Pro Archives, Pro Futuris

Amanda Norman, University Archivist

Amanda Norman

By Amanda Norman

A few years ago at a Christmas party, I was asked, “Why bother to keep historical records? Why not reboot every hundred years or so with a clean slate? We don’t know that much about the 1600s, and that doesn’t really hurt us.”

View from the backboard

Archival records document important changes in history, such as when Title IX was passed and began to support the growth of university women’s athletics. Here, Baylor athletics all-star Suzie Snider Eppers makes a shot in a 1970s practice scrimmage. Olga Fallen papers, box 38.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I tried to explain to this new acquaintance about the importance of records in understanding where we’ve been, so we can make better choices moving forward. I told him about how records are invaluable resources for people, businesses, governments, and other organizations. I reminded that we do, in fact, know quite a bit about the events of the 1600s, thanks to records, and without them, we wouldn’t know about major events like civil wars, plagues, religious movements, and more—events that shape our contemporary life, even if in ways that aren’t readily apparent.

But I don’t think I really got through to him, and that left me feeling dissatisfied with my response. When considering archives and historical preservation, perhaps the natural impulse is to think that these efforts are for the past. That old things document past people, past places, past events. And while that view is partially true, the real function of archives is so much more.

Baylor University School of Business, IBM 405 Electric Punched Card Accounting Machine, c.1950s (1)

Archives help us remember a time when this was cutting-edge technology! Students gather around an IBM 405 Electric Punched Card Accounting Machine, c.1950s. Baylor photo files: Baylor-Departments-Hankamer School of Business.

Frank Guittard's Baylor Homecoming parade notes (page 5), 1915

Archives show the history of longstanding traditions, like Baylor’s Homecoming parade. Frank Guittard was in charge of coordinating Baylor’s second Homecoming parade in 1915. On this page of notes on his guidelines to parade participants, he tells them the end of the route and how to march. Francis Gevrier Guittard papers, box 20, folder 4.

We keep archives for the future. Archival records retain their value as they are used, today, tomorrow, and for our descendants. Every time a researcher finds that turning point journal entry, that critical line entry in a ledger book, that changing boundary on a map, that influential piece of correspondence—every time a researcher gains new knowledge, the past comes to life. New knowledge leads
to a better future, whether a record tells us where an old burial ground was so we don’t build on top of it, or if it gives us greater insight into the mind of a former U.S. President and how he formed decisions. No matter if the information gained is of local or international impact, of interest to a nation or to one person, the past becomes present when people use archives.

For these reasons, I appreciate the sentiment behind the naming of Baylor’s vision, Pro Futuris. A play on Baylor’s motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, the words remind us that all that we do at a university is in the name of a better future. In my role as University Archivist, I can see through the records that Baylor has changed in many ways…and hasn’t changed at all in others. We’re still discussing many of the same issues that were being discussed decades ago, from diversity to gender politics to what kind of institution we mean to be.

If archives sit on the shelves untouched, then yes, they are of the past. That’s why The Texas Collection is perpetually working to make accessible its records so people can interact with the past and bring it to current relevance—and hopefully, future actions for a better future.

Posted in Amanda Norman, Baylor University, The Texas Collection | Leave a comment

Museum Students in the Archives: Processing Love and Identity

This month we are featuring some collections processed by the Archival Collections and Museums graduate course that was taught at The Texas Collection by Dr. Julie Holcomb, with assistance from TC archivists. Each student in this class processed an archival collection and wrote a publicity piece promoting that record group. Check out a few of these pieces and learn more about the wide array of TC holdings! (See last week’s posts here.)

Finding Mr. Right

Letter from Lewis Preston to Ella Bachman, 1903 April 5

First page of a 1903 letter by Lewis describing his desire for more mail from Ella. Correspondence between the two would cease before the year’s end. (Bachman family papers #2422, box 4, folder 3, The Texas Collection, Baylor University)

By Matthew Doyen, Museum Studies graduate student

During the first few weeks that the Bachman family papers were in my hands, I found myself transported back 100 years. Ella Bachman Jones, daughter of J.A. and Addie Bachman, lived in Austin and attended the University of Texas. It was during this collegiate period of her life that Ella started to keep letters that interested suitors would send her way. I can’t be certain that she would have been too keen on me reading her mail—but I am only human and couldn’t help myself.

A young gentleman and fellow Longhorn named Charles Pope Caldwell was one of the first of several to actively write to Ella. I must say that early on I was rooting for Charlie, who would soon graduate from Yale Law School and later become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His letters displayed a strong and true affection for his sweetheart but—as one can convey from Ella’s last name—he was unfortunately not her Mr. Right.

Her next suitor was a very heart-on-his-sleeve type of man who was doomed for disaster. Lewis Preston of Beaumont, Texas, owned his own drug company and was certainly fervent in the pursuit of his darling. Despite pouring out his soul several times, I’m afraid Lewis had little chance at success at being her Mr. Right. Around this time, the turn of the twentieth century, she began a correspondence with Charles Edgar Jones.

Letter from Edgar Jones to Ella Bachman, 1902 January 12

First page of a 1902 letter by Edgar explaining how much he misses his sweetheart. At the time, he resided in Lockhart, Texas, and Ella in Austin. (Bachman family papers #2422, box 3, folder 1, The Texas Collection, Baylor University)

Edgar, as he was known, was from Lockhart, Texas, and owned the Lockhart Water Works with none other than J.A. Bachman, Ella’s father. It was evident from the century-old letters that this relationship—unlike their business—was meant to last. My favorite part of their journey was when they started to scale back their affectionate lines in fear that J.A. would open a letter and read the scandalous words inside. For a period of time, letters were sent almost once—and sometimes even twice—a day! Most of the time they didn’t say much, just a reminder at how much Edgar missed Ella. The letters didn’t stop until—from what I have gathered—the two said “I Do.” Even though Edgar passed away 33 years before his beautiful wife, he was forever Ella’s Mr. Right.

It was interesting looking at this story from entirely one viewpoint. Since none of Ella’s letters are in this collection—all we can do is imagine her waiting for the letters to arrive, tearing open the envelopes, and reading the same pages. It was definitely a treat to work with this collection (which also includes dozens of letters and other materials received by family members) and relive Ella’s love story.

Fight for Identity: A Baptist Personality Crisis

Memorandum from Jonathan Lindsey to the Baptist Heritage Group, 1991 July 19

In 1991, the Baptist Heritage Study group began their efforts to examine Baylor’s Baptist identity and ways to remain intentional about it. The ripples of this group’s efforts can be seen in Baylor’s various vision statements over the past 25 years. (BU Records: Baptist Heritage Study #BU/357, box 1, folder 4, The Texas Collection, Baylor University)

By Amanda Sawyer, Museum Studies graduate student

Throughout the nation in the late twentieth century, religious universities seemed to have lost a sense of who they were. The records of the Baptist Heritage Study show that Baylor University had its own identity crisis in the early 1990s.

A conservative resurgence had been brewing in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for years and, beginning in 1990, the university began to distance itself from ultra-conservative Baptists wanting to dictate curriculum. A change to the university’s charter—spearheaded by President Herbert H. Reynolds—removed some of the sway which fundamentalists held in school policy.

Despite Reynolds’ intentions to strengthen the university, the move caused some to question Baylor’s Baptist identity. In response, Reynolds formed a subcommittee of the Baptist Heritage Group to research the religious and academic commitments of the university. Led by Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Michael Beaty, the committee set out to answer fundamental questions about the influence of religion and denomination upon higher education.

Their early work showed that universities throughout the country were struggling with similar problems. Realizing the issue was bigger than they originally thought, the committee prepared a proposal for a planning grant which was submitted to Lilly Endowment Inc. in January of 1992. After the foundation approved their plan in June, committee members intensified their efforts—including trips to other universities throughout the country considering similar questions.

The committee completed a planning grant proposal in May 1994 which expressed plans for a four-year study of Baylor’s identity. They hoped findings from the study would answer questions about Baylor’s self-understanding as a Christian University in the Baptist tradition while also examining why the charter had changed.

The records—mostly correspondence between committee members—provide a comprehensive view of the university’s fight to balance a strong academic record with denominational ties. Some of the most interesting pieces are messages between committee members as they debate their obligation to tell the trustees about their research. Although the Baptist Heritage Study records conclude with the 1994 grant proposal, it is clear that the group’s research continues to have a lasting impact on the university today.

Posted in Baptist Heritage Study, Baylor University, Ella Bachman Jones, letters, Museum Studies | Leave a comment

Museum Students in the Archives: Processing Lawyers and Business Affairs

This month we will be featuring some collections processed by the Archival Collections and Museums graduate course that was taught at The Texas Collection by Dr. Julie Holcomb, with assistance from TC archivists. Each student in this class processed an archival collection and wrote a publicity piece promoting that record group. Check out a few of these pieces and learn more about the wide array of TC holdings!

Guy B. Harrison to Joe L. Wiley (Houghton Mifflin) on behalf of Robert Grundy, 1944 March 15

Among Grundy’s efforts to get his manuscript on Stephen F. Austin published was recruiting the Texas Collection’s own Guy B. Harrison to write a letter on his behalf. (Apparently Harrison had trouble with the typewriter, hence the misspelling of his own name…) Robert A. Grundy papers #30, box 1, folder 1, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Beyond Legal Pursuits

By Courtney Berge, Museum Studies graduate student

The word “lawyer” carries certain connotations. Some people think of paperwork, others shady practices, even more think of good money, nice suits, or the classic TV show, Law and Order. This, however, is not all that any lawyer is. Like anyone else, lawyers have dreams and aspirations beyond their profession. Even though everyone has ideas about the law profession, what do people really know about lawyers? What about the small town local lawyers who are never depicted on TV? What else is there to know about their lives?

Robert Adams Grundy was a small town, local lawyer. Born in Memphis, TX, he graduated from Baylor in 1919 and again in 1930. He worked as a lawyer throughout Central Texas, but ultimately landed in Waco, where he lived until his death in 1973. His papers were donated to Baylor’s Texas Collection, but what one might expect to find in a lawyer’s papers is not what you will find in this collection. The Robert A. Grundy papers include not the business dealings of a lawyer, but the remnants of his dreams as a struggling author. Not only can you delve into his dreams, but you can also catch a glimpse of his family history through the legal and financial documents of the Grundy family.

Grundy wanted to be an author. He completed a few manuscripts, including a biography of Stephen F. Austin and one of Charles Goodnight, both of which can be found in this collection. You can also see the work and effort he put into his writings through the research notes he compiled for his future manuscript on the history of the Jewish people. Sadly, none of his works were published, but you can see the story of the struggle through the rejection letters he filed away.

Within the collection one also finds some of the financial and legal documents pertaining to the Grundy family. These letters, land indentures, deeds, tax assessments, etc. date back into the 19th century and show how a family living in Texas dealt with their roots in Kentucky. They show the business side of managing land in another state.

The Robert A. Grundy papers aren’t the type of collection one would expect from a lawyer. Instead of legal briefs and correspondence you can get a glimpse at the personal aspirations of a Central Texas boy. He was a man who seemingly loved Texas history and history itself, one who wrote books about his passions and hoped to get them published, a man who was more than his profession, and one who has granted us a glimpse into his life.

Tending to the Business of Baylor

History professor J.D. Bragg to business manager George Belew, 1928 June 26

In addition to making reservations for athletics travels and reviewing dining hall menus, Belew apparently also was responsibility for facilities maintenance…and apparently, all buildings didn’t have light fixtures. The letter runs: “Room 205 Main Building is sadly in need of light fixtures. It is impossible on cloudy days for students to read anything on the blackboards or to see clearly to take notes…”

By Chris Paulos, Museum Studies graduate student

It was the 1920s. Prohibition was the law of the land. The air was filled with the sounds of Jazz. Borrowing money to put in the stock market still seemed like a good idea. Two dollars and fifty cents got you reserved seating at a Baylor game.

BU records: Business Affairs Division: Business Manager (George H. Belew) documents the work of George H. Belew at Baylor, while also giving a glimpse into the concerns of the time. Belew was the Business Manager of Baylor University from 1925 until 1931. He would also serve as Secretary and then President of the Baylor Athletics Association and as Secretary to the Baylor Board of Trustees. The collection is broadly divided into two parts. The first contains records of Baylor’s business office, and the second is made up of Belew’s business correspondence.

Among the records are game contracts with Rice University, Texas Christian University, the University of Arkansas, and other institutions. The letters open a window into the behind-the-scenes work which made the football season possible: arranging transportation, taking bids from hotels for rooms and meals (all bacon had to be well drained), finding a good laundry, and hiring officials to oversee the game. One of Belew’s other duties was distributing football tickets by mail. The letters he received alongside the checks form a “Who’s Who” of the wider Baylor community.

The Belew letters are witness to the history of Baylor stadiums, recording the move from Carroll Field to the Cotton Palace in 1926 and the return to Carroll three years later. A 1927 letter from a stadium builder provides a glimpse into what might have been had Baylor not waited until 1950 to inaugurate its own new facility.

Other documents show how daily life at Baylor has changed. Records show that among the employees of Georgia Burleson Hall were several “Matrons” tasked with enforcing the rules of dining etiquette. These rules feel much more at home at a Victorian dinner party than the food court atmosphere of the 21st dining commons. Yet, another concern found in the Belew correspondence is finding positions for prospective students in what we would probably now call work-study jobs. So maybe we’re not so different from our Twenties counterparts after all.

Posted in Baylor University, George Belew, Museum Studies, Robert Grundy | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill, Waco

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. 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.

brazos gif

  • Alabama native J. T. Davis established the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill on January 29, 1910. The Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill purchased thousands of tons of cottonseed and then extracted oil for culinary and industrial purposes. After much success processing cottonseed, Davis acquired another location, the Valley Mills Cotton Oil Company, in 1924.
  • Before the Great Depression, Waco was a hub for growing and distributing cotton and its byproducts worldwide.
  • Even after a fire destroyed the hull house and the mixed feed plant in 1943, production remained steady, and construction of the two silos was completed by 1950.
  • After Central Texas flooding in 1957, the Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Company was unable to recover and had to sell the company to David C. Blintliff Interests of Houston.
  • Before Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines purchased the property in 2014, the plant was a storage facility for JPM Feeds and then remained vacant throughout the 1990s. It now is the site of Magnolia Market at the Silos, with some of the buildings featured in these photos re-purposed and revitalized.

Sources

Davison, Candace Braun. “Get A Sneak Peek at Chip and Joanna Gaines’ New Bakery.” Delish. Hearst Communications, Inc., 02 Mar. 2016. Web. 26 May 2016.

Amanda Sawyer, “Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill,” Waco History, accessed May 26, 2016, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/97.

GIF and factoids by Haley Rodriguez, archives student assistant. See the still images in our Flickr set.

Posted in Brazos Valley Cotton Oil Mill, Magnolia Silos, Texas over Time | Leave a comment

Research Ready: June 2016

By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials, and Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!

Here are June’s finding aids:

Georgia Burleson Hall Dining Room Report, 1930

This document provides a fascinating glimpse into what Baylor students and staff ate in the 1930s. Along with such familiar foods today as macaroni and cheese and baked potatoes, students ate stuffed eggs and steak garnished with crab apple.

Here are June’s print materials:

Coahuila and Texas (Mexico): Decree of the Standing Deputation of Congress...
Coahuila and Texas (Mexico). [Decree of the Standing Deputation of Congress … Saying that the Present Governor, Vidaurri y Villaseñor, is Removed from Office because of His Infirmities and the Office Entrusted to Juan José Elguezabal … ]. [Monclova, 1834].

One of four copies located in the world, this rare broadside, another Streeter item, provides information on the replacement of a Coahuila and Texas governor in 1834. Click here to view the Bearcat record for this resource!

 

 

Treaty Between Her Majesty and the Republic of Texas for the Suppression of the African Slave Trade...

 

Great Britain. Bill for Carrying into Effect the Treaty Between Her Majesty and the Republic of Texas for the Suppression of the African Slave Trade. [London], 1843.

This rare item, found in Streeter’s Bibliography of Texas, 1795-1845, is located in three other institutions and is the only copy located in Texas. The treaty, one of three between Texas and Great Britain signed in November 1840, deals with the suppression of the African slave trade. Click here to view the Bearcat record for this resource!

 

Luling Chamber of Commerce. Luling: Come to Luling Where Nature is Exceptionally Generous. [Luling, TX, 193-?]

 

 

Luling Chamber of Commerce. Luling: Come to Luling Where Nature is Exceptionally Generous. [Luling, TX, 193-?]. 

“Texas wants you and Luling is the place to locate.” Highlighting the best 1930s Luling has to offer as a way to entice people to move there, this promotional pamphlet provides an interesting view of this small town. Contained within are photos and information on the oil industry, agriculture, recreational facilities, schools, churches, and more. Click here to view the Bearcat record for this resource!

Posted in Archives, Baptist universities and colleges, Baylor athletics, Frontier and pioneer life, Luling Texas, Nate Chodorow Dry Goods Store, Race relations, Research Ready, Slavery | Leave a comment

A Sweet (and Sparkly!) Canvas

By Amanda Norman, University Archivist

A few weeks ago, we found a most unusual specimen among the records of W.R. White, Baylor president from 1948-1961. Museum studies graduate student Valencia Johnson is processing this collection, and she was surprised to find a portrait of White—painted on a block of sugar!

Sugar portrait of Baylor President W.R. White, 1956

Imagine pulling this out of a box! This artifact is part of BU records: Office of the President, Chancellor and President Emeritus (W.R. White) #BU/142.

Fortunately, I immediately knew its context. Before coming to The Texas Collection, I was a writer in University Development and went to the home of Jerry and Mary Marcontell to interview them for Baylor’s planned giving newsletter. Jerry was a key member of the 1957 Sugar Bowl team, and hanging on a wall in their house was a portrait of him on a block of sugar—one was presented to each athlete.

And apparently, administrators got them, too! Since becoming University Archivist, I had remembered that sugar portrait and rather hoped that no one would bring one to us. Cultural heritage professionals prefer not to have food in the stacks, both because it can invite critters who are detrimental to the records and because, well, food isn’t meant to last that long and thus is hard to preserve. But, it turned out that we already had White’s portrait in the house, tucked away in an unassuming archival box for decades. (We hadn’t found it before because the collection was restricted till just recently. Now, maybe we should inspect other old accessions to see what other surprises lurk…)

Fortunately, whatever they did to that sugar to prepare it for painting, it must have also deterred ants, roaches, and other insects who love sugar. There are a few baby roaches who appear to have met their demise in what looks like a tape frame around the object. (I’ve taken a picture of this but am told it’s rather unappetizing, so we’ll spare you.) There otherwise is not too much evidence of nibblings. It has lasted this long—almost 60 years now—and quite frankly, is an amazing object, so we decided to investigate ways to preserve the portrait.

White-Sugar Portrait-Angle

From an angle, you can really appreciate the sparkly canvas. (And see the crack that has formed.)

At this point, in email consultation with some archivists and conservators, there seems to be consensus that the primary threat to this item is water and moisture. Fortunately, while maintaining humidity in our stacks, especially in the summer, is a constant struggle, it’s not nearly as humid here as in a coastal area, so that will help. We are investigating housing possibilities, likely a custom box with rigid support (to prevent future cracks) and desiccants (to prevent moisture build-up). And we’ll definitely keep a close eye on bug traps around it to make sure it’s not attracting anything! (Many thanks to Susan Russick, Karen Pavelka, Suzy Morgan, and other conservation/preservation specialists who have weighed in on our piece.)

We’d love to hear if any other archives, museums, or other repositories have a sugar portrait in their holdings and how you’re going about preserving it. From the research we’ve done, it sounds like the Sugar Bowl had these portraits created for at least 10 years, so there must be more out there! Also, the enclosure and support of the portrait has a stamp for Krauss Co. Ltd., which from some quick Googling tells us was a New Orleans department store—perhaps the sugar artist was housed there?

We can’t afford to take in additional sugar portraits—one is enough for research value and display, and we can’t afford all of the custom boxes and space it would take to preserve them. However, we’re delighted to have found this artifact—and with a few months to spare before the 60th anniversary of Baylor’s appearance in the Sugar Bowl!

Posted in Art, Baylor University, Sugar Bowl, W.R. White | Leave a comment

A Look at Alexander Hamilton’s World through Texas Collection Maps

by Jeanne Dittmann, Heart of Texas Regional History Fair Coordinator and Map Curator

Map: 1752 Bowen’s close up of Louisiana

Detail of Bowen’s “A new and accurate map of Louisiana, with part of Florida and Canada.”

Oh, Alexander Hamilton
When America sings for you
Will they know what you overcame?
Will they know you rewrote the game?
The world will never be the same

259 years after his birth—give or take a year, as his year of birth is noted as either 1755 or 1757—the world is certainly singing for Alexander Hamilton, and just as these lyrics suggest, the world certainly changed dramatically during his life. But what did the world—especially the world that he knew and helped shape—look like during Alexander Hamilton’s life? Historical maps can show us a certain part of the world at a certain time, and while Texas wasn’t really one of Hamilton’s concerns, The Texas Collection holds some maps that give an interesting perspective on that transformative time in our nation’s history.

Map: 1752 Bowen’s: A new and accurate map of Louisiana

A comprehensive depiction of parts of North America in 1752 from the British perspective. 1752 Bowen’s “A new and accurate map of Louisiana”

This first map was created in 1752 by one of the leading English engravers and geographers of the time, Emanuel Bowen. The British colonies are colorfully highlighted in contrast to the much-larger French territory of Louisiana. We can see nearly the entire area that would soon become the United States of America and much of the territory that would eventually join that new country, including an as-yet-unnamed Texas. Keep in mind that this map was drawn from the British perspective—their lands, their colonies, all that for which they would soon be fighting a war.

Map: 1766 Desnos’ Nouveau Mexique, Louisiane, Canada, et Nouvelle Angleterre.

A comprehensive depiction of more of North America in 1766 from the French perspective. 1766 Desnos’ Nouveau Mexique, Louisiane, Canada, et Nouvelle Angleterre.

This second map is from 1766 and drawn from a French perspective. This map shows most of North America in great detail for the time—though the placement of mountain ranges was clearly speculative, given the long range of mountains stretching through Central Texas. Geographic regions are noted, but political divisions are not the focus of this map. “Nouvelle Angleterre” (French for New England) is depicted as a unified body, which from an outsider’s perspective, it might have appeared to be as it prepared to fight for freedom. Yet we know how the colonies’ individual characteristics and needs played out in the creation of the new nation.

Map: 1785 Wilkinson's map, United States (Etats-Unis)

An early depiction of the new United States (Etats-Unis) in 1785, without interior borders. 1785 Wilkinson’s map, United States (Etats-Unis)

The third map, from 1785, is among the first to show the fledgling nation, and most interestingly, the first map to list the proposed states of the Jeffersonian Ordinance of 1784. While this Ordinance ultimately was adopted only partially, this map captures the possibility of what could have been, even while depicting some of what was known of this new nation at that tumultuous time. Note the area out west labeled Grand Espace de Pays Qui N’est Pas Connu (Great Tract of Country Which Is Not Known), where Texas is labelled Tecas.

Map: 1812 Wilkinson’s United States

An accurate depiction of the new United States in 1812, with interior borders. 1812 Wilkinson’s United States

And this last map is from 1812, just a few years after Hamilton’s untimely death in 1804. The mapmaker chose to show only the new United States, with hints of the future acquisitions shown at the western and southern margins. The new country that Hamilton helped to birth was constantly changing, and this is another map that captured a hint of what might have been—regions of Franklinia in present day Tennessee and Indiana in present day West Virginia—had different decisions been made by the leaders of the day.

While most of our map collection has a fixed gaze on Texas and the regions closest to Texas, many of our maps also give insight into other parts of our country, our continent, and the world at large. If these brief glimpses of North America at the time of the American Revolution have piqued your interest, make plans to come by the Texas Collection and visit the map room to see more of our collection.

Click on the image below to view the full Flickr album.

Alexander Hamilton’s World through Texas Collection Maps

Posted in Alexander Hamilton, American Revolution, American Revolutionary War, Emanuel Bowen, Maps, United States history | Leave a comment

Understanding a Derailment: Camp MacArthur Train No. 264

by Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

The Derailment of Camp MacArthur’s Troop Train No. 264 (8)

On June 18, 1918, a troop train carrying soldiers from Camp MacArthur’s 80th Field Artillery left East Waco traveling eastward on the Cotton Belt line on a trip to a southern training camp. After traveling for 15 minutes (about 7 miles), the train derailed just north of Selby (no longer on the map). Two troops, Corporals Laurn Harrell and August Handschumacher, Jr., were killed, and about 30 military personnel and four employees of the railroad were injured.

In these photos taken by Edward Charles (E.C.) Blomeyer, of Waco, Texas, we can see the aftermath of the crash. Blomeyer was not involved with the railroad but rather was president of The Texas Telephone Company—while also pursuing amateur interest in photography. Blomeyer (1883-1964) lived in Waco from about 1912 to 1920. His collection of nearly 1,500 negatives and prints allow us to be an eyewitness to historical events that otherwise might be lost to time.

The Derailment of Camp MacArthur’s Troop Train No. 264 (7)

According to the Interstate Commerce Commission’s report on the incident, the train consisted of 14 passenger coaches, 6 freight cars, and a caboose.  Troop train no. 264 left East Waco at 3:25 p.m. and after traveling eastward about 7 miles and approximately 1.1 miles north of the town of Selby (no longer on the map), the train derailed at approximately 3:40 p.m. The locomotive was a Baldwin Consolidation-type, 2-8-0, #510, of the St. Louis Southwestern Railway of Texas, also known as the Cotton Belt line.

The Derailment of Camp MacArthur’s Troop Train No. 264 (9)

The derailment occurred as the train approached a trestle crossing the Tehuacana Creek. After an investigation by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), and upon hearing statements from the train’s engineer, Statham, the agency came to the conclusion that a sun kink was the main factor of the accident. Sun kinks can occur during extreme heat causing rails to bulge or spread. At the time of the accident on this June day, it was reported to be 103 degrees.

The Derailment of Camp MacArthur’s Troop Train No. 264 (2)

Statham reported to the agency that the sun kink was “3 to 5 inches in width and about half a rail length long, located about 400 feet south of the trestle; he then set the air [brakes] in emergency and jumped.”

Another factor reported by the ICC describes the poor condition of the track: “this section was not properly supported by a ballast, and should not have been permitted to remain in that condition.” Based on the information, it was determined this resulted in the locomotive to begin its derailment 113 feet south of the trestle, causing the engine to turn over when it began to cross. A Waco News-Tribune account of June 19, 1918, states: “…at the time of the wreck [the train] was passing over a wooden bridge across Tehuacana creek. As the engine went onto the bridge timbers suddenly gave way and the locomotive ploughed through.”

The Derailment of Camp MacArthur’s Troop Train No. 264 (5)

The ICC determined that there were no mechanical problems with the Baldwin Locomotive #510. However, the arrangement of the cars made the event more tragic: during the derailment, the engine’s tender cistern became unattached from its frame, and unfortunately, directly behind it was the first passenger coach, which was made of wood. The wooden coach was practically demolished under the tender’s frame and tank, and the two deaths and many of the injuries occurred in this car. The ICC claimed that placing this lighter wooden coach behind the locomotive with the heavier steel cars behind it “undoubtedly increased the danger of injury to the passengers.”

The Derailment of Camp MacArthur’s Troop Train No. 264 (6)

After the incident there was much speculation as to the cause of the mishap. The June 19, 1918, Waco News-Tribune reported that: “The favorite opinion of the hundreds of officers, camp and railroad officials, and citizen spectators, was that the bridge or the rails had been tampered with, by persons knowing of the troop movement.” With the U.S. into its second year of involvement in World War I, it is not surprising that such theories of sabotage were being put forth.  Just a few days after the derailment, these theories were debunked by the investigation reports.

E.C. Blomeyer and camera, Cameron Park, Waco, TX.

All of the above photographs were taken by Edward Charles (E.C.) Blomeyer, of Waco, Texas. See more of the photos from this accident in our Flickr album below:

The Derailment of Camp MacArthur’s Troop Train No. 264

Posted in Camp MacArthur, Cotton Belt Rail Line, Locomotives, Rail Road, Texas railroads, Trains | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: Texas Centennial Exposition

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. 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.

TXCentennial-night-views

  • The Texas Centennial Exposition was the official celebration of 100 years of independence for Texas and was quite the extravaganza. The exposition was described as a spectacle where industry met commerce and art met science.
  • There were celebrations all over Texas that begun in 1935, but the official exposition was held in Dallas, Texas, and opened on June 6, 1936.
  • Billed as the first world’s fair held in the Southwest, it commemorated Texas history with fifty buildings, exhibits such as “The Cavalcade of Texas,” and cost $25 million to build.
  • The colored searchlights seen throughout the postcards could be seen for more than fifty miles. The other light channels spread through the exposition illuminate the buildings and reflect on the water of the lagoons and fountains. The porticoes along the esplanade were given special light treatment to accentuate the magnificent murals.
  • Along with the exposition, monuments for more than twenty Texas heroes were erected, and historic buildings across Texas were restored.

Postcard descriptions:

  • C56 – Fountain and Statuary of the Reflection Basin, study in Art. The brilliant coloring with the Flare lighting making for some of the best studies for the Studies
  • C55 – Reflection Basin, Esplanade of State
  • C61 – Texas Hall of State, is typical of the Nation’s Largest Commonwealth. Built of native stone, the $1.2 million structure is 488 feet wide and 258 feet deep.
  • 1009 – United States Government Building, with “The Story of Life,” scientific exhibit, arranged by State and Federal Doctors and Scientists
  • C51 – Transportation Building

Sources

Night Scenes of Texas Centennial Exposition, n.d., The Texas Collection general postcard files, The Texas Collection, Carroll Library, Baylor University, Waco, TX..

Handbook of Texas Online, “Texas Centennial,” accessed April 21, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lkt01.

GIF and factoids by Haley Rodriguez, archives student assistant. See these and other Texas Centennial Exposition images in our Flickr set.

 

Posted in Dallas, Fair Park, Texas Centennial Exposition, Texas over Time | Leave a comment

Research Ready: May 2016

By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials, and Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!

Here are May’s finding aids:

Robert E. Lee's General Order No. 9

This unsigned copy of General Robert E. Lee’s General Order No. 9 was given to acting brigade commander Jonathan E. Spencer in the first few days after Lee’s surrender to Ulysses S. Grant. J.E. Spencer papers, 1861-1865, circa 1911, 1929 (#3957), box 1, folder 2, at The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

  • J.E. Spencer papers, 1861-1865, circa 1911, 1929 (#3957): This small collection contains Confederate surrender documents and a photograph of a Baylor University women’s tennis team, plus clippings and Confederate rosters and bonds. You can read a transcript of the document on the left here!
  • Thomas Dudley Brooks papers, 1926-1932, undated, (#104): Correspondence from his many roles at Baylor University and the community: Chairman of the School of Education, Professor of School Administration, Chairman of the Committee of Placement of Teachers, Dean of Summer School, contributing editor of the Texas Outlook, and mayor of Waco 1928-1929.
  • House of Poetry collection, 1903-1997, undated (#2064): Collection of published and unpublished poems written by various members of the House of Poetry, an organization that promoted writing and reciting poetry. The Poetry Society of Texas helped support the group by donating financially and giving poems to be preserved.
  • Janie Pender Castellaw papers, circa 1968, undated (#818): Photographs, literary productions, collected materials, and correspondence collected by Janie Pender Castellaw. Topics include Castellaw’s monetary donation to Baylor University, religious faith, and various prose and poetry topics.
  • Bachman family papers, 1886-1925, undated (#2422): Includes correspondence, financial materials, and photographs on the Bachman family in Texas. This collection particularly spotlights a few courtships carried on via correspondence.
  • Robert Grundy papers, 1804-1946 (#30): This collection includes many of Grundy’s unpublished manuscripts on early Texas and Western people and other topics. Other materials include personal and family financial documents, land deeds, and other resources.

Here are May’s print materials:
bowiesmall
Camp Bowie and Lake Worth, Fort Worth, Texas. [Fort Worth, TX]: [Reimers], [19–?].
Typically, military souvenir books focus on a particular camp or regiment, but this volume is unique because it also describes Fort Worth’s Lake Worth. In addition to wonderful photographs of military life at the camp, the pamphlet also features photos of activities visitors can enjoy at the lake. This little pictorial volume is as much a promotional for Fort Worth as it is a glimpse into Camp Bowie. Check out a few more pages from this piece on our Flickr page.

DelRiosmallSouvenir of Fourteenth Cavalry in Camp at Del Rio, Texas. [Del Rio, TX]: circa 1916.
Filled with ads from Del Rio businesses and group photos of the troops and camp, this volume also provides a lengthy history of the Fourteenth Cavalry. Events covered include their founding in 1901 and various expeditions and tours up until 1916. Check out a few more pages from this piece on our Flickr page.

CampSwiftsmallA Camera Trip through Camp Swift, Texas: A Picture Book of the Camp and its Activities. Brooklyn, NY: Ullman Co., [194-?].
One of the most impressive aspects of this book are the sheer volume of photographs included, many of which offer a candid view into Camp Swift. The diversity of the camp is evident based on images that include women, minorities, and varied worship services. Check out a few more pages from this piece on our Flickr page.

Posted in American South, Archives, authors, Baylor English department, Civil War, Confederate States of America, Del Rio, female poets, Fort Worth, Frontier and pioneer life, Immortal Ten, letters, Mayors, Research Ready, School of Education, Texas Mayors, World War I | Leave a comment