Background Sources for Texas

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This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott, Ph.D. FUGA for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the Texas Family History Research series.
History of Texas
Texas Vital Records
Census Records for Texas
Background Sources for Texas
Texas Maps
Texas Land Records
Texas Probate Records
Texas Court Records
Texas Tax Records
Texas Cemetery Records
Texas Church Records
Texas Military Records
Texas Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Texas Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Texas Immigration
Texas Naturalization
Native Americans of Texas
Republic of Texas Settlers
African Americans of Texas
Hispanic Americans of Texas
Texas County Resources
Map of Texas


Regional as well as county histories are available for Texas. John Holmes Jenkins, Cracker Barrel Chronicles: A Bibliography of Texas Town and County Histories (Austin, Tex.: Pemberton Press, 1965), is a good bibliographic source for some. Two publications by Tom Munnerlyn add two essential bibliographic sources: Texas Local History: A Source Book for Available Town and County Local Histories, Local Memoirs and Genealogical Records (Austin, Tex.: Eakin Press, 1983); and Texas Counties, a Catalog of In-print and Out-of-print Books, Pamphlets, Maps, Memoirs, etc. Relating to Texas Towns and Counties (Austin, Tex.: State House Books, 1985).

Biographical articles in published local histories are indexed in the six volumes of Biographical Gazetteer of Texas: Publication of the Biographical Sketch File of the Texas Collection at Baylor University, an Ongoing Project Supervised by Virginia and William L. Ming (Austin, Tex.: Morrison Books, 1985–87) with 70,000 entries.

An important collection of manuscript and printed materials relating to Texas is available in the Barker Texas History Center at the University of Texas. A guide, published by the center, Catalog of the Texas Collection in the Barker Texas History Center of the University of Texas at Austin. 14 vols. (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1979) describes the collection.

Taylor Publishing Company in Dallas published many county and local histories for Texas. Historical and genealogical societies publish a variety of records including histories of the counties and towns or cities. To obtain a list of available publications, contact the genealogical or historical society in the area in which research is being conducted.

One of the finest volumes of detailed information for genealogists working in Texas records is Imogene Kinard Kennedy and J. Leon Kennedy, Genealogical Records in Texas (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987). This volume contains historical background, detailed maps, and a county-by-county listing that gives name, pronunciation, parent counties, dates of creation and organization, county seat and zip code, county maps where needed, details of dates available and location of pertinent records, and beginning dates of records available in the county. Some minor errors appear, but as a reference tool, this volume remains valuable.

Other sources include:

  • Ericson, Carolyn Reeves, and Frances Terry Ingmire. First Settlers of the Republic of Texas: Headright Land Grants Which Were Reported as Genuine and Legal by the Traveling Commissioners, January, 1840. Nacogdoches, Tex.: Carolyn R. Ericson, 1982. Taken from records in the Texas State Archives. Counties covered are Austin, Bastrop, Bexar, Brazoria, Colorado, Fannin, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Harrison, Houston, Jackson, and Jasper.
  • Ingmire, Frances, and Carolyn R. Ericson. First Settlers of the Republic of Texas. Vol. 2. Utica, Ky.: McDowell Publications, 1986. Includes names from the counties of Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Milam, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Red River, Refugio, Robertson, Sabine, San Augustine, Shelby, Victoria, and Washington.
  • McLean, Malcolm D., comp. Papers Concerning Robertson’s Colony in Texas. 13 vols. Arlington, Tex.: University of Arlington Press, 1974–89. This valuable material is published from the collection at the University of Texas at Arlington. Volume 12 contains lists of early colonists.
  • Williams, Villamae, ed. Stephen F. Austin’s Register of Families. St. Louis: Ingmire Pub., 1984. Data taken from original documents in the GLO for families who arrived prior to 1845.
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