Archive for the 'Travis County History Day' Category

History Day 2016 – Celebrating our Alumni

Thank you to everyone who came out to join us for our 9th annual History Day! We had a great time catching up with our former elected officials and staff, as well as current ones. We particularly appreciate the participation of Commissioner Margaret J. Gomez as master of ceremonies and County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir as our special speaker, the hard work of our committee members, and our sponsors (Austin Bar Association, Austin History Center, Travis County Archives, and the Travis County Historical Commission). We hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did!

Stay tuned for information about our 10th annual event, which will occur at the end of October, 2017. We have some exciting things in store!


Extension Service Reports from the 1950s

The Archives recently uncovered 3 partial reports from Travis County Extension agents to the Commissioners Court, dating from the 1950s. These items would have been great additions to Travis County History Day 2014, the theme of which was 100 Years of Extension Services in Travis County. Click the links to view the reports, which include photographs of various home economics, 4-H, and agriculture activities from the time period.

Elmo Cook Report, 1950

Agriculture Report, 1953

Opal Washington Report, 1953


Travis County History Day 2014

Many thanks to everyone who came out and celebrated our 7th annual History Day and 100 years of Extension Services in Travis County! A big thank you also goes out to everyone who helped make History Day such a successful event: our committee; special speaker Dr. Doug Steele, Director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; County Judge and emcee Samuel T. Biscoe; the student performers; the area families who contributed their artifacts, photos and stories; and finally, our sponsors – the Travis County Archives, the Austin Bar Association, the Austin History Center, the Travis County Historical Commission, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.


Travis County History Day 2014

2014 TCHD Flyer

From Travis County’s Rural Roots

Second annual Food & Livestock Show, 1946. Photo No. AR.2000.025, Travis County Negro Extension Service collection, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

Soon after Travis County was established in 1840, the population was reported to be a mere 856 residents. This number grew quickly, however, and by 1850 it had surpassed 3,000. The city of Austin grew faster than the county as a whole, but most county residents lived in small communities, and the area was still very much at the edge of the frontier.

By 1890, Travis County’s population had grown to approximately 36,000 residents, less than half of which lived within the city of Austin. Even though Austin’s population continued to grow, by the turn of the century the majority of the county’s residents still lived on farms or in smaller towns, and agriculture dominated the area economy.

Such rural and agricultural-based communities were in mind when Congress approved the Smith-Lever Act in 1914, a federal law that established a nationwide cooperative extension service and provided for state-based agricultural services to benefit farms and communities.

Even as the population within Austin surpassed the number of residents living in the county’s outlying communities, and as Travis County gradually transformed from a rural community to an urban one, extension services played an important role in the development and betterment of Travis County and its residents. With programs such as 4-H, horticulture, agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, residents had access to valuable information and resources that helped improve lives.

2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of Smith-Lever Act, and Travis County History Day will be celebrating the contributions of the AgriLife Extension Service in the growth and development of our community. Please mark your calendars for the morning of October 24, 2014, and join us in learning about and celebrating this valuable service.

*The History Day committee welcomes any recollections or photographs of the activities of the Extension Service throughout the years. For more information, please contact the Travis County Archivist at



History Day 2013 – Travis County Law Enforcement

We thank everyone who came out to celebrate our 6th annual Travis County History Day! Held on October 25, the event focused on the topic of Travis County law enforcement history and was a great success! The program was emceed by Commissioner Margaret Gómez and featured special speakers Doyne Bailey, Sheriff of Travis County from 1981-1992, and Mike Cox, historian and award-winning author, who shared stories and their personal experiences with law enforcement in Travis County.

Exhibits in the Hall of Government featured a variety of display boards, photographs, and artifacts, including uniforms, patches, and badges from the Sheriff and Constable offices, contraband items from the Travis County Jail, motorcycles, and even a 1930s Tommy Gun from the Sheriff’s Office. Video displays included a virtual tour of the old Travis County Jail on top of the Courthouse, photographs, and video of blues musician Freddie King playing in the Jail in 1976.

Travis County History Day was generously sponsored by the Austin Bar Association, the Austin History Center, the Travis County Archives, and the Travis County Historical Commission. We sincerely thank these sponsors for their commitment to helping put on a successful event year after year. We also thank the Travis County Sheriff and Constable Offices, former Travis County Sheriffs, and the Sheriffs Association of Texas, who contributed items to the exhibits. Special thanks is extended to Chief Deputy Jim Sylvester, who has completed an extensive amount of research on the history of the Sheriff’s Office and was an invaluable contributor and resource in gathering much of information, photographs and artifacts on display.

Please visit our FlickR album to view all photos of the event, and like our Facebook page to keep informed of future events!

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Travis County History Day 2013

Mark your calendars! Click on the poster for a larger image.

2013 TCHD Poster

Flickr Photos

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