The Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog

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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Oct 31
The scoreboard at the conclusion of the 1974 Baylor vs. UT game

The scoreboard at the conclusion of the 1974 Baylor vs. UT game

This year marks a major milestone in the history of the Baylor Bears football team: the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle on the Brazos,” a stunning victory over the University of Texas on November 9, 1974. In celebration of that fact, legendary head coach Grant Teaff is hosting a reunion of the 1974 team on Friday night that coincides with Homecoming 2014 celebrations, and we’ve been working around the clock to add tons of additional resources related to that 34-24 victory, the first time in 17 meetings that the Bears had bested the Longhorns.

The story of the game – how it seemed like Baylor was doomed to a 17th loss to the Longhorns, only to have a blocked punt and a final go-ahead touchdown that sealed the victory – is well-known and can be read in detail at places like this Bleacher Report story on the top 10 Moments in Baylor Football History. Or, if you’d prefer a homegrown trip down memory lane, you can watch a video presentation released by Baylor Athletics in 1984 that takes a look back at the season with help from Coach Teaff and Frank Fallon, the legendary “voice of the Bears.”

Click on the image to watch "The Miracle on the Brazos, Ten Years Later"

Click on the image to watch “The Miracle on the Brazos, Ten Years Later”

 

There are also plenty of photos documenting that game – the anticipation, the gameplay action, the celebration – including gems like the ones below.

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Finally, you can read the official gameday program from cover …

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… to rosters and ads for long-gone steakhouses …

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… to the back cover.

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We’re looking forward to meeting some of these gridiron heroes at Coach Teaff’s event tonight, and to give them a chance to search the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive for more memories preserved in digital format.

Oh, and it goes without saying that we’re pulling for the current incarnation of our Baylor Bears to beat the University of Kansas at McLane Stadium on Saturday. Sic ‘em, Bears!

Additional Content

> See all 105 items related to the “Miracle on the Brazos” in the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive

> Check out a fun set of images from The Texas Collection’s Flickr page featuring shots of the Golden Wave Band and Homecoming Parades from the 1960s and 1970s

Oct 10
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With apologies to the fine folks at AMC. But doesn’t Allyson look pretty boss with a katana? (Click to enlarge, if you dare.)

 

All of us in the DPG are big fans of AMC’s post-zombie-apocalypse series The Walking Dead. We watch for various reasons – escapism, mostly – but we all love its unique blend of storytelling, pathos and outright, ick-inducing gore. If you’re not a fan, or if you’ve managed to miss the barrage of ads related to this fact, you may not know that the new season will premiere on Sunday night, and we are unilaterally excited.

That got us to thinking: where do zombies show up on the pages of our campus newspaper, the Baylor Lariat? Surely, over the course of more than a hundred years, there would be at least a few mentions of the word “zombies.” Turns out there were 22, and we wanted to highlight a few of them here.

Earliest reference: June 20, 1947

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No, that’s not a typo: the oldest reference to zombies comes in 1947, but it’s in a context that may surprise you. In an ad for Snaman’s Women’s Wear and Shoes, we are informed that a new shipment of Zombies (a shoe style) have arrived and are available for the low, low price of just $5.95.

Oldest Use of Zombies as Metaphor for Listlessness: May 8, 1959

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Shirley Henderson’s regular Friday column was given over to covering the aftermath of 1959′s “May Day,” a precursor to today’s Dia Del Oso. She conjures up a terrifying crustacean-undead hybrid by mentioning the sight of sunburned students “walking stiffly around the campus like zombies,” red enough to look like “broiled lobsters.” Maybe she was having a premonition of the Walking Dead season 4 episode where several zombies had an unfortunate encounter with a fire set at a backwoods still by fan favorite character Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus)?

Throughout the next couple of decades, there are numerous references in the Lariat archives to Zombies, as the word appears in the title of a number of movies shown at Waco’s movie houses. My favorite title? The Plague of the Zombies (1966).

First Use of Zombies as Metaphor for Social Ill of the Day: January 13, 1983

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The question of whether or not video games contribute to delinquency has gone back decades, and it had made an appearance in the pages of the Lariat as early as 1983, when Shelly Williamson wrote this opinion piece about whether or not video games are turning children into “video zombies.” Best part of the piece: Williamson’s citing Asteroids, Pac Man and Donkey Kong as potential carriers of “zombieism.” By today’s standards, those video games are about as inoffensive and non-threatening as a basket full of rainbow-colored kittens.

First Use of Zombieism as Symptom of Caffeine Withdrawal: September 24, 2004

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Almost exactly one decade ago, Kevin Chandler wrote a story about the “oft-used, oft-abused’ nature of coffee on Baylor’s campus, and he opens with this sentence: “It’s 8 a.m., and zombies are invading campus.” Chandler outlines the kinds of coffee available on campus, including those served by the recently opened Starbucks location in the Dutton Avenue Parking Garage (closed in 2013) and the Java City location formerly housed in the Moody Library garden level (replaced by, ironically, a Starbucks in the lobby).

We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the ways shambling, undead, unstoppable, reanimated corpses are used in the pages of a well-regarded collegiate newspaper. And if anyone on our team seems more tired or paranoid than usual on Monday morning, you’ll know why: we spent our Sunday evening glued to the TV, intently focused and staring like …. well, you know.

Sep 26

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A film shot and distributed by Baylor University’s Public Relations arm in 1969 has found a new home in the Baylor University Archives digital collection, and watching it is like taking a time machine back to a land of coeds in mini skirts, a campus teeming with vintage cars and a newly opened Moody Memorial Library. Originally donated to the university as part of the Grant and Donell Teaff Baylor Football Collection, we actually added it to the Baylor University Archives collection due to its capturing many aspects of campus life in the late 1960′s, including the Baylor Beauties show and a presentation from Pigskin Revue. There’s plenty of football action, too, but “Pride and Sacrifice” is much more than a recruiting tool for the then-moribund Baylor Bears football team: it’s a time capsule in moving images and mono sound, an immediate ticket to a moment in time just before Baylor’s football fortunes would undergo a stunning transformation at the hands of legendary head coach Grant Teaff.

We’re going to provide a few fun clips and a little additional commentary in this blog post, but we encourage you to view the whole film, as it’s a veritable model of late 1960′s film making and university recruitment all in one.

 Clip One: “Probably the Prettiest in the South”

We’ll kick things off with a bang, and a nice bit of bet hedging: our narrator’s statement that Baylor girls are “probably the prettiest in the South, and that means in the nation.” One wonders why the copywriter for this film thought to stop short of saying Baylor girls are the prettiest in the South. It seems hard to imagine that a prospective Baylor athlete – particularly an 18-year-old boy – would react poorly to the assertion that Baylor’s coed population is the prettiest. In fact, I imagine at least one undecided high school senior lad thought the following after hearing this line:

Narrator: Baylor girls are probably the prettiest in the South …

High school senior: “Probably?” I was torn between Baylor and UT, and this seals it. Austin, here I come!

I kid, of course, but the line does stick out as a strange bit of (perhaps) false modesty. It does serve as a nice segue into a montage of Baylor girls participating in a Baylor Beauties pageant, however, and that’s an excuse to show a cavalcade of 1960′s fashion!

To see more photos of the 1969 Baylor Beauties, check out their photos in the 1969 Round Up!

Clip Two: Enrollment Facts, Lasting Friendships and Traffic on 3rd Street

There’s a lot happening in this clip: a report that campus enrollment has reached 6,500 students (for reference, we’re at 16,000 these days, with a record-setting freshman class of 3,625); a pitch that student athletes will never be “just a number on a computer card” and a look at traffic flowing free and easy on the roads looping around Fountain Mall and down Third Street toward I-35.

Clip Three: “The Sky’s The Limit” for Alpha Omega at Pigskin Revue

Pigskin Revue (now called simply Pigskin) is a chance for the top performances from long-running tradition Sing! to be performed one last time during Baylor’s Homecoming celebration. “Pride and Sacrifice” includes the entire performance of one of 1969′s winning acts, the ladies of Alpha Omega and their flight attendant-themed act, “The Sky’s The Limit.” We’ve excerpted a minute’s worth for this blog post, but you can see the whole performance in the full video.

Clip Four: Walkin’ Up and Down the Stairs at Moody Memorial Library

PR departments love to include “beauty shots” of new features on campus, and in 1969 nothing was newer than the Moody Memorial Library. This scene features several football players – complete with letter jackets – walking up and down the stairs leading to the Gregory Garden on the library’s West side. Could they have shot these students walking somewhere else on campus? Of course! Was it deemed important to show prospective students the mid-century architectural gem that is Moody in glorious technicolor? Even more ‘of course!’ But for those of us who work in Moody 40 hours a week, it’s a neat glimpse of what the garden looked like before it was renovated to include arbors, trees and additional flora.

Clip Five: “Baylor Fans Know What It Means To Suffer”

In 1969, Baylor’s football fortunes were dismal. They hadn’t won a conference championship since 1924 (and wouldn’t until 1974). The glory days of the 1940s (like the season that earned them a berth in the 1949 Dixie Bowl, which you can watch here!) were long gone, and that despair was written on the faces of the Bears’ long-suffering fans.

Pictured: Despair and Dr Pepper

Pictured: Despair and Dr Pepper

But the clip does contain two things of note: plenty of on-field footage of the Baylor-University of Texas game, which Baylor lost, 56-14 (plenty of suffering to go around!) and a soundtrack that sounds like it was ripped straight out of an Adam West-era Batman episode.

These are just a few of our favorite moments from this amazing film, and we’d encourage you to dive in and take a look at “Pride and Sacrifice” in its entirety. If it doesn’t make you want to put on some paisley, hop into a Chevy Impala four-door and grow out your sideburns/put on some leather go-go boots, you’d better check your pulse.