A business directory is a list of companies that are listed alphabetically by industry. These directories can be found online or in print. They are often organized by city or region. They may also be categorized by product or company name.
The Library has many of these directories in print and microfilm. They are located in the Science & Business Reading Room and can be requested through TSLAC’s online catalog.
Texas Secretary of State
The office of the Texas Secretary of State dates back to the early days of the Republic of Texas. The first Secretary of State was the founder of the Austin colony, Stephen F. Austin, who died in December 1836. The current Secretary of State is Jane Nelson, who was appointed on January 5, 2023.
The Texas Secretary of State is one of six state officials named by the Constitution to form the Executive Department of the state. The others are the governor, lieutenant governor, comptroller of public accounts, land commissioner and attorney general. Unlike the other five, the Secretary of State is not elected but instead appointed by the Governor, “with the advice and consent of the Senate.”
In addition to being the chief election officer and maintaining official and business/commercial records, the Secretary of State also publishes government rules, commissions notaries public and authenticates documents for use in foreign countries. The office is also responsible for representing the state in meetings and events with members of the international diplomatic corps.
During her time in office, Nelson has been praised for her work to make Texas the premier location for Texas business directory. She has written four balanced state budgets and passed over 30 bills to improve the lives of Texas families. Those bills include creating the Cancer Research & Prevention Institute of Texas, reforming medical liability, and expanding access to mental health services.
Texas Historical Commission
The Texas Historical Commission protects and preserves the state’s historic and prehistoric resources for the use, education, economic benefit, and enjoyment of present and future generations. It identifies significant historic sites and records their location and history for the public to understand and appreciate, and it administers the Official Texas Historical Marker program in partnership with 254 county historical survey committees. It has the power to prescribe uniform markers, check the accuracy of marker inscriptions prepared by sponsors, and determine whether or not a site meets the criteria for designation as an official historical landmark. It also has the authority to record archaeological sites and appoint archeological districts. Its markers erected on historic properties in the state tell the story of Texas settlement patterns, ranching, cattle, oil and cotton industries, unique weather sites, early railroads, gunfights and battles, burial grounds, important Texans, and old towns that no longer exist.
The agency is composed of 17 citizen members appointed by the governor to staggered six-year terms. It employs more than 170 people with backgrounds in the fields of archeology, architecture, business, culture, economic development, heritage tourism, history, and public administration. These personnel consult with citizens and organizations to preserve the state’s architectural, archeological and cultural landmarks; operate a number of preservation grant programs including those for historic courthouses; and assess preservation needs and provide consultation on existing buildings. These records include agendas, minutes, committee reports and resolutions, staff files, list of appointees to associated boards, quarterly reports from programs, rules and regulations, historic preservation and antiquities laws, clippings, photographs, architectural drawings, needs assessment files, compact discs, surveys and inscriptions of historical markers, membership lists and activity reports of county historical commissions, project files on historic districts and sites, and other information.
Portal to Texas History
The Portal to Texas History is a free online database that provides access to primary source materials related to the state of Texas. It contains unique collections from libraries, museums, archives, historical societies and private family collections. These collections include digital reproductions of photographs, maps, letters, documents, books and artifacts. The Portal also has an extensive collection of historic newspapers. The Portal is available 24 hours a day and is easy to navigate. Its clean minimalist design and simple, site-wide navigation allow users to focus on discovery.
The website offers a variety of search options, including the ability to filter by collections, partners, locations, subjects and resource types. Users can also select the date range of the search. The site also offers a search box that is displayed on every page, allowing users to easily find what they are looking for. The Portal’s content is updated regularly.
The UNT Texas History Portal project is dedicated to providing free online access to archival historic materials from repositories throughout the state of Texas. This project aims to balance the goals of access and long-term preservation for its digital objects. Its system automates the collection of metadata records to coordinate access to web-viewable files and preservation of archived master files. It is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Library of Congress Historical Company
The Library of Congress Historical Company has a collection of business directories for the United States and Canada dating back to the early 19th century. The collection has been digitized and is available to browse online. The online collection also contains a helpful guide that explains the format and organization of these volumes.
Another way to find business information is through state and local government agencies. The Texas Secretary of State Corporations Section has a public database that includes lists of corporations and non-profit associations registered in the state. The searchable database includes information on ownership, address, management, and contact information.
Other state and local agencies that collect information on businesses include county clerks and the Texas Department of Revenue. The Texas Historical Commission also has an archives of local business records that are a great resource for researching a specific city or region.
Libraries and historical societies also often keep business directories in their collections. While it may be challenging to find the exact volume you need, these publications can offer useful information about the economy of a community in the past. They are typically arranged alphabetically listing names of adults who live in an area and provide information about businesses and other organizations in the community.