Texas Railroad Commission funds historic data digitization

Data preservation effort captures records from East Texas supergiant oilfield.

The Texas Railroad Commission has awarded Austin-based Neubus a two year contract for the digitization of historic hearing records from the East Texas region as part of a historic record preservation initiative. The records documenting the history of the East Texas supergiant oil field are to be published as national historical records thanks to a $150,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The Railroad Commission, the state’s energy regulator, is to match the federal grant.

The funds will be used to digitize records of national historical significance from regulatory hearings involving fields in the East Texas region from 1932-1972, when production from the area peaked. East Texas was the site of the most prolific oil boom in the state’s history. The East Texas Oil Field, which spans five counties, was instrumental in helping the United States and its Allies win World War II by providing a large, and reliable domestic source of fuel for the war effort. By 1931, the field produced more than one million barrels of oil per day, which far exceeded demand and led the Commission to establish prorated production levels.

The data will be searchable from search engines such as Google and Yahoo and on Texas Heritage Online. The files to be archived under the grant represent about three percent of the Commission’s hearings file collection. Unlike other Commission files that have been digitized, these files are in paper format only and have no backup in case of a disaster.

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