Smith County Historical Society

Discover the history of Smith County, Texas

Society museum visits and tours are free, but tours larger than 8 people need appointments so that we may better serve you.  All archives research is by appointment only.
We schedule appointments for the museum and archives.   Tours will be scheduled with a 48 hour notice Tuesday-Friday between the hours of 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

For Museum Tours and Office Information:  click here to contact us

For Archives questions, donations and research:  click here to contact us

The Smith County Historical Society, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded in 1959 by individuals and business firms dedicated to discovering, collecting and preserving data, records and other items relating to the history of Smith County, Texas. They joined together in a rewarding effort to preserve the fascinating stories of Smith County’s past in the many areas of historical preservation pursued by the Society.

Museum and Camp Ford: Free Admission

Camp Ford Historic Park

Visit the largest Confederate prisoner camp west of the Mississippi River. Featuring a kiosk, paved trail, and information signs along the trail. This site is located at 6500 US-271. It is open daily from dawn until dusk and the admission is free.


Our museum is the home of the Twentieth Century of Progress permanent exhibit, which has a sampling of many different collections in our holdings. We offer new temporary exhibits every 6 months to a year and encourage everyone to check our upcoming schedule! The museum is located at our office at 125 South College Avenue in downtown Tyler, less than one block off the Square”.

Society Store

Browse our diverse collection of maps, local history books and the Chronicles of Smith County, Texas available for purchase online.


Need to do some research? Make an appointment to visit our archives containing historical documents of Smith County, including newspapers, city directories, school records, photographs, maps, historical papers, rare books and much more.

One of our ongoing projects is to publish our Index to Chronicles of Smith County, Texas and it is now a reality.  Take a look at the names, places, events, and articles written about the history of Smith County since 1962.  Just 3 short years after the organizing of our great Society!

If you are planning a trip to use our archives, contact us with an e-mail or call (903) 592-5993 to tell us what you are researching. We will make an appointment with you so we can have material pulled to make your trip easier and more productive.

One of the hidden gems of our collection is our many photos and photo collections. We have started to put a few of the more popular photos up in our society store and we will add more as we have time. The photo collections and a few details can be found at this link. Contact us for more information about any particular collection and to have us search for any image. Appointments for photo research take a minimum of 2 hours and must be scheduled at least 2 weeks I advance as there may be collections of negatives or slides that will need to be scanned in advance for viewing on the network.

Support the Smith County Historical Society


Support the Historical Society and become a member today. Membership is open to all persons or organizations.

The society normally holds monthly meeting on the 1st Tuesday of each month in the Payne Auditorium starting at 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm social time and the regular meeting starting at 7:00 pm. At our regular meeting we offer a program about the history of Smith County and the East Texas area. The programs are free and open to the public.

To see upcoming meetings and events go to the following page. We hope that you enjoy the programs and please let us know if there is a topic you would like to hear and even present.


The Society not only accepts monetary contributions, but also donations of physical items. Materials collected by the Society include items such as photographs, books, maps, and business/personal documents, as well as artifacts ranging from Native American relics to vintage clothing and furniture.


The many functions of the Society require manpower, and the membership alone often cannot supply it all. Assistance is always needed with such activities as sorting and organizing archival material, answering the phone and greeting visitors.