The Austin History Center has partnered with the University of North Texas' Portal to Texas History and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission to bring selections from some of our most interesting photo collections online. Browse all of our images available on the Portal or use the links below to browse specific collections. Other online collections with digitized text-based materials are described on our Online Collections page.
The General Collection Photographs (also called the Austin Files) consist of files organized by subject, biography, and street address ranging from the beginnings of the city to the present day. The photographs come largely through donation by local citizens, but some have also be received through city departments or from organizations. The subject files are the largest component of the collection with files covering a wide range of topics. Included are: local businesses and organizations such as banks, restaurants, department stores, hotels, and music venues; city departments and services, such as utilities, schools, libraries, parks, fire stations, and cemeteries; social organizations such as churches, hospitals, clubs, and museums; groups of people, including African Americans, Asian Americans, LGBT people, Mexican Americans, and women’s groups; leisure activities and facilities including sports, dance, and art and music festivals, parades, and theaters; government facilities such as the Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, and courthouses; government departments such as city council and the Legislature; historical eras and events such as Civil Rights; geographical locations including creeks, Barton Springs, and the Highland Lakes; the University of Texas and St. Edward’s University; and city infrastructure such as streets, bridges and railroads. Also included are many cityscapes, some early illustrations of the city, and a few reproductions of maps. Only a small portion of these photographs (about 650) have been digitized. Image: [Anderson High School Students], PICA 20859
The Bergstrom-Austin Community Council Records contain several hundred photographs which document over five decades of history of Bergstrom Air Force Base, originally known as Del Valle Air Base, from its early days in the 1940s until its closing in 1993. The squadrons stationed at BAFB participated in the Berlin Airlift after World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Gulf War, and other tactical and reconnaissance missions. The photographs in this collection depict the buildings on the base, including the headquarters, hospitals, housing units, offices, lounges, and warehouses; personnel including flight crews, officers, maintenance workers, office workers, and families; aircraft in flight and at base; and other scenes of base activities including drills, ceremonies, and festivals. Some famous visitors are also depicted, such as Queen Elizabeth II, the Crown Prince of Iran Reza Palahvi, astronauts Sally Ride and Bob Crippen, President Nixon, and Vice President George H. W. Bush. The photographs also document the closure of the Base and its transformation into Austin’s municipal airport in the 1990s. More than 250 photographs from the collection are available online through the Portal to Texas History. The finding aid for the collection is available through Texas Archival Resources Online. Image: [Aircrew Class 69-10B], 1968, AR.2000.024(121)
The Chalberg Collection is probably the Austin History Center's best and most used individual collection of photographs. The bulk of the images cover Austin from 1900 to 1941, although some images of 19th century Austin are included. The collection comes from the photographic holdings of the Ellison Photo Company. The Company was started in 1900 by E. P. Jordan and was originally the Jordan Photograph Company. Jordan occupied the second floor of 610 Congress. In 1914, Alfred Ellison and E. P. Cravens bought the company from Jordan's widow and it became the Jordan-Ellison Photo Company. By 1919, Ellison was the sole owner, Jordan was dropped from the name and the Ellison Photo Company moved into the first floor of 615 Congress. Russell Chalberg joined the company in 1955 and purchased Ellison's interest in 1963. More than 250 images from this collection are viewable on the Portal to Texas History. Image: Congress Ave. & Sixth Street, C02001
Frank Caldwell (1883-1962) was a lifelong resident of Austin. Though he worked as a traveling salesman, his passion was Texas history and he spent much of his time collecting materials on the topic. His collection contains hundreds of photographs documenting various sites, towns, events, and people of Texas from about the 1880s through the 1930s. It includes a mix of snapshots and professional photographs, personal images of family members, photographs given to him by friends, and photos that he presumably purchased. Subjects include scenes from across Texas including missions in San Antonio; assorted county courthouses; railroad lines in various parts of the state; small towns including Albany, Anderson, Big Springs, Bonham, Brenham, Brownsville, Fredericksburg, Goliad, Lampasas, Langtry, Laredo, Lobo, Midland, Shiner, and Snyder; natural locations such as Bull Creek, Marble Falls, the Palo Duro canyon, San Pedro Springs, and the Pecos and Brazos rivers; Fort Sam Houston and Fort Bliss; and the cotton industry in Abilene. People that appear in the photos include Sallie Carlton, Big Foot Wallace, Junius Peak and Texas Rangers, sheriffs, firemen, and school children. There are events and activities depicted such as leisure activities in Galveston, the first flight in Texas, a bullfight in Juarez, Mexico, family outings at Mount Bonnell in Austin, and excursions in early automobiles. More than 250 photographs are available online through the Portal to Texas History. Image: [Boy Dressed as a Cowboy], AR.X.016(D116)
The Hubert Jones Glass Plate Negative Collection contains 466 glass plate negatives that document late 19th century Austin life. The Jones Collection complements the Austin History Center's existing 19th century photograph collection and includes street scenes, historic buildings, portraits and examples of the style of dress at that time. Hubert Jones, the donor of the collection, was an Austin resident and University of Texas Professor. He donated the glass plates in the 1950s. The extremely delicate nature of glass plate negatives has hitherto made the vast majority of these images unavailable to the public. This digitization project allows patrons access to all of these unique images from our local history. The project was funded by a TexTreasures grant made possible by a grant from U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. Image: [Unidentified Family], circa 1880s-1890s, J025
The Neal Douglass Photograph Collection consists of over 50,000 photographic negatives. Douglass was the first photographer for the Austin American-Statesman and he ran his own studio alongside his journalism work. Photographs in the collection primarily consist of commercial work from the 1930s to the 1970s but some news events are covered as well. His clients included governors, legislators, civic leaders, and people from all walks of life. Nearly 4,000 images from this collection are viewable online through the Portal to Texas History. The finding aid for the collection is available through Texas Archival Resources Online. Image:Cowboy Rope Trick, ND-nd-A001-06
Extension services in Texas began in 1915 when the Texas Legislature assigned administration of the Texas Agricultural Extension to Texas A&M University and established the Cooperative Extension Program administered by Prairie View A&M. Because of segregation practices in Texas, African-Americans were served through the Negro Extension Service program. Programming included farm demonstrations, which provided instruction about crop and livestock production, and home demonstrations, which taught skills such as proper canning techniques and home repairs. Youth were served through 4-H clubs.
This collection documents a variety of services and educational programs, including animal husbandry, crafts, domestic education, gardening and agriculture, and home improvement. Especially well documented is the annual Food and Livestock Show held each year at Rosewood Park. The majority of the photos are candid snapshots depicting the participants at work in their classes and activities. Many of the activities documented, especially the agricultural activities, represent a way of life no longer practiced in this area. More than 250 photographs from the collection are available online through the Portal to Texas History. The finding aid for the collection is available through Texas Archival Resources Online. Image: [Children and Award-Winning Cow], AR.2000.025(053)
The AHC has a channel on HistoryPin which allows photographs to be geo-located on a map and searched by timeframe. We have over 100 photographs from our General Collections and Archival Collections viewable on our channel.