Research Ready: October 2018

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

Research Ready: September 2018

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

Lives in the Archives: The A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland Papers

A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland Papers #1100, Box 1, Folder 1.
Reilly’s criminal libel suit later became the subject of this pamphlet, written to show that God protects those who preach his truth.

by Jackson Hager, Graduate Assistant

One of the great joys of being able to work in an archive like The Texas Collection is how often one, amid the stacks and piles of collections, encounters remarkably human stories. Even when the collection is just a few folders, an archivist can sometimes feel like they have encountered a real person, with all the flaws and perfections that come with being a human. That was my experience as I was processing the A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland papers, where I came to catch a glimpse of the Waco’s past through the eyes of a passionate Baptist preacher and his wife.

Antonio Reilly Copeland was born on January 7, 1889, in Marquez, Texas. His future wife, Eunice Bessie Tooley, was born in Buffalo Springs, Texas, on November 30, 1891. The couple first met in 1903 and married in the summer in 1916. While Eunice studied music in Houston, Reilly attended college first in Commerce, then Tehuacana, Rome, and finally the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. After the couple had had several children, the family made their entrance into Waco history when they moved there in 1923, as Reilly had been offered the pulpit at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, located at 1500 15th and Clay Street.

A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland Papers #1100, Box 1, Folder 5.
Reilly’s writings show both a deep knowledge of scripture and a deep sense of God’s involvement within the world, as evidenced by the first page of one of his journals, titled “Some Signs Before Great Tribulation”

During his four decades of leading the Tabernacle community, Reilly was a prolific speaker and writer. His writings reveal a strong sense of right and wrong, and a zeal for adhering to what he saw as biblical truth. His confrontational style of writing, however, brought conflict. The most famous example of this is when Reilly was charged with criminal libel in 1925, after writing several letters detailing the moral failings of local Waco politicians. The charges were dropped in 1928, however, and Reilly continued to preach and write. He spent the latter half of his career delving deep into biblical study and debate. As evidenced by his letters, Reilly participated often in the debates surrounding Fundamentalism and Neo-Orthodoxy, and his journals show a deep interest in biblical prophecy and how it related to world at large. Reilly’s preaching was not just reserved for the pulpit, as he hosted a radio program for station WACO from 1941 to 1954. By the time of his resignation in the early 1960’s, Reilly had been a public voice for Baptists within the Waco community for almost forty years.

A. Reilly and Eunice B. Tooley Copeland Papers #1100, Box 3, Folder 7.
Eunice’s memoir covers nearly a century and contains a large amount of photos from nearly every decade of her life.

While Reilly’s writings may provide one picture of who he was, Eunice’s own memoirs help fashion a fuller image. Eunice dedicated more than half of her book to her time with Reilly and the family they made together, and we find that Reilly was a kind and loving husband and father. Eunice’s writings help shine a light on what it was like to be a preacher’s wife in the early 20th century, and how they dealt with the many changes that occurred during those turbulent years.

The lives of A. Reilly and Eunice Copeland may appear, in the grand scheme of things, of little impact. But it is through the small, personal stories of regular people that we obtain a deeper human connection to our past.

If you are interested in learning more about A. Reilly and Eunice Copeland, feel free to contact us at The Texas Collection and view the collection’s finding aid here!

We Want That Picture! Fred Gildersleeve’s Record Breaking Texas Cotton Palace Print

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

In 1905 or 1906, Fred Gildersleeve came from Texarkana, Arkansas to Waco to work in the photography business. He later became a pioneer in the field of industrial photography in the state. One of his more famous pieces of work was his enlargement of the Texas Cotton Palace Main Building in Waco, Texas. Shown is a picture of the enlargement being processed. At the time, this photograph set a world record among photo prints at 120 inches wide. A representative from Eastman Kodak personally delivered the large roll of photo paper it required and supervised the enlargement process. The photo was exhibited for some time until it was sold for $50.00 to the building’s architect, Roy Ellsworth Lane. Gildersleeve later recalled that was “a good price in those days…as you remember, at that time 1913 the largest enlargement ever made. Eastman Kodak sent George McKay to supervise this. It was written up in Studio Light Magazine and also used this photo.”Continue Reading

Research Ready: July 2018

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

Part II: A History of the Baptist Joint Committee and the Protection of Religious Liberty

Pictured here is Joseph Martin Dawson, the first Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee.
Baptist Joint Committee records, Accession #3193, Box #652, Folder #23, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

by Thomas DeShong, Project Archivist

This blog is the first of two that highlights a recently processed collection, the Baptist Joint Committee records, and its place in history.

The 1930s were a desperate time in the history of the United States.  The nation had been plunged into the Great Depression following the crash of the stock markets.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his brain trust crafted the New Deal in an effort to combat unemployment and economic depression.  In order to enact Roosevelt’s proposals, however, the powers of the federal government began to increase dramatically.  Concerned about potential infringements on individual freedom, particularly religious liberty, Baptists across the country began to organize.

In 1936, the Southern Baptist Convention created a Committee on Public Relations to monitor the government’s activities.  Rufus W. Weaver, a prominent Baptist educator and writer, served as its first Chairman.  Under his leadership, the committee tackled various church-state issues including American attempts at diplomacy with the Vatican, the mistreatment of missionaries in Romania, and the formation of the United Nations.  Weaver also facilitated cooperative efforts among the Southern Baptist Convention, the Northern Baptist Convention, and the predominantly African American National Baptist Convention U.S.A., Inc. to maximize their ability to enact change.Continue Reading

Part I: Why Do Baptists Care About Religious Liberty?

by Thomas DeShong, Project Archivist

This blog is the first of two that highlights a recently processed collection, the Baptist Joint Committee records, and its place in history.

Of all the rights and freedoms guaranteed to American citizens by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion has proven to be one of the mostly hotly contested.  Throughout the history of the United States, stretching back to the early years of British colonization in the seventeenth century, religious liberty has been at times both staunchly protected and unequivocally denied.  Baptists, due in part to the histories of their denominations, have often stood as key proponents of religious liberty for all.Continue Reading

Women’s Collections at Baylor University

by Anna Redhair, Graduate Assistant

In honor of Women’s History Month in March, Baylor University Libraries Special Collections and the Institute for Oral History launched a website for researching the various women’s collections and oral memoirs held across campus. The website includes materials from the Institute for Oral History; Armstrong Browning Library and Museum; Central Libraries Special Collections; Keston Center for Religion, Politics, and Society; The Texas Collection; and W. R. Poage Legislative Library.Continue Reading

Jules Bledsoe: Waco’s Famous Baritone

by Amanda Neel, Graduate Assistant

Jules leads the program at New York City’s Town Hall on 28 July 1940. You’ll find this item in the Jules Bledsoe Papers #2086, box 4, folder 2, at The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

The shelves here at the Texas Collection hold many collections about the lives and experiences of African American Texans. One of these collections, the Jules Bledsoe Papers, concerns the life and musical career of Jules Bledsoe. Julian (Jules) Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe was born in Waco, Texas on December 18, 1898 and went on to travel the world for his career as a baritone singer. His papers include his library of sheet music, recordings of performances, personal correspondence, programs, and much more.

Jules served in the military during World War I and moved to New York City after the end of the war. While in New York, he received an Honorable Discharge. However, his stint in New York only lasted a short while. Jules signed a performance contract with the Young Men’s Christian Association, Colored Branch in Penniman, Virginia. While in Virginia, Jules sat for photographs in dress uniform for, in his own words, “40 years from now I might want to point back to when I was a soldier in the World War and you know nothing is better evidence than a picture.” Though he lived and performed in Virginia, he set his sights on returning to New York City.

Jules returned to New York by 1920 and saw his career take off by 1925. He performed in places like the Manhattan Opera House and critics hailed him as one of the greatest baritones of the day. His letters home mention his work with great New York composers. He even performed his own compositions during recitals, including his most well-known piece, “Old Man River.” Though based in New York City and traveling the world, Jules never forgot about home. He returned to Waco many times throughout his career and performed multiple times at the New Hope Baptist Church.Continue Reading