Texas over Time: Crash at Crush

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.

Crash at Crush, TexasImages from the John Oscar Birgen “Swede” Johnson collection

  • On September 13, 1896, William George Crush organized the infamous collision of the Katy Roundhouses on the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad.
  • Crush, as the new General Passenger Agent of the MKT System, had the idea to demonstrate a train crash as a publicity stunt and was assured by all but one mechanical engineer that the boilers of the trains would not explode.
  • For the price of $2 a ticket, over 40,000 spectators came out to the pop-up town of Crush, Texas, to see the “famous duel of the iron monsters.”
  • Just after 4 pm, Crush threw a hat up into the air, signaling red No. 1001 and green Old No. 99 to begin racing at 90 miles an hour towards each other. The thundering crash of the locomotives sent flying debris towards the massive crowd, causing three deaths and other injuries.
  • One of the two photographers capturing the event, Jarvis Deane, was among the injured. He lost his eyesight after a missile put out his eye and a metal bolt lodged into his head.
  • The incident inspired Scott Joplin to write “The Great Crush Collision March.”
Posted in Crush, Jarvis Deane, Kansas and Texas Railroad, Missouri, Texas, Texas over Time, William George Crush | Leave a comment

Armstrong’s Stars: Robert Frost

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 Ph.D. candidate Jeremy Land.

Frost portrait by Farmer

Signed photograph of Robert Frost by Farmer, Waco (Celebrities Visiting Baylor photo file, Armstrong Browning Library)

When he arrived at Baylor in 1922, Robert Frost was one of the most famous poets in America. He had yet to win many of the accolades that would come later in life, but he was well on his way to becoming the household name that he is today. By the time Dr. A.J. Armstrong asked Robert Frost to come and read at Baylor, the poet was already known for his dramatic monologues and innovative blank verse celebrating the lives of New England farmers. Many of his more famous works like “Mending Wall,” “Birches,” and “The Road Not Taken” were well on their way to becoming staples in the American literary canon and poems to study for many American students.

Because of this popularity Frost earned a series of teaching jobs and public readings around the country. However, his confessed love for “barding around, ” a phrase he used to describe his itinerate lecturer lifestyle, had not really brought him very far south, and it apparently would take some convincing before the poet would come to Baylor in 1922 (Burnshaw). To sell Frost on the merits of reading poetry in Texas, Dr. Armstrong relied on his relationship with other literary luminaries who had previously read here. It even took the efforts of fellow poet and mutual friend Carl Sandburg to write Frost on Dr. Armstrong’s behalf and promise him that “they [Baylor students] not only read a man’s books before he arrives but they buy them in record-breaking numbers” (Sandburg 213).

We may never know whether or not Sandburg’s promise of profits and literate crowds was the tipping point in convincing Frost to come to Texas, but we can say that within a few months of Sandburg’s letter, Frost arrived in Dallas for a five city tour of Texas universities. Throughout November of 1922, Robert Frost gave readings at Southern Methodist University, Mary Hardin-Baylor, the City of Temple, and Southwestern University in Georgetown, in addition to Baylor; all of course were arranged by Baylor’s own Dr. A.J. Armstrong. According to the Baylor Lariat, Frost was said to have enjoyed his time at Baylor so much that he frequently said over the next few years that he would like to return to Waco (“Robert Frost, Famous Poet Speaks Here” 1).

A "heavy Frost...in the form of Robert, the Poet" was featured in the 1923 Baylor yearbook The Round Up (The Texas Collection)

A “heavy Frost…in the form of Robert, the Poet” was featured in the 1923 Baylor yearbook The Round Up (The Texas Collection)

It may have taken him a decade, but in 1933 Dr. Armstrong again convinced the New England poet to return to Texas for a second reading. By that time Frost’s reputation as a poet had only grown exponentially. Just two years earlier, he won his second of four Pulitzer prizes for his collected works and was well on his way to completing his seventh volume of original poetry. When he arrived for the second time, Frost was greeted with close to 500 audience members, all eager to hear him recite his most famous works (“Robert Frost, Famous Poet Speaks Here” 1). Ultimately, Frost’s two visits to Baylor left a lasting mark on the University. When he died in 1963, the Lariat dedicated two full pages to the poet’s life and praised his contribution to the American literary landscape. In the end, Robert Frost’s time at Baylor might be best summed up by the students themselves who claimed in their 1923 yearbook that Robert Frost’s visits “materially help[ed] put Baylor on the map” (The Round Up 161).

Works Cited

Burnshaw, Stanley. “Robert Frost.” American National Biography Online. American National Biography Online, Feb. 2000. Web. 5 June 2015

“Robert Frost, Famous Poet Speaks Here.” The Daily Lariat [Waco] 19 Apr. 1933: 1. Web. 5 June 2015

The Round Up. Ed. Enid Eastland. Vol. 22. Jefferson City: Hugh Stephens, 1923. 161. Web. 5 June 2015

Sandburg, Carl. Letter to Robert Frost. Summer 1922. The Letters of Carl Sandburg. Orlando: HBJ, 1968. 213. Print.

Learn more about Armstrong’s Stars in previous posts.

Posted in A.J. Armstrong, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Armstrong Browning Library, Armstrong's Stars, Baylor University, Robert Frost | Leave a comment

Research Ready: May 2015

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 May’s finding aids:

Civil War letter from Thomas Cope, 1863

Letter from Confederate soldier Thomas Cope to his brother. At the time of this letter, he was in a hospital in Tunnell Hill, Georgia. He passed away eight days after writing this letter. Cope family Civil War letters, Accession 3949, Box 1, Folder 1, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

 

  • M. P. Daniel papers, 1907-1986 (#3919): The M. P. Daniel papers contain the correspondence, legal, and literary documents of Marion Price Daniel, Sr., a prominent businessman in southeast Texas in the early 20th century.
Letter from Price Daniel to M.P. Daniel, 1929

In this 1929 letter home, one of M.P. Daniel’s sons, Price Daniel, provides a glimpse into Baylor student life in the late 1920s, with topics ranging from hunting to being the editor of the campus paper, The Daily Lariat. Although he did not attend Baylor University, M.P. Daniel was an active supporter of the university and all three of his children attended Baylor. M.P. Daniel papers, Accession 3919, box 6, folder 4, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Posted in American South, authors, Baylor at Independence, Baylor Female College, Civil War, Confederate States of America, Frontier and pioneer life, genealogy, Gordon Singleton, letters, Liberty County, M.P. Daniel, performing arts, Research Ready, student life, Texas Baptists, Uncategorized, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Waco | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: Waco Hippodrome Theatre

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.

We’ve got something a little different for you this month. These images were shot in Texas, but feature promotional movie displays that were probably seen across the country. Our images are from the Waco Hippodrome Theatre in the 1920s-1930s. Check out some of the elaborate productions enticing visitors to these early films.

Waco Hippodrome movie promotional displays

  • The Hippodrome, first operated and constructed by Earl Henry Husley, began as a road show house known as “Hulsey’s Hipp” and offered major vaudeville attractions and movies. Construction for the theater house began in 1913 and opened on February 7, 1914.
  • For a whole ten cents, or a quarter for box seats, the opening night featured a live seal act, a five-piece orchestra, and a magic act.
  • An affiliate of Paramount, the Hippodrome served as a silent movie theater until a fire started in the projection and destroyed the front of the building in 1928. The renovations resulted in the Spanish Colonial Revival style that still remains today.

Waco Hippodrome movie promotional displays

  • Under new management, its name was changed to Waco Theater and attracted many celebrities to Waco, including Elvis Presley (as a moviegoer) and John Wayne. More than 10,000 people gathered to see Wayne’s promotion.
  • The Junior League of Waco and the Cooper Foundation helped revitalize the theater (which had suffered from competition from suburban theaters) in 1987. The Waco Performing Arts Company operated it till 2010.
  • After much change throughout its lifetime, the Hippodrome reopened in 2014 and now offers first-release films as well as live theater, concerts, and other entertainment (and dining).

Sources

George, Mary Helen. “1910-1919 Skyscrapers & Beyond.” Waco Heritage & History 28 (Summer 1999): 45. N.p., n.d. Web. Print.

Warren, Jennifer. “Waco Hippodrome Theatre.” Cinema Treasures. Cinema Treasures, LLC, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.

See all of the images in our Flickr set. GIFs and factoids prepared by Haley Rodriguez, archives student assistant, and Amanda Norman, university archivist.

Posted in Austin Avenue, Hippodrome, Historic Waco, Texas over Time, Waco | Leave a comment

Armstrong’s Stars: Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson, Baylor Lariat, March 24, 1939

Friday’s Lariat announced the expectation of a performance on Monday by Marian Anderson. Baylor Lariat, March 24, 1939.

“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 who 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 Amanda Mylin, graduate assistant, The Texas Collection.

When renowned African-American singer Marian Anderson was not permitted to sing in the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall in Washington, D. C. in March 1939, the nation reacted (in large part) with astonishment. Anderson is quoted in an article published in the Baylor Lariat saying, “It shocks me beyond words that after having appeared in the capitols of most of the countries of the world, I am not wanted in the capitol of my own country” (“D.A.R. and Americanism,” 2).

Eleanor Roosevelt’s response was the most notable: the First Lady protested the move by resigning from the DAR, and encouraging a concert at an even more prominent venue. Anderson performed a free open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Easter Sunday, April 9, encouraged and arranged by the First Lady, Anderson’s manager, Walter White of the NAACP, and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes.

In the midst of this drama, Anderson came to Baylor. Two weeks before her famed Easter concert, Anderson performed at Baylor University’s Waco Hall at the behest of Dr. A. J. Armstrong and Sigma Tau Delta. She was the first African-American soloist to grace the Hall. Her March 27 performance included an array of spirituals and compositions by Handel, Schubert, and Carissimi. The Baylor Lariat for March 3 stated that Sigma Tau Delta had taken the “liberal side of the week’s race question” by selecting Marian Anderson to perform (“Negro Singer Will Follow First Lady,” 4). The same article also noted that Mrs. Roosevelt would speak in Waco Hall on March 13, two weeks before the concert. A nationwide commotion had found its way to Baylor’s campus in a small capacity.

Seats went quickly for Anderson’s upcoming performance, The Waco News-Tribune, February 26, 1939, Newspapers.com (accessed April 9, 2015).

“‘Procrastination is the thief of time’–and good seats!” Tickets sold quickly for Anderson’s upcoming performance, according to this ad in tThe Waco News-Tribune, February 26, 1939. Newspapers.com.

Anderson’s performance was well-received by the Waco audience even though it was primarily formed of a distinct “cross-section of the community’s white citizenship.” The Waco News-Tribune for the next day stated that this turn-out “was pretty much proof that the DAR of Washington, D. C., acted in silly fashion to say the least” (“Marian Anderson is Well Received by Waco Audience”). Furthermore, this article mentioned that Anderson’s well-attended performance was an instance of a slow but steady “solution of a leading American problem.”

Interestingly enough, even Waco Hall remained segregated for Anderson’s concert, with a special portion of the balcony reserved for African-Americans. Eventually, Anderson would insist upon what she called “vertical” seating for her concerts, with available seats throughout the auditorium reserved for African-Americans, and by 1950, she refused to sing for segregated audiences. Yet in the wake of the Constitution Hall incident, Anderson was pleased to perform at Baylor by invitation of Dr. Armstrong.

Dr. Armstrong attempted to bring Anderson back to Waco again in the 1940s, but her schedule was full. Her booking agency offered instead the Don Cossack Chorus, which did come to Waco that February.

Dr. Armstrong attempted to bring Anderson back to Waco again in the 1940s, but her schedule was full. Her booking agency offered instead the Don Cossack Chorus, which did come to Waco that February. Anderson, Marian, Records of Visiting Celebrities, Armstrong Browning Library.

Although Anderson was in a hurry and allegedly declined to discuss her recent deterrence by the DAR and the First Lady’s defense of her attempt to perform, she did offer a small informal interview to the Baylor Lariat. She had never been to Waco and commented on the beauty of driving through the Texas countryside from San Antonio. Her enthusiasm and unstoppable energy seemed to bubble over as she explained, “I think America offers vast unlimited opportunities for youthful singers who have the seriousness and determination to become great artists no matter what their race of color” (“Eleanor Roosevelt Versus D.A.R. Feud is Closed; Field Unlimited, Says Anderson,” 1).

Sources:

Negro Singer Will Follow First Lady,” Baylor Lariat, March 3, 1939.

D.A.R. and Americanism,” Baylor Lariat, March 23, 1939.

Eleanor Roosevelt Versus D.A.R. Feud is Closed; Field Unlimited, Says Anderson,” Baylor Lariat, March 28, 1939.

Marian Anderson to Sing in Waco Hall: Famous Conductor Says Negro Artist is Best Living in This Day,” Baylor Lariat, March 22, 1939.

http://marian-anderson.com

“Marian Anderson is Well Received by Waco Audience,” The Waco News-Tribune, March 28, 1939, Newspapers.com (accessed April 9, 2015).

Learn more about Armstrong’s Stars in previous posts.

Posted in A.J. Armstrong, African-Americans, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Armstrong Browning Library, Armstrong's Stars, Baylor University, Daughters of the American Revolution, Marian Anderson, Waco Hall | Leave a comment

Dottie Scarborough: A Woman of Many Talents

By Casey Schumacher, Graduate Assistant, The Texas Collection, and Museum Studies graduate student

Dorothy Scarborough

Image of Dorothy Scarborough, artist unknown, circa 1900. Fine Art collection, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Dorothy, or “Dottie” as she was known to her friends and family, achieved an outstanding education and professional career for a woman in the early 20th century. Born on January 27, 1873 in Mount Carmel, Texas, she received a BA and MA in English from Baylor University before completing her doctoral work at Columbia University in 1917. She also attended the University of Oxford from 1910-1911, even though they did not grant degrees to women at the time. After receiving her PhD,  Scarborough went on to teach at Columbia, where she specialized in courses on creative writing but taught classes on a multitude of topics, including the Development of the English Novel and the History of the English Language. The Dorothy Scarborough papers also include extensive teaching and research notes, programs, and invitations from her time at Columbia.

Manuscript, "Land of Cotton," Dorothy Scarborough, undated

For each of her novels, Scarborough hand wrote full-length early manuscripts in blue notebooks like the one shown here. To our chagrin, her handwriting is equally atrocious in all of her notebooks. Dorothy Scarborough Papers #153, Series 2, Box 6, Folder 8.

Scarborough’s collection reflects her wide range of interests and includes many drafts and typescripts of her publications (she published five novels along with scripts, short stories, essays and poems), as well as some unpublished work. Her doctoral thesis discussed the supernatural in modern English fiction, and later publications featured research in southern life, the history of the cotton industry, ghost stories, marriage, gender, poetry, and short stories. In addition, Scarborough was a strong advocate for the study of folklore. She served as president of the Texas Folklore Society from 1914-1915, was a founding member of the American Folk Song Society, and a lifelong member of the American Folklore Society.

"Billy Boy" sheet music, variations

Scarborough collected several copies and versions of hundreds of folksongs throughout the South. One of the more popular songs, Billy Boy, includes sheet music and lyric pages with the name of the person who gave her the song as well as when and where she found it. Dorothy Scarborough Papers #153, Series 3, Box 6, Folder 9.

One of Dottie’s main interests was in the area of folklore and folk songs. Two of her books, On the Trail of Negro Folk Songs and A Song Catcher in Southern Mountains document her journeys throughout the South collecting personal stories and folksongs from anyone who would share them with her. Travel notes, sheet music, and hundreds of pages of lyrics make up a significant part of her collection and demonstrate the passion she devoted to her research.

Dottie’s career truly embodied the values of leadership and service so deeply cherished at Baylor University. Anyone interested in her personal life, her folklore and English research, or women in academia during the 1920s-1930s will find a wealth of information in her personal and professional papers.

Posted in American South, Dorothy Scarborough, female poets, Folk Songs, Folklore, Folklore, women's education | Leave a comment

Mayday, Mayday: Preservation Problems in Special Collections

By Amanda Norman, University Archivist (with images provided by TC staff)

When I first decided to pursue a career in special collections, I had visions of handling fascinating historical documents and helping researchers find that perfect record that would be the turning point in their research. And I do get to do a lot of that! But, I did not realize the extent to which the job sometimes would involve bugs, bad smells, and other unsavory finds. When people put away files—sometimes in attics and basements that aren’t climate-controlled—moisture/dryness, pests, and other challenges may settle in. And sometimes, they leave a permanent mark.

Today is the last day of Preservation Week, an observation of these sorts of problems and an effort to bring attention to them—for special collections as well as for individuals and organizations with personal libraries and archives. For MayDay, we’ve put together a compilation of distress calls we’ve seen in our work preserving materialsa preservation Hall of Horrors, if you willand some guidelines for what to do if you encounter such problems in your own records.

VinegarSyndromeThese 4×5 negatives are suffering from vinegar syndrome, prompted in this case by being stored in a non-climate-controlled environment. The physical damage in these is quite evident, but you may be able to detect the telltale vinegar odor before the shrinking and channeling really get going. Once film has vinegar syndrome, it can’t be reversed, but the deterioration can be slowed by housing in a better preservation environment. (Generally speaking, that means not too dry, not too humid, and COLD.) This film may be scanned with some degree of success, but the distortion of the original is now part of the image.

DecayingNitrateThese are degrading nitrate negatives. Nitrate is a sensitive thing to keep around–it is highly flammable and requires an excellent preservation environment. The NEDCC has some good guidelines for recognizing and handling such film. Nitrate was used for photos as well as moving image film. Digitization is often a good option for preserving the images.

Tapes-TemitesOne wouldn’t think that termites would be found in an old concrete stadium, or that they would decide to hang out in a box of Betacam SP tapes. One would be wrong. Unfortunately, the damage inflicted by these pests’ appetite is irreversible. And once pests are known to have been in materials, taking those materials into an archives is a great risk—even if the bugs are dead, you don’t know if they might have laid eggs (which can resist efforts to kill them). And we certainly don’t want to invite the bugs into our space, where they could infest other materials. Prevention is the ideal solution—but if you’re already past that point, check out the NEDCC’s guidelines for integrated pest management.

DroppingsThis doesn’t look so bad, right? Well, those little blobs you see on the edges of the pages…those are rodent droppings. Ick. Again, if you can keep the pests away, that would be the ideal. Failing that, you can pretty safely assume that if mice/rats have been here, insects probably were too. So follow the NEDCC instructions above, and then you’ll want to don some protective gear and use a stiff-bristled brush to get the droppings off the records.

16mmFilmHazMatWe’re not even sure what all is going on with this 16-mm film reel container. Rust, looks like some mold, too—definitely a health hazard. Fortunately, the contents of a container are sometimes unmarred, so you can carefully rehouse the film and discard the hazmat situation.

CoughDropIf you’ve done special collections research, you know that food and drink aren’t allowed. The above sample is an excellent illustration of why we have this rule. That was a cough drop—presumably partially used by the original owner of the records, and somehow, dropped into a file. The cough drop then fossilized its way into the records. Our archivists judiciously used heat (via a blowdryer) and a microspatula to loosen the adhesive properties of the cough drop so it could be removed from the papers. But really? Try not to lose your hard candy or cough drops into your records.

StraightPinFastenerWe see all sorts of fasteners in the archives, many of which have to be removed because they have became rusty and are eating through papers. Rusty paper clips and staples are enough of a challenge—but the old practice of using straight pins to hold papers together is a particularly pokey problem for our staff. Let’s just say we have added motivation to keep our tetanus shots up to date. To prevent rusty staples and such, try to use coated paper clips and stainless steel staples.

ReminderRuskCollege-badrepairOur print collections staff see many efforts to repair books, some more effective than others. Usually people use adhesives (glue, tape), maybe even try to sew a binding back together. In this case, someone thought they’d try a hammer and nails. As our library preservation specialist’s note says, this was not a success. The primary tenet of conservation is to make sure your repair is reversible. Often, a custom-made book enclosure is the best bet for keeping together the pieces of a book like this one.

These items are just a small samplings of the curiosities that can be encountered in old books, papers, and AV materials. We didn’t even get to digital media, which present a whole other set of preservation challenges. Despite the occasional grossness, it is our pleasure to work to preserve and make available our cultural heritage.

Here are a few websites with guidelines for taking care of your own materials:

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works

Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)

Image Permanence Institute

Posted in archives preservation, cellulose nitrate negative, MayDay, Preservation Week | Leave a comment

Research Ready: April 2015

Photograph of the Conners, 1923-1939

Photograph of the Conners, 1923-1939

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 April’s finding aids:

  • George Sherman and Jeffie Obrea Allen Conner papers, 1866-1980 (#372):                                                                 Contains correspondence, speeches, notes, and other materials about African American life in Waco, education, home economics, and New Hope Baptist Church.
  • Duer-Harn family papers. 1832-1928, undated (#26):                                                                    Diaries, letters, legal and financial papers from the Republic of Texas and American Civil War. Notable documents include several diaries from the 1830s and 1840s written by German immigrant Johann Christian Friedrich Duer.

 

 

  • Gertrude Wallace Davis papers, 1896-1959 (#2166):                                                  Includes correspondence, notebooks, newspaper clippings, and other materials about the life of Gertrude Wallace Davis. Several items are from the Catholic-affiliated Academy of the Sacred Heart, in Waco, Texas, where Davis attended school.
German-language diary of Johann Christian Friedrich Duer, 1832

German-language diary of Johann Christian Friedrich Duer, 1832

 

Posted in Academy of the Sacred Heart, African American universities and colleges, African-Americans, Archives, Baptist women, diaries, frontier and pioneer life, Frontier and pioneer life, German-Americans, Germany, McLennan County, New Hope Baptist Church, Photographs, Research Ready, Texas, Texas, Texas Baptists, Uncategorized, Waco | Leave a comment

Armstrong’s Stars: Katharine Cornell

“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 who 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 Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection.

Andrew Joseph Armstrong, and Katharine Cornell at Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University

Katharine Cornell and A.J. Armstrong enjoy a moment of laughter on the dedication day of Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, on December 3, 1951. Cornell was the main speaker at the event, along with Baylor President W.R. White. Jimmie Willis photographic collection, 4×5 photo negative 1038.

While A.J. Armstrong’s stars included celebrities with little to no connection to the Brownings—his primary area of interest—some had very deep affiliations with the poets. In fact, a few of the stars played them!

Katharine Cornell visited Baylor twice, both times in relation to her role as Elizabeth Barrett Browning in Rudolf Besier’s play, “The Barretts of Wimpole Street.” The part became her signature role, one she started playing in 1931. According to her 1974 New York Times obituary, “The Barretts’” ran for a year on Broadway, and then Miss Cornell shepherded her company on a 20,853-mile tour of the United States, a daring venture in the Depression…” Cornell was “actress-manager” for this performance, and her husband, Guthrie McClintic, was director.

Of course, Armstrong could not miss an opportunity to have this production come to Baylor, and the tour made a stop in Waco in 1934. In her obituary, Cornell is quoted saying, “‘The Barretts’ never played to an empty house—the receipts would be something like $33,000…so we came back having more than broken even. We really felt prideful.” Additionally, Cornell, along with Brian Aherne (playing Robert Browning), performed this production for servicemen and women during World War II in USO Camp Shows.

It was thus fitting that when Armstrong’s efforts came to fruition at the dedication of the Armstrong Browning Library on December 2 and 3, 1951, Cornell would be a part of the festivities. The library was a $2 million facility and called “a shrine to the poet, Robert Browning.” Armstrong stated it is “not far below the Taj Mahal in beauty.” For such a special occasion, the dedication called for a grand ceremony.

Katharine Cornell and group at the Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, Waco, TX

Left to right: Baylor President William Richardson White, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Katharine Cornell, Marrs McLean, former Baylor president and Texas governor Pat M. Neff. This photograph was taken on the dedication day of Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University, on December 3, 1951. Jimmie Willis photographic collection photo negative 1045.

Well-known in the world of Browning enthusiasts, and those of the stage and Broadway, Katharine Cornell was the main speaker for the event. Waco Hall was the venue for Cornell’s appearance in what A.J. Armstrong called the “the cultural and literary dedication program” for the new Armstrong Browning Library. Although Basil Rathbone played Robert Browning in the 1934 touring production, Brian Aherne was the original Robert, “brought from his native England by Miss Cornell,” and he came with Cornell to the dedication.

On the day of the event, Cornell and Aherne received an honorary Doctor of Laws during a dedication convocation, along with D.K. Martin, Marrs McLean, A.J. Armstrong, and Herbert Dunnico. Robert Roussel of the Houston Post, upon witnessing a portion of the dedication, commented: “It was indeed an inspirational day… All the humane arts were represented, and the theatre was as handsomely served as it could have been with Katharine Cornell and Brian Aherne as its messengers.”

Katharine Cornell Portrait, Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University

Katharine Cornell portrait by the artist Alexander Clayton. The painting depicts the actress in the role of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The item was unveiled at Waco Hall on February 9, 1956, and hangs in the Austin Moore-Elizabeth Barrett Browning Salon, Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University. Photo by Geoff Hunt.

Roussell uses the term “messengers,” and Katharine Cornell rightly served the part as one for the Browning’s legacy. That legacy lives on in the portrait that adorns the wall of the Armstrong Browning’s Austin Moore-Elizabeth Barrett Browning Salon, as well as her other donations such as the shadow box depicting a scene from the “Barretts” stage production. Further, her impact far beyond Baylor as “messenger” for Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning in her role in the “Barretts” made many audiences more familiar with their poetic works while entertaining and bringing joy to many along the way.

Sources:

“Baylor Opens World Shrine to Poets…,” Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX.), Dec. 2, 1951.

“Broadway Stars To Be Here For Browning Dedication,” Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX.), Nov. 4, 1951.

Campbell, Reba. “Waco Dedicates Its Taj Mahal,” Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX.), Dec. 4, 1951.

“Death Claims Dr. ‘A’,” Baylor-Line, v.16 (March-April, 1954): p. 5.

Roussel, Hubert. “Some Out-of-Town Drama With Cornell In a Leading Role,” The Houston-Post (Houston, TX), Dec. 9, 1951.

Katharine Cornell Papers, Armstrong-Browning Library, Baylor University.

Thomas E. Turner, Sr., Papers, Accession #2200, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Whitman, Alden. “Obituary: Katharine Cornell is Dead at 81,” The New York Times (New York City, NY), June 10, 1974.

Learn more about Armstrong’s Stars in previous posts, and see more photos of Katharine Cornell’s 1950 visit to Baylor in our Flickr slideshow below.


Created with flickr slideshow.
Posted in A.J. Armstrong, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Armstrong Browning Library, Armstrong's Stars, Baylor University, Katharine Cornell | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: Waco’s Carnegie Library

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.

Waco Carnegie library

  • Local businessman, philanthropist, and Baylor alum Isaac A. Goldstein helped persuade Andrew Carnegie to contribute $30,000 in grants to construct Waco’s Carnegie library. It opened November 28, 1904 and was located at 12th and Austin.
  • The total cost of the building was $44,688, and the library opened with 3,279 volumes. The first book to be checked out was Emma by Jane Austen.
  • Working alongside Willie Durham House, the first female head of schools in Waco, Goldstein knew the library would be of great service to the city and extolled the Carnegie Library as a “classical temple” where men and women could be brought “closer together for the highest and best purposes of pure and enlightened citizenship.”
  • The library outgrew the space by the early 1940s and moved to the Cameron House. The library continued to grow, the Cameron House’s structure began to fail, and the Eighteenth Street and Austin Avenue location of today’s Central library branch opened in the early 1960s.

Sources

Darden, Bob. An Austin Avenue Legacy: 100 Years with the Waco-McLennan County Library. Waco, TX: Waco-McLennan County Library Margin of Excellence Trust Fund, 1997. Print.

Sawyer, Amanda. “Waco Public Library,” Waco History, accessed February 13, 2015, http:/​/​wacohistory.​org/​items/​show/​29.​

See all of these images on Flickr. GIF and factoids by Haley Rodriguez, student archives assistant.

Posted in Andrew Carnegie, Historic Waco, Isaac Goldstein, Texas over Time, Waco, Waco Public Library | Leave a comment