Posted by & filed under Featured, General, Texas Digital Newspaper Program.

The Missouri-Kansas-Texas passenger train, eventually called the “Katy train,” the “Katy Flyer” or the “Texas Special,” first crossed the Red River from Oklahoma to Texas in 1872. After this crossing, the city of Denison was established on September

Missouri - Kansas - texas Railroad's beautiful Spanish Mission style depot in the "Alamo City" in May 1962. This was the San Antonio home of the KATY's famous trains, the "Texas Special", "The Bluebonnet" and "The Katy Flyer"

MKTR’s home of the KATY’s famous trains, the “Texas Special”, “The Bluebonnet” and “The Katy Flyer.

23, 1872, according to Folklore in Motion. The Katy train is mentioned frequently in the Texas Digital Newspaper Program collection, in newspapers ranging from 1891 to 2009, and it served Texas as a passenger train until 1965, at which point passenger service ended due to air and car transportation, according to this KXAS-NBC 5 news clip, digitized by UNT Libraries’ own Special Collections.

According to the Texas Historical Commission Marker for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad: “On Christmas Day 1872, over 100 passengers rode the first Katy train into Denison, a new townsite named for M-K-T Vice President George Denison. The construction and acquisition of branch lines soon extended the Katy east to Greenville, west to Rotan and Wichita Falls, and south to Galveston and San Antonio. By 1904, the system had over 1,000 miles of track in Texas. The railroad transported cattle, cotton, and other crops to market. It also carried passengers on such trains as the ‘Texas Special’ and the ‘Katy Flyer’ before passenger service ended in 1965.”

Mentioned in newspapers from across Texas, the Katy Flyer featured prominently in daily life, as these excerpts from 1919-1920 newspapers demonstrate. In August 1919, one-hundred years ago, the Katy train resumed full service after having been briefly suspended during World War I for fuel savings. For North Texans, the resumption of the Katy train’s passenger schedule, even with one trip per day, was extremely important news in trade, agriculture, and travel, as these excerpts illustrate!

July 28, 1919, Bonham News: “Board of Trade and Katy Train: Organization still going after this train. Train promised August 1. The Board of Trade through its secretary, has been right in after the Railroad Commission about the Katy train, discontinued some time since. The following telegram is given exactly as received, and the public is invited to read it, and draw its own conclusions.

Photograph of "Katy Flyer" rolling down the railroad tracks in Denison, Texas.

Photograph of “Katy Flyer” rolling down the railroad tracks in Denison, Texas.

Austin, Texas, July 28, 1919 C.R. Inglish, Bonham Texas: Your letter Friday, train matter. Full hearing has alredy been held and commission’s order requiring reinstatement goes into effect August first. Nothing now before the commission indicating that order will not then be complied with, hence see no necessity for further hearing. Earle B. Mayfield, Commissioner. It has been whispered around that an effort would be made to postpone this train service, but the above does not sound like it. The Board of Trade did not ask for the full service enjoyed before, but a train down from Denison in the afternoon and back in time to catch the Texas Special north.”

The Bonham Board of Trade rejoiced when the Katy train resumed service to their city, on August 8, 1919: “Katy Train is Put on Again: For some time the Bonham Board of Trade has been working on the proposition to get the train on the Katy back. It was abandoned during the war. This train, known by many as the Fannin County Flyer, made two round trips from Denison to Bonham every day. However, it seems it will make only one now.” (Bonham News, August 8, 1919)

Better late than never, the first day the Katy train was back in business, it reached Denison a few hours after midnight on August 1, 1919: “Katy passenger train No. 4 scheduled to arrive in the city at midnight Thursday was delayed several hours in reaching this terminal. The slipping of tires on the engine caused more than three hours delay just north of Dallas Thursday evening.” (Denison Herald, August 1, 1919)

In our next post, we will step back in time to ride the Katy Flyer with the people who rode in the fall of 1919 to early 1920!


This masthead reads "DIOGENES" in large print, with a drawing of a man traveling toward a city.

Posted by & filed under Featured, Grants, Milestones, Texas Digital Newspaper Program, TexTreasures.

The Texas Digital Newspaper Program has now reached 7 million pages of newspapers preserved and accessible! This represents newspapers from 198 Texas counties, contributed by 178 partners, printed in 11 languages, spanning 1813 to the present. Many Texas communities have contributed newspapers to this million pages.

First page of the September 10, 1921 issue of the Goose Creek Gasser.

First page of the September 10, 1921 issue of the Goose Creek Gasser.

The Baytown Sun, digitized by the Sterling Municipal Library in Baytown, represents the largest single-title newspaper run in the Texas Digital Newspaper Program. This project spans over 22,000 issues, comprised of over 376,000 pages, starting in 1921 and moving up to 2016. Baytown was formed by a combination of three different cities and is situated primarily in Harris County. The newspapers from this collection also document Goose Creek, one of the original cities out of which Baytown grew.

First page of the May 2, 1941 Hockley County Herald.

First page of the May 2, 1941 Hockley County Herald.

Through the support of a Tocker Foundation grant awarded to the South Plains College Library, the Hockley County Herald and the Levelland Sun have been made accessible, thus far spanning 41 years in just under 45,000 pages. Levelland became the Hockley County seat in 1921 and has supported a newspaper since 1925, with the publication of the Herald. South Plains College opened in 1958, and it supports a student community population of nearly 10,000. These newspapers document the history of Levelland as it has grown from a small agricultural community to an oil and petroleum processing hub in Hockley County.

In 2018, Bill Patterson, publisher of The Denton Record Chronicle, granted permission to UNT Libraries to build access to the newspaper’s most recent years. We have loaded the first set of PDF ePrint editions thus far, documenting Denton’s past six years. We will continue to add to this collection as we are able to obtain funding to digitize the physical and microfilm issues.

The Texas Borderlands Collection hosts newspapers from counties near and along the Texas-Mexico border. This collection represents a three-year endeavor and includes interesting and unique titles from across Texas, contributed by multiple different partners. The Museum of South Texas History has contributed 11 newspaper titles, written in both Spanish and English, mostly spanning 1898-1923, with Diogenes from 1923 comprising the bulk of the collection. The McAllen Monitor has been loaned to UNT Libraries by the McAllen Public Library for addition to the Portal, and it represents McAllen and South Texas during the first half of the twentieth-century. You can read more about the Borderlands Collection in different blog posts we’ve produced over the past few years, especially if you’d like to learn more about some of the individual titles.

In May 2019, the Center for Research Libraries awarded the Texas Borderlands Collection with the Primary Source Award, selected from the Access Category. The Texas Borderlands Collection has been digitized through the support of three grants from the Institute of Museum and Library, awarded through the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Texas State Library and Archives Commission Logo Institute of Museum and Library Services Logo Texas Digital Newspaper Program Collection Logo

These titles and communities are just a few of the new additions to the Texas Digital Newspaper Program, and we encourage you to browse the collection to see what else you can find.  We are continually building onto this collection, so if you don’t yet see a date or title you need, keep looking because the collection keeps growing. We are excited, proud, and enthusiastic about the achievements this past million pages have represented, and we look forward to new titles, new milestones, and new partners during the next million newspaper pages!


Posted by & filed under Featured, Texas Digital Newspaper Program, TexTreasures.

The Texas Borderlands Newspaper Collection hosts materials from border and near-border counties in south and west Texas. This collection includes 62 titles and spans 1859-1998.

This blog post will explore one newspaper title in particular, from the early colonial city of Uribeño, Texas. If you tried to find Uribeño in Google Maps right now, you would have some trouble because it no longer exists. We’ll return later to the reason behind this, but for now, let’s travel back to 1908, when the community was prosperous enough to support a newspaper office.

El Aldeano (“The Village”) was first published in 1906 for the city of Uribeño , and the issues we have available in the Borderlands collection are from its second year, 1908. In this Spanish-language publication, you can read ads for stable and pasture of animals, learn about the importance of cod liver oil to good health, or, perhaps most interestingly, learn about the merchants who ran businesses in Uribeño and its neighboring towns. Julian Treviño, in Laredo, served the people of Uribeño in wholesale and retail, as “the friend of poor and rich and the most popular both because it sells at the cheapest prices.” Manuel Garcia, also in Laredo, paid for an advertisement to say, “I have a complete assortment of clothes and I can therefore offer footwear from the best brands, such as Leopard, Friedman, and Sovereign, etc., and hats–Stetson, Falcon, Blue Ribbon, and Durham. Clothes made to the latest fashion, and I take care of custom orders,  work requests, and all kinds of fabrics.” Marketing to the wider farm and ranching community, Andres Bertani advertises, “Clothing made, footwear, hats, plough cultivators; wire for fences and all kinds of flours, corn, oats, and sacate.”

If you are interested in imagining daily life in Uribeño, you can read about the Zapata County settlements in the Bulletin of the Texas Archeological Society, Volume 70, 1999, which explains, “The Spanish-Mexican colonial ranch house is a simple, masonry structure and notably most, if not all, of the building’s significant architecture features are all associated with defense. The exclusive predominance of fortified ranch architecture through the mid-19th century attests to the dangers of living on the colonial frontier. . . .Many settlers were killed or captured while protecting their homes and possessions. The inhabitants of the frontier were subjected to an unusually high number and long duration of threats, including: 1) the harshness of the natural environment; 2) the retaliation of Native tribes to non-native settlement; 3) the War for Mexican Independence; 4) a power struggle between the Texians and the Tejanos from 1836 to 1848; and 5) the vigilante actions of Texas Rangers in the Rio Grande area after statehood.”

After the residents and city survived into the mid-20th century, the area was chosen as the location for the Falcon Reservoir. According to Uribeño: The Forgotten Town, compiled by Jo Emma Quezada, “Uribeño was one of the original 5 Zapata County settlements, traced its origin to 1803, when Porción 41 was granted to José Clemente Gutierrez de Lara (1770-1805) for his service in the Spanish army. He built a ranch on Porción 41, which was named as Uribeño later but inundated by the waters of Falcon Reservoir in the 1950.” UNT Libraries’ Special Collections houses this volume about Uribeño’s history (Call number: F394.U75 M37 2002), and if you ever have interest in learning more about this early colonial community, you can request it at any time.

The Borderlands Newspaper Collection has been digitized through the support of a TexTreasures grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC).

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Audience watches man teaching on stage.

Posted by & filed under Featured, General.

The Portal to Texas History now contains the complete video of Dr. Andrew Torget’s 26 hour, 33 minute attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest history lesson. The tour-de-force presentation of Texas history took place at UNT in August 2018 with the help of many UNT Libraries and community volunteers, as well as a team of undaunted students and lifelong learners–most of whom stayed awake for the whole lesson. The event also served as a fund-raiser, earning more than $12,000 in donations for the Portal.

The world record has not yet been confirmed, but while you’re waiting for the Guinness organization to complete its evaluation, you can enjoy the lesson all over again–this time broken into manageable 50 minute segments for easy viewing.

Two soldiers bow to a Greek goddess of harvest, with"Thanksgiving Day" written above their heads.

Posted by & filed under Featured, General, Texas Digital Newspaper Program, TexTreasures.

Part of the fun of working with so many newspapers is reading about how people have celebrated different holidays over time. The Texas Borderlands Collection, in particular, shows how Texans near the border have celebrated Thanksgiving each year, and different newspapers give us a window into people’s desires, needs, or fears across different eras.

The Ranchero, from November 17, 1860, declares that “Gov. Sam Houston has appointed Thursday, the 20th of November as a day of thanksgiving and prayer.” Before 1863, Thanksgiving in the U.S. was observed on different dates, varying from state to state.  The first proclamation of an official national holiday occurred in October 1863, by President Lincoln, who proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.  Prior to this proclamation, states chose their own dates to celebrate, as evinced by Sam Houston in 1860.

At the height of World War I, the Pastime Theatre in San Beinto, Texas, hosted a free matinee showing of “The Girl from Frisco” for soldiers’ Thanksgiving, from 2:15 pm to 5:15 pm, as reported in the November 29, 1916, Oklasodak.

In Pecos, Texas, the November 30, 1923, issue of the Pecos Enterprise and Pecos Times  reports on the Senior Class’s Thanksgiving dinner for the surrounding cities around Pecos.  Meat and potatoes were the main courses, accompanied by “salad, coffee, pie, and other goodies.” The senior students also located housing for guests staying overnight.

By 1939, the Great Depression was in full swing, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the need to encourage spending to support U.S. merchants. Roosevelt declared that the fourth Thursday–rather than the last Thursday–in November would serve as Thanksgiving Day, with the goal of giving retail employers one more week between Thanksgiving and Christmas to pay holiday employees.  The Benavides Facts from September 1, 1939, explains this situation: “The newspapers have been discussing both seriously and facetiously, President Roosevelt’s changing of the date of Thanksgiving Day. An editorial in a New England paper closes with this sentence: “It would be historically amusing if Franklin Delano Roosevelt finally lost favor with the American populace, because of his unorthodox political and economic policies, but because, ‘by gad, he changed the date of Thanksgiving Day!” The problem, however, is much deeper than appears on the surface. This may be the President’s opening gun to help retailers. For some time his Brain Trust has known that one of the most vital steps in creating employment is to encourage buyers. Merely raising wages does not accomplish this. Increased wages means higher prices for goods without a material change in the number of Workers. The answer lies in making it easier for people to buy goods by encouraging retailers in various ways. Hence, a discussion of the date of Thanksgiving Day may open up a very important line of approach to the unemployment problem.”

Later, from Thanksgiving 1942, The Benavides Facts displays an elaborate THANKSGIVING masthead, with U.S. soldiers peeking out from behind the letters. Just below the masthead, a large political cartoon dominates the pages, explaining that your scrap will support victory in the war.

In 1944, the Eagle Pass Army Air Field published that “50,000,000 pounds of turkey were set aside for Uncle Sam’s Armed Forces for Thanksgiving Day dinners.”

Long-term success of the 1939 Thanksgiving date change appears in the June 17, 1976, issue of The Pharr Press which showcases a new, nearly $500,000 retail center in South Pharr, for one supermarket and two other retail stores,whose opening date was tentatively set “on or before Thanksgiving” of 1976.

In 1991, the Holy Cross Mission, La Rosita, hosted a Thanksgiving raffle for the Building Fund Committee, and in the December 4, 1991 Duval County Picture, the Mission published thanks to the community for its tremendous support.

However you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember you are celebrating a long tradition. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Access to this collection was made possible through the support of a TexTreasures grant. TexTreasures is an annual competitive grant program designed to help member libraries make their special collections more accessible to researchers across Texas and beyond. TexTreasures awards have been made possible by the Library Services and Technology Act through the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.