Texas Legislature, House of Representatives, Committee to Investigate the Administration of Relief in Tarrant County, Texas:
An Inventory of Legislative Records at the Texas State Archives, 1935
The Texas Legislature's House Committee to Investigate the Administration of Relief in Tarrant County, Texas was created by House Simple Resolution No. 6, offered by Representative Farmer on September 19, 1935 during the 1st Called Session of the 44th Legislature. Farmer's resolution noted that a substantial amount of money had been given to Tarrant County (containing Fort Worth) for the purpose of providing relief to needy citizens. The citizens, however, had made numerous complaints regarding the administration of the funds, claiming that the administration was discriminatory, appeals were not allowed, laws were frequently violated, public funds were misused, people were denied access to public records, and caseworkers showed favoritism and occasionally requested “immoral” favors. Farmer requested a committee of three to thoroughly investigate the issues raised by the citizens of Tarrant County and report back to the House in two weeks. The resolution passed and Representatives Farmer (Chair), Smith, and Greathouse were appointed to the committee. The members promptly went to Tarrant County and conducted hearings from September 21 through 23.
On September 27, Representative Petsch offered a simple resolution complaining that the manner in which one of the committee members was conducting the investigation had been conducive to inciting misinformed Tarrant County citizens to discontent and riot. Petsch requested that no further hearings be held, except in Austin, and that no further witnesses be called, save for officials and employees of the Texas Board of Control and other relief agencies. The resolution did not pass, but later in the day Representative Lanning offered House Simple Resolution 25 adding two additional members to the committee and allowing it to choose its own chair. Lanning's resolution was adopted and Butler of Brazos County and Davison of Fisher County were appointed. The new committee members also went to Tarrant County and the entire committee held hearings on September 28 and 29. The committee also held meetings in Austin and talked to the Texas State Board of Control and others administering relief in Texas.
The majority and minority committee reports were delivered to the House on October 8, 1935, during the 1st Called Session of the 44th Legislature. The majority report substantiated most of the citizen complaints, found that a few were suspicious but unproven, and found no sufficient evidence for one charge. The report made a few recommendations, but fundamentally placed the blame on the system as a whole and the necessary speed with which it had had to be established. The minority report was written by Representative Farmer, who believed that the individual caseworkers were responsible for the majority of the problems and noted that the system had no standards, no grievance board, and no coordination or cooperation. He also noted cases of nepotism, various prejudices and biases, and a "he said/she said" incident. No direct legislation appears to have resulted from either committee report, though the findings may have been incorporated into plans for the old age assistance program worked on during the following legislative sessions.
Records comprise reports and a copy of a legislative resolution, 1935, created by and concerning the Texas Legislature's House Committee to Investigate the Administration of Relief in Tarrant County, Texas. The documents record the depression-era concern with providing relief to needy citizens in the State of Texas. The resolution is an unsigned copy of the legislation establishing the Tarrant County investigation committee, while the reports contain the majority and minority committee findings and recommendations. All of the records have been published in the House Journal for the 1st Called Session of the 44th Legislature.
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.
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(Identify the item), Legislative records, Committee to Investigate the Administration of Relief in Tarrant County, Texas, House of Representatives, Texas Legislature. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2000/196
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Secretary of State on May 23, 1940, but not assigned an accession number until 1982. These records were assigned an individual accession number on August 26, 2000.
Nancy Enneking, August 2000
Detailed Description of the Collection