Special Collections at SFA started with President Birdwell when he was named President. President Birdwell started collecting materials shortly after he arrived in Nacogdoches in 1922 that focused on Nacogdoches and East Texas. These materials were originally housed with other library materials in the Austin Building until the completion of the Rusk Building in 1926 when more room was available for library materials. During the time in the Rusk Building the East Texas Room was established as the special collections section of the library. The Library, and thus Special Collections, was housed in the Rusk Building for a little over 30 years until a new building was constructed in 1957 to serve as exclusively as the Library. In 1961 the Library was dedicated to SFA’s second president, Paul Boynton and thus was known as Boynton Library. By the late 1960’s the Library was running out of room again and a new building was commissioned and in 1973 a new library opened and bringing with it the Special Collections. This Library was then named the Ralph W. Steen Library in 1976, after SFA’s third President. In 1994 the Special Collections was renamed the East Texas Research Center.
Over the years Special Collections/ETRC has expanded its collection in a number of areas to cover genealogy, forest history, family/personal collections, company/organization collections, county records, and SFA records. The ETRC focuses on collecting, preserving and providing physical and virtual access to East Texas’ unique cultural history. The ETRC has been designated an official repository for a number of corporations and industries. In 1959 the Forest History Foundation named the ETRC an official North American History Repository, in 1975 President Steen made the ETRC the official repository of SFA historical records, and the State of Texas selected the ETRC as a Regional Historical Resource Depository (RHRD).
Lois Fitzhugh Foster Blount, widow of Guy Arthur Blount, served as Director of the Rare Book Room or East Texas Collection (later called Special Collections and then East Texas Research Center) from 1937-1966.
Scope and Contents: This collection is made up of memos and correspondence, files dealing with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) donating materials, and grants that funded the Texas Tides.