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Resources of the Republic of Texas and Pre-Republic Era (1820-1845) at TSLAC

 
Introduction

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) holds many archival records and library materials documenting the Republic of Texas and the pre-Republic era, including the Texas Revolution. This research guide presents an overview of these materials. 

Photograph of the Travis letter with faded black ink on yellow paper

1893/001, William B. Travis's 1836 Victory or Death Letter from the Alamo, second page. You can read more about the famous letter in the Travis Letter finding aid"" The letter is also available on the Texas Digital Archive""

NOTE: Regional Historical Resource Depositories (RHRDs) may have local Republic-era resources. This guide does not cover those materials. Researchers should contact the individual local depository institutions for more information. 

Pre-Republic Records and Materials

TSLAC’s collections include some records documenting Spanish (1773-1821) and Mexican (1821-1836) government rule; records that document settlers in Texas prior to and during the Texas Revolution, including manuscript collections. Records of organizations created during the Revolution are also at TSLAC. These materials represent an important source of information about events and individuals prior to the creation of the Republic of Texas. A listing of government records from this period is below, with links to online research guides and finding aids. The bulk of the documents are written in Spanish. [Click or tap for an example of a mission census.]

See the Manuscript Collections and Other Archival Holdings section for additional pre-Republic resources. 

Government Records

TSLAC holds many records of the Republic of Texas government. These records document diplomacy, domestic affairs, economics and finance, emigration and colonization, legislative activities, and other governmental activities. It is important to note that manuscript collections often supplement these records. Researchers will benefit from searching multiple categories of records. Military records are listed in their own section below. [Click or tap for a sample government record.]

Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs
During the nine years of its existence, the Republic of Texas engaged in diplomacy with other nations, including the United States and Mexico, and Native American tribes. These records document negotiations, agreements, and treaties.

Texas Department of State and Secretary of State - Finding Aids

Domestic Affairs
The executive branch of the Republic of Texas government conducted elections, operated a post service, issued passports, established seats of government, and corresponded with officials regarding these duties. The finding aids listed below describe records that document these activities.

Texas Department of State and Secretary of State -  Finding Aids

Economics, Finance, and Commerce
Records concerning the finances, economics, and commerce of the Republic of Texas are included in documents maintained by the Comptroller’s Office and Treasury Department, such as warrants and appropriations. Some of these records continue into statehood. 

Texas Department of State - Finding Aids

Texas Comptroller’s Office - Finding Aids

Treasury Department - Finding Aids

Emigration and Colonization
The Republic of Texas also oversaw emigration, colonization, and land grants to Texans. Land records are still held by the General Land Office (GLO) Archives"" but TSLAC does hold records about emigration, land grants, and colonization. Additionally, Memorials and Petitions and Texas Treasury Department Customs House records can also be useful. More information about these records is provided below. 

Secretary of State - Finding Aids

General Land Office - Finding Aids

Congressional Records
Records of the Republic of Texas Congress, the legislative body of the Republic include bill files, signed laws, and Memorials and Petitions. The President and Vice President were the Republic’s executive branch. Memorials and Petitions document individuals and groups petitioning Congress (and, later, the Legislature) about various matters, and can be an important resource for information about life during the Republic.

As per requirements of HB 4181 and HB 1962 (86th Legislature), legislative records from statehood, including bill files and records of legislators, are held by the Legislative Reference Library of Texas""

Republic of Texas Congress

  • Congressional bill files are available at TSLAC. While we do not have a finding aid for these records, staff can search an index on your behalf.
  • Memorials and Petitions include requests to the Congress or legislature for action, including requests from those seeking relief. These records are digitized and available on Ancestry.com and Ancestry Library Edition through the database “Texas, Memorials and Petitions, 1834-1929.” Texans have access to these records for free through Ancestry.com Texas .
  • Some of these Memorials and Petitions resulted in laws like relief acts for specific individuals or groups. Gammel’s Laws of Texas, available on the Portal to Texas History"" includes the text of such laws. These publications can help you find out whether a petition resulted in legislative action. 

Texas Secretary of State - Finding Aids

Military Records

Military records of the Republic of Texas include information about the activities of the Army, Navy, and Ranger units, as well as documenting the service of individuals. Manuscript collections may provide additional information about military activities during the Republic. [Click or tap for a sample military record.]

Texas Adjutant General’s Department - Finding Aids

Additionally, the following publications include transcriptions from Adjutant General’s Department records from the Revolution. These publications also have transcriptions from other TSLAC collections and resources at other institutions.

  • The Alamo Reader, by Todd Hansen
  • The Papers of the Texas Revolution, 1835-1836, by John Holmes Jenkins

Texas Comptroller’s Office
Republic Claims, from the Texas Comptroller's Office Claims Records"" document attempts by individuals to seek payment for goods and services provided to the Republic of Texas, including military service. To improve access, microfilm of these records were scanned and added to the Republic Claims database

Court Records

Texas Supreme Court Records include some case files from the Republic era. Unfortunately, many records from this period are missing. See a listing of missing Supreme Court Records (PDF). It is important to note that case files dating from statehood may concern events that occurred during the Republic-era. You can search for Supreme Court case files from this period on the custom search on the Texas Digital Archive"" Other court records that can provide additional information about case files include dockets, minutes, and opinions.

Manuscript Collections and Other Archival Holdings

In addition to government records, personal papers, maps, artifacts, broadsides, prints and photographs, and newspapers may also provide information about the Republic-era. [Click or tap for an example of a manuscript.]

Manuscript Collections
Manuscript collections are archival holdings created, collected, or donated by private individuals or organizations. These collections sometimes include records created by government officials that were not maintained in government offices at the time. For example, the Andrew Jackson Houston Collection includes records from the Texas legation finding aid""

Manuscript Collections with Finding Aids

Manuscript Collections Without Finding Aids
Although some manuscript collections do not have a full finding aid, they can be accessed by a name and subject index in the Archives reading room or by submitting a reference request. When requesting a search of the manuscript collections index, it helps to provide specific names, dates, and subject terms. 

Some manuscript collections are also described in our online library catalog""

Contact us at ref@tsl.texas.gov for more information about searching for manuscript collections.

Artifact Collection
The Texas State Archives Artifacts Collection [finding aid"" includes many objects from the Republic-era, such as stones from the Alamo, as well as objects created to commemorate the Texas Revolution. Images of these Texas Revolution artifacts are available on the Texas Digital Archive"" 

Broadside Collection
The Texas State Archives Broadsides and Printed Ephemera Collection [finding aid"" includes many printed announcements, posters, and other items that relate to the Republic of Texas and Texas Revolution. Images of the broadsides are available on the Texas Digital Archive""

Map Collection
The Texas State Archives Map Collection includes items dated from the Republic-era and ones created later concerning Republic-era topics. You can search the Map Collection database several ways, including by subject, year, and cartographer. Digital images of many maps are included in the database. Please contact us at ref@tsl.texas.gov if an image is not available for a specific map.

Prints and Photographs Collection
During the Republic-era, photography was a new technology that was not widely used in Texas. The earliest dated image in the TSLAC collection is a daguerreotype of Samuel Waller Cole taken June 25, 1846. We do have photographs of individuals active during the Republic that were taken later in life, including Sam Houston and Edward Burleson. We also have paintings and drawings of individuals from the Republic-era. The online index about the McArdle Notebooks has more images of Republic-era individuals. Our Prints and Photographs Collection webpage gives more information about searching for images of individuals. 

Newspaper Collection
TSLAC holds newspapers from the Republic-era, both in microfilm and original formats. Information about accessing newspapers can be found on our newspaper research webpage

Missing Republic-era Documents

Many Republic-era documents known to have been held by TSLAC are missing from our collections. TSLAC’s web page provides information about known missing documents and its recovery efforts.

Page last modified: November 8, 2022