The Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog

Aug 28

We focus a lot – for obvious reasons – on the audio found in the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, but sometimes the associated ephemera can sing a song that’s just as evocative of black gospel culture as any cover of “Old Ship of Zion.” This week, we added eight new posters advertising gospel concerts in and around Durham, N.C. to the collection, all of which date to the late 1970s. They were pulled off of telephone poles after the concerts had come and gone by Kerrill Rubman, a collector and scholar of black gospel music currently living in Canada. She graciously donated the posters – along with numerous albums, cassette tapes, 45s and assorted materials – to the project and we are excited to give our readers a closer look at these technicolor wonders.

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All You Can Eat $? and Adv[anced] Tickets at usual places

These two posters are similar enough in both layout and content – with several acts like the Swanee Quartet, Hi-Way QC’s of Chicago and the Brooklyn All-Stars reusing the exact same photo in each poster – that it’s likely they came from the same summer tour of North Carolina. We’re undecided if the lack of a specific price for the All You Can Eat dinner is due to a.) organizers really not knowing how much they plan to charge or b.) organizers trying to encourage more attendance by keeping it a mystery. Either way, $? is a great piece of typography and should be used at every possible opportunity as far as I’m concerned.

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Miss Gospel Queen and A Money Tree

These posters appear to be from the same tour as well: the general proximity of dates in the fall of 1977 along with the use of the same color treatment for the posters’ background would seem to bear that out. But the major differences in tour personnel and the presence of a sponsoring institution on the Durham poster – the Bell Yeager Baptist Church – lead me to believe the only things tying these two posters together are a place in time and a surfeit of tri-colored paper stock. The fact that both posters were produced by the Benton Card Co. of Benson, N.C. certainly has something to do with that.

Two major elements of southern society – not necessarily exclusive to African American culture – shown here are the crowning of a Miss Gospel Queen and the awarding of a “money tree” to one lucky concertgoer. Southerners love crowning queens at public events, be they football games, parades, carnivals, festivals or itinerant gospel concerts. The tradition of a money tree, which is most frequently seen at weddings in modern times, consists of a bouquet or other floral-themed display of paper money, usually in small denominations, that is presented to someone celebrating a major event.

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Shirley Caesar’s Crusade Convention and The Gospel “Mr. Clean”

While we only know the exact date of the concert advertised by the poster on the right, it is reasonable to assume that the poster on the left – which features a similar paper stock, is also from Durham and also highlights a performance by Shirley Caesar – advertised a concert in 1977. (A quick check of what years in the late 70′s had October 10th on a Monday via this site confirms this.) Another point of interest is the inclusion of Reverend Richard “Mr. Clean” White on three nights.

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Lady With Largest Hat and A Glaring Punctuation Problem

This one is arguably my favorite of the bunch. Not only do we get a pretty heinous punctuation error in the title of the headliner’s new album, but we take up a pretty significant portion of the poster’s real estate to advertise a prize for the Lady With [the] Largest Hat. (Incidentally, “Lady With Largest Hat” would make an excellent band name.) The title’s pretty great, too – “Look Who’s Coming to Greensboro!” – and the overall balance of the typography over the striated background is really well done.

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We hope to add more items like this to our Black Gospel Music Restoration Project in the future, so stay tuned. And if you have anything to contribute to the project – including materials, monetary support or simply background info on an artist found in the collection – email us at digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu.

 
 
Aug 25

If you visited our homepage, say, any time prior to earlier this morning, it would have looked like this:

RIP our old homepage (2012-2014)

RIP our old homepage (2012-2014)

 

Serviceable, effective, longer than a 4:00 PM Friday staff meeting: you remember how that felt, right? Well, we’re proud to announce that, as of today, the homepage has gotten a much-needed refresh!

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Thanks to the combined efforts of a team from the Digital Projects Group and the Electronic Library’s Instructional Technology team, we have an “above the fold,” streamlined homepage to replace its endless-scrolling predecessor. Let’s take a moment to unpack some of the new features you’ll find next time you visit the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!

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1. A rotating slideshow of highlights from the collections. Right now, it points to five collections we think would be of high interest to casual visitors, but we’ll be updating it when we add new resources or reach milestones with our collections. Click on an image to open that collection or use the dots at the bottom (or the arrows at left or right) to scroll through.

2. One of the biggest new features is what we’re calling our “institutional landing pages” – newly created pages scoped to present only materials from their source collection. Want to see all the digital collections from the Crouch Fine Arts Library? Just click its name and you’ll see this:

The CFAL Landing Page.

The CFAL Landing Page.

This page contains some basic info about the source library, a list of collection highlights, links to the library’s website and a listing of all the collections in the Digital Collections that come from that library. It’s a convenient way for the special collections and our other partners to direct their patrons directly to materials found only in their physical holdings, and it’s the big reason we’re able to eliminate the long list of collections on the homepage. (Note: you can still see that list by clicking on “Browse All Items” on the new homepage. This will take you to the long, scroll-heavy list that was the homepage before the update.)

3. Quick links to our social media outlets. Now you can connect with our Twitter, blog, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr feeds right from the homepage with a single click. We’ve also added a new Social Media page to the homepage and each institutional landing page (in the gray navigation bar up top).

4. These quick-look icons give users a one-click entry into some of our most popular searches: locating materials by item type. Want to see all the newspapers in the collections? Click the icon. Hear all the audio? Click the icon. View every post? You know what to do. For casual users or people with limited familiarity with the Digital Collections, these fast-links are a fun way to explore the collections without performing more complex, focused searches.

5. Actually, this text didn’t change at all. It was completely copied over from the old homepage. But it is in a gray box now, so that’s something new!

You’ll also notice that the new homepage features the official Baylor University-sanctioned header and footer, something we were unable to do easily under the old design.

We want to give a big shout-out to our colleagues from the Instructional Technology team – David Taylor and, especially, Karen Savage – for their invaluable help on this. Having Karen’s programming expertise on board meant I could focus on things like lining up content for the page, creating icons, organizing and creating the new institutional landing pages (using Karen’s code for the homepage) and doing the requisite bug testing and grammar/spelling/punctuation checks that have to happen on projects like this.

We’re very pleased with the new look, but we want to hear what you think! Take some time to click around on the new pages, explore them, try some searches and tell us if you see something you like/love/don’t like/doesn’t work, etc. We expect something to be a little off somewhere – there always is when you launch something with as many changes as this update represents – so put those searching and sleuthing skills to work.

We hope you enjoy the new homepage as much as we do, and thanks for being part of the Digital Collections environment. We look forward to continuing to bring you amazing new content, rich contextual information and unparalleled access to the unique library and archival holdings of Baylor University for years to come.

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OH, and it stands to reason that, since this is technically a completed project, we must FIRE THE CANNON!

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Aug 07
"A Graphic Story of The Boom, The Crash and The Recovery of American Business, 1912-1936" by W.K. Cadman ca. 1936

“A Graphic Story of The Boom, The Crash and The Recovery of American Business, 1912-1936″ by W.K. Cadman ca. 1936

From time to time, materials cross our desks that we just don’t have much information on, and we like to turn to you, our readers, for  help. The above image is one such example, and we hope there’s at least one of you out there who could help us shed a little light on this mystery graphic from the mid-1930s.

The Facts As We Know Them

Here’s what we know about this item:

  • It was created circa 1936 by an artist named W.K. Cadman.
  • It offers a very detailed examination of the ups and downs of the American economy for a 20-year period dating from before World War I to the mid-Depression years.
  • It is not an unbiased examination of the facts. It skewers Republican Herbert Hoover’s claim that his administration’s policies would put a “chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” by switching the verbiage to claim that after the 1929 stock market crash, there were “two cars going to pot and the chickens [were] in the garage.” This leads us to believe the graphic was distributed by or at least commissioned based on the ideals of the Democratic Party.
  • It was donated to the W.R. Poage Legislative Library as part of the papers of Caso March, a Baylor alumnus and three-time candidate for Texas governor (1946, 1948, 1950). In the 1930s, March was an attorney for the Federal Power Commission and a member of the Supreme Court of Texas.
  • Its size and general appearance lead us to believe it was either an insert in or was a supplemental to a newspaper.

And that’s about the sum total of what we know for sure. You can find a little more info on Caso March at his collection’s page on the Poage website, and you can see a higher resolution version of the image in our Historic Newspapers collection.

If you have more information on this piece or could point us to someone who does, drop us a line at digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu or leave us a comment below!

 

Jul 24

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G.W. Truett's signature from a letter dated January 3, 1942. Digital image from an original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, TX

G.W. Truett’s signature from a letter dated January 3, 1942. Digital image from an original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, TX

 

If you’re a loyal reader of this blog, you’ll no doubt remember that we’ve been talking about the George W. Truett Sermons project for quite some time. From their original arrival in late 2012 to an exploration of the story behind their original recording and broadcast via a Mexican “border blaster” radio station, we’ve documented these amazing discs’ life from creation to long-term preservation and 21st century access. On a personal level, I have invested hundreds of hours in the creation of metadata, transcripts, images and digital archival objects for this collection, so it comes as a big point of personal and professional pride to announce that the project is officially complete! (FIRE THE CANNON!)

The project (which also includes 26 commercially produced albums released by Word Records in 1966) presents the largest known collection of Dr. Truett’s unedited sermons in a single source, with a major emphasis on the final years of his life, 1941-1943. Users can now listen to the original audio, view images of the 16″ radio transcription discs, read full transcripts and explore the enduring genius of Dr. Truett’s messages all in one simple interface. The amount of metadata associated with each sermon, as well as the presence of full-text transcriptions, means greater discoverability via online search engines like Google and Yahoo!, making it more likely that these priceless resources will find their way into the hearts and minds of researchers, seekers and the curious alike for generations.

 

By The Numbers

* 66 total sermons (57 full sermons, 9 sermon segments)

* 258,359 total words generated during transcription process

* 33 hours of audio content

* 74 major Scriptures referenced (39 from the Old Testament, 35 from the New Testament

 

Interesting Findings

- Dr. Truett most frequently cited from the books of 2 Chronicles, the Psalms, 1 Corinthians, Romans and the Gospel of Luke. His most frequently cited passage overall was a three-way tie between 2 Chronicles 29:27, Psalm 43 and Romans 8:28.

- The sermons are loaded with quotations from sources named (John Bunyan, David Livingstone, Martin Luther, John Wesley, William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt, to name but a few) and unnamed (Oscar Wilde’s definition of the word “cynic” is cited at least twice without his being named the source). Dr. Truett also frequently quotes poetry and the lyrics to hymns, most often without naming their author or lyricist. Whether this was a simple omission or the result of an assumption on his part that his audience would be familiar with the source of these words is unclear.

- Three voices other than Dr. Truett’s are heard in the course of the recordings:

  • “Brother Coleman,” assumed to be either an associate minister or perhaps a lay reader, delivers a prayer in the sermon titled, “Prayer and Personal Witness for Christ” on March 31, 1941.
  • Several sermons capture brief moments of singing at the conclusion of the recording, and we are presented of the dual treats of the First Baptist Choir and organist, as well as Dr. Truett’s enthusiastic vocal stylings.
  • Throughout the sermons, at times of particular emphasis or emotion, we hear an unidentified man utter a heartfelt, “Amen!” His voice is deep and reverential, at times almost mournful. Because of the clarity of his voice in the recordings, it is assumed that he is an associate pastor or some other member of the church staff with a seat very near to the pulpit. Though he never offers more than his simple statement of agreement, his voice is as indelibly a part of these sermons’ fabric as that of Dr. Truett himself.

- There are two separate sermons, delivered a little more than a year apart, in which Dr. Truett cites “reports” that the wives of poor farmers make up the largest proportions of populations in insane asylums “than any other group in the country.” He blames this sad condition on the fact that these women lead lives of dull monotony, with the daily routines of farm living providing no hope or encouragement but plenty of hardship, so much so that a complete mental breakdown was all but inevitable.

I was able to trace this story back to a widespread assertion made by several reform-minded speakers in the early 19th century, but the claim was debunked by a Dr. George W. Groff (director of a sanitarium) whose report to the 1909 annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Board of Agriculture rebutted these rumors with specific statistics and the opinion of a professional in the field. It is interesting to see how, even thirty years later, those rumors were still being presented as truth by even educated men like Dr. Truett.

These are just a few of the interesting items I came across in the two years our team spent creating this collection, but there are no doubt many, many more hidden gems, major revelations and eye-opening statements to be found. We encourage you to dig deep and find your own, and please drop us a line (digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu) with anything you think should be highlighted in this blog, on our social media sites or elsewhere.

We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering this collection as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it, and we welcome your feedback at any time. And if the mood strikes, please share this post – or our other social media outlets – with anyone you think would be interested in this collection. We want to ensure it gets the kind of exposure it deserves, a goal that Dr. Truett would surely agree is a “worthy ambition.”


You can access the full George W. Truett Sermons Collection here, and be sure to follow the @GWTruettSermons Twitter stream for twice-weekly excerpts from the collection. A special thanks to our friends at the Crouch Fine Arts Library and The Texas Collection for their contributions to this project.

Jul 02

On October 28, 1897, a new publication released its first issue, and it would go on to influence thousands of lives in the Baptist world over the course of decades. Today, we are adding the first installment of three decades’ worth of The Baptist Argus (later The Baptist World) to our digital collections. In this blog post, we’ll introduce the collection and look at a few key instances of coverage given to the goings on at Baylor University (and our sister institution, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, or Baylor Female College) from 1897 to 1911. Later, we’ll blog about the years 1912-1923.

Before we get too far along, we want to give our thanks to the fine people at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for their partnership in this project. It is their physical copies of The Baptist Argus that we are digitizing for this digital archive, and their partnership and patience with the process are greatly appreciated.

A Voice for Baptists

The Baptist Argus began publication in Louisville, Kentucky in fall of 1897. It featured a blend of news coverage, biographical sketches, prayers and a continuously updated listing of preachers and their new (or former) appointments. The front page of each issue almost always featured a woodcut illustration of a major Baptist luminary.

"The Baptist Argus," Vol. 1, No. 1 - March 28, 1897.

“The Baptist Argus,” Vol. 1, No. 1 – March 28, 1897.

In 1909, the Argus changed its name to The Baptist World. The new name came with a new motto as well, changing from “Watch and Pray” to “Christ for the World, the World for Christ.” Though the layout and content would remain the same, the new emphasis on global church affairs would have greater resonance as the world entered into a state of global conflict in 1914.

We think this resource will provide rich insight into the development of late 19th- and early 20th-century southern Baptists, in particular, the importance of the church’s influence on world affairs. But of interest to historians of Texas Baptist history, it’s the look at developments related to Baylor, Mary Hardin-Baylor and associated institutions (like Waco’s First Baptist Church) that we think will be most valuable.

Baylor in the Argus

Here are just a few of the earliest mentions of Baylor University and some of its big names from the pages of The Baptist Argus. Click on the links to access the full issue for more information.

  • Baylor University has a new department – Correspondence instruction. Prof. John T. Tanner will have charge. (November 25, 1897)
  • Dr. J.M. Carroll has resigned at Baylor Female College to re-enter the pastorate. (January 6, 1898)
  • The Texas Educational Commission arranged the basis of union as follows: Baylor University is to be really a university, and the others preparatory schools of high grade. (March 17, 1898)
  • Baylor University has secured Rev. J.W. Staton as Ministerial Education Agent (March 31, 1898)
  • Baylor College Alumni elected Rev. H.C. Gleiss President (June 23, 1898)

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In Part II of this topic (which will come when we add the years 1912-1923), we’ll conclude our look at The Baptist Argus/The Baptist World as it looked in that time. We encourage you to explore The Baptist Argus collection and tell us about the treasures you unearth there. We hope you’ll agree that it’s got tons of potential, and we’re proud to host its digital presence on the Web. You’ll find it nowhere else but the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!