The Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog

Apr 17


If you’ve spent more than 10 seconds on the Internet lately, you’ve seen and/or taken some form of online poll. They’re very popular on sites like Buzzfeed, and they’re always titled something like, “Which Cupcake Flavor Are You?” or “Which Shade of Mauve Embodies You As A Person?” and the like. Well, here at the DPG, we like having fun, too, so we teamed up with Kara Long (BU libraries metadata librarian and star of our latest podcast) to create our own. Kara provided the awesome artwork you’ll see below, which we think perfectly complements what we’re calling the most important online poll of all time: Which Baylor University Libraries Digital Collection Are YOU?



You spend a good deal of time thinking up new melodies, lyrics and remixes of popular songs. When you walk down the street, there’s always a background track playing in your head or through your headphones. You respect the past, but your eyes (and ears) are on the future. You may be a bit of a dreamer, but you’re the first person people call when they want to have a great time. You can say without hesitation that you were in to James Kendis before he was famous (ca. 1918).


You view your life as a journey of faith. You have an un-ironic tattoo of a scripture verse somewhere on your body. You follow the @GWTruettSermons twitter account and retweet its words of wisdom to your friends, who are also your lifegroup members. You have a respect for the spoken Word on vinyl, but a preference for the convenience of digital. You may also love fedoras.


“How do I love thee?” You’ve got a million ways, and many of them are taken from letters written by poets who died more than a hundred years ago. You adore the look of handwritten correspondence, though you could do without their strange, pre-standardized spelling and punctuation. You have a hard time finding a soul mate who shares your dual loves of spoken verse and whalebone corsets, but because you believe true love conquers all, you keep your chin – and your heart – up.


“Rah, Rah, Sis Boom Bah! Sports Team, Sports Team, Rah-Rah-Rah!” You have the smell of turf in your nostrils and the roar of a crowd in your ears at all times. When people ask how you take your coffee, you say, “With Victory. And two sugars.” You browse the BULAA looking for examples of plays that haven’t been used in almost a century just to confuse the opposition. Pistol formation? Split wing backs? Child’s play. How about a Kaiser Surprise or maybe the old Horse and Buggy? Suit up, player: you’ve got opponents to crush … and search results to peruse.


Psst, hey, buddy. Over here. Don’t make direct eye contact, just listen. There’s a huge batch of declassified documents The Man doesn’t want you to see, and they reveal the truth. About what? EVERYTHING. Just open the Armstrong files and see how deep this goes. Here’s a hint: to the very bottom … and the top.


You know the ins and outs of the lives of every major player on the world’s stage from 150 B.C. to the end of the Crimean War. You’ve used the phrase, “Actually, according to his personal journal, Black Jack Pershing initially tried to …” with complete sincerity. You prefer the company of archival materials – and fellow historians – to almost anyone, except maybe re-enactors. Or college professors. Or LARPers. You can determine the type of iron gall ink used on a Civil War letter just by inhaling the scent of the paper it’s written on. You may own more than one set of commemorative 1893 World’s Fair silver spoons, but one of them is in a safe deposit box “just in case.”

We hope this has given you better insight into your digital collections proclivities. Be sure to check out all of our collections and spread the word on this quiz. We’d love to see this thing go viral!

Apr 10

Feliz Diadeloso!

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Today, Baylor Bears celebrate a campus tradition that dates back (in some form or other) to the 1930s: a day off during the Spring semester to frolic, play, take a break from classes and in general enjoy the beauty of springtime in Waco. It’s been called many things throughout the years, but today it is Diadeloso (“day of the bear” in Spanish), and it is looked forward to with as much excitement and anticipation as Christmas break, Spring Break and graduation day.

As such, we are presenting this week a couple of Dia-related images from our collections, with light commentary and a focus on frivolity. We hope you’re enjoying your Spring day wherever you are, and if you’re reading this from campus: get out there and celebrate!

Map of Festivities, 1978


Dizzy Bats, Outdoor Movies and BBQ, 1971

Photos of 1971 Dia from the 1971 "Round Up."

Photos of 1971 Dia from the 1971 “Round Up.”


It Was 1984, After All!

"Big Bear Is Watching" from the 1984 "Round Up"

“Big Bear Is Watching” from the 1984 “Round Up”


Hey, It WAS the 70′s (1972)

Two-page spread on Diadeloso from the 1972 "Round Up."

Two-page spread on Diadeloso from the 1972 “Round Up.”


Multiple Fonts? Long Hair? Must Be The 1990s! (1993)

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Coverage of Dia ’93 from the 1993 Round Up

There’s a ton of additional Dia-related resources in our various Baylor-related collections, so click over and start your search. Just be warned: if you participated in Diadeloso from the 1970s to the present, there could be a photo of your college days floating around out there. Be prepared to defend your wardrobe choices as necessary.

Apr 04


For the past two semesters, the DPG has been working with Baylor University Museum Studies graduate student Hannah Haney Lovell on her graduate project, which involved adding a batch of new items to the Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music and enhancing them with recorded audio versions of those pieces. Last Friday, Hannah successfully defended her project in front of a group of her peers and the Museum Studies faculty, so we wanted to give a brief recap of her work here on our blog to celebrate!

Getting Started

Hannah came to me in the summer of 2013 after speaking with graduate adviser Dr. Julie Holcomb about what form Hannah’s final project for her master’s degree should take. After discussing several options, we settled on her working with the Spencer Collection in some capacity; given Hannah’s love of and background in music, it seemed like a natural fit. I agreed to serve as her project adviser, and she quickly set to work identifying materials to digitize as part of our ongoing work to digitize and catalog the sheet music from the Spencer Collection.

Hannah chose the subject area of Silent Movies as her starting point. Mrs. Spencer had assigned a large number of titles to this homegrown category, and the pieces included songs from actual movies as well as pieces inspired by movie stars, the social aspects of going to the movies and more. Hannah chose 155 items from the Silent Movies category and set about digitizing them on our newly-acquired CopiBook HD scanner. In fact, she was the first person to thoroughly utilize its scanning capabilities, as hers was the first project to get started up after it arrived in the RDC. (Thanks to Hannah for being a good sport/guinea pig for us!)

The Trouble With Scheduling

Digitizing the materials went smoothly, and Hannah generated a series of scans to be sent to our off-site music cataloging contractor, Flourish. Flourish takes the materials we send them and creates rich metadata files for us to add to the digital object once it’s ready for upload. Hannah incorporated Flourish’s metadata with her scans and added the 155 pieces to the Spencer Collection during the Fall 2013 semester.

All along, Hannah and I had planned on adding an audio component to her pieces that would enhance the user experience by giving them a tangible sample of what these pieces sounded like when performed by musicians and vocalists. Hannah spent many hours working to schedule performers from several student music performance groups who had volunteered to add their piano performances and/or vocal performances to the project, and we scheduled a recording session for a Monday night in late February.

The drawback to relying on undergraduate students – who are, by nature, a harried and … well, sometimes flaky bunch – is that they tend to need lots of corralling and getting them to stick to a plan is difficult. Unfortunately, through no fault of Hannah’s, the various performers who had committed to help with the recording process had to back out at the last minute; a rescheduled date for the following week met a similar untimely end.

Rather than get discouraged, Hannah came up with an alternative: using a music generation software called Finale, she would utilize the scans of the sheet music to create high-quality MIDI files of a subset of the collection. This would give users an example of the piano part and a computer-generated vocal line of the main melody, resulting in a very representative example of what the pieces sounded like without relying on human performers (and their tendencies to have busy lives, scheduling conflicts, etc.).

Ultimately, Hannah generated MIDI files for five pieces from her curated collection of scores, a remarkable turnaround in the last few days running up to her schedule defense date. The resulting pieces are listed below; the audio files are presented as MP3s within the structure of each score’s digital compound object.

Hannah’s project taught us a lot about enhancing our digital collections, including alternatives to live performances, selecting materials from a larger sample, and insights into how to utilize student labor to its best effect.

We extend our congratulations to Hannah on her successful completion of her project, and we’re thankful for the work she’s done for us over the past year. Click on the links below to hear the results of her labor, and let us know what you think of this new feature for our Spencer Collection!















At the 10 Cent Movie Show (1913)















Let’s Go Into a Picture Show (1909)















At the Moving Picture Ball (1920)














Take Me to the Movie Show (1919)















Take Your Girlie to the Movies (If You Can’t Make Love at Home) (1919)


Mar 20
Pictured: cognitive dissonance. From "The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago." 1920.

Pictured: cognitive dissonance. From “The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago.” 1920.


As anyone with a pulse will recall, this past week saw the annual celebration of all things Irish: St. Patrick’s Day. And like any culturally specific holiday, it was a rousing blend of traditional folklore, modern contrivance (everyone should drink green beer, just like the Real Irish People Do!) and a smattering of stereotyping. And while modern society has, for the most part, toned down its outright offensive tendencies on days like St. Paddy’s (or Patty’s – there’s actually an ongoing argument online about that one), it wasn’t that far back in our history that the very real plight of Irish Americans was portrayed in popular culture in a starkly different way.

While browsing our Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music earlier this week in pursuit of some new material for our Tumblr, Digitized and Randomized, I went straight to a set of results based on Mrs. Spencer’s category, “Ethnic-Irish.” I got more than 300 results, and they ran the gamut from patently offensive to heartbreaking and everything in between. And so I thought it would be fun to examine some of the more unusual pieces of music from the Irish category, especially those that feature Irish protagonists in strange situations.

How Did We Get Here?

Before we jump into our results, it’s worth a quick peek into the history of Irish Americans prior to the mid-1900s (the time when the pieces we’ll examine were all created). In the late 1800s, Irish immigration to America had seen hundreds of thousands of men, women and children arriving in the U.S. and swelling the ranks of established Irish neighborhoods in East Coast cities as well as strongholds in the South. As the poorest of all immigrant groups to arrive in the U.S. in the 19th century, they often took dangerous, low-paying jobs. Add to this fact a tendency for urban neighborhoods to be crowded, unsafe and unsanitary, and you began to see a rise in alcohol abuse and crime – two stereotypical traits assigned to Irish Americans in the popular culture of the day (as we’ll see below).

Other sources of “inspiration” for the pieces we’ll explore today include the long-standing (and often violent) split between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants; the alleged belligerence and/or violent tendencies of Irish men; the supposed moral and intellectual inferiority of the Irish; and the pervasive myth that the Irish are perpetually inebriated. As composers of the early 20th century set pen to paper in the pursuit of filling the American public’s insatiable appetite for musical entertainment, they kept these “facts” and half-truths about Irish Americans in mind, spawning pieces that drew on Irish Americans’ fond remembrances of their native culture (example) to anti-Irish sentiment (example).

An Irish Pharoah?

But understanding pro- and anti-Irish sentiment is a relatively easy task compared to puzzling out the meanings behind our featured pieces for this week’s post. They are loosely gathered around a pair of themes: the Irish protagonist in an unfamiliar setting and/or the presence of Irish where audiences wouldn’t expect to find it, like our first piece: The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago.

"The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago" by Chris Smith. 1920.

“The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago” by Chris Smith. 1920.


The visuals on this piece are particularly striking, with a typical desert scene set before the pyramids mixed with the cognitive dissonance of a repeated shamrock motif on the throne of an Egyptian queen. The central conceit for this piece is that the narrator has deciphered a startling fact from the “weird and cryptic” writings found “upon the tombs that dot Sahara’s sands”: the Irish were Egyptians long ago – “Just read between the lines and you will know.”

The “proof” of their ancient Egyptian heritage is given as the fact that the pyramids were built by manual labor (“It must have been the Irish who build the Pyramids / For no one else could carry up the bricks”); the Nile was dug by a tough, brave man (“For no one but an Irishman would fight a crocodile”); and the drovers of desert caravans had to have been named Houlihan, Mac or O.

This piece achieves a strange blend of whimsy (adding shamrocks to a typical Egyptian scene) and humor with negative stereotyping of not one but two cultures. This two-front offensive is also evident in our next piece, Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney.

"Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney," by Theodore Morse and Jack Drislane. 1907.

“Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney,” by Theodore Morse and Jack Drislane. 1907.


Another “humorous” piece that trades on the unexpected mashup of two traditionally oppressed and/or caricatured cultures, this piece details the chaos that naturally followed when an Indian princess (Arrah Wanna) marries an Irishman named Barney Carney. It seems all it took to completely disrupt Native American culture (at least as the stereotypes would have it) was for one woman to marry a man from Erin, as evidenced by such strange occurrences as:

- “[n]o more do the Indians put paint upon their face”

- “The tom-toms play the ‘Wearing of the Green’”

- “The wigwams are full of Irish Blarney”

- “The Pipe of Peace is made of Irish clay”

There are more, but you get the picture. The introduction of an outsider of Irish origin upsetting the local culture (or attempting to assimilate into it in unexpected, humorous ways) will be repeated in our remaining pieces, each with the theme of romantic interest as a primary motivator. Up next is our final example of an Irishman falling under the guile of a “foreign” culture: O’Brien is Tryin’ To Learn To Talk Hawaiian.

"O'Brien Is Tryin' To Learn To Talk Hawaiian" by J. Rennie Cormack. 1916.

“O’Brien Is Tryin’ To Learn To Talk Hawaiian” by J. Rennie Cormack. 1916.


Here, a hapless tourist from Ireland arrives in the Sandwich Isles (the name given to the Hawaiian Islands by Capt. Cook in the 1700s) and discovers the native women to be of such beauty that he instantly forgets his wife at home in the presence of a “lovely Hula dancer down beside Hawaii Bay.” Pat O’Brien, our protagonist, is revealed to be a skilled performer in his own right (“He won Bridget, Kate and Mary by singing ‘Tipperary’ / And he’ll win his Lulu too”) who is so moved by the girls’ beauty that he attempts to learn her native tongue, to hilarious results. In addition to being a standard “man falls in love with beguiling, exotic beauty” tale, there’s also the opportunity for lyricist Al Dubin to mock the languages of both Ireland and Hawaii, as in this tongue-twisting passage:

He’s sighin’ and cryin’ and all the time he’s tryin’
Just to say “I love you true”
With his “Arrah Yaka Hula Begorra Hick Dula”
And his Irish “Jiji Boo”

We never learn if this would-be suitor succeeds in his philandering pursuits, but we’ll leave him at his studies (“Hawaiian’s hard to get with an Irish alphabet”) and shift our attention to two pieces where the object of the narrator’s affection is a woman of Irish heritage. The first is set in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and bears the title Santiago Flynn.

"Santiago Flynn: A Spanish-Irish Episode" by Theodore F. Morse and Edward Madden. 1908.

“Santiago Flynn: A Spanish-Irish Episode” by Theodore F. Morse and Edward Madden. 1908.


This piece relates a tale of two would-be lovers: Santiago Flynn (“He dressed like a Spanish grandee / He rode on a pony thin”) and an Irish Rose who lived on a nearby plantation. Though Rose liked the cut of Santiago’s jib (“She cried, ‘You’re a hot tamale’”), she regrets that she can only marry a man from Ireland. And then, to our surprise (SPOILER ALERT!), Santiago reveals his secret:

“He jumped in a wild fandango
He cried with an Irish grin
‘Tho born underneath the Mano
My father was Paddy Flynn’

And so was Santiago able to gain access to his lover’s abode (“She cried ‘Come in, Mister Flynn / I’ll never say again’”) and all ends well for our protagonist. It should be noted that this piece uses a particularly unpleasant slur used in reference to Santiago’s outward appearance, so be ready if you click over to read the lyrics in full.

Our last piece combines the exotic (an Egyptian setting) with the romantic, the stereotypical and the allure of an Irish woman’s beauty, all under a ridiculous title: Cleopatricola.

"Cleopatricola (Cleo-patrick-ola" by Jean Schwartz and Alfred Bryan. 1920.

“Cleopatricola (Cleo-patrick-ola” by Jean Schwartz and Alfred Bryan. 1920.


This piece comes closest to embodying all of the elements we’ve discussed so far into one semi-coherent package. Rather than post excerpts of the lyrics, I’m choosing to reproduce them in full:

Once I took a camel ride
Far across the desert wide
Met a maiden way down by the Nile
As I sat down by her side
Her entrancing form I spied

Then she gave me a sweet Irish smile
She told me that she was born in Erin
Cleopatricola was her name
Mighty soon my love I was declarin’
I spoke these words and set her heart aflame

Cleopatricola Cleopatricola
tell me what to do
By my heart and soul O Cleopatricola
I’m in love with you

There I found my Shamrock in Sahara
By the River Nile so fresh and green
Cleopatricola Patricola,
My Egyptian Colleen

As the sun was going down
We went down to Cairo town
Met King Pharaoh and all of his crew
First we read the Rubaiyat
Then we had a little chat
Played Casino with Pharoah till two

She told me that she was “jipt” in Egypt
And that King Rameses was the blame
He told her she’d be a queen of Sheba
And spoke those very words before I came
(Repeat CHORUS)

This one’s got it all: a fish-out-of-water, a besotted suitor, a jilted lover, Irish motifs (the shamrock), local flair (Casino and the Rubaiyat) and Irish slang (referring to Irish women as Colleens). Add that to what I consider the best example of cover art of the pieces we’ve examined today – she looks like an Egyptian princess by way of Zelda Fitzgerald – and you have a winner in the category of Wait, Did I Seriously Just Read A Song About An Irish Person Doing WHAT?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lighthearted look at some of the stranger pieces from our Irish subcategory in the Spencer Collection. There are no end of interesting pieces in the Spencer Collection, and we’ll be taking a look at them again from time to time. ‘Til then, if you find any fun examples of cross-cultural curiosity, send us a tip at See you next week!

For more examples of Irish-themed sheet music in the Spencer Collection, click here. Special thanks to our friends at the Crouch Fine Arts Library for the partnership that brings the Spencer Collection to you via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!

Mar 13

Since this week is Spring Break here on the beautiful campus of Baylor University, we’re not going to post a full-on blog today. Instead, we hope you’ll enjoy two “spring cleaning” items of note!

1. We changed the look of our site to give it a fresh appearance for a new season. We’ve been at this whole “blogging about digital collections” thing since 2011, and a revamp to the site’s layout was definitely in order. If you see anything odd with your display, functionality or otherwise, let us know! Just shoot us an email at digitalcollectionsinfo[at]baylor[dot]edu.

2. After we announced our new Architecture Collection last week, we thought it’d be fun to periodically add digitally enhanced content to our various social media platforms, so this week we’re adding a revised version of an elevation for the McLennan County courthouse. This was an early version of J. Riely Gordon’s plans for the courthouse; this sheet is virtually identical to plans he’d drafted for the capitol of the state of Mississippi. Though his plans for Mississippi were not accepted, he was able to use a modified version of them to create our county courthouse in 1902.

McLennan County Courthouse, J. Riely Gordon, architect. Ca. 1901. Unretouched elevation of original proposed structure.

McLennan County Courthouse, J. Riely Gordon, architect. Ca. 1901. Unretouched elevation of original proposed structure.

Digitally enhanced image of courthouse plan.

Digitally enhanced image of courthouse plan.



Thanks for reading, and be sure to spread the word to friends, family, colleagues, strangers on the street, or anyone else you think would be interested in the work we’re doing for the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!