Looking Back at Baylor: ‘Hurrah! It’s a BEAR!’

Bob Nelson carries Baylor's mascot on his back, 1940.
Bob Nelson carries Baylor’s mascot on his back, 1940.

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in June 1980, then was reprinted in Looking Back at Baylor (1985), a collection of Keeth and Harry Marsh’s historical columns for the Line. Blogging about Texas periodically features selections from Looking Back at Baylor, with hopes of sharing Keeth’s work with a new audience.

Students and alumni proudly say, “I’m a bear!” when speaking of their time at Baylor. But, had history played out differently, they could have been saying, “I’m a buffalo!” or even “I’m a bookworm!” Neither has the same charm. Today, in honor of National “Hug A Bear Day,” learn more about how the Baylor Bear came to be (Note: we do not recommend trying to hug Joy or Lady!). 

During the first seventy years of Baylor’s existence, the university chose no mascot with which to identify itself. Even when The University of Texas had become known as the “Longhorns,” Rice Institute had adopted the “Owls,” and Texas A&M employed the alternate designations of “Aggies and “Farmers,” Baylor’s intramural teams were known simply by the university’s name. After the selection of the school’s official colors in 1897, the athletes sometimes referred to themselves as the “Green-and-Golders.”Continue Reading

Sharing Student Scholarship: Access at Baylor, 1921-1930

For the next couple of weeks, we’re putting up teasers about the fascinating Baylor history, 1921-1930, that Higher Education and Student Affairs students analyzed and shared on the Foundations and History of Higher Education class blog. We’ve already looked at Curriculum,  Finance, and Students/Student Groups. This week we’re looking at Access at Baylor, with papers examining the establishment of Baylor’s first men’s dorm (Brooks Hall), the university’s increasing prominence, and the Baylor woman’s educational experience. Did you know that…

S. P. Brooks Hall, Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Samuel Palmer Brooks Hall was the first men’s residence hall on campus–before it was built in 1921, Baylor men lived off campus in rooming houses and other accommodations. Brooks provided the increased male population with another option of where to live, as well as a sense of community.
  • Remember how administrators were concerned about the decreased men’s population at Baylor? Well, the establishment of the business school, plus the construction of Brooks Hall, seemed to help—male enrollment saw a 25% increase between 1923 and 1924. And the residential culture appears to have encouraged men to stay successful and active on campus. Learn more…
  • Master’s programs were just one way Baylor grew in the 1920s—two master’s degrees were conferred in 1913-1914, while 18 were earned about ten years later in 1924-1925. Read more…
  • While women’s curriculum at the time emphasized teaching, the arts, and nursing, women did take advantage of the newly established journalism program (within the business school), and they accounted for about half of the Lariat staff through the 1920s. Discover more…

We hope you’ll explore these blog posts and enjoy the benefits of the HESA students’ research and scholarship. If you’re inspired to dig deeper, most of their sources can be found in the University Archives within The Texas Collection and in our digitized materials available online in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.

Background on this project: Students in the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) masters program have taken on the challenge of creating original scholarship that adds to what is known about Baylor’s history. As part of Dr. Nathan Alleman’s Foundations and History of Higher Education course, students were grouped under the five class themes: curriculum, finance, students/student groups, access, and religion. In collaboration with Texas Collection archivists and librarians, students mined bulletins, newspapers, correspondence, and other primary resources as they researched their topics. Final papers have been posted on blogs.baylor.edu/hesabaylorhistoryproject and grouped by their particular sub-topic so that patrons, researchers, and other interested persons could benefit from these students’ work. This is the second installment of an annual accumulating project–see last year’s teasers here. Please visit again for future installments!

Baylor Quiz Time

by Amanda Norman, University Archivist

A "slime" (freshman) scrubs the Baylor seal in the foyer of Pat Neff Hall, 1951
Fortunately, freshmen aren’t imposed on anymore to use the toothbrush method to keep the Pat Neff Hall seal clean–and the seal is roped off to keep people from walking on it.

It’s back to school today—time for a quiz! These Baylor trivia questions are drawn from things I’ve learned through assisting patrons with reference questions. Test your knowledge of the green and gold—or learn more about Baylor’s past!

  1. When did Baylor have its first female yell leader?
  2. In the 1950s-1960s, AFROTC cadets practiced their rifle shooting in an indoor range in what building? a) Bill Daniel Student Center b) Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium c) Penland Hall
  3. What does legend say is buried near the swing in Burleson Quadrangle?
  4. How many years elapsed between when Tidwell Bible Building was first proposed and when it was completed?
  5. True or False—A Baylor student designed the Baylor seal in the floor of the Pat Neff Hall foyer.
  6. How much money did George W. Truett raise to eliminate Baylor’s debt in his role as financial agent in the early 1890s?
  7. Sociology is a part of the College of Arts and Sciences now, but it hasn’t always been housed there. In what school did it reside in the 1920s?
  8. What subject did the first African-American professor at Baylor teach?
  9. How many classes celebrated their graduation at Baylor Stadium (now Floyd Casey Stadium)?
  10. Who coined Baylor’s motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana?
Yell Leaders at Baylor (Floyd Casey) Stadium, circa 1970
The female yell leaders in this 1970s photo were not the first.
Vivienne Malone-Mayes in the classroom, undated
Vivienne Malone-Mayes in the classroom, undated

Answers

  1. Weta Timmons was elected a yell leader in 1923 and is heartily commended for her efforts in the Lariat. However, after her term and up to 1968, there were no female yell leaders. The decision to break that gender gap was much debated throughout the 1960s.
  2. a) Bill Daniel Student Center. From 1953 to about 1964, the AFROTC competitive shooting team carried rifles up four flights of stairs to the attic of the Student Union Building and practiced target shooting. Apparently you could hear the shots outside the building (through air vents) but not inside.
  3. An “Indian princess” from the Huaco Indian tribe. When Colonel Joseph Warren Speight owned the property, his daughters found turquoise beads beneath a tree where they were playing. Speight investigated and found the skeleton. According to a Huaco legend, a plague befell the tribe. The chief’s beloved daughter helped nurse the ill but eventually died herself, and the bones are hers. In the 1930s, a marker declaring the grave to be that of “an Indian Princess” was erected on the site but was later removed and then returned in 1988.
  4. Twenty-one years. The building was first conceived in 1933 but wasn’t completed till 1954. It was delayed due to fundraising challenges, including World War II and other building priorities like Baylor Stadium, Armstrong Browning Library, and the Student Union Building. Architectural problems also delayed the project—an overly ambitious initial design, leading to a new architect being engaged and a lawsuit. Check out BU Records: Tidwell Bible Building Campaign Committee at The Texas Collection
  5. True. Enrique Ramirez designed the seal for the building, which was completed in 1939. Ramirez was an art student who did various art and design projects for the university throughout his time at Baylor.
  6. Truett raised $100,000 in two years. Benajah Harvey (B.H.) Carroll, the president of the board of trustees, offered the job of financial agent to Truett, who accepted the position but suffered a bad case of the measles before he could start the job.  After completing the fundraising project, Truett enrolled at Baylor as a student in 1893, and, of course, went on to become a major figure in Texas Baptist history. In 1990, Baylor claimed his name for a future seminary, and in 1994, the first students began classes at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University. Check out the George W. Truett papers at The Texas Collection. We also have many of the books he authored and audio recordings of his sermons.
  7. The School of Commerce and Business Administration, which was founded in 1923 (and now is known as the Hankamer School of Business). Political science and journalism are a few other departments that were housed in the new program but eventually were moved to the College of Arts and Sciences.
  8. Vivienne Malone-Mayes was hired as a mathematics professor at Baylor in 1966—only five years after she had been denied admittance to the school as a graduate student. She was among the first black women in the nation to earn a PhD in mathematics. Check out the Vivenne Malone-Mayes papers at The Texas Collection and her oral memoirs from the Institute for Oral History.
  9. Five. The classes of 1951-1955 celebrated commencement exercises at Baylor Stadium. In 1956, President Eisenhower came to Baylor and gave the commencement address. According to the Lariat, his advisors “much preferred that he speak in a completely enclosed building,” so the venue was moved that year to the (un-air conditioned and thus very warm) Heart O’ Texas Coliseum. Commencement was held there until 1988, when the Ferrell Center was constructed.
  10. Rufus Burleson. When he accepted the presidency of the university in 1851, he included an outline of institutional policies. Number eight on the list was, “The mottoes of Baylor University shall be, “Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana;” “Dulce et Decorum, pro patria Mori.” The Baylor seal still boasts the first motto, which translates to “For Church, For Texas.” The latter quote is attributed to the Roman poet Horace, and roughly translates to, “It is sweet and proper to die for your country.” It fell out of use as an official slogan—really, it’s not clear if it ever was adapted. Check out the Rufus C. Burleson papers at The Texas Collection.

You can read more about these stories and many others in the digitized Lariats, Round-Ups, and press releases, just a few of many Texas Collection items that can be found on the Baylor Digital Collections site. And if you want to investigate even further, drop me a line at The Texas Collection—we have archival records on many of these people and places.

Experience the Tradition: Baylor Homecoming 2012

Homecoming 2012 is upon us! As this post goes up, the Baylor Nation is beginning to flood the Waco campus. Baylor University welcomes everybody home, from the 50th reunion class of 1962 to the class of 2012, for a weekend of nostalgia and fun. Watch the video below for a taste of Homecomings past:

We’ll have Round Up yearbooks available as giveaways during the Homecoming Parade on a first come, first served basis, at the Baylor University Libraries/Department of History tent, located on 5th Street near the side entrance to Carroll Library. Did one of your yearbooks get lost in a move, or maybe you never bought one back in the day? Now’s your chance! The bulk of them are from the 1950s and 1960s, but we’ll be giving away books from the 1940s all the way to 1980.

Please also drop by Carroll Library and The Texas Collection and see a small Homecoming exhibit featuring past Lariats and Round Up yearbooks.  We’ll be open till 5 pm today (November 2) and from 8-12 on Saturday morning during the Homecoming Parade. (We also have some Alamo materials and historic Waco maps on display from other recent projects!) Did you know that an online archives of the Baylor Lariat and the Round Up yearbook is now available?  These rich resources, representing the life of the university throughout its history, will be an invaluable resource for alumni looking to relive the past and for researchers seeking valuable primary resource materials for their inquiries.