The inception of the Law Library's Special Collections directly links to the circumstances surrounding the birth of Texas Southern University Law School. The historical, ideological, legal, political, and social dynamics that led to that period are the thrust that drives the acquisition of materials for this unique collection. The Special Collections contains over 2,000 monographs and 2,500+ microform* volume equivalents dating from the 17th century to the present. Housed on the main floor of the Law Library, the Special Collections comprises five topical areas (Sections): Africana, Diaspora, General Works, Civil Rights, and Genealogy. Following is a description of each Section.
Most Texans are unaware that hundreds of continental-born Africans once inhabited Brazoria and Matagorda Counties during and after the Republic of Texas era. Pirates and other speculators smuggled African captives into Texas, mainly via Cuba, after the United States and the British attempted to suppress the international slave trade after 1808. The African presence in Texas is evident by the many African-born entries enumerated in the 1870 federal census (e.g., Brazoria County). Thus, the Africana Section is the bridge that reconnects Texas's African heritage to its multiple points of origin, historical backgrounds, cultural agencies, and ancient civilizations.
The Gullah Geechee are the living custodians of the African heritage of African Americans. They link African Americans to their continental African legacy, cultural derivation, ethnic composition, and genetic inheritance. Additionally, the Gullah-Geechee language maintains affirmed linguistic ties with Arabic and West African languages. Did you know that Gullah-Geechee communities exist in Texas and Northern Mexico, also known as "Afro-Seminoles?" The late linguist Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner collected thousands of African-derived names and words, including phrases, songs, and folktales from Gullah Geechee informants in Georgia and South Carolina during the 1930s, published in his seminal work, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect. The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor is also part and parcel of the "Atlantic Creole" cultural continuum that extends throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. The Diaspora Section connects Texas and the Southeastern United States, particularly its central and southern regions of the Western Hemisphere.
General Works Section:
The General Works Section attempts to capture the wide range of nuances, variances, and layers that color the African American experience in mainland North America – such as Black enslavers, free African Americans, Civil War soldiers, inventors, artisans, landowners, farmers, cowboys, physicians, schools, and towns. The General Works Section brings together works that reflect this diversity.
Civil Rights Section:
This Section covers various subjects, including civil rights, political activism, government intervention, and social justice. Most of the information is in microform format, stored in microfilm cabinets adjacent to the Special Collections reading room, and microfiche shelved in the reading room. There are also collection guides accompanying this extensive microform collection.
Government documents, Genetic genealogy, traditional genealogy & family history research have opened doors to significant ancestry discoveries that would otherwise seem virtually impossible. The Genealogy Section contains the necessary tools, methods, and principles to help anyone to reconstruct their genealogy and family history.
A sizeable portion of the Special Collections is in microform format. Click here for a complete list of titles.
Policies & Procedures
Items in the Special Collections are for Library Use Only. However, some monographs are interlibrary loan eligible, provided a second copy exists. See the Circulation/Information Desk staff to view materials (one per request). Before releasing any material, please be prepared to present a valid ID (student ID/driver's license).
Hours of Operations
Access to Special Collections material is by appointment only Monday – Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM. Photocopies are available upon request.
Contact Mr. Karim T. Aldridge-Rand, Technical Services Librarian (713.313.1005), or Mrs. Patrina Epperson-Emmanuel, Circulation Librarian (713.313.1011).