The Day of the Bear

by Joseph Lipham, Student Assistant

Here’s a photograph of President W. R. White, celebrating with students in 1958. Found in General Photo Files, Accession #3976.

Following the tragic death of Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks in 1931, the newly elected Pat Morris Neff inherited a rather difficult situation. After the United States Stock Market crashed in 1929, crippling the American economy, President Neff came into his presidency during the Great Depression. By 1932, the face of Baylor was covered in signs of the Depression. Students were not immune to the financial shockwave that the Great Depression sent throughout all of America. President Neff, seeing the falling enrollment rates and a nation turning apathetic towards college, declared an annual one day reprieve from classes, so as to enhance the overall student experience. Initially titled “All-University Day”, this day off was meant to provide students with a reprieve from both academic and financial burdens that tended to become more cumbersome towards the latter half of the semester.Continue Reading

Research Ready: March 2016

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!

March’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

March’s print materials
By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials

Fiesta de San Jacinto Association. An Invitation. San Antonio, TX: The Association, 1939.
Fiesta de San Jacinto Association. An Invitation. San Antonio, TX: The Association, 1939. This oversized commemorative invitation to the 1939 Fiesta de San Jacinto, today known as Fiesta San Antonio, contains information about the event as well as beautiful full color illustrations.

Cookbooks at The Texas Collection, Baylor University
Parent-Teacher Association. Hostess Reference Book. Greenville, TX: circa 1920. Texas Tables: the Junior League of North Harris and South Montgomery Counties, Inc. Nashville, TN: Favorite Recipes Press, 2010. Murphy Family Cookbook. Wortham, TX: circa 2000. The Texas Collection is home to more than 5,000 Texas cookbooks. The three represented here vary greatly in age and authors. Even though the cookbooks are intended for different audiences, they all offer great insight into Texas cookery, whether the cookbook is created for a family and is filled with family memories or is created to raise funds for an organization.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Texas Tour: The Central Texas Stop

Eleanor Roosevelt with Pat Neff, March 13, 1939
Eleanor Roosevelt and Pat Neff, likely backstage at Waco Hall, Baylor University

By Ellen Kuniyuki Brown

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re taking a look back at Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to Waco. This excerpted article by former Texas Collection archivist and associate professor emerita Ellen Kuniyuki Brown (MA ’75) was originally published in The Baylor Line in Spring 1999. Blogging about Texas periodically features “Looking Back at Baylor” and “Timeline” selections, with hopes of sharing this historical work with a new audience.

The same day Eleanor Roosevelt and her secretary, Malvina Thompson, left Washington, D.C., to begin a lecture tour of the Southwest, Waco and McLennan County Baptists heard a scathing denunciation of the first lady from Dr. C.Y. Dosey, a Dallas-based evangelist, at the First Baptist Church of Waco. After attacking Roosevelt for a comment she had made about social drinking, Dosey said he’d be glad when President Roosevelt leaves office “so that we can get rid of his wife as first lady.”

In the meantime, ticket sales were brisk for Roosevelt’s upcoming appearance at Waco Hall on Monday, March 13. Sponsored by the Domestic Science club, the event attracted a number of clubs and organizations from the city and surrounding communities. One of the largest groups to attend was the eleventh congressional district postmasters under the leadership of Postmaster Jim Pittillo. Arrangements were also made to have local young people present and to be introduced en masse to Roosevelt. In addition, Texas Lieutenant Governor Coke Stevenson invited state senators and their spouses to be his guests at the lecture.

Eleanor Roosevelt speaking in Baylor University's Waco Hall, March 13, 1939
Eleanor Roosevelt speaking in Baylor University’s Waco Hall, March 13, 1939

The first lady’s Texas tour began in Beaumont on March 9 and included a quick series of stops at Fort Worth, Abilene, Dallas, and Sherman, where she had her first experience with a severe dust storm.

On her way to Waco, Roosevelt briefly stopped in Hillsboro to inspect the National Youth Administration (NYA) resident project for girls. Then she visited the NYA project at Rich Field in Waco, inspecting the new airport administration building and chatting with some of the working youth. Her next stop was the Girls Club at 613 South Ninth Street, where members of the state NYA advisory board had a “lively discussion” on youth problems with her. Roosevelt briefly described her NYA stops in Hillsboro and Waco in her subsequent “My Day” column.

Roosevelt’s visit to Waco in 1939 was the first full-fledged appearance in the city’s history by the wife of the incumbent president of the United States, and the Waco papers covered her Texas trip more fully than some of the larger metropolitan papers. In honor of her visit, Waco Mayor George Jones declared Monday “Our Day.” Baylor President and former Governor of Texas Pat M. Neff was given the honor of introducing Roosevelt to the nearly 2,500 Wacoans and central Texans gathered in Waco Hall that evening to hear the first lady’s presentation on “Peace.”

Roosevelt told the audience that “by working to make democracy work, we can make our most enduring contribution to the cause of peace.” She added, however, that we need to set “our own house in order” before we “seek a solution to the turbulence that threatens to engulf the world in wars.” After that, she said, we can endeavor to establish “some sort of international machinery where nations can feel free to gather and confer earnestly and trustfully on their problems without feeling the necessity of armed conflict because of those difficulties.”

Eleanor Roosevelt shaking hands at her lecture at Baylor University's Waco Hall, March 13, 1939
Eleanor Roosevelt shaking hands at her lecture at Baylor University’s Waco Hall, March 13, 1939

She warned that “we must not go to sleep in our feeling of security over our democratic privileges,” and that “it is important that we do our duty for democracy every day we live if that freedom is to be preserved.”

During a question-and-answer session with the audience, Roosevelt indicated that she did not believe the League of Nations could be revived because of earlier objections to it and current distrust with the organization. She also addressed the dangers of propaganda, saying “the best defense against any sort of propaganda was the strengthening of our own knowledge and understanding so that we may recognize such attempts to influence our opinions, however cleverly they may be disguised.”

From Waco the first lady and her party boarded the 1:00 am train to Houston, where she toured a hospital project and spoke that evening. She also visited NYA sites in Hempstead and at Prairie View College. From Houston she traveled to Edinburg, Harlingen, and San Antonio, leaving Texas on Saturday, March 22.

A sidelight to Roosevelt’s visit to Waco is that two weeks later, on March 27, Marian Anderson sang in Waco Hall. Prior to her Texas tour, the first lady had resigned her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution because the organization had refused to allow the contralto to sing in Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C.

The_Waco_News_Tribune_Wed__Mar_1__1939_(See a few more photos from Roosevelt’s visit in our Flickr set.)

Texas over Time: Pat Neff Hall, Baylor University, Waco

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Pat Neff Hall construction

 Pat Neff Hall construction, 1939

  • Pat Neff Hall was started in 1938 (with a Masonic cornerstone laying ceremony on December 7, 1938) and completed in 1939. The building was dedicated on Founders Day 1940.
  • President Neff received an offer from the General Educational Board of a $50,000 gift to the university if an administration building was built to free up classroom space.
  • The 46,000 sq. ft. building was built in the American Georgian style, by Waco architectural firm Birch D. Easterwood and Son, at a cost of around $250,000.
  • The original carillon (the Cullen F. Thomas Carillon) was initiated on December 21, 1939, but dedicated at the same time as the hall. The original carillon cost $15,000 and consisted of 25 bells. Chronic mechanical failures eventually led to its replacement by the McLane Carillion, named for the Drayton McLane family of Temple. Cast in France by the prestigious Paccard Bell Foundry, the 48 bell carillon cost $325,000, and was dedicated at Homecoming 1988. Read more about the McLane Carillon and its circuitous route to Baylor.
  • The dome was originally stainless steel, making it the second stainless steel roof in the country, until gold leafing was put on in 2000.
  • The tradition of green lights of Pat Neff after athletic wins was started in 1978.

Source:

Henry, Jay C. Architecture in Texas, 1895-1945. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993. Print

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall – Cullen F. Thomas Carillon

BUSF: Buildings: Pat Neff Hall – McLane Carillon

Check out our Pat Neff Hall construction Flickr set to see the individual photos (and a few more). GIF and factoids by student archives assistant Braxton Ray.

Looking Back at Baylor: Honoring Judge Baylor

By Kent Keeth

Judge R.E.B. Baylor Statue, Baylor University, Waco, TX.
The Judge R.E.B. Baylor statue sits on Founders Mall, between Waco Hall and Pat Neff Hall.

If you’ve been to the Baylor campus, chances are good that you have climbed into Judge Baylor’s lap for a photo opportunity. But it took awhile to arrive on that design—the statue was very nearly a standing portrait. (Imagine how different the photos would be!) In honor of R.E.B. Baylor’s birthday this week (likely on May 10), learn how this memorial to Baylor’s namesake came into being.

Preparations for the 1936 Texas Centennial Celebration brought a variety of bright opportunities to the state’s Depression-ridden economy. Towns, counties, and institutions, anticipating a burst of tourism, prepared to attract visitors by capitalizing upon their historical figures and events; and many of the nation’s underemployed artists and craftsmen, aware of the potential commissions which such commemorations could engender, began scouring the state in search of work. To help them find employment, one of the federal government’s New Deal assistance programs appropriated funds in 1935 for disbursement by the Texas Centennial Commission of Control in payment for their work.

Baylor President Pat M. Neff, ever alert to means of channeling outside funding into the university, was quick to recognize the possibilities of this federal largess. No substantial monument had ever been raised on Baylor’s campus to the school’s founder and namesake, Judge Robert E. B. Baylor, and Neff applied for and received a grant of $14,000 for the erection of a memorial to him.

Mount Rushmore in the Snow
Did you know that the artist of Mount Rushmore, Gutzon Borglum, was considered as the sculptor for the Judge Baylor statue commission? Photo courtesy of TravelSD.

On October 21, 1935, during a chapel service, he named a committee to decide upon the use to which the funds would be put….In addition to reaching agreement about the type of monument which they wanted, they had to select its location, view proposals submitted by sculptors, and recommend to the Commission of Control the artist best able to perform the work…. the committee’s first approval centered upon two proposals made by Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of Mount Rushmore.

The more elaborate of Borglum’s drawings featured a portrait statue of Judge Baylor on a central pedestal, dressed in “a flowing robe of academic suggestion.” Flanking the pedestal at ground level were curved benches, on one of which reclined “the charming figure of a young man, reading,” while on the other sat a young woman “gazing upward as if entranced by the statue.”…The second proposal, favored by committee and sculptor alike, consisted of “a simple statue of Judge Baylor in the dress of the period,” with figures of a young man and woman in high relief on the pedestal’s sides….

Judge R.E.B. Baylor Statue, Baylor University, Pompeo Coppini clay model
Coppini’s clay model for the Judge Baylor statue. Pompeo Coppini papers #1490.

The committee liked Borglum’s work, but he broke off contact with the committee to pursue another commission. In January 1936, they nearly approved a proposal by Chicago sculptor Leonard Crunelle (another portrait statue concept), but committee meetings ceased for about nine months, and then Pompeo Coppini of San Antonio came up.

Coppini’s abilities were a known quantity on Baylor’s campus. One of his first commissions in the state had been the statue of former president Rufus Burleson, erected on Burleson Quadrangle in 1905….

At its meeting of September 21, 1936, the Monument Committee voted to request a proposal from Coppini, and the artist visited the campus shortly afterward. By July 1937, having received a firm commission to undertake the work, he returned to consult with the committee and settle final details….

Judge R.E.B. Baylor Statue, Baylor University, after the unveiling.
Judge R.E.B. Baylor Statue, Baylor University, after the unveiling at the Founders Day dedication ceremony in 1939. Pompeo Coppini papers #1490.

Coppini quickly decided that, for best lighting effect, the statue should face to the south, across the street from Waco Hall. Judge Baylor’s pose required more deliberations—a seated figure could cost more, but also would be more distinctive. The committee also discussed adorning the pedestal itself with bas relief figures symbolic of Judge Baylor’s interests in religion, law, and education, but then agreed with the sculptor on a simpler design.

With all essential details decided, Coppini departed to his studio to design, model, cast, and eventually deliver the product of his own and the committee’s labors. The completed statue of Judge Baylor, unveiled during Founders Day observances on February 1, 1939, was an immediate success within the Baylor community.

This compilation of a two-part article by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth was originally published in The Baylor Line in April and June 1984. Blogging about Texas periodically features “Looking Back at Baylor” selections, with hopes of sharing Keeth’s work with a new audience.

Seeing Double: Twin Conventions at Baylor University, 1939-1941

By Benna Vaughan, Special Collections and Manuscripts Archivist

The first Twin Convention in 1939 at Baylor University, Waco, Texas
The first Twin Convention in 1939 at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. TC general photo files–Baylor–Events–Twin Convention

Seeing twins everyday is somewhat unusual, but at Baylor University in March 1939, you could see twins everywhere you looked. The papers of Pat M. Neff at the Texas Collection document the event very well: the first Texas College Twin Convention, on March 24-25, 1939.

Crowd of twins and triplets at Twin Convention, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940
Crowd of twins and triplets at Twin Convention, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940, Pat M. Neff collection

The convention, held at Baylor University, consisted of approximately 80-100 multiples and represented 20 colleges. The Keys Quads (Leota, Mary, Mona, and Roberta), who had graduated from Baylor in 1937, attended the event and participated in judging and entertainment. These four women promoted Baylor during the mid-1930s and were the most visible set of quadruplets in the country at that time. At this first convention there were not only the Keys Quads from Oklahoma, but also the nine-year-old Perricone Quads (Anthony, Bernard, Carl, and Donald) from Beaumont, three sets of triplets, and 80+ sets of twins.

Twin Club members at event, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940
Baylor also had its own Twin Club. Here they gather at an event (perhaps Homecoming?), circa 1940. Pat M. Neff collection, Personal series, box 116, folder 6.

The Twin Conventions were special events, and twins from numerous states competed for different awards. Categories included most identical (in-state and out-of state), best skit, and most unique experience. The Texas College Twin Association was formed at the convention, and the first officers for the organization were elected: Irene and Florene Rushing of Baylor were the first presidents; vice-presidents were Melvin and Elvin Franklin from the University of Texas at Austin; and the office of secretary went to the Crow twins, Douglas and David, from Hardin-Simmons.

Second Twins Convention announced, January 30, 1940, Baylor University, "Baylor Lariat," Waco, Texas
Second Twins Convention announced, January 30, 1940, Baylor University, “Baylor Lariat,” Waco, Texas.

The conventions were much more than just meetings—they were opportunities for recruitment and research. People wrote to Neff, telling him about their own twins or twins that they knew, wanting an invitation. Neff openly recruited twins such as Meryle and Beryle Mixon to Baylor, writing: “We have what is known to be the Twins club, an organization made up of twins now attending the institution. On March 20, we are having a twin convention to which a very large number of twins from other institutions as well as high schools have been invited.” Neff goes on to suggest that the girls should attend Baylor once they had completed high school.

In addition, Dr. Iva Cox Gardner, head of the psychology department, was doing research on multiple births at the time, and the twin conference gave her the opportunity to conduct further research. A copy of Dr. Gardner’s twin survey is in the Baylor Twin Club vertical file at the Texas Collection, along with sample letters and programs for the second and third conventions.

Dr. Gardner's multiple births survey
Excerpt from Iva Cox Gardner’s multiple births survey. Baylor Twins Club vertical file.

In efforts to gain students and support for Baylor, a promotional trip was planned for the Keys Quads and the Perricone Quads immediately after the 1939 convention. They visited the Badgetts, a set of quads who were only six months old, with the two-day affair in Galveston also including luncheons and vocal performances by the Keys. The meeting between the three sets of quads was well publicized and many came to view the “actual meeting.”

Pat M. Neff and Twin Club, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940
Pat M. Neff and Twin Club, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, circa 1940. Pat M. Neff collection, Personal series, box 117, folder 1.

The Twin Conventions ended up being a short-lived tradition, with the last one in 1941. Baylor continued to encourage twins to attend college in Waco and awarded scholarships to twins who came to the University. One set of twins was already enrolled at Baylor before they were born! Although the Twin Conventions never regained momentum after World War II, they are remembered fondly in reminiscences,  letters, and photographs housed in the Texas Collection.

A Day in the (Texas Collection) Life: Petra Ibarra-Nagel and Priscilla Escobedo, Student Assistants

Meet Baylor seniors and archives student workers Petra Ibarra-Nagel and Priscilla Escobedo, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:

Magnified Petra
Sometimes archives work requires a closer look. Here Petra turns the magnifying glass on herself while working on the Foy Valentine papers.

My name is Petra Ibarra-Nagel and I am a senior international studies major from Bellingham, Washington. I have worked as a manuscript archives student worker since April 2011, and I also worked in the TC library this summer. I help with processing collections by making sure that materials are physically preserved to withstand deterioration over time and organizing those materials in a way that best assists researchers in their quest for knowledge.

I have had the pleasure and privilege of working with a variety of archival materials at The Texas Collection, ranging from 19th-century pocket-sized family portraits to correspondence containing signatures of former presidents of the United States. It’s always fun to see what new materials come in—you never know what will be important elements of a historical narrative!

Smiling Pat Neff
Pat Neff was a somber man, Petra learned while working with his papers, so she was delighted to find this smiley (sort of) photo of the Texas governor and Baylor president.

My favorite collection to work on is the one that I was originally hired to assist in processing, the Pat Neff collection. Working with Pat Neff taught me a lot about the importance of preservation and organization of materials but also about integrity and teamwork. You may recognize the name Pat Neff from our campus’ beautiful golden dome-adorned administration building; however the legacy of Pat Neff extends far past his Baylor career. The former Texas House of Representatives speaker, county attorney for McLennan County, Governor of Texas, Texas Railroad Commissioner, and President of Baylor University rarely took a moment to himself.

That being said, it is understandable how there were approximately 643 boxes of Pat Neff material to process. Communication between everyone involved in processing is crucial to preserving the historical value of materials and integrity of the collection as a whole, especially when the collection contains so much material. If the materials are not processed the same way throughout the collection, locating individual items for researchers would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack…and then, without proper preservation methods, accidentally shattering the needle when you find it. In this way, The Texas Collection makes it easy to learn more about your passions throughout Texas history.

~

My name is Priscilla Escobedo, and I am a senior international studies major from Irving, Texas. I have been a university archives student worker at The Texas Collection for a little more than a year. I also worked in the TC library this summer.

The Texas Collection is located in Carroll Library, one of the oldest buildings on campus. It was once home to the Baylor Chapel, Baylor Museum, the early Robert Browning collection, and Baylor’s main library. I know all of this because of my work here! Some of my duties include research, our backlog sorting project, pulling books and collections for researchers, and various other archives duties.

Samuel Palmer Brooks' 30th anniversary of his Baylor graduation program
This spread comes from a program for a luncheon celebrating the 30th anniversary of the graduation of President Samuel Palmer Brooks, found while sorting backlog.

The backlog sorting project never ends. The university archives receives a box every month of newsletters, programs, flyers, and more, that get printed for the university…and these piled up over time. As a result, in addition to the new incoming boxes, we have many older boxes of miscellaneous materials that need to be sorted by department, organization, etc., so that those items can be found. The older boxes can be very interesting—I’ve found documents from the 1920s sitting next to documents from the 1980s. Needless to say, I’ve read a lot on Baylor’s history and have learned so much about life at Baylor.

Baylor University Catalogue, 1851-52
Priscilla has relied heavily on Baylor catalogues, such as this first one from 1851, for her research for the Baylor Book of Lists project.

My main project is the Baylor Book of Lists, a project that will list out who worked at Baylor since its inception. Right now I have over 60 pages of the names of people who worked and taught at Baylor and Baylor medical school, and the classes they taught. Some courses, such as orthography and ancient geography, are no longer taught at Baylor (although the subjects might be incorporated in other classes), and it’s interesting to see how education has changed over time.

Working at the Texas Collection has taught me so much about what it’s like working in an archives and library and about the history of Texas and Baylor.

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.

A Day in the (Texas Collection) Life: Benna Vaughan, Special Collections and Manuscripts Archivist

Roxy Grove Musical Score
Handwritten sheet music for A Night Song by Roxy Grove

Meet Benna Vaughan, originally from Whitney, Texas, and Special Collections and Manuscripts Archivist, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:

In a nutshell, I get to work with some of the coolest stuff on campus. How often do you open a box and pull out a land grant signed by Stephen F. Austin? Or touch a set of pilot’s wings that were worn while flying in World War I? Or have someone call you up and say they found something you might like to have, such as an original 1894 Texas Cotton Palace medallion from the very first Texas Cotton Palace? Or handle a piece of Republic of Texas currency so thin you can see through it, and wonder where it has been and how many hands touched it and passed it on? I have a job where I can do this every day. I get to be in and amongst things that made history and that are now historical research materials. I am the Special Collections and Manuscripts Archivist at The Texas Collection, and it is my job to manage, preserve, and make available the wonderful special collections of Texana that come through our doors.

My days are varied. Most days I get to work with students and researchers alike on projects, from the smallest term paper to a full-sized book, commercial, or documentary. I might talk with donors who want to see their materials preserved, maintained, and used for research purposes. I attempt daily to process collections such as the Pat Neff collection, which took two years and the help of many graduate and undergraduate assistants to complete. I perform various inquiry tasks for researchers who contact me online, by phone, or in person. I sometimes give presentations to classes who will conduct research at The Texas Collection. In the fall, I also serve as an instructor for the University 1000 program for incoming freshmen students. I enjoy working with students as they begin their college careers and try to help them get adjusted to Baylor life. I guess you can say that for me everyday is a little different from the last.

Box of files from the unprocessed Roxy Grove papers.
Box of files from the unprocessed Roxy Grove Papers

Currently, I am beginning initial processing on the Roxy Grove papers. This includes research into her life and determining the condition of her records. (Are the pages brittle? How can we protect them? How are the records arranged?) I learned that Roxy Grove received two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree from Baylor. She began working at Baylor in 1926 and was the chair of the Music School for 17 years. Some of you may have classes in the building named after her: Roxy Grove Hall (third photo from top on the linked page). With every collection, I learn about the personal side of the individuals or organizations as I research and process their collections. For me, working on another person’s materials makes a connection with that person and allows you to discover the person, organization, or even place, through the things that are left behind.

But it is not always idyllic. Sometimes a collection will come in that was stored in a barn or a garage and the boxes contain bugs, and the records are in poor condition. When that happens, I get to be an exterminator. I pitch in to help with special projects and the administrative tasks that come with a special collections library. No matter what I’m doing, it is a great job, at a great place, and I am blessed to be here.

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.

Research Ready: July 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 July:

Wellington children, circa 1888
A few years after Anna Wellington Stoner and her husband, Clinton Stoner, moved to Bullshead, Edwards County in Texas, Clinton died in 1884. In October of the same year, Anna moved her three small children (pictured) back to the Nueces River Canyon and bought 320 acres of land there. This was the beginning of the Stoner Ranch, which has grown to 2,000 acres today.
  • [Waco] Branch Davidians: Bill Pitts papers, 1963-2001, undated: This collection contains materials produced and collected by Bill Pitts, a professor in the Religion Department at Baylor University. The materials primarily cover the Branch Davidians siege of 1993.
  • Benjamin Edwards Green papers, 1840-1865: Green’s papers consist of a postcard, pamphlets, written notes, an unpublished manuscript and other chapter fragments. Among other roles, Green was a lawyer, served as an American diplomat at the Mexican capitol in the early 1840s, and was a secret agent in the West Indies.
  • James Weldon Jones papers, 1917-1919, circa 2010: This collection contains a series of letters sent from Alexander “Tip” Jones to his son, James Weldon Jones, while the latter was serving in the United States Army during World War I.
  • Vivienne Malone-Mayes papers. Inclusive: 1966-1977, undated: Malone-Mayes’ papers consists of correspondence, minutes, reports and other records related to her terms as a member and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the Heart of Texas Region Mental Health Mental Retardation Center in Waco, Texas. The collection also contains personal materials and coursework Dr. Malone-Mayes assigned in her mathematics courses at Baylor University. She was Baylor’s first black faculty member.
Women and Mathematics / Mathematical Association of America publication, 1976
Vivienne Malone-Mayes was a trailblazer for women, particularly African Americans, in the mathematics profession. In 1966, she became only the fifth African American woman to earn her PhD in that field. After gaining employment at Baylor University, Vivienne did her part in encouraging women to pursue careers in mathematics, including editorial and consultation work with the Mathematical Association of America.
  • Irwin Green and Lillie Worley McGee papers, 1893-1899, undated: The McGee papers consist of notes, assignments, and exams produced by Irwin Green and Lillie Worley while attending Baylor in the 1890s, providing insight into Baylor’s curriculum during this period.
  • Walter Hale McKenzie papers, 1926-1952: The McKenzie papers contain correspondence and board and committee minutes illustrating McKenzie’s relations to prominent Baptists J.G. Hardin, George W. Truett, Pat Neff, and others, and his service to Baylor University, Baylor College for Women, and the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
  • Wellington-Stoner-McLean family collection, 1833-2007, undated: This collection consists of family documents collected by Margaret Stoner McLean. The collection includes correspondence and postcards, photographs, financial documents, books, personal ledgers, and publications about the family and the Stoner ranch.

Mother Neff State Park: A Texas Original

As summer descends upon us and we feel the desire to travel and explore, let’s not forget one of the most easily accessible destinations we Texans can reach: our own Texas State Parks. One such park, with the honor of being called the first State Park of Texas, is very close to Waco and has historic ties to Waco and Baylor University. Mother Neff State Park, located in Coryell County along the Leon River, claims that title and is named after Isabella Neff, mother of former Governor of Texas and president of Baylor, Pat Neff.

Origin of Texas State Parks, from Mother Neff Scrapbook in the Pat Neff Collection, circa 1930s.
Origin of Texas State Parks, from Mother Neff Scrapbook in the Pat Neff Collection, circa 1930s

Mother Neff donated about six acres of land (sources vary as to whether it was six acres or seven) with an eye toward a place for gatherings and other events. This land was beautiful and diverse with massive trees, bluffs, an Indian cave, and prairie land perfect for wildflowers. As Emma Morrill Shirley said (quoted in one of two Mother Neff State Park scrapbooks in the Pat Neff Collection), “There is no more typically Texas spot in all Texas than Mother Neff Park.”

Mother Neff insisted there be no fee for the use of the property and her wish was that the community make use of the land freely. And use it they did, with town meetings, picnics, political sessions, family reunions, prayer gatherings and camp meetings.

Isabella - Mother - Neff, undated.
Isabella “Mother” Neff, undated

One of Pat Neff’s favorite events was the yearly chautauqua, the first one held July 5-12, 1925. In Neff’s words, the chautaqua was “a program of general information and inspiration.” Leaders in business, education, and religion came to speak to those who gathered during this time. Two of the talks Neff proposed for his first event were, “Triumphant Christianity in Texas,” and “The Public Educational System of Texas.” Neff’s fondness for these yearly events was widely known and anticipated.

After Isabella’s death in 1921, Neff donated the six acres to the state and named it Mother Neff Memorial Park. In 1934, Neff donated an additional 250 acres and the park became Mother Neff State Park, the first State Park in Texas. Mr. F.P. Smith also donated three acres to the park, bringing the total acreage of the park to 259 acres.

Dedication Day-Mother Neff State Park, May 14, 1938.
Dedication Day-Mother Neff State Park, May 14, 1938.

Neff realized that the park needed a lot of work to become the park he envisioned, so he turned to federal government programs, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, and had one unit of the Corps stationed by the park. The CCC, working at the park from 1934-1938, was responsible for many of the buildings and improvements on the park grounds. The clubhouse, park entrance, church, observation/water tower, and road system throughout the park are due to the Corps’ hard work.

Mother Neff State Park Dedication Day, May 14, 1938.
Mother Neff State Park Dedication Day, May 14, 1938.

On May 14, 1938 (Mother’s Day), the official Mother Neff State Park Dedication Ceremony took place. The Baylor University Golden Wave Band performed and Dr. J.M. Dawson gave the dedicatory address. Other state officials also attended and it was estimated that over 1,000 people came to the event.

More information on Mother Neff State Park resides in the Pat Neff collection housed in The Texas Collection at Baylor University, and in it are two scrapbooks dedicated to Mother Neff State Park. In their pages are photographs of Neff, Isabella, the park landscape, and animals that lived on the park land such as sheep, goats, and horses. Also contained in the scrapbooks are images of park buildings, Indian caves, and other features. We hope you’ll enjoy exploring these images in the Flickr slideshow at the end of this post.

Mother Neff Park Poem, from Mother Neff State Park Scrapbook from the Pat Neff Collection, circa 1930s.
Mother Neff Park Poem, from Mother Neff State Park Scrapbook from the Pat Neff Collection, circa 1930s.

One of the scrapbooks contains documents describing the park, correspondence and general statements about the park, birthday cards to Isabella Neff and, in particular, a poem. We urge you to take the poem’s advice:

To those who are traveling and pass this way, / I want you to stop and hear what we say. / The birds and the bees, and the squirrels when they bark, / All bid you come into the Mother Neff Park.

For more information on Mother Neff State Park, see :

The Mother Neff State Park home page,

The Handbook of Texas Online entry for Mother Neff State Park, or

the Pat Neff collection finding aid.