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
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
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
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.
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/.
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.
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.