New Exhibit: Texas Governors and Their Times (1846-1946)

The newest public exhibit at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC), Texas Governors and Their Times, 1846-1946, is now on display in the lobby of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building. Exhibits are free and no reservations are required. Texas Governors and Their Times, 1846-1946 showcases materials from the State Archives documenting the official work and daily business of the state’s chief executive spanning 100 years.

Governor’s Mansion, about 1970-1980. Color slides and transparencies, 1991077/130/001. Texas Tourism and Development Agency records.

Explore how seven governors responded to the issues of their eras through a selection of proclamations, correspondence, photographs, legislation, postcards, and more. As Texas transitioned from an independent republic to the 28th state in the Union, these governors oversaw the growth and development of what would become the second most populous state in the country. Below are a few examples of items on display. The entire exhibit is also available for viewing anytime online in the virtual version of Texas Governors and Their Times.

Although he was born in Ohio, Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel loved his adopted state of Texas, where he moved in 1925. He wrote his best-known song, “Beautiful Texas,” in 1933 and recorded it with his band the Light Crust Doughboys. The song was a fixture at O’Daniel’s campaign rallies and at events during his term as governor.

Sheet music for “Beautiful Texas” by W. Lee O’Daniel, 1933. Patriotic songs, Vocal music, Texas sheet music collection, Box 2015/083-7.

Part of the inauguration celebration of Texas governors is the inaugural ball. This small booklet includes a program of the events of the inauguration and a dance card. A woman attending the ball would have used this dance card to record the names of her intended dance partners for each dance of the night.

Inaugural Ball dance card in honor of Governor O.B. Colquitt, January 17, 1911. Inaugurations of Texas Governors, Box 2-23/902. 

This phonograph cylinder contains an early recording of a speech by Governor Hogg. It was donated to the Texas State Archive in 1910 by Oscar Branch Colquitt, who served as governor from 1911 to 1915.

Wax phonograph cylinder, undated. Hogg (James Stephen) speech, Box 2-22/L16a.

“Christmas greetings from the Allreds” sent to the Graham family. James V. Allred served two terms as governor of Texas from 1935-1939. Richard Niles Graham was the grandson of Governor Elisha Pease, and the Graham-Pease family were prominent leaders in Austin.

The Governor’s Mansion, undated. Photographs, Graham (R. Niles) Collection, 1964/306-620.

“We think this new exhibit illustrates the importance of government records, especially those of the state’s highest elected office, to understanding Texas history,” said State Archivist Jelain Chubb. “Historic photographs show us what it was like to be in the governor’s office in 1911, letters of both Union and Confederate military officials as well as civilians give us first-hand accounts of the periods of the Civil War and Reconstruction, and artifacts from inaugurations, like the programs and mementos on display, allow us to imagine what it was like to attend these historic events. The items we preserve in the State Archives really bring history to life.”

Named a National Literary Landmark, the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building is the agency’s flagship located directly east of the Texas Capitol. Lobby exhibits are open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and the Second Saturday of each month, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visit online:

Texas Governors and Their Times will be on view until May 15, 2023.

For questions about our collections and how to access them, please contact the reference desk at or call 512-463-5455.

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