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Hours of Operation

Monday-Friday

9:00 - 5:00
by appointment

P.O. Box 1401
San Antonio, TX 78295

(210) 225-1071

Archival Collections > Introduction

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT) Library houses, manages, and provides access to approximately 450 archival collections of personal and family papers and organizational records dating from 1519 to the present. This page provides an overview of these collections and guidelines for accessing them.

If you have additional questions about archival collections at the DRT Library, please contact a library staff member by telephone at (210) 225-1071 or by email at drtl@drtl.org.

What is an archives?

What kinds of materials are in archival collections?

How can I learn more about what collections the DRT Library has and what topics they cover?

Who may use the DRT Library's archival collections?

How do I access the DRT Library’s archival collections?

Can I find photographs in archival collections at the DRT Library?

Are membership files and other records of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas at the library?

Are any DRT Library archival materials available online?

How can I learn more about conducting research in archives?

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What is an archives?

An archives is a repository for non-current records that

  • were created or received by a person, family, or organization, public or private, in the conduct of their affairs;
  • document and provide evidence about the activities, experiences, contributions, and achievements of the individual, family, or organization; and
  • have been preserved because of their historical and enduring value.

Archivists collect, organize, preserve, and provide access to these materials.

Archivists and librarians share responsibility for managing recorded information. However, the materials within their respective domains have different characteristics and are therefore arranged in different ways.

Library materials are:
Archival materials are:
  • published
  • unpublished
  • generally available elsewhere, although some items are rare
  • rare or one-of-a-kind
  • organized independently
  • organized in groups of related items
  • organized by subject
  • grouped into collections according to their creator, regardless of the subjects they cover
  • classified according to a standard schema
  • arranged according to the original order established by the creator, when possible
  • At the DRT Library, all materials that are not part of archival collections – namely books, photographs, fine art and prints, periodicals, newspapers, maps, vertical (or clipping) files, and sheet music – fall in the category of library materials.

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    What kinds of materials are in archival collections?

    Archival collections contain primary sources. According to the Glossary of Archives and Records Terminology, a primary source is a document "that contains firsthand accounts of events and that was created contemporaneously to those events or later recalled by an eyewitness.” Researchers who did not directly observe an event gain an understanding of it by examining primary sources. Their resulting studies are called secondary sources. Primary sources are generally considered to be more accurate than secondary sources. While this may be true, researchers must remember that both types of sources contain errors, inaccuracies, and the societal and personal biases of the author.

    Examples of primary sources include letters and diaries; government, church, school, and business records; oral histories; photographs, audio recordings, motion pictures, and videos; maps and land records; and architectural records and blueprints. Newspaper articles describing events when they happened are traditionally considered primary sources. This is true whether the reporter was an eyewitness or compiled the story from an eyewitness. Artifacts and specimens may also be primary evidence if they are the object of study. Materials in all these formats can be found in the collections of the DRT Library.

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    How can I learn more about what collections the DRT Library has and what topics they cover?

    Searching the DRT Library's online catalog is the best way to locate processed archival collections (those that have been organized and described). The catalog contains records for everything at the Library. For library materials, each catalog record describes an individual item. For archival collections, each catalog record describes one collection. Each catalog record for an archival collection lists the creator, title, call number, date range, and size of the collection. The record also includes brief descriptions of the collection’s creator and contents.

    Finding aids provide more comprehensive information about larger archival collections. A finding aid is a tool that facilitates the discovery of information within an archival collection by providing a description of the materials contained therein. Finding aids contain the same information as catalog records plus:

    • acquisition and processing information
    • a lengthier administrative history or biographical note of the collection’s creator(s)
    • indications of the scope of the collection, including information about its size, subjects, formats (e.g. photographs, audiovisual materials, oversize items, or bound volumes), and noteworthy items
    • a description of the organization and arrangement of the materials
    • an inventory of the collection’s contents by container (usually boxes and folders)

    Many of the Library's finding aids are available online, linked from records in the catalog. All finding aids are available as paper copies in the Library’s reading room. Researchers can contact the Library to request a copy of a finding aid that is not available online.

    Researchers can also discover what archival materials are held at the Library by browsing a list of all collections alphabetized by title and lists of collections grouped into broad topical areas.

    An increasing number of DRT Library finding aids are also available at Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO), a website that publishes finding aids for archival collections held in more than thirty archives and libraries across the state. Please see the Library’s blog for a description of this ongoing project and periodic lists of new DRT Library finding aids added to TARO.

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    Who may use the DRT Library's archival collections?

    Archival collections are open on an equal basis to all researchers. Patrons do not need to be a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Access to some materials may be limited due to donor restrictions or Texas state law.

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    How do I access the DRT Library’s archival collections?

    Catalog records, finding aids, title lists, and subject guides help researchers determine which archival collections will be potentially relevant to their projects. However, patrons must visit the Library or request photocopies in order to actually view archival materials because very few items have been scanned and made available online.

    Most commonly, researchers access collections during an in-person visit to the DRT Library. An appointment is not required. First-time visitors must provide photo identification and complete a registration form, which is valid for one year. All patrons must observe general Library policies and procedures when using archival materials. In addition, specific rules pertain to photograph reproduction and photocopying. Please remember that all policies have been designed to provide access to archival collections and to protect the largely irreplaceable materials entrusted to the DRT Library from theft and damage.

    If you are unable to visit the DRT Library in person, staff members can make photocopies of archival materials and mail them to you for the cost of the copies plus sales tax (Texas residents only) and postage. Photocopies can be provided only if they can be made without causing injury to the item and without violating donor agreements or copyright restrictions.

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    Can I find photographs in archival collections at the DRT Library?

    Yes, many archival collections contain photographs. These images document the history of the built landscape and people of Texas, with particular emphasis on the history of the Alamo and San Antonio. Photographs contained within an archival collection are listed and described in that collection’s catalog record and finding aid.

    The DRT Library also has several thousand photographs that are housed in a Picture File separate from archival collections. Some of these images are individually described in the Library’s online catalog. The remainder can be accessed only by visiting or contacting the Library.

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    Are membership files and other records of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas at the Library?

    The Library has some archival collections that document the history of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. These collections are personal papers and scrapbooks by, to, and about women who held leadership positions in the organization. The general library collections also contain books, annual meeting proceedings, vertical files, photographs, and other materials that document the history of the DRT. Other documents pertain to the Texas Veterans Association, which dissolved in the late 1800s. Its work was continued by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Additional information about these materials can be found by searching the Library’s online catalog.

    Membership files and other institutional records of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas are held at the organization’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. They cannot be accessed at the DRT Library. For more information about these materials, please contact:

    Daughters of the Republic of Texas
    Business Office
    510 E. Anderson Lane 
    Austin, Texas 78752 
    Phone: 512-339-1997
    Fax: 512-339-1998
    Email: headquarters@drtmuseum.org
    Website: www.drtinfo.org

    DRT membership applications are now available online through Family Search, a free genealogical website provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Users must create a free profile to browse digital images of the applications, which are arranged by DRT member numbers. Researchers can link Republic of Texas residents to specific DRT members and applications by consulting the eight-volume Founders and Patriots of the Republic of Texas, available at the DRT Library.

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    Are any DRT Library archival materials available online?

    Staff members have created digital images of several hundred archival documents and photographs. These images are available through the Library’s "Inside the Gates" blog, http://drtlibrary.wordpress.com/. However, this digital collection represents only a tiny percentage of the archival materials in the Library’s holdings. Creating digital copies of a substantial portion of our archival collection, and preserving those copies, exceeds our resources at this time.

    For the most part, users can only access catalog records and findings aids online. These tools tell researchers about archival collections. In order to see the materials themselves, researchers must generally visit the Library or request photocopies.

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    How can I learn more about conducting research in archives?

    Several repositories have developed detailed online tutorials about conducting research in archives. While some of the information is specific to a particular institution and its holdings, most is applicable to all archives. Links to three comprehensive research guides are provided below.

    Library and Archives Canada

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Yale University

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    Copyright © 1996 - 2014 Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library
    Users are reminded that images on this site belong to the DRT Library. Copying or redistribution is prohibited
    without written consent of the DRT Library, subject to the library's Photograph Reproduction Policies.
    For more information contact drtl@drtl.org

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