Municipal Archives

Resources for Researching African-Americans and Dallas City Government

Path​finder Number 10​

​Participation by African-Americans in Dallas government began with the dismantling of legal segregation and the increased demand for African-American representation in its governing body.  Interaction of African-Americans with City of Dallas government was limited for many years due to slavery, legal segregation and discrimination.  However, this interaction has since taken a permanent and significant role in the growth and development of the City of Dallas.

From the first blacks serving on the Dallas City Council, C. A. Galloway and George Allen, to Mayor Ron Kirk, to individuals employed at every level within the city’s various departments, the modern history of African-Americans in Dallas government is thoroughly documented in the permanent collections of the Municipal Archives.

Since there are virtually no records of any City of Dallas transactions until 1868, there is very little documentation of black citizens until the Reconstruction era. Even then and for many years into the 20th Century, most government records regarding African-Americans are legal in nature and show evidence of institutional racism and exclusion. However, some city documents, such as parade permits and plans and correspondence concerning city-owned facilities, do provide insight into the day-to-day lives of black Dallasites.

City Secretary’s Office Files/Council Action Files

[Dallas City Council Minutes, Ordinances and Resolutions]

Dallas City Council’s official records, including minutes of the Dallas City Council [and earlier forms of government], from 1868 to the present, are available for research in paper, electronic, and micrographic forms. African-American individuals and institutions may appear as subjects [‘Smith, Robert,’ ‘Bluitt Sanitarium,’ ‘Knights of Pythias’] in earlier handwritten indexes and later in typed or computer generated indexes.   

Complete earlier records (1868-1950) and later records (1979-1997) are on microfiche and indexed by subject matter and by ordinance and resolution numbers, and may be viewed at the City Secretary’s Office. 

Mid-century minutes, ordinances and resolutions (1950-1970s) are indexed and microfilmed, excluding original contracts and memoranda.  Other council records from the same period are in process of microfilming; contact archivist for status.

Council minutes, agendas, and ordinances and resolutions from 1995 to the present are available in electronic form at the City Secretary’s Office website.

Council records contain primary documents associated with annexation, early neighborhoods and neighborhood groups, evidence of construction of streets, bridges, parks, libraries, and other city properties and services in specific neighborhoods.

Selected Manuscript Collections

​Collection 1992-019 Election issues resource materials, 1969-1975

Collection 1992-026 Elections - Historical Resources, 1968-2003
Newspaper clippings and voting data on elections held from 1969 to 1997, including information regarding African-American candidates and their campaigns.

Collection 1991-115 Redistricting Commission, 1991
Contains studies, meeting minutes, newspaper clippings, and recommendations for redistricting plans, including correspondence with African-American Dallas leaders and groups, and information on the impact of redistricting on African-Americans.

Collection 1994-045—City of Dallas Executives, Biographical Sketches, 1982 and undated

Collection 1994-046—Economic Development, 1989
Includes biographical data on African-American elected officials, department heads and other City of Dallas staff.

Collection 1991-022 City of Dallas Housing Department, 1938-1999

Collection 1991-070 Fairland Annex Segregated Housing Materials, 1920

Collection 1991-107 South Dallas/Fair Park Neighborhood Preservation Economic Development Plan, 1987

Collection 1994-029 Strategic Business Plan for Southern Dallas and Enterprise Zones, 1994-1999

Collection 1991-075 Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Plan, 1986

Collection 1991-020 Health Department Historical Reports, 1954-1972

Collection 1997-009 Public Welfare, 1938-1946

Collection 1991-052 Vital Statistics, 1931-1957

Collection 1998-008 Dallas Public Schools, 1944-1947
Includes data on African-American health, education and business in Dallas.

Collection 1995-023 Department of Park and Recreation General Subject Files, 1930-1970

Collection 1995-027 Fair Park, 1905-1918, 1930-1952

Collection 1995-025 Park Board Annual Reports, 1911-1995, 2002-2003

Contains records relating to individual parks, and documents the history of segregated parks.


​Collection 1994-042 Dallas City Council Inauguration Planning Materials, 1985

Collection 1994-043 Dallas City Council Inauguration Planning Materials, 1983

Collection 1994-044 Dallas City Council Inauguration Planning Materials, 1980-1983, undated 

Collection 1994-008 City Council Inauguration Contact Proofs, 1991

Collection 1994-009 City Council Inauguration Photographs and Negatives, 1992 

Collection 1994-047 Dallas City Council Inauguration Materials, 1993

Collection 1995-029 City Council 1995 Inauguration, 1995

Collection 1997-019 City Council Inauguration Photographs, 1997 

Collection 2000-001 City Council Inauguration Photographs, 1999
Photographs of Council members and guests at inauguration ceremonies.

Collection 1992-017 Gittings Studio Portraiture Collection, 1931-1992 
Portraits of Mayors and Council members made by Gittings Portraiture Studio.  

Collection 2002-008 Human Resources Photographs, 1988-1999 
Photographs of retirements and Human Resources sponsored events.

Collection 1999-003 City Photographer, 1950-1997

Collection 2000-002 Public Information Office Photographs, 1985-1999
Includes photographs of African-American elected officials, department heads, and other City of Dallas staff.

Collection 2003-001 Aerial Map Photographs of Dallas, Texas 1930, 1949, 1974, 1979 
Five hundred black and white photographic negatives and prints.  Aerial photographs of the entire City of Dallas for use by the city’s Public Works and Planning Departments.  Maps can be used to examine existing structures.  Most maps are 1”-500’ scale. Aerial photographs can be used to document historically black neighborhoods and land changes over time.

Left to Right: Councilmembers Adlene Harrison, Juanita Craft, Lucy Patterson, and John Walton, 1977.   City Photographs