Texas over Time: Galveston Causeway

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.

GalvestonFinalBlack and white image from Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection #3886; Series II Texas 1906-1920; Gulf Coast, Box 3, Folder 7. Postcards dated 1940-1954.

  • There are two causeways connecting Galveston Island to the mainland. Both have been renovated over time with changes consisting of wider lanes and a drawbridge replacement.
  • The original Galveston Causeway was opened in 1912 and is now restricted to railroad use only. The companies, Gould Lines, Harriman Lines & Santa Fe, originally owned it. This railroad bridge is considered one of the greatest accomplishments of engineering in the United States and was put on the list of the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
  • The second causeway debuted in 1939 at an approximately $3,000,000 price tag and is 8,194 feet long. The bridge was replaced and completed in 2005, and it is the only access for northbound and southbound traffic on the Interstate 45.

Sources:

Federal Writers’ Project “279.” Texas: A Guide to the Lone Star State. Place of Publication Not Identified: Scholarly, 1990. N. pag. Print.

“The Galveston Causeway, Galveston, Texas.” Galveston and Texas History Center. Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Nov. 2001. Web.

“Old Galveston Causeway.” BNSF. James Baughn, 23 Apr. 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

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

Posted in Galveston, Texas over Time | Leave a comment

From a Newspaper to Milk: The Borden Family Legacy in Texas

By Casey Schumacher, Texas Collection graduate assistant and museum studies graduate student

Map of San Felipe, Texas, 1876

The extent of John Borden’s property is shown in this 1876 land tract of San Felipe, TX. Land deeds in the collection indicate that the four Borden brothers purchased several hundred acres in the Austin County region, often from one another. Borden family collection #78, box 1, folder 1.

The Borden family collection at The Texas Collection has nothing to say about Lizzie Borden, the infamous Massachusetts ax-slinger. Believe me, I checked. However, in 1908, another notable Lizzie Borden, daughter of John P. Borden, wrote a brief history of her family’s deep Texan roots. Together, Lizzie’s father, her uncles, and her brothers helped create a family legacy that played a key role in establishing the Republic of Texas.

Gail Borden Sr. had four sons who were all very proud, upstanding Texans. The family owned extensive property in Austin and San Patricio County, some of which we can see in the land plots and deeds included in the collection. All four sons were landowners and prominent businessmen in south Texas, but their devotion to the Republic had a ripple effect across the state and into the ports of Galveston.

Gail Jr., the oldest of the four brothers, partnered with his closest brother Thomas and a family friend to establish Texas’ first newspaper, the Telegraph and Texas Register in San Felipe de Austin in 1835. Circulation increased rapidly and within a year, they had 700 subscribers. After encroaching Mexicans threw their press into Buffalo Bayou, Gail traveled to Cincinnati to purchase a new press. The next issue, dated August 2, 1836, included a reprint of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Even after the Borden brothers left the printing company, the newspaper continued to publish important documents that organized the Republic of Texas.

Telegraph and Texas Register, 1921 reprint of October 1, 1835, first edition

This 1921 reprint celebrates the first edition of the Telegraph and Texas Register, published by the Borden & Baker printing company on October 1, 1835.

The Borden family didn’t just write about their Texas pride, however. In 1836, Gail Jr. presented Captain Moseley Baker with a flag he helped design for San Felipe. After leaving the newspaper, he went on to prepare the first topographical map of Texas. Soon after, he became the first collector of the port of Galveston and eventually founded the Borden Company.

At the same time Gail Jr. presented the flag at San Felipe, his younger brother John, Lizzie’s father, was a First Lieutenant under Captain Baker. John fought in the Battle of San Jacinto when he was 24 years old, and he was later appointed by Sam Houston as Commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas. Both of John’s sons would also leave home to fight for the Republic. The oldest son, Thaddeus, joined the Confederate Army at age 17 and was killed. John’s second son Sidney joined the Confederate Army at age 19 and eventually returned to establish the river port at Sharpsburg.

In her family history, Lizzie tells her nieces and nephews about each of her uncles and their dedication to the Republic of Texas. Naturally, she favors her father’s accomplishments and pays special homage to her brothers, Thaddeus and Sidney. She closes with a story of her and Sidney’s trip to the Philadelphia Centennial. Needless to say, the Bordens were a very close-knit and proud Texas family. The Borden family collection sheds some light on their influence in the Austin County and San Patricio County areas, as well as their dedication to the Republic of Texas.

Sources

Barbara Lane, “Sidney Gail Borden,” Find A Grave, Aug 6, 2006.

Joe B. Frantz, “Borden, Gail Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 16, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on October 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Leonard Kubiak, “San Felipe de Austin,” Fort Tumbleweed. 2007.

University of North Texas Libraries, “Telegraph and Texas Register,” The Portal to Texas History, December 14, 2014.

Posted in Frontier and pioneer life, Gail Borden, John Borden, Lizzie Borden, Republic of Texas, Telegraph and Texas Register, Texas Revolution, Thomas Borden, United States history | Leave a comment

Research Ready: December 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 are December’s finding aids:

Letter from Onnie Clem Jr. to "Julie" Cecile L. Julian Clem

Letter from Onnie Clem Jr. to “Julie” Cecile L. Julian Clem during Onnie’s 1945 public relations tour in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. They would marry seven months later. Onnie Clem Jr. papers #3939, box 1, folder 3.

  • Grant and Donell Teaff Baylor Football collection, 1948-2006, undated (#3835): Contains correspondence, football programs, newspaper clippings, and audiovisual materials relating to Teaff’s career as head football coach at Baylor University. As usual, the materials described in the finding aid can be seen at The Texas Collection, but many of them also have been digitized as part of the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive in collaboration with the Electronic Library. Check out game films, ribbons, and more in the online collection!
  • Onnie Clem Jr. papers, 1944-1948 (#3939): Letters between Marine Corps members Onnie Clem Jr. and “Julie” Cecile L. Julian Clem during World War II. Also included is a transcribed interview with Onnie Clem Jr. about his experience during the Bataan Death March and as a prisoner of war for two and half years.
Tax receipt for land in Liberty County, Texas

Tax receipt from 1850 for John Herpin’s land claims in Liberty County, Texas. A dispute about ownership of this land was still going on in 1910, according to the collection. John B. Herpin papers #1636, box 1, folder 2.

 

 

Posted in Baylor athletics, Baylor football, football, frontier and pioneer life, Grant Teaff, Liberty County, Research Ready, United States Armed Forces, United States Marine Corps, World War II | Leave a comment

Texas in the Teens through E.C. Blomeyer’s Lens

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

E.C. Blomeyer and camera, Cameron Park, Waco, TX, circa 1917. Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection, 1906-1923, number 001.

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Edward Charles “E.C.” Blomeyer’s time in Texas was brief but well-documented. From telephone poles to animals, floods to parades, and much more, the amateur shutterbug committed many views of early 1900s Texas to film—and we reap the benefit today with the Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection.

Born in Missouri in 1882, Blomeyer moved in 1912 with his family to Waco, Texas, to work as auditor for the Brazos Valley Telegraph and Telephone Company. He came with knowledge of the telephone industry gained while working for the Southeast Missouri Telephone Company in Charleston, Missouri, where he served as rate collector and in management. He would spend only eight years in Texas, but his knowledge and experience quickly helped to improve a rural, and in some areas quite primitive, telecommunications network.

Early Telephone Poles and Lines, Central Texas (4)

A primitively constructed rural telephone pole serving as a junction point for several lines in Central Texas. Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection, 1906-1923, number 497-1.

In 1914, Blomeyer began working for the Texas Telephone Company after it expanded to include many independent companies in Lorena, Mart, McGregor, Moody, Waco, West, and the Brazos Valley Telegraph and Telephone Company. This expansion of the Texas Telephone Company gave Blomeyer many opportunities for improving the existing telecommunications infrastructure. He first served as secretary-treasurer of the Waco-based Texas Telephone Company and worked his way up to be president by 1918.

But Blomeyer wasn’t just a career man—he was a photographer as well, capturing many images of Waco. He recorded many scenes of this booming city including trains, airplanes, bridges, rivers, animals, military, the cotton industry, and significant events. His professional interests overlapped with his hobby, providing a rare look into the early telecommunications network in and around McLennan County. These scenes include many early telephone poles—some of which are just sticks with wire attached to barbed wire fence posts! Additionally, Blomeyer documented his travels, with destinations ranging from Galveston, Texas, to Niagara Falls.

Texas Governor, Jim Ferguson, Texas Cotton Palace Parade, c. 1915 (2)

Texas Governor Jim Ferguson is seen here riding in the Texas Cotton Palace parade as his wagon makes its way on Austin Avenue, Waco. Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection, number 504-1.

In 1920, Waco lost one of its pioneering men in the telecommunications industry. Blomeyer went to work for the Automatic Electric Company, based in Chicago. He stayed with the company as it changed ownership throughout the years, eventually merging with what would become GTE (General Telephone & Electronics). Blomeyer retired from the telephone industry in 1956, having worked his way up to the position of Vice-President of GTE. After retirement, he spent some of his remaining years in Palm Beach, Florida, where he died in 1964.

When The Texas Collection acquired Blomeyer’s photographic collection in 2012, consisting of approximately 1,500 photographic negatives and prints, they were neatly filed in a tattered old box. Its original owner or photographer was not known—the seller from whom we purchased it thought the creator was Fred Gildersleeve, a noted Waco photographer. However, Gildersleeve was just the person who developed several of the printed photographs. But we needed more information to tell properly the story behind these photos and the person who took them.

The Texas Cotton Palace, Main Building, Waco, TX, c. 1915

The Texas Cotton Palace, Main Building, Waco, TX, circa 1915. Edward C. Blomeyer photographic collection, 1906-1923, number 689-1.

The first big lead in our case was a small business card sandwiched between a group of negatives. It read: “E.C. [Edward Charles] Blomeyer, Waco, Texas, President of the Texas Telephone Co.” The subjects in the pictures helped confirm Blomeyer as the photographer and creator of the collection. Now that there was a name to link this collection to, we turned to the Internet. Blomeyer turns out to have been a prolific writer of articles on the telephone industry and its management, photography, and various hobbies, we learned from several digitized magazines.

The items in the collection date from 1906 to about 1923. Although he was not a professional photographer, his high-quality work provides a great history of the Central Texas community. Blomeyer was an interesting person to research. He left many traces about what he did professionally through his writings and about many aspects of his personal and family life through his photography.

This post shows just a small sampling of Blomeyer’s work—look for our upcoming series on Blomeyer’s photography, Texas in the Teens. We’ll travel with Blomeyer all over Texas (and maybe outside the state, too), and take a look at transportation, animals, and more.

Check out our Flickr set below for your first view of Blomeyer’s work. You can see more images in the finding aid in BARD—just do a search for Blomeyer, then enjoy!

Sources:

“Biographical and Personal Notes.” “Telephony: American Telephone Journal” 79, no. 4 ( July 24, 1920): 32-34. Accessed December 11, 2014.

Blomeyer, Edward Charles. “Still Now Heads Texas Association.” “Telephony: American Telephone Journal” 79, no. 4 (July 24, 1920): 14-15. Accessed December 11, 2014

“Texas Telephone Co., Waco, Texas.” “Standard Corporation Service, Daily Revised” (May 1-December 31, 1914): 260. Accessed December 11, 2014.

Wright, Todd. “Mrs. Blomeyer to be Honored at Dedication of PBAC Library.” Palm Beach Post (Palm Beach, FL), Feb. 27, 1969.

Posted in cellulose nitrate negative, E.C. Blomeyer, photographic negatives, Photographs, Texas Cotton Palace, Texas Telephone Company, Waco | 1 Comment

Texas over Time: ALICO building, 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.

ALICO construction GIFConstruction photos by Gildersleeve, 1911; modern photo (photographer unknown), 1984

  • The ALICO, now a Waco landmark, was started in 1910 and completed in 1911, by the architecture firm Sanguinet and Staats, with the help of famous architect Roy Ellsworth Lane.
  • The parcel of land that the building currently sits on at the intersection of 5th and Austin Ave was home to several things before the ALICO came along. The first recorded use of the land was a small pond that served as a buffalo watering hole and fishing spot. Around the time of the Civil War, the pond had dried up, and a blacksmith shop was built by W.E. Oakes. The site was eventually home to a bank, which was present until being torn down to build the ALICO.
  • At 22 stories, the building was so large that people as far away as McGregor could see its construction with binoculars. It even made it into a Ripley’s Believe it or Not comic in the 1930s. At the time of its construction, it was the first skyscraper in Texas, making it the tallest building in Texas. It held this title until the construction of the Magnolia in Dallas in 1922.

Austin Avenue--before and after ALICOAustin Avenue, before (early 1900s) and after (1910s) the ALICO

  • The ALICO was originally the home of and contracted by the Amicable Life Insurance Company, as well as being the home of several prominent lawyers, organizations, and various other businesses such as the Corner Drug Store (creators of Dr Pepper).
  • The building weighs approximately 40 million pounds and required 2,004 freight cars worth of material to construct. The ALICO survived a direct hit by the 1953 tornado due to the wind resistant designs of Roy Lane, even though the RT Dennis building across the street was completely demolished.

Sources:

“The New Amicable Life Building.” Waco Tribune Herald 12 Sep. 1954. Print.

Ryan, Terri Jo, and Randy Fiedler. “The Story of the ALICO Building: 100 Years, 22 Stories and 1 Towering Ego.” Waco Tribune-Herald 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 21 Aug. 2014.

See all of these images (plus a couple bonus ones you won’t want to miss!) on Flickr. GIFs and factoids by Braxton Ray, archives student assistant

Posted in Amicable Alico Building, architecture, Austin Avenue, Fred Gildersleeve, Historic Waco, Roy Ellsworth Lane, Texas over Time, Waco | Leave a comment

Armstrong’s Stars: Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg letter to A.J. Armstrong

Letter from Carl Sandburg to A.J. Armstrong, dated 11 May 1921 (Armstrong Browning Library)

“Armstrong’s Stars” is a collaboration between the Armstrong Browning Library and Baylor’s Texas Collection. Once a month we feature a story about a celebrity that Dr. A.J. Armstrong brought to Baylor. These stories highlight an interesting part of Baylor’s history and include collection materials housed in both the Armstrong Browning Library and the Texas Collection.

This month’s story was contributed by PhD candidate Jeremy Land. 

Sandburg sketch

A sketch of Carl Sandburg’s 1925 reading by Baylor undergraduate Henry Cecil Spencer, class of 1929 (Carroll Science Building)

In 1920 Baylor University celebrated its Diamond Jubilee with help from the English department’s Dr. A.J. Armstrong. The university used the occasion to invite some of the most important names in American letters to speak at Baylor. A year later Baylor was developing a reputation as a place where not only poets were welcomed, but a place where they could find a receptive student body.

One of the first and most important writers to travel to Baylor was the noted poet, journalist, historian, and folk musician Carl Sandburg. By the time Dr. Armstrong persuaded Sandburg to visit and read his work at Baylor in the spring of 1921, the poet had already won the first of his eventual three Pulitzer prizes—Sandburg won the Pulitzer Prize for his books Cornhuskers (1918), Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), and Complete Poems (1951). In the early 1920s Sandburg was building a reputation as a first rate poet of the American people. His early poetry drew inspiration from his time as a hobo traveling across the west, his years working as a journalist in Chicago, and the lives of ordinary Americans. His first major volume Chicago Poems established him as an innovative and powerful new voice in American poetry. It was this reputation that prompted Baylor’s student newspaper The Daily Lariat to describe Sandburg as a “man’s poet” as early as 1925, and perhaps attracted so many young Baylor Bears to Sandburg’s readings (“Carl Sandburg, Noted Poet, Coming Here for Reading on April 3” 1).

Tickets to Sandburg reading at Baylor, 1952

Tickets to Carl Sandburg’s March 10, 1952 reading at Waco Hall (Armstrong Browning Library)

The poet apparently enjoyed his time at Baylor and made great efforts to ingratiate himself to the students while he was here. He even went so far as to visit a sick Baylor undergraduate in the hospital and give him a private recitation of his work when he discovered that the young fan could not make his reading.  Ultimately, Sandburg was so impressed with the Baylor students he met that he cited them to his fellow poet and friend Robert Frost as a reason to journey to Texas (Douglas 129-135).

Armstrong and Sandburg before the 1952 reading

A.J. Armstrong (left) and Carl Sandburg (right) before Sandburg’s 1952 reading at Waco Hall (Conger-Gildersleeve Collection, The Texas Collection)

Over the next thirty years, Sandburg would make an additional three visits to Baylor. Each time his stays were heralded as the coming of a great poet, and each time he offered his audience something new and innovative. By his third visit in 1932 Sandburg’s critically successful collection of American folk music, American Songbag (1927), was fully integrated into his performance and, in addition to reading poetry, he would sing from his collection to Baylor students during chapel (“Carl Sandburg Will Speak Here Friday” 1).

By his fourth visit in 1952, Sandburg had achieved an elder statesman status among American writers. During his final trip to Baylor, Sandburg used his last time before the student body to discuss the value of going into the world and experiencing life firsthand as opposed to vicariously living through pop culture, going so far as to critique one student who claimed to have sat through over 200 episodes of “The Jack Benny Show” (“Poet Slams TV, Movies, Radio” 1). As anarchistic as Sandburg’s criticism sounds to modern readers, his intent illustrates Dr. Armstrong’s ultimate goal in bringing writers like Sandburg to Baylor. Dr. Armstrong’s programs routinely brought Baylor’s students great writers from across the world. His intent was always to “give students an opportunity to come into contact with world forces and world geniuses” (Douglas 173). Sandburg’s time at Baylor surely exposed the students who came to see him to one of the greater geniuses and challenged them to see their lives in a new light.

Works Cited

“Carl Sandburg, Noted Poet, Coming Here for Reading on April 3.” The Daily Lariat 23 March 1925: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014

“Carl Sandburg Will Speak Here Friday.” The Daily Lariat 2 February 1932: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014

Douglas, Lois Smith. Through Heaven’s Back Door: A Biography of A. Joseph Armstrong.  Waco, TX:  Baylor UP, 1951. Print.

“Poet Slams TV, Movies, Radio.” The Daily Lariat 12 March 1952: 1. Web. 1 Dec. 2014

Posted in A.J. Armstrong, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor English department, Baylor University, Carl Sandburg, Waco Hall | Leave a comment

The Conscience of Southern Baptists: Documenting Foy Valentine’s Work in Christian Ethics

foyvalentinepic

Foy Valentine, circa 1980s. Foy Valentine papers, Baylor University

From humble beginnings in Edgewood, Texas, to being considered the “conscience of Southern Baptists,” Foy Valentine was a prominent figure in Christian Ethics and Southern Baptist History. The Texas Collection is pleased to announce the opening of the Foy Valentine Papers for research.

Consisting of 249 boxes of materials, the largest series in the collection documents approximately 27 years of Valentine’s service in the Christian Life Commission (CLC), the social and ethical arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. His service in the commission coincided with tumultuous times and issues—civil rights in the 1960s, social morality in the 1970s, and perhaps the most contentious matter for Southern Baptists in the 1980s—the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Upon leaving the CLC in 1987, Valentine continued to work diligently in Southern Baptist and religious agencies. His service in the Baptist Joint Committee of Public Affairs, from 1953-1961, 1974; and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in 1969-1987, 1990-1997, are only two of the ten religious agencies that are reflected in his papers. Among the closest to his heart was the founding of the Center for Christian Ethics and the publication, Christian Ethics Today. As founding editor for CET, Foy was able to continue his vocation in Christian education in the ethics.

Fifty years ago, Foy made the following statement:

While the present age has brought the nation an awe-inspiring technological advance, a superabundance of material comforts, and greatly increased leisure time, it has brought no corresponding improvement in the moral condition of the nation. We are deeply concerned that more than ten million Southern Baptists have utilized so little of their potential to reverse the moral decline in America. ~Christian Life Commission minutes, 1964 (Foy Valentine papers, Series I, Box 3 Folder 2)

Foy Valentine's notebook, 1

Inside cover of one of Valentine’s class notebooks while at Baylor University. Foy Valentine papers, Series V, Box 17, Folder 1.

Foy worked for the betterment of the moral condition his entire life. Even today, his influence is evident in the recently created (2013) Foy Valentine Endowed Professorship in Christian Ethics in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. In many ways, Foy Valentine has come full circle—he graduated from Baylor in 1944 and came back to Baylor with his materials now open and available to researchers. We invite you all to make use of these newly released papers. This collection will interest anyone studying religion, but especially those interested in Southern Baptist history.

Posted in Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baptist history, Baylor University, BGCT, Race relations, Southern Baptist Convention, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Research Ready: November 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 are November’s finding aids:

  • John M. Bronaugh papers 1862-1887 (#63):                                                                     Contains Bronaugh’s records from his time as Confederate surgeon for the 5th Texas Cavalry during the Civil War.
History Honors exam

How would you answer the questions on this test? This comprehensive history honors exam represents one of various subject exams from 1938-1941. BU records: Honors Program #BU/108 , box 2, folder 10.

    • Foy Valentine papers, 1918-2000 (#2948):                                                           Materials documenting the life of Foy Valentine, a leader in various Baptist organizations and Baptist philosophy on ethics.
    • [Waco] Veterans Administration Medical Center records, 1938, 1945-1982 (#2608):                                                                                                                 Photographs, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, and other materials about the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Waco, Texas.
    • Sarah C. Pier Wiley papers, 1838-1868 (#139):                                                     Includes letters, photographs, and a journal about life on the Texas home front during the Civil War.
Handwritten poem

It was popular in the mid-1800s to handwrite poems in the personal notebooks of friends and family. Here we see Sarah Pier’s grandmother dedicating a poem to her. What poems would you dedicate to your friends and family? Sarah C. Pier Wiley papers #139, box 1, folder 6.

Posted in 5th Texas Cavalry Regiment, American South, basketball, Baylor football, Baylor University, Civil War, Confederate States of America, First Baptist Church Robinson, football, Foy Valentine, John M. Bronaugh, McLennan County, Research Ready, Robinson, Sarah C. Pier Wiley, Sibley's Brigade, Slavery, sports cards, Texas Baptists, Uncategorized, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Woman pioneers | Leave a comment

Armstrong’s Stars: Amy Lowell

“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.

In 1920 Baylor began preparing for its Diamond Jubilee celebration. Primarily under the direction of Dr. A. Joseph Armstrong, Baylor invited a series of famous literary and cultural figures to travel to Texas and partake in the celebration. Among the first to arrive was the poet Amy Lowell.

By the early ‘20s Amy Lowell had already established herself as one of America’s leading female poets, an innovative writer, a noted critic, and promoter of American verse. Even the Lowell family name had become associated with academic excellence and American letters by the time Ms. Lowell accepted her honorary degree from Baylor (Amy Lowell’s brother was the president of Harvard and her first cousin, James Russell Lowell, was a famous American poet from the nineteenth century). Thus the decision to ask Ms. Lowell to come and speak at Baylor was a natural part of the university’s mission to bolster its presence in the academic world.

Amy Lowell photo (TC)
Before she even arrived, there seemed to be great anticipation and discussion about Ms. Lowell’s coming to Waco. Every aspect of her journey was up for speculation and debate. Even her hotel room, which was reported to cost more than $30 a night, caused quite a shock among the students on campus (“Another Treat in Amy Lowell” 1). Yet the promise of her appearance prompted several student groups to greet her with excitement. Baylor’s Calliopean, at the time the second oldest women’s literary society in Texas, honored Lowell with membership before she even arrived, an honor she was happy to receive (“Calliopeans Honor Famous American Poet” 3; “Calliopean Society Has Long History Behind It” 5).

When Lowell did finally arrive in Waco, she apparently lived up to people’s expectations. She was reported to be equal parts exciting house guest and engaging scholar. In one example of her irrepressible spirit, Lowell encouraged Mrs. Armstrong to speed through Cameron Park as fast as possible, and when Mrs. Armstrong suggested the police might object, Lowell is reported to have replied “Damn the police. I’ll pay the fine” (Douglas 114-115). However when it came time for Ms. Lowell to engage Baylor’s students and their academic pursuits, she was a most gracious and well received visitor. When she was not giving a formal lecture on the nature of modern poetry, she was reported to sit in the open air smoking a cigar and indulging undergraduates and their questions about modern literature.

Perhaps because her visit to Baylor must have been rather colorful, Amy Lowell developed a fondness for central Texas. In a letter to A.J. Armstrong dated April 11, 1924, Lowell claimed her poem “Texas” was inspired by Waco’s lone skyscraper (probably the ALICO building in downtown Waco ) set against the central Texas landscape (Douglas 116). And until her death in 1925, Lowell and Dr. Armstrong continued to write, share ideas, and reminisce about her time in Texas. So impressed was she by Baylor and Dr. Armstrong that even after her death her estate saw to it that Baylor and Dr. Armstrong both were notified of her passing (Death of Amy Lowell is Mourned by Many” 1).

Works Cited

“Another Treat in Amy Lowell.” The Lariat 3 June 1920: 1. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Calliopeans Honor Famous American Poet.” The Lariat 6 May 1920: 3. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Calliopean Society Has Long History Behind It.” The Lariat 20 May 1920: 5. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

“Death of Amy Lowell is Mourned by Many.” The Lariat 14 May 1925: 1. Web. 7 Nov. 2014

Douglas, Lois Smith. Through Heaven’s Back Door: A Biography of A. Joseph Armstrong.
Waco, TX: Baylor UP, 1951. Print.

Posted in A.J. Armstrong, Amy Lowell, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Armstrong's Stars, Calliopean Literary Society, female poets, Waco | Leave a comment

Texas over Time: Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, 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.

Pat Neff Hall construction

 Pat Neff Hall construction, 1939

  • Pat Neff Hall was started in 1938 (with a Masonic cornerstone laying ceremony on December 7, 1938) and completed in 1939. The building was dedicated on Founders Day 1940.
  • President Neff received an offer from the General Educational Board of a $50,000 gift to the university if an administration building was built to free up classroom space.
  • The 46,000 sq. ft. building was built in the American Georgian style, by Waco architectural firm Birch D. Easterwood and Son, at a cost of around $250,000.
  • The original carillon (the Cullen F. Thomas Carillon) was initiated on December 21, 1939, but dedicated at the same time as the hall. The original carillon cost $15,000 and consisted of 25 bells. Chronic mechanical failures eventually led to its replacement by the McLane Carillion, named for the Drayton McLane family of Temple. Cast in France by the prestigious Paccard Bell Foundry, the 48 bell carillon cost $325,000, and was dedicated at Homecoming 1988. Read more about the McLane Carillon and its circuitous route to Baylor.
  • The dome was originally stainless steel, making it the second stainless steel roof in the country, until gold leafing was put on in 2000.
  • The tradition of green lights of Pat Neff after athletic wins was started in 1978.

Source:

Henry, Jay C. Architecture in Texas, 1895-1945. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993. Print

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall – Cullen F. Thomas Carillon

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall – McLane Carillon

Check out our Pat Neff Hall construction Flickr set to see the individual photos (and a few more). GIF and factoids by student archives assistant Braxton Ray.

Posted in Baylor University, Cullen F. Thomas chimes, McLane Carillon, Pat Neff, Pat Neff Hall, Texas over Time | Leave a comment