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Texana/Genealogy Department

The Texana/Genealogy Department acquires, preserves and offers access to research materials relating to San Antonio, Bexar County and Texas history, and North American and Hispanic genealogy.

African-American Funeral Programs

Cadena Files

The Cadena files include research records on baptismals, cemeteries, census, churches, confirmations, court records, deaths, deeds, family group sheets, marriages, probates, testimonies, and wills.  Also featured are records on Hispanic history, genealogy, land grants, military, photocopies of maps, newsletters, organizational information, pedigrees, personal correspondences and publications. 

Gloria Cadena Obituary

Founder of Los Bexarenos

The Winds and Words of War

Collection Types

The mission of the Collection is to preserve and make available to our patrons materials which chronicle the history and development of all aspects of the rich heritage of San Antonio, Bexar County, and Texas from prehistoric times to the present. Special focus is on the history and development of San Antonio and Bexar County as entities within the larger context of Texas, the Southwest, and Northern Mexico. While the primary focus is on history and culture of San Antonio and Texas, items also reflect the customs and crafts of various ethnic groups which make up the population. Also in the collection are materials on politics, archaeology, ranching, plant and animal life, cooking, religion, literature, water-related issues, and much more. The collection includes not only books, but also maps, serials, microforms, and archival files. 

 Examples of collections include:

  • Bexar, Laredo, Nacogdoches, Parral, Saltillo, West Florida (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama), Camargo, and New Mexico archives
  • San Antonio City Council minutes, 1837-
  • Cemetery cards from City Cemeteries 1-7, Dignowity, Knights of Pythias, and San Jose Burial Park, Confederate Cemetery, Odd Fellows
  • “Mexican Border Crossings”, ca. 1905-ca.1955
  • Texas Senate, House, and Executive Journals, 1836-1874
  • Galveston passenger lists, 1896-1948
  • Records of the Texas Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
  • Service Records of Texas units in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the Civil War
  • “Cathedral Collection” – Mission and San Fernando sacramental records
  • World War I draft registration cards for Texas
  • Newspapers from 19th and early 20th centuries for numerous Texas towns
  • San Antonio newspapers (Light, Express, News, Jewish Journal, Daily Commercial RecorderWeekly Dispatch, and many others)
  • Microfilmed county records from Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Cameron, Dimmit, Gillespie, Gonzales, Karnes, Kendall, LaSalle, Medina, Nacogdoches, Refugio, Webb, Wilson, and Zavala counties. 

Please note:  The Texana/Genealogy Department has ScanPro readers to view and digitize microfilm.  These units are able to save digitized images to a USB drive or print hard copies.  However, not every unit is connected to a printer.  Please bring your own USB drive.  

These are groups of materials given to the Library by local individuals and are designated as special due to the nature of the collection or the original owner. Examples include,

  • Rosengren Collection: consists of a group of rare 18th, 19th, and early 20th century children’s books given by Florence and Frank Rosengren.
  • Edward W. Heusinger Geographical Collection: was presented to the Library by Mr. Heusinger, a local merchant, a founder of the San Antonio Scientific Society and member of the Royal Geographical Society. There are approximately 160 books on geography and travel published from the 1800s to the mid-1950s, recording accounts during the Age of Exploration.
  • Slayden Collection: In 1925 Mary Ellen Slayden donated 325 volumes from her husband’s (James L. Slayden, U.S. Representative from Bexar County) library. They relate primarily to World War I and international peace.  Also included is a collection of autographs.
  • J.P. Newcomb Collection: Longtime San Antonio newspaperman J. P. Newcomb is represented by two collections. One is a collection of bound volumes of his newspapers from the 1850s to early 1900s (now available on microfilm). The other is a collection consisting of family and business letters beginning in the early 1800s with his father, Thomas, and their move from Nova Scotia to San Antonio and continuing into the early 1900s.
  • Hertzberg Collection: includes several thousand books on all subjects. While most of the books are not actually rare, there are some, for example: a first issue of the first edition of the 1611 King James Bible, Biblia Latina (A.D. 1250),  numerous illuminated manuscript pages, two volumes of English broadsides, and many more items. 
  • Oral Histories: are an important source of personal and community information.  Texana/Genealogy, on its own, and with partners, records, transcribes, and houses oral histories of individuals with local connections. The department is a depository for oral histories of the Bexar County Historical Commission and the San Antonio Symphony. 
  • Military Collections: San Antonio’s long love affair with the military is represented in several collections: 
    • Col. Martin Giesecke (World Wars I & II, San Jose Cattle Co. and Liberty Mills) Collection; 
    • Birkhead (commander of Randolph AFB) Collection; 
    • Ann Flores collection of German publications from World Wars I and II;
    • Newspapers (on microfilm) published by German POWs while in the United States and Canada;
    • Published primary accounts of the two world wars, and a number of other primary source collections.

The staff of the Texana/Genealogy Department has two main goals with regard to the Genealogy Collection. The first is to continue to acquire materials to meet the ever expanding needs of our patrons. Virtually every state east of the Rockies is represented, as well as Canada and Mexico, and some European countries.

The second goal is to educate family historians as to what materials we can provide and the proper historical and genealogical research methods to use. To this end the Department offers monthly classes, special events, and community outreach programs.

The types of records purchased as books or microfilm include court records (deeds, probate, marriage, etc.), church records (baptisms, burials, marriages, membership lists, etc.), cemetery readings, local histories, military records, passenger lists, and others. Some examples from the collection include: 

  • Complete United States census population schedules 1790-1930, slaves schedules, mortality schedules for several states, agricultural schedules for Texas (some other states in paper-dates vary)
  • Registers of Enlistments for the United States Army, 1798-1914
  • Compiled Service Records for Revolutionary War
  • Antebellum Southern Plantation records from across the South
  • Indexes to military service records, Revolutionary War through Philippine Insurrection
  • Journals of the Continental Congress, Papers of the Continental Congress, and Letters to Delegates of the Continental Congress
  • American State Papers and Territorial Papers of the United States
  • Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies and Navy
  • Rosters of Union and Confederate Soldiers
  • Numerous Mayflower-related materials
  • Over 2,000 Civil War Unit Histories (complete UPA collection)
  • Five civilized tribes enrollment cards and Dawes rolls
  • 18th and 19th century United States newspapers from various locations
  • County records and county histories from across the United States
  • Approximately 400 current periodicals and many titles no longer published 

The archival collections are generally non-published materials representing individuals or organizations. In preserving our local history for future generations such collections are very important as they contain information not likely to be found elsewhere. When lost, the place of that individual or organization in history may be gone forever along with any references to the important contributions made to society. As the primary location in San Antonio for preserving local history, the Texana/Genealogy Department seeks to acquire, preserve, and make available these important local resources. Some of the archival collections maintained by the Department are:

  • The San Antonio Theater Archives
  • San Antonio Symphony Society Archives
  • African-American Funeral Program Collection
  • City-County Government Committee
  • Papers of Thomas P. Fox, Darryl Engle, Martin Giesecke, L. E. Wolfe, Lila Cockrell, and others
  • Scrapbooks of Walter McAllister, M. M. Harris, Battle of Flowers Association, Maury Maverick, and others
  • City planning materials of Victoria Wing, Catherine Powell, Frank Perry, Margaret Lecznar, and others
  • Archives of Temple Beth-El and Congregation Agudas Achim