Services, Collections and Resources

Collections and Resources

HMRC collects books with priority given to materials focusing on Houston and Texas in the following categories: non-fiction, biographies and autobiographies, fiction, poetry, young adult and children’s materials, and government documents. The map collection concentrates on street maps for Texas communities, key maps for Harris and the surrounding counties, aerial photography maps of greater Houston, specialized book maps, and flood insurance rate maps. The archival collections focus on non-current records of local government, corporations, businesses, public and private associations, religious institutions, cultural and civic organizations, labor groups, educational institutions, and any other organization or group that has played a role in the development of Houston. HMRC also actively solicits the public and private papers of individuals whose records may shed light on important historical events or trends in the history of the area. Other notable holdings include-

  • Approximately 4 million photographs
  • 150,000 architectural drawings
  • 15,000 rare books and pamphlets in the John Milsaps Collection
  • Numerous rare books such as a 1520 edition of The Odyssey, a 15th century illuminated Book of Hours, and the Original Houston Town Lot Book
  • Over 300 rare maps of Houston and the Southwest
  • An extensive collection of oral histories, many of which are available through the Houston Oral History Project

Patrons can view digitized items from our collections on the Houston Area Digital Archives website.


HMRC staff is proud to offer a complement of services to support our customers' reseach needs. The variety of collections and resources available at HMRC requires a staff with a commitment to service that allows ease of access to materials while preserving them for future generations of customers.

  • HMRC staff is available to assist researchers in locating useful materials by suggesting relevant resources, by facilitating access to collection indexes and finding aids, and by providing thoughtful referrals.
  • HMRC staff answers e-mail, telephone, and traditional mail questions daily. Many customer inquiries can be answered without a trip to downtown Houston. If you have any questions, please contact us.
  • High quality reproductions of HMRC collection photos and maps can be ordered in a variety of sizes and finishes. For a price list of standard sized reproductions, please consult the Reproduction and Permission to Publish Form and Price List. HMRC can accomodate nonstandard requests on a case-by-case basis. Sample prints are available for viewing in the Texas Room.

Collection Databases:

Texas Room

The Texas Room is the primary reading room for viewing HMRC materials. In addition to providing a space for customers to view and study HMRC materials, the Texas Room houses a number of significant research resources.


  • Collection of approximately 14,000 books of Texana and regional history
  • A collection of local and regional yearbooks from junior high schools, high schools, colleges, and universities


  • Maps of Houston from 1837 to the present such as the 1837 Borden survey and the 1904 P. Whitty street guide
  • Early maps of the Heights and Harrisburg
  • Topographic maps of many Texas cities
  • Aerial photos of Houston from 1935 to 1990
  • Sanborn fire insurance maps and Bracey's block maps
  • Early maps of Texas and the Southwest

City Directories

  • Houston city directories from the 19th century to present
  • City directories from many other Texas cities

Newspapers and Vertical Files

  • Extensive collection of 19th century Houston and Galveston newspapers
  • Microfilmed copies of the Houston Defender, the Houston Informer, and the Houston Forward Times
  • Microfilmed copies of the Jewish Herald-Voice and the San Antonio Jewish Weekly
  • Thousands of files of clippings offering otherwise unavailable ease of access to local newspaper coverage of Houston history. To see a list of available files, click here.

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