Reference Services

*Please note: TSLAC interactive exhibit spaces are closed to the public until further notice, and on-site visitor services are currently limited, due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). See our services page for further information, updated regularly.

The Texas State Library and Archives' reading rooms are open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and the second Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Our Reference collections include federal documents distributed by the U.S. Government Printing Office, Texas state agency publications, and publications about Texas history and government. To learn more about our collections, search the online library catalog.

Researchers intending to use archival materials are encouraged to review the online descriptive guides and contact staff ahead of their visit. For more information about visiting the Texas State Library and Archives, please visit our Before You Visit page.

Frequently Asked Questions

To assist you as quickly as possible, we've listed answers to our most frequently asked questions below. Click a topic to find out more.

Visiting TSLAC

Our reference archivists and librarians are continuing to respond to research questions from the public. Per Executive Order GA-19, the Archives Research Room in Austin and the research room at the Sam Houston Research Center (in Liberty) are accessible by appointment.

For archival items: Appointments are currently reserved for original materials in the State Archives collections. Prior to requesting an appointment, please have the specific archival materials identified so that we can confirm when the items can be made available.

We suggest you begin with our Processed State and Local Records webpage, which lists our finding aids.

The Texas State Archives Material Request Form must be submitted to request archival materials as required by Texas Government Code, Section 441.1935. Please refer to page 2 of the form for directions on how to submit your request. We recommend downloading and completing the form in Adobe Reader. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Once staff receive your Material Request Form, we will be in touch with further instructions.

For library materials, such as books and microfilm, we can offer options for accessing copies based on current COVID-19 restrictions. Please note that many items in our library collections are available online, through interlibrary loan (ILL), or at other libraries.

See our webpage to learn about our current lobby exhibit.

We do not have the Texas Declaration of Independence or William B. Travis’ 1836 Victory or Death Letter (the “Travis Letter”) on display. Due to preservation concerns, we no longer pull these items for patrons. Both of these important documents have been made available digitally:

Our archival collections also include drafts of the Texas Declaration of Independence and other letters written by William B. Travis from the Alamo during January and February 1836. You are welcome to view these materials in person. For more information, email ref@tsl.texas.gov.

You can explore other commonly requested TSLAC Texas Treasures online.

For the latest updates, see our Interlibrary Loan webpage.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a service that allows us to share resources with other libraries. We will lend our materials to other libraries, and we may request to borrow materials from other libraries. Please note that we borrow materials through ILL on behalf of our registered patrons who are also Texas residents. See TSLAC’s registration requirements.

Registered TSLAC patrons receive a login that allows them to place ILL requests online through the Texas Group Catalog portal. See our Interlibrary Loan webpage for ILL policies and step-by-step instructions.

If you do not live locally, contact your local library for assistance in locating and borrowing items through the ILL network. If you are interested in an item from our collection, we will work with your local library to arrange a loan depending on the item availability and our circulation policy. Your local library may be able to assist you in locating libraries closer to you that have the materials of interest. Specific regulations for ILL vary by individual library, so call or visit your local library for details.

Common Research Topics

Although we do not have the official copies of Texas birth, death, marriage, and divorce records in our collections, we do have resources that can assist you with locating these types of records, such as the Texas vital statistics indexes. The Texas vital statistics indexes list the name(s) of the individual(s), date of event, county where the event occurred, and in some cases a certificate or file number.

For more information about Texas vital statistics, please visit our Vital Statistics webpage.

U.S. military service records, including separation documents such as DD Form 214, can be ordered from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) through their webpage: Request Your Military Service Records .

For more help, we suggest contacting NARA’s National Personnel Records Center .

If you served in the Texas National Guard, the Texas Military Department may also be able to help you. Contact the Texas Military Department or request records using their downloadable form .

If you chose to file a copy of your discharge papers with the office of the County Clerk in your county of residence, you may want to contact them for a copy of your DD214. A complete listing of County Clerk addresses can be found on the County and District Clerks’ Association of Texas website.

You may also want to contact the Texas Veterans Commission or visit the Texas Veterans Portal for more help.

The Texas State Library and Archives has many resources that may be helpful for genealogy research. For more information on the resources available, please see our Genealogy Resources webpage.

Our standard sources for Republic-era genealogy research are:

  • Republic of Texas Audited Claims database
  • Adjutant General Service Records database
  • Adjutant General Ranger Muster Roll Index, abstract card file. Available on Ancestry and Ancestry.com Texas in the database, “Texas, Muster Roll Index Cards, 1838-1900”.
  • Adjutant General Republic of Texas Navy Muster Rolls Index, abstract card file. Available on Ancestry and Ancestry.com Texas in the database, “Texas, Muster Roll Index Cards, 1838-1900”.
  • Biographical Index, card file. Available on Ancestry and Ancestry.com Texas in the database, “Texas, Index Card Collections, 1800-1900”.
  • Memorials and petitions. Available on Ancestry and Ancestry.com Texas in the database, “Texas, Memorials and Petitions, 1834-1929”.
  • Thompson, Karen R. Defenders of the Republic of Texas. Austin: Laurel House Press, 1989. Check WorldCat to find a copy at a library near you.

Please email ref@tsl.texas.gov if you need help with these resources.

The Texas General Land Office Archives has other helpful resources for Republic-era research, including an online Land Grant Search and Surname Index . These resources can include muster roll information for individuals who received a land grant due to military service with the Republic of Texas.

The Texas State Library and Archives (TSLAC) newspaper collections include newspapers on microfilm, original print newspapers, and online newspaper subscriptions. More information is on our Newspaper Research at the Texas State Library and Archives webpage.

The Texas State Archives does have many records from Texas appellate courts—the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, and several of the 14 other Courts of Appeals. Although we do not have a single, comprehensive source for all court records and filings in our collection, our descriptive guides are listed on our Processed State and Local Records webpage.

These descriptive guides do not usually lend themselves to a name search, since most court records are accessed through the case file number assigned by the specific court of appeals, though there are some indexes described in the guides. For more help accessing court records in our holdings, contact archinfo@tsl.texas.gov.

Some individual courts in Texas may have digitized their records and provided access to them on their websites. Information concerning the Texas court system and links to Texas courts are available through the Texas Judiciary Online .

In Texas, the district courts are the trial courts of general jurisdiction. To locate records from Texas district courts, contact the district clerk's office in the county where the court case took place. A complete listing of District Clerk addresses can be found on the County and District Clerks’ Association of Texas website. Links to some Texas county websites can be found through the Texas Association of Counties website.

A law library in your area may offer access to subscription court records and public records databases. Find Texas law libraries near you through the Texas State Law Library webpage: Law Libraries of Texas .

Search the Texas State Archives Map Collection.

Many other resources for Texas maps are listed on our About Texas webpage under the Map section.

Student records are not usually considered state records to be maintained by TSLAC, but we do have some scholastic census records for some counties. These records include the name and number of the school district, name of parent or guardian, and the name, address, birth date, age, sex, and any physical handicaps for each child. For more information, including restrictions, please e-mail us at ref@tsl.texas.gov. Be sure to include the county name(s) and year(s) so we can confirm whether we have student records for that location and time period.

Typically the best source for student records is at the local level.

If the school was a public school, we suggest you contact the school district office. Search for Texas school district contact information using the Texas Education Agency (TEA)’s AskTED page . Click “Quick District Lookup” from the banner.

Another possible source for records is the County Clerk’s office. Search for contact information using the County and District Clerks’ Association of Texas website .

We can also suggest you check with local libraries and the Regional Historical Resource Depository (RHRD) for the county of interest about any student records in their holdings.

Not finding an answer to your question?

Email ref@tsl.texas.gov or call the Reference Desk at 512-463-5455.

Page last modified: November 23, 2020