The Texas Rangers are one of the oldest state law enforcement agencies in the United States. Beginning in the 1800’s as protectors of new colonies on the frontier, the Texas Rangers have continued their legacy to present day as some of the top criminal investigators in the state. This resouce guide brings together free online resources for historical research. A majority of the resources selected for this guide focus on primary sources during the period of 1800’s – 1920’s that include photos, museum collections, and digital eBooks.
A Brief Introduction
History.com has a great introductory video that gvies a brief overview of the history of the Texas Rangers in just under 3 minutes.
The photos in this post have come from The Portal of Texas History, which is created and maintained by the University of North Texas Libraries. The Portal includes digital access to rare and historical content from or about Texas. Hundreds of partners across Texas have contributed their unique collections to be digitized and shared with the world. Each photo is linked to The Portal website if you wish to read more about the item.
The Bullock Museum is a good place for more introductory information on the history of the Texas Rangers. As part of their Campfire Stories on characters in Texas, the Texas Ranger story includes a general timeline history combined with an excellent gallery of images to support the text. For readers who are interested in a more in depth history, this page also includes interactive timeline (1821-2014) with short paragraphs, links to artifacts, and the occasional educational video.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is the official historical center of the Texas Rangers. The website has a vast amount of interesting resources for research and education.
Here is a breakdown of the resources available:
- Stories of cases and incidents and oral history interviews on their time of service.
- Biographies of Hall of Fame inductees and rangers who served in the 19th, 20th, and 21st century.
- Artifacts and exhibits covering covering more than two centuries of Ranger history.
- The Tobin and Anne Armstrong Research Center with information on laws, research topics, how to research a ranger, and external links to state library records and other resources.
- Resources for teachers that include lesson plans, worksheets, journal prompts, and virtual programs or webinars.
Captain Jeff; or, frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers
By: Maltby, William Jeff. 1906.
Description from the title page: “Captain Jeff; or, frontier life in Texas with the Texas Rangers. Some unwritten history and facts in the thrilling experiences of frontier life. The battle and death of Big Foot, the noted Kiowa chief. The mortally wounding and dying confession of “Old Jape.” The Comanchie, the most noted and bloodthirsty savages that ever depredated on the frontier of Texas. By one of the Nine, a member of Company “E” Texas Rangers.”
By: Roberts, Dan W. 1914.
Description: A book about Texas Rangers and the events they took part in. Some of the contents detail the battles that the Rangers fought in, the different criminals they dealt with, and some of the events in their own personal lives.
Reminiscences of the Terry Rangers
By: Blackburn, J. K. P. 1919.
Description: This book gives a description of the Civil War from the point of view the Terry Rangers (8th Texas Cavalry Regiment). It is written in first-person, describing specific incidences, including the Woodsonville Skirmish, the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Bentonville, as well as other events and anecdotes.
By: Cunningham, Eugene 1925~.
Description: Cunningham provided information about El Paso, Texas in the late nineteenth century. He also wrote about early settlers, marshals, and criminals of the west in that time period. He wrote about “Billy the Kid,” First Sergeant James B. Gillett, Tom Threepersons, Dallas Stoudenmire, John Wesley Hardin, and others.
A Woman’s Reminiscences of Six Years in Camp with the Texas Rangers
By: Roberts, D. W. (Dan W.), Mrs. 1928?.
Description: Memoir written by Lou (Conway) Roberts about the first years of her marriage to D. W. Roberts, a captain in the Texas Rangers and their life at a camp in Menard, Texas.