A Baylor Pageant: Organizing the 1915 Homecoming Parade

By Amanda Norman, University Archivist

Samuel Palmer Brooks to Frank Guittard on Baylor Homecoming 1915
President Brooks commends Guittard for “remarkable tact in winning others to your plans and getting them to do the things that ought to be done.” Guittard’s notes on the parade illustrate how he accomplished those Homecoming plans! (Guittard papers, box 4, folder 9)

The Homecoming parade is one of my favorite Baylor traditions, but I must confess that I never thought much about all the work that goes in to planning the event. Knowing who’s participating, assigning the order, getting everyone into position, encouraging marchers to, ahem, represent Baylor well…that’s a lot of work! These days the men and women of Baylor Chamber of Commerce organize the parade, but back when Homecoming and the parade were new traditions, it was faculty members who made the parade happen.

One of these faculty members was Francis Guittard, a history professor who had been teaching at Baylor since the early 1900s. Frank helped organize Baylor’s first Homecoming in 1909, and President Samuel Palmer Brooks called on him again to serve as one of the marshals for the second Homecoming in 1915.

Frank Guittard's Baylor Homecoming parade notes (page 5), 1915
Note Guittard’s emphasis on the spacing between marchers. He clearly wanted no one stepping on heels or straggling behind–this parade was a tightly run ship! (Guittard papers, box 20, folder 4)

Almost 100 years later, Charles Guittard (BU ’64) was doing research this spring at The Texas Collection for a book he plans to write about his grandfather. In the Francis Gevrier Guittard papers, Charles came across Frank’s notes for his comments to the 1915 parade participants. With the 2013 Homecoming parade coming up tomorrow, we thought this was the perfect time to look back at one of Baylor’s first parades.

First of all, Frank Guittard calls the event a “pageant,” not a “parade.” (The phrases seemed to be used interchangeably at the time in describing this Homecoming event.) Parade participants included student groups like the Baylor band, the Town Girls club, the “B” Association, the senior class (already suited out in caps and gowns), and Baylor’s four literary societies: the Philomathesian, Erisophian, Calliopean, and Rufus C. Burleson organizations. Lillie Martin’s model primary class from the Department of Education provided the cute children for the parade. President Samuel Palmer Brooks, prominent faculty, alumnus of Baylor at Independence, and more rode in the auto section. Bringing up the rear was “Prof Evans’ Human Calliope.”

1915 Baylor University Homecoming: Human Calliope
Wonder how Professor Evans talked students into being part of his Human Calliope–perhaps extra credit? Image scanned from the Baylor Bulletin on Homecoming 1915.

Wait, need some explanation of that last bit? First, a calliope is a musical instrument that produces (very loud) sound by sending steam or compressed air through large whistles. Apparently Evans, a piano professor, had concocted his own version (see photo to the right), consisting of Evans pounding a cookstove as the keyboard and various Baylor men serving as the whistles, “tooting of some popular airs which brought repeated applause,” according to the December 2, 1915 Lariat.

The parade progressed from Austin Avenue to 4th Street, then to Franklin and on to 5th Street, which took them to Carroll Field for the Homecoming game. Guittard heavily underlined in his notes “marchers three steps back of those in front”—perhaps marchers walking too close or too far from each other had been an issue in the 1909 parade. Students were encouraged to enlist all present members of the organization to participate in the parade, as well as alumni—as long as those alumni were “not too fat and wheezy and full of rheumatics.” Evidently Guittard had no time for potential stragglers!

Frank Guittard's Baylor Homecoming parade notes (page 7), 1915
Guittard called on Baylor students of 1915 to realize they were participating in a historic event–indeed, these early parades laid the groundwork for years to come! (Guittard papers, box 20, folder 4)

Despite Guittard’s close attention to detail, he also took the long view—he reminded students that pictures would be taken that could be enjoyed for years to come. And indeed, The Texas Collection sees researchers coming every year just to see photos of early Homecomings.

Guittard also noted that “this pageant is to be representative of the loyalty of Baylor students as well as a graphic representation of Baylor’s strength and influence….Each of you has been given a role in this pageant which will be a long-remembered event in the history of Baylor and it is earnestly hoped that each one of you will act his part nobly and loyally.”

Guittard understood the importance of Homecoming when the tradition was just beginning—it wasn’t an annual event till 1924 (and then World War II disrupted the tradition). But he was right that those early parades would be long-remembered, and the summary of the parade in the 1915 Baylor Bulletin would be an apt description for succeeding Homecoming parades: “it isn’t an overplus enthusiasm nor pride of university or city to insist that few institutions in the United States could have made the showing Baylor made in the parade.”

Check out our latest Flickr set, a slideshow of Kodachrome slides from the 1953 Homecoming parade.

Research Ready: June 2013

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’s the scoop for June:

Sul Ross as a young man, undated daguerreotype
The Barnard-Lane Papers contain materials from many of Waco’s oldest and most influential families, including this daguerreotype of Lawrence Sullivan Ross, a former governor of Texas and brother-in-law of Barnard Lane (found in box 28, folder 7).
  • Gladys Allen papers, 1882-1893, 1913-1952, undated: Gladys Allen was a teacher, served on the Baylor University Board of Trustees, and was a member of Seventh and James Baptist Church. Includes correspondence, personal notes, genealogical research, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
  • Lyrics to “America” manuscript, 1895: This manuscript contains a handwritten copy of the song “America” or, alternatively, “My Country Tis of Thee,” by the composer Samuel Francis Smith.
  • Barnard-Lane papers, 1800-1983, undated: George Barnard was one of the early Waco pioneers. The collection contains personal materials as well as those related to his trading post.
  • Ava Storey and Dixie Anderson Butcher collection, 1903-1998, undated: Contains documents and photographs from the Storey and Butcher family, as well as photographs of the affluent Waco drug store chain, Pipkin Drug Store.
  • Newel Berryman Crain papers, 1858-1948, undated: The Crain papers chronicle the experiences of a young man from Texas during the beginning of the twentieth century, from his time at Baylor through his various jobs and military service. It also includes correspondence from Crain’s grandfather, Newton M. Berryman, about his studies at Baylor University at Independence in 1858.
  • BU Records: Dean of the Union Building (Lily Russell), 1936-1966: Administrative
    records related to Baylor’s Union Building, as well as some of Russell’s personal
    records and materials from when she was Director of Public Relations at Baylor.
  • [Edcouch] First Baptist Church records, 1941-1974, undated: [Edcouch] First Baptist Church, originally named Los Indios Baptist Church, was organized during the summer of 1924 in Los Indios, Texas. It has undergone a few name and location changes since then. Records consist of manuscripts pertaining to administrative operations of the church.
Telegram from Mary Jane Hannah to her husband, Robert Lee Hannah, following the loss of their son, Bob, 1927
Telegram from Mary Jane Hannah to her husband, Robert Lee Hannah, following the loss of their son, Bob. Bob Hannah was one of what Baylor calls the Immortal Ten who died in a train/bus collision en route to a basketball game in Austin. Hannah-Wiley papers, box 1, folder 5.
  • Hannah-Wiley Family papers, 1909-1930, undated: The Hannah-Wiley Family papers contain correspondence, legal documents, financial documents, and literary production relating to the family of Baylor student Robert “Bob” Lee Hannah Jr., who was one of the “Immortal Ten” who died in a tragic bus/train collision.
  • Independence Baptist Church records, 1873-1918: Independence Baptist Church was one of the first Baptist churches in Texas. Contains one bound minute book that describes church activities, finances, and disciplinary issues from 1873-1918 and also includes a condensed history of the church from 1839-1873.
  • Colonel Chris H.W. Rueter collection, 1927-2004, undated: Consists of correspondence, certificates, postcards, artworks, photographs, and biographical information collected by Baylor alum and WWII veteran Colonel Chris H.W. Rueter and his family.
  • BU Records: Rufus C. Burleson Society, 1900-1919: Documents the operations and activities of one of Baylor’s women’s literary societies that was most active in the early 1900s.
  • James Anderson Slover papers, circa 1907-1913, undated: Copies of a manuscript written by Slover, Minister to the Cherokees: A Civil War Autobiography, describing early family history on the frontier in the United States and Texas.
  • Thurmond-Tramwell Slave papers, 1857: These papers include a document originating from Gonzales, Texas, which gives an account of a legal dispute between Thurmond and Tramwell over an enslaved woman.
  • Frank L. Wilcox Papers, 1923-1966, undated: Contains the personal and professional materials of Frank Wilcox, a former mayor of Waco and the son-in-law of former Texas governor and Baylor University President Pat Neff.

Sharing Student Scholarship Online: Students at Baylor, 1900-1920

Although Baylor was a university by charter, it was not until the first decades of the 20th century that the institution, like many others in the United States, began to develop some of the hallmarks of university life and function that we now associate with them. These include intercollegiate athletics, a rich variety of student organizations, diverse students and curricula, and the development of endowments and other financial pillars to sustain and advance the institutions.

HESA Baylor History blog

This year 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 between 1900 and 1920. 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 now been posted on a University-hosted EduBlog site and grouped by their particular sub-topic so that patrons, researchers, and other interested persons could benefit from these students’ work. This is the first installment of an annual accumulating project–please visit again for future installments.

For the next five weeks, we’ll put up teasers about the fascinating Baylor history this year’s HESA students analyzed and shared on the class blog. We’re starting with the Students at Baylor group, which covered student government, athletics, literary societies, and Homecoming. Did you know that…

  • In the 1910s, the Student Self-Government Association’s responsibilities included student discipline. For example, when a student raised a “Fish 22” flag on the university flagpole, the organization’s Judicial Council voted to suspend him for the remainder of the term. (It was May, so the punishment isn’t quite as harsh as it sounds.) Explore the rise of student self-governance at Baylor.
  • Baylor football had a new coach every year for its first few years, due to wage disagreements and poor team performance…and then the whole program was canceled due to nationwide concerns about the brutality of the sport. The loss of football moved students to poetry–read the mournful verse written on the occasion and learn more about the beginnings of Baylor athletics in the early 1900s.
  • The Philomathesian, Erisophian, Calliopean, and Rufus C. Burleson Literary Societies all offered generous scholarships to members who excelled in speech and debate activities in society competitions. Find out the other benefits of literary society membership and how Baylor students socialized and learned in these predecessors both to Greek organizations and debate at Baylor.
  • Baylor’s Homecoming Parade was not an annual feature of Homecoming till 1945, and in some years, it was called a “pageant.” The first parade, at the first Homecoming in 1909, was hailed as perhaps the most remarkable event of the weekend. Learn more about the origins of some of Baylor’s fondest Homecoming traditions.

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.