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Austin papers

Identifier: urn:taro:utexas.cah.00359

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of the personal and official records of Moses Austin (1761-1821), and his son Stephen F. Austin (1793-1836) who carried out his father's plan for the Anglo colonization of Mexican Texas. Included is material related to the history and early peregrinations of the Austin family, especially their years in Missouri; their business activities, including the lead mines, store and banking investments; the pursuit of both men for permission to colonize and Stephen F. Austin's management of the resulting colony; the events leading up to the Texas Revolution and then the Revolution itself; and the first few months of the Republic of Texas. There is also a small cache of later family correspondence on historical topics.

NOTE: The Austin Papers, including detailed calendar and index, have been published in The Austin Papers , 3 volumes, Eugene C. Barker (ed.), Washington: USGPO, 1924-1928.


  • Creation: 1676
  • Creation: 1765 - 1889


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. For preservation concerns, select documents are restricted. Photocopies are provided for patron use.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Moses Austin (1761-1821) was born October 4, 1761, in Durham Connecticut. He married Mary Brown in 1785 and the couple had five children, including Stephen Fuller Austin. Moses founded his own dry goods company (Moses Austin and Co.) and in 1789 won the Virginia state contract to provide a lead roof for the new capitol building. His innovative business and mining strategies earned Austin credit for founding the lead industry in the United States. Though he amassed a considerable fortune from his lead mining ventures, the failure of the Bank of St. Louis sent Austin into debt. So he devised a plan to colonize Spanish-controlled Texas with Anglo settlers. He travelled to Texas and won the approval of the Spanish governor in 1820, but his health soon failed. Suffering from pneumonia contracted in Texas, Moses Austin died on June 10, 1821. His final wishes were that his son, Stephen, carry on with his plans to colonize Texas.

Stephen Fuller Austin (1793-1836), son of Moses Austin, was born on November 3, 1793, near his father's lead mines in Virginia. Educated in Kentucky, Stephen went to work in his father's business and served in the Missouri state legislature. Stephen and the family suffered a major financial set-back with the failure of the Bank of St. Louis, so he moved from Missouri to Arkansas to speculate in real estate and other business ventures. He was appointed circuit judge in Arkansas but soon decided to study law in New Orleans. While there, he learned of his father's efforts toward Anglo settlement of Texas, and planned to work with his father on this new enterprise. The untimely death of Moses Austin left Stephen to carry on the colonization plan, and in August 1821 he received permission from the Spanish governor to continue the work begun by his father.

Stephen returned to New Orleans and began promoting the new colonies along the Brazos and Colorado Rivers in Texas, with the first settlers streaming into the area in late 1821. Soon thereafter Mexico gained independence from Spain, forcing Austin to travel to Mexico City to salvage his colonial arrangements. The new agreement ushered in the era of the empresario, while Austin spent much of his time coordinating the allotments of land, mapping and surveying the territory. Accused of inciting insurrection among the colonists, Austin was taken prisoner and spent much of the period between 1834 and 1835 in Mexican prisons. Though he generally favored a moderate approach to relations with the Mexican government, Austin returned to Texas and was a leading figure in the revolutionary movement that eventually led to Texas independence from Mexico. Austin served briefly as Secretary of State for the new Republic of Texas, but died soon after his appointment at the age of forty-three.


25.17 Linear Feet : Correspondence, notes and lists, diaries, petitions, certificates, maps, field notes and surveys, broadsides, proclamations, inventories, financial and legal papers, land grants and deeds, reports, and newspaper clippings

Language of Materials



The Austin Papers are composed primarily of the collected personal and official records of Moses Austin and Stephen F. Austin, documenting an era in Texas history marked by increased Anglo colonization, strained relations with the Mexican government, the Texas Revolution, and eventually the founding of the Republic of Texas.

Organization and Arrangement

Papers are arranged in five series:

[* below refers to the published calendar: The Austin Papers , 3 volumes, Eugene C. Barker (ed.), Washington: USGPO, 1924-1928. ]

Series I represents published papers that are listed in the calendar*.

Series II represents unprinted papers, originals not in the possession of the University.

Series III represents papers not published and not mentioned in the calendar*.

Series IV represents papers that are unpublished but mentioned in the calendar*. (Many of these are published in other places.)

Series V represents miscellaneous copies. The originals may be found in the files marked Austin Papers (H. B. Perry)

NOTE: Typewritten transcripts of many of these materials have been prepared, and precede the originals in the detailed description of the papers.

Related Materials

For Stephen F. Austin's calling card and other related material see the Stephen F. Austin Calling Card and the Hally Ballinger Bryan Perry Papers.

For more Austin material see the Stephen F. Austin Collection.

Processing Information

Subsequent revisions were made by Megan Mummey, July 2009. Collection title revised by Colleen Hobbs, April 2023.

Collection History

This collection was previously called the Moses, and Stephen F. Austin Papers and the Stephen F. Austin Papers. The title was changed in April 2023.

Austin Papers, 1676, 1765-1889
Ready To Publish
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • October 2004: Encoded in XMetal 2 by Evan Hocker according to instructions in <title xmlns:xlink="" xlink:type="simple" xlink:href="">TARO 2 EAD 2002 Editing Instructions.</title>
  • July 2009: Locations revised by Megan Mummey.
  • March 2010: Locations revised by Megan Mummey
  • April 2023: Previous title, "Moses and Stephen F. Austin Papers" moved to Processing Information, Collection History field, by Colleen Hobbs.
  • 2023-08-09: Addition of "Journal of Col. S. F. Austin on his first trip to Texas", 1821, to 2A164, by Colleen Hobbs.

Repository Details

Part of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History Repository

2300 Red River Street
Austin TX 78712