The Texas and Local History department offers reference service and research materials in every subject relating to Houston and Texas. It is a closed-stack, non-circulating collection. Users must register, and the staff works with researchers to suggest and locate sources of information.
With particular strength in history, biography and the social sciences, the collection includes many rare, early Texas imprints; theses and dissertations; privately published works of local interest; and works from Texas authors and Texas presses.
Magazines of both general and scholarly interest date from the 1800's to the present. Newsletters represent a broad range of local and state organizations. Nineteenth and early twentieth century newspapers from many Texas cities and towns can be viewed on microfilm.
The department has long been a depository for Texas state publications. Most state agencies are represented in the collection of 35,000+ documents such as annual, technical, and planning reports; statistical compilations; rules and guidelines; announcements; and legislative materials. The collection also holds publications from the City of Houston, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and other regional government agencies.
More than 1,500 maps illustrate the development of Houston and Texas, some with special emphasis such as railroad development, flood prone areas, or land use. Texas maps begin with the Spanish colonial period. Houston maps begin with the first hand-drawn map of the new city of Houston in 1836. Supplementing these are sets of aerial photographs beginning in 1935 and microfilmed Sanborn fire insurance maps for Houston and other Texas cities.
Newspaper Clipping Files
Extensive files are maintained under the names of individuals and under subject headings for Houston and Texas. No index exists for Houston newspapers prior to 1976, and these files, some going back over 50 years, provide the only available subject access to news accounts of local events, institutions, and individuals.
These include copies of old telephone directories; city directories for Houston and other Texas cities dating back to the 19th century; EPA reports related to the cleanup of hazardous waste sites in the area; the personal census for Texas from 1850-1910; school and college yearbooks; sheet music; and prints.