changed in 1938, when voters approved the constitutional amendment recommended by House Joint Resolution No. 20, 45th Legislature, Regular Session (1937). Following the approval of the amendment, the oath no longer included a reference to dueling.

You can explore more Texas oaths of office online through Ancestry or Ancestry.com Texas in the collection: Texas, Bonds and Oaths of Office, 1846–1920. TSLAC offers access to a number of digital collections through the Ancestry database. Learn more about Ancestry Texas by viewing the Second Saturday workshop presentation on our workshops page. 

For more information about TSLAC’s library and archives collections and how to access them contact Reference Services at ref@tsl.texas.gov or call 512-463-5455.

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.

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TSLAC Conservation Blog Moves to New Home

By Sarah Norris, Conservator

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

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

Margaret Lea Houston’s Summer Spread

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor Abbott Reappoints Malinda Cowen to the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board (THRAB)

Governor Abbott has reappointed Malinda Cowen to serve on the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board. Cowen will serve as one of two public members appointed by the governor. The other public member, Bob Glenn, was appointed in 2017. Cowen is the director of Special Education at St. Mary’s Academy Charter School in Beeville and has served in several leadership positions, including chairman of the South Texas Library System Advisory Council, and president of the Bee County Library Board, Soroptimist Club, and the Rosetta Club.

The nine-member board includes the State Archivist, Jelain Chubb, and six members appointed by the Director and State Librarian Mark Smith. Smith recently appointed Melissa Gonzales, Director of Records Management at the Houston Community College System, to serve a three-year term beginning in 2018.

Visit the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board webpage for more information.

Celebrate Women Veterans Day with Books from Archives & Reference Services

By Stephanie Andrews, Library Assistant, with contributions from ARIS staff

books related to women veterans

Selection of books in honor of Women Veterans Day from the collection at the Texas State Library & Archives. The books are available for use in the Reading Room. See the list below for call numbers.

In honor of Women Veterans Day, ARIS has created a booklist for our readers. Our list features books about women in many service areas and over various periods of military history. In addition to representing women veterans, these titles also reflect the many ways women assisted military efforts in history before they could serve in an official capacity.

On June 12th, 1948 President Truman signed into federal law the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act, making it possible for women to serve as regular, permanent members of the armed forces. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of that signing. During the last Texas legislative session, Senate Bill 805 established Women Veterans Day as June 12th and was signed into law in June of 2017. This summer will mark the first observance of this day.

For more information about Women Veterans Day, visit https://womenveteransday.com. To learn more about the Texas Veterans Commission’s official opening ceremony events visit https://www.tvc.texas.gov/women-veterans/womenvetsday.

If you’d like to search for these books and more, check out our catalog at www.tsl.texas.gov/catalog. If you are interested in checking out a title from this booklist, please visit the Reference Desk in room 109. Below is the complete list of titles you’ll find in our Women Veterans Day booklist.

Title Author Call No. Collection
A History of the Women Marines, 1946-1977 U.S. Marine Corps D 214.13:W 84/2 USD
Air Force Women: A Heritage of Excellence Air Force History and Museums Program D 301.76/5:W 84 USD
American’s Youngest Women Warriors Brandt, Dorothy Hinson 355.0082 A512 MAIN
Beyond the Latino World War II Hero Rivas-Rodriguez, Maggie and Zamora, Emilio ZUA 380.8 B468LA c.2 TXD
Breaking Codes Breaking Barriers U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command D 101.2:C 64 USD
Department of Defense Celebrates: March 1997, Women’s History Month Department of Defense D 2.9:D 36/2/No.110 USD
Finding Dorothy Scott Rickman, Sarah Byrn ZTT 422.8 R425fi c.2 TXD
Kate: The Journal of a Confederate Nurse Cumming, Kate and Harwell, Richard Barksdale 973.776 C912k 1959 MAIN
More than a Uniform: A Navy Woman in a Navy Man’s World Collins, Captain Winifred Quick ZN 745.8 M813 1997 TXD
Nancy Love and the WASP Ferry Pilots of World War II Rickman, Sarah Byrn ZN 745.8 R425NA TXD
Oveta Culp Hobby: Colonel, Cabinet Member, Philanthropist Winegarten, Debra L. ZUA 380.8 W725ov c.2 TXD
She Rode with Generals Dannett, Sylvia G.L. 973.781 D233 MAIN
Survey of Female Veterans Veterans Administration VA 1.2:F 34/5 USD
Texans and War: New Interpretations of the State’s Military History Mendoza, Alexander and Grear, Charles David ZTA 475.8 M522te c.2 TXD
The Women’s Army Corps, 1945-1978 Morden, Bettie J. D 114.19:W 84 USD
United States Women in Aviation: 1940-1985 Douglas, Deborah G. SI 1.42:7 USD
WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deeds Rickman, Sarah Byrn ZN 745.8 R425wa c.2 TXD
Women are Veterans, too! Department of Veterans Affairs VA 1.19:10-109/990 USD
Women Doctors in War Bellafaire, Judith and Graf, Mercedes Herrera ZTA 475.8 B414wo c.2 TXD
Women in Civil War Texas Liles, Deborah M. and Boswell, Angela ZN 745.8 W842 c.2 TXD
Women in Defense – DoD Leading the Way Department of Defense D 1.2:W 84/6 USD
Women in the Military: A Proud Heritage Department of Defense D 2.9:D 36/2/No.63 USD
Women Marines in the 1980’s U.S. Marine Corps D 214.2:W 84/5 USD
Women Pilots of World War II Cole, Jean Hascall 940.54 C675W MAIN
Women who Spied for the Blue and the Gray Kinchen, Oscar A. 973.785 K574 MAIN

2018 Archival Award of Excellence Nominations Are Open

The Texas Historical Records Advisory Board’s Archival Award of Excellence recognizes significant achievements in preserving and improving access to historical records in any format by a Texas archival institution and individual achievements.

For institutions:

All Texas institutions responsible for archival records that provide public access to at least a portion of their collection are eligible. Achievements include recent projects and/or on-going programs that build collections, enhance access to archives, develop effective digitization programs, or implement preservation strategies.

For individual:

An archivist or individual who has made an outstanding contribution in the areas of management, preservation, access, advocacy, or use of historical records in Texas. Nominees must have accomplished the work within the state of Texas during the five-year preceding the year in which the award is presented. Current THRAB members are not eligible.

Nomination Process:

Submit an Archival Award of Excellence Nomination form, a Statement of Work Accomplished, 3 Letters of Support and any supporting materials.  For more information, visit https://www.tsl.texas.gov/archivalaward.

Send nominations via email or U.S. mail to:

                Jelain Chubb

                ATTN: THRAB Archival Award of Excellence

                Texas State Library and Archives Commission

                P.O. Box 12927

                Austin, TX 78701

                Email: thrab@tsl.texas.gov


Nominations must be received by July 31, 2018.

Meet the Staff: Brianna Cochran

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

Brianna Cochran

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

As a new Library Assistant, my day is split between orientations and training, staffing reading rooms, and working on stacks maintenance projects. Eventually, I will be trained to assist patrons with locating research resources, and I will take on more complex stacks maintenance projects.

Why did you choose your profession?

I have always felt at home in libraries. When my single mother could not find a babysitter, she used to take me to the library with her while she studied for her associate’s degree. She studied in the adult reading room while I entertained myself in the children’s reading room. There, the children’s librarian taught me how to use an out marker and I enjoyed the satisfaction of placing a book on the shelf in its correct location. My childhood enthusiasm for libraries carried over to my home life. Enthusiastically, I created library check out cards on scraps of colored construction paper, for my personal collection of books and VHS tapes.

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

At this point, I have a limited exposure to our vast collection, so I will probably discover new favorites as I work with more materials. However, my current favorite is our collection of newspapers on microfilm. I have selected the Houston Post from November 1, 1919, as an example.

Before working at TSLAC, I needed access to the Houston Post for personal research. The only places I could find that provided access to the out-of-print the Houston Post were Rice University in Houston and paid newspaper subscription sites, so I was not able to access the materials I needed for my project. I was excited to find out the Houston Post is at TSLAC, and I have enjoyed learning how to use microfilm.

The Houston Post. (1919, November 1)

The Houston Post. (1919, November 1)

[TSLAC also maintains institutional memberships to the Newspaper Archive and Newspapers.com Texas Collection, both available for free on-site in our Reference Reading Room located in the Lorenzo de Zavala State Library and Archives Building in Austin.]

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

I like to be in nature. Beaches are my favorite, but in Austin I like to hike nature trails. I am learning to practice mindfulness, which is accepting and noticing the present moment without judgment. Therefore, my hikes look more like walking slowly and marveling at water droplets sparkling in the sun, rather than hiking quickly for exercise. I find mindfulness helps manage stress, because it gives me a sense of power. Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, I can make decisions about what to do in the present.

Throwback Thursday: The Lorenzo de Zavala Building, Home of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

By Steven Kantner, Digital Asset Coordinator

Austin neighborhoods around the Texas State Capitol changed tremendously since the 1950s as homes and businesses made way for various state office buildings and parking garages. Here are some before-and-after views of the areas surrounding TSLAC’s Lorenzo De Zavala building. These 1950s photographs were found in the Department of Public Safety Photograph collection, an ongoing digitization project at TSLAC.

View of the Lorenzo de Zavala Building from Brazos Street

View from the Corner of 13th Street and Brazos Street

View from the Corner of 13th Street and San Jacinto

View from San Jacinto Street

View from San Jacinto Street and 14th Street

View from San Jacinto and 12th Streets

View from San Jacinto and 14th Streets, Looking South

View from 13th and San Jacinto Streets

These and other photographs from the Department of Public Safety Photograph collection can be seen at: https://tsl.access.preservica.com/tda/texas-state-agencies/dps/photographs/


Archives à la Carte: Staff Picks Exhibit Opening

Archives à la Carte: Staff Picks

Join us for an informal evening of music, archives, discussion, and networking at our Archives à la Carte exhibit open house. Free and open to the public. RSVP on our Eventbrite event page or send your RSVP via email at rsvp@tsl.texas.gov.

The evening will include

  • Exhibit: Let archivists be your guide as you examine some of the state’s most fascinating historical records. Archives à la Carte: Staff Picks looks at how the Texan identity is captured and perpetuated through items selected by state archivists and librarians. This “behind-the-scenes” tour of the State Archives features surprising historical finds–including items for music lovers and nature buffs. See a letter from Samuel Morse offering Texas exclusive rights to his telegraph machine, Clyde Barrow’s convict record, Sam Houston’s passport, and much more!
  • Performance: Musician Billy Traylor and the Austin Baroque Orchestra will perform the historic Texian Grand March and other selections from the State Archives historic sheet music collection.
  • Tours: Visitors will be able to tour the lobby, see our famous Texas mural, and visit the recording studio of the Talking Book Program. The volunteer recording studio celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
  • Q&A with Archivists & Librarians: Hear it from the experts, as members of our professional team share insights and the back story of some of the items you will see on exhibit.

Light hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP if you are planning to attend.

Archives à la Carte: Staff Picks logoWhen: March 6, 2018 | 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Where: The Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building, 1201 Brazos Street, Austin, 78701

Parking: Capitol Visitor’s Parking Garage, 1201 San Jacinto Boulevard. Free 2-hour parking.

More information: www.tsl.texas.gov