Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Railroad Commission of Texas:

An Inventory of Railroad Commission Commissioners' Records at the Texas State Archives, 1898-1901, 1906-1908, 1916, 1920-1966, bulk about 1930-about 1960



Overview

Creator: Railroad Commission of Texas.
Title: Railroad Commission commissioners' records,
Dates: 1898-1901, 1906-1908, 1916, 1920-1966
Dates: bulk about 1930-about 1960
Abstract: The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) initially had jurisdiction over the rates and operations of railroads, terminals, wharves and express companies. Today the Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas and surface mining for coal, uranium, and iron ore gravel. The records include correspondence, speeches, press releases, newspaper clippings, magazine articles and reprints, and pamphlets of two commissioners of the Railroad Commission of Texas. The records date 1898-1901, 1906-1908, 1916, 1920-1966, bulk about 1930-about 1960. The records of Allison Mayfield (1860-1923) consist of four letterpress volumes of outgoing correspondence. Mayfield's records date 1898-1901, 1906-1908, 1916, 1922. The records of Ernest O. Thompson (1892-1966) include correspondence, speeches, press releases, newspaper clippings, magazine articles and reprints, maps, photographs, reports, legislation, and pamphlets that especially document his role as Commission spokesperson on oil and gas conservation. Thompson's records cover the period 1920-1966, bulk about 1930-about 1960.
Quantity: 10.3 cubic ft.
Language These materials are written in English.

Agency History

The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas. Its statutory role is to prevent waste of the state's natural resources, to protect the correlative rights of different interest owners, to prevent pollution, and to provide safety in matters such as hydrogen sulfide. It oversees hazardous materials pipelines and natural gas pipelines and distribution systems as well as propane, butane, compressed natural gas, and liquefied natural gas. It works to make sure a continuous, safe supply of natural gas is available to Texas consumers at the lowest reasonable price. Additionally, the Commission regulates surface mining for coal, uranium, and iron ore gravel, and conducts a program for reclaiming lands that were mined and abandoned before 1975.

The Railroad Commission of Texas had its origin in the demands of the shipping public in the late 1880s that insisted that railroads be subject to regulation based on public interest. An advocate for governmental regulation, Attorney General James Stephen Hogg ran for Governor in 1890 with the issue of railroad regulation as the focal point of the campaign. Hogg was elected Governor in the general election and the voters also approved an amendment to Article X, Section 2 of the Texas Constitution that empowered the Legislature to enact statutes creating regulatory agencies. These elections paved the way for the Legislature to enact on April 3, 1891 "An Act to Establish a Railroad Commission of the State of Texas," that later was placed in the Texas Revised Civil Statutes under article 6444 et seq. (House Bills 1, 3, and 58, 22nd Texas Legislature, Regular Session).

The Commission originally consisted of three members appointed by the Governor for three-year terms. Governor Hogg appointed the first three Commissioners in 1891 including John H. Reagan, who resigned as U.S. Senator from Texas to serve as the first Chairman. The Texas Constitution, Article XIX, Section 30 was amended in 1894 to provide for elective six-year overlapping terms for the Commissioners. That same year John H. Reagan was elected and served until his retirement in 1903.

The Texas Railroad Commission was the first regulatory agency created in the State of Texas and originally had jurisdiction over the rates and operations of railroads, terminals, wharves and express companies. The legal focus was on intrastate passenger and freight activities. Interstate jurisdiction fell under the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission. For the first twenty-five years of its existence, the Railroad Commission was largely concerned with regulating railroads, setting rates, receiving complaints, and making investigations. As other controversies arose where the Legislature deemed that the public interest could best be served by regulation, additional duties were assigned to the Railroad Commission.

The Railroad Commission's authority was broadened beginning in 1917 with the passage of the Pipeline Petroleum Law (Senate Bill 68, 35th Legislature, Regular Session) that declared pipelines to be common carriers like railroads and placed them under the Commission's jurisdiction. This was the first act to designate the Railroad Commission as the agency to administer conservation laws relating to oil and gas. The Commission's regulatory and enforcement powers in oil and gas were increased by the Oil and Gas Conservation Law (Senate Bill 350 of the 36th Legislature, Regular Session), effective June 18, 1919. This act gave the Railroad Commission jurisdiction to regulate the production of oil and gas. Acting upon this legislation, the Commission adopted in 1919 the first statewide rules regulating the oil and gas industry to promote conservation and safety, including Rule 37. This rule requires minimum distances between wells at drilling sites in order to protect field pressure and correlative rights.

The Gas Utilities Act of 1920 (House Bill 11, 36th Legislature, 3rd Called Session) gave the Commission regulatory and rate authority over individuals and businesses producing, transporting, or distributing natural gas in Texas. In 1937, following a large natural gas explosion in a school in New London, Texas, the 45th Legislature passed legislation giving the Railroad Commission the authority to adopt rules and regulations pertaining to the odorization of natural gas or liquefied petroleum gases (House Bill 1017, Regular Session).

The passage of the Public Regulatory Act of 1975 (PURA) (House Bill 819, 64th Legislature, Regular Session) required certain state regulatory agencies, including the Commission, to set the overall revenues of a utility based on its "cost of service." Regulation of liquefied petroleum was added to the Commission's responsibilities in 1939 by the 46th Legislature (House Bill 792, Regular Session). The legislation authorized the Commission to adopt and enforce safety rules and standards in the storage, handling, transportation, and odorization of butane or LP-gases. Regulation of compressed natural gas was added to the Railroad Commission's responsibilities in 1983 (Senate Bill 617, 68th Legislature, Regular Session).

The Motor Bus Law of 1927, House Bill 50, 40th Legislature, Regular Session, and the Motor Carrier Law of 1929, House Bill 654, 41st Legislature, Regular Session, extended the Commission's regulatory powers to commercial transportation of persons and property on state highways. In 1995, following federal deregulation of motor carriers, the 74th Legislature eliminated the agency's authority to regulate commercial carriers involved in intrastate transport and transferred the remaining responsibilities related to commercial carriers (motor carrier registration, insurance verification, and safety) to the Texas Department of Transportation (Senate Bill 971, Regular Session), and the Department of Public Safety (Senate Bill 3, Regular Session).

The Texas Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975, Senate Bill 55, 64th Legislature, Regular Session, authorized the Commission to regulate the exploration for and surface mining of coal, lignite, and uranium within the state and to oversee the reclamation of lands disturbed by surface mining operations. In 1991, the 72nd Legislature, Regular Session, passed House Bill 451, the Texas Aggregate Quarry and Pit Safety Act, that authorized the Commission to regulate quarry and pit operations.

Railroad regulation was initially overseen by the Main Office, later the Main and Transportation Division, then the Transportation Division and finally the Rail Division. This division was responsible for checking equipment and track, railroad and signal operations, and hazardous material handling; conducting investigations of accidents and complaints concerning railroads; and securing federal funds to improve branch lines and preserve rail service to rural areas. The Division enforced rules aimed at removing obstructions on railroad rights-of-way and operated a crossing safety education program. In 2005, the Rail Division and its remaining function, rail safety regulation, were transferred to the Texas Department of Transportation (House Bill 2702, 79th Legislature, Regular Session). The Railroad Commission no longer has any railroad-related functions.

(Sources: Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions; general laws and statutes; the Railroad Commission website (http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/about/index.php), accessed on February 9, 2009; and the records themselves.)


Scope and Contents of the Records

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) initially had jurisdiction over the rates and operations of railroads, terminals, wharves and express companies. Today the Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas and surface mining for coal, uranium, and iron ore gravel. The records include correspondence, speeches, press releases, newspaper clippings, magazine articles and reprints, and pamphlets of two commissioners of the Railroad Commission of Texas. The records date 1898-1901, 1906-1908, 1916, 1920-1966, bulk about 1930-about 1960. The records of Allison Mayfield (1860-1923) consist of four letterpress copybooks of outgoing correspondence. Most of the letters in the first two volumes are personal family or business correspondence and date 1898-1901, 1906-1908. The third and fourth volumes concentrate on Mayfield's reelection efforts to the Railroad Commission in 1898, 1916 and 1922. The records of Texas Railroad Commissioner Ernest O. Thompson (1892-1966) include correspondence, speeches, press releases, newspaper clippings, magazine articles and reprints, and pamphlets that especially document his role as Commission spokesperson on oil and gas conservation. The records cover the period 1920-1966, bulk about 1930-about 1960.

This finding aid describes two series of the Railroad Commission of Texas records. See Railroad Commission of Texas: An Overview of Records for more records series.

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.


 

Organization of the Records

These records are organized into two series by State Archives staff:
Allison Mayfield records, 1898-1901, 1906-1908, 1916, 1922, 0.5 cubic ft.
Ernest O. Thompson records, 1920-1966, bulk about 1930-about 1960, 9.8 cubic ft.

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Materials housed in the State Archives do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.

Restrictions on Use

Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements

Letter press volumes are extremely fragile and need to be handled with care.

Researchers are required to wear gloves provided by the Archives when reviewing photographic materials.


Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Personal Names:
Mayfield, Allison, 1860-1923.
Thompson, Ernest O.
Subjects:
Railroads and state--Texas.
Conservation of natural resources--Texas.
Natural gas--Conservation--Texas.
Petroleum conservation--Texas.
Gas industry--Texas.
Petroleum industry and trade--Texas.
Document Types:
Letterpress copybooks--Texas--Railroads and state--1898-1922.
Correspondence--Texas--Gas industry--1933-1961.
Speeches--Texas--Gas industry--1933-1961.
Press releases--Texas--Gas industry--1933-1961.
Clippings--Texas--Gas industry--1933-1961.
Correspondence--Texas--Petroleum industry and trade--1933-1961.
Speeches--Texas--Petroleum industry and trade--1933-1961.
Press releases--Texas--Petroleum industry and trade--1933-1961.
Clippings--Texas--Petroleum industry and trade--1933-1961.
Letterpress copybooks--Railroads and state--1898-1922.
Functions:
Regulating railroads.
Regulating the gas industry.
Regulating the petroleum industry.

Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas State Archives
Railroad Commission of Texas minutes, 1891-1996, 20.85 cubic ft.and 113 microfilm reels.
John H. Reagan papers, 1846-1904, 12.5 linear ft.
James Calhoun Langdon papers, 1944-1979, 19.5 linear ft.
Commissioner Ernest O. Thompson speeches, 1930s-1950s, 2 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for this unprocessed collection. Call number is 2008/009, see reference staff for assistance.]
Interstate Oil Compact Commission transcript of proceedings, 1936-1941, 1 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for this unprocessed collection. Call number is 2008/008, see reference staff for assistance.]
Chairmen John C. Langdon and John Poerner speeches, 1963-1967, 1978-1980, 1 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for this unprocessed collection. Call number is 2008/135, see reference staff for assistance.]
Commissioner Matthews calendars, schedules, and administrative correspondence, 1997-2005, 0.75 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for this unprocessed collection. Call number is 2007/073, see reference staff for assistance.]

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item and cite the series), Railroad Commission of Texas Commissioners' records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession numbers: 1970/025 and unknown

These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Railroad Commission of Texas, Central Records on October 7, 1969 and by the Railroad Commission along with letterpress copybooks of outgoing correspondence on an unknown date.

Processing Information

Inventoried by Archives staff in the 1970s

Described by Paul B. Beck, May and August 1986

Finding aid converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by TARO using the conversion stylesheet v1to02.xsl, July 2003

DACS compliance by Laura K. Saegert, February 2009


Detailed Description of the Records

 

Allison Mayfield records, 1898-1901, 1906-1908, 1916, 1922,
0.5 cubic ft.

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) had jurisdiction over the rates and operations of railroads, terminals, wharves and express companies. The records consist of four letterpress copybooks of outgoing correspondence. Most of the letters in the first two volumes are personal family or business correspondence and date 1898-1901, 1906-1908. The third and fourth volumes concentrate on Allison Mayfield's reelection efforts to the Railroad Commission in 1898, 1916 and 1922.
Allison Mayfield (1860-1923) was a member of the Railroad Commission for 26 years, from 1897 to 1923, serving the last twelve years as chairman. Subjects of the first two volumes of his records consist of personal business, family and political correspondence. The correspondence includes letters to friends, family, political supporters and advisors, newspapers, city, county, state and federal officials, judges, and railroad agents and officers. Correspondents of note include Edward M. House and Texas governors Charles A. Culberson, Joseph D. Sayers and Oscar B. Colquitt. In some of these personal letters, Mayfield does write about Railroad Commission matters including the role of the Railroad Commission and its relationships with the railroads. Usually, though, the correspondence deals with more personal subjects such as his finances, family trips, invitations to speak, or requests for endorsements, many of which are on behalf of friends and acquaintances running for elected office or seeking employment with the state.
The third and fourth volumes concern Mayfield's reelection campaigns of 1898, 1916, and 1922. The correspondence consists of letters announcing his reelection bid, acknowledging offers of support, and payments to place his name on the ballot. Also present are lists of people who were sent reelection letters. The lists include judges, district attorneys, newspapers, organizations, companies, and "representative citizens" of towns and cities throughout Texas.
Arrangement
These records are arranged in two groups by State Archives staff: personal and campaign, then each in chronological order.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Allison Mayfield records, Railroad Commission Commissioners' records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession Information
Accession number: unknown
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Railroad Commission of Texas along with letterpress copybooks of outgoing correspondence on an unknown date.
Restrictions on Access
Materials housed in the State Archives do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Technical Requirements
Letterpress copybooks are extremely fragile and need to be handled with care.
Processed by
Described by Paul B. Beck, August 1986
DACS compliance by Laura K. Saegert, February 2009
Personal:
Volume
4-2/1208 October 10, 1898-August 15, 1901
Volume
4-2/1210 June 1, 1906-October 9, 1908
Campaign:
Volume
2-23/671 February 1-May 20, 1898
Volume
4-2/1209 February 10, 1916-July 25, 1916; May 3, 1922-July 19, 1922



 

Ernest O. Thompson records, 1920-1966, bulk about 1930-about 1960,
9.8 cubic ft.

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) initially had jurisdiction over the rates and operations of railroads, terminals, wharves and express companies. Today the Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas and surface mining for coal, uranium, and iron ore gravel. The records include correspondence, speeches, press releases, newspaper clippings, magazine articles and reprints, briefs, maps, blueprints, photos, and pamphlets for the period 1920-1966, bulk about 1930-about 1960. These records of Texas Railroad Commissioner Ernest O. Thompson (1892-1966) especially document his role as Commission spokesperson on oil and gas conservation.
Ernest O. Thompson (1892-1966) was a member of the Railroad Commission of Texas from 1932 to 1965. Thompson was an authority on oil and gas matters, especially conservation, and a spokesperson for the Commission. He also served on the Interstate Oil Compact Commission in the 1930s, was several times a representative to the World Petroleum Congress, and made surveys of Middle East oil fields for the United State Department of Defense in 1945 and 1955. The records contain materials on these activities but the bulk concerns Commissioner Thompson's 32 years on the Commission.
First appointed to the Commission in 1932, Thompson was immediately involved in the Commission's efforts to control production in the East Texas oil field. Thompson made many speeches promoting conservation, preventing waste, and defending the use of prorationing -- the limiting of oil production to market demand. He also testified before governmental committee hearings (state and federal), was a witness at trials, and led the opposition to federal control of oil and gas production.
Thompson was in contact with many government officials and members of their staff, both federal and state, but the actual amount of correspondence is small. Correspondents include President Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Senator Tom Connally, and other elected Texas officials.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Arrangement
These records are not arranged, presumably they are still in the initial order as received from the agency.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Ernest O. Thompson records, Railroad Commission commissioners' records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession Information
Accession number: 1970/025
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Railroad Commission of Texas, Central Records on October 7, 1969.
Restrictions on Access
Materials housed in the State Archives do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Technical Requirements
Researchers are required to wear gloves provided by the Archives when reviewing photographic materials.
Processed by
Inventoried by Archives staff in the 1970s
Described by Paul B. Beck, May 1986
DACS compliance by Laura K. Saegert, February 2009
Box
4-3/318 Addresses, speeches, press releases, correspondence, and miscellaneous material by Ernest O. Thompson, 1933-1961
[Includes presidential correspondence, material concerning proration with newspaper clipping and photograph.]
Box
4-3/319 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, correspondence, and miscellaneous material by Thompson, 1947-1961
[Includes presidential correspondence, material concerning the Connally Act, resolution, and testimony.]
Box
4-3/320 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, and correspondence by Thompson, 1947-1948, 1959
[Includes newspaper clippings and miscellaneous material.]
Box
4-3/321 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, correspondence, and miscellaneous material by Thompson, 1946-1950, 1956
[Includes photographs, newspaper clippings, testimony, and reelection material.]
Box
4-3/322 Addresses, articles, speeches, correspondence, and miscellaneous material by Thompson, 1932-1933, 1935, 1939-1950
[Includes Federal Power Commission hearing.]
Box
4-3/323 Articles, speeches, press release, correspondence, and miscellaneous material, 1943-1946
[Includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, and numerous maps of West Europe and the Middle East regarding Thompson's Middle East trip.]
Box
4-3/324 Addresses, articles, speeches, correspondence, and miscellaneous material by Thompson, 1937-1961
[Includes report, resolutions, and other materials.]
Box
4-3/325 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, correspondence, and miscellaneous materials by Thompson, 1940-1943, 1956-1963
[Includes briefs, oil maps, newspapers clippings, and other material.]
Box
4-3/326 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, and correspondence by Thompson, 1938-1940
[Includes report and other material.]
Box
4-3/327 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, and correspondence by Thompson, 1936-1938, 1956, 1959-1960
[Includes a brief.]
Box
4-3/328 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, report, and correspondence by Thompson, 1920, 1933-1939, 1942-1949, 1959-1961
[Includes oil maps, an index of speeches from 1934 to 1948, and other material.]
Box
4-3/329 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases by Thompson, 1930s
[Includes presidential correspondence, resolution, and other material.]
Box
4-3/330 Articles, correspondence, annual report, newspapers and newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous material, 1932-1935
[Includes material of an investigating committee, regulation of production, oil conservation, miscellaneous suits, Texas oil maps, and Senate bills.]
Box
4-3/331 Articles, speeches, press releases, correspondence, and miscellaneous materials, 1933-1935
[Includes presidential correspondence, resolutions and numerous House and Senate bills, Congressional Record, reports, newspapers, and testimony.]
Box
4-3/332 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, and correspondence by Thompson, 1943, 1949, 1954-1957, 1960
[Includes Congressional Record, reports, newspaper clippings, testimony, and other material.]
Box
4-3/333 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, and correspondence by Thompson, 1950-1953
[Includes report, Congressional Record, photo of American Petroleum Institute Certificate of Gold Medal, and other material.]
Box
4-3/334 Addresses, articles, speeches, and correspondence by Thompson, 1939-1951, 1961-1963
[Includes briefs concerning the oil and gas industry, the Commission, or Thompson. Also includes article by Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and Ernest O. Thompson, U.S. oil map, Attorney General opinions, newspaper clipping, testimony, and other material.]
Box
4-3/335 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, and correspondence by Thompson, 1933-1939, 1942-1943, 1948-1949, 1951-1957, 1959, 1961, 1966
[Most of the material is correspondence concerning the oil and gas industry and includes presidential correspondence. Also includes Congressional Record, U.S. oil map, numerous articles and speeches, photostat copies, and other material.]
Box
4-3/336 Articles, press releases, and correspondence, 1933-1936
[Includes briefs concerning the oil and gas industry, the Commission, or Thompson. Also includes report, House and Senate resolutions, material concerning Texas oil fields, Texas maps, photostat copies, and forms.]
Box
4-3/337 Articles, press releases, hearings, and correspondence by Thompson, 1933-1945
[Includes addresses, reports, hearings and briefs concerning the oil and gas industry and the Commission, opinions, Texas oil maps, photostat copies, blue prints of University of Texas oil lands, material concerning Texas oil fields and production, legislative investigating committee report of oil industry, and testimony.]
Box
4-3/338 Addresses, articles, speeches, press releases, and correspondence by Thompson, 1935-1936, 1939, 1947, 1955-1961
[Includes report, briefs concerning the oil and gas industry and the Commission, opinions, Senate resolution, material concerning the Interstate Oil Compact Commission, and other material.]