And Then There Were 9,601: A Big Update on the Spencer Sheet Music Collection

It’s a collection that’s been at Baylor University since the middle of last century, with items spanning back to the 1700s. There are more than 28,000 items in that collection including a first edition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic and Jingle Bells. And as of this week, it’s reached a milestone: more than 9,600 digitized items from the Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music are available online for free.

We’re closing in on 10,000 items, which will mean 30% of the total physical collection digitized. We thought we’d celebrate this milestone by putting some of the most interesting recent additions in this blog post. Feel free to click into the collection and explore each piece further, including looking at the lyrics for each.

 

There’s a lot more to this latest batch (422, to be exact) and we encourage you to take a look at them all. We’ll continue to update you as we add new content to this collection, and if the previous 9,000+ items are any indication, we’re in for quite a ride before this collection is completely online!


Learn more about the Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music at the collection’s homepage.

 

The Spencer Collection Marches On With 400+ New Titles!

Unlike some of our never-ending projects (ahem, Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, ahem), there are some projects that we’re making slow, steady progress on every day. And that’s why we’re announcing a new batch of items in the Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music – 461 all told!

The items span a century’s worth of song craft from 1845 to the 1950s. There are marches, waltzes, and tons of comedies.

And if you’re in the market for a love song, there are 143 of them ready to inspire even the most hapless of Romeos.

We’re including a gallery of some of our favorite covers here, but be sure to check out the whole collection to find your own favorites. And when you’re on the collection landing page, look for the RSS button to sign up and receive updates whenever we add new items to the collection.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.42.04 PMThe Bowery by Hoyt & Gaunt, 1933

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.43.22 PM Salut a la France (France Ever Glorious) by Donizetti, 1855

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.45.16 PMThe Man in the Moon is Looking, by Lonsdale & Eaton, 1878

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.46.17 PMThe Della Fox Little Trooper March by Johnson, 1896

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.47.26 PMEv’ry Life Is But A Clock by Skiff & Vynne, 1893

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.48.31 PM Mary Ann Marie from Hoyt’s A Stranger in New York by Hoyt & Stahl, 1898

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 1.50.50 PMThe Little Church Around The Corner by Gray & Carroll, 1913


The Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music has nearly 7,000 digital items available from a collection of nearly 30,000 pieces housed in the Crouch Fine Arts Library. See the entire collection here.

 

Documenting 64 Years of Joyful Noise: The School of Music Performances Programs Collection is Complete!

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Header for Ann Northum’s performance program, March 28, 1950. See the whole program here: http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/ref/collection/fa-somprog/id/620.

They were written on typewriters, word processors and laptops. Some used italicized fonts, others used “high tech” typefaces and the most recent ones feature the Baylor University Judge Baylor/Pat Neff Hall wordmark. They could be one page, two pages or dozens. In short, while the School of Music Performances Programs collection may seem like a one-trick pony, there are actually more than 8,000 ways to document and preserve the performances of Baylor’s musically inclined students dating back to 1950.

The completion of this project means 64 years’ worth of music performances are documented online for the first time in Baylor history. Prior to the digital collection’s unveiling, students and scholars had to request bound copies of the original programs – organized by year – and thumb through their pages until they stumbled upon the information they sought. Now, they can instantly discover any number of interesting things within the collection with a simple search, things like:

The number of performances at Roxy Grove Hall since 1950 (4,167 since 1957)

The number of times a student performed Bach’s Fugue in D Major (264 times)

How many performances are attributed to longtime faculty member Helen Ann Shanley (164)

The number of years organist Joyce Jones performed at Baylor during her tenure (1969-2014)

What performance was scheduled for 8:00 PM on September 11, 2001 but was impacted by that day’s terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C. and New York City (“Baroque in the Browning” by Christina Edelen)

And more!

This project came about after a request from our colleagues in the Crouch Fine Arts Library who wanted to find an easier way for music students to access these important – but cumbersome, in their printed form – resources, and we worked for the better part of a year to digitized them, create separate PDFs from the volume-level books, generate original cataloging metadata and generally just push through the time-intensive process of getting them onto the web. The result is an easily searchable, robust collection that details the evolution of musical instruction on our campus dating back to the 1950s, with an aim toward adding each semester’s performance programs as they become available from here on out.

We encourage you to take some time to search through the School of Music Performances Programs collection and see what hidden gems you can find. And if you’d like to embarrass/talk to two of our own staffers – Darryl Stuhr and Stephen Bolech – you can see programs related to their time in the School of Music here and here.

(And as always when we finish a big project: Fire the Cannon!)

A January Mystery: What Was “The Promoters” and Who Was Betsy Bolivar?

Sometimes inspiration strikes in strange ways. Take this week’s blog post, for example: while conducting a simple search in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections for terms related to the new year – New Year, January, cold as a well digger’s elbow, etc. – I came across a piece from the Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music titled, In January I Love Mabel.

"In January I Love Mabel" cover, ca. 1909

“In January I Love Mabel” cover, ca. 1909

 

“That sounds interesting,” I thought to myself, so I clicked into the item and checked out the lyrics.

I’ve a loving disposition, I’ve put sorrow on the shelf
I believe in that old maxim “Love your neighbor as yourself”
Now, it happens that my neighbors are a bunch of girls divine
And their views upon the subject are identical to mine
But to love them all together would I’m sure create a fuss
So to head off squally weather, I’ve arranged to love them thus.

CHORUS

In January I love Mabel, in February I love Lou,
In March, little Fay, in April and May, I cuddle both Irene and Sue
In June and in July I’ve Rose and Lily, in August and September Flo and Doll,
October and November, Jess and Bess, but please remember
In December I’m not stingy, so I love them all

Quite a very good arrangement, I have found my plan to be
When of number two I’m weary, bliss I find in number three
Then again the girl for Summer, not to speak of Spring of Fall
In the dreary days of Winter simply will not do at all
Girls are more are less like flowers, at their best a month or so
I have studied well the subject and I think I ought to know

Hoo boy, that’s a lot to take in.

Leaving aside the blatantly lunkheaded (and borderline misogynistic) lyrics, it conjures up a number of questions.

1.) Who is the protagonist of this piece? What makes him think he’s so special as to have a different lady for every month of the year?
2.) Was this meant to be a serious piece (surely not!) or is it an example of early 1900s satire, humor or light comedy stylings?
3.) Why can’t a girl who’s perfectly acceptable in the summer be found adequate in the winter?
4.) Just where in the world did this piece come from?

While the first three questions may require a little digging, it was the answer to the fourth that led me down a rabbit trail with no good answers and became the basis for this post.

Ward and Vokes and The Promoters

A quick glance at the cover for the piece reveals it to be part of a stage production called The Promoters, created by the comedy duo of Ward and Vokes. According to a post on the Performing Arts Archive, Hap Ward and Harry Vokes were vaudeville performers whose comedy show partnership lasted more than thirty years.  The men would have been in their early forties in 1909, the year The Promoters would likely have debuted.

As is common with many, many pieces from the Spencer Collection, In January I Love Mabel featured an inset on the cover that lists other pieces from The Promoters’ score, including tracks called They All Started to Move, My Sunbeam Maid, If I Could Only Find A Little Girl Like You and a somewhat befuddling piece called Betsy Bolivar.

It turns out, we’ve added a scan of Betsy Bolivar to the Spencer Collection, so perhaps a quick recounting of its lyrics will give us some clues to the nature of The Promoters. To wit:

 Betsy B. was young and simple, Betsy was a dunce
All the boys, on viewing Betsy, fell in love at once
One she met, who pleased her greatly till in jest he spoke,
Said “my dear, it would appear, you’re not quite city broke.”

CHORUS

Oh, you Betsy, Betsy Bolivar,
Tho’ you’ve never been out at night, You’ll get along all right, all right.
For oh, you Betsy, What a Queen you are,
“I may be a rube, but I’m no boob,” said Betsy Bolivar.

Betsy wandered to the city, where she rubber’d ’round,
City chaps were different from the boys at home she found,
Ev’ry day it seemed to her she stood for, so to speak,
More falls than you could see at old Niagara in a week

Oh, you Betsy, Betsy Bolivar,
Tho’ you’ve never been out at night, You’ll get along all right, all right.
For oh, you Betsy, What a Queen you are,
“For a girl so young I’m pretty well stung,” Said Betsy Bolivar.

And it goes on like this for three more verses. Take a look for yourself!

Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 1.25.20 PMSo Betsy’s not a much more appealing character than our nameless paramour from In January, I Love Mabel. Her main attributes seem to be that she’s a pretty, dark-haired girl who’s not too bright but whose physical charms are more than ample to snag the attention of a baseball pitcher … until she uses “bleacherine” to dye her “koko-covering” (hair) and it turns out a “lovely shade of green.”

All of this plays pretty handily into stereotypes found throughout the early 20th century stage pieces found in the Spencer Collection, particularly the light comedies, comedic operas and vaudeville productions. What makes it more interesting is that the music for both pieces was composed by Anne Caldwell, a prolific writer of Broadway and popular music who happened to be married to James O’Dea – the lyricist for both pieces from The Promoters.

What does all this mean? Probably not much. After all, it’s a play so unimportant that it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. (In a time when events as obscure as the Kentucky meat shower have entries, it takes a lot to be so disposable.) But wouldn’t it be fun to imagine what the general outline of the story must have been, based solely on the lyrics to these two pieces (and the titles of the remaining five)? Here’s my take!


Act I

We open on a young man dressed in the height of early 1900’s fashion as he sits on a bench in a crowded city scene. He bemoans his lack of success in finding a suitable mate and sings a song of lament to the cover of his favorite magazine: an image of a raven-haired young woman of stunning beauty (If I Could Only Find A Little Girl Like You). After his song is finished, he realizes he is running late for an appointment and begins to run through the crowded streets toward a streetcar stand. Just as he arrives, the crowd around the stand parts (They All Started To Move) and our hero sees a woman standing inside a departing streetcar. She is beautiful, with dark hair and arresting blue eyes. He is immediately smitten but dismayed as the streetcar pulls away before he can climb aboard.

Act II

The scene opens on the woman from the streetcar as she walks through the door of her small but stylish apartment. She, too, is suffering from a case of amorous upset, but her particular malady is that she still pines for a boy from her hometown who came to the big city years ago and with whom she has lost contact. As she swoops around her apartment, she belts out a song of lament (Because I Love You Truly) and dreams of the day she will reunite with her lost love somewhere on the streets of the Big City, far from her small-town roots.

After her big number is finished, she slips behind a changing screen and reemerges dressed for her shift at the local small appliance manufacturer where she works the midnight shift while hoping to break into show business as a model or actress. The scene changes, and the girl is seen working a shift on a production line, where she fits covers onto electric toasters. The other women on the line sing a silly song about the girl who is too pretty to work in manufacturing (My Sunbeam Maid), but she is oblivious to the fact that they are singing about her! The scene ends with the girl leaving the factory at the end of her shift. As she walks through the factory gates, she is spotted by an unscrupulous talent agent (one of the promoters of the show’s title) who recruits her to work a job as a model for a local clothing store. The girl gleefully accepts the offer and runs off-stage toward her apartment.

Act III

It is three years later, and the girl – whose name is Betsy Bolivar – has become a world-famous actress on the stage. She is known for her stunning good looks and goofy demeanor, but she is still brokenhearted over the loss of connection with her hometown beau. In a neat bit of staging, we see Betsy sitting at a dressing table backstage for her latest big show, while in the audience is none other than our lovestruck young man from Act I!

As Betsy primps backstage, the young man sings a song to his companions about the world-renowned beauty who will grace the stage in mere moments: Betsy Bolivar. As he sings, Betsy comes onto the stage and performs a comedic dance number to her eponymous tune. The young man is transfixed: it’s the girl from the streetcar, all those years ago! He still hasn’t forgotten her; in fact, he’s more in love than ever, and he takes the opportunity to sneak backstage after the show and tell her so by means of a ridiculous song about his vain search to find a suitable companion (In January I Love Mabel), which is obviously a poor replacement for a lifelong attachment to Betsy, his one true love.

And now, the big twist: it turns out the young man is none other than the boy from Betsy’s hometown, gone all these years to “make it big in the Big City!” Betsy is delighted, and the two instantly reconnect as they sing a duet reprise of Because I Love You Truly. The scene ends with Betsy and the young man in a fond embrace as the curtain falls on their reunited love. Aaaaaaaand, scene!


If all of that sounds farfetched, I encourage you to go read the synopses for practically any boy-meets-girl stage production from the period and you’ll see it’s not entirely off base.

And now it’s your turn: if you’ve got an alternative storyline for our heroes from In January, I Love Mabel and Betsy Bolivar, leave them in the comments below. You’re a creative bunch; don’t let me down!

***

For more pieces from the Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music, visit the collection’s homepage.

When The Day’s Work Is Done: The George W. Truett Sermons Project, Complete

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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.