Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2015 Issue

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas Win a Momentary Victory in the Battle of the Alamo Library

8e31d0f4-afc9-4a0b-80d8-9830bedc895e

The Alamo Research Center (photo from the DRT website).

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas won at least a temporary victory over the Texas General Land Office in the Battle of the Alamo Library. The Daughters (DRT) operated the Alamo itself for over a century before being ousted by the state government. There was little they could do about it. The DAR raised the funds and purchased the then crumbling structure in 1905 to save it from destruction. However, they also turned over ownership of it to the state. The DRT then operated it on behalf of the State of Texas. When the state demanded it back, there was nothing they could do but acquiesce.

 

However, there is a separate structure on the property, once known as the DRT Library but now the Alamo Research Center. That, too, is owned by the state, but the collection within it is in dispute (see Second Battle). It consists of around 38,000 items, many pertaining to the Alamo but others related to Texas history in general. Both sides concede that the other owns some unspecified number of items within the collection, but the great majority are in dispute. Records may not exist for long ago gifts, or it may be unclear who the giver intended the recipient to be (presuming they even distinguished between the DRT and the State). Both sides claim ownership of these. The state has said, in effect, it owns everything the DRT cannot prove was specifically given to them, or purchased with funds not contributed by the state. The DRT says these items were handed over to them, not the state, and were received on behalf of the DRT.

 

With their lease on the building set to expire next July, the DRT began seeking a new home for the collection. In August, they said they found one, later revealed to be Texas A & M University-San Antonio. Perhaps the Land Office feared the Daughters would seek to sneak the disputed collection out in the night as one morning in August, workers arrived to find the library padlocked. According to the DRT, employees were informed they could retain their jobs but would be working for the state. The DRT also claimed their computer system had been hacked. The Daughters quickly headed off for the courtroom, where they obtained a temporary restraining order against the state.

 

Now, that preliminary matter has been adjudicated in court, with the DRT pleased with the results. They will continue to have complete access to the collection and be allowed to operate the library. That will continue until July 11, 2016, when their contract with the state expires. Meanwhile, a trial to resolve the bigger issue – who owns the collection – is set for February 22. This one could be reminiscent of the earlier Battle of the Alamo, when Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and others fought to the death over possession of the Alamo. Maybe this won't be quite to the death, but the Daughters of the Republic of Texas probably hold Land Office officials in about as much esteem as the Texians did Santa Anna.

 

While technically unrelated to the earlier taking of the Alamo by the state, this action is undoubtedly an outgrowth. The DRT had dutifully maintained the historic building they had saved for over a century. However, Land Office officials believed it was not being kept up as well as it should be. Additionally, they wanted to improve Alamo Plaza, the historic district around the Alamo. Their belief was that significant upgrading of the entire experience of visiting the site was needed to satisfy modern tourists. The state, with access to tax dollars, has virtually unlimited funds. The DRT could only rely on donations and sales at the museum store. The kind of update desired by the state, which hired outside designers to come up with a new plan for the area, would be beyond the means of the DRT. Still, the change was hardly welcomed by the DRT and its supporters, even if they realized there was nothing they could do. The state certainly has the capacity to make Alamo Plaza a more desirable destination for tourists, and hopefully a greater teaching site, though we certainly hope they don't turn it into Alamoland in anticipation of turning it into a profitable venture.

 

The Daughters did recently receive a significant letter of endorsement from a group of archivists and academics, including former Texas state archivist David B. Gracy II. They said there was nothing in the DRT's operation of the library that suggests it needs to be taken over, while maintaining the Land Office does not have the expertise to manage the archives. They contended the Land Office's claim "would set an untenable precedent that would potentially impact the ownership of every Texas museum and library collection acquired through donations." It should be noted that not everyone shares this group's endorsement of the DRT's expertise and management of the library.

 

The DRT will find itself up against a powerful name in Texas and national politics when they go to trial next year – George Bush. No, this isn't the former President George Bush, nor the other former President George Bush. This is General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush, grandson and nephew of the former Presidents. His dad, Jeb Bush, aspires to be the third President Bush, and if he makes it, many in Texas suspect George P. will seek to be the fourth President Bush. The man is influential. This is a worthy opponent, with the Daughters of the Republic hoping they don't end up like their Alamo forefathers.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.
  • <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 14. [CRIMEAN WAR] HAMLEY. <i>The Story of the Campaign of Sebastopol.</i> 1855. £150 to £200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 17. JONGH & D'ALMEIDA. <i>L’armee Russe...</i> c.1898. Colour plates and many illustrations. £500 to £600
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 18. [RUSSIA] LE PRINCE. <i>Oeuvres. 1782.</i> Rare folio format with 80 etchings and 74 aquatints. £4000 to £6000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 21. [RUSSIA] MORNAY. Set of 8 hand-coloured aquatints of carriages, sleighs and occupants. c.1825. £1200 to £1800
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 33. BOWDICH. <i>Excursions in Madeira and Porto Santo.</i> 1825. A fine copy. £800 to £1200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 37. QUIN. <i>An Historical Atlas.</i> 1836. 2nd edn, 21 hand-coloured maps revealing civilisation. £800 to £1200
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 39. LE BRUN. <i>Voyages [...] par la Moscovie, en Perse...</i> 1718. 300+ engravings, panorama. £4500 to £5500
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 48. BRIERLY. <i>The English and French fleets in the Baltic.</i> 1855. Colour lithographs. £7000 to £9000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 60. DELLA VALLE. <i>Reise Beschreibung... in Turckey, Egypten, Palestina[...].</i> 1674. £1500 to £2000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 77. MURRAY, Mrs. Watercolour Album of Heaths. c.1860. 55 original watercolours. £750 to £1000
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 91. ADDISON. <i>Works...</i> 1721. 4 vols, large paper copy, English red morocco. £2500 to £3500
    <b>Mayfair Book Auctions, July 17:</b><br>Lot 96. HOLBEIN. Imitations of original drawings. 1792-1800. Exceptional copy. £4000 to £6000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions