To Sisal: More Than We Bargained For

by Anna Redhair, Graduate Assistant

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.

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Remembering Kent Keeth

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

Today in Texas: January 24th

by Leanna Barcelona, University Archivist 

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. 

From Pictorial History of the Baytown Area, Edited by Gary Dobbs. p. 4

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!

Cataloger’s Corner: 1743 Bible designed by Christoph Sauer

by Allie McCormack, Rare Books Catalog Librarian for Baylor Libraries

Hello! I’m Allie McCormack, the Rare Books Catalog Librarian for the Baylor Libraries. Though you may not be familiar with my title, I think I have one of the best jobs on campus. I create bibliographic records for the rare, historical, or otherwise “special” books at Baylor—meaning that I get a sneak peek of everything before it’s put on the shelf. The Texas Collection invited me to write about some of my favorite items from their collection, so I’ll be posting a series of guest entries about some of the oldest, rarest, and most interesting things I’ve cataloged for them.

The first book I want to share with you is a copy of the first Bible printed the American colonies in a European language: a 1743 Bible designed by the famed Pennsylvania printer Christoph Sauer. The first Bible printed in the colonies, the so-called “Eliot Indian Bible,” dates to 1663 and was in a dialect of Algonquian, a language spoken by Native Americans in Massachusetts.

Sauer was born in Germany and immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1724, settling in the aptly-named Germantown among other families from his homeland. At first, Sauer imported Bibles and other religious books directly from Germany, but he started his own printing and publishing business in 1735. Only 1,200 copies of this Bible, based on Martin Luther’s translation, were printed. It would be another 40 years before an English-language Bible was printed in North America.

Side view of Christoph Sauer's 1743 BibleRemarkably, The Texas Collection’s copy appears to be in its original leather binding. You can see here the remnants of the original brass clasps. The thin leather strips they were attached to break very easily. It’s not obvious in this photo, but a later owner tried to reattach them with staples!

Title page of Christoph Sauer's 1743 BibleThis next image shows the impressive title page. The typeface used is called Fraktur. We may find it hard to read, but it was the preferred font for German printers through the end of World War II. Jack-of-all-trades Benjamin Franklin was the main supplier of printed texts to Pennsylvania German communities before Sauer, but he only used Roman typefaces (think Times New Roman). Sauer imported type from Frankfurt for his business, and German readers responded enthusiastically to the familiar style.

First pages of Christoph Sauer 's 1743 BibleHere are the first pages of the Bible: the index and the “First Book of Moses.” Note that it’s not called Genesis in this Bible. Similarly, Exodus is referred to as the “Second Book of Moses” and so on. If you look closely, you’ll see that not all of the text is in Fraktur. Sauer used Roman type to show cross-references and allusions in Scripture. Using two different typefaces like this isn’t uncommon in German printing, though Fraktur is almost always used for the main body of text.

Interior of Christoph Sauer's 1743 BibleI’ll leave you with an unexpected surprise I found in this book—pressed flowers! It’s not unusual for me to find plants, newspaper clippings, receipts, and other ephemera in the books I catalog, but I rarely see more than one per volume. This Bible had three flowers that I noticed, and there are likely more hidden between the pages. The curators and I chose to leave them in to document how owners throughout the years used the book. If you come across something like this as you explore special collections materials, please be sure to ask a librarian before removing it!

If you’d like to look at another book printed by Christoph Sauer, make an appointment to see this Psalm- and hymn-book from 1753 held by Crouch Fine Arts Library. To find early Bibles and Biblical commentaries held by the Baylor special collections libraries, follow this link. If you’d like to look at other rare German books, these are available at the Texas Collection, while there are many more across campus.

A Distinguished Visitor: Thomas W. Streeter at The Texas Collection

by Anna Redhair, Graduate Student

In late November 1941, the most respected authority on materials relating to Texas visited Baylor University’s Texas Collection as part of his duties as a member of the McGregor Fund Committee. Thomas W. Streeter applauded The Texas Collection’s holdings in a letter to Guy B. Harrison and generously donated several items from his personal collection to the library.

Thomas Streeter was a successful businessman from the Northeast who harbored an interest in the collecting of rare materials relating to American history. His business ventures took him to Texas, which he utilized as an opportunity to add maps, broadsides, and various other items to his collection. By the end of his life, Streeter had assembled the largest known private collection of Texana.

Streeter meticulously compiled and published his Bibliography of Texas 1795-1845 in three volumes between 1955 and 1960. The work contained more than 1,600 entries including maps, novels, and musical scores along with pamphlets and government documents. His bibliography is widely considered the foremost authority on early Texas imprints and The Texas Collection owns many of the items he included.

Five of these items came from Streeter personally in 1941 after his visit to The Texas Collection. He came to Waco as a representative of the McGregor Plan, a program Baylor University participated in throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s. The program, founded by philanthropist and bibliophile Tracy W. McGregor, assisted libraries not located near major institutions to purchase rare books they would otherwise not be able to access. The school paid $500 each year and the McGregor Plan matched their funds and acted as the go-between for the schools and rare book dealers. Streeter served as a member of the committee which administrated the program after McGregor’s death in 1936.

Photo of: A new map of Texas, with the contiguous American & Mexican states (1836)
A new map of Texas, with the contiguous American & Mexican states (1836)

The Texas Collection acquired significant rare Texas materials through the library’s participation in the McGregor Plan. After his visit, Streeter sent several items he felt would fill in the gaps he perceived in The Texas Collection’s holdings. He donated an 1836 map of Texas entitled “New Map of Texas with the Contiguous American and Mexican States.” The map, published by S. Mitchell, included boxes of text containing information on the general state of Texas, its land grants, and rivers.

Photo of the title page of Title page of Nuttall's Journal of Travels...
Title page of Nuttall’s Journal of Travels… (1821)

Streeter also donated a pamphlet from the Secretary of the Treasury of the Republic of Texas to President Houston and a Mexican imprint detailing financial transactions after the war with Texas. Streeter included a pamphlet, “Lecture on the Subject of Re-annexing Texas to the United States,” delivered in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1845. This item gives a well-reasoned argument in favor of annexation from a northern perspective and is unique because most northerners opposed the annexation of Texas as a slave state into the Union. The Baylor Lariat identified the last item, Thomas Nuttall’s Journal of Travels into the Arkansas Territory, as the most valuable in the donation. Even though the work did not directly mention Texas, Streeter still felt it was worthwhile in its description of the territory now adjoining Texas.

Although Streeter did not publish his famed Bibliography of Texas for several more years, his visit to Waco and personal donation remain an important part of the story of The Texas Collection. The library continues to purchase Streeter items today and hopes to enlarge its holdings of these rare items in the years ahead.

Bibliography:

“Documents Given Texas Collection.” The Daily Lariat, December 11, 1941. Accessed January 24, 2017. http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/ref/collection/lariat/id/32823

McGregor Plan Records, Accession #171, Box 1, Folder 9, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. (unpublished collection, in processing)

Streeter, Ruth Cheney. “Streeter, Thomas Winthrop.” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 26, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fst73.

Streeter, Thomas W. Bibliography of Texas 1795-1845. Portland, ME: Anthoensen Press, 1955. Reprinted, revised and enlarged by Archibald Hanna with a guide to the microfilm collection Texas as Province and Republic: 1795-1845. Woodbridge, CT: Research Publications, Inc., 1983.

Introducing Brandice Nelson, Map Curator and Coordinator for the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair

We are pleased to welcome the newest member of The Texas Collection, Brandice Nelson. Ms. Nelson is our new Map Curator and serves as the Coordinator for the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair. Contact her with any map inquiries through the Frances C. Poage Map Room and for the History Fair through their website, Twitter, or Facebook.

Photo of Brandice Nelson
Brandice Nelson, Heart of Texas Regional History Fair Coordinator and Map Curator

My name is Brandice Nelson and I’m the new Heart of Texas Regional History Fair Coordinator and Map Curator. I’ve earned both a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Baylor University. I always knew I wanted to be involved in history and museums, but education was the furthest thing from my mind until I got involved with National History Day. As a homeschooler, approaching history from unconventional avenues was definitely appealing. I competed in the senior individual performance category throughout high school, and even though I didn’t make it to nationals, I learned so much about the topics I chose.

Fast-forward to my junior year of college, I found out that Baylor hosted the regional history competition on campus and jumped at the chance to be involved. If you’ve attended a fair within the last four years, it’s likely you’ve seen me at the information desk, directing volunteers, or judging my own former category. It can seem like an extremely hectic and even chaotic atmosphere, but I absolutely live for those two February days when young historians from across our region bring all their hard work to life.

My main goal for the next few years is to grow the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair (HOTRHF) into both a campus and city wide event. I also want to find ways to ensure that students in low-income districts have access to the research tools and assistance they need to create successful projects. Depending on the cooperation of the 76 school districts in our region, in addition to private schools and homeschool co-ops, HOTRHF has the potential to double in size within the next few years. I want to make that happen.

When not working with the history fair, you can find me in the map room assisting researchers and possibly doing a little research myself. The Texas Collection has a fantastic collection of Texas and Texas-related maps, and part of my job will be to enhance public awareness of this great resource. It’s clear I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’m very glad to be part of the team!

Pro Archives, Pro Futuris

Amanda Norman, University Archivist
Amanda Norman

By Amanda Norman

A few years ago at a Christmas party, I was asked, “Why bother to keep historical records? Why not reboot every hundred years or so with a clean slate? We don’t know that much about the 1600s, and that doesn’t really hurt us.”

View from the backboard
Archival records document important changes in history, such as when Title IX was passed and began to support the growth of university women’s athletics. Here, Baylor athletics all-star Suzie Snider Eppers makes a shot in a 1970s practice scrimmage. Olga Fallen papers, box 38.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I tried to explain to this new acquaintance about the importance of records in understanding where we’ve been, so we can make better choices moving forward. I told him about how records are invaluable resources for people, businesses, governments, and other organizations. I reminded that we do, in fact, know quite a bit about the events of the 1600s, thanks to records, and without them, we wouldn’t know about major events like civil wars, plagues, religious movements, and more—events that shape our contemporary life, even if in ways that aren’t readily apparent.

But I don’t think I really got through to him, and that left me feeling dissatisfied with my response. When considering archives and historical preservation, perhaps the natural impulse is to think that these efforts are for the past. That old things document past people, past places, past events. And while that view is partially true, the real function of archives is so much more.

Baylor University School of Business, IBM 405 Electric Punched Card Accounting Machine, c.1950s (1)
Archives help us remember a time when this was cutting-edge technology! Students gather around an IBM 405 Electric Punched Card Accounting Machine, c.1950s. Baylor photo files: Baylor-Departments-Hankamer School of Business.

Frank Guittard's Baylor Homecoming parade notes (page 5), 1915
Archives show the history of longstanding traditions, like Baylor’s Homecoming parade. Frank Guittard was in charge of coordinating Baylor’s second Homecoming parade in 1915. On this page of notes on his guidelines to parade participants, he tells them the end of the route and how to march. Francis Gevrier Guittard papers, box 20, folder 4.

We keep archives for the future. Archival records retain their value as they are used, today, tomorrow, and for our descendants. Every time a researcher finds that turning point journal entry, that critical line entry in a ledger book, that changing boundary on a map, that influential piece of correspondence—every time a researcher gains new knowledge, the past comes to life. New knowledge leads
to a better future, whether a record tells us where an old burial ground was so we don’t build on top of it, or if it gives us greater insight into the mind of a former U.S. President and how he formed decisions. No matter if the information gained is of local or international impact, of interest to a nation or to one person, the past becomes present when people use archives.

For these reasons, I appreciate the sentiment behind the naming of Baylor’s vision, Pro Futuris. A play on Baylor’s motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, the words remind us that all that we do at a university is in the name of a better future. In my role as University Archivist, I can see through the records that Baylor has changed in many ways…and hasn’t changed at all in others. We’re still discussing many of the same issues that were being discussed decades ago, from diversity to gender politics to what kind of institution we mean to be.

If archives sit on the shelves untouched, then yes, they are of the past. That’s why The Texas Collection is perpetually working to make accessible its records so people can interact with the past and bring it to current relevance—and hopefully, future actions for a better future.

Armstrong’s Stars: William Butler Yeats

“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 Baylor graduate (BA ’14) and Sigma Tau Delta member Rebecca Hans.   

Photograph of William Butler Yeats appearing in the April 8, 1920, issue of The Lariat (The Texas Collection)
Photograph of William Butler Yeats appearing in the April 8, 1920, issue of The Lariat (The Texas Collection)

On April 16, 1920, at five o’clock in the evening, poet William Butler Yeats shared about his life and influences and read his work in front of a packed house of Baylor students, faculty, and community. The evening, part of the university’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, had been eagerly anticipated in four Baylor Lariat articles articulating not only W.B. Yeats’s notability and talent, but also the hard work of Dr. A.J. Armstrong for orchestrating the visit. The Lariat especially emphasized the singularity of the event, urging students not to miss the unique opportunity. The first news regarding the event was an April 1st issue of the Baylor Lariat. The piece announced W.B. Yeats’s lecture and described him as a poet “considered by all competent critics the foremost English man of letters now living.” The lecture would be titled “Friends in my Youth” and was already expected to be “a great day in Baylor history” (“William Butler Yeats” 7). These early Lariat articles advertising Yeats’s appearance are particularly interesting from a modern perspective. In 1920, Yeats had not yet achieved the irrefutable eminence associated with his name today but was instead described as a brilliant poet on the rise. Many of the great works for which Yeats is known today had yet to be written; even “The Second Coming,” one of his most famous works, may have been unknown to the Waco audiences. Regardless, the literary community thought highly of Yeats. He was so respected even in 1920 that the Lariat accurately prophesied that his “name and work will take place in the front rank of the poetry that passes from this generation to posterity” (“W.B Yeats Secured for Friday, 16th” 1). When the official invitation appeared advertising the “First Big Guns of Baylor Diamond Jubilee,” Former President William Howard Taft and the poet William Butler Yeats both shared the advertisement. Although President Taft’s portion was presented in a grander style, Yeats’s portion Yeatswas given equal importance. The invitation emphasized Yeats’s appearance as an important event for anyone interested in “world affairs,” not just a night out for poetry enthusiasts. These instructions were heeded, and long before Yeats took the stage, a varied collection of people paid fifty cents to fill Carroll Chapel to capacity (“William Butler Yeats Delivers Fine Lecture” 1; “Yeats Friday, 5 O’Clock” 2). The poet laureate of Texas, Judd Mortimer Lewis, also came to Waco specifically for the event, and introduced W.B. Yeats to the crowd himself. Yeats began the lecture, “Friends in my Youth,” with details of his childhood, specifically the influence of his father, an artist. The larger part of the talk, however, focused on his mentors and other literary men who had profoundly influenced his growth as a man and poet. Of these influences Yeats mentioned Arthur Symons, Francis Thompson, and William Ernest Henly, and read examples of their work aloud to the Waco audience. To the delight of the crowd, Yeats read aloud from his own work for the concluding half hour, “a treat to lovers of poetry” (“William Butler Yeats Delivers Fine Lecture” 1). Although the bulk of Lariat coverage focused on Yeats himself, the writers did credit Dr. Armstrong’s work bringing influential speakers to the campus: “The policy of Dr. Armstrong in bringing men to Baylor is to get men who have a world-wide reputation” (“W.B Yeats Secured for Friday, 16th” 1). In a letter to the University President, Samuel Palmer Brooks, Dr. Armstrong reflected on the events of the previous year and described in further detail what the Lariat titled “his policy”: My primary purpose is not to make money but to give the students an opportunity to come in contact with world forces and world geniuses. I believe it is one thing they will remember longer than anything else connected with their school days. I consider these attractions all of the highest type and I think my English Department is gaining launch for itself abroad. Today, Baylor University features visits from world-renowned thinkers, writers, and speakers who also share their work and experiences with the university and community. The English Department especially has preserved Dr. A.J. Armstrong’s tradition through events such as the Beall Poetry Festival, an annual event bringing internationally acclaimed poets to Waco. Many modern students can speak with a similar satisfaction as those of 1920, although many may wish they had been present to witness “the biggest literary man that has yet spoken in Carroll Chapel,” as William Butler Yeats shared his story and his art (“W.B Yeats Secured for Friday, 16th” 1).   Works cited: Armstrong, A.J. to Samuel Palmer Brooks, 4 April 1921, Andrew Joseph Armstrong Papers #0449, Box 1, Folder 1, Texas Collection, Baylor University. First Big Guns of Baylor Diamond Jubilee, Invitation. The Texas Collection, Baylor University Libraries, Waco. Print. W.B Yeats Secured for Friday, 16th.” The Lariat 8 Apr. 1920: 1. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. “William Butler Yeats.” The Lariat 1 Apr. 1920: 7. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. “William Butler Yeats Delivers Fine Lecture.” The Lariat 22 Apr. 1920: 1. Web. 3 Oct. 2014. “Yeats Friday, 5 O’Clock.” The Lariat 15 Apr. 1920: 2. Web. 3 Oct. 2014.

A Day in the (Texas Collection) Life: John Wilson, Director

Meet John Wilson, originally from Ohio and Director of The Texas Collection, in our last staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection.

Judge R.E.B. Baylor, drawing by Tom Lea, 1971
Judge R.E.B. Baylor, drawing by Tom Lea, 1971

When I arrive at work each morning, I am never certain what I will discover, learn, and see. The suspense of unknown waiting treasures provides great enjoyment for me as director of The Texas Collection. I have been in this role a little over three years, and it is an unusual day when I do not receive an email from a donor, a phone call asking a Texas-related research question, or an inquiry from a faculty colleague about some aspect of Baylor’s past.

My day generally begins with reviewing after-hours emails and telephone calls. Once those inquiries have been answered, I try to speak with each one of the staff, then say hello and ask for collection processing updates from our graduate students, and finally try to speak with each of our undergraduate student workers. There are always interesting and new finds from the work our students are accomplishing. These finds might include identifying an early Republic of Texas document with Sam Houston’s signature or discovering that we own an original Tom Lea drawing.

"Old Baylor" at Independence, 2013
Old Baylor at Independence. We worked with UMHB to restore and rededicate the columns in 2013.

I then begin work on two or three pressing projects. This involves multitasking throughout the day. My first project of the day might involve planning or maintenance concerns dealing with Old Baylor in Independence. Once or sometimes twice a month, I travel to Independence to walk the grounds of Windmill Hill or inspect the columns at Academy Hill.  On these trips, I also visit a Baylor graduate or donor and check in with Peggy Ward, who manages the day-to-day operations in Independence and works closely with our community partners, the Independence Historical Society.

In addition to leading and managing The Texas Collection, I work closely with two parts of our extensive holdings, our map collection totaling nearly 17,000 items and photograph collection of more than 1.4 million images. I might review a print or online dealer catalog for both maps and photographs.

New map of Texas with the contiguous American & Mexican states, 1836
“New map of Texas with the contiguous American & Mexican states,” 1836

Another project that might be pressing for my attention is planning a lecture by a guest speaker such as the Honorable Tom Phillips. This type of special event and all of its many details are vitally important to the outstanding reputation and continued outreach necessary to having a vibrant and active special collection. Our speakers have researched in The Texas Collection and connect with our resources and the audience, particularly our students.

On a daily basis, I work with donors to acquire new archival collections that will enhance and strengthen our holdings. We are always searching for early Texas collections from the Spanish Colonial period, the Mexican period, and the early Republic of Texas period. We are also interested in Waco history, the Civil War, Baylor-related items, and of course, print materials dealing with Texas. I am closely involved with the budget, endowments, and fundraising.

One of the most interesting parts of my job is talking with people about The Texas Collection. These days, we talk with and reach out to more people than ever before due to our social media outlets. Flickr, Facebook and this blog are followed and read by fans across Texas and around the world.

I think the most rewarding part of my job is working with Baylor students. This could involve teaching a class, collaborating on a project, or advising students on studying abroad in Italy (another one of my interests). The students are the reason I have stayed at Baylor for 26 years. Our students are smart, talented, and willing to work hard for their Baylor degrees. I am fortunate to work with a great staff and exceptional students.

The Texas Collection turned 90 this year! But even though we’ve been at Baylor for so long, we realize people aren’t quite sure what goes on in a special collections library and archives. So over the course of 2013, we have been featuring staff posts about our work at The Texas Collection. See other posts in the series here. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about our work.

A Day in the (Texas Collection) Life: Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

Meet Paul Fisher, Baylor graduate (BA 2009, MA 2011), native Texan, and Processing Archivist, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:

From Civil War hospital records, to documents about Baylor’s activities in Independence, to old photographs of early Texans, The Texas Collection has a great deal of fascinating materials. My work preparing archival record groups (groups of records that share the same creator or collector) for researchers means that I get to see all the cool items we have on a daily basis. I have a BA in museum studies and an MA in history, both from Baylor, so “old stuff” definitely fascinates me, especially Civil War-related materials.

James E. Harrison report, 1861, Carter-Harrison Family papers
One of Paul’s favorite documents in The Texas Collection is this handwritten report by Waco native and Confederate general James E. Harrison. The full document tells of his journey to the American Indian tribes in present-day Oklahoma, to see whether they would side with the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

So how do I go about preparing archival record groups for users? This usually includes organizing the collection if needed, rehousing the materials in new acid-free folders and boxes, and writing documents called finding aids to help researchers locate and use them. An increasing part of my job is to help students discover how to do this work well, whether they are student interns, students in a class, or students who work for us.

Much of my work now is devoted to preparing our new archival software system, called Cuadra Star, for launch this summer. For the past 11 months I have led a team of staff and students on a number of projects to get ready for this launch. There have been some challenges to solve along the way, but we address them and continue to forge ahead. Cuadra Star will allow us to find information, organize our collections, and provide better archival service to you than ever before.

One of my favorite activities as part of working at The Texas Collection has been working with a class from the Department of Museum Studies here at Baylor. In fall 2012, Dr. Julie Holcomb taught her annual Archival Collections and Museums class to thirteen students, and as part of the class each student processed one archival record group for use by researchers. The class was taught here at The Texas Collection, and I offered special office hours every week when students would come to work with me on their assigned archives. The project gave them valuable professional experience, and also prepared thirteen of our record groups for use.

A Homegrown Vision: Robert L. Smith and the Farmers Improvement Society" exhibit
The Keeth display case, part of the February 2012 exhibit “A Homegrown Vision: Robert L. Smith and the Farmers Improvement Society.”

We also showcase exhibits on various interesting topics throughout the year, and I have helped with several during my time at The Texas Collection. One of the most interesting was our spring 2012 exhibit, which featured the Farmers Improvement Society (FIS) and R.L. Smith. The society was founded by Smith to help African American sharecroppers in the early 1900s have access to financing for their farms, life insurance, better farming methods, and an agricultural school. Such exhibits help increase awareness of the resources we preserve. More than year after this exhibit was over, we were still receiving questions about our FIS-related records on this blog, and we hosted a research fellow this year who came from New York to spend a week studying these records.

With all of these different projects to work on at The Texas Collection, from working on record groups to planning the next exhibit, every day is different. Yet some things remain the same day to day. Every day is a chance to do more than tell people about history—it is a chance to highlight rediscovered pieces of history from the actual documents written by Baylor and Texas people past and present.

The Texas Collection turns 90 this year! But even though we’ve been at Baylor for so long, we realize people aren’t quite sure what goes on in a special collections library and archives. So over the course of 2013, we are featuring staff posts about our work at The Texas Collection. See other posts in the series here.