Sometimes when working in a library, unexpected items cross your path. That was certainly the case with a document The Texas Collection acquired last year known as To Sisal. The To Sisal document is a mariner’s diary from the mid-nineteenth century, and the catalog the library purchased it from said it included an account of an overland journey to El Paso. When I began transcribing the diary, however, I realized the journey it described had nothing to do with El Paso, Texas; instead, it tracked the movements of a merchant ship in the Gulf of Mexico and recorded an overland journey across the Yucatan Peninsula. To Sisal provided several surprising episodes as well as new insights about trade in the Caribbean in the 1840s.
This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in June 1981, 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.
One of the most magnificent and well-known buildings on campus is the Armstrong Browning Library, known for its large collection of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning works and beautiful stained glass windows. But before the iconic building was constructed, the Baylor Browning collection was housed within Carroll Library. Read on to learn more about the collection and performance based on one of the stained glass windows.
For the first four years after its inception in 1918, Baylor’s Browning collection shared quarters with the university’s general library in the Carroll Chapel and Library Building. Starting with Dr. A. J. Armstrong’s gift of his personal library of Browning manuscripts and publications, the burgeoning young collection rapidly acquired a large oil portrait of Robert Browning painted by his son, its famous bronze casting of the Brownings’ clasped hands, and additional writings and memorabilia.Continue Reading
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
Hello! Or in the language of the NoZe Brotherhood: “Mini-Mini-Techni, Ufarsus; Keko-de-Muckity-Muck, Satchel!”
What did I just read, you’re asking? Welcome to the bizarre world of the NoZe Brotherhood, the secret and satirical society on the campus of Baylor University.
Named after its first president, Leonard Shoaf, whose nose was apparently so huge you could form a club around it, the NoZe Brotherhood was founded in the mid-1920s as a satire on men’s social organizations.
They’ve had a long and checkered history at Baylor University, to say the least. At best, university administration has tolerated their jokes. The oldest social club at Baylor University, the NoZe Brotherhood is not–I repeat, not–an official student organization.
This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in November 1981, 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.
The beginning of this month marked the 173rd year since Baylor was chartered in Independence, Texas. This spring, it will be 132 years since Baylor moved to Waco, Texas. Which leads us to ask, what prompted the move? Read on to find out.
In 1885 Baylor at Independence reached a turning point in its history. For the past quarter-century the forty-year-old school, whose heyday had occurred in the decade of the 1850’s, had suffered from a variety of social, political and economic problems in Southwest Texas which were beyond its control. The death in February, 1885, of President William Carey Crane, whose efforts alone had kept the struggle school alive, signaled the need of desperate measures if Baylor went to survive.
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!
January’s finding aids By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist
Mamie Boone papers, 1867-2006 (#3780): Includes materials on Boone’s travels in Europe and the eastern United States, plus recipes and scrapbooks. Boone was principal of John H. Reagan Elementary School in Dallas, Texas, during the 1950s.
January’s print materials By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials
Part of the Adams-Blakley collection, the volumes below recount the lives and legends of outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse James.
James, Edgar. The Notorious James Brothers: the latest and most complete story of the daring crimes of these famous desperadoes ever published : containing many sensational escapades never before made public. Baltimore: I. & M. Ottenheimer, 1913. Print.
The James Boys. A complete and accurate recital of the dare-devil criminal career of the famous bandit brothers, Frank and Jesse James and their noted band of bank plunderers, train robbers and murderers, specially compiled for the publishers. Chicago, Henneberry Co. [date of publication not identified]. Print.
by Carl F. Flynn, Director of Marketing & Communications for
Information Technology & University Libraries
Today at 10:00 a.m. our former director, Kent Keeth, will be laid to rest at a graveside service at Oakwood Cemetery, just a few blocks away from The Texas Collection. Keeth’s 30 years of leadership charted a course for our library that made The Texas Collection a vital resource for scholars and others interested in the history of Baylor University, Texas history, and the cultural development of Texas.
Keeth was born on August 25, 1938, in Marshall, Texas, to Lonnie and Hazel Keeth. He attended Baylor University and graduated in 1960. He majored in history, but had a wide range of interests and skills, minoring in English, Spanish, philosophy and economics. He went on from Baylor to earn an M.A. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1961 and a Master of Library Science degree from the University of California at Berkeley the following year. From 1962-1964, Keeth organized and began operation of a new library at the Malaysian Teachers College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Then, from 1965-1968, he worked as a reference librarian for the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress. As part of his duties, he performed reference and research services for Members of Congress, Congressional Committees and their staffs. Keeth then returned home to Texas, serving as an archivist for the Eugene C. Barker Texas History Center at the University of Texas at Austin. On June 1, 1973, at the request of Baylor President Abner McCall, Keeth returned to his alma mater as director of The Texas Collection.
Keeth believed that The Texas Collection should serve as a repository for early Texas history while also having an eye toward researchers years from now who will want to understand Texas culture. Under his direction, The Texas Collection acquired maps, documents and other artifacts that told the story of a time before Texas was a Republic, along with contemporary books, magazines, papers, postcards, photographs – anything that captured Texas as it developed. In addition, The Texas Collection gathered materials that recorded the history of Baylor University, and Keeth quickly became the unofficial historian of the university. In fact, the thing most people associate with Keeth are his “Looking Back at Baylor” articles that regularly appeared in the Baylor Line magazine. Keeth enjoyed researching and writing these articles and his work lives on through The Texas Collection’s online resources as we continue to share his work.Continue Reading
Seventy years ago on January 24, 1948, three Texas cities became one. Formerly known as the “Tri-Cities,” the towns of Baytown, Goose Creek, and Pelly unified as what is known known as the city of Baytown.
Goose Creek Oil Field was discovered in the 1910s, which allowed for rapid growth in both the economy and population in neighboring communities, Pelly and Baytown. With the construction of an oil refinery, jobs were created and many people flocked to the area. Around the time the oil was found, Humble Oil and Refining Company built their refinery in the Baytown area. Today, this refinery is one of Exxon-Mobil’s largest refineries. The oil company, in conjunction with World War II, helped bring the Tri-Cities together.
Ralph Fusco, in his chapter titled “World War II’s Effects on Consolidation” in the book, Baytown Vignettes, describes how Baytown came to be:
“Despite such storm beginnings, these feelings slowly subsided and the construction and subsequent wartime expansion of the refinery proved the beginning of a stable community. Even with the seeds of unity planted by the formation of the Humble Oil and Refining Company, sectionalism hung on in several towns that survived. It took the drastic and rapid changes brought about by World War II to weld these separate districts into a single homogeneous city. While these changes initiated the breakdown of the old social, economic and geographic barriers, they also encouraged the ultimate consolidation of Goose creek, Pelly and Old Baytown into the present day city Baytown. Through precipitating these changes, World War II provided the catalyst that sped this consolidation.
The many changes in this community due to the war effort included the government funded expansion of the Humble Oil and Refining Plant. The company received the first government contracts for toluene (toluol) production, an intrinsic part of the make up of TNT, in 1941. The toluene project, built on Humble Refinery sites at the cost of twelve million dollars, employed two hundred people, and included a barracks that would accommodate three hundred workers.
World War II, with its rationing, increased demand for industrial output, and creation of new employment opportunities caused the Tri-Cities area to grow and served to unite the area. New people coming into the area helped combine the separate groups that existed before the war into a single more homogeneous group. old geographic boundaries were being rapidly erased, and old community isolationism disappeared. Rapidly occurring changes lent a feeling of oneness to the area. In this sense World War II became a major contributing factor for change when earlier attempts at consolidating the Tri-Cities had failed. In 1949 the are communities joined and incorporated into one city, the City of Baytown.”
At The Texas Collection, we collect materials related to any Texan town. Click here for more resources available on Baytown, TX and stay tuned for more Today in Texas blog posts to come!
This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in September 1976, 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.
This January marks the 91st year since the accident that took the lives of the Immortal Ten. We take a moment to remember those were lost, and learn more about one individual in particular. Please note, that this publication stated the Immortal Ten accident occurred on January 21, 1927 but further research shows that the accident occurred the following day, January 22, 1927.
One of the greatest tragedies that Baylor has ever experienced occurred on January 21, 1927. On the morning of that day the university bus carrying the Bear basketball team to a game with the University of Texas, travelling in a misting rain on a slick road, collided with an Illinois and Great Northern railway train at a level-grade crossing in Round Rock. Ten students were killed in the accident, and most of the other passengers were injured. The university, Waco and the state were stunned by the catastrophe. Hundreds of messages of condolence poured in from individuals, groups and other universities; and a crowd of three thousand attended the memorial service held on campus for the victims. Among those killed was Clyde “Abe” Kelley, Baylor’s all-round athlete and star halfback of the 1926 season. Described as being equally proficient in football, baseball and basketball, Kelley had been selected only a month before his death to be captain of the 1927 Bear football team. In tribute to his ability, and perhaps also as a memorial to the “Immortal Ten” who died in the wreck, Kelley’s captaincy of the team was not rescinded. A newspaper article datelined Waco, August 6, 1927, (sent to the Baylor Line by James A. Fox Jr. ’28 of Lufkin) announced: “The spirit of Abe Kelley again will direct the Baylor Bears when the Green and Gold jerseyed football team takes the field next month to make a try for honors in the Southwest conference. It was decided not to elect another captain, but to let “Abe” continue to run the team in spirit, if not in actuality. A member of the team will be appointed before each game to act as captain.” The “spirit of Abe Kelley” continued to manifest itself on Baylor’s campus for some time. Nearly five years after the accident Dave Cheavens, who had traveled with the team that day as sportswriter for the Lariat, described the incident to the student body. “I saw Abe Kelley pick up his best friend and throw him out the [bus] window when he could see the train bearing down to a certain crash. That was the true Baylor spirit.” The impact of the tragedy was not confined to Baylor. Among the many Texas newspapers which editorialized against the level-grade crossings used by railways throughout the state, the Daily Texan, student publication of the University of Texas wrote: “The slaughter of ten men of Baylor University . . . brings home to Texas the tragedy attendant on the grade crossings which at resent exist by the thousands in Texas. The only thing that will entirely remove grade crossing deaths is their complete elimination. This accident was preventable.” Other publications and groups continued to prosecute the campaign against level-grade crossings, and with the recent Baylor incident to support their arguments, they succeeded in bringing their message to the ears of state highway planners and railroad officials. The November, 1937, issue of Texas Parade—at that time the organ of the Texas Good Road Association—published a photograph of a recently completed railroad underpass at Round Rock. The picture’s caption read: “Had this underpass been in existence eight years ago several Baylor students would not have been killed.” Because the 1927 Round Rock tragedy epitomized the need for improved standards of safety in highway construction, its long-term effects have been beneficial. Texas motorists for the past fifty years have traveled under the protection of the spirits of Abe Kelley and the others of the Immortal Ten.
World War II witnessed the rise of the United States as a global superpower and the establishment of a new world order. Historians, amateur and professional alike, devote their entire lives to studying the complexities and intricate details of “The Good War” including its battles, politicians, military commanders, causes, effects, etc.
While seeking to comprehend the broader historical and social implications of World War II, we sometimes forget how these events impacted the life of an individual. Activities that we might take for granted, such as teaching and learning in a peaceful collegiate setting, were dramatically altered in a nation at war. Over the past few months, I have processed two small but fascinating collections concerning Baylor University during World War II. As a result, I have come to appreciate the sacrifices made by some of Baylor’s faculty and students during that time.
Merle Mears McClellan was one such remarkable faculty member. Merle had earned a double major in history and science from the University of Texas in 1917 and had taught for years in the Gatesville area. Following the death of her husband William, she earned her Master’s degree in 1941 at Baylor University where she taught various history courses over the next few years. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Baylor University President Pat Neff appointed Merle as the university’s Armed Services Representative in the spring of 1943. In this role, she acted as a liaison between the university and the military.
Reflecting on her experiences, Merle was one of the few women who had been appointed to such a task. In explaining why Neff had chosen her, she wrote, “He said, ‘You are a mother of one son in the Pacific. Your normal reaction would be to send everyone to help him fight. So if you say a boy is entitled to exemption no one on the McLennan Co. Draft Board will question your decision. Furthermore, I know you and I know the Baylor boys will get everything to which they are entitled.” Continue Reading