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Community History: Plan of Attack--by Location

Use your time wisely

A semester is a very short time to start a topic from scratch, do the research, get it written up, and prepare a presentation.  Some locations have limited hours.  You will want to get as much as you can while you are there and not have to double back unless absolutely necessary.  Plan wisely, and get started as early as you can.  Some projects take time to develop leads.  Footnotes lead to additional sources.  People know people.

Robert R. Muntz Library, University of Texas at Tyler

UT Tyler Webpage

During the fall and spring semesters open 7:30 a.m.-midnight, M-Th, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 9-6 on Saturday, 1-midnight on Sunday.  Check our Library Calendar for holiday and summer hours.

Books--check the catalog.  We have most of the books published on Tyler and Smith County, although some may be in Special Collections downstairs.

Databases--accessible from home, but free printing at the library for currently enrolled UT-Tyler students.  America:  History and Life, America's Historical Newspapers--Texas Newspapers, ArchiveGrid, Proquest Digital Dissertations & Theses Global, Gerritsen Collection--Women's History Online, Handbook of Texas, HeritageQuest Online, JSTOR, Portal to Texas History, TARO:  Texas Archival Resources Online, Digital Sanborn Maps, Texas State Library Archives & Manuscripts, United States Historical Census Data Browser (1790-1960), WorldCat.  Some require logging on, and some are available to all.

Journals on the 4th floor--Chronicles of Smith County, Texas; Tyler Today; East Texas Historical Journal; Southwestern Historical Quarterly (current issues).

Tyler newspapers on the 4th floor--assorted titles prior to 1930, then the Tyler Morning Telegraph from 1930 on, on microfilm. Big gap 1910-1929--go to Tyler Public Library.

Index to Tyler Journal (newspaper), 1925-1930 in reference, 1931-1935 in Special Collection downstairs (usually open 8-5. M-F, and by appointment).  We don't have the Tyler Journal microfilm, though--go to Tyler Public Library.

Superb interlibrary loan service for currently enrolled UT-Tyler students and faculty--from the webpage click on Borrow from Another Library to get to ILLiad.  If you are not a currently enrolled student, check with your public library for interlibrary loan.  Email is always good--that gives me time to do some digging--vbetts@uttyler.edu.

Specialized reference--I'm generally at the library Monday 7:30-4:30; Tuesday through Friday 8-5.  If I'm not out at the reference desk, ask for me at circulation.

Tyler Public Library

Tyler Public Library Webpage

Tyler Public Library, corner of S. College and W. Elm, downtown Tyler.  From the corner of Broadway and Front (the Catholic Church) go west one block, then north two blocks.  Open Monday through Thursday, 10-7, Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-5, Sunday 1-5, although the local history room is no longer open on Sundays.  Free parking.  Check the online catalog in advance to get call numbers and save time, but not everything in the local history room is in the online catalog yet.  You may want to doublecheck the card catalog in the room.

The Local History Room on the 3rd floor.  Ancestry.com computer near the front door.  Microfilm readers and printer near the front and to left.  Photocopier near the windows and to the right.  Copies from microfilm 25 cents, copies from paper 10 cents.  They now have micofilm to digital equipment so bring a flash drive to download images for free.

Books--Almost all known books dealing with Tyler and Smith County, but none of them check out of the room.  Rare books are in locked cabinets--ask the person at the desk to retrieve what you need.  Excellent collection of area published genealogies.  Best collection of city directories.  As an arm of the city government also has copies of city plans, etc.

Journals--a full run of Chronicles of Smith County, Texas; East Texas Historical Journal; Southwestern Historical Quarterly; Texana; The Bulletin of the East Texas Genealogical Society.

Vertical files--in open file cabinets in the center toward the windows.  They have worked hard to collect newspaper articles and this may be the closest to a current newspaper index that you will find.  There may also be other pertinent items in the folders.

Newspapers on microfilm--they have them all except early years of Tyler Morning Telegraph, which are at UT Tyler.  Looking through just one reel can take all day.  Narrow your date range as closely as possible to save time.  Can print to paper (letter or large size) for 25 cents or download to flash drive for free.

Tax records, census, etc.--all in the microfilm drawers.

Woldert Papers--Typescript of Smith County history gathered by William Albert Woldert, 1932.  Excellent resource for Native American history and 19th and early 20th century history.

Smith County Historical Society Archives, Carnegie History Center

Smith County Historical Society Webpage

Across Elm Street to the north of Tyler Public Library.  Park at the Library and walk over, because there's very little parking behind the Carnegie History Center.  If the library parking lot is full there is a covered parking garage on the diagonal corner, but it charges.  Archives hours are posted as Tuesday-Friday, 10-4 and Saturday by appointment only, but you may want to call to make sure:  903-592-5993.

No online catalog, so you will have to check the catalog there and get assistance from the volunteers.

Books:  A varied assortment of books that have been donated.

Journals:  A full run of Chronicles of Smith County, Texas.

Newspapers:  They have a large collection of paper newspapers, but they are extremely fragile.  Most if not all should already be microfilmed.

Vertical files:  A rich source of newspaper articles and other printed items.  Don't leave without checking them!

Photographs:  The best place in town for historical photographs.

Manuscript items:  Consult with the volunteers to see what might assist you in all of those acid-free boxes.

Land Abstracts:  The only source for the Woldert land abstracts, mostly 19th century.

Staff:  They may be volunteers, but they have worked with these materials over the years and know what they have and what they don't.  They've also worked with so many local reseachers--newspaper reporters, city of Tyler employees, genealogists, and historians--that they may be able to give you pointers to other people working on related topics.  A recent acquision is a set of Wilkins research notebooks on a wide variety of topics.  Check with the staff to see if there is a notebook or section on your topic.

Smith County Courthouse Annex

Corner of East Ferguson and North Spring (northeast corner of the square).  Mostly metered or paid bank parking downtown.  Hours:  8-5, M-F, except for state holidays.

Deed records

Probate records, including jackets

County Commissioner Court records

Marriage records

County death records

County birth records

The Elections Office is now at 304 E. Ferguson, two buildings east of the Courthouse Annex on the east side of the railroad tracks.  Remember that Ferguson at that point is a one way street heading west.  There is a parking lot between the Annex and the Elections Office as well as a few slots out front, but they are usually full.  The Elections Office has the official returns for all elections held in Smith County.  The early years are in large handwritten books, with each election entered chronologically, with every voting box tabulated out.  Very interesting!

Smith County Records Services, Cotton Belt Building

Smith County Records Services webpage

Located in basement of the Cotton Belt Building, corner Glenwood and West Front Street.  Plenty of free parking in front.  Go in the front door, immediately turn right, go down the stairs and the office is across the center hall.  I think the hours match the rest of the county offices--M-F, 8-5, with state holidays, but they close up at lunch, 12-1.  Photocopier in room--ask staff to make copies.

NOTE!!!  During the summer of 2015 a sewer pipe was crushed under the building, and repairmen have had to dig out the floor of the Records Services office.  Therefore, the office will be closed until that all gets repaired.  Call them at 903 590-2960 to see if they have reopened or even reopened in another part of the building.  Here's the story.

District Court records from about 1988 back, including indices, minute books, docket books, and original papers, both civil and criminal

Older County Court records

County School Superintendent Records

Some of the old probate minutes and record books, but most are in the Annex on East Ferguson.

Tax Records from about 1900 to about 20 years ago

Survey and ownership maps--20th century

Voter lists--Reconstruction era.

Probably some other odds and ends.

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