History

The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research covers a two city block area in the heart of the Museum District at 5300 Caroline Street.  Originally comprising the genealogy section of the original Houston Public Library located in the Julia Ideson Building at 500 McKinney in downtown Houston, the genealogy collection was moved to the Clayton House in 1968.  This property was donated to the Houston Public Library System by William Lockhart Clayton, a prominent statesman and business leader and his wife, Susan Ada Vaughan.

The continued growth of the collection and tremendous increase in use stimulated plans for a larger facility. After an anonymous donation of the land next door to the William Clayton House groundbreaking began and the new Main Building was opened in 1988.  The property consists of four buildings.  These include the Main Library Building, which houses the research collection, the historic Clayton Home, and two outbuildings, the Clayton Guest House and Clayton Carriage House.  The historic property went through a 7 million dollar renovation that was completed in 2009.

This renovation project was a partnership project between the Clayton family, the Clayton Library Friends, the Houston Public Library, and the City of Houston.  The historic buildings are used for research, programming and office space.

The two story Main Building contains 23,000 square feet.  The first floor houses the main genealogy book collection, two small conference rooms, seating for 100 customers, and work areas.  The second floor houses an extensive microprint collection and the unique collection of over 15,000 published and unpublished family histories can be found here. 

As one of the Houston Public Library System’s special collections, the Clayton Library is recognized as one of the nation’s top genealogical research collections.  It received this mark of distinction for its extensive collections covering the entire United States, as well as international sources for identifying immigrant origins in Europe, Canada, and Mexico.  In addition, Clayton has 100% of its books in open stacks for public access.  We house nearly 100,000 research volumes, hold over 3000 periodical titles, and have an extensive microfilm collection offering census, ship passenger lists, military records, and many local and state records not available in book format or on the Internet.


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