Texas State Library and Archives Commission

City of Austin Collection:

An Inventory of the City of Austin Collection at the Texas State Archives, 1873-1965, bulk 1921-1927



Overview

Title: City of Austin collection
Dates: 1873-1965
Dates (Bulk): bulk 1921-1927
Abstract: The City of Austin collection documents the history of Austin, Texas, through historical accounts, brochures, and other materials promoting the city to tourists and citizens. The materials primarily consist of promotional materials, brochures, essays, newspaper clippings, maps, drafts, publications from the Austin Chamber of Commerce, and the personal papers of William C. Walsh. The collection spans from 1873 to 1965, with the majority of the contents generated in the period of 1921-1927.
Quantity: 1.4 cubic ft.
Language: These materials are written in English.
Repository: Texas State Archives
Sponsor: This EAD finding aid was created in cooperation with Texas Archival Resources Online.

Historical Note - City of Austin

In 1839, the town of Waterloo was chosen as the capital of the new Republic of Texas and re-named Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin, the "Father of Texas." Between 1880 and 1920 Austin's population tripled, expanding to a total of 34,876 residents. Just as the population of the city was expanding, the business sector of Austin was also growing. However, while the state of Texas as a whole was booming due to oil extraction, this was not true in the city of Austin. As a result, business conglomerates, such as the Chamber of Commerce, began to promote Austin as a residential city. However, there was considerable lack and neglect of city services and by 1905, Austin had few sanitary sewers, few public parks and playgrounds, and a single paved street. In 1908, actions led by A.P. Wooldridge (future mayor of Austin) overturned the aldermanic form of government in favor of a commission government. This resulted in steady progression and improvement of city services, such as the 1918 acquisition of Barton Springs, a spring-fed pool open to Austinites, which served as a symbol of the residential city. In 1924 the Chamber of Commerce led the petition to adopt a council-manager government, which was adopted by 1926 and remained into the late 1990s. In 1928 the city commissioned the first city plan since 1839, in which the city was called to further develop residential, cultural, and educational interests. A $4,250,000 bond was issued that provided funds for streets, sewers, parks, the city hospital, the first public library building, and the municipal airport, which opened in 1930. It was at this point that the city government placed a further emphasis on recreation, establishing programs for the development of recreational programs, parks, and pools.

In the early and mid-1930s Austin was affected by the Great Depression, though the city fared comparatively well due to the leadership of Mayor Tom Miller, who took office in 1933, and U.S. Congressman Lyndon Johnson, who was elected in 1937. During the 1930s Austin's population grew at a faster rate than any other decade of the twentieth century, increasing 66 percent. The Public Works Administration provided Austin with more funding for municipal construction projects than any other Texan city in the same period. Johnson helped to procure federal funding for housing and dams along the Colorado River, resulting in the completion of the Tom Miller Dam in 1940 and the Mansfield Dam in 1941. The two dams in the Lower Colorado River Authority system brought many benefits to the city, including cheap hydroelectric power, lesser effects of flooding, a consistent water supply, and a general increase in the appeal of Austin as a residential city.

(Sources include: Humphrey, David C."Austin, TX (Travis County)," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed February 10, 2017; and the collection itself.)


Organizational Note - Austin (Tex.) Chamber of Commerce

Austin's Chamber of Commerce was established in 1877 as one of only three such chambers in the state of Texas; The first two were established in Houston in 1840 and in Galveston in 1845. The Austin Chamber of Commerce was a private, non-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of business organizations, civic organizations, institutes of education, and various individuals. Upon its founding, the Chamber's mission was to help foster the country's most prosperous business community in Austin. The Austin Chamber of Commerce joined the other Texas branches in 1906, establishing a statewide association. The Chamber promoted businesses in Austin as a means of attracting tourists and appealing to residents. In their early efforts, they promoted sites such as the Austin Dam, the moonlight towers, and the State Capitol.

(Sources include: Blasig, Carl A. "Chambers of Commerce," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed February 10, 2017; and the collection itself.)


Biographical Note - William Walsh

William C. Walsh (1836-1924), was born in Dayton, Ohio on September 23, 1836. Along with his father (a blacksmith) and mother, he moved to Austin, Texas in 1840, receiving his primary education within the city. He attended Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. before ultimately taking the position of clerk in the Texas General Land Office in September 1857.

Walsh fought in the Civil War, resigning from his position in the General Land Office in order to enlist in 1861. Walsh ultimately become the first lieutenant of the Tom Green Rifles Company B, Fourth Texas Infantry, which became a part of Hood's Texas Brigade. Walsh fought as captain at the battle of Gaines Mill in which he was severely wounded, resulting in the use of a crutch for the remainder of his life.

Walsh's career took many turns. In November 1862 he was named quartermaster general of the state of Texas. After 1865 Walsh hauled wood, ran a rock quarry, and, as an ardent Democrat, refused to accept a state appointment from Republican Governor Edmund J. Davis. In January 1873 Walsh was elected chief clerk of the Texas House of Representatives. He served until 1878, when he was appointed commissioner of the General Land Office by Governor Richard B. Hubbard. At the time of his election, land fraud in Austin was rampant. As land commissioner, Walsh was hard on crime, as evidenced by his prosecution of a ring of forgers and land thieves who raided the archives of the land office, ultimately resulting in thirty convictions and one hundred of the thieves fleeing the state. Walsh's opposition to the free grass movement resulted in the establishment of the State Land Board in 1883. Concurrent with his position as land commissioner, Walsh collected and organized information regarding the history and development of Austin. Advertised as being the "oldest citizen in Austin," he published articles in the Austin American newspaper regarding the history and development of buildings and land use in the city. In his writing, he focused on the erection and history of buildings such as the War Department, the Arsenal, the Treasury Building, the Capitol, and the General Land Office.

(Sources include: Gilman, Virginia Roberts. "William Walsh," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed February 10, 2017; and the collection itself.)


Scope and Contents of the Collection

The City of Austin collection documents the history of Austin, Texas, through historical accounts, brochures, and other materials promoting the city to tourists and citizens. The collection spans from 1873 to 1965, with the majority of the contents generated in the period of 1921-1927. The contents of the collection are largely divided between two major sources: promotional materials created by the Austin Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, and documents created by Austin historian William C. Walsh. The materials from the Austin Chamber of Commerce and other organizations provide insight into the ways in which Austin as a city promoted itself to both tourists and citizens. The materials by Walsh include his history of the city entitled Austin in the Making, along with his handwritten notes, a bound draft of the work, and a copy of the series derived from this work that was published in the Austin American newspaper. Austin in the Making focuses on the history of Austin from the perspective of its infrastructure. In his work, Walsh discusses the erection of numerous buildings, such as the Capitol and the War Department, as well as the history of land ownership in Austin. Walsh also includes personal anecdotes regarding his upbringing in Texas.

Subject files, dating 1873-1963, document at a local level how Austinites, businesses, and organizations conceived of the city and promoted it over time. Materials consist of promotional pamphlets and tourism materials, brochures, directories, reports, and maps. Topics in this series include historical homes; state and city government buildings; histories of Austin geared towards tourists, businesses, and homeowners; lakes; dams; community initiatives, such as construction of local youth centers and allocation of community chest funds; city housing development; city charter provisions and amendments; traffic safety laws; and city government business. A majority of the materials are from the Austin Chamber of Commerce,. Other authors include the Austin City Council, Texas Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds, and other state agencies, businesses, and private organizations. Items of particular interest include Austin in a Nutshell, a brochure that lists potential sites of interest for prospective homeowners, and the 1943 booklet Austin, Texas Area that includes the history of Austin's moonlight towers, which the Chamber of Commerce promoted as a unique technological innovation.

Writings on the history of Austin, dating 1921-1965, primarily consist of essays, drafts, newspaper clippings, notes for and a draft of Walsh's Austin in the Making, newspaper articles. Walsh's materials provide insight into how a historian studied the city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Topics in this series range from the early development of the city and state government infrastructure to American Indians who once inhabited the area, Stephen F. Austin, sculptor Elisabet Ney, city demographics, and histories of Austin's oldest buildings, including the Driskill Hotel, French Legation, and St. David's Episcopal Church. Items of particular interest include a 1924 Austin American article profiling Walsh's status as the oldest living citizen in Austin and featuring a picture of Walsh, and letters discussing the establishment of county lines between Travis and Bastrop counties.

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 Collection

The collection is organized into two series:
Subject files, 1873-1963, 0.7 cubic ft.
Writings on the history of Austin, 1921-1965, 0.7 cubic ft.

Restrictions

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 Act of 1976 as amended in 1998, unpublished works are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. The term of copyright for published material varies. Researchers are responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements

None.


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:
Walsh, W.C. (William C.), 1836-1924.
Corporate Names:
Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Texas. Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds.
Subjects:
Buildings--Texas--Austin.
Tourism--Texas--Austin.
City government--Texas--Austin.
Community development--Texas--Austin.
Places:
Austin (Tex.)--History
Travis County (Tex.)
Document Types:
Booklets--Texas.
Clippings (information artifacts)--Texas.
Drafts (documents)--Texas.
Essays--Texas.
Pamphlets--Texas.
Promotional materials--Texas.
Publications (documents)--Texas.

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
Rigsbee Postcard Collection, about 1900-1909, 1907, 1908, 1910, 1911, 1914, 1953, and 1900s, 0.24 cubic ft.
Walter E. Long collection, 1928-1971, bulk 1950-1971, 4.59 cubic ft. [See the series Austin Chamber of Commerce files.]
Austin History Center
Austin Press Records (AR.U.003), 1978-1982, 4.81 linear feet. (12 boxes)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item and cite the series), City of Austin collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession number: 2017/083

The date of donation and the name of the donor of the collection are unknown. The collection was accessioned for control purposes on February 10, 2017.

Processing Information

Collection initially processed by staff archivists, 1960s


DACS-compliant finding aid and XML markup completed by Abe Heath and Irene Lule of the University of Texas at Austin School of Information, fall 2016


Detailed Description of the Collection

Subject files, 1873-1963,
0.7 cubic ft.

Subject files concerning the city of Austin date 1873-1963 and consist of booklets, pamphlets, maps, directories, reports, and newsletters, some of which were published by the Austin Chamber of Commerce, with others created by the Austin City Council, Texas Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds, and other state agencies, businesses, and private organizations. Topics covered include voting issues, city buildings, reports on city housing, city planning and zoning, and documenting the history of city departments and organizations. Illustrated tourism and promotional materials show how city organizations promoted themselves and the greater city of Austin to the public.
Arrangement
The items are arranged as received.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Subject files, City of Austin collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Restrictions on Access
None.
Box
2017/083-1 City charter publications, 1909-1953
[2 folders]
[Includes circulars of proposed amendments and provisions proposed to be repealed, to be submitted at a special election on January 31, 1953.]
Maps and directories, 1931-1946
Austin City Council publications, 1873-1960
Reports of the Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds, 1884-1906
Austin Chamber of Commerce organization, event, and safety publications, 1927-1947
Business, club, charitable, and religious organization publications, 1920-1951
Box
2017/083-2 Austin Chamber of Commerce promotional publications,1924-1945
State agency, business, and private organization promotional publications, 1908-1963



Writings on the history of Austin, 1921-1965,
0.7 cubic ft.

This series consists of materials created between 1921 and 1965 that address the broad history of Austin from 1836 onward. The majority of the materials were written and compiled by Austin historian William C. Walsh in regard to the founding, establishment, and organization of the city. His notes for and draft of Austin in the Making, published in 1924, show the development of his writing about the city's history. His work appeared in serial form in the Austin American newspaper under the titles "Austin's Romantic Past" and "Austin in the Making," clippings of which are included here. Another work documenting the city's past is "Austin, 1836-1877," written by Gerard Boerner, who compiled the information from the city's directory of 1877-1878 and indexed it according to important names, locations, events, and city offices and officeholders. The directory's historical sketch of the city is included in full. Other publications, clippings, reprints, and typed transcriptions document prominent persons and events in Austin's history, its iconic structures and landmarks, and statistics and facts about the city.
Arrangement
The items are arranged as received.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Writings on the history of Austin, City of Austin collection. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Restrictions on Access
None.
Box
2017/083-2 "A Citizen of No Mean City,"1921-1922
[These are issues 3 thru 6 and 8 thru 11 of a serialized publication sponsored by the American National Bank, with some duplicates.]
Austin in the Making notes, 1924
[2 folders]
Austin in the Making draft, 1924
Box
2017/083-3 "Austin's Romantic Past,""Austin in the Making," and other historical newspaper articles, 1924
[Both titles are series appearing in the Austin American, written by William C. Walsh.]
"Ask Me Another,""What Do You Know About Austin," and "The Austin Sculptress,"1927
[These are Austin trivia test newspaper columns and an article about sculptor Elisabet Ney, all published in the Austin American.]
"Austin, 1836-1877," by Gerard Boerner,1936
Historical articles, newspaper clippings and Photostats, publication reprints, and typed transcriptions of correspondence, 1935-1965
[Includes reproductions and transcriptions of material dating from 1829 to 1852.]
"The City of Austin,"about 1940
[This is a bound compilation of typescript versions of publication reprints and Austin Chamber of Commerce promotional articles about Stephen F. Austin, Travis County statistical data, sculptor Elisabet Ney, the Treaty Oak, fiction author O. Henry, Austin's moonlight towers and American Indian history, and the Governor's Mansion.]