Well Done, Sister Suffragette! Celebrating the 95th Anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment at Baylor

This week marked the 95th anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, the addition to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits denying the right to vote to any American citizen on the basis of sex. The amendment marked the culmination of years of activism and struggle on behalf of women across the country, and in the years leading up to its passage on August 18, 1920, two major suffragists visited the campus of Baylor University to issue their clarion call for change.

Anna Howard Shaw

Anna Howard Shaw in 1914 and the Carroll Library where she spoke in 1919

Anna Howard Shaw in 1914 and the Carroll Library where she spoke in 1919

Anna Howard Shaw was a prominent leader in the women’s suffrage movement, having been active in both the American Woman Suffrage Association and the National Woman Suffrage Association. She was also a physician and one of the first ordained female Methodist ministers in the United States. She had worked with women’s activists like Susan B. Anthony  and Carrie Chapman Catt. Her prominent position in the suffrage movement made her a sought-after speaker, and her trip to Waco occurred on April 11, 1919. According to the April 17th edition of the Lariat, Dr. Shaw impressed the urgency of the situation on her listeners.

After being introduced by Dr. W.P. Witsell, Dr. Shaw outlined briefly the development of the equal suffrage movement in the United States. She then entered into her argument, refuting most efficiently the every opposition to woman’s right to vote.

The fact that we live in a democratic age and under a government, constitutionally defined as a democracy in which all people must have a share, was among the first points brought out as proof of the right of woman’s suffrage.

‘The only way to refute that argument,’ said Dr. Shaw, ‘is to prove that women are not people.’ She also said that men are allowed a voice in the government not because they are men, but  because they are thinking human beings, and she maintains that women, also, deserve the same advantage.

Dr. Shaw’s appearance at Baylor would turn out to be one of her last public speaking engagements. On July 2, 1919, she would die at her home in Pennsylvania after a bought of pneumonia. She was 72 years old.

Annie Webb Blanton

Annie Webb Blanton ca. 1929 and a peek through the trees at Carroll Chapel where she spoke in 1920

Annie Webb Blanton ca. 1929 and a peek through the trees at Carroll Chapel where she spoke in 1920

Annie Blanton was one of Texas’ leading suffragettes. In 1918, Texas held the first statewide elections in which women could cast a ballot. Blanton was elected Superintendent of Texas Public Instruction, making her the first woman in Texas elected to statewide office.

Blanton’s message to Baylor’s student body was two-fold: to discuss the passage of a statewide amendment to address Texas’ many educational needs and to encourage women to turn out at the polls to help it pass. According to the article in the August 12, 1920 Lariat, the state of the educational system in Texas at the time was very poor. Texas had lost almost all of its male teachers – primarily to service in World War I, one suspects – and the salaries for teachers statewide were among the lowest in the country. As the head of Texas’ public school system, Blanton knew the problems firsthand, and her plea to the Baylor community carries real emotion.

Blanton ended her talk by reminding the women in attendance that, should the nineteenth amendment be ratified prior to the vote on the education amendment, women would be eligible to vote regardless of whether or not they had paid their poll tax.

Baylor would celebrate its Diamond Jubilee (75th anniversary) in 1920, and the fact that its reputation had grown large enough to draw such high-caliber speakers in that short a time speaks volumes about the university’s place on the national stage.


There are lots more suffrage-related materials in our Baylor Archives. Read up on the movement today!

Jax and EBB Sitting ‘Neath A Tree / R-H-Y-M-I-N-G: On Sesame Street’s “Sons of Poetry” and the Brownings

What do fictional Northern California biker gangs, a beloved television institution and two Victorian poets have in common? According to this video from Sesame Street’s amazing line of pop culture parody skits, they share a love of rhyming couplets, of course.

In typical Sesame Street fashion, they’ve taken something decidedly adult – the hit FX show Sons of Anarchy, which features violence, drugs, adult themes and language aplenty – and reformatted it to teach pre-K kids about the importance of rhyming. Your tax dollars at work, America!

The setup is that Robert and Elizabeth, who are sitting under a tree (natch), are enjoying a beautiful day in nature, but Robert is having a hard time finding a rhyme to finish this little ditty:

Roses are red / violets are blue
Sugar is sweet / and I love …

Fortunately for our puzzled poet, the Sons of Poetry ride into town and do what they do best: glower, collaborate and come up with solutions. (If you ever watched the source program, which several of us did through all seven seasons, you’ll know that the SAMCRO gang spends lots of time doing the first two, and the third one usually involves someone getting killed in a creative but extra-legal way.)

Because there’s magic in threes – and because Sesame Street has a whole hour of airtime to fill every weekday morning – we get the Sons working through three options to finish Robert’s rhyme: shoe, moo and stew. Immediately, I wondered if any or all of them showed up in the full text of our Browning Letters Project, and it turns out two of them do! (It would have been quite a surprise if “moo” had turned up, of course.) And now, presented without context (because it’s more absurdist fun that way), are some times Robert or Elizabeth used the words “shoe” or “stew” in their personal correspondence!

I was thinking last night that when you come & drop the silver penny into my shoe, our dear Mr Kenyon might just as well be here to take his chance for a penny too! What do you think?

Page 3, letter from Elizabeth to Mary Russell Mitford, September 25, 1841

I am grateful to all my guardian “little spirits with shoe buckles,” who ‘preserve my life’ from grandeeism, & “company” in the general forms of it.

Page 8, letter from Elizabeth to Mitford, July  22, 1845

I thought, thought, thought of you,-& the books I took up one by one .. (I tried a romance too .. “Les femmes” by a writer called Desnoyers .. quite new, & weak & foolish enough as a story, but full of clever things about shoe tyes .. philosophy in small:) the books were all so many lorgnons through which I looked at you again & again.

Page 1, letter from Elizabeth to Robert, August 9, 1845

(See more examples of the poets’ use of word “shoe” here!)

I did not stand in reach just now of the temptations of mesmerism. I might have said that I shrank nearly as much from these ‘temptations’, as from Lord Bacon’s stew of infant children for the purposes of witchcraft– Well—then I am getting deeper & deeper into correspondence with Robert Browning, poet & mystic,—& we are growing to be the truest of friends–

Page 10, letter from Elizabeth to Julia Martin, ca. January 28, 1845

A German professor selects a woman who can merely stew prunes-not because stewing prunes & reading Proclus make a delightful harmony, but because he wants his prunes stewed for him & chooses to read Proclus by himself.

Page 1, letter from Elizabeth to Robert, August 12, 1846


Postscript

Because Robert can’t get his act together, he ends up losing the girl to the leader of the biker gang, which has probably happened a lot more times throughout history than we’d care to think about, even if it is in opposition to the real life ending of the courtship between Robert and Elizabeth. But then again, we weren’t able to find any references to Robert having to fend of a band of gun-running narco-bikers to keep fair Elizabeth’s hand, so maybe he merely lived in simpler times than our Muppet friends.

Lastly, in case you’re not familiar with Sons of Anarchy, we thought you’d like to see how well the geniuses at Sesame Street were able to replicate a crew of hardened criminals using only felt, yarn and elbow grease. Enjoy!

tig clay Bobby JAX



You can read more letters by Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning in our Browning Letters Project. The entire 7-season run of
Sons of Anarchy is available on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and you can watch Sesame Street at pbskids.org. And if you want to see portraits and other artifacts related to the Brownings, be sure to visit the Armstrong Browning Library on the campus of Baylor University!

 

The Spencer Collection Marches On With 400+ New Titles!

Unlike some of our never-ending projects (ahem, Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, ahem), there are some projects that we’re making slow, steady progress on every day. And that’s why we’re announcing a new batch of items in the Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music – 461 all told!

The items span a century’s worth of song craft from 1845 to the 1950s. There are marches, waltzes, and tons of comedies.

And if you’re in the market for a love song, there are 143 of them ready to inspire even the most hapless of Romeos.

We’re including a gallery of some of our favorite covers here, but be sure to check out the whole collection to find your own favorites. And when you’re on the collection landing page, look for the RSS button to sign up and receive updates whenever we add new items to the collection.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.42.04 PMThe Bowery by Hoyt & Gaunt, 1933

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.43.22 PM Salut a la France (France Ever Glorious) by Donizetti, 1855

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.45.16 PMThe Man in the Moon is Looking, by Lonsdale & Eaton, 1878

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.46.17 PMThe Della Fox Little Trooper March by Johnson, 1896

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.47.26 PMEv’ry Life Is But A Clock by Skiff & Vynne, 1893

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.48.31 PM Mary Ann Marie from Hoyt’s A Stranger in New York by Hoyt & Stahl, 1898

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.50.50 PMThe Little Church Around The Corner by Gray & Carroll, 1913


The Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music has nearly 7,000 digital items available from a collection of nearly 30,000 pieces housed in the Crouch Fine Arts Library. See the entire collection here.

 

A Not-So-Innocent Abroad: Presenting at the Keystone Digital Humanities Conference

HEADERWhen I use the phrase “digital humanities,” what comes to mind? Humans using machines to analyze what makes us human? Machines pretending to be humans? A T-800 model Terminator quoting Shakespeare?

"It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. Also, prepare to die, human scum!"

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

Turns out, it’s a trick question, because no one really agrees on what “digital humanities” means for sure.

That’s a big takeaway I got from a three-day conference on digital humanities (DH) held at the University of Pennsylvania last week. But the Keystone Digital Humanities Conference wasn’t just an opportunity for me to refine my ambiguity detection skills; it was actually a great opportunity to present not once but twice to a room full of humanists, librarians, archivists, scholars and generally intelligent people.

For this particular trip – my first to Philadelphia, as it turns out – I decided to capture some of my thoughts and experiences on video and to share them here in this blog post. Yes, friends: I have crossed into VLOGGING. Can viral fame be far behind? (Spoiler alert: Yes, it can, and should be.)

My first video observation actually addresses something that happened while my plane was on the tarmac at DFW International Airport, and it involves one of the most divisive subjects of our time: selfie sticks.

 

I know I’m treading dangerously close to “old man yells at cloud” territory here, but for real? You need that many versions of three people sitting on a plane, seen from an elevated angle? Oh, and they took more selfies in front of the baggage carousel.

keystone_blog-01But it actually ties in with one of the recurring themes of the conference, as it would turn out: documenting our human experience and using digital tools to tell the story of who we are as human beings. Which begs the question: what are the digital humanities, anyway?

Oh, the (Digital) Humanities!

For a quick definition of DH, let’s turn to our good friend Wikipedia:

Digital humanities is an area of research and teaching at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. Developing from the fields of humanities computing, humanistic computing,[2] and digital humanities praxis ([3]) digital humanities embraces a variety of topics, from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. Digital humanities (often abbreviated DH) currently incorporates both digitized and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from traditional humanities disciplines (such as history, philosophy, linguistics, literature, art, archaeology, music, and cultural studies) and social sciences [4] with tools provided by computing (such as data visualisation, information retrieval, data mining, statistics, text mining, digital mapping), and digital publishing.

That’s a lot to wrap one’s head around! I think of it this way: we’re using computers and computerized data to mine, examine, interpret and provide access to centuries of human intellectual output. Per the definition above, we most fully “do” digital humanities at the Digital Projects Group (DPG) by providing access to large sets of data formatted as digital collections. For every project we put online, there are numerous avenues for scholars and humanists to take the collections, evaluate them, look for patterns and, perhaps, see something new and exciting in the process.

I’ll be honest at this point and say that there were some super intelligent – almost scary smart – people at this conference, and that made the whole “presenting on things you do for work” thing more intimidating than I had anticipated. I mean, these are people who use words like “legomenology” and “praxis” in casual conversation. What might they think about our Black Gospel Music Restoration Project or my work managing our social media a the DPG? Most of them have probably only ever heard of Baylor in terms of our famous president/amazing riverside stadium, right?

Those questions would be asked over the course of three days at the beautiful Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts on the Penn campus, housed in the Van Pelt Library. If you’re wondering how to find that library, just look for the giant broken button on the sidewalk outside. Behold!

Want a closer look at that button? Here ya go!

keystone_blog-02

Most of the sessions took place in a really cool space in the middle of the sixth floor. Some attendees likened it to being in a fishbowl, but I loved it.

keystone_blog-03During some down time on the second day, I went to a truly unique historic site: the Eastern State Penitentiary. It’s considered America’s first true “penitentiary,” in that it put all of its prisoners in solitary cells and did everything possible to make them feel repentant for what they did. This was opposed to the usual way of locking people up, which was basically throwing as many people into a cramped holding area as possible and hoping they didn’t murder each other before sunup. So, you know: progress!

The site was amazing. It has been kept as a “preserved ruin” for decades, with only minimal repairs made to show what it looked like in its original form. That’s not to say they haven’t made it really visitor friendly, though. There’s tons of great signage, and a wonderful audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi. Folks, this thing was worth every nickel of the admission price. Oh, and if that’s not enough, there was a sign in an exhibit that gave the name of the group that got the whole thing started (which included Ben Franklin as a member, natch): The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons. My goal before I retire is to borrow that name and modify it for use as an official library committee name.

keystone_blog-04

In our next video clip, I give you a curator’s-eye-view of the inside of a cell, and I make a joke about working in a cube farm. Enjoy!


Don’t feel too bad for old Al, though. Given the fact that he was already famous when he stayed here, the powers that be saw to it that his accommodations were pretty far above the usual prisoner’s setup. To wit:

keystone_blog-05
Back to the idea of humanities, digital or otherwise: the museum used data about incarceration rates to make this cool infographic/sculpture in the prison yard. I thought it was a very effective and creative way of visualizing the data set.

keystone_blog-06Back at the conference, my first talk was a digital showcase on the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. I told the assembled crowd of attendees – which, because this was the sole presentation in that time slot for the day, was almost every person at the conference! – about the BGMRP, how it came into existence, and what kinds of research areas a digital humanist might find buried in the collection. Afterward, I got lots of nice feedback and some very interesting ideas about how to make the collection more useful to scholars. One idea that was proposed more than once was to provide transcriptions of the lyrics for songs in the collection, something that would allow DHers to run data analysis on recurring words, grammatical structure, use of metaphor/simile/allusion, etc. This could be a really cool Phase II or III for the project and I was definitely interested in hearing what folks from across the country had to say about one of our highest profile projects.

I was so jazzed about the presentation that I address it – and one of the big reasons to live in a city other than Waco – in this next video!


I mean, seriously: have you people ever HAD Dunkin’s iced coffee?

My next presentation was a long paper on “How to Keep the ‘Humanity’ in Digital Humanities Social Media.” I basically ran down some ideas about finding a voice for your collections, looking into the different social media platforms for the right fit, and then an overview of the ways we’re using social media to promote the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.  It was another successful presentation, IMHO, and prompted an appropriate amount of laughter when I told them we used this blog to promote our School of Music Programs by writing an open letter to an actor from “The Walking Dead.” My observations, in video form!


Oh, and my presentation took place in a room with this view:

keystone_blog-09
Not too shabby!

I’ll close this post by saying that attending this conference was enormously helpful from a content creator’s perspective because it gave me some great insights into how scholars, faculty and other users are utilizing the kinds of resources we put onto the web, and it gave me great ideas for how to further enhance our collections so that they’re as useful, findable and impactful as possible. And lastly, it gave me a great quote from keynote speaker Dr. Miriam Posner of UCLA, which I’ll present here as one of those “unrelated image/quote/speaker” memes, because I love them.

miriam_quoteAnd in case you’re thinking, after all that, that all I did in Philadelphia was eat cheesesteaks and visit museums, here’s pictorial evidence of me talking to a crowd, courtesy Amelia Longo, via Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 4.06.11 PMOh, and for the record: Geno’s Cheesesteaks 4 life.


The Keystone Digital Humanities Conference website has a full list of the speakers and attendees for your consideration. To see all the Twitter backchatter, search for #keydh. The portrait of sassy Ben Franklin is from the collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a.k.a. the place with the Rocky steps.

Documenting 64 Years of Joyful Noise: The School of Music Performances Programs Collection is Complete!

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 3.40.10 PM

Header for Ann Northum’s performance program, March 28, 1950. See the whole program here: http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/ref/collection/fa-somprog/id/620.

They were written on typewriters, word processors and laptops. Some used italicized fonts, others used “high tech” typefaces and the most recent ones feature the Baylor University Judge Baylor/Pat Neff Hall wordmark. They could be one page, two pages or dozens. In short, while the School of Music Performances Programs collection may seem like a one-trick pony, there are actually more than 8,000 ways to document and preserve the performances of Baylor’s musically inclined students dating back to 1950.

The completion of this project means 64 years’ worth of music performances are documented online for the first time in Baylor history. Prior to the digital collection’s unveiling, students and scholars had to request bound copies of the original programs – organized by year – and thumb through their pages until they stumbled upon the information they sought. Now, they can instantly discover any number of interesting things within the collection with a simple search, things like:

The number of performances at Roxy Grove Hall since 1950 (4,167 since 1957)

The number of times a student performed Bach’s Fugue in D Major (264 times)

How many performances are attributed to longtime faculty member Helen Ann Shanley (164)

The number of years organist Joyce Jones performed at Baylor during her tenure (1969-2014)

What performance was scheduled for 8:00 PM on September 11, 2001 but was impacted by that day’s terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C. and New York City (“Baroque in the Browning” by Christina Edelen)

And more!

This project came about after a request from our colleagues in the Crouch Fine Arts Library who wanted to find an easier way for music students to access these important – but cumbersome, in their printed form – resources, and we worked for the better part of a year to digitized them, create separate PDFs from the volume-level books, generate original cataloging metadata and generally just push through the time-intensive process of getting them onto the web. The result is an easily searchable, robust collection that details the evolution of musical instruction on our campus dating back to the 1950s, with an aim toward adding each semester’s performance programs as they become available from here on out.

We encourage you to take some time to search through the School of Music Performances Programs collection and see what hidden gems you can find. And if you’d like to embarrass/talk to two of our own staffers – Darryl Stuhr and Stephen Bolech – you can see programs related to their time in the School of Music here and here.

(And as always when we finish a big project: Fire the Cannon!)