An Inventory of the Fannie Ratchford Collection at the Texas State Archives, about 1933-1947
Fannie Elizabeth Ratchford, librarian and scholar, was born on June 5, 1887, in Paint Rock, Texas. She taught school in Brownwood, Fort Worth, and various West Texas towns while attending college intermittently. She entered the University of Texas in 1905 and completed one year of study, then attended Daniel Baker College in Brownwood (1911-1912) and the University of Kansas (summer 1914) before returning to the University of Texas for two summer sessions (1918 and 1919). She graduated in 1919 with a B.A. from the university and did subsequent work by correspondence at the University of Kansas. She was awarded a master's degree in 1921.
From 1919 until she retired in 1957, Ratchford was associated with the rare book collections at the University of Texas at Austin. During her tenure as librarian—a term she considered inappropriate because of her lack of formal training in library science—Ratchford insisted on special cataloging and treatment to preserve the materials under her care. She also promoted recognition of the collections in the scholarly community through exhibitions and publications.
Ratchford's scholarly interests had their genesis in the Wrenn Library, now a part of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She wrote or edited numerous books and articles in her lifetime, ranging from her first publication, Some Reminiscences of Persons and Incidents of the Civil War (1909), as told to her by her father, to works on genealogy, folklore, local history and English literature. In addition, as a member of the first Book Club of Texas she did pioneering work in promoting fine printing in the state. Her edition of A.W. Terrell's From Texas to Mexico and the Court of Maximilian in 1865 was named one of the "fifty books of the year" by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Ratchford's endeavors were supported in part by Guggenheim fellowships for 1929-1930, 1939-1940, and 1957-1958, and by Laura Spelman Rockefeller research fellowships for 1934-1936. Other honors conferred on her included the Texas Ex-Students' Association Centennial Lecture Award (1936) for a series of lectures she delivered in Texas colleges and an honorary LL.D. from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio (1954). After her retirement in 1957, Fannie Ratchford assisted in editing the Oxford edition of the complete works of the Brontës. She died in Austin on February 9, 1974.
(Sources used: Leach, Sally Sparks, "Ratchford, Fannie Elizabeth,"The Handbook of Texas Online. accessed July 3, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.)
The Fannie Ratchford collection contains the notes and materials gathered by Fannie Ratchford for a project to describe architecturally noteworthy Texas houses built in the nineteenth century, the majority of which were built prior to the Civil War. Ratchford surveyed houses from over 180 different towns in Texas during this project. Papers include correspondence, questionnaires, notes, clippings and lists from this time. The data files vary in the amount and kinds of information available. Some have only the blank questionnaire form with the name of the city, county or specific residence. The questionnaires provide as much information as known about: the name of the house; the year built; for whom the house was built such as occupation, native of, family, education, former homes; the surrounding community such as neighbors and social life; details of the site including location on present road, on old roads, and in relation to water; the topography including contour of the land, soil and timber; the climate; the construction such as materials, labor and tools; a contemporary description; and a description of both the interior and exterior of the house. In addition to the questionnaire, the files may contain correspondence concerning the home, drawings and floor plans, sketches of interior details and furniture, newspaper articles on the residence, lists of residents with dates, and infrequently, biographical information on owners. A number written in red pencil and circled seems to be an internal numbering system of Ratchford's but it is inconsistent throughout the completed forms.
In addition to Ratchford's survey records, the collection includes letters of inquiry from Ratchford concerning potential houses, correspondence concerning the Historic American Building Survey, newspaper clippings, and a card file index of the houses and individuals that Ratchford researched. Funding for the project was provided by a Rockefeller fellowship and a lack of funds and time may have combined to prevent the completion of Ratchford's projected book.
This collection was originally donated along with photographs created by Ratchford during the survey project. These photographs are a visual documentation of Ratchford's survey work. See the Related Materials section for more information about the Fannie Ratchford photograph collection.
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
Under the Copyright Law of 1976 as amended in 1998, unpublished manuscripts are protected at a minimum through December 31, 2002 or 70 years after the author's death. The term of copyright for published material varies. Researchers are responsible for complying with the Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
(Identify the item), Fannie Ratchford collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 1970/101
These records were donated to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by Fannie Ratchford on April 30, 1970.
Corrections and further encoding to TARO standards by Tonia J. Wood, July 2001
EAD finding aid updated by Halley Grogan, June 2013
Detailed Description of the Collection