Municipal Archives


​Resources for Researching City of Dallas Elections

Pathfinder Number 11​

 
The City of Dallas has elected a governing body since it was incorporated as a municipality on February 2, 1856.  The first twelve years of Dallas city government elections is documented through secondary sources only, and no original records survive.  Since 1868, records of elections have been kept by the City Secretary’s Office. 

A Board of Aldermen served as the governing system of the City of Dallas from 1856 to 1907.  The city then changed in May 1907 to a Mayor-Commissioner body (with four commissioners) until 1931.  Since 1931, Dallas has been led by a Council-Manager form of government.  From 1931 to 1968 the Dallas City Council had nine places.  The council changed from a nine-member body to an eleven-member body in April 1969 with the mayor as the eleventh place. From 1931 through 1975, all council members were considered at-large.  From 1975 through 1991, eight single-member districts existed, plus three at-large members, including the mayor.  The 14-1 Council was established in 1991, with the mayor as an at-large council member.  With very few exceptions, City Council elections follow an election cycle in which districts 1 through 14 are elected every two years; the mayor is elected every four years.

The City Secretary’s Office has prepared an elections historical database in an Excel spreadsheet format that is located here.

Disclaimer:  While every effort is made to provide current and accurate information, the information contained here should not be relied upon as your sole source of information.

In addition to discrete collections, the history of elections in the City of Dallas is reflected in Dallas City Council meeting minutes, ordinances, and resolutions.  

With few exceptions, the Dallas Municipal Archives and the City Secretary’s Office do not collect the papers of former mayors or councilmembers.  For information on the papers of former mayors, see Pathfinder Number 4: Researching Former Mayors of Dallas.

Researching Special Elections

Special elections are held by the City of Dallas outside of the normal election cycle and include referendums, bond elections, charter amendments, recalls, and annexations.  For details of bond elections, please refer to Pathfinder Number Five, Resources in Researching Bond Elections in Dallas, 1872-2006

Referendum, charter amendment, and annexation elections require a knowledge of the year and the subject when searching City Secretary’s Files/Council Action Files.

Manuscript and Paper-based Materials

​Collection 1998-003—Campaign Expense Reports from 1969 Election, 1969
Collection 1991-115—Redistricting Commission, 1991
Collection 1991-014—Elections–Opinions of the Texas Attorney General, 1952-1953
Collection 1991-049—Election Precincts, 1913
Collection 1991-103—An Introduction to the Voting Rights Act for City Attorneys in Texas, 1975
Collection 1992-013—Challenge to Charter Election, 1927
Collection 1992-019—Election issues resource materials, 1969-1975
Collection 1992-021—Dallas Observer re: recall election, 1992
Collection 1992-026—Elections - Historical Resources, 1968-2003
Collection 1992-027—Atlas of Split Voting Precincts in the City of Dallas, 1991

​City Secretary’s Files/Council Action Files

[City Council Minutes, Ordinances and Resolutions]

Council records contain primary documents associated with elections, including canvass reports, election ordinances, and other information. The 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. Complete earlier records (1868-1955) and later records (1977-2000) are on microfiche and indexed by subject or topic and by ordinance and resolution numbers, and may be viewed at the City Secretary’s Office. 

Mid-century minutes, ordinances and resolutions (1956-1976) are indexed and microfilmed, excluding original contracts and memoranda. Other council records from the same period are in process of microfilming—please contact the city archivist for status.

Council minutes, agendas, and ordinances and resolutions from 1994 to the present are available in electronic form at the City Secretary’s Office website.

​Photographs

​Collection 1999-003—City Photographer, 1950-1997
Five thousand black and white and color photographic negatives and prints documenting people, places, and events concerning Dallas city government.  Although city government is the focus of this collection, photographs for neighborhood research include parks, recreation centers, and events held at specific sites around Dallas.  A second series of evidential photographs used for legal cases in Code Compliance 196-197, organized by street address, occasionally document building and block façades.  

Photographs taken prior to 1950 are located in the Texas/Dallas History & Archives division of the Dallas Public Library.

Collection 2003-003—Dallas City Council Portrait, 1963
Collection 2003-005—City of Dallas Mayor Portraits, 1894-2001
Collection 1997-019—City Council Inauguration Photographs, 1997
Collection 2001-001—Dallas City Council Videotapes, 1994-1999
Collection 1994-008—City Council Inauguration Contact Proofs, 1991
Collection 1994-009—City Council Inauguration Photographs and Negatives, 1992
Collection 2002-009—City Council Inauguration Photographs, 1998
Collection 2000-001—City Council Inauguration Photographs, 1999
Collection 2003-013—Dallas City Council Inauguration Photographs, 2001
Collection 2006-002—City Council Inauguration Photographs, 2005​