Texas School Land Board:
An Inventory of School Land Board Dockets, Minutes, and Exhibits at the Texas State Archives, 1932-2012
Texas has a long history of using land to fund education. In 1839, the 3rd Congress of the Republic of Texas appropriated three leagues of land (approximately 13,285 acres) in each county to establish either a primary school or academy (An act appropriating certain lands for the establishment of a general system of education, approved January 26, 1839, Regular Session). County commissioners were to either sell or oversee the investment of this land, typically through bonds, to benefit education locally. In reality, land prices were too low to provide meaningful revenue, and many counties chose not to survey their appropriated school land. On January 30, 1854, the 5th Texas Legislature reformed the state's education system and established the Special School Fund (An act to establish a system of schools, Regular Session). Simultaneously, chartered railroad companies received donated unappropriated land from Texas. In exchange, railroad companies were to survey these lands and pay the required fees to the Texas General Land Office (GLO). Alternative sections of these surveyed lands were allocated to benefit public education (An act to encourage the construction of railroads in Texas by donation of lands, approved January 30, 1854, 5th Legislature, Regular Session). The Special School Fund aimed to establish and fund a state school system from fees collected from the sale and leasing of school land. Unfortunately, the legislature used the Special School Fund to pay for non-education purposes, such as purchasing weapons during the Civil War.
During Reconstruction, legislators again sought to reserve funds for education purposes. In 1873, the legislature dedicated half of the remaining public domain land to support public education (An act to set apart one-half of the Public Domain for the support and maintenance of public schools, approved March 18, 1873, 13th Legislature, Regular Session). Income collected from the sale, lease, or mineral development of this allocated land was placed in the newly-created Permanent School Fund and any interest collected benefited the Available School Fund. Public school funding could be derived from these funds. This provided a way to generate money for education from a source other than taxes. Proceeds from other land sales and leases could be used to pay for other state expenses, thus reducing the need to use the Permanent School Fund and Available School Fund for non-education purposes. In the 1890s, the GLO classified unallocated land remaining in the public domain by category. These categories were agricultural land, grazing land, mineral land, and timber land. Most of the mineral land existed in West Texas. The state retained mineral rights to these lands. In 1898, the Texas Supreme Court determined that the state's unappropriated public lands had been exhausted. At this point, the GLO turned toward managing state-owned mineral resources and lands as well as developing revenue sources for the Permanent School Fund.
In the early 20th century, the discovery of petroleum throughout the state encouraged oil and gas companies to apply for mineral leases. A considerable portion of the mineral lands had not been sold but merely leased for mineral development. For mineral land sold to private entities, the state received a portion of the royalties, and landowners received ten cents per acre annually during the life of the lease. Landowners were unhappy with these terms and lobbied the legislature to intervene. The resulting legislation, the Relinquishment Act of 1919, made the surface owner the agent of the state for the leasing of mineral lands (Senate Bill 11, 36th Legislature, 2nd Called Session). Both the surface landowner and the state received a portion of the proceeds of leasing and production of minerals. In 1929, the legislature established the Board for Lease of University Lands to lease school lands for oil and gas exploration and development to benefit universities (Senate Bill 82, 41st Legislature, Regular Session). In the following decades, other state entities, including universities and colleges, established boards for lease to supervise the leasing and selling of state-owned property.
In 1931, the 42nd Legislature created the Texas Board of Mineral Development to provide for the development, drilling, leasing, and/or sale of the oil and gas situated under the river beds and channels owned by the State (Senate Bill 25, 2nd Called Session). The board consisted of the governor, GLO commissioner, and Railroad Commission of Texas commissioner. In 1939, the legislature abolished the Board of Mineral Development and created the Texas School Land Board (SLB) (Senate Bill 167, 46th Legislature, Regular Session). This legislation charged the SLB to supervise the management, leasing, and sale of the public school lands, and determined the prices at which land may be leased or sold. The GLO provided administrative support for the SLB.
In 1941, the legislature authorized the SLB to grant and issue easements or surface leases to the United States of America on "any island, salt water lake, bay, inlet, or marsh within tidewater limits, and that portion of the Gulf of Mexico within the jurisdiction of the State of Texas, for any purpose essential for the National Defense" (House Bill 134, 47th Legislature, Regular Session). These easements and surface leases would be granted to the United States under the express condition that Texas retain oil, gas, and other mineral rights in and around areas affected. Applicants for cheaper federal leases and federal officials claimed that Texas, as well as all other states, had given up its rights to submerged land when the state entered the Union. In what became known as the Tidelands Controversy, the states and the federal government disagreed on the ownership of submerged lands. On June 1, 1960, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that Texas' gulf boundary extended three leagues beyond its shore.
Originally, the SLB consisted of three ex officios: the GLO commissioner, superintendent of public instruction, and secretary of state. The GLO commissioner served as the board's chairman. The board met the first and third Tuesday of each month. Until 1963, the composition of the School Land Board consisted of the GLO commissioner and two ex officios (which changed every few years via legislation). By 1963, the board consisted of the GLO commissioner, attorney general, and governor. In 1963, the attorney general was replaced with a citizen appointed by said office (Senate Bill 318, 58th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1965, the governor was replaced with a citizen appointed by said office (House Bill 830, 59th Legislature, Regular Session). Both citizen members serve two-year terms.
(Sources include: Mauro, Garry, Land Commissioners of Texas, Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1986; "School Land Board,"; McClellan, Michael E., "Permanent School Fund,"; and Williams, Howard R. and Berte R. Haigh, "Mineral rights and royalties," Handbook of Texas Online; and the Texas General Land Office's website (http://www.glo.texas.gov), all accessed May 9, 2017; various Texas laws and acts; and the records themselves.)
On December 22, 1836, the 1st Congress of the Republic of Texas created the Texas General Land Office (GLO) as the agency responsible for the disposal of public lands and maintaining the records of those dispositions (An act to establish the General Land Office for the Republic of Texas, Regular Session). The GLO began operating on October 1, 1837, and its first obligation was to collect "all records, books, and papers, in any way appertaining to all the lands of the Republic, and that may be in the care or possession of all empresarios, political chiefs, alcades, commissionarios, or commissioners issuing land titles." During the Republic era, the agency managed records, collected information, and issued patents. The Republic of Texas constitution honored all grants made by the governments of Spain and Mexico and charged the GLO with the responsibility of verifying Spanish and Mexican titles to determine what land was in the public domain and what land was privately owned. The GLO commissioner had the ability to issue land certificates, which entitled the grantee a certain number of acres of land in the unallocated public domain.
Upon entering the United States in 1845, the state retained all public funds, debts, taxes, dues, and all vacant and unappropriated land within the state's boundaries (Joint Resolution of Texas Consenting to Annexation, 9th Congress, Extra Called Session, June 23, 1845). Texas' constitution charged the GLO with the supervision and management of the state's millions of acres of public lands. In 1898, the Texas Supreme Court determined that the state's unappropriated public lands had been exhausted. At this point, the GLO turned toward managing state-owned mineral resources and lands as well as developing revenue sources for the Permanent School Fund. Though the GLO's duties have evolved, its core mission remains managing state lands and mineral-right properties totaling 20.3 million acres as of 2017.
The GLO is headed by a commissioner. The commissioner has been an elected position except during the Republic era, the Civil War, and part of Reconstruction. During the Republic era, the president appointed the commissioner, while the governor appointed the commissioner from 1861 to 1869. Republic-era commissioners were appointed to three-year terms. In the years following Texas' annexation to the United States, the commissioner served two-year terms (An act of May 12, 1846, 1st Texas Legislature, Regular Session). In 1972, the term of office was extended from two to four years, effective in 1975 (Senate Joint Resolution 1, 62nd Legislature, Regular Session). When the official commissioner is away from the office, the agency's chief clerk serves as the acting commissioner. Additionally, the commissioner serves as the ex officio chair for many boards including the Veterans Land Board, School Land Board, Coastal Land Advisory Board, various Boards for Lease, Texas State Veterans Cemetery Committee, and Special Board of Review. The GLO's commissioner also served on the Board of Commissioners of Public Buildings from 1860 to 1919, the Texas State Capitol Board (later named the Capitol Building Commission) from 1879 to 1889, and the State Land Board from 1883 to 1887. The Resource Management Code System maintained at the GLO provides a listing of environmental guidelines for developing submerged state tracts in Texas bays and the Gulf of Mexico. The Archives and Records Division of the Land Office remains the repository of all original land grants, patents, and other documents that form the basis of land title in the state of Texas.
(Sources include: Mauro, Garry, Land Commissioners of Texas, Austin: Texas General Land Office, 1986; Johnson, John G., "General Land Office," Handbook of Texas Online; the Texas General Land Office's website (http://www.glo.texas.gov), both accessed May 9, 2017; various Texas laws and acts; and the records themselves.)
Texas School Land Board (SLB), administratively attached to the Texas General Land Office, supervises the management, leasing, and sale of the public school lands while determining the prices and conditions at which this land may be leased or sold. The proceeds from these leases and sales benefit the Available School Fund and the Permanent School Fund. The SLB can issue permits, leases, and easements for uses of state-owned submerged land. Records include SLB meeting dockets, minutes, and exhibits, dating 1932-2012. Minutes from the Texas Board of Mineral Development (in existence from 1932 to 1939), SLB's predecessor, are also present. Exhibits include reports, maps, field notes, memorandums, correspondence, bid summaries, applications, and lists of school lands available for purchase or lease. Subjects include oil and gas pooling operations, third-party use of coastal lands, drilling activities, and the purchase or lease of school land for mineral development and highway construction.
Dockets inform the public as to what will be discussed and/or decided at each meeting as well as the order of these actions. Minutes document in a thorough but summary fashion the official actions and decisions of the board in its meetings. Exhibits provide background information for items discussed. Board work session and lease sale meetings are present after 2000.
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
Materials 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. 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.).
Because of the possibility that portions of these records fall under Public Information Act exceptions including, but not limited to, home addresses, phone numbers and personal family information of government employees and officials (Texas Government Code, Section 552.117); geological or geophysical information (Texas Government Code, Section 552.113); and real property appraisals (Texas Government Code, Section 552.149), an archivist must review these records before they can be accessed for research. The records may be requested for research under the provisions of the Public Information Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 552).
The researcher may request an interview with an archivist or submit a request by mail (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, P.O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711), fax (512-463-5436), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or see our web page (https://www.tsl.texas.gov/agency/customer/pia.html). Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the archivist to accurately identify and locate the information. If our review reveals information that may be excepted by the Public Information Act, we are obligated to seek an open records decision from the Attorney General on whether the records can be released. The Public Information Act allows the Archives ten working days after receiving a request to make this determination. The Attorney General has 45 working days to render a decision. Alternately, the Archives can inform you of the nature of the potentially excepted information and if you agree, that information can be redacted or removed and you can access the remainder of the records.
(Identify the item), Texas School Land Board dockets, minutes, and exhibits. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 1998/205, 1999/129, 2000/086, 2001/020, 2002/065, 2003/047, 2004/010, 2005/044, 2005/129, 2006/032, 2007/041, 2008/012, 2009/026, 2010/061, 2016/135, 2017/104
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas General Land Office on July 7, 1998; March 25, 1999; December 22, 1999; September 28, 2000; November 7, 2001; October 21, 2002; September 8, 2003; October 25, 2004; September 30, 2005; October 23, 2006; September 11, 2007; September 23, 2008; January 25, 2010; and March 16, 2017; and by the Texas Legislative Reference Library on March 29, 2005 and December 13, 2012.
Draft inventory by Tony Black, February 2010
Description and DACS compliance by Anna M. Reznik, May 2017
The record copies of dockets, minutes, and exhibits are maintained by the Texas General Land Office.
Detailed Description of the Records