Research Your Hispanic Heritage at TSLAC

Alec Head, Reference Librarian and Rachel Union, Library Assistant

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) joins the country in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15. In honor of this event and its relevance to Texas history, TSLAC is highlighting resources in our collection that can aid researchers studying their own Hispanic heritage and genealogy. TSLAC has numerous publications and government records to assist family historians. We invite the public to visit us during the week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to start your journey or come in when we open for our monthly Second Saturday hours from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Second Saturday in October happens October 14, 2023.

TSLAC’s collections contain a variety of materials that could be helpful to researchers studying their Hispanic heritage. This post highlights genealogy publications along with examples of government records on microfilm. The books listed below are currently on display in TSLAC’s Reference Reading Room. Other items in our collections can be found by searching the library catalog. Information on our location and hours can be found on our “Visit Us” webpage.

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Charro Days Parade, 1948

The Charro Days fiesta began in 1938 in Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico, its sister city across the Rio Grande, as a recognition of Mexican heritage with multiple parades, dances, concerts, a rodeo, and more over several days in February. Still an annual event, Charro Days has grown to include additional festivals and traditions and continues to draw visitors to the celebration each year. The images below were taken as a parade moved through downtown Brownsville in 1948 and are a part of the L. L. Cook Company collection at the State Archives, which is available online in the Texas Digital Archive (TDA).

black and white photo of parade in downtown brownsville. There are spectactors lined in front of shops along the main street. This portion of the parade has one white convertible, one black convertible and an older model black car behind those. In the foregound a security guard is visible.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-373. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.
black and white photo of parade in dowtown brownsville. Spectators line the sidewalk of the main street. There are two decorated floats in view with pedestrians in costume carrying flags behind the floats.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-362. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.
black and white photo of parade in downtown brownsville. Spectactors line the sidewalks along the main street. This portion of the parade has women in traditional Mexican costume walking down the street.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-364. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.
black and white photo of parade in downtown brownsville. This portion of the parade shows five men on horseback and wearing traditional charro costume, including wide-brimmed hats. There is a white four-story building on the right-hand side of the street and spectators lining the sidewalks.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-359. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.
black and white photo of parade route in downtown brownsville. The view is of a street with low buildings on each side. Pedestrians both in street clothes and costume walk on the street and sidewalk either before or after the parade.
Charro Days, Brownsville, 1948. L.L. Cook Company collection, 1968/089-352. TSLAC. Click photo for larger version.

For questions about TSLAC collections please contact our reference staff at or 512-564-5455.

What’s in Your Constitution: A Prohibition Retrospective

By Rachel Union, Library Assistant

The United States Congress first proposed the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1917. This amendment was ratified in January of 1919 and later that year became the subject of federal legislation, called the Volstead Act, prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol. Congress passed this legislation, which was then vetoed by President Woodrow Wilson and later overridden by Congress in that same year. The era of American history where the federal government banned alcohol (1920-1933) became known as Prohibition. Texas amended the state constitution and instituted “dry laws.”

Edward McLandish’s Bootlegger’s Map of the United States, 1926. Richard Niles Graham Collection, 1846-1958.

Originally, limiting the use of grains for the manufacture of alcoholic beverages began during WWI in an attempt to ensure food security in the United States and for other purposes such as the production of medicine and fuel. Post WWI, the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcohol became the rallying cry for those in the temperance movement who felt that the consumption of alcohol poisoned people and lead to ills in society.

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2023 Texas Great Read Youth and Adult Selections Announced

The Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission has announced its Texas Great Read titles for 2023. The Center has chosen Nell Plants a Tree by Anne Wynter, illustrated by Daniel Miyares, as the 2023 Texas Great Read Youth Selection and West with Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge as the 2023 Texas Great Read Adult Selection!

Every year, the Library of Congress asks each state Center for the Book to select titles that represent the state’s literary landscape to highlight at the National Book Festival, an event showcasing the importance of books and reading. This year’s festival will be held August 12 in Washington, DC, and online. Check out the Library of Congress website for details.

The Texas Center for the Book invites Texans to read Nell Plants a Tree and West with Giraffes and to take part in a statewide book club by using the hashtag #TXGreatRead on social media. For more information on the 2023 Texas Great Read Program, visit

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Historical Texas Newspapers Now Available Online

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is pleased to announce a new partnership with the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries. The TSLAC Newspaper Collection is now live and available for free online.

More than 4,500 issues of historical Texas newspapers from TSLAC’s collection, published from 1855 to 1930, are available online through UNT’s Portal to Texas History. The Portal provides free and open access to hundreds public domain newspapers held by repositories statewide.

“This partnership represents an exciting endeavor in both preservation and collaboration,” said Dr. Ana Krahmer, Director of UNT Libraries’ Digital Newspaper Program. “We look forward both to adding further newspaper titles to the TSLAC collection, as well as to building relationships with more Texas cities whose public domain newspapers will be newly available because of this partnership.”

Newspapers with issues currently available in the TSLAC Newspaper Collection include the Dallas HeraldThe Terry County HeraldThe Beeville BeeWichita Daily TimesAmarillo Daily NewsThe Hamilton Record and RustlerThe Goliad GuardThe Hamilton RustlerWichita Weekly TimesAlpine AvalancheDallas Weekly HeraldTerry County Voice, and The Home and State (a Prohibition era labor newspaper).

State Archivist Jelain Chubb noted, “TSLAC staff are evaluating the collection and will base digitization priorities on both the physical condition of the newspapers and requests for use.”

Approaching 10 million newspaper pages, the Texas Digital Newspaper Program, hosted on The Portal to Texas History, is the largest single-state, open-access interface to digital newspapers in the U.S.

The Portal to Texas History is a gateway to rare, historical, and primary source materials from or about Texas. Created and maintained by UNT Libraries, the Portal leverages the power of hundreds of content partners across the state to provide a vibrant, growing collection of resources.

Visit the TSLAC Newspaper Collection in The Portal to Texas History at

Explore 100 Years of Texas State Parks with TSLAC Resources

By Alec Head, Reference Librarian

In 2023, Texas celebrates 100 years of its State Parks program. Governor Pat Neff encouraged the state legislature to create the State Parks Board in 1923, something he later said was his proudest achievement. The board worked to develop better infrastructure, allowing for camping by Texans who were by then commonly driving modern automobiles and able to travel hundreds of miles into the great wilderness. What better way to celebrate a century of Texas State Parks than to pack up and embark on an age-old Texan tradition: camping! 

Black & white photo two individuals in a small row boat landing on the shore near a tent, picnic table, and car in the background.
Possum Kingdom_14. 2011/434 (TX005320) Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. Photos and negatives (Parks and Wildlife), 1938-about 1979.

From its humble beginnings in 1923, the Texas State Parks Board has grown enormously to designate 76 separate State Parks. Encompassing more than 580,000 acres, the possibility for adventure is endless. Each year, more than 8 million people visit Texas parks. To celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Texas State Park system, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission—formed by a 1968 merger of the Texas State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission—is hosting a series of events each week through the end of the year. More information about where and when these events take place can be found on the Parks and Wildlife Commission Website.

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New Online: Recent Updates to Finding Aids and Digital Images

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, along with fresh uploads to the Texas Digital Archive, our repository of electronic items. For a comprehensive list of all recently added and updated finding aids visit Archives: Finding Aids (New & Revised).

New Finding Aids

State Records

Texas Frontier Defense Board proceedings
The Texas Frontier Defense Board was an auditorial board created in 1883 to arrange and prepare claims to be presented to the United States Secretary of the Treasury for reimbursement by the United States government for expenses incurred from frontier defenses in Texas. These records are a volume of the proceedings of the board, dating April 18, 1883-November 18, 1885.

Texas Attorney General James Willie’s report regarding investigation of construction and furnishing of the Capitol
The attorney general is the chief legal officer of the state and is responsible for protecting state interests through judicial proceedings and legal advice. This report documents Attorney General James Willie’s legal analysis and opinion regarding the results of the investigation of the Commissioners of the State Capitol Building by the House Committee on Capitol Appropriations, Construction, and Furniture (Resolution by Dancy, House Journal, 6th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, 1855) dated 1857. Attorney General James Willie was compelled to author and submit this report to the governor by joint resolution (Joint Resolution authorizing the Governor to institute certain suits, if necessary, in relation to the erection and furnishing of the new Capitol, Chapter 15, General Laws, 6th Legislature, Adjourned Session, 1856).

Texas Supervisory Commission for Erecting a State Capitol report
The Supervisory Commission over the Commissioners, Superintendent, and Contractors for the erection of a State Capitol was established by a supplemental act of the Texas Legislature (Chapter 83, General Laws for the 5th Regular Session, 1854) to investigate matters relating to money appropriated for the construction and furnishing of the State Capitol. This handwritten report documents the commission’s findings, dated January 7, 1856.

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Japanese Police Visit the Texas Rangers

By Clinton Drake, Reference Librarian

Blue-gloved hand holding a black and white photo of two Japanese men outdoors wearing suits. One man is standing and one man sits on a horse.
Texas Department of Public Safety photo of two visitors from Japan.

As we will soon open an exhibit on records related to the Texas Rangers, we are taking an in-depth look at a group of negatives and photographs in the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) photographs collection held at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) that caught our interest. A series of photos show several Japanese police workers observing law enforcement practices of the Texas Rangers, such as smashing gambling machines with hatchets and using a polygraph machine. The seemingly friendly nature of this cultural exchange so shortly after World War II, when the U.S. and Japan were avowed enemies, left us wanting to know more. The last federal internment camp located in Texas that housed Japanese Americans closed just two years before these photos were taken. Typed notations on the upper left-hand corner of two manila envelopes provide clues about the story behind the photos. The notes read as follows:

8-4×5 negatives of
Ranger Capt. Olson and Truman Stone
showing two Japanese how the Rangers
distroy [sic] gambling equipment. Also showing
tear gas gun and cartridge
March 14, 1950

1-4×5 negative of
Kinzo Kimura, Jap[anese] police
lab technician, being
shown the polygraph by
Dee Wheeler.
February 5, 1951

Image of several black and white photos, only one in full view, with the return address portion of a manilla envelope in the bottom right corner. The photo has three men surrounding a viewfinder on a desk. From left to right, Japanese man standing, another Japanese man bent down looking through viewfinder, a white man in uniform is also bent down pointing something out. In partial view, photo shows a Texas Ranger in uniform holding an ax over two gambling machines. A Japanese man in a suit stands behind the machines on the ground.
Texas Department of Public Safety photos and envelope.
a white envelope on a table with  a photo negative sitting on top at an angle. The negative image is of a Japanese man and a Texas Ranger looking at a polygraph machine.
Texas Department of Public Safety negative and envelope.
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Life in the Texas Governor’s Mansion

By Alec Head, Reference Librarian

Many Austin landmarks are associated with Texas government, but few are so distinguished or iconic as the Texas Governor’s Mansion. The mansion was designed and built by Abner Cook after a $14,500 appropriation by the Texas Legislature in 1854. From its picturesque setting overlooking Colorado Street, the mansion has been the home of every Texas governor since Governor Elisha Pease and his family arrived in 1856. Many collections at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) tell the story of this historic home and its legendary inhabitants who shaped the course of Texas history.

Governor’s Mansion, Luck Bros., about 1919. Places Collection, 1/103-80. Prints and Photographs.

Selections from TSLAC archival collections comprise the exhibit Texas Governors and Their Times, 1846-1946, on view in the TSLAC lobby through May 15. The exhibit includes photographs and records of former governors and archival artifacts from the mansion itself. The image below, from TSLAC’s prints and photograph collection, captured the view of the Governor’s Mansion and grounds as seen from the Texas Capitol in 1894.

View of the Governor’s Mansion and fenced-in grounds in 1894. Southwest from the Capitol, 1894. Art Work of Austin, 1/002-27. Prints and Photographs.

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