Texas Plains Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Libraries and Archives

Sam Rayburn Library, Bonham
Sam Rayburn Library, Bonham


Texas houses a wealth of historical and contemporary documentation—from literary estates to natural history collections—thanks to its abundant libraries and archives. The state’s public libraries received a kickstart courtesy of grants from the 19th century philanthropist Alexander Carnegie, but funding from many other generous sources has helped to carry the tradition into the modern age.

The Harry Ransom Center, an Austin humanities research library and museum, houses important collections like the archives of author Norman Mailer, original page proofs of Joyce’s Ulysses, and an extensive archive of early photography that documents the medium’s invention and development. San Antonio’s Genealogical and Historical Society Library provides access to heritage and ancestor documents, periodicals, and reference. The Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University in Waco is a 19th century research center dedicated to the study of the lives and work of Victorian poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The library contains the largest collection of Browning material in the world.

Other libraries in Texas provide repository centers for some of the state’s own icons like the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in Austin. The LBJ Library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, over half a million photographs, and 5,000 hours of recordings from President Johnson’s political career. One of the great advantages provided by our libraries and archives, other than their wealth of knowledge, is a free access, inspiring both a desire and an opportunity to learn more about the world around us.

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Read more about school libraries and Texas State Archives in the Handbook of Texas Online.