Sam Rayburn Library and Museum

By: H. G. Dulaney

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: April 5, 2018

The Sam Rayburn Library and Museum is located on U.S. Highway 82 in Bonham, Texas, four blocks west of the business district. It was established by Samuel T. (Sam) Rayburn, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, who had made Bonham his home for nearly half a century. The dedication of the library, on October 9, 1957, climaxed a long-cherished dream of the speaker. The Classical-style library building was designed by Roscoe DeWitt of Dallas. It has a steel and concrete framework with solid brick walls and is faced with gleaming white Georgia marble. It is set on a base of Texas red granite and surrounded by spacious, well-manicured grounds. The main lobby is faced with black Italian marble and features the white marble rostrum that stood in the House of Representatives from 1857 until 1950, behind which stands a bronze statue of Rayburn about to rap for order. Of special interest to tourists is the speaker's office, an exact replica of the speaker's office in Washington. The furniture was in the national Capitol office from 1907 until 1957, and the massive crystal chandelier hung first in the White House and later in the Capitol.

The main exhibit room, the Library of Personal Reminiscences, contains many mementos of Sam Rayburn's life, his career, and the honors he received. At the east end of the room is a white marble fireplace mantle that once graced the Adams Room of the White House. Another major room on the first floor is the reading room. Here is found Rayburn's personal library, which consists especially of books on American history, including biographies and writings of the presidents and other national leaders. Many of the volumes are signed by distinguished authors or donors. Shelved in the room is a complete run of the published proceedings of the United States Congress from the First Continental Congress of 1774 to the present, an invaluable resource for researchers. The books and all of Rayburn's papers were primarily arranged by Karl Trever (1903–1983), special assistant to the archivist of the United States, who did similar service for several presidential libraries. The papers were indexed and microfilmed and are available for research. A second reading room in the basement contains more of Rayburn's books. Additional books are housed in an annex, named for J. W. Wright Patman, which also serves as a lecture and meeting room. The library is administered by the Sam Rayburn Foundation, a nonprofit trust set up in 1949 to build, operate, and maintain the institution for "the advancement of education and the promotion of the general welfare." The foundation also operates Rayburn's 114-acre farm and an agricultural research center. The Sam Rayburn Library became a division of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History in Austin on January 1, 1991, with ownership of the museum transferred to the University of Texas at Austin. The Sam Rayburn papers were acquired by the university the following year and are held at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. The Sam Rayburn Museum in Bonham contains exhibits on Sam Rayburn’s life and career, as well as an exact replica of the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives during his tenure.

Ronald Averyt, "Sam Rayburn Library at Bonham Preserves Papers of Speaker," Texas Libraries, Winter 1978. Sam Rayburn Library Newsletter, October 1982. Sam Rayburn papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • North Texas

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

H. G. Dulaney, “Sam Rayburn Library and Museum,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 18, 2021,

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April 5, 2018