A Baseball Dream Come True: Ted Lyons, Chicago White Sox Pitcher and Baylor Alumnus

By Adina Johnson, graduate assistant

Ted Lyons receives a car from White Sox fans, undated

The fan favorite Ted Lyons, “The Sunday Pitcher,” is given a gift (is it the car?)  from the White Sox contingent. Ted Lyons papers #1485, Box 1, folder 5.

It is every young Little League pitcher’s dream: to lead a college baseball team to a conference championship, try out for a major league team, and pitch in the majors in the very same month. But for Baylor star pitcher Ted Lyons, this scenario was not just a dream, but a happy reality. The Theodore “Ted” Amar Lyons papers, held at The Texas Collection, tell the story of Lyons’ mercurial rise to fame as a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, the only Baylor baseball player to have such great success at the professional level.

Baylor Bears, Southwest Champs, Baylor Lariat, May 23, 1923

The Baylor Lariat headline when Ted Lyons led his team to a Southwest Conference victory in 1923.

Admitted to Baylor on a baseball scholarship in 1919, Ted Lyons was also the starting center for the Baylor basketball team. After his coach convinced him to try pitching, Lyons’ career took off. His Baylor baseball years culminated in a victory over the Texas Longhorns in 1923, where Lyons pitched a 6-2 game to claim the Southwest Conference Championship. On July 2 of that same year, Lyons signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox and pitched in his first major league game the very same day.

Ted Lyons meets George V, Edward VIII, and George VI when on tour in England, circa 1942

“Three Kings of England wearing derbys shake hands with Teddy Lyons: George V, Edward VIII, then Prince of Wales, and George VI, when he was on tour in England 15 years ago.” (Description from Baylor Century, January 1943.) Ted Lyons papers #1485, Box 1, folder 4.

According to Chicago newspapers, Ted Lyons quickly became the most popular player on the White Sox team. His career would span 21 years, winning 260 games with a not-so-successful team that never finished higher than third in their division. His career included three 20-win seasons, and he led the league in wins twice. Amazingly, Lyons pitched an entire 21-inning game on May 4, 1929. Lyons was so reliable and popular that from 1939-1942 he pitched almost exclusively on Sundays, the day of highest park attendance. Thus Ted Lyons became known in baseball as “The Sunday Pitcher.”

Ted Lyons with the Baylor University Band, undated

Ted Lyons with the Baylor University Band, undated. Ted Lyons papers #1485, Box 1, folder 4.

In 1942, after a season where he posted an exceptional 2.10 ERA, Lyons left baseball to join the war effort. As a Marine, Lyons served primarily in the South Pacific, notably organizing a baseball camp in the Marshall Islands to spread goodwill with America’s national pastime. After returning to the White Sox in 1946, Lyons pitched one more season before becoming the Sox manager for three years. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.

Ted Lyons, Chicago White Sox pitcher for 21 years

Ted Lyons pitching for the Chicago White Sox, where he spent his entire 21 year career. Ted Lyons papers #1485, Box 1, folder 5.

Ted Lyons never married and spent the rest of his life back home in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Even as late as 1981, he was receiving hundreds of autograph requests each year. He died on July 25, 1986. His legacy and career as a Baylor Bear and White Sox pitcher are an indelible part of Baylor’s history. His small collection of papers at The Texas Collection, consisting of letters, clippings, and photos, will preserve his memory and fuel baseball dreams for generations of Little Leaguers to come.

More on Ted Lyons:

http://baseballhall.org/hof/lyons-ted

http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/b3442150

Posted in baseball, Baylor University, Chicago White Sox, major league baseball, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Ted Lyons | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: Brooks Hall construction, Baylor University

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.

Brooks Hall ConstructionBrooks Hall, Baylor University

  • The fifth floor of Brooks Hall was rumored to be haunted by “violin music, a phantom in a top hat and cloak, and inexplicable candlelight moving around.”
  • The original cost to build Brooks Hall was $365,530 (or roughly $4,690,000) in today’s dollars.
  • Up until 1987, Brooks Hall had no interior hallways. Each suite opened into a stairwell. This was intended to make the building more fireproof, more efficient with ventilation, and reduce noise. It was redesigned in 1987 for fire safety and practicality.
  • When it became implausible to renovate and restore Brooks Hall, Baylor decided to construct Brooks Village. Architects took trips to Oxford and Cambridge in search of the new residential community’s architectural inspiration. The architects also used elements from buildings at Harvard and Yale.

Sources

Baylor-Buildings-Brooks Hall. General photo files, The Texas Collection.

Buildings: Brooks Hall. Baylor University Subject File. The Texas Collection.

Gif and factoids prepared by Timothy Brestowski, student library assistant

Here’s a Flickr set that includes the images used to compiled this animation (plus a few more of Baylor students and the campus over time), should you want to examine each photo individually.

Posted in Baylor University, Brooks Hall, Texas over Time | 2 Comments

Research Ready: March 2014

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’s the scoop for March:

Carroll Library "Housewarming" program cover, 1923

Housewarming program for newly reconstructed F. L. Carroll Chapel and Library, 1923 December. Having been destroyed by fire, the building (sans chapel) reopened to the public during the celebration of President Samuel Palmer Brooks’s sixtieth birthday. BU Records: Alumni Rebuilding Campaign #BU/58, box 2, folder 12.

  • BU Records: Alumni Rebuilding Campaign, 1922-1923: The records of the Alumni Rebuilding Campaign consist of correspondence, financial documents, and administrative records regarding fundraising efforts to rebuild Baylor’s F. L. Carroll Chapel and Library after the building was destroyed by fire in 1922.
  • Hosea Garrett papers, 1856-1878: The Garrett papers contain correspondence and financial documents primarily produced by Hosea Garrett during 1856-1863. Garrett was a trustee of Baylor University at Independence and a major donor throughout the early years of Baylor.
State of Baylor University report by President George Washington Baines, 1862

State of Baylor University report by President George Baines, 1862. The report to the Board of Trustees documents the difficulties of leading the university during the American Civil War, with students and professors leaving all the time and tuition bills not being paid.

Posted in Baylor at Independence, Baylor University, Carroll Library, George Washington Baines, Hosea Garrett, Research Ready, Samuel Palmer Brooks | Leave a comment

Expanding Your Search in BARD

By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

In our previous BARD posts, we’ve been exploring how to make the most of our new database in various ways. In our last post in this series, we offer a few more ways to discover Texas Collection resources: tips on browsing larger collections, using BARD’s advanced search, and opening attachments to collections.

You can enter the BARD system by clicking the link on our home page. We have already learned how to search by keyword, but maybe you already know the title of the collection you want to see and just need to know which boxes to request. For example, you might want to look at Pat Neff’s finding aid. You could enter “Pat Neff” into the search field like we did before, or you could click on the blue “N” for “Neff” under “Browse Collections.” If the collection features a person, then it will be filed under their last name in the system.

Search by letterAs you can see below, clicking these letters can bring up a lot of collections! The Neff collection is in the center of the page. Once you have found the collection you want, click the title to bring up the finding aid.

N search resultsThe Neff collection finding aid is different from some others because it is so big. For example, on the left, there are blue + signs to the left of the series titles. In the first blog post in this series, we discovered that by clicking on the series titles, we could bring up just that part of the collection. In the Neff collection, you can click on the blue + symbols to expand your viewing options within the series. By clicking on these new options, you can go to an even more specific part of the collection.

Plus signs to expand searchAnother way to search for collections is to use the advanced search feature. You can easily access this feature by clicking “Advanced Search” in the blue bar at the top of the page.

Advanced searchThere are several handy things that can help in using this way to search. For titles, creators, and subjects, you can narrow the search by checking “exact match” so that the system is only searching using your exact words.

Exact matchYou can also enter a term to search in the title, creator, or subject box, and then press “Enter” or click “Get Hit Count” in the upper-right corner. The hit count number tells you how many times your term appears across all collections. This can be handy if you are looking for something specific; it can tell you quickly how many potential places you might need to research (or if perhaps you should refine your search terms).

Hit count

Another helpful tool on Cuadra Star is the ability to view files attached to collections. Some collections may have examples of photographs found in collections, family trees, or other files attached to them. For example, the Edward C. Blomeyer Photographic Collection finding aid in BARD includes some samples of photographic materials in the collection. To get to them, search using the keyword “Blomeyer,” click on the finding aid, and expand out the blue + symbols. You can click on any of the titles next to the + links, but as an example I clicked on “Cameron Park, Rivers, and Bridges” under “Texas” and “Waco.”

Exploring attachments (Cameron Park, Rivers, and Bridges)Once you get here, you can peruse the thumbnail photographs as they are on the page, or you can expand them by clicking on a photo.

Expanded attached imageUsually in this view you can see information about the photograph, what we call “metadata”—information giving you context for the item, which may be helpful for your research and citation.

When you are done viewing finding aids in BARD, be sure to close down the system properly. In the main search page, in the upper right corner, click the red “Log Out” to exit from BARD. Leaving the system in this way is very important to ensure the proper functioning of the system.

Log outThis concludes our series of how to navigate in BARD. If you have any questions as you are using it, please let us know!

Posted in archival research, BARD, Cuadra Star, special collections research | 1 Comment

Seeing Double: Twin Conventions at Baylor University, 1939-1941

By Benna Vaughan, Special Collections and Manuscripts Archivist

The first Twin Convention in 1939 at Baylor University, Waco, Texas

The first Twin Convention in 1939 at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. TC general photo files–Baylor–Events–Twin Convention

Seeing twins everyday is somewhat unusual, but at Baylor University in March 1939, you could see twins everywhere you looked. The papers of Pat M. Neff at the Texas Collection document the event very well: the first Texas College Twin Convention, on March 24-25, 1939.

Crowd of twins and triplets at Twin Convention, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940

Crowd of twins and triplets at Twin Convention, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940, Pat M. Neff collection

The convention, held at Baylor University, consisted of approximately 80-100 multiples and represented 20 colleges. The Keys Quads (Leota, Mary, Mona, and Roberta), who had graduated from Baylor in 1937, attended the event and participated in judging and entertainment. These four women promoted Baylor during the mid-1930s and were the most visible set of quadruplets in the country at that time. At this first convention there were not only the Keys Quads from Oklahoma, but also the nine-year-old Perricone Quads (Anthony, Bernard, Carl, and Donald) from Beaumont, three sets of triplets, and 80+ sets of twins.

Twin Club members at event, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940

Baylor also had its own Twin Club. Here they gather at an event (perhaps Homecoming?), circa 1940. Pat M. Neff collection, Personal series, box 116, folder 6.

The Twin Conventions were special events, and twins from numerous states competed for different awards. Categories included most identical (in-state and out-of state), best skit, and most unique experience. The Texas College Twin Association was formed at the convention, and the first officers for the organization were elected: Irene and Florene Rushing of Baylor were the first presidents; vice-presidents were Melvin and Elvin Franklin from the University of Texas at Austin; and the office of secretary went to the Crow twins, Douglas and David, from Hardin-Simmons.

Second Twins Convention announced, January 30, 1940, Baylor University, "Baylor Lariat," Waco, Texas

Second Twins Convention announced, January 30, 1940, Baylor University, “Baylor Lariat,” Waco, Texas.

The conventions were much more than just meetings—they were opportunities for recruitment and research. People wrote to Neff, telling him about their own twins or twins that they knew, wanting an invitation. Neff openly recruited twins such as Meryle and Beryle Mixon to Baylor, writing: “We have what is known to be the Twins club, an organization made up of twins now attending the institution. On March 20, we are having a twin convention to which a very large number of twins from other institutions as well as high schools have been invited.” Neff goes on to suggest that the girls should attend Baylor once they had completed high school.

In addition, Dr. Ida Cox Gardner, head of the psychology department, was doing research on multiple births at the time, and the twin conference gave her the opportunity to conduct further research. A copy of Dr. Gardner’s twin survey is in the Baylor Twin Club vertical file at the Texas Collection, along with sample letters and programs for the second and third conventions.

Excerpt from Dr. Gardner's multiple births survey

Excerpt from Iva Cox Gardner’s multiple births survey. Baylor Twins Club vertical file.

In efforts to gain students and support for Baylor, a promotional trip was planned for the Keys Quads and the Perricone Quads immediately after the 1939 convention. They visited the Badgetts, a set of quads who were only six months old, with the two-day affair in Galveston also including luncheons and vocal performances by the Keys. The meeting between the three sets of quads was well publicized and many came to view the “actual meeting.”

Pat M. Neff and Twin Club, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940

Pat M. Neff and Twin Club, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940. Pat M. Neff collection, Personal series, box 117, folder 1.

The Twin Conventions ended up being a short-lived tradition, with the last one in 1941. Baylor continued to encourage twins to attend college in Waco and awarded scholarships to twins who came to the University. One set of twins was already enrolled at Baylor before they were born! Although the Twin Conventions never regained momentum after World War II, they are remembered fondly in reminiscences,  letters, and photographs housed in the Texas Collection.

Posted in Baylor University, Iva Cox Gardner, Keys Quads, multiple births, Pat Neff, Perricone Quads, Texas College Twin Convention | Leave a comment

Before Brittney: A Legacy of Champions

Love the Lady Bears? Ever wonder about the beginnings of women’s athletics at Baylor? Well, we have a book for you!

Goodloe-coverWe have many researchers visit The Texas Collection who are working on book projects, and we are always so excited when we hear one has been completed. Dr. Nancy Goodloe, emeritus professor of health education at Baylor, visited our collection several times while working on Before Brittney: A Legacy of Champions. Her recently published book explores the path from the first female varsity letter winners in 1904—and then there were no more varsity letters awarded to women until 1976—to the national prominence Baylor women’s athletics enjoys today.

Goodloe, a former Bearette, coach, and athletic trainer in the women’s programs (1965-76), places Baylor’s story in the national context of struggles for women’s intercollegiate athletics. At The Texas Collection, Goodloe drew on the Olga Fallen papers, presidential records, Lariats, Round-Ups, and our photograph files. She also interviewed various coaches, athletes, and other people who witnessed the development of women’s athletics at Baylor.

The Baylor Bookstore is hosting a book signing event on March 22 from 10-11:30 am. Books will be available for purchase at the event. If you can’t make it but would like to order the book, it is available for purchase via the publisher’s website.

Interested in hands-on exploration of women’s athletics at Baylor? Check out our blog post on the Olga Fallen papers and Flickr sets here, here, and here on women’s basketball, and there are some good tennis photos too. And then there are the athletics photos we’ve put on our Texas Collection photos page on Baylor’s digital collections site. But these online resources are just the tip of the iceberg, so come and do some research with us at The Texas Collection!

Posted in archival research, Baylor athletics, Baylor University, Bearettes, Lady Bears, Nancy Goodloe, Sports, Women's Athletics | Leave a comment

Pioneering in Medicine and Business: Waco's First Female Pharmacist and Drugstore Chain Owner

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Pauline Pipkin, Baylor University, Class of 1923

Pauline Pipkin’s pictures from the 1923 “Baylor Round-Up.” The caption with Pauline Pipkin’s cap-and-gown images read: “Sociology-History; President Fine Arts Club ’21; Graduate in Piano ’21; Round-Up Staff…”

Pauline Pipkin Garrett studied music at Baylor in the 1920s, but then the family business came a-calling. Under her leadership, W.P. Pipkin Drugs became one of the Southwest’s largest independently owned drugstore chains. The story of the businesswoman who carried on her father’s work and progressive ideas contains many “firsts” for a Waco business and women in the workplace.

Begun by her father, William P. Pipkin in 1898, the store started out as W.P. Pipkin Drugs, with its first store located at 418 Elm Avenue. After graduating from Baylor University in 1923 with a BA in music, Pauline’s interests turned to the family business. She went on to the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, where she excelled. The Waco News-Tribune on December 21, 1924, reported that she made the “highest grades in her class in a competitive examination.” The article also stated that the college had 3,000 men and only 100 women enrolled at the time.

Pipkin Drug Store, Waco, Texas, circa 1950s

A typical scene in one of Waco’s seven Pipkin Drug stores. Notice the signage—the company placed a strong emphasis on bold advertising in-house and in the local newspapers. Ava Storey and Dixie Anderson Butcher collection #3779, box 3, folder 6.

In 1926, Pauline received a BA in pharmacology, became a licensed pharmacist, and joined her father in his business. William Pipkin was the first drugstore owner in Waco to hire women. In a recollection published in the May 26, 1957, Waco Tribune-Herald, Pauline recalls a customer asking, “‘You reckon that’ll do—a girl selling cigars?’ He [W.P. Pipkin] said, ‘They’ll do better than some of these jelly beans.’ They called the boys ‘jelly beans’ in those days.”

Pauline worked in several departments, including the soda fountain and washing dishes. In doing so, she got to know more about her employees and work practices. This would help in later years when she took over management after her father’s death in 1935, and full ownership when her mother, Irene, died in 1953. After Pauline took over full operations, the Pipkin chain then grew from three to seven stores and was recognized nationally as an award-winning seller of Rexall products—Pipkin’s main product line.

Pipkin Drug Store, Waco, Texas, circa 1950s (tobacco counter)

In the days when tobacco sales were more prevalent, this section was an important part of any drug store. Ava Storey and Dixie Anderson Butcher collection #3779, box 2, folder 18.

By 1957, the firm had a staff that included 50 women holding duties in all departments. The Pipkin chain’s leadership and quantity of female staff was not the norm, nationally—men dominated the field of licensed pharmacists. Even in the mid-1960s, only 8% of pharmacists were women. Women who owned and operated stores were even fewer in number.

In 1961, the Pipkin Drug Store chain was also one of Waco’s first establishments to desegregate their lunch counters and serve African-Americans. Their first store to do so was the 700 Elm Street location near Paul Quinn College. The company already had a well-established number of African-Americans working in various positions throughout the company.

Pipkin Drug Store, Waco, Texas, signs on windows read: "Another Pipkin Drug Store Opens Here Soon," circa 1950s

The confidence of the Pipkin’s chain is evident in the signage of this store–just “another Pipkin Drug Store opens here soon.” Competitors in Waco included Walgreen’s and Williams Drugs, so success was not a given. Ava Storey and Dixie Anderson Butcher collection #3779, box 3, folder 2.

Life wasn’t all about work for Pauline—she did maintain her love for music.  While in pharmacy school, according to the December 1924, Waco News-Tribune article, “she made several vocal and cello records for the Victor Company at Camden, N.J.” Back at home, she played the cello in various Waco orchestras. In 1930, she was given the opportunity to go to Europe and play with a symphony.

Pauline married Waco attorney, Barney Garrett, on January 15, 1936. They purchased one of Waco’s most distinctive homes—the Cottonland Castle, on 3300 Austin Avenue. She dedicated one of the rooms to music, filling it with a grand piano and several string instruments.

Pauline passed away at home in 1963. Her husband sold Pipkin Drugs to a firm in Garland, Texas, and it became a Rexall drugstore. By 1967, all but one of the former seven Pipkin stores had closed, with the last location at 3900 Bosque Boulevard.

Love the photos above? Check out our Flickr set below to view a few more photos featuring Pipkin’s, mostly from the Ava Storey and Dixie Anderson Butcher collection.  (Click on the crosshairs in the bottom right corner to make it full-screen).

Works Consulted

“Waco Girl Wins Honors.” The Waco News-Tribune (Waco, TX), Dec. 21, 1924.

“Pipkin Firm is Marking Fiftieth Birthday in Waco.” The Waco News-Tribune (Waco, TX), March 26, 1948.

“Couple of Floods Direct Pipkin Firm Toward Success, Now in its 60th Year.” The Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX), May 26, 1957.

“Firm’s Owner ‘Just Grew’ Into Business.” The Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX), May 26, 1957.

“Firm Claims Many ‘Firsts’ In Business.” The Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX), May 26, 1957.

“Death Takes Pipkin Drug Chain Owner.” The Waco Times-Herald (Waco, TX), Dec. 4, 1963.

“Garland Firm Buys Pipkin Drug Chain.” The Waco News-Tribune (Waco, TX), April 20, 1964.

“Pipkin Will Close Store on Austin.” The Waco News-Tribune (Waco, TX), April 9, 1965.

Jay Fitzgerald, “Pharmacy and the Evolution of a Family-Friendly Occupation,” The National Bureau of Economic Research, accessed March 7, 2014.

Annalyn Kurtz, “Pharmacist: Most equal job for men and women,” CNNMoney, A Service of CNN, Fortune and Money, accessed March 5, 2014.

Sheri Robertson, “Pauline Pipkin Garrett: A Life of Commitment” (Term Paper, Baylor University, 1980). Vertical Files: Garrett, Pauline Pipkin. The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

Joe L. Ward, Jr., “Quiet desegregation of Waco’s public facilities,” Waco History Project, accessed March 7, 2014.

Patricia Ward Wallace, A Spirit So Rare: A History of the Women of Waco (Austin, Texas: Nortex Press, 1984), 209-214.

Posted in Ava Walkup Storey, Baylor University, Dixie Anderson Butcher, Historic Waco, Pauline Pipkin Garrett, Pharmacies, Pipkin Drug Store, Rexall Drugs, Waco, William P. Pipkin | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, Waco

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.

MasonicGrandLodgeGIF

Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas construction (8th Street side), 1948-1949

  • The Waco Masonic Lodge, also known as The Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, is the headquarters for the Texas Freemasons. It is located at 715 Columbus Avenue. The original headquarters were in Houston but were moved to Waco during the early 1900s.
  • Many noted figures in Texas and Baylor history were freemasons, including Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, R.E.B. Baylor, George W. Truett, and many of Baylor’s presidents.
  • The building is intended to be modeled after King Solomon’s temple.

Here’s a Flickr set of the images used to compiled this animation (plus a few more of the Masonic Grand Lodge), should you want to examine each individually. Most of the pictures are scanned from negatives in the Fred Marlar photographic collection. Enjoy!

Gif and factoids prepared by Timothy Brestowski, student library assistant

Posted in Freemasonry, Historic Waco, Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas, Texas over Time, Waco | 2 Comments

Research Ready: February 2014

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’s the scoop for February:

Flood at the Interurban Bridge, Waco, Texas, circa 1916

The Interurban Bridge with a rail car crossing it is seen here from the west side of the Brazos River, Waco, Texas, circa 1916. Flood level water is obvious as it flows just under the bridge. Digital ID 3886-Blomeyer-500-1; box 1 OVZ, photo negative 2:33.

  • Edward C. Blomeyer Photographic collection, 1906-1923: Blomeyer was a leader in the early telephone industry and an amateur photographer whose subjects include the telephone industry in Missouri and Texas, scenes in Waco, Texas, and his family vacations.
  • Roxy Harriette Grove papers, 1906-1953, undated: Grove was chair of the Baylor School of Music from 1926 to 1943, when Baylor became the first school in Texas to attain membership in the National Association of Schools of Music. Her papers consist of correspondence, literary productions, financial papers, and teaching materials.
  • Frances Cobb Todd papers, 1899-1990, undated: The Todd papers represent the third generation of Smith-Cobb-Bledsoe family heritage and New Hope Baptist Church materials at The Texas Collection. The collection contains items from Todd’s life and work in Waco and New Hope Baptist Church.
"Alma Mater," by Roxy Grove (soprano part)

The Baylor faithful will know that, while this music is called “Alma Mater,” it is not actually used as Baylor’s alma mater! Roxy Grove, who was chair of Baylor’s School of Music from 1926-1943, wrote the piece when Baylor did not yet have an official alma mater. “That Good Old Baylor Line” became the school song in 1931. “Alma Mater” was still sung, but not nearly as often. Roxy Harriette Grove papers #1422, box 3, folder 12.

Posted in A.J. Moore High School, African-Americans, Baptist history, Baptist women, Baylor School of Music, Baylor University, E.C. Blomeyer, Frances Cobb Todd, Historic Waco, McLennan County, Music teachers, New Hope Baptist Church, photographic negatives, Research Ready, Roxy Grove, Telephone industry, Texas Baptists, Waco, Waco Symphony Orchestra | Leave a comment

Over the Generations: Documenting Waco's African-American Community through the Eyes of the Cobb Family

By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

Bosqueville School women's basketball, Central Texas champions, 1948

Bosqueville School women’s basketball, Central Texas champions, 1948. Frances Cobb Todd papers #2960, box 5, folder 12.

In the 1970s and 1980s, many members of the African-American community in Waco preserved memories of family, friends, and community by donating collections of letters, photos, financial documents, and more to The Texas Collection. While the collections may have arrived separately, the stories they tell often overlap and provide various perspectives on the same people and events. With items dating from 1861-1991, these collections cover many important events in the life of the African-American community in Waco and the story of Waco.

One family in particular, the Cobb family, has brought three generations of family materials to be preserved and made accessible to researchers at The Texas Collection. These items contribute to many record groups documenting the African-American experience in Waco for 130 years. Learn more about these historic figures in the paragraphs below—every hyperlink represents a collection.

Reverend Stephen Cobb, first pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, Waco, Texas

Reverend Stephen Cobb, first pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, Waco, Texas. Irene Cobb papers #2918, box 6, folder 17.

Stephen Cobb, representing the first generation of Cobb materials in The Texas Collection, helped found one of the oldest African-American churches in Waco, New Hope Baptist Church. He also served as the first pastor of the church. Through two marriages, Cobb had thirteen children, eleven of whom lived to adulthood.

Many of Stephen Cobb’s children and relatives became prominent in the Waco black community—see the Smith-Cobb family collection to learn more. Several became schoolteachers, one daughter taught music, and another daughter married the noted Texas educator Robert Lloyd Smith. A protégé of Booker T. Washington, Smith served two terms in the Texas Legislature and founded a society to help black sharecroppers in the early 1900s. This society, called the Farmers Improvement Society, had 12,000 members in 800 branches across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas at its high point in 1911.

Jules Bledsoe, preparing for his role in "Showboat"

Jules Bledsoe, preparing for his role in “Showboat.” Jules Bledsoe collection #2086, box 10, folder 8.

One of Stephen Cobb’s daughters, Jessie, married Henry Bledsoe. Their son, Julius Bledsoe, or Jules Bledsoe as he was popularly known, was an international opera star in the 1920s-1940s. He sang for audiences around the world, wrote music, and performed in plays, radio, and television.  His most famous piece was “Ol’ Man River” from the musical “Showboat,” though he also sang many other songs and spirituals. After a career of 22 years, Bledsoe died in Hollywood in 1943.

At least one generation later, Irene Cobb was also active in the Waco area. A schoolteacher for 31 years at various schools around Waco, Cobb was also active at New Hope Baptist Church. By this time, she was at least the third generation of Cobb family members to attend New Hope.

Prom night for A.J. Moore High School at the Blue Triangle YWCA, 1948.

Prom night for A.J. Moore High School at the Blue Triangle YWCA, 1948. Frances Cobb Todd papers #2960, box 6, folder 15.

Irene Cobb’s daughter, Frances Cobb Todd, continued the family tradition of activity at New Hope, and followed her mother’s career path and became a teacher in the Waco Independent School District. Frances Todd was one of several New Hope members to take an interest in preserving historical documents important to the Waco African-American community, and she helped bring several New Hope-related collections to The Texas Collection.

Other African-American record groups at The Texas Collection include the papers of Vivienne Malone-Mayes, the first African-American professor to teach at Baylor University, and of Oscar “Doc” Norbert and Mary “Kitty” Jacques Du Congé—Oscar was the first African-American mayor of Waco. Several of the people in these collections also were interviewed for oral histories that can be found in the digital collections of the Baylor Institute for Oral History.

Resources such as historic photographs, music, letters, financial documents, programs, and many other materials are available for research in our African-American collections. If you are interested in donating materials documenting the African-American experience in Waco or Texas, we would love to talk with you!

Love the photos above? Check out our Flickr set below to view a few more from these collections (click on the crosshairs in the bottom right corner to make it full-screen). And then set up a visit to The Texas Collection to see even more great documentation of the African-American community in Waco.

 

Posted in African American History Month, African-American history, African-Americans, Baptist history, Farmers Improvement Society, Frances Cobb Todd, Historic Waco, Irene Cobb, Jules Bledsoe, Mary "Kitty" Jacque Du Congé, New Hope Baptist Church, Oscar "Doc" Norbert Du Congé, Robert L. Smith, Stephen Cobb, Texas Baptists, Vivienne Malone-Mayes, Waco | Leave a comment