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Finding Sources: in the Library and Online: Finding Info on Texas

This guide shows students where to begin and provides them with resources for finding all types of information.

Special Collections in the A. Frank Smith Library

John G. Tower Library and Archives

John Goodwin Tower a Southwestern alumnus, represented Texas in the United States Senate from 1961 through 1984. Before his retirement, he named Southwestern University as the official repository for his papers.  The approximately 800 linear feet of materials primarily reflect his Senate activities and include documents, legislative files, correspondence, speeches, campaign items, photographs, and audiovisual materials.


  • Jessie Daniel Ames Collection
  • Thomas Bewick Collection
  • William Blake Collection
  • Brown Collection
  • Edward A. Clark Australia Collection
  • Edward A. Clark Burr Collection
  • Edward A. Clark Texana Collection
  • Cox Map Collection
  • Bertha McKee Dobie Collection
  • Isabel Gaddis Collection of J. Frank Dobie
  • Jackson/Greenwood Collection
  • Henry E. Meyer Hymnal Collection
  • Osborne Collection of Herman Melville
  • May Peterson Collection
  • Additional Collections

image courtesy of PCL


The library's archival holdings include Southwestern University historical records and documents, personal papers of individuals associated with the university or Texas Methodism, photographs, prints, maps, microfilm, and audiovisual materials.

Archival Resources- Austin and Beyond

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Search America's historic newspapers pages from 1860-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities external link and the Library of Congress.

Texas Historical Commission / Austin, Texas

The Texas Historical Commission (THC) is the state agency for historic preservation. THC staff consults with citizens and organizations to preserve Texas' architectural, archeological and cultural landmarks. The agency is recognized nationally for its preservation programs.

Benson Latin American Collection/ University of Texas

The Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection, a unit of the University of Texas Libraries, is a specialized research library focusing on materials from and about Latin America, and on materials relating to Latinos in the United States.

Dolph Briscoe Center for American History/ University of Texas

As a leading history research center, Dolph Briscoe Center collects, preserve, and makes available documentary and material culture evidence encompassing key themes in Texas and U.S. history.

Harry Ransom Center/ University of Texas

The Hazel H. Ransom Reading Room and David Douglas Duncan-Cain Foundation Photography and Art Viewing Room, located on the second floor, serve readers using manuscripts, rare books, and visual materials (photographs, performing arts, art, and decorative arts/personal effects).

LBJ Library & Museum/ University of Texas

The mission of the LBJ Library & Museum is "To preserve and protect the historical materials in the collections of the Johnson Library and make them readily accessible; to increase public awareness of the American experience through relevant exhibitions and educational programs; to advance the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum's standing as a center for intellectual activity and community leadership while meeting the challenges of a changing world." -- website

Austin History Center, Austin Public Library / Austin, Texas

The Austin History Center provides the public with information about the history, current events, and activities of Austin and Travis County. We collect and preserve information about local governments, businesses, residents, institutions, and neighborhoods so that generations to come will have access to our history.

Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection/ University of Texas

The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection (PCL 1.306) is a general collection of more than 250,000 maps covering all areas of the world.

Portal To Texas History -  University of North Texas

The Portal is a gateway to Texas history materials. You may discover anything from an ancestor's picture in a college yearbook to a rare historical map.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

"The Texas State Archives preserves and documents the heritage and culture of Texas by identifying, collecting, and making available for research the permanently valuable official records of Texas government, as well as other significant historical resources. Maintaining the official history of Texas government, the State Archives includes archival government records dating back to the 18th century, as well as newspapers, journals, books, manuscripts, photographs, historical maps, and other historical resources." --website

TARO (Texas Archival Resources Online) makes descriptions of the rich archival, manuscript, and museum collections in repositories across the state available to the public. The site consists of the collection descriptions or "finding aids" that archives, libraries, and museums create to assist users in locating information in their collections. Consider these an extended table of contents which describe unique materials only available at the individual repositories. In most cases, the collections themselves are NOT available online. 

Texas Digital Sanborn Maps, 1867-1970

Includesmost of the fire insurance maps of Texas produced by the Sanborn Map Company from the mide-1880s.  The black and while digital images were produced from the microform of the Sanborn atlases in the Libray of Congress.

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Archival Resources- Georgetown

Williamson County Historical Museum / Georgetown, Texas

The museum provides innovative hands-on educational programming and rotating exhibits covering the area's unique history including its earliest Native American inhabitants, the diverse ethnic cultures of pioneering settlers, cattle drives, communities, and farming and ranching heritage.

Special Collections, Southwestern University / Georgetown, Texas

Special Collections holds the library's rare books and archival collections, including the papers of U.S. Senator (1961-1985), John G. Tower. Over 4000 works were printed before 1900, the earliest of which is a leaf from a Gutenberg Bible. Other significant collections include Southwestern University archives, Texana, Methodism, hymnals, 19th century American and British works, and works related to travel and description. The campus community as well as outside researchers are encouraged to make use of Special Collection's unique resources.

John G. Tower Library and Archives, Southwestern University / Georgetown, Texas

John Goodwin Tower a Southwestern alumnus, represented Texas in the United States Senate from 1961 through 1984. Before his retirement, he named Southwestern University as the official repository for his papers.   The approximately 800 linear feet of materials primarily reflect his Senate activities and include documents, legislative files, correspondence, speeches, campaign items, photographs, and audiovisual materials.

Search for Southwestern University Alumni between 1844-1920 by name.

Georgetown Heritage Society / Georgetown, Texas

The Georgetown Heritage Society was founded in 1977 with a mission to promote the preservation and understanding of Georgetown's unique heritage.

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Texas Government

Curious about the state government's historical record? Having trouble finding information about the state? Look to the Texas State Library & Archives Comission!

Located at the state capital building in Austin, the State Library & Archives holds the Texas government's official archives and has a reference department that can help with your information needs. Their website offers online exhibits and information resources.


Resources from Texas State Government

Our state government has a number of websites where you can find information about state laws, bills, court decisions and more. If you're looking for basic information on state agencies and services, the best place to start is

Texas Legislature Online
The state legislature's website has a simple search function on its homepage where you can search for bills based on their bill number or a keyword search. You can also view video broadcasts from hearings, find session calendars, and more.

Texas Courts Online
Search for state-level court cases and learn about the structure of the Texas judicial system.

Office of the Governor
Find news about the governor's initiatives and contact information.

Image courtesy of Texas Legislature Online,

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that covers politics, public policy, and government in Texas.

The Texas Tribune website serves as an online newspaper where you can find articles and information on these topics.

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Statistics About Texas

The following are some of the statistics available from various state and local agencies.

Tip -- Check various universities in Texas (such at UT Austin, Texas A&M, and Baylor) for statistics on local, national, and global topics. Many large research universities produce statistics and reports that researchers can use.

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U.S. Archival Resources

The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School (Documents in Law History and Diplomacy)

Contains digital documents relevant to the fields of law, history, economics, politics, diplomacy and government. Major collection: Texas from Independence to Annexation, 1836-1846.

Heritage Quest Online

A comprehensive treasury of family lineage and local histories, including materials for tracing family lineages and American culture, beginning with the 13 original colonies. This database contains genealogies, local histories, third-party histories, and primary source materials of not only towns and families of all 50 states, but also includes information for Canada, England, and Ireland. Access to the information can be achieved by searching for title, family name, geographic area, or subject.

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