New East Texas GeneaGem: The History Center in Diboll, Texas

Today’s new GeneaGem is more locale-specific than many of the previous GeneaGems, but East Texas covers a lot of miles and counties.

The History Center of Diboll (pronounced DIE-bawl), Texas not only has many online resources, but it looks like a fun place to visit in person, too.

Let’s start with the on-site exhibits. There were 17 at the time this post was written, ranging from local lumbermen to the Diboll Garden Club to the H.G. Temple High School for African Americans. There is also a community history display as well as an outdoor railroad exhibit. Lots to see and learn in person.

For those, like me, who live too far away to pop in and visit, there are quite a few digital online resources to view from home.

First, to learn more about The History Center collections, browse through the Finding Guides. You’ll find everything from photo and scrapbook collections to aerial surveys, lumber and railroad papers, parent-student-teacher association collection and baseball, rotary clue and garden club collections.

The Finding Guides can be downloaded. You’ll learn a lot about local history just from browsing the Finding Guides.

There are 350 oral histories recorded – if you have family from East Texas, you might be able to listen to an ancestor talk about his/her life.

Next, check out the Online Collections.

I decided to look at the Civilian Conservation Corps from the Depression era. There was a terrific annual (PDF) covering the work for 1936, which devoted pages to each town and to the people in charge of the project. There was even a photograph of the captain and staff of the Lufkin District. I wish I had an ancestor who participated!

There was also a PDF of newspapers articles that explained the work that was being done.

Here are the Family History Collections, consisting of items belonging to individual families who lived in the area:

Other online collections include the Lufkin Negro Chamber of Commerce, School Collections and School Publications (including school yearbooks) and a collection of Historical Maps.

There is such a variety of topics and collections at The History Center that anyone with East Texas family lines should definitely pay a visit to the website.

The History Center collections appear to date from the second half of the 1800s up to modern times.

It can be difficult to access details about social and cultural events in the 20th century, particularly if local newspapers aren’t available online.

The History Center staff has put a tremendous amount of effort into creating a really interesting collection of resources that tell the story of life in East Texas. I’m impressed!





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