In 1919 the State of Texas passed the initial law that charged the state with purchasing textbooks for students attending public schools. In 1924 many changes were made to the law and a State Textbook Commission was formed

“to select and adopt uniform system of textbooks to be used in the public free schools of Texas, and the books so selected and adopted shall be printed in the English language and shall include and be limited to textbooks on the following subjects: Spelling, a graded series of reading books, a course in language lessons, English grammar, English composition, oral English, history of English literature, history of American literature, geography, arithmetic, mental arithmetic, physiology and hygiene, civil government, algebra, physical geography, history of the United States (in which the construction placed on the Federal Constitution by the fathers of the Confederacy shall be fairly represented), history of Texas agriculture, a graded system of writing and of drawing books, plane geometry, solid geometry, physics, chemistry, general history, and Latin; provided that the series of readers adopted by the Commission shall have a full page cut of the manual alphabet as used by the Texas School for the Deaf; provided that none of said textbooks shall contain anything of a partisan or sectarian character, and that nothing in this act shall be construed to prevent the teaching of German, Bohemian, Spanish, French, Latin or Greek in any of the public schools as a branch study, but the teaching of one or more of these languages shall not interfere with the use of textbooks herein prescribed; and … nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the use of supplementary books as herein provided.” (see 1924 edition)

Adoption lists and textbooks from all eras have proved to be of interest to both historians and education researchers. The practice of adopting textbooks continues to this day and is often controversial. For current adoption lists and laws, please visit the Texas Education Agency’s “Instructional Materials” site.

Our collection of adoption lists reside here in digital form, and many of these adopted textbooks are part of our print collection. To locate the actual textbooks, search by title in the Library Catalog and limit to the “K-12” location. Most of these texts are housed in our storage facility, but you may use the “request” button in the catalog to have them brought to campus for your use.

Questions may be directed to UT’s Education Librarian and more information can be found on the K-12 Textbooks Research Guide.

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