The manuscript collection begins with personal papers of Henderson Yoakum, who wrote the first comprehensive history of Texas. They include a muster roll from his Cherokee campaign, discharge orders and payment authorizations for his troops, as well as Yoakum's license to practice law. A collection of papers letters related to early Texas, primarily annexation issues, ranges from 1842-1845. The Thornton letters describe daily life and events in East Texas, especially Walker County and Huntsville, as interpreted by a recent immigrant from England. Among her descriptions are the yellow fever epidemic of 1867, a fire and fire control (a bucket brigade), and martial law after the Civil War. In the correspondence section, Governor E. M. Pease discusses politics and family life, David G. Burnet, Secretary of State , orders surveys for the public lands assigned to the establishment of an education system, and William S. Peters solicits investment from Robert Owen, the English socialist, for the Peters Colony. From the Civil War era, there are special orders and letters prior to the battle on Matagorda Peninsula in January of 1864. The Proclamations and Broadsides section includes a notice to cotton planters related to the taxes due, and the announcement of the results of the Secession Convention in Austin, April of 1861. The Legal Documents section includes land grant awards, loan script, a bond of the Republic of Texas, summons to answer a petition filed by Mirabeau B. Lamar, and a loyalty oath (a document which enabled one merchant of Walker County to resume transacting business after the Civil War).
The earliest of the maps was drawn by Thomas Kitchen for the Reverend Dr. Robertson's History of America and is titled 'Mexico or New Spain in Which the Motion of Cortes May be Traced." Another of the early maps appears as the frontispiece in Henderson Yoakum's History of Texas, and shows rivers, location of Indian tribes, Indian Villages, missions, crossings, roads with dates of origin, presidios and trails. Texas is listed as "New Phillipines." There is a set of military maps of the Texas Revolution, which accompanies Andrew Jackson Houston's Texas Independence. The U. S. War Department's map by W. H. Emory is titled 'Map of Texas and the Countries Adjacent,' dated 1844, prior to annexation. The Walker map of 1949 and the Marcy maps of 1850 and 1853 show additions to knowledge of Indian tribes, fortifications, wagon routes, rivers and numerous notes on topography. In 1857-60, the United State Department of the Interior, J. H. Clark, Commissioner, produced the 'Map of the United States and Texas-Boundary Line and Adjacent Territory Determined and Surveyed.' The 'New Map of Texas as it is in 1874,' was prepared "expressly for Morphis' History of Texas." Robert T. Hill produced the 'Map of Texas and Parts of Adjoining Territories' for the U. S. Geological Survey in 1899. Many of the map descriptions are found in Day's Maps of Texas 1527-1900: The Map Collection of the Texas State Archives, Austin, 1964.