A Guide to the David Franklin Houston Papers, 1898, 1908-1921
David Franklin Houston was born in Monroe, North Carolina, on February 17, 1866. He graduated with an AB degree from South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) in 1887, fourth in his class. He served as the superintendent of the Spartanburg, South Carolina public schools from 1888 to 1891 before entering Harvard. He earned his AM in Political Science from Harvard in 1892.
In 1894, Houston joined the faculty of the newly organized department of political science at the University of Texas. He became dean of the faculty in 1899. In 1900, President McKinley appointed Houston to the Board of Visitors of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and in 1902 he became president of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M University).
Houston returned to the University of Texas in 1905 to serve as University president. The Board of Regents approved a PhD program for the graduate school and a new law school building was constructed during his tenure. He served at UT until 1908 when he became chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.
In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson selected Houston to be the United States secretary of agriculture, a position he held for the next seven years. He went on to become a successful businessman, president and director of several corporations, and university board member.
Houston married Helen Beall in Austin in 1895 and the couple had five children. He died in 1940 in New York.
The David Franklin Houston Papers, 1898, 1908-1921, primarily consist of government reports and publications during the period of time when Houston was Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture (1913-1920). These include six annual US Department of Agriculture reports (1913-1919) produced by Houston under President Woodrow Wilson; a publication of the Committee on Public Information, National Service Handbook (1917), containing a statement by Houston concerning thrift during World War I; and The Federal Reserve Act (Approved December 23, 1913) as Amended April 13, 1920. Other reports, produced by the US Secretary of the Navy, the US Secretary of War, the US Secretary of the Interior, and other government officers, can also be found.
Also included is biographical data on Houston, including a letter handwritten by Houston while an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas and dated May 27, 1898. Furthermore, the papers contain an undated class roster, and an original letter from Woodrow Wilson to Houston dated April 6th, 1908, Princeton, N.J., concerning a reference for a Dr. John C. Dunning.
This collection is open for research use.
David Franklin Houston Papers, 1898, 1908-1921, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Sara Rumbo, April 1973..
Subsequent revisions were made by Ralph Elder, October 1978; Steven C. Perry, January 1987; and Jessi Fishman, September 2016.
Detailed Description of the Papers