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Genealogical Materials

The Portal to Texas History emphasizes access to historical sources. With materials such as digital reproductions of city directories, historical society journals, genealogical society quarterlies, newspapers, maps, letters, documents, artifacts, and more, family history researchers can search for specific information about ancestors or explore collections that provide historical background and depth with facts about everyday life in the past. This guide suggests search strategies useful for genealogists and family historians and includes a brief list of materials contained in the Portal for getting started with your research.

Finding Information
Getting Started
Name Searches
Explore by Locations
Date Searches

Finding Information

Before you begin, please note that the Portal is not the same as a database of records or historical materials indexed specifically for genealogical research. For example, there is no surname field that can be directly searched, so using the Portal to search for a specific name may not yield the results you expect. However, the Portal offers a variety of methods for navigating the contents of the various collections, as well as helpful sorting options for evaluating the items in your result lists.

There are two basic navigations for discovering information: Explore and Search. Explore can be a good way to limit items to Texas county, subject, date, item type, contributing partner, and specific collection. Likewise, by starting with a broad search using the Basic Search function, you can get a good idea of the diversity of items in the Portal. Once you obtain a list of search results, you can delve into documents, photographs, artifacts, maps, or other items of genealogical and historical interest, and sort them by title, creator, date created, or date added to the Portal.

Getting Started

Use the Explore navigation or Basic Search to investigate the following selected collections in the Portal to help you begin your research. Please note that there are many other collections containing additional items of interest to family history researchers, and that this is only a sample to get you started.

Genealogical Society Contributions

  • Anderson County Genealogical Society: The Tracings. A quarterly newsletter publication containing genealogical information, including generation charts, family histories, and lists of records (births, deaths, church records, etc.).

  • Collin County Genealogical Society: Collin Chronicles, from 1981 to 2004. The CCGS quarterly newsletter provides transcripts of historical materials, local cemetery information, and general research resources.

  • East Texas Genealogical Society: East Texas Family Records. A quarterly newsletter publication containing genealogical information about families in East Texas including fifth generation charts, family histories, and lists of records (births, deaths, etc.).

  • Hutchinson County Genealogical Society: Contributions of several specific items to genealogical interest, such as Death Records, Hutchinson County, Texas: Persons who died in Hutchinson County but buried elsewhere, 1903-1987; Hutchinson County, Texas: marriage record, Books I - IV; and 20th Century Burials in Hutchinson County, Texas from 1901-1999.

  • Texas State Genealogical Society: Stirpes, from 1961 to 1990. A quarterly journal containing unpublished records and other materials whose purpose is to stimulate and support the research and teaching of genealogy.

Historical Society Contributions

  • Dallas Heritage Village: Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, a biannual publication "devoted to the rich history of Dallas and North Central Texas" as a way to "examine the many historical legacies--social, ethnic, cultural, political--which have shaped the modern city of Dallas and the region around it."

  • Texas Historical Foundation: Heritage, a publication containing articles related to the preservation of historic artifacts and sites in Texas. Feature articles discuss various aspects of Texas history and heritage, often highlighting museums and collections within the state. Also included are book reviews, current preservation news, and a listing of historical museums in Texas.

  • The Clay County Historical Society: Photographs that include early images of Henrietta, Texas and surrounding Clay County.

Historical Context

  • The Henderson County District Clerk's Office: A collection of historic legal documents and court cases from the 1850s to the early 1900s.

  • The Encyclopedia of Texas (1921-1922): Provides a biographical view of Texas and its history; it also uses many narratives of the individuals who helped shape Texas history. Includes the following topical profiles: the public school system in Texas; banking; the State Fair; the Cotton industry; oil history. Also included are histories of select geographical areas, such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Wichita Falls, Burkburnett, Ellis County, Waco, San Antonio, and Galveston.

Tip: The Portal contains many other volumes with biographical sketches, also known as "mug books."

Name Searches

Although the Portal is not designed specifically for surname searching, there are ways you can search for names, such as for historical figures. To do this, begin by searching for a name like you would search a phrase using quotation marks (" "). Quotes are not needed when using the "with these exact phrases" field in Advanced Search.

   Example: "David McDonald"

Examples of Portal collections and items of possible interest for name searches:

  • Yearbooks (non-exhaustive): Abilene Christian University, Austin College, Daniel Baker College, Howard Payne University, McMurry University

  • Lipscomb County Cemeteries: A History of Lipscomb County, Texas, 1876-1976

  • The Lena Armstrong Public Library

  • Confederate veterans ledger that chronicles who settled in Bell County, Texas, after the Civil War. The ledger lists members by the state they enlisted in, includes notes on where particular people fought, and may note a date of death.

  • Wolf Creek Heritage Museum

Explore by Locations

Discover items related to specific Texas counties by clicking Explore by Locations on the top navigation menu. Click on any Texas county on the interactive map to view all of the Portal items associated with that county. The counties colored in grey indicates that they do not have items in the Portal at this time.

   Example: Clicking on Dallas County will return over 1800 items.
  • Sort by title, creator, date created, or date added to the Portal. This will change the order in which the items related to a county are displayed.
  • Narrow the list of items for a county by adding search terms to the original search term.

    Example: Add_cemetery_ to the search box to narrow the search results.

Examples of Portal collections and items of possible interest for location searches:

  • Palo Pinto County Album: This ongoing collection is a compilation of photographs and memorabilia documenting the history of Palo Pinto County and its people.
  • A. F. Weaver Collection: This collection covers the founding of Mineral Wells through its mercurial growth as a resort center and army town up to the present.
  • From Plowshares to Diplomas: This Denton collection includes historic photographs, books, maps, and city directories, as well as records from numerous Denton women's clubs.
  • Texas: its geography, natural history and topography: This is a reprint of the first part of "Texas: the rise, progress, and prospects of the republic of Texas." It is a copy of the field notes and journal of A. Le Grand, who was in charge of a party surveying a grant to the New Arkansas and Texas land company.
  • Map of Texas: Texas circa 1900 showing counties, towns, major roads, railroads and advertising land for sale in Brazos Valley area.
  • A New Map of Texas: 1841 map showing political, conventional, and natural boundaries of Texas.

Date Searches

Browse items related to time periods or themes of significance in Texas history.

  • Click on Explore Dates
  • Select a time period or them by clicking on the appropriate graphic. All related items within that time period or theme wil be displayed.

Create your own date range and explore related items.

  • Click Explore Dates
  • Click on Choose Your Own Dates
  • Enter the start and end dates you would like to search. All related items within that date range will be displayed.

Examples of Portal collections and items of possible interest for date searches:

  • The Republic of Texas: 1836 - 1846
  • Oil and Gas: 1901 - Present
  • History of Texas: Vol. 1 and 2: This two-volume history describes Texas history from its first settlement in 1685 to its annexation to the United States in 1846.
  • The Laws of Texas, Vol. 1 - 33: This is a collection of the early laws of Texas compiled and arranged by H.P.N Gammel of Austin.
  • From Republic to State: Debates and Documents Relating to the Annexation of Texas, 1836-1856: As one of only two sovereign nations to become a part of the United States of America, the Republic of Texas occupies a unique place in American history. This collection features maps, books, letters and pamphlets relating to this volatile era in Texas history.