The Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog

Jul 24


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 ( 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)


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!


Jun 20
Grady Nutt's sophomore year photo, from the 1955 "Baylor Round Up"

Grady Nutt’s sophomore year photo, from the 1955 “Baylor Round Up”


As new student orientation wrapped up its penultimate sessions this week, an incoming freshman’s father stopped by the Digital Collections table and asked me if I’d ever heard of Grady Nutt. I admitted that the name didn’t ring a bell, and he said, “Didn’t you ever watch Hee Haw?” That led us to a long conversation about a fascinating Baylor connection to one of the show’s popular (and tragically short-lived) players, Rev. Grady Nutt.

Texas Roots, Baylor Graduate

According to Nutt’s Wikpedia entry, he was born in Amarillo and briefly attended another college before transferring to Baylor, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in 1957. He became a licensed Baptist minister by the age of 13 and, following his Baylor graduation, served as youth minister at First Baptist Church of Waco.

Article on Nutt's scheduled Bible study on campus, from the April 3, 1958 "Baylor Lariat"

Article on Nutt’s scheduled Bible study on campus, from the April 3, 1958 “Baylor Lariat”

Nutt’s time at Baylor was spent performing, as both a member of a campus singing group called the Troubadours and as a Yell Leader, a spirit squad that supports Baylor athletics teams.

Nutt (second from right) with fellow Yell Leaders, from the 1957 "Round Up"

Nutt (second from right) with fellow Yell Leaders, from the 1957 “Round Up”


A Promising Career Cut Short

Nutt became a sought-after public speaker and entertainer, with early appearances on The Mike Douglas Show, which led to his eventual casting on Hee Haw, beginning in 1979. In his role as Kornfield Kountry’s “Prime Minister of Humor,” Nutt was given 90-120 seconds to tell a humorous routine to a group of listeners gathered around to hear his homespun wisdom. Largely improvised, these sketches drew from Nutt’s life as a pastor and Southern native. Here, he tells a joke about a young boy’s eye-opening visit to a cemetery.

Nutt’s career – and life – ended at the age of 48 when a plane he was riding in crashed shortly after takeoff on November 23, 1982. The Baylor community honored his legacy by establishing the Grady Nutt Memorial Award just two weeks later. The award was created to honor “a student entertainer or student entertainment group that best exemplifies the spirit of the late Grady Nutt.”

Article on Grady Nutt Memorial Award, from the November 20, 1982 "Baylor Lariat"

Article on Grady Nutt Memorial Award, from the November 20, 1982 “Baylor Lariat”


Nutt has been remembered as a positive person whose attitude and outlook on life helped people see the good in the world. His story, especially its ties to Baylor, is just one of the countless examples of Baylor Bears who go on to lead lives of positive impact on the world. And while they won’t all go on to perform on the small screen or have an award created in their honor, they share a common commitment to making a difference in the lives of others, a belief we’re sure Rev. Nutt would wholeheartedly endorse.


For more information on Grady Nutt, visit The Official Page of Grady Nutt

Jun 06

On this 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy – D-Day, as it will forever be known – we wanted to take time to present this short but fascinating story from our archives that ties together two college sweethearts, a War Loan Drive and a unique auction. It is related under the headline, ‘Singing Bills’ Return to Baylor Campus; Auction, D-Day among War Experiences, found at the bottom of the front page of the September 28, 1945 edition of the Baylor Lariat.

Singing Sweethearts

The article relates the story of Bill Shriner and his wife, Billie Guynes Shriner, two alums who met during their time at Baylor and who became known on campus due to their singing abilities. They earned a reputation as “Bill and Coo of Baylor U.,” and they were featured in several editions of World War II-era Round Ups as representatives of the romantic scene to be found on campus.

Bill Shriner and Billie Guynes (center) from the 1943 "Round Up"

Bill Shriner and Billie Guynes (center) from the 1943 “Round Up”


In 1943, Bill was a Baylor alum who had secretly married Billie before heading off to midshipmen’s school – which did not accept married men – and was in Columbia when he received his commission in October 1943. On June 6, 1944, Bill’s voice was recorded by the National Broadcasting Corporation giving the order to shoot down a German JU-88 (mislabeled as a JN-88 in the article).

Billie Guynes' junior year photo from the 1940 "Round Up"

Billie Guynes’ junior year photo from the 1940 “Round Up”


Billie, who was living in Washington, D.C. at the time, heard the recording and recognized Bill’s voice. Per the Lariat article, Billie was quoted as saying, “I could only cry for joy because of Bill’s safety. I wanted to go out and help him finish the enemy.”

Raising Money for the War Effort

At the launch of the fifth War Loan Drive in July of 1944, the recording of Bill’s voice was to be auctioned off by Attorney General Francis Biddle. He opened the bidding, which stayed low, and was about to sell the record for a mere $500 until Billie “leapt into action.” The rest of the story deserves reproduction in full:

She talked, she plead, she wept. [...] She told [the audience] how she and Bill had been a couple of school kids down at Baylor two years before, and how they used to walk to chapel hand in hand singing “Sweethearts” and plan how they would have a home together one day. Then Bill went off to war and left Billie with no home to keep and no song to sing.

After telling her story, Billie again sang “Sweethearts.” She vows that she could feel Bill there singing beside her. A Washington dairyman whose son had been killed on D-Day wrote a $100,000 check for the record of Lt. Bill’s firing command.

The Lariat story concludes with the note that the “Bills” were under contract with National Concert Artists and were to begin concerts as soon as Lt. Bill was available. He was scheduled to report to New Orleans for further duty on October 5, 1944.

Throughout Baylor’s long history, she has provided countless young men and women in service to the nation’s armed forces, but this story of college sweethearts, a shared talent and serendipity is surely one of the most fascinating.


Read the entire Lariat article here. See a listing of additional D-Day related materials here.

May 15
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) homepage

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) homepage

We are excited to announce that Eric Ames, our Curator of Digital Collections, has been named to the second class of community representatives for the Digital Public Library of America! The DPLA announced the appointments on their blog today. Eric joins five other CR’s in the state of Texas and 200 others across the country as frontline representatives for the work being done by the DPLA.

The announcement was posted to the DPLA’s blog this morning, and we’re happy to pass along the word. You can find an interactive map listing all 200 CR’s by location on the DPLA site as well.

Eric Ames was appointed a community representative for DPLA on May 15, 2014.

Eric Ames was appointed a community representative for DPLA on May 15, 2014.


About the DPLA

The goal of the DPLA is to bring “different viewpoints, experiences, and collections together in a single platform and portal, providing open and coherent access to our society’s digitized cultural heritage.” Building on work done by groups like the Library of Congress, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive, the DPLA works to bring the growing number of digital collections around the country into a single, unified search platform. Imagine being able to find thousands of results for a single word search – like Waco, for instance – drawn from multiple sources around the country, all in one place. That’s the power of the DPLA.

We’re still exploring all the ways which Baylor – and our own impressive Digital Collections – can help further the work of the DPLA. For now, we’re excited to see how Eric’s work as a CR will expose the DPLA’s work (and Baylor’s own materials) to the world.

Learn more about the DPLA at their website –