Skip to main content

HPL News

Showing 3 of 3 Results

November 12, 2022 - January 28, 2023

The African American History Research Center at the Gregory School

1300 Victor St., 77019 | 832-393-1440

Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) emerged when the country was transforming from an agrarian society of farmers to an industrialized nation of factory and office workers. The BSA’s goal was to teach boys “patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues,” as well as outdoor skills, values that critics thought were lost as families moved to cities.

The first Black Boy Scouts in Houston were organized in 1935 by Reverend J. H. M. Boyce. The following year, about a dozen men completed a training course for leaders and formed seven or eight troops in the city. Although interest in Scouting started small, with only about a dozen Black Boy Scouts per troop, by 1947, their numbers grew to almost 3,000 throughout Houston.

This exhibition features photographs, ephemera, and newspaper clippings from the Harrison Family Collection. Edwin Stafford Harrison (1912-1979) was a civic leader, Methodist minister, and the first Black Precinct judge and poll tax writer in Harris County. Harrison was a Scout Executive from 1944 until his retirement in 1975.

This exhibition is free and open to the public. Dates are subject to change.

Logo of Houston Endowment

HOUSTON – Houston Endowment awarded $500,000 to the Houston Public Library (HPL) in support of a series of archival preservation projects.  

“We greatly appreciate the generous award from Houston Endowment. These funds advance our efforts to honor Houston’s rich diversity through the preservation, accessibility, promotion, and further development of HPL’s African American and Hispanic research collections,” said Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Director of the Library. Ann Stern, president and CEO of Houston Endowment, lauds the efforts, “We are proud to recognize organizations driving social justice and racial equity across arts, culture, history, civic engagement and education.”

HPL's goal to expand online access to materials can be achieved with significant funding for ongoing archival digitization work. Funding also provides much-needed support for the preservation and storage of physical materials. Angela Kent, Head of History Research Centers, explains, “By having funds dedicated to the collection and preservation of African American and Hispanic experiences, HPL is able to stay the course in documenting and unlocking access to our city's diverse history."


The African American History Research Center at the Gregory School (AAHRC) opened its doors in 2009 and is one of the few African American institutions in the U.S. actively collecting archival materials. Its mission to preserve and celebrate African American history is supported with a staff of professional archivists who maintain and build the collections. This highly trained staff also provides specialized skills in community archiving and knowledge of Black history for researchers. The AAHRC is still building its collections and relies on community contributions to help document and tell stories of African Americans in Houston and surrounding areas. 

HPL’s Hispanic Collections benefit from the continuous care and custody of archivists through the Houston History Research Center (HHRC), which was established in 1970. The contributions of Hispanics in every industry in the Bayou City are accounted for in over 100 collections of papers and photographs. These records, coupled with oral histories, reflect a rich tapestry of the Hispanic experience and include a significant number of materials about early Houston mutualistas (mutual aid societies), big band, Tejano, and Chicano music, the lives of Mexican Americans during World War II, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).


Houston Endowment is a private foundation that partners with others to achieve a vibrant and inclusive region where all residents can thrive. It advances equity of opportunity through deep commitments to PreK-12 public education and civic engagement; supports cultural assets that engage and connect us; and drives sustainable change across the region.  

HOUSTON - The Houston Public Library (HPL) announces that its current special collections libraries now serve under the new banner of HPL’s History Research Centers. The Houston History Research Center, formerly Houston Metropolitan Research Center, was the first HPL special collections library; the Family History Research Center at the Clayton Library Campus, was established in 1968 as the Clayton Library for Genealogical Research; and the African American History Research Center was known as the African American Library at the Gregory School since 2009. 

The respective archives and origins of the History Research Centers are unchanged. The former Gregory School located in the historic Fourth Ward stands as the African American History Research Center (1300 Victor St.), devoted to documenting the Black experience in Houston and beyond. The Julia Ideson Building (550 McKinney St.), home to the Houston History Research Center, anchors the dual history of HPL and the city with a repository of architectural drawings, Hispanic Collections and an expansive local photographs and audio-visual collection. The house that William Lockhart Clayton built is synonymous with genealogy and family history research. The Family History Research Center at the Clayton Library (5300 Caroline St.) has grown to be among the top of its kind in the nation, with resources freely available in-person and online. 

Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Director of the Houston Public Library states that with this renaming, the Houston community and visitors stand to gain a greater understanding of what can be found at the History Research Centers. “The History Research Centers are wonderful destinations that will appeal to anyone wanting to discover what’s hiding in plain sight.” 

Remarking on what the public can expect, Angela Kent, Head of History Research Centers, notes, “While HPL’s special books collections and archives remain housed at their current locations, we hope that visitors can recognize and come to know all the things one can see and do at the History Research Centers. We link people to history.” Individuals and groups can tour the historic buildings, view exhibits and attend library programs, while also continuing to access and research HPL’s rare and unique special collections and archives.  

HPL’s History Research Centers are open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information visit:

Field is required.