Research Ready: December 2017

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!

December’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

  • Letter from Charles Wellborn to Elma Merle Mears McClellan Duncan
    Letter from Charles Wellborn, student at Baylor and future evangelist and pastor, to the Armed Services Representative for Baylor University. In the letter, Wellborn describes drilling for the past week, after enlisting in the United States Army in July 1943.

    • BU Records: Armed Services Representatives, 1942-1945, undated (#BU/12): Collection contains correspondence sent by former students, parents, and government officials to Merle Mears McClellan, Baylor University’s Armed Services Representative during World War II. Baylor President Pat Neff appointed McClellan as the acting liason between the university and the military, in conjunction with Baylor University becoming a training site for Army officers prior to World War II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Cunningham, Eugene. Famous in the West. El Paso, TX: Hicks-Hayward Co., [1926]. Print.

Cunningham, Eugene. Famous in the West. El Paso, TX: Hicks-Hayward Co., [1926]. Print. 

Originally published in El Paso as an advertisement for Rodeo Outdoor Clothes, this volume contains info on cowboys such as “Jim” Gillett, Dallas Stoudenmire, Billy the Kid, and Tom Threepersons. Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

 

 

 

College, Belton: For Women. [Belton, TX?]: [publisher not identified], [between 1925 and 1929?]. Print.

College, Belton: For Women. [Belton, TX?]: [publisher not identified], [between 1925 and 1929?]. Print. 

The purpose of this volume is two-fold. The many photographs of the grounds and student body show a beautiful, thriving Baylor College campus while the new development campaign seeks $500,000 to pay university debts and $250,000 to build a permanent endowment. Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

 

 

Waco 52 Playing Cards. [Waco, TX]: [publisher not identified], [2017]. Print.

Waco 52 Playing Cards. [Waco, TX]: [publisher not identified], [2017]. Print. 

Though not a traditional book, this set of playing cards is unique to Waco. Each card is designed by a different artist and contains images of locations throughout the city, including the ALICO building, Waco Suspension Bridge, Hippodrome, Lake Waco, etc. Click here to view in BearCat.

Texas over Time: Waco Suspension Bridge

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. 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.

Waco Suspension Bridge

  • Opened to the public on January 7, 1870, the 475-foot structure is one of downtown Waco’s iconic landmarks.
  • At the time of its completion, it was the longest single-span bridge west of the Mississippi.
  • The cables and steelwork were supplied by John Roebling Co., who also helped build the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City during that decade
  • As the only bridge over the Brazos River, it brought much publicity to Waco, helped local economic stimulation and served as a public bridge starting in 1889.
  • During times of high water, the bridge was used greatly for moving cattle herds.
  • In 1914, it went under total reconstruction including a brand new cable system; the roadway is now supported with steel and the towers were remodeled with stucco.
  • In July 1970, it became the first Waco site on the National Register of Historic Sites.

Sources

Roger N. Conger, “The Waco Suspension Bridge,” Texana, I (Summer 1963); Minute  Books of the Waco Bridge Company (MS., Waco-McLennan County Library).

“The City of Waco.” Suspension Bridge & Riverwalk, Parks & Recreation. City of Waco Municipal Information, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

Smyrl, Vivian Elizabeth. “Waco Suspension Bridge.” Texas State Historical Association. TSHA, University of Texas, 15 June 2010. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

GIF and factoids by Haley Rodriguez, student archives assistant. Learn more about the history of the suspension bridge in our YouTube video and see these images in our Flickr album.

Texas over Time: Bridge Street, 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.

Bridge Street, Waco

 Photo dates: 1872, 1953, 1967, undated (prior to 1968)

  • Named due to being across First Street from the Waco suspension bridge
  • Earned the nickname “Rat Row” (until the fire) due to the increasingly dilapidated state of the wooden buildings
  • Fire swept through in 1871, destroying all of the wooden frame buildings, which were replaced by stone ones
  • Traditionally the center of the west-Waco minority-owned business community
  • Took a major hit from the 1953 Waco tornado
  • All buildings on street demolished in 1968 as part of Urban Renewal

Sources:

Menchu, Carlos. 162 Years of Waco, 1824-1986: Focus upon Downtown Waco, Texas. Lubbock: Texas Tech U, 1986. Print.

Smith, JB. “From Bridge Street to the Square.” Waco Tribune-Herald 22 Sept. 2005: n. pag. Print.

“Bridge Street: 1849 – 1890.” Baylor University Institute for Oral History. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.baylor.edu/oralhistory/index.php?id=32190>.

“Bridge Street: 1900-1950.” Baylor University Institute for Oral History. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://www.baylor.edu/oralhistory/index.php?id=32207>.

See the individual photos in our Bridge Street Flickr set.

GIF and factoids by Braxton Ray, archives student assistant

Waco during the Civil War: The Goode-Thompson Family Papers

By Julie Holcomb, Assistant Professor & Graduate Program Director of Museum Studies

Harboring Unionist sentiments, Richard N. Goode appears an unlikely candidate to serve as mayor of Waco, Texas, during the Civil War. A lawyer and a judge, Goode served as the fourth mayor of Waco from June 1862 to May 1865. Clearly, Goode’s pro-Union sentiments did not prevent him from serving the people of Waco, and his family’s papers document this aspect as well as other interesting tidbits on his life.

Letter from Richard N. Goode to Mary Virginia Thompson, Feb. 19, 1865
Letter from Mayor Richard N. Goode to his daughter, Mary Virginia, Thompson, describing the family’s embrace of spiritualism, or talking to the dead. Mayor Goode’s deceased daughter Calidonia “comes and converses with us frequently.” Goode-Thompson family papers, box 1, folder 3.

Goode moved to Waco in 1859.  He and his wife Elizabeth Mallory Goode were married in Hinds County, Mississippi, in November 1837. The couple had at least eight children: Mary Virginia, Richard, James, Robert, Ivonanna, Olivia, Ursula, and Blanche.  A ninth child, Calidonia, likely died in childhood.

The only reference to Calidonia in the historical record comes from Judge Goode’s letters to his daughter, Mary Virginia. During the Civil War, the Goode family participated in spiritualism, or talking to the dead, using various means of communication including seances and rappings. In his letters, Goode describes communications from Calidonia, Mary Virginia’s sister, even telling Mary Virginia at one point that Calidonia wished to send her a letter! Goode also consulted the spirits regarding the outcome of the war. The Goodes were not unusual in seeking guidance from the spirit world. Thousands, if not millions, of Americans participated in spiritualism in the late nineteenth century.

Letter from Richard N. Goode to Mary Virginia Thompson, dated November 27, 1864
Letter from Mayor Richard N. Goode to his daughter, Mary Virginia Thompson, reporting on the outcome of a recent murder trial and the progress of the Confederate war effort. Goode-Thompson family papers, box 1, folder 3.

Judge Goode’s letters also include references to his court cases, including a murder trial, the progress of the Confederate war effort, and the presence of wartime refugees in Waco. Judge Goode also described the hardships of war, asking his daughter to send goods from her home in Mexico.

In addition to his legal and mayoral careers, Judge Goode owned land just above the mouth of Barron’s Branch on the west bank of the Brazos River. In March 1872, John T. Flint, president of the Waco Bridge Company, tried unsuccessfully to convince Goode to close the ford, which was used to avoid paying the toll on the Waco Suspension Bridge. Finally, in 1877, four years after Judge Goode’s death, the Waco Bridge Company succeeded in purchasing the land from Elizabeth Goode for $350. Soon after, the company began a piling project to close off the ford.

“For an Album,” Poetry written by William Carson Stewart Thompson
Poetry written by William Carson Stewart Thompson sometime after the death of his father, Dr. — John Thompson. Goode-Thompson family papers, box 1, folder 5.

The Goode and Thompson families merged in July 1859, when Mary Virginia Goode, Judge Goode’s eldest daughter, married William Carson Stewart Thompson, son of Dr. John and Isabella Thompson. In 1864 and 1865, William and Mary Virginia resided in Mexico. There is no evidence that William Thompson served in either the Confederate or Union military during the Civil War. William and Mary Virginia had two sons: Edward Everett Thompson, born in Matamoras, Mexico, in 1865 and Rufus N. Thompson born in Waco, Texas, in 1868. Mary Virginia Thompson died of consumption in 1876.

Cabinet card photo of the Thompson brothers
Three of the Thompson brothers (from left to right): Rufus Andrew Thompson, William Carson Stewart Thompson, and Nathaniel John Thompson. Taken in 1889, the caption on the back of the photograph reads: “Three Brothers after a Separation of 35 years.” Goode-Thompson family papers, box 1, folder 7.

In 1889, William Thompson and his younger brothers, Rufus and Nathaniel, were reunited after a 35-year separation. The Thompson brothers were born in Ohio in the 1820s and 1830s.  William had moved with his parents to Texas in the 1850s while Rufus and Nathaniel remained in Ohio. At the time of their reunion, William resided in Waco, Rufus in Illinois, and Nathaniel in Colorado. William Carson Stewart Thompson died in Waco in 1895.Richard N. and Elizabeth Goode as well as Mary Virginia and William Thompson and their sons Edward Everett and Rufus N. and their spouses are all buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Waco.

Although a small collection, the Goode-Thompson family papers provide an important glimpse into life on the Texas homefront during the Civil War.

A User's Guide to the Texas Collection, Part 3, Or, How to Know Enough is Enough

Kenna Lang Archer, a veteran researcher at The Texas Collection, is our guest blogger for this series, “A User’s Guide to The Texas Collection.” Drawing on her research on the Brazos River, Dr. Archer offered advice on identifying resources (including staff) in her first post; in her second, she addressed challenging resources. In this final installment, she offers her tips on determining when the research is DONE.

A Park and River Scene in Waco, Beautiful Waco, Texas
I looked through hundreds of postcards in my research on the Brazos, and while I enjoyed that glimpse into the past, I needed only to expand on a single idea (whose citation already included more than 100 sources!). Not the best use of my time. From the Texas Collection postcard collection.

For the final post in this series, I’d like to address a question that is as challenging as it is important…when is enough, enough? When is it time to step away—trusting that you have read enough letters, seen sufficient photographs, and pored through the right amount of memoirs, and how do you know that you’ve reached that point? It’s entirely possible that I am the last person that should be offering advice on the subject. My friends and colleagues have often chided me for “excessive” research, as have several editors (apparently, one really can cite too many sources in too many footnotes). However, my occasional inability to know that I have gathered the necessary citations means I am actually well placed to offer guidance.

The Texas Cotton Palace promotional envelope, 1894
I tracked down this promotional mail-out after realizing that my discussion on agriculture in nineteenth century Texas was weak; I moved forward with my research knowing that I hadn’t found all that I needed in regard to a particular topic, and it was time well spent. From the Texas Cotton Palace records, box 2, folder 8.

That advice begins with a simple realization: it is possible to spend so much time looking through archival materials that the notes you collect become overwhelming and your work with them, inefficient. A paradox of historical research—people working with primary sources tend to assume that where one source is good, two sources are better, and three sources, best. The problem with this line of thought is two-fold. First, as your notes or copies increase in number, it becomes increasingly difficult to incorporate that information into existing outlines, chapters, etc. After completing my dissertation, I found a stack of Xerox copies more than one foot high that I had never written into my outlines. I missed nothing of import in those copies, but I was fortunate. I could easily have lost valuable information to a crowd of unheeded papers. Second, if you focus exclusively on research, you will never finish the project that prompted that work in the first place. Research alone does not produce finished works. Books, articles, and even blog posts can only be written, edited, and completed by an individual who has found the courage to say, “Yes, this research and my thoughts on it can stand.”

So how do you know when enough is truly enough? Where do you draw the mythical line in the sand? Personally, I use a series of hypothetical scenarios to weigh what I might find in future research against what I know from my current research. Would my ideas still hold if, somewhere, a source existed that said X; if I later found a source that said Y, would I still feel comfortable with my project? If I decide that nothing short of indisputable evidence refuting my argument would cause me doubt, then I leave my research be. If I feel like there is more than one way in which my ideas could be threatened or if I see a glaring omission, then I continue to research until I feel comfortable in my analysis.

Letter to George Barnard from New York, March 22, 1855
Hand-written documents can introduce still more challenges. Although I could read this letter in person, I struggled to read the Xerox copy that I requested and so, ultimately, went back to the materials a second time for a scanned copy. From the Barnard-Lane papers, box 3, folder 13.

Along those lines, I would recommend that anybody making extensive use of primary sources develop an effective organization system for their research. Each researcher must find the method that best fits their timeline and needs, but based on my experiences, I would make the following suggestions for people engaged in archival research:

  1. Copying/photographing every source you find is as risky and ineffective as copying no sources at all: to be buried by too much material is a cruel fate.
  2. Trying to track down a citation after the fact is maddening and a waste of precious time: write down every citation legibly and in the same place as the note itself as you go along.
  3. When making copies, do not assume either that the archivists will write down the citation for you or that they will include everything you need for reference: be responsible for assuring the validity and the location of your sources.
  4. Trusting too much in technology will eventually lead to a headache: be prepared to take notes the old fashioned way and keep a list of the sources that you have duplicated (as well as their location).

I made a number of “rookie mistakes” when I began working in the archives; I can even admit that I fell into the same blunders several times. Fortunately for my self-worth (and unfortunately for the rest of the research community), I am not alone in my struggles. I would guess that every researcher has, at one time or another, struggled with the effectiveness of his/her research methods or the decision to walk away from new sources. It’s a learning process, and one that everybody must endure. However, it can be made easier. My hope for anybody reading this series is that his or her experience in primary source research might be a smidge less chaotic, a bit more constructive, as a result of my suggestions.

Onward, archival soldiers…and until next time, good luck!

Missed the first installments? Check them out here.

Archer is an instructor in the history department at Angelo State University. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Baylor and then her doctorate at Texas Tech University. You can learn more about her research on her website, www. kennalangarcher.com.

Mapping Waco: A Brief History, 1845-1913

Did you know that “Lamartine” was a proposed name for Waco? Or that “Waco Village” was once in Milam County? Do you know where Waco Female College was? Explore Mapping Waco: A Brief History, 1845-1913 to learn the answers to these questions and more.

1873 Bird's Eye View of the City of Waco
Bird’s eye view style map of the city of Waco, circa 1873. Lists points of interest including Waco University, Waco Female College, the City Ice Works and the Waco suspension bridge.

In this physical and digital exhibit, maps represent the changing landscape of Waco from its earliest days in the mid-1800s to the boom years of the late 1910s. Selections include bird’s-eye views of the city drawn in the late 19th century; illustrated maps of new additions and suburbs; and blue lines of individual plats on Waco city streets.

“We hope this exhibit of early Waco maps will spark an interest in local geography and history,” said John Wilson, director of The Texas Collection. “It may also begin a dialogue regarding other maps and resources that are in the community and could be shared.”

The maps are on display in The Texas Collection within Carroll Library, which is open from 8-5, Monday through Friday. We hope you’ll come and see them in person AND take a zoomed-in look at them on the Baylor Digital Collections site. The physical and online exhibits are up now and will be on display through December 2012.

We collaborated with the Digitization Projects Group on preparing the digital component of the exhibition–read about the digitization and curation process on Baylor Digital Collections’ blog–and enjoy the maps!