Meet the Staff – Susan Floyd

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.

Photo of Susan Floyd.

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

As an archivist, I spend most of my time processing—that is, arranging and describing—state records, along with some historical manuscript collections. I also serve as the accessions archivist and legislative records specialist, responsible for working with donors and legislators who transfer records to the state archives.

Why did you choose your profession?

I have always been interested in history; I also have a master’s in English, and I’d considered going back to get a PhD in one of those two subjects. However, after working at UT-Austin for a few years and taking a bibliography and textual studies class there with Professor Michael Winship that met at the Harry Ransom Center, I realized my calling was to work in archives to preserve records and make them accessible. So I went back to graduate school at the iSchool at UT. I’m kind of stunned that I hadn’t considered this career path earlier—I got my MSIS and first archivist job (this one!) at age 36.

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

This is an impossible question! The two photo-engraved panoramic postcards showing the downtown square in Paris, Texas, taken after the devastating fire of 1916 are definitely special. These photos were displayed in TSLAC’s lobby gallery last year in the East Texas section of our exhibit, Wish You Were Here: Historic Postcards From Texas.

I’m from Paris, and I grew up seeing prints of these photos in people’s homes and offices; because of the fire, almost all of the buildings in our historic town center date to 1916 and still bear witness today—almost every one prominently declaring the year on its cornice or upper facade. Two of the four New Deal-funded murals by Paris native Jerry Bywaters on display in the Paris Public Library depict the fire and its aftermath. Memory of the event persists in Lamar County; last year, Paris commemorated the one hundredth anniversary of the fire.

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

Since going back to school in 2013, I find I’m somehow always busy! In my “free” time, I’m usually watching soccer, especially Liverpool FC; studying Welsh, which I’ve been learning for the past nine months or so; cooking and trying new foods; walking or hiking, both around downtown and on Austin’s amazing trails; volunteering with the Junior League of Austin; planning my next trip; or, of course, reading—mostly nonfiction, especially history.

 

 

 

Did You Know in Texas History: Texas outlaw Sam Bass

By Caroline Jones, Library Assistant

On July 19th 1878, Texas outlaw Sam Bass was mortally wounded in a gun fight against Texas Rangers in Round Rock, TX. He died a few days later in Round Rock on July 21st, his 27th birthday.

According to the Handbook of Texas Online, Bass was born on July 21st, 1851 in Indiana and moved to Denton, TX in the fall of 1870 where he worked for Sheriff William F. Egan as a ranch hand building fences and caring for the livestock. During this time he, also worked for the railroad as a freighter loading goods on to railroad cars between Denton, Dallas, and Sherman. After leaving Egan’s property he began transporting cattle and racing horses, while also accumulating gambling debts he could not afford. It was during this time that Bass began robbing stagecoaches.

Bass used the skills he acquired as a ranch hand and as a railroad freighter to rob stagecoaches and railroad cars in and outside of Texas. By the spring of 1878, Bass and his gang had robbed four trains outside of Dallas- cementing Bass’s reputation as a notorious, Texas outlaw. Part of TSLAC’s collection materials concerning Bass is from a robbery committed in Nebraska. The gang held up a Union Pacific passenger train and stole $60,000 worth of new twenty-dollar gold pieces along with an additional $1,300 and four gold watches from the passengers. The image below is the digitization of a reward for the “Omaha Train Robbers” Bill Heffery, Sam Bass, Jack Davis, James Berry, and Tom Nixon. It can be found here in the Texas Treasures online exhibit.

List of Texas fugitives

Lists of fugitives, 1865-1879, 1898-1899, Lists of fugitives, Frontier Battalion records, Ranger records, Texas Adjutant General’s Department. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

List of Texas fugitives

Lists of fugitives, 1865-1879, 1898-1899, Lists of fugitives, Frontier Battalion records, Ranger records, Texas Adjutant General’s Department. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Before actually robbing the bank in Round Rock, Bass wanted to survey the area to be sure they had an escape route. According to Rangers of Texas, Bass came with three gang members to complete the heist: Frank Jackson, Seaborn Barnes, and Jim Murphy. Unbeknownst to the rest of the gang, Murphy was an informant for the Texas Rangers. So when the gang rode into Round Rock, Commander Major John B. Jones had three Rangers waiting to meet them.

Photo of John B. Jones, Texas Ranger Commander

John B. Jones. 1/102-333, People Collection, Prints and Photographs. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

However, it was local law enforcement officer Morris Murphy, accompanied by Deputy Sheriffs Grimes and Moore, who first approached the bandits. A gun fight broke out in a convenience store, with Barnes killing Grimes, Moore sustaining severe chest wounds, and Bass losing fingers from his right hand. As the gang fled the Rangers appeared, killing Barnes and fatally wounding Bass with a shot to the spine. Jackson rode out of town with a dying Bass, but ultimately had to leave him behind. The next day Bass was found about 3 miles north of Round Rock. He was brought into town and died of his injuries the following day, July 21st.

Even after his death, Bass’s story lived on through the tales of the Texas Rangers, the ballads of cowboys, and in the remaining members of his former gang. As seen in the image below, three years later, Texas Governor Roberts received messages from those interested in capturing the rest of the outlaw gang for a chance at the reward money.

Note from Toney Heis to Governor Roberts regarding the remaining Bass outlaw gang.

Toney Heis to Roberts, November 23, 1881, Records of Oran Milo Roberts, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

The legend of Bass outlived him and continues to be a point of folklore and historical research in Texas.

Further Reading:

Texas Treasures: Rangers and Outlaws: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/treasures/law/index.html

Texas Governor Oran Milo Roberts, 1861-1883 (bulk 1878-1883): http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/40019/tsl-40019.html

Texas Adjutant General’s Department, Ranger Records: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30027/tsl-30027.html

State Executive Record Books, 1835-1917: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30057/tsl-30057.html

Texas Secretary of State, Fugitive Records: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30088/tsl-30088.html

Title Call No.
Tracking the Texas Rangers : the nineteenth century Z N745.8 G463tr
Rangers of Texas 923.9764 R163
Sam Bass & gang 364.1 M617s
The tenderfoot bandits : Sam Bass and Joel Collins, their lives and hard times 923.41 B293R
Sam Bass: 100 years later, 1878-1978 976.406092 B293S
The Black Sheep 364.922 M264B
Tame the restless wind; the life and legends of Sam Bass 920.7 B293G and 923.41 B293GR
A sketch of Sam Bass, the bandit : a graphic narrative : his various train robberies, his death, and accounts of the deaths of his gang and their history 923.41 B293m 1956
Authentic history of Sam Bass and his gang 920.7 B293B 1950
Sam Bass, the train robber; the life of Texas’ most popular bandit 920.7 B293C

 

Meet the Staff – Andrew Glass

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.Photo of library assistant Andrew Glass.

In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

I dabble in a little bit of everything that the Information Services division within ARIS has to offer. I perform stacks maintenance activities, provide patron assistance in all three of our public reading rooms, collect statistics, process incoming items, write procedures, rehouse and inventory archival items and more!

Why did you choose your profession?

As an undergraduate at the University of Texas, I worked at the now defunct Audio Visual Library. It was a great job and I loved it, but I thought I had more pressing passions. After graduating college, I moved to Washington D.C. to muck it up in politics and realized within 6 months that policy work was not for me. Falling back on my undergraduate degree, history, I crawled back to my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas and became a high school teacher. I did this for two years. All the while eying the school librarians. Pestering them with questions. Flickers of my past life as a library employee keeping me up at night. I realized after trying my hand at other things, libraries are the place for me. I love research, patrons, collections, organization, access, preservation, digitization, older forms of media, co-workers. I like arriving to a place everyday with the goal of making it easier for a person off the street to access the wonders of the world.

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

The items in our collection that I have the most fun perusing would have to be the City Directories. My family arrived in East Texas from Baton Rouge in the 1840s. The first appearance of my Great-Grandfather and namesake Anthony Montana Glass occurs in the Houston City Directory for 1882. He is listed as a County Cattle Inspector:Excerpt from a 1882 Houston city directory for an Anthony M. Glass.

Skipping to 1912, we find my great, great-grandfather and great uncle as neighbors on historic Hardy Street.

Excerpt from a 1912 Houston city directory showing two entries for Anthony M. Glass.

In a cruel bit of fate, the Texas and New Orleans Railroad company which my great uncle is listed as being a towerman for, would be responsible for my Great Great Grandpa’s death.

Using one of our subscription newspaper databases, I can read all about the grisly scene when an iron rod from a T. & N. O. locomotive nearly decapitated my namesake!News article titled A.M. Glass Died Result of Injurey.

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

I watch an incredible amount of movies. I am never without a book. I ride my bicycle everywhere. I like exploring, hiking, eating. My ideal weekend would be sweating it out in the Chisos Mountains with friends enjoying cold drinks and eating meat and potatoes.

Did You Know in Texas History: George T. Ruby

By Caroline Jones, Library Assistant

On April 26, 1870 George T. Ruby signed his oath to serve as a state senator, surpassing racial barriers as one of Texas’s first African-American politicians.

Black and white image of George Thompson Ruby, an African American senator

George Thompson Ruby of Galveston served in the 1868-69 Constitutional Convention and the 12th and 13th Texas Legislature

Born in New York in 1841, Ruby moved to Galveston in 1866 to work for the Freedmen’s Bureau. While in Galveston he established the city’s first Labor Union of Colored Men. With a liberal arts education under his belt and experience as president of the Union League, Ruby quickly made a name for himself in Galveston and was elected as delegate to the Republican national convention in 1868. He served as the only African-American within the Texas delegation. In this same year he served as one of only ten African-American delegates to Texas’s Constitutional Convention. By 1869, Ruby was elected state senator from the Twelfth District representing Galveston, Brazoria, and Matagorda counties. This is particularly noteworthy as this was a predominantly white district at the time.

Ruby served in the 12th and 13th Texas Legislatures, from 1870 to 1871 and in 1873 respectively. As state senator Ruby served on the judiciary, militia, education, and state affairs committees. Bills he introduced successfully incorporated the Galveston and El Paso, the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio, and the Galveston, Houston and Tyler railroads, as well as the Harbor Trust Company and several insurance companies. Bills he introduced also provided for geological and agricultural survey of the state. Due to a changing political climate in which the Democratic Party dominated the senate, Ruby chose not to seek reelection and finished his term in 1873. He spent the rest of his life in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite his brief time as senator, Ruby is remembered by some historians as “the most important black politician in Texas during Reconstruction in terms of his power and ability” (tshaonline). His political passion enabled him to exceed racial expectations and provided opportunities for African-American laborers in Galveston and across the state. Ruby is prominently featured in TSLAC’s own “Forever Free” online exhibit as well as our “Texas Treasures” online exhibit.

Ruby’s oath of office is part of our Secretary of State Bonds and Oaths collection. The records were originally transferred to TSLAC by the Texas Secretary of State on an unknown date and reaccessioned in January of 2012. According to the finding aid, Archivist Tony Black discovered this set of records among unprocessed records of the Texas Adjutant General’s Department in November of 1986 and determined they were actually part of the Secretary of State bonds and oaths. The oaths and physical card catalogs from this collection have also been digitized and are available through Ancestry.com.

George T. Ruby's Oath of Office.

George T. Ruby’s Oath of Office.

See also:

Texas Secretary of State bonds and oaths Finding Aid: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/30194/tsl-30194.html#series3

Handbook of Texas Online article: https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fru02

Forever Free: Nineteenth Century African-American Legislators and Constitutional Convention Delegates of Texas online exhibit: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/exhibits/forever/index.html

Early African-American Senators section of the Texas Treasures online exhibit:

Did You Know in Texas History: Texas Centennial Exposition

By Caroline Jones, Library Assistant

On June 6th, 1936 the Texas Centennial Exposition opened at Fair Park in Dallas, TX. The Texas Centennial Commission was created in June 1934 with Dallas outbidding Houston and San Antonio as the exposition grounds and construction to expand Fair Park was underway by October of 1935. The expansion included 180 acres of park grounds and 50 new buildings. In total the exposition cost 25 million dollars, and an estimated 6,345,385 people attended the Centennial Exposition in Dallas.

Aerial black and white photo of the Texas Centennial.

From “Texas Centennial and Dallas Exposition: over 100 illustrations” from TSLAC-Main Collection.

The exposition was open from June 6 to November 29, 1936. Although centennial celebrations were happening across the state, the Handbook of Texas Online states the event at Fair Park as the “central exposition.” One of the highlights of the Texas Centennial Exposition was the Hall of Negro Life. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, this was the first instance of the recognition of black culture at a world’s fair. It is estimated that over 400,000 people came through the hall, viewing the contributions of thirty-two states, the District of Columbia, and works from individuals like W. E. B. Dubois and Samuel A. Countee. The hall exhibited advances in economics and industry, murals, music, literature, performances, and more.

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Monday Mystery – June 2017

We’re back with another Monday Mystery post. All of the images from this feature are available on the Texas Digital Archive (TDA) and we welcome folks to browse through all of the images available on this site. We’re looking to our community of patrons, which includes academic researchers, genealogists, photography historians, and Texas enthusiasts, to help us identify some of our photo treasures.

Portiate of a couple, man standing and woman sitting in front of a backdrop

Image: 1995.112-58

Description: Portrait of couple, man standing and woman sitting in front of backdrop, about 1905 to 1920

TDA link: https://tsl.access.preservica.com/file/sdb%3AdigitalFile%7Cd200bac6-7685-4b26-81f8-9c91f6634889/

Collection: Clyde and Thelma See glass plate negatives collection

Question: Can you identify this dashing couple? We’re interested in any information about the pair and if they are from the Batson and Saratoga, Texas area. Or at the very least, admire their serious sense of style.

And as always, if you find an image on the TDA that you’d like to submit for a future Monday Mystery post, please email mailto:archinfo@tsl.texas.govand include “Monday Mystery” in the subject line.

Texas Writers’ Project Records

By Susan Floyd, Archivist

1940 Typescript of San Antonio's Fiesta.

San Antonio: Fiesta! typescript, 1940. City and town historical materials, Texas Writers’ Project records, 1962/218-9. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

In February, we published a finding aid for records relating to a New Deal program: the Texas Writers’ Project, an undertaking of the Work Projects Administration. Originally established as the Works Progress Administration on May 6, 1935, the WPA was a federal relief agency created by an executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In Texas, the WPA employed 600,000 in a wide variety of projects based on local needs and workforce skills. These projects included construction, vocational training, childcare, garment manufacturing, gardening and food production, healthcare, libraries and archives, recreation, and the arts.

The Texas Historical Records Survey and the Texas Writers’ Project, both organized in 1935, were two major WPA-led archival and literacy programs. The Writers’ Project, directed by author and newspaperman James Francis (J. Frank) Davis, employed researchers and writers to compile guides to the state and its regions focusing on cultural, geographic, and historical points of interest. The Project’s best-known publication was Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State (1940). Writers also worked on major publications such as America Eats; Hands That Built America (sometimes also referred to as Hands that Built the Nation); and, together with the Texas Historical Records Survey, The Western Range: The Story of the Grasslands.

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Meet the Staff – Caitlin Burhans

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

Photo of ARIS staffer Caitlin Burhans

 In 50 words or less, describe what you do.

As an Archivist I, I preserve, arrange, describe, and provide access to archival state records and manuscript collections. Since I started working at TSLAC, part of my time has been devoted to a project to humidify, flatten, index, and eventually digitize the early Texas Supreme Court case files.

Why did you choose your profession?

Archivists sometimes describe themselves as information professionals. In preserving the records of our state, I see my job as ensuring that the public has access to information about its own government and history. For me, archives are an important part of a community, and I think it’s important to work to make them more visible to all members of the community

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

My favorite item in our collection is always whatever I’ve just found out about in the course of my processing. I’ve been working on a finding aid for the Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar papers, and I learned that we have a set of Lamar’s dueling pistols in our artifacts collection that were used at the battle of San Jacinto.

Two antique wooden and metal dueling pistols.

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

I like to explore the city—try new restaurants, walk new trails…there’s always something interesting going on in Austin. I’m also always midway through some kind of renovation project on my house, but I don’t know if I would call that fun!

Monday Mystery – May 2017

We’re back with another Monday Mystery post. All of the images from this feature are available on the Texas Digital Archive (TDA) and we welcome folks to browse through all of the images available on this site. We’re looking to our community of patrons, which includes academic researchers, genealogists, photography historians, and Texas enthusiasts, to help us identify some of our photo treasures.

black and white image of woman and boy sitting in a cart pulled by goats.

Image: 1995.112.11

Description: “All Aboard,” woman and boy in cart pulled by goats, about 1908

TDA link: https://tsl.access.preservica.com/file/sdb%3AdigitalFile%7Cbffc5faf-26a8-4957-9068-ff67a42b3e2e/

Collection: Clyde and Thelma See glass plate negatives collection

Question: This is one of the few images in the See collection with an identified photographer – Fletcher Photo Company. We’re interested in any additional information about this photographer. Was his studio in a nearby town in Texas? Was he a traveling photographer of the day? And can we credit him with creating some of the other images in this unique glass plate negative collection?

And as always, if you find an image on the TDA that you’d like to submit for a future Monday Mystery post, please email mailto:archinfo@tsl.texas.govand include “Monday Mystery” in the Subject line.

 

On This Day in 1836: Cynthia Ann Parker is captured in a Comanche Raid

By Caroline Jones, Library Assistant

On May 19, 1836, a young Cynthia Ann Parker was taken captive during the Comanche raid of Fort Parker. She lived as a Comanche woman for 25 years, marrying a Comanche warrior and having three children, until she was recaptured by Texas Rangers on December 19, 1860 in the Pease River Battle (also referred to as the Pease River Massacre by some scholars). In researching Parker I not only found her life story compelling, but both the variety and the credibility of the sources of her story intriguing and at times conflicting.

Cynthia Ann Parker was born to Lucy and Silas Parker in Crawford County, Illinois. The Parker clan made the journey to Texas and constructed Fort Parker along the Navasota River around 1835. According to Grace Jackson’s biography Cynthia Ann Parker, three generations of Parker’s lived at Fort Parker, along with several other families who followed them to Texas from Illinois. Having left the fort during the Battle of San Jacinto, all returned on April 25, 1836 after the Texan victory. On May 18th, Texas Rangers protecting the fort were disbanded and sent home to their families. The next day, Fort Parker was raided by the Comanche, killing many and taking five captive, including Cynthia Ann and her younger brother John.

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