Although Baylor was a university by charter, it was not until the first decades of the 20th century that the institution, like many others in the United States, began to develop some of the hallmarks of university life and function that we now associate with them. These include intercollegiate athletics, a rich variety of student organizations, diverse students and curricula, and the development of endowments and other financial pillars to sustain and advance the institutions.
This year students in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) masters program have taken on the challenge of creating original scholarship that adds to what is known about Baylor’s history between 1900 and 1920. As part of Dr. Nathan Alleman’s Foundations and History of Higher Education course, students were grouped under the five class themes: curriculum, finance, students/student groups, access, and religion. In collaboration with Texas Collection archivists and librarians, students mined bulletins, newspapers, correspondence, and other primary resources as they researched their topics. Final papers have now been posted on a University-hosted EduBlog site and grouped by their particular sub-topic so that patrons, researchers, and other interested persons could benefit from these students’ work. This is the first installment of an annual accumulating project–please visit again for future installments.
For the next five weeks, we’ll put up teasers about the fascinating Baylor history this year’s HESA students analyzed and shared on the class blog. We’re starting with the Students at Baylor group, which covered student government, athletics, literary societies, and Homecoming. Did you know that…
- In the 1910s, the Student Self-Government Association’s responsibilities included student discipline. For example, when a student raised a “Fish 22” flag on the university flagpole, the organization’s Judicial Council voted to suspend him for the remainder of the term. (It was May, so the punishment isn’t quite as harsh as it sounds.) Explore the rise of student self-governance at Baylor.
- Baylor football had a new coach every year for its first few years, due to wage disagreements and poor team performance…and then the whole program was canceled due to nationwide concerns about the brutality of the sport. The loss of football moved students to poetry–read the mournful verse written on the occasion and learn more about the beginnings of Baylor athletics in the early 1900s.
- The Philomathesian, Erisophian, Calliopean, and Rufus C. Burleson Literary Societies all offered generous scholarships to members who excelled in speech and debate activities in society competitions. Find out the other benefits of literary society membership and how Baylor students socialized and learned in these predecessors both to Greek organizations and debate at Baylor.
- Baylor’s Homecoming Parade was not an annual feature of Homecoming till 1945, and in some years, it was called a “pageant.” The first parade, at the first Homecoming in 1909, was hailed as perhaps the most remarkable event of the weekend. Learn more about the origins of some of Baylor’s fondest Homecoming traditions.
We hope you’ll explore these blog posts and enjoy the benefits of the HESA students’ research and scholarship. If you’re inspired to dig deeper, most of their sources can be found in the University Archives within The Texas Collection and in our digitized materials available online in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.