Friday, March 9, 2012

A History of Texas in Twenty-One Court Records

The March 2012 issue of the Texas Bar Journal presents the results of the ingenious strategy of the Texas Court Records Preservation Task Force to make a case for saving the raw materials for the state's judicial history.  As the Task Force Chair, Bill Kroger, explains:
The Texas Supreme Court’s Texas Court Records Preservation Task Force recognized that it
needed to find a compelling way to demonstrate the importance of preserving Texas court
records. Task Force members embarked on a quest to find 21 historical state court records
Texas Bar Journal
that tell a big part of the history of the state. The Task Force picked records from every era of Texas history, beginning with the Republic of Texas. The most recent records date from the 1950s. Some of the records concern famous Texans; others shed light on historical events such as the Civil War or the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, or tragic circumstances like slavery. Many of the volumes are minute books, which are like diaries of the court, but also serve as indices to case files. The cost of preserving these 21 records was funded by the State Bar of Texas and Baker Botts, L.L.P., and the records will be on display at the State Bar Annual Meeting in June. Several Task Force members, as well as Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace B. Jefferson, Justice David Medina, and retired Chief Justice Thomas Phillips, have provided essays highlighting the rich and diverse history contained in these records. The essays are included on the following pages, along with images from the document files and other historical photos. We thank the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for its assistance in providing images of these documents.
Recovering Stolen Texas Court Documents, by Laura Saegert and James W. Paulsen, appears in the same issue.