Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:
An Inventory of Parks and Wildlife Department Battleship Texas Records at the Texas State Archives, 1947-1948, 1971, 1984-1990s, undated, bulk 1980s-1990s
USS Texas, a New York class battleship, also known as BB-35 or Texas, was commissioned by the United States Navy on March 12, 1914, and served in both World War I and World War II. During World War I, Texas fulfilled a number of accomplishments both in design and warfare capabilities. In 1916, it was the first battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns and the first to increase accuracy of gunfire with directors and range-keepers. Texas helped reinforce a North Sea mine barrage to prevent the Germans from cutting off supply lines to the Allied troops in World War I. On November 21, 1918, after the armistice that ended the war, the German Fleet was escorted to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, Scotland with British and American ships, one of which was Texas. In December 1918, the USS Texas rendezvoused with USS George Washington, which was carrying President Wilson, and escorted him to Brest, France, for the Paris Peace Conference.
During peacetime in the summer of 1919, Texas reported for duty with the Pacific Fleet, where it remained until 1924. In the summer of 1924, the battleship returned to the Atlantic to escort the Naval Academy midshipmen on a training cruise in European waters. In 1925, USS Texas was sent to Norfolk Navy Yard for modernization, completed in 1927, which included a conversion to fuel oil instead of coal and the addition of tripod masts and torpedo blisters to contribute to the protection of the ship's waterline.
After modernization, Texas sailed to San Diego and then alternated between the Pacific and Atlantic, carrying out various peacetime tasks including carrying President Coolidge to Cuba for a Pan-American Conference and participating in large-scale strategic and tactical war games. Texas returned to San Diego in 1931 and operated as the flagship of Battleship Division 1. In 1937, it returned to the East Coast as the flagship for the Training Detachment and then the flagship of the newly created Atlantic Squadron. In 1939, USS Texas received new radar technology. With the ship's new technological advancements, it was ready to fight in World War II as the flagship of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, under Commander Admiral Ernest J. King.
USS Texas began participation in World War II in September 1939 when it was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol, whose purpose was to protect the shipping of neutral countries, including the United States. In August 1942, Texas began transporting American troops to Allied landings in North Africa. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, USS Texas fought off the coast of Normandy as the flagship for the Omaha Beach bombardment group. The battleship was stationed off the port of Cherbourg where it was hit twice by German artillery and experienced its only crew member fatality. After being repaired, Texas was returned to the south of France to shell Nazi positions. Once the war in the European Theater neared completion, Texas was sent to the Pacific for gunfire support and anti-aircraft fire during the landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In August 1945, USS Texas sailed to Pearl Harbor, carrying veterans returning to the United States.
In 1945, USS Texas made three more transport runs to Pearl Harbor in Operation Magic Carpet, where the battleship would carry servicemen home until Christmas Eve of 1945. In February 1946, the ship was back at Norfolk Navy Yard where it was prepared for retirement. On April 21, 1948, USS Texas was decommissioned at San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in Texas. The decommissioning ceremony was led by Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and included speeches by former Texas Governor William Hobby, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Mark Andrews, and Governor Beauford Jester.
Texas was brought to its final resting place along the Houston Ship Channel via the establishment of the Battleship Texas Commission by the 50th Texas Legislature. The Battleship Texas Commission's goal was to help Texans raise money to bring the battleship to San Jacinto. In 1983, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) acquired the battleship and created the Battleship Texas State Historic Site on the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. In 1984, a naval architect helped to draw up plans for the restoration of the rusting ship. The restoration began in 1988 and is ongoing by the TPWD. Visitors can take self-guided tours through the battleship as well as hard-hat guided tours and have sleepovers aboard the ship.
(Sources include: Kleiner, Diane J. "Battleship Texas State Historic Site," Handbook of Texas Online, and "Battleship Texas State Historic Site," Texas Parks and Wildlife website, both accessed April 17, 2016; and Hugh Irvin Power, Battleship Texas (College Station: Texas A&M University Press: 1993).)
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) manages the conservation of the state's natural and cultural resources, conservation education and outreach, and interpretation of cultural and historical resources. Through the TPWD's efforts in conservation, education, and interpretation of historical resources, Battleship Texas has become both a National Historic Landmark and a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark. The records consist of prints, ships plans, and a poster reproduction of a painting of the USS Texas from both the U.S. Navy and the TPWD; six audiocassettes containing recordings of Battleship Texas Commission meetings, the campaign to save the Battleship Texas, and the decommissioning ceremony; one 7-inch reel-to-reel audio tape containing a recording of the decommissioning ceremony; one VHS videocassette from the TPWD depicting a condition report and the retirement of the battleship; and meeting minutes of the Battleship Texas Advisory Board. Records are dated 1947-1948, 1971, 1984-1990s, bulk 1980s-1990s. The majority of the materials serve as documentation for the restoration and creation of a historic monument by the TPWD at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. The materials also document the campaign to save Battleship Texas and its decommissioning in 1948.
The first group consists of large format prints, ship plans, and two posters, dating from 1971 to 1993 and the 1980s to 1990s. One poster depicts USS Texas during World War II originally painted by C.G. Evers and reproduced on poster material in 1971. The prints and ship plans of the battleship originated from the U.S. Navy in 1935 as a booklet of general plans with 13 sheets. Originally marked as restricted, the plans were declassified in 1956. There are five complete sets of the general plans: a full-scale copy of the original booklet, a small-scale photocopy of the original plans, a copy of the general plans with notes written in pencil, a set of general plans highlighting the sailing orders of the battleship, and a set of general plans highlighting the fire power of the battleship. Four incomplete sets of the general plans are: a set used by the TPWD as restoration plans for the battleship including highlights in yellow on certain parts of the ship, a restoration plan, a set of plans highlighting the steam and steel portions of the battleship, and a laminated set drawn on with red and green dry erase markers that have dried over time. Also within this group is a poster describing New York-class battleships, of which Texas is a representative, plans for Texas' second deck, two pages of plans depicting the ship's ticket pavilion, and two pieces of tracing paper with pencil markings depicting tour routes.
The second group is made up of audiovisual materials dating 1947-1948, 1985 and 1987. Four of the audiocassettes are recordings of a Battleship Texas Commission staff member describing the order and content of the commission's files dating from the 1950s to the 1970s. Two audiocassettes are recordings from the personal collection of Henry Gillander, who copied the original broadcasts from 1947 and 1948. The first is a Texas Quality Network radio broadcast to save USS Texas with speakers including Governor Beauford Jester, Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, Admiral of the Fleet Chester Nimitz, Senator Fred "Red" Harris of Dallas County, Battleship Texas Commission Chairman Lloyd Gregory, and actress Linda Darnell. The second audiocassette from 1948 is an NBC and KPRC Houston broadcast for the decommissioning of USS Texas at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. This broadcast includes speeches by Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, former Texas Governor William Hobby, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Mark Andrews, and Governor Beauford Jester. The reel-to-reel audio tape is also of the NBC and KPRC broadcast of the decommissioning of the battleship. The VHS videocassette contains a 1984 condition report of the ship to tour her critical problem areas for restoration and a 1948 Universal International News broadcast of the "Honorable Retirement for USS Texas," which seems to have been copied onto the VHS from film without sound.
The third group consists of Battleship Texas Advisory Board meeting minutes dating from 1984 to 1990. The minutes were taken monthly and document the discussions of the board about fundraising for the restoration of the ship as well as problem areas of the ship that needed to be repaired.
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.
Digital copies of the audiovisual materials must be used instead of the original tapes.
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.).
Prints and ships plans are too large to photocopy; scanned images are available through the Texas Digital Archive.
(Identify the item), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Battleship Texas records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession numbers: 2002/166, 2006/376, 2011/430
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on August 8 2002; June 19, 2006; and July 6, 2011.
Digitization by Rachel Nellis, student at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Information, February-March 2016
Processing, DACS-compliant finding aid, and XML markup by Rachel Nellis, student at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Information, April 2016
Revisions to description by Rebecca Romanchuk, December 2016, January 2017
Prints, ship plans, posters and audiovisual recordings described in this finding aid have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive, available online at https://tsl.access.preservica.com/tda/tpwd/battleshiptexas.
Detailed Description of the Records