Houston Area Photography Archives

Get more than just a glance at Houston’s rich history through Houston’s area photography archives

Don’t hesitate to contact the Houston History Alliance to let us know if one of these resources needs to be edited or if there is one we’ve missed!

Briscoe Center for American History
The photographic collection of the Briscoe Center for American History of the University of Texas includes over five million images.

Bob Bailey Studios Photographic Archive
The Bob Bailey Studios Photographic Archive provides a pictorial history of life in Houston from the 1930s through the 1990s. The archive includes images of politicians and celebrities, the oil and auto industries, aerial views of downtown Houston, local movie palaces, and department stores.

Historic Texas Postcards, UH George Fuermann Collection
The 243 postcards in this collection present colorful views of historic Texas, from Houston in the east to El Paso out west, from Laredo down south to Amarillo up north. The painted, sketched, and photographed images depict historic buildings, street scenes, and landscapes to reveal Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and other locales as they were in the early 1900s.

HMRC Architectural Archives Database
This database contains records of over 8,000 architectural jobs with an estimated 125,000 sheets designed by more than 250 architects and engineers stretching back to the early part of the twentieth century. While the vast majority of database records are concerned with the drawings of buildings in the Houston area, there are a few structures from elsewhere in Texas and the nation. Drawings in the collection comprise a history of homes from the modest to the grand, small office buildings to recent skyscrapers, “dream palace theaters” to the Astrodome, manufacturing plants to automobile dealerships and even service stations. The architects range from the famous such as Finn, Moore, Staub, and Sullivan to the less well known. These are records of drawings, not the drawings themselves.

Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC), Houston Public Library
The Photographic Archives Database contains records of photographs selected from approximately four million images in the Houston Metropolitan Research Center’s (HMRC) archival collections. The searchable records offer glimpses of day-to-day life in Houston and Texas from the 1860s to the 1980s, and cover subjects such as farming, industry, oil exploration, transportation, festivals, parades, natural disasters, and cultural, civic and sporting events.

HMRC also has photographs from three different newspapers. Due to variations in the scope and arrangement of these three collections, the Houston Press Collection (RG D 005), the Houston Post Photographic Collection (RG D 006), and the Houston Chronicle Photographic Collection (RG D 013), an accounting of the contents of all three may be more complicated than might be expected.

The Houston Press Collection spans the years 1911 to 1964. It is organized primarily by subject. Unfortunately, the collection contains little information about the dates that the photos were taken or whether they were published in the paper.

The Houston Post Photographic Collection spans 1942 to 1989 with the bulk of the photos dating post-1960. The Post Collection is almost entirely composed of negatives and is organized by date. It is an extremely large collection and is only partially indexed at this point.

The Houston Chronicle Photographic Collection spans 1968 to 1980. This collection is organized by date as well. In general, all three collections primarily document local events. However, there are going to be many cases in collections of this size where photographers were assigned jobs outside of the area.

Researching these photos is time consuming. Requests should be sent via the reference e-mail form on the HPL website.

Houston Photos on HAIF
Post your photographs of the Bayou City, and view other people’s pictures.

Perry-Castaneda Map Collection, Houston, UT Libraries
Historical maps of Texas Cities

Sloane Gallery
Sloane Gallery exhibits vintage and historic photographs and posters of Houston and southeast Texas and hosts an on line gallery of selected pieces from the collection.

University of Houston Digital Library
Free, online access to rare historical items from the UH Libraries and Archives