Artifacts Collection scope and content
Scope and Contents of the Artifacts Collection
The Artifacts collection at the Texas State Archives is an artificial collection consisting of approximately 590 three-dimensional objects related to Texas history. Primarily dating from 1860 to 1970, the collection comprises objects dating from possibly 1500 to 1987 as well as fossilized items that are likely from the Cretaceous Period and arrowheads that may date as early as 14000 BCE to 1600 CE. This wide assortment of artifacts helps document in material form the liv es of those who have resided in Texas over the centuries, from the prehistoric and Pre-Columbian eras to the time that Texas has existed as a colony, republic, and state.
The types of artifacts fall into two broad categories. The first consists of objects that were either associated with key historical events or that once belonged to leaders and figures central to Texas history. Highlights include the thimble used by Joanna Troutman in 1835 to make the first Lone Star flag out of her silk skirts; Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar’s dueling pistols from the battle of San Jacinto; the Ark of the Covenant chest made from the wood of Independence Hall where the Texas Declaration of Independence was framed and issued by the Convention of 1836; the silver and ivory carpenter’s ruler used by Elijah E. Myers, architect of the Texas State Capitol; and the suit worn by Governor John B. Connally when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
Other well-known persons represented in the collection are early Anglo pioneers of Texas including land empresario Stephen F. Austin (and his father, Moses Austin), Galveston County jurist Jacob K. Beaumont, and businessman Thomas F. McKinney; commissioner-general for the German Emigration Company John O. Meusebach; legendary military personages Davy Crockett and Robert E. Lee; political figures including U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Republic of Texas President Sam Houston, Texas Governors Elisha M. Pease, James S. Hogg, Price Daniel, and Mark White, and legislator Washington D. Miller; Confederate Postmaster General and Democratic statesman John H. Reagan; First Ladies of Texas Lucadia Pease, Faye Stevenson, and Jean Houston Daniel; soldiers Henry Journeay and Clarence Lincoln Test; interpreter for Republic-era treaties and fur trader Jesse Chisholm; architect Oscar Ruffini; and artists Henry Arthur McArdle and Zarh Pritchard. Many artifacts are associated with the prominent and affluent Pease family, including Richard Niles Graham, grandson of Elisha and Lucadia Pease.
The second category comprises items made and used in the course of daily life by ordinary Texans. Such objects span agricultural implements, ammunition and armaments, military buttons, commemorative china, decorative furnishings, furniture, status symbols, clothing, personal accessories, and toys, among other items. Examples of these artifacts include a collection of cotton-stuffed dolls representing life on a Texas plantation; a variety of stirrups and spurs, guns and rifles, musket balls, and grapeshot; and binoculars donated to the U.S. Navy for use in World War I. Arrowheads made by American Indians residing in what would later become Texas are the earliest man-made objects in the collection.
Texas military history is notably featured in the collection by artifacts associated with the siege of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution, the Mexican War of 1846-1848, and the Civil War, in which Texas fought for the Confederate States of America. Several objects represent the activities of the 36th Division of the U.S. Infantry (part of the Texas Army National Guard) and its 111th Field Signal Batallion during World War I. The U.S. Army and Navy and the Texas Navy are represented by military buttons, some of which are replicas.
The era in which Texas was a sovereign nation is illustrated by several treaties it negotiated with European governments. Centennial commemorative items include those for Texas independence and statehood, the founding of Fredericksburg and of Atascosa County, the Mid-South Fair, the inauguration of George Washington, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The Texas Sesquicentennial and the American Revolution Bicentennial are also represented.
Numerous items are related to the Texas State Capitol. From the building that served as the Capitol from 1853 until it was destroyed by fire in 1881 are a metal star and wreath and the remnants of the stone Alamo monument. From the temporary Capitol built in 1882-1883 to serve the government’s needs until a new structure could be built is a small marble from its cornerstone. From the building completed in 1888 are a lock and key, a brass knob and hinge, trowel, carpenter’s plane, other tools, bricks, and a sundial. Also, from the first Capitol of the Republic of Texas at Columbia are a shingle, weatherboarding, and two pieces of wood sawed from part of the structure.
The majority of the items were either collected or donated in the late 19th and early 20th century, when the Texas State Library was charged by law with the preservation of “all historical relics, mementos, antiquities, and works of art connected with and relating to the history of Texas.” Consequently, the library originally maintained a historical museum that collected physical objects and other non-text based records of Texas history.
Many objects in the collection have little or no accompanying information to provide context for when they were made; these have been assigned date ranges to approximate the time period in which they were created, based on what information is available and limited research. When known, the owner of the object and a description of its historical relevance is included. About a quarter of the artifacts are part of, or are related to, state records or manuscript collections in the State Archives and are noted in the Related Material section below. A few artifacts are also noted as being related to archival materials held in other repositories. Details concerning the origin, chain of custody, and historical importance of each artifact, contained in the object’s accompanying information, vary in their ability to be verified. Researchers are advised to assess the veracity of each artifact’s historical context using reputable resources.
Not all artifacts have been measured. When known, the dimensions of each artifact are given in inches in the order of length, width, and depth, unless a diameter measure is given instead. Some artifact numbers and artifact box numbers are not currently in use.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.