Tobin & Anne Armstrong Texas Ranger Research Center

The Tobin & Anne Armstrong Texas Ranger Research Center is a nonprofit library and archives with a small staff. It is supported by donations, grants and partial funding from the City of Waco. The Center receives no State or Federal funding.

To defray expenses, there are nominal fees for photocopies and research services by staff.

*For reasons of liability, the staff will not appraise or authenticate firearms or badges. We will assist you with identification and suggest avenues for further research.

History of the Research Center

In 1976 the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame opened to the public as a State memorial to the 150th anniversary of the Texas Rangers. Part of the addition was a small 15' x 18' library and reading room which was furnished by a grant from the Moody Foundation of Galveston. Over the years the collection grew to include service records of Rangers, photographs, correspondence, books and documents going back to the 1830s.

As the collections expanded, and thousands of research inquiries were received, a small professional staff was added by the City of Waco. In 1997, the Texas Legislature recognized this service and designated the Armstrong Center as official repository for memorabilia related to the Texas Rangers service. It functions as a specialized auxiliary to the Texas State Records Center and Archives in Austin, collaborating and augmenting its collections.

Each year the Center staff assists thousands of students, teachers, genealogists, authors, and film producers on a myriad of projects. The professional staff has assisted law enforcement agencies in providing historical context for cases researching decades-old "cold cases."

After more than 30 years of service, the small Research Center was in need of renovation and additional space. In just two years, from 2003 to 2005, more than 105,000 items were added to the archives.

Responding to this need, the family of the late rancher and businessman Tobin Armstrong and wife US Ambassador Anne Armstrong, sponsored a fund drive to improve and remodel the Research Center. In appreciation the Center was renamed for Mr. and Ambassador Armstrong and their ancestor, famed Texas Ranger John B. Armstrong.

Research Request by Mail

The Texas Ranger Research Center offers a low-cost research service for those unable to visit Waco. It is intended for non-commercial, personal use.

Requests for research about individual Texas Rangers must be submitted by mail, using the Research Request Form(PDF, 286KB) , or by written letter for those unable to print out the form. We are not able to provide this service via email or telephone; the research process will commence only upon receipt of the Research Request Form or letter, accompanied by a check or money order for $35 in payment of the research request fee.

While we make every effort to respond as promptly as possible, our staff is very small; due to occasional backlogs of requests, as well as other staff duties, please allow up to 6-8 weeks for reply.

A search of available sources may require several hours. We conduct in-depth research in company rosters, enlistment warrants, photos, published sources, indexes, etc. We recognize the personal significance of Texas Ranger service to many families, so we thoroughly examine every available resource.

Keep in mind that the records are not complete. There has never been a list of every person who has ever been a Texas Ranger, and for many of those whose service can be verified there might not be detailed surviving records. Over the centuries fires, floods, and simple disposal of out-of-date papers by some government agencies have destroyed much of the documentation. Most of our files do not include photographs or other likenesses. We can make no guarantee that we will be able to find any records for the names that are submitted, but we do promise that we will research the materials available to us as diligently as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How many rangers were there?

    We estimate that there have been 8,000 to 10,000 Texas Rangers since 1823. The Staff adds a biographical file for every Texas Ranger as they are newly identified or join the service. “New” Rangers are found in the historical record every year and added to our files.

    Please be aware that the absence of records does not necessarily rule out service as a Texas Ranger. Many service records were lost over the past two centuries due to floods, fires and state administrative decisions not to keep certain records.

  2. When will an index of all Texas Ranger be available? 
    There is no State or public funding for such a project, so work proceeds as time is available.

    Please be aware that:

    • the records are incomplete due to loss and destruction;
    • some of the organizations listed were NOT Texas Ranger units—especially Confederate and Spanish American War Units—and
    • this does not cover the modern Texas Rangers.

    Tax deductible donations may be made in support of our work to build biographical files on all known Rangers

Warning: The vast majority of guns and badges that appear on the market with alleged Texas Ranger provenance is supported only by hearsay, opinion, or second and third-hand affidavits. This is especially true of items offered at online auctions, gun shows, in antique shops and flea markets. Fake or poorly substantiated letters of authenticity abound, as do false inscriptions, tags and decorations. Research should be done before purchase, not after, and the burden of proof should be placed upon the seller. An ironclad right-of-return should be obtained before purchase.

Please remember that sale, purchase or trade of current design Texas Ranger badges is prohibited by Texas law.