In an attempt to establish control over North Texas, the Republic of Texas attempted to set up a line of forts on the frontier. On June 6, 1849, Major Ripley Arnold and his men founded Camp Worth, named for General William Jenkins Worth, on the banks of the Trinity River near the confluence of the Clear and West forks. In November, the War Department changed the name of the camp to Fort Worth, giving the city its name.
A small civilian community grew up around the fort and in the surrounding area. When the army left the fort in 1853, the settlers moved in and transformed it into a small village. On March 1, 1873, the town of Fort Worth was incorporated into a city; Dr. W.P. Burts was elected the first mayor. Fort Worth did not adopt the council-city management approach until 1924, when it received a charter from the Texas Legislature. As of 2013, Betsy Price is serving as Fort Worth’s 44th elected mayor, and there are 9 members on the City Council. The city covers nearly 350 square miles and has a population of over 700,000 people.
In 1997, The Fort Worth Public Library was designated the official depository for the historical records of the City of Fort Worth. A small amount of records were transferred in 1997 - 1998, but systematic transfer and processing of records did not begin until January of 2000. The Library continues to receive historically significant records from all city departments as they become available.
Scope and Contents Note
Most of Fort Worth’s early records were destroyed in a courthouse fire in 1876. The earliest records include bond books from 1873 through the 1890s, a small amount of correspondence from the 1880s, and the records of the Fort Worth Fire Department from 1883 - 1893. Other records from the 1880s are available on microfiche in the City Secretary’s Office in the Fort Worth City Hall. The records from 1895 - 1995 are the most complete and intact.
The majority of the city records are from the City Secretary’s Office and the City Manager’s Office. The records from the City Secretary’s Office begin with the incorporation of the City in 1873, and continue to the present. A small amount of material from the 1940s and 1950s has not yet been transferred. This record group consists primarily of the proceedings of the Mayor and the City Council beginning in 1895 and contains correspondence, petitions from citizens, records relating to the creation of the city’s infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water plant and sewage disposal. Other records include election records from the 1930s through the 1980s, records of various WPA projects of the New Deal Era, records relating to Fort Worth’s role as an early center for the aviation industry and Fort Worth’s early airports and records relating to social services.
Records from the City Manager’s Office begin in the mid-1960s and continue through 1995. These records are very similar in scope and content to the material found in the City Secretary’s Office. The City Manager’s Office records tend to contain detailed reports and records relating to other city departments. They also include the history of aviation in Fort Worth; the records provide information about the early history of the Alliance Airport and the construction of the Dallas – Fort Worth International Airport.
Other records of interest include maps showing the development of early Fort Worth neighborhoods beginning around 1900, records relating to the history of mass transit in Fort Worth and ledger books with property and poll tax records from the 1910s and early 1920s. There is also a collection of photographs of Fort Worth created by the Planning Department. The majority of the photographs are from the 1960s and 1970s.
The collection is divided into 24 record groups with the record groups sub-divided into series and sub-groups as needed. The materials date from 1873 - 2009 and measure approximately 400 linear feet (over 500 boxes).
- City Manager’s Office – Budget
- City Secretary – Office of the Mayor and Council Records Management
- Code Compliance
- Community Relations (Community Cable)
- Environmental Management
- Equipment Services
- Financial Management Services
- Housing and Economic Development
- Human Resources
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- Internal Audit
- Municipal Court
- Parks and Community Services
- Planning and Development
- Public Events
- Transportation and Public Works - Engineering
- Annexed Municipalities
- Records of Abolished Departments
- Health Department
- Municipal Records Center
Note: Not all City departments have deposited records with the Library. Records will be added to the finding aid as they are received and processed.
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Last updated: Oct. 3, 2014