The Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog

Dec 18

 

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Image from the December 14, 1911 edition of “The Baptist World” and a clue to the first blog post of 2015!

 

Well, folks, we’ve come to the end of another year of pixels, projects and professional musings here at the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog. And after three years of weekly blog posts, we are excited to report that 2014 was our biggest ever, with 7,591 unique users accessing the blog more than 9,000 times since January 1! (For the record, the most popular post for 2013 was Twilight of an Icon: Floyd Casey Stadium in Transition. Re-read it and remember why!)

When you add in the fact that we are now at 225 Facebook users and 3,994 followers on Tumblr, it’s easy to see why we’re excited about the way this year progressed for us. But we simply could not have done this without you, our blog readers, and for that, we are very thankful.

So, this week’s message is brief. We want to thank you all for your support, for spreading the word about our projects and for being our online advocates for the work we’re doing to promote the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections. We look forward to continuing to provide unparalleled excellence in digital collections, contextual information and scholarly outreach in the coming year.

 

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Christmas cheer, personified.

 

Dec 11

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By now, you’ve likely heard of the NPR-based podcast Serial, a weekly serialization of an investigation into a 1999 murder case in Baltimore, Maryland. Journalist Sarah Koenig narrates the This American Life spinoff that has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning hotly contested activity across the Internet (most notoriously on a very active subreddit) and its own meta-podcasts where people dissect the way the original podcast was created. It is endlessly listenable, and highly worth your time. At its heart is the human need to dive into a complex story where no one is a clear-cut hero, and only the victim is easily identified.

Inspired by this 21st century investigation into a 20th century crime, I decided to launch an investigation of my own into something documented in the pages of The Lariat, our campus newspaper. It comes from the December 8, 1988 edition, and it deals with a sneak attack by an entity (or entities?) known as Pie Man. Obviously, it’s not nearly as serious as the topic covered by Serial, but it has enough mystery, late-1980’s flair and lingering questions that I thought it would be fun to see what we can discover about a spate of dessert-based sneak attacks that plagued the campus in the waning years of the Reagan administration. (Potential spoiler: President Reagan visited campus in September 1988, the first event held at the Ferrell Center. The event outlined below took place in December 1988. Coincidence? [Probably.])

Our latest edition of the “Sound in Collections” podcast explores the Pie Man saga in the instantly familiar tone of an episode of Serial. We hope you’ll enjoy it – and that Sarah Koenig, Ira Glass et al. will see it with the obvious love and respect with which it was created. Enjoy!

Click Play in the window below to play the episode, or click the down arrow to download the MP3.

Additional Resources

The Original Story

The best documentation of the “Pie Man” saga comes via a story in The Lariat written by reporter Preston Smith. We’ll reproduce it here verbatim so you get a full sense of the magnitude of the events in question.

Pie Man hits man in class

By Preston Smith, Lariat Reporter

A man entered a class in the Hankamer School of Business at about 11:15 a.m. Wednesday and struck a student in the face with a pie, Chris Colihan, a student in the class said.

The man had long, black curly hair and was wearing a concert T-shirt.

The institution of the Pie Man was assumed over when Baylor police apprehended him in a sting operation earlier in the semester.

Colihan said he was in Professor Leslie Rasner’s Business Law 3305 class when he heard the door to the class open. He said the assailant came into the room, shouted an expletive at a student, hit him in the face with a pie and then ran out of the room.

Jim Wyatt, the student who fell victim to the new Pie Man, said that the incident happened so fast he never saw his attacker.

“I was just sitting in class looking at my notes when I heard this guy say ‘hey’ and then I looked up into a pie,” he said.

Wyatt said the pie was all over his face and glasses, so he went to the restroom to clean up.

Witnesses said the class was laughing about the incident when Wyatt left the room, but the Pie Man would soon strike again.

When Wyatt went to the restroom, he still could not see because of the cream covering his face, so he was not ready for the Pie Men waiting for him in the bathroom.

The assailants struck him with several more pies, but he still never saw the attackers, he said.

Rasner said Wyatt came back into the room and said, “There was more of them in the bathroom.” Wyatt was completely covered in pie cream, he said.

At this point, several students ran to the bathroom to catch the pie men but found the bathroom empty. Wyatt gathered his books and went home, Rasner said.

The class was just beginning to settle when the Pie Man made a third appearance.

The class heard running in the hall, and then the Pie Man opened the door, stuck his head into the class, and yelled, “Hey Gina, you’re next,” Rasner said. Students in the class immediately ran out the door in pursuit of the man, he said.

Steven Spoonemore, a student who chased the Pie Man, said the assailant was already out of the building when he entered the hall. Spoonemore and the other students ran out separate doors to the outside of the building and saw the Pie Man running to a get-away car parked behind the business school.

Spoonemore chased the Pie Man to the other side of the car. The Pie Man shouted at the girl driving the car to “move over” and then got into the driver’s seat of the car, Spoonemore said.

Spoonemore said that Larry Vasbinder, another student involved in the chase, was trying to get into the passenger side of the car, while he forced his way into the driver’s seat with the Pie Man.

“I jumped into the car and turned it off twice, but I wasn’t able to get the keys out of the ignition,” he said.

Spoonemore said the Pie Man was screaming at him, and the woman in the car was screaming at him and hitting him.

Chris Moseley, another witness to the incident, said Spoonemore stayed in the car until it ran a stop sign at about 20 mph. He then pushed himself out of the car and rolled several times on the street.

After the episode, students had mixed reactions to the Pie Man. Wyatt, who said he had “no idea” who was behind the plot, brushed the incident off as a joke.

“I’m kind of laughing about it now,” he said. “It tasted pretty good anyway.”

Gina Gee, the woman whom the Pie Man threatened in class, said, “It really upset me. I have no connection with the guy who got it in the first place.”

Rasner had stronger feelings on the Pie Man. “If I had a deadly weapon I would use it in my defense,” Rasner said. “It is embarrassing. It is degrading. This just should not go on in a university – it is past a joke.”

The Baylor Department of Public Safety was contacted on the incident but the director could not be reached for comment.

A Timeline of the Events of Fall 1988, the “Autumn of Pie Man”

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Read All Issues of the Lariat with “Pie Man” Related Content

 

 

Dec 05

One of the great privileges afforded by my work with our digital collections is the opportunity I’ve earned to teach some of Baylor’s finest graduate students from the Department of Museum Studies. Over the past three years, I’ve taught several courses on technology, marketing, historic preservation and digital archival management, and I can say that it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.

Following the success of a combined technology/marketing course first offered in the Spring 2013 semester, I worked with the MST department and my excellent supervisory chain in the libraries to split that coursework into two new courses: Archival Technology and Digital Collections Management (Fall 2014) and Outreach and Community Relations (Spring 2015).

For the Archival Technology course this semester (which was limited to second-year students only), their capstone project was to create a new digital exhibit using curated materials from our Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music. In this post, I’m excited to reveal the excellent work they’ve done, and to encourage you to check out their insights into four themes that interweave the collection: dance, humor, love and war.

Each student chose their own pieces from the more than 5,600 pieces in the digital collection that illustrated their assigned themes. They chose the WordPress templates and plugins they felt best displayed their work, and the contextual research they conducted helped make the topic more relatable and enhanced users’ engagement with the items from the collection. In short, they had total editorial and creative control on their exhibits, and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Without further ado, I present the capstone projects of MST 5327: Archival Technology and Digital Archival Management!

Click the image of each project’s homepage to access the exhibit.


Let’s Dance! Dance in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Popular Sheet Music (Jennifer Browder)

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Humor in Music of the Early 20th Century (Becca Reynolds)

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American Diversity and Love in Early 20th Century Popular Music (Raquel Gibson)

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Masculinity and Music in Turn of the Century America: An Examination of the Spencer Music Library (Erik Swanson)

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Big thanks to Becca, Erik, Jennifer and Raquel for their outstanding work this semester. You can learn more about the Baylor University Department of Museum Studies at their website or on Facebook

Nov 20

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Dear Mr. Rucker,

Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are the Digital Projects Group, five dedicated professionals in the world of digital collections in academia, specifically Baylor University in Waco, Texas. You probably don’t know who we are, but we know you’re familiar with Baylor: you and your buddies in Hootie and the Blowfish played a huge concert here in 2005, as evidenced by this photo and article from our campus newspaper, the Baylor Lariat:

Vintage you (and your buddies) from the December 1, 2005 "Lariat"

Vintage you (and your buddies) from the December 1, 2005 “Lariat”

But we’re not writing today to relive the glory days of Waco’s early 2000s music scene. Our goal is to pique your interest in our Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, about which we’ve written extensively on this blog, and you may have seen featured on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and in various publications across the country. It’s even going to be a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open on the National Mall in 2016.

The reason we see this as something that might be of interest actually harkens back to a bonus track featured on the Blowfishes’ seminal 1994 album Cracked Rear View. Tucked away at the end is a beautiful a cappella rendition of the traditional Negro spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. We know YOU know what that sounded like, but for our readers who may not have experienced it yet, here’s a version from YouTube.

It’s impossible to say just how much emotion, history and tradition are embodied in that 54-second clip. According to Wikipedia, this particular song dates back to as late as the 1870s, with an early documented version showing up in 1899. It has particular resonance for African Americans given its ties to the destructive era of slavery in our country, but it also holds universal appeal to anyone who’s felt alone, lost and without a destination beyond the hoped-for “home” beyond this earthly life.

Our Black Gospel Music Restoration Project contains a dozen different versions of this song performed by artists ranging from Willa Dorsey to the Singing Stars of Louisburg, North Carolina (a short five-hour drive up the road from your native Charleston, South Carolina, as the map below indicates).

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In case you were interested in a road trip!

Of all the versions of that song to be found in the BGMRP, we are partial to the one recorded by the Malcom Dobbs Singers ca. 1963 for their album Great Spirituals. It is spare – only vocals, a timpano and an ethereal organ – but it contains a world of emotion, and it builds to a satisfying payoff of grandness tinged with sorrow. Take a listen below.


(Copyright RCA Camden, all rights reserved. See the full item in our Digital Collection for more information.)

Whichever version you prefer, it’s obvious to us that you felt a connection to this song, and we wanted to take a moment to point out its prominence in a collection we are very proud of. We hope you’re able to discover a new version you hadn’t heard before, and we hope our collection helps further your love of American gospel music.

We’re certainly not asking for anything on your part – you can consider this a publicly available version of an FYI – but if you were to, say, offer to come back to Waco and grace us with a concert of your favorite gospel-inspired songs, we certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that. (But seriously, if you want to talk, drop us an email: digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu.)

Best wishes on a successful tour of the UK!

Your friends in the Baylor University Digital Projects Group


This post is part of a series of Open Letters to musicians, authors and others that we hope will connect our collections to prominent people in America. If you have someone to suggest, or if you’re the subject of this post and want to drop us a line, send us an email (digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu).

For more information on Darius Rucker’s music, including available discs, upcoming shows and info on his latest release of Christmas music called Home for the Holidays, visit his website.

Nov 13

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After three years of weekly content, we’re more than 150 posts into this whole “blogging about digital collections” thing, and we’ve been uniformly pleased with the response we get from you, our dedicated readers. But sometimes we forget that blogging is a two-way street, and as a result, we don’t always do enough to thank and involve you in the process. So we’re taking this opportunity on the three-year anniversary of our first post to ask a simple question:

What do you want us to blog about?

That’s a lot of pressure, sure, and we’re not asking you to plot out 52 weeks’ worth of content or anything, but we’d like your ideas for things you’d like us to explore here on the virtual pages of our blog.

Tell us what you’d like us to explore, and we’ll put it into the hopper for upcoming post ideas, and we’ll even cite you as the inspiration! As a general rule, we tend to put our posts into one of a couple of categories:

Specific collection insights: Want to know how a certain collection came into being? How about the background of a collection’s namesake collector?

Item spotlights: Did you find a single item that you’re just dying to know more about?

Long reads (opinions): Curious as to what we think about digital collections curation, management, creation or even favorite foods?

Humor: Subjective, of course, but we do like to write things that elicit the occasional chuckle, chortle, guffaw or snort.

So if you’ve got something you want to see explored in-depth here on the blog, leave us a comment or send us an email at digitalcollections@baylor.edu. We’re excited to see what you come up with!

A Little Inspiration

In case you wanted to relive some highlights of the past three years of blog content, we put together a little list that may help jump start your creative juices. Happy (re)reading!

First postSemper (Hi-)Fi: Marine Corps Command and Staff College Utilizes High-Resolution Images from Digitization Projects Group for Officer Training

Most popular post: “So We Can Throw These Out Now, Right?”: What We Learned From Microfilming Newspapers and How It Shapes Our Digitization Strategy

Second most popular post: In A Time Of Uncertainty, The Pursuit of Permanence Reinforced

Post most in need of some extra love: “Female Education: Address Delivered at the Annual Examination of the Baylor University by Col. William P. Rogers”

Most recent post: Revisiting a “Miracle” 40 Years Later: The Baylor vs. UT Game, 1974


Image based on ballot for Campus Queen from the April 20, 1926 issue of the Baylor Lariat

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