Since its creation in 1976, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC) has been located in the historic Julia Ideson Building. The mission of HMRC is to locate, preserve, and make available to researchers photographs, maps, books, business and personal papers, and architectural drawings of Houston's history. HMRC’s reading room is named the Texas Room, and it’s where researchers and customers go to access the materials collected and preserved by HMRC. The room has special rules designed to protect all the materials for future generations, but everyone is welcome to use HMRC’s resources.
The Houston Metropolitan Research Center collects books with priority given to materials focusing on Houston and Texas in the following categories: non-fiction, biographies and autobiographies, fiction, poetry, young adult and children’s materials, and government documents. The map collection concentrates on street maps for Texas communities, key maps for Harris and the surrounding counties, aerial photography maps of greater Houston, specialized book maps, and flood insurance rate maps. The archival collections focus on non-current records of local government, corporations, businesses, public and private associations, religious institutions, cultural and civic organizations, labor groups, educational institutions, and any other organization or group that has played a role in the development of Houston. HMRC also actively solicits the public and private papers of individuals whose records may shed light on important historical events or trends in the history of the area.
Other notable holdings include-
Approximately 4 million photographs
15,000 rare books and pamphlets in the John Milsaps Collection,
Numerous rare books such as an edition of The Odyssey from 1520, a 15th century illuminated Book of Hours, and the Original Houston Town Lot Book used by the Allen Brothers when selling the first lots in Houston,
Over 300 rare maps of Houston and the Southwest
and an extensive collection of oral histories
The Friends of the Texas Room offer continual and invaluable support in the enrichment of the Texas Room through donated materials and volunteer effort. Their mission is “to support the collections of the Texas and Local History Department, the Archives and Manuscripts Department, and the Special Collections Department of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center of the Houston Public Library.” Among many other things, they provide support and funding for this tour to happen!