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BLAKE, ROBERT BRUCE

Christopher Long

BLAKE, ROBERT BRUCE (1877–1955). Robert Bruce Blake, historian and compiler of Spanish and Mexican Texas documents, was born in Moscow, Texas, on September 21, 1877, the third child of Robert Bruce and Sarah (Pratt) Blake. While he was still an infant his father purchased a weekly newspaper, the News Boy, in Jasper, and moved his family there. As a youth Blake helped his father in the newspaper office. He later owned and published the News Boy for many years. On December 21, 1921, he married Belle Patten, with whom he had one son. The family moved in 1925 to Nacogdoches, where Blake took up a position as court reporter and county clerk. He developed a deep interest in the history of the area of Spanish and Mexican Texas, bordered by San Antonio on the west and Nacogdoches on the east, and dedicated himself to preparing a definitive documentary of that area. Over the course of the next three decades Blake translated and transcribed an enormous number of documents from the Nacogdoches and Bexar archives and various family collections. The documents, spanning the period from 1744 to 1837, included not only letters, financial records, censuses, muster rolls, family papers, and proclamations, but also a wide array of legal papers–jury verdicts, subpoenas, petitions, affidavits, summonses, bills of slave sales, orders, records of civil and criminal proceedings, bonds, minutes, and writs. Blake bound his typewritten transcriptions in large volumes, some ninety-three in all, each of approximately 400 pages. The transcripts, consisting of more than 3,500 pages, provide a unique documentary record of the region; they constitute what historian Charles A. Bacarisse called "the bed-rock for a history of East Texas."

In 1942, in order to continue his research in the Texas State Archives and the Barker Texas History Center archives at the University of Texas, Blake moved his family to Austin, where he lived for the rest of his life. He died there on November 30, 1955. After his death, carrying out her husband's bequest, his wife turned his scrapbooks and other work over to Winnie Allen, archivist at the Barker Center, where they are now housed. Duplicate copies of the books are also available at the Texas State Archives in Austin, Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, and the Houston Public Library.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Christopher Long, "BLAKE, ROBERT BRUCE," accessed July 09, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbl50.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on June 23, 2020. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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