This digital collection chronicles the history of Texas from the Spanish Colonial Era through the turn of the 20th century. The bulk of the collection is from the Colonial, Republic, and Early Statehood eras, and in addition to materials broadly documenting the history of Texas, the activities of several prominent Texans and Americans are also documented. The digital collection contains nearly 1300 items.
Included in the collection are papers pertaining to the establishment of Austin’s Colony, including land and legal documents signed by Stephen F. Austin. Sam Houston’s role as President of Texas is extensively documented through correspondence and legal, financial, and land papers. The roles of Anson Jones and Mirabeau Lamar as President of Texas are seen in legal and land paper, and James Morgan’s role as Colonel in the Texas Army is documented through correspondence, legal, and military papers. Finally, Andrew Jackson’s role as President of the United States of America is documented in a letter detailing his decision to not send troops to Texas during the state’s revolution.
Also of interest are slave documents within the collection documenting the sale of slaves as property as well as financial and scrip documents that detail a listing of goods and services purchased by individuals. Other items include illustrations of currency and warrants paid to soldiers for their service.
This collection contains the documents of Joseph Cullinan related to the founding and early operation of the Houston Negro Hospital. Cullinan, a Houston businessman, helped start the hospital with a monetary donation to be used in construction of the building. The hospital was the first nonprofit hospital for African Americans in Houston, and these varied documents provide insight into the founding, construction, initial problems, and political and social forces at play during its early years.
In the early 1920s, the need for a new African American hospital became clear to the community and its physicians. Though a group of physicians had established the Union-Jeremiah Hospital to serve the community, they quickly realized the need for something larger. Cullinan, a successful oilman who had founded Texas Company (later Texaco), was impressed with the group’s work and donated $80,000 to the group in 1923. On June 19, 1926, the building’s cornerstone was dedicated to Cullinan’s deceased son, an Army officer who led African American soldiers during World War I. Cullinan, who made additional donations to the hospital, was consulted and kept informed about hospital business.
The hospital, located in Houston’s Third Ward, opened to patients on May 14, 1927, and provided a place for African American physicians, who were not allowed to admit patients to the African American wards in Houston’s other hospitals, to practice medicine and train students and nurses. It initially operated on an “insurance” system in which individuals and families paid a yearly subscription which entitled them to treatment. The hospital’s early years were difficult, with problems that included a lack of patients and dissension among and between the hospital’s two boards, one African American and one white.
Throughout the 20th century the hospital underwent many changes, including the elimination of the insurance system. In 1961 the hospital was renamed Riverside General Hospital, and in 1984 the building underwent historical renovations. The original hospital building and the School of Nursing building are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and Riverside General Hospital still operates today, primarily as a substance abuse center.
The Oral Histories from the Houston History Project digital collection contains more than 500 oral histories from the oral history collection at the University of Houston, a repository supported by the UH Center for Public History and the University Libraries’ Houston History Archives. These oral histories, collected from 1996 to 2012, discuss topics including the Houston Ship Channel, Hurricane Katrina, and energy development. Most of the interviews also include transcripts.
When the Houston History Archives was created, its mission called for an oral history repository to preserve audio files and transcripts of stories describing the growth and development of the Gulf Coast region. Graduate students and faculty document memories of cultural, political, civil rights, and women’s history, building an assemblage of recollections of the city’s past from multiple viewpoints. To support that effort, the UH Oral History Project in the Center for Public History trains history graduate students to research and interview native and relocated Houstonians.
The Offshore Energy History, a collaborative project among several UH professors and other universities, makes up a large segment of the oral history collection. It was conceived to document the growth of oil production and refining along the Gulf Coast before and after World War II. Other intriguing oral histories include interviews with Katrina emergency responders in Houston, a series of discussions with African American generals from the Vietnam era, profiles of members of Houston's Indo-Asian population, and interviews from the Afro-American Physicians project.
Because the UH oral history project is ongoing, additional oral histories will be added to this digital collection in the future.