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Samuel E. Asbury Papers

Identifier: A-0001

Scope and Contents

The collection consists mainly of carbon copies of typescripts of correspondence, notes, manuscripts, and other documents that Samuel Asbury accumulated. Also included are twenty-six photographs and seventeen photo stats about Texas history and the Jonas Harrison family. A few newspaper clippings are contained in the collection. Handwritten original letters from Samuel Asbury to George Crocket and to Mrs. Lois Blount are included. The collection contains some handwritten notes by Samuel Asbury


  • 1807-1943
  • Event: Donated in 1941


Language of Materials

The collection is in English and Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Biographical or Historical Information

Samuel Erson Asbury, chemist and Texas historian who proposed using music as a medium of historical narrative, was born on September 26, 1872, in Charlotte, North Carolina, one of eight children of Sidney Monroe and Felicia Swan (Woodward) Asbury. In the fall of 1889 Asbury enrolled at North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering at Raleigh, where he worked his way through school as a janitor in the chemistry building. He graduated in 1893 with a B.S. in chemistry and the next year was employed as an instructor in the chemistry department. At the same time he began work toward a master's degree which he completed in 1896.

Asbury became assistant state chemist in the North Carolina Experiment Station in 1895 and continued in this capacity until July 1897. During the ensuing years he worked as a chemist in a succession of jobs. He then returned to his old job in the North Carolina Experiment Station in 1899 and worked at the station until November 1, 1904, when he accepted the position of assistant state chemist with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (see AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION SYSTEM) on the campus of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A and University). He held this position until he retired partially in 1940 and completely in 1945. While at A and M he helped put his brothers and sisters through college. He also took a year's leave of absence to do advanced study in physical chemistry at Harvard. As assistant state chemist Asbury tested seed, feed, and fertilizers and experimented with growing roses. By a judicious combination of aluminum sulfate and water, he succeeded in making roses grow to a height of more than forty feet.

Soon after coming to Texas he became interested in the early history of the state and became a collector of Texana and of stories about early Texas leaders. After 1930 he became more and more absorbed in historical research; the Texas Revolution became his chief concern. He planned the production of a musical drama to tell the story of that event. In 1951 he published a pamphlet entitled Music as a Means of Historical Research in which he discussed music as a medium for the presentation of historical narrative. He proposed to produce an opera to interpret the Texas Revolution through a cycle of music dramas, but it was never completed. At the time of his death he held membership in the Southern Historical Association and was a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association. He was the author of one article and the editor of another in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly. He was a member of the Bryan-College Station Poetry Society. He attended the First Methodist Church in Bryan. Asbury died in Bryan on January 10, 1962, and was buried in the City Cemetery, College Station.

(Joseph Milton Nance, "ASBURY, SAMUEL ERSON,"Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 20, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.)


2.50 Cubic Feet


This collection is described in 140 folders and was originally housed in six clamshell boxes. Boxes 1-4 were consolidated into a single banker's box. The original folder numbering for boxes 1-6 remains in place. Oversize materials were removed from boxes 1 and 6 and consolidated into a new container, box 7.

Related Materials

Asbury, Samuel E. Old-time white camp-meeting spirituals. Austin: Texas Folklore Society, 1932. ETRC F381 .T365x

Texas nativist. Editor, S. E. Asbury. Bryan, Texas: S. E. Asbury, 1914-1915. ETRC F381 .T365x v. 1-2

Guide to the Samuel E. Asbury Papers
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the East Texas Research Center Repository