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More than 100 Years of Recreation Preserved in the State Archives

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More than 100 Years of Recreation Preserved in the State Archives

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission holds many records related to the broader history of water in Texas, including water rights, the development of dams and water management, and documentation of droughts, floods, hurricanes, and the state’s response. But the story of Texas water is much more; Texans love summer fun and getting out on the water.

Our digitization team recently brought images from the Texas Tourist Development Agency (TTDA) that capture the refreshing destinations and relaxing pursuits enjoyed under clear blue skies online for the first time. By 1950, tourism was fifth largest industry in the state. In 1959 the 56th Legislature created the Texas Development Board to develop strategies to attract visitors. In 1963 the state’s first tourism advertising budget was allocated, and the Texas Development Board became the Texas Tourist Development Agency.

The agency expanded in 1965 and, beginning in 1967, sponsored a $12,000 touring exhibit: “Texas for a World of Difference.” It participated in HemisFair ’68 and sponsored the Texas State Arts and Crafts Fair in Kerrville. Throughout its existence, the agency sponsored at least 19 tours for travel writers, editors, and agents that resulted in international publicity.

TTDA Ad/undated. Courtesy Texas State Library and Archives Commission

The TTDA coordinated the efforts of several state agencies in tourism matters. It cooperated with the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and other agencies. It provided consultant assistance to communities in creating tourist programs and published a monthly newsletter, Texas! Land of Contrast. Texas was the first state to use national opinion polls and motivational research to develop tourism advertising. Research determined that Americans had misconceptions about Texas, believing that it was largely a desert inhabited by cowboys and oilmen and that it was without appealing vacation attractions such as inland water, beaches, forests, mountains, historic sites, and cosmopolitan cities. In response to this, the agency strove to promote Texas’s cultural diversity, pleasant climate, abundant water, good accommodations, and sophisticated activities.

The Texas Tourist Development Agency photographs and audiovisual materials collection documents the activities of the TTDA and its work to increase the state’s share of the national tourist market using a variety of mass media. The materials include photographic color slides, transparencies, negatives, photographic prints, videotapes, motion picture films, and audiotapes created and used from 1964 to 1997.

These items reveal how the agency wanted to visually portray Texas in print advertising. The series also contains images of print advertisements and slides that appear to be from slide presentations, documenting the agency’s advertising research, strategies, and campaigns. Credited photographers include Stephanie Bearden, Rebecca Dozier, Clay Ellis, O.C. Garza, Elizabeth Grivas, Sheldon Hall, Stan Kearl, Kent Kirkley, Jack Lewis, William E. Lummus, Bob Maxham, Rob McCorkle, Micki McMillan, Michael Murphy, Bill Reaves, G. Reed, Al Rendon, Richard Reynolds, Lauren Robertson, Jim Roe, Harry Seawell, Kevin Stillman, and Dale Weisman.

In 1997, the Texas Department of Commerce was abolished, and all functions , including those of the TTDA, were transferred to the newly created Texas Department of Economic Development (TDED). In 2003, the TDED’s functions transferred to the Texas Economic Development and Tourism Office within the Governor’s Office.

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