Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here are December’s finding aids:
Grant and Donell Teaff Baylor Football collection, 1948-2006, undated (#3835): Contains correspondence, football programs, newspaper clippings, and audiovisual materials relating to Teaff’s career as head football coach at Baylor University. As usual, the materials described in the finding aid can be seen at The Texas Collection, but many of them also have been digitized as part of the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive in collaboration with the Electronic Library. Check out game films, ribbons, and more in the online collection!
Onnie Clem Jr. papers, 1944-1948 (#3939): Letters between Marine Corps members Onnie Clem Jr. and “Julie” Cecile L. Julian Clem during World War II. Also included is a transcribed interview with Onnie Clem Jr. about his experience during the Bataan Death March and as a prisoner of war for two and half years.
Edward Charles “E.C.” Blomeyer’s time in Texas was brief but well-documented. From telephone poles to animals, floods to parades, and much more, the amateur shutterbug committed many views of early 1900s Texas to film—and we reap the benefit today with the Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection.
Born in Missouri in 1882, Blomeyer moved in 1912 with his family to Waco, Texas, to work as auditor for the Brazos Valley Telegraph and Telephone Company. He came with knowledge of the telephone industry gained while working for the Southeast Missouri Telephone Company in Charleston, Missouri, where he served as rate collector and in management. He would spend only eight years in Texas, but his knowledge and experience quickly helped to improve a rural, and in some areas quite primitive, telecommunications network.
In 1914, Blomeyer began working for the Texas Telephone Company after it expanded to include many independent companies in Lorena, Mart, McGregor, Moody, Waco, West, and the Brazos Valley Telegraph and Telephone Company. This expansion of the Texas Telephone Company gave Blomeyer many opportunities for improving the existing telecommunications infrastructure. He first served as secretary-treasurer of the Waco-based Texas Telephone Company and worked his way up to be president by 1918.
But Blomeyer wasn’t just a career man—he was a photographer as well, capturing many images of Waco. He recorded many scenes of this booming city including trains, airplanes, bridges, rivers, animals, military, the cotton industry, and significant events. His professional interests overlapped with his hobby, providing a rare look into the early telecommunications network in and around McLennan County. These scenes include many early telephone poles—some of which are just sticks with wire attached to barbed wire fence posts! Additionally, Blomeyer documented his travels, with destinations ranging from Galveston, Texas, to Niagara Falls.
In 1920, Waco lost one of its pioneering men in the telecommunications industry. Blomeyer went to work for the Automatic Electric Company, based in Chicago. He stayed with the company as it changed ownership throughout the years, eventually merging with what would become GTE (General Telephone & Electronics). Blomeyer retired from the telephone industry in 1956, having worked his way up to the position of Vice-President of GTE. After retirement, he spent some of his remaining years in Palm Beach, Florida, where he died in 1964.
When The Texas Collection acquired Blomeyer’s photographic collection in 2012, consisting of approximately 1,500 photographic negatives and prints, they were neatly filed in a tattered old box. Its original owner or photographer was not known—the seller from whom we purchased it thought the creator was Fred Gildersleeve, a noted Waco photographer. However, Gildersleeve was just the person who developed several of the printed photographs. But we needed more information to tell properly the story behind these photos and the person who took them.
The first big lead in our case was a small business card sandwiched between a group of negatives. It read: “E.C. [Edward Charles] Blomeyer, Waco, Texas, President of the Texas Telephone Co.” The subjects in the pictures helped confirm Blomeyer as the photographer and creator of the collection. Now that there was a name to link this collection to, we turned to the Internet. Blomeyer turns out to have been a prolific writer of articles on the telephone industry and its management, photography, and various hobbies, we learned from several digitized magazines.
The items in the collection date from 1906 to about 1923. Although he was not a professional photographer, his high-quality work provides a great history of the Central Texas community. Blomeyer was an interesting person to research. He left many traces about what he did professionally through his writings and about many aspects of his personal and family life through his photography.
This post shows just a small sampling of Blomeyer’s work—look for our upcoming series on Blomeyer’s photography, Texas in the Teens. We’ll travel with Blomeyer all over Texas (and maybe outside the state, too), and take a look at transportation, animals, and more.
Check out our Flickr set below for your first view of Blomeyer’s work. You can see more images in the finding aid in BARD—just do a search for Blomeyer, then enjoy!
Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.
Construction photos by Gildersleeve, 1911; modern photo (photographer unknown), 1984
The ALICO, now a Waco landmark, was started in 1910 and completed in 1911, by the architecture firm Sanguinet and Staats, with the help of famous architect Roy Ellsworth Lane.
The parcel of land that the building currently sits on at the intersection of 5th and Austin Ave was home to several things before the ALICO came along. The first recorded use of the land was a small pond that served as a buffalo watering hole and fishing spot. Around the time of the Civil War, the pond had dried up, and a blacksmith shop was built by W.E. Oakes. The site was eventually home to a bank, which was present until being torn down to build the ALICO.
At 22 stories, the building was so large that people as far away as McGregor could see its construction with binoculars. It even made it into a Ripley’s Believe it or Not comic in the 1930s. At the time of its construction, it was the first skyscraper in Texas, making it the tallest building in Texas. It held this title until the construction of the Magnolia in Dallas in 1922.
Austin Avenue, before (early 1900s) and after (1910s) the ALICO
The ALICO was originally the home of and contracted by the Amicable Life Insurance Company, as well as being the home of several prominent lawyers, organizations, and various other businesses such as the Corner Drug Store (creators of Dr Pepper).
The building weighs approximately 40 million pounds and required 2,004 freight cars worth of material to construct. The ALICO survived a direct hit by the 1953 tornado due to the wind resistant designs of Roy Lane, even though the RT Dennis building across the street was completely demolished.
“The New Amicable Life Building.” Waco Tribune Herald 12 Sep. 1954. Print.
“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity that Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.
This month’s story was contributed by PhD candidate Jeremy Land.
In 1920 Baylor University celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with help from the English department’s Dr. A.J. Armstrong. The university used the occasion to invite some of the most important names in American letters to speak at Baylor. A year later Baylor was developing a reputation as a place where not only poets were welcomed, but a place where they could find a receptive student body.
One of the first and most important writers to travel to Baylor was the noted poet, journalist, historian, and folk musician Carl Sandburg. By the time Dr. Armstrong persuaded Sandburg to visit and read his work at Baylor in the spring of 1921, the poet had already won the first of his eventual three Pulitzer prizes—Sandburg won the Pulitzer Prize for his books Cornhuskers (1918), Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), and Complete Poems (1951). In the early 1920s Sandburg was building a reputation as a first rate poet of the American people. His early poetry drew inspiration from his time as a hobo traveling across the west, his years working as a journalist in Chicago, and the lives of ordinary Americans. His first major volume Chicago Poems established him as an innovative and powerful new voice in American poetry. It was this reputation that prompted Baylor’s student newspaper The Daily Lariat to describe Sandburg as a “man’s poet” as early as 1925, and perhaps attracted so many young Baylor Bears to Sandburg’s readings (“Carl Sandburg, Noted Poet, Coming Here for Reading on April 3” 1).
The poet apparently enjoyed his time at Baylor and made great efforts to ingratiate himself to the students while he was here. He even went so far as to visit a sick Baylor undergraduate in the hospital and give him a private recitation of his work when he discovered that the young fan could not make his reading. Ultimately, Sandburg was so impressed with the Baylor students he met that he cited them to his fellow poet and friend Robert Frost as a reason to journey to Texas (Douglas 129-135).
Over the next thirty years, Sandburg would make an additional three visits to Baylor. Each time his stays were heralded as the coming of a great poet, and each time he offered his audience something new and innovative. By his third visit in 1932 Sandburg’s critically successful collection of American folk music, American Songbag(1927), was fully integrated into his performance and, in addition to reading poetry, he would sing from his collection to Baylor students during chapel (“Carl Sandburg Will Speak Here Friday” 1).
By his fourth visit in 1952, Sandburg had achieved an elder statesman status among American writers. During his final trip to Baylor, Sandburg used his last time before the student body to discuss the value of going into the world and experiencing life firsthand as opposed to vicariously living through pop culture, going so far as to critique one student who claimed to have sat through over 200 episodes of “The Jack Benny Show” (“Poet Slams TV, Movies, Radio” 1). As anarchistic as Sandburg’s criticism sounds to modern readers, his intent illustrates Dr. Armstrong’s ultimate goal in bringing writers like Sandburg to Baylor. Dr. Armstrong’s programs routinely brought Baylor’s students great writers from across the world. His intent was always to “give students an opportunity to come into contact with world forces and world geniuses” (Douglas 173). Sandburg’s time at Baylor surely exposed the students who came to see him to one of the greater geniuses and challenged them to see their lives in a new light.
“Carl Sandburg, Noted Poet, Coming Here for Reading on April 3.” The Daily Lariat 23 March 1925: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014
“Carl Sandburg Will Speak Here Friday.” The Daily Lariat 2 February 1932: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014
Douglas, Lois Smith. Through Heaven’s Back Door: A Biography of A. Joseph Armstrong. Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 1951. Print.
“Poet Slams TV, Movies, Radio.” The Daily Lariat 12 March 1952: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014
From humble beginnings in Edgewood, Texas, to being considered the “conscience of Southern Baptists,” Foy Valentine was a prominent figure in Christian Ethics and Southern Baptist History. The Texas Collection is pleased to announce the opening of the Foy Valentine Papers for research.
Consisting of 249 boxes of materials, the largest series in the collection documents approximately 27 years of Valentine’s service in the Christian Life Commission (CLC), the social and ethical arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. His service in the commission coincided with tumultuous times and issues—civil rights in the 1960s, social morality in the 1970s, and perhaps the most contentious matter for Southern Baptists in the 1980s—the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Upon leaving the CLC in 1987, Valentine continued to work diligently in Southern Baptist and religious agencies. His service in the Baptist Joint Committee of Public Affairs, from 1953-1961, 1974; and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in 1969-1987, 1990-1997, are only two of the ten religious agencies that are reflected in his papers. Among the closest to his heart was the founding of the Center for Christian Ethics and the publication, Christian Ethics Today. As founding editor for CET, Foy was able to continue his vocation in Christian education in the ethics.
Fifty years ago, Foy made the following statement:
While the present age has brought the nation an awe-inspiring technological advance, a superabundance of material comforts, and greatly increased leisure time, it has brought no corresponding improvement in the moral condition of the nation. We are deeply concerned that more than ten million Southern Baptists have utilized so little of their potential to reverse the moral decline in America. ~Christian Life Commission minutes, 1964 (Foy Valentine papers, Series I, Box 3 Folder 2)
Foy worked for the betterment of the moral condition his entire life. Even today, his influence is evident in the recently created (2013) Foy Valentine Endowed Professorship in Christian Ethics in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. In many ways, Foy Valentine has come full circle—he graduated from Baylor in 1944 and came back to Baylor with his materials now open and available to researchers. We invite you all to make use of these newly released papers. This collection will interest anyone studying religion, but especially those interested in Southern Baptist history.