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TEXAS COLLECTION LIBRARY

TEXAS COLLECTION LIBRARY. The Texas Collection Library, originally called the Texas Collection of the University of Texas library, began in 1884 with a faculty order for the purchase of $32 worth of Texas books. The previous year the law department had purchased Texas volumes, but these remained in the Law Library. In 1896 Regent George W. Brackenridge donated $500 for the purchase of "rare books on Texas history," and the following year Swante Palm (Swen Jaenssonqv), Swedish consul in Austin, gave his private library to the university. This gift of the largest private collection of books in Texas during the nineteenth century included more than 150 volumes relating to Texas and 77 volumes of Texas newspapers. The receipt of this material marks the true establishment of the Texas Collection and what years later would become the Texas Newspaper Collection. Originally located in the university's Main Building, the Texas Collection moved in 1911 to the first floor of the university's new library, sometimes called the Cass Gilbert Library or the Old Library Building. Its collections grew steadily as a result of such factors as the infusion of funds from Maj. George W. Littlefield, who in 1914 established the Littlefield Southern History Fund for the purchase of books relating to Texas and Southern history; an interest in Texas books generated by the Texas Centennial in 1936 and the Texas Centennial of Statehood in 1946; and the university library's expansion into new collecting areas, such as the history of Mexico and Latin America. By 1934 all Texas materials, including the Texas Collection Library, had moved into the university's new Mirabeau B. Lamar Library. The Texas Collection Library, containing some 22,000 volumes, resided on the third floor, where it shared quarters with the university's Latin American Collection and was administered by that collection's librarian, Carlos Castañeda. In June 1935 Marcelle L. Hamer was hired to serve as the Texas Collection's librarian under Castañeda, though in effect Hamer became an independent branch librarian and the Texas Collection a separate library merely housed in a room with the Latin American Collection. In 1938 nationally acclaimed university English professor, author, and folklorist James Frank Dobie called for new housing for the Texas Collection Library and for the collection's elevation among the university's library holdings. Others, including professor of history and editor of the Southwestern Historical Quarterly Walter Prescott Webb, soon supported Dobie's appeal. The eventual result was the regents approval in 1945 of the Barker Texas History Center to house all books and archival collections relating to Texas and the Southwest, including the Texas Collection Library. The Barker Center was dedicated in April 1950 in the Old Library Building.

Since 1950 the history of the Texas Collection Library has been part of the larger development and evolution of the Barker Texas History Center. In April 1950 Llerena Friend became the center's librarian; upon her retirement in 1969 the library and the archives were consolidated under one director, Chester V. Kielman. In 1979, upon Dr. Kielman's retirement, Don E. Carleton became the center director. In 1995 the Texas Collection Library was a part of the Barker Texas History Collections, a division in the university's Center for American History, which was established in 1991. It housed more than 130,000 books and periodicals about Texas, published in Texas, or produced by writers strongly associated with Texas. These included the earliest books associated with Texas, such as the first book published about Texas, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's La Relación (1555), and the first books published in Texas, Stephen F. Austin's Translation of the Laws, Orders, and Contracts, On Colonization (1829). The library also owns the largest collection known of imprints by Samuel Bangs, Texas's first printer, as well as the personal libraries of notable Texans such as Austin, Ashbel Smith, and Miss Ima Hogg. The library also houses more than 3,000 rare or unique broadsides documenting Texas history and culture, many of which were printed on Texas presses.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Don E. Carleton and Katherine J. Adams, "`Work Peculiarly Our Own': Origins of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 86 (October 1982).

Katherine J. Adams

Citation

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

Katherine J. Adams, "TEXAS COLLECTION LIBRARY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lct01), accessed April 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.