The Galveston and Texas History Center’s manuscript collection measures approximately 3,000 linear feet. The collection reflects the History Center’s collecting focus on Texas from the Spanish period through the end of the Civil War and Galveston from its founding to the present.

Of particular note are its holdings pertaining to the Republic of Texas (1836-1845). These include papers of Samuel May Williams (1795-1858), James Morgan (1787-1866), Gail Borden, Jr. (1801-1874), and John Grant Tod (1808-1877).

Civil War-related holdings include papers of Sidney Sherman (1805-1873), responsible for developing Galveston Island’s defenses, and the journal of the J.O.L.O., 1861, which kept watch for Union blockading vessels off Galveston.

The Galveston and Texas History Center owns the nation’s most significant collection of manuscripts concerning the 1900 Storm (link to ResearchTopics_1900Storm page), the deadliest natural disaster ever to strike the United States (including records of the Central Relief Committee and survivor accounts).

The collection also includes papers of Henry Rosenberg (1824-1893), Galveston banker and Rosenberg Library benefactor and namesake; papers of A. R. “Babe” Schwartz (1926-2018), state senator and state representative of Texas, and a collection of Mardi Gras ephemera, starting with the first celebration in Galveston in 1867.

The Galveston and Texas History Center has records of such businesses and organizations as Kauffman & Runge, grocers and cotton exporters (established 1842; moved to Galveston in 1866), Galveston Cotton Exchange (founded 1873, the first cotton exchange in Texas), Galveston Wharf Company (established 1854), and extensive real estate, cotton, and sugar holdings of the Kempner family.

Archivists are in the process of digitizing several important manuscript collections and some are already available online. Scanned reproductions may be ordered if you are unable to visit in person.

MSS27-0701, J.O.L.O. Observatory Record Book. April 22-December 27, 1861. One volume. Record of military watches kept by J.O.L.O. members in their observatory in the Hendley Building in Galveston. Sample page.