The South Texas Archives, a division of the James C. Jernigan Library at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, houses archival materials documenting the rich history of both South Texas and the University.
In 1925, during the inception of the University, Professor John E. Conner felt that history would be more interesting to university students if, as a teaching tool, those students collected historical documents and artifacts, and assisted in building a museum and archives on campus. As the collections grew the collections required an increasing amount of space and in 1929 were housed in the back of the main academic building, which was then designated as the John E. Conner Museum.
In 1978, the South Texas Archives was established as a part of the Conner Museum, and was tasked with the preservation, cataloging, and public access for historical documents collected by the University History Department, the John Conner Museum, the Jernigan Library, the Robert J. Kleberg History Club, and the South Texas Historical Association.
In 1981, the University drafted a proposal for the South Texas Regional Studies Program with three components: The John E. Conner Museum; the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Institute; and the South Texas Archives. Ultimately, the Regional Studies Program did not materialize, but the Kleberg Wildlife Institute became a part of the College of Agriculture, and in 1982 the South Texas Archives was designated as the official depository for University historical documents.
In 1995, the South Texas Archives separated from the Conner Museum, and became a part of the James C. Jernigan Library, and in 1999 the rare book collection at the Jernigan Library was co-mingled with the rare book collection of the archives, and the archives became the South Texas Archives and Special Collections.
The South Texas Archives was created as a result of the need to process, catalog, preserve, and provide public access for paper materials in a manner distinct and different from three-dimensional museum artifacts, and/or the general circulating collection of the Jernigan Library.
The South Texas Archives collects manuscripts which include letters, notes, memorandum, business documents, and financial records; photographs; maps; institutional, business and civic organization records; and ephemeral items (railroad timetables, hotel menus, broadsides, brochures, etc.). The foremost consideration in collecting documentary materials for the South Texas Archives is its significance to the history and natural history of South Texas, and of the University. All acquisitions shall be in accord with the collection policy of the James C. Jernigan Library, Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
The South Texas Archives was also designated as a Regional Historical Resource Depository for the Texas State Library and Archives System, and holds local government records from the eleven surrounding counties, including: Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Duval, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Live Oak, Nueces, Refugio, and San Patricio counties.
Available for research use are the Manuscript Collections, newspapers; maps; and sound recordings including oral history tapes (in English and Spanish). Also available for research use are artwork and paintings. The collections provide an accurate insight to the unique history of South Texas during the Civil War era, ranching endeavors, the coming of the railroad to this area, and the political upheavals and triumphs over the years. It includes the documents that hold the history of Texas A&M- Kingsville from its founding through its present. The University Archives promote TAMUK’s teaching and research mission by acquiring, preserving, and making available historical materials from a variety of departments and colleges. We ensure the cultural and intellectual history of TAMUK remains vital to the community.