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HOUSTON METROPOLITAN RESEARCH CENTER. The Houston Metropolitan Research Center, housed in the historic Julia Ideson Building, is a division of the Houston Public Library in Houston. The Ideson Building served as the central library of the Houston Public Library System from 1926 until 1976, when a new building was constructed for the main branch. After extensive restoration, in 1979 the Ideson Building reopened to house the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, which includes three departments: archives and manuscripts, Texas and local history, and special collections. The Houston Metropolitan Research Center maintains a professional staff of archivists, historians, and librarians to administer the more than 20,000 linear feet of manuscripts; private and public records; 50,000 printed volumes, journals, and government publications; and two million photographic negatives and prints, maps, and architectural drawings. The Center also conducts ongoing programs of research and publishes the Houston Reviewqv, a scholarly journal of history and culture of the Gulf Coast region. The Center has been designated by the Texas State Library as a Regional Historic Resource Depository. The primary objective of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center is to locate, preserve, and make available to researchers the documentary records of Houston's past. The Center was established as the result of a cooperative program begun in 1974 by the Houston Public Library, Rice University, the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, and the Southwest Center for Urban Research. Harold M. Hyman, professor of history at Rice University, conceived the original idea and was instrumental in obtaining funding for the project. The joint effort, originally called the Houston Metropolitan Archives and Research Center, was funded during the initial 1974–76 project period in part by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Houston Bicentennial Commission, and two foundations based in Houston: the Brown Foundation and the Houston Endowment. The archival materials gathered in the course of the project were originally housed at the Fondren Libraryqv at Rice University. In July 1976 the archives were moved to permanent quarters at the Houston Public Library, where they would complement the holdings of its Texas and local history department. To continue the work of the Houston Metropolitan Archives and Research Center, the Houston Public Library organized a new division called the Houston Metropolitan Research Center. The Center, conceived as a prototype facility for urban studies, in the early 1990s constituted one of the most comprehensive urban archives and research centers in the United States.


Don E. Carleton, "News and Notes of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center," Houston Review 1 (Spring 1979). Houston Metropolitan Research Center Files, Houston Public Library. Lyceum to Landmark: The Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library (Houston: Architecture at Rice and the Friends of the Houston Public Library, 1979).

Louis J. Marchiafava


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Louis J. Marchiafava, "HOUSTON METROPOLITAN RESEARCH CENTER," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed October 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.