Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Administrative Division:
An Inventory of Commissioners' Correspondence at the Texas State Archives, 1979-1990
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission began its long history as the National Library of Texas. In 1839, under President Mirabeau B. Lamar, the Third Congress appropriated $10,000 for books to be housed in the office of the Secretary of State. The first purchase of this appropriation was $300 paid to Ashbel Smith for his "Edinburgh Encyclopedia." During the remainder of the Republic period and until after the Civil War, an occasional appropriation was made for book purchases and document exchanges. Then, in 1866, the office of State Librarian was created with a salary of $1,000 a year. Robert Josselyn was appointed Librarian and catalogued the 5,427 books in the Library before being removed from office, along with the rest of the state government's officers, as an impediment to Reconstruction.
The Library remained under the Secretary of State until 1876, when it was transferred to the new Department of Insurance, Statistics, and History. One of the duties of the State Library in its new setting was to serve as a depository for historical materials. In 1881, the Capitol burned and the Library's 8,000 volumes were lost. Since most of the state's records were still in the custody of the creating agencies, or stored in vaults, the loss of archival material was not great. The Library began to move forward again in 1891, when the 22nd Legislature included in the appropriation, $1,500 for an Historical Clerk and $360 for a Librarian and Office Assistant. Governor James Hogg appointed Cadwell W. Raines as Historical Clerk. He began his duties May 5, 1891 and actively collected historical materials throughout the state. Although appropriations were reduced each biennium, in 1901 the State Library had 25,000 volumes.
The modern history of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission begins with the creation of the Texas Library and Historical Commission in 1909 by the 31st Legislature (House Bill 142, Regular Session) and is governed by Chapter 441 of the Government Code, V.T.C.A. (previously Vernon's Ann. Civ. St., Article 5434). The Commission was charged to control and administer the State Library whose functions would include historical work, legislative reference, and encouragement of library development in Texas. E. W. Winkler was appointed State Librarian at the Commission's first meeting, March 29, 1909.
Gradually, all the Library's functions were addressed. Historical work began with Raines in 1891. Legislative reference formally got under way in 1910 with the appointment of a Legislative Reference Librarian. In 1916, the Library offered twelve different travelling libraries to communities in Texas to concretely demonstrate the value of libraries. An effective county library law was first passed in 1917 and the first county library was established in 1920. In 1927, the position of Library Organizer was created by the Legislature. Books for the blind were available through the Library in 1919. An estimate of the Library's holdings in 1931 listed 88,800 bound volumes, 85,000 pamphlets, and 85,000 manuscripts. The Depression was a time of salary reductions, little book buying, and curtailed extension activity but, following World War II, the State Library entered a period of expansion -- increasing demands were placed on it by the public and by state government. The Library responded with greatly increased budget requests for new programs to meet these needs.
In 1956, the Archives Division was forced, because of the crowded conditions in the Capitol Complex, to move to a Quonset hut at Camp Hubbard. The Library and its friends had long been seeking a separate and appropriate building for the Archives and Library, and the move to the Quonset hut was a rallying point. Funds were appropriated in 1957 and the Library moved to the Lorenzo de Zavala Archives and Library Building in 1961.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is governed by the Library and Archives Commission (Vernon's Ann. Civ. St., Article 5434 (1925, originally created in 1909)). Commission members are appointed by the Governor, with concurrence of the Senate, to six-year overlapping terms. The Commission appoints the State Librarian and Director who serves as the executive officer of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission as well as the executive and administrative officer of the agency. Duties of the State Librarian and Director are to record the proceedings of the Commission and keep account of its financial transactions; approve expenditures made in connection with the State Library; have charge of the State Library and materials contained therein; demand and collect records of state agencies and officials not connected to their current duties; endeavor to collect manuscript records in the hands of private individuals; procure archives of the state which have been removed, including those found in Mexico and other states; preserve historical relics and memorabilia which come into possession of the State Library; give proper attention to the care and availability of the archives in custody of the State Library; make a biennial report to the Governor; and ascertain the condition of all public libraries in the state and report the results to the Commission. Additionally, he is authorized by law to transfer, dispose, or otherwise destroy records in his custody which have no permanent value.
The State Librarian and Director oversees the operations of the divisions in the State Library through which his duties and responsibilities are carried out. Divisions as of 1984 were Administration (includes offices of the State Librarian, Assistant State Librarian, and publications), Administrative Services (includes personnel, accounting, building services, purchasing, and a print shop), Archives (administers the permanently valuable official records of the state and related historical materials), Data Processing (provides computer operations and assistance to the divisions), Blind and Physically Handicapped (provides materials for blind and disabled patrons), Information Services (includes genealogy, reference, U.S. and Texas documents programs, and technical services), Library Development (works with public libraries to secure funding, etc.), Local Records (operates a depository program for county records), and Records Management (provides records management assistance to state agencies and ensures records are sent to the Archives for permanent storage or are disposed of due to a non-permanent value).
By 1995, the divisions had been condensed into Administrative Services, Automated Information Systems, the Talking Book Program (providing services to all disabled Texans), Archives and Information Services (combining the majority of the old programs of the Archives and the Information Services and managing Regional Historical Resource Depositories), Technical Services (responsible for acquisitions, cataloging, processing and binding of library materials), Statewide Library Development (to promote and improve Texas libraries), and State and Local Records Management. Since 1995, the Executive Office has been the unit incorporating the Public Information Office and the offices of the Assistant Librarian and the Director and Librarian.
The State Librarian through the years has served on various state boards and committees, sometimes appointed, sometimes as an ex-officio member, such as the Board of Library Examiners and the Sesquicentennial Commission; and s/he has been involved with legislation affecting public libraries in Texas, including the Library Systems Act and the Library Services and Construction Act. S/He has also worked to secure grant funding from several sources for public libraries and various programs within the State Library, such as the Blind and Physically Handicapped program. S/He has also served in varying capacities (committees, boards, etc.) with a number of library/historical groups, including the Texas Library Association, the Texas State Historical Association, the Society of American Archivists, and others. The Librarian also makes presentations to groups such as these, to smaller organizations (such as county-wide groups), and to public libraries.
These records consist of the correspondence files of three former members of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission: T. Franklin Glass, Jr. (1984-1989), Ralph Yarborough (1983-1989), and John Ben Shepperd (1979-1990). Additional materials include memoranda, copies of minutes and agenda, budget requests and Legislative Budget Board recommendations, clippings, Attorney General Opinions, certificates of appreciation, and oaths of office. Correspondence is primarily between the State Librarian and the commission member with letters also present from other commission members, public libraries, and state officials. Major topics discussed include the donation of Governor John Connally's gubernatorial records to the National Archives (housed at the LBJ Presidential Library) and the attempts of the State Library to regain custody of them, the records of Governors Mark White and Dolph Briscoe, budget requests, increasing state financial support for local public libraries, attempts to establish a friends group for the State Library, passage of the Local Government Records Act (H.B. 1285), and microfilming of local county records. The files are arranged by correspondent, then chronologically.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
Restrictions on Use
(Identify the item), Commissioners' correspondence, Administrative Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1991/149, 1991/170
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Administrative Division of the Texas State Library to the Archives Division on May 6, 1991 and June 26, 1991.
Laura Saegert, May 1992
Detailed Description of the Records