University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the George F. Townsend Papers, 1853-1952

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Townsend, George F.
Creator: Townsend, Elizabeth Sthreshley, d. 1919
Title: Townsend, George F., papers
Dates: 1853-1952
Abstract: The George F. Townsend Papers, 1853-1952, relate to his photography studio and his wife Elizabeth Sthreshley Townsend's invention of a Braille typewriter.
Accession No.: 1954, 89-46
Extent: 7 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Born in Austin, Texas, George F. Townsend was the son of Martin Townsend and his wife, Cecilia Brichta, nephew of William A. Blackburn, and the grandson of Nathaniel Townsend, a merchant and diplomat for the Republic of Texas. Townsend owned a photography studio on Congress Avenue and married Elizabeth Sthreshley (d. 1919) in 1894. Four years earlier, Elizabeth had invented the punctograph, a Braille typewriter, for which she held the patent. After working at the Texas School for the Blind for eight years, Elizabeth left her position to assist her husband with his photography career, which included experiments with X-ray equipment.


Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Townsend, Elizabeth Sthreshley," (accessed August 2, 2010).

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Townsend, Nathaniel," (accessed August 2, 2010).

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, legal papers, reminiscences, broadsides, printed materials, tintypes, clippings, and photographs comprise the George F. Townsend Papers, 1853-1952. The collection relates to the punctograph invented and patented by Elizabeth Sthreshley in 1890; records by Francis Brichta, a relative of Cecilia Brichta; of Austin land transactions in 1884; reminiscences by Cecilia Brichta Townsend; and photographs from Townsend’s photography studio.


Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Brichta, Amelia
Brichta, Francis
Brichta, Frank
Brichta, Robert
Townsend, Cecilia Brichta
Townsend, Elizabeth Sthreshley, d. 1919 -- Archives
Townsend, George F. -- Archives
Townsend, Malcolm
Subjects (Organizations)
Texas School for the Blind.
Education -- Texas -- Austin.
Genealogy & local history -- Texas -- Austin.
Real property -- Texas -- Austin.
Social affairs -- Texas -- Austin.
Austin (Tex.) -- History -- Sources.
Washington (D.C.) -- History -- Sources.

Related Material

Blackburn-Townsend Family Papers

Nathaniel Townsend Papers

William A. Blackburn Papers

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

George F. Townsend Papers, 1853-1952, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Detailed Description of the Papers



2L7 Correspondence, business, 1890-1952
Legal documents, [ca. 1890]
Memoirs, Cecilia Brichta Townsend, 1897
Land book, 1884
Strand, magazine, January 1901
Townsend genealogy
"Lincoln" pennies, 4
"Indian Head" pennies, 3
"Drink Checks" from three Austin saloons, 3
Powder horn - Colt's patent.
Bible - printed by g. E. Eyre and W. Spottiswoode. M.DCCC.LIV. Metal bound velvet binding.
3S29 Photographs: Austin scenes
3S192 Braille alphabet produced by typewriter invented by Elizabeth Sthreshley, 2 copies, 1890
3T2 Tintypes and Austin photographs
3T3 Photographs, cased
3Y4a Photographs, cased