(Digital Collections) A Visit From Rep. Chet Edwards

Former U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards in his office at Poage Legislative Library

Baylor University recently announced that former U.S. Congressman Chet Edwards was appointed the W.R. Poage Distinguished Chair for Public Service, an honor that was accompanied with the news that his congressional papers would be housed in the Poage Legislative Library on campus.

A few weeks prior to the announcement, Congressman Edwards toured the Riley Digitization Center and learned more about our capabilities to digitize large archival holdings. Edwards was very interested in how we are able to turn hundreds of feet of paper records into searchable, remotely accessible digital objects. As his records will also contain materials on audio/visual formats like DVD, VHS tapes, and Umatic tapes (like Beta), Edwards was also impressed with the Riley Center’s video and audio migration technology.


Above, Assistant VP for the Electronic Library Tim Logan shows Rep. Edwards a 16” radio transcription disc while Darryl Stuhr, Manager of Digitization Projects, looks on at left. The disc was placed on a turntable in the radio studio and cut live as the broadcast was under way. An interesting thing to note on discs of this size is the second hole in the center; the extra weight of such a large disc could cause it to wobble during recording, so the second hole in the center fit over a second spindle for added stability.

Prior to his visit, Rep. Edwards had mentioned the impact a speech by George W. Truett had on his development as a legislator. That speech, “Baptists and Religious Liberty,” was delivered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in 1920 while Truett was in Washington, D.C. for the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Edwards spoke fondly of his appreciation for the speech, and we were excited to be able to pull up a digital copy available in our Institute of Church-State Studies Vertical File Collection. Below, Curator of Digital Collections Eric Ames shows Rep. Edwards the digital copy of that speech, reprinted in the October 1981 issue of the “Baptist Standard.”

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We are excited to work with Rep. Edwards as he develops his congressional papers for use by students, scholars, and interested parties around the world. They will serve as a unique and invaluable asset to those seeking a deeper understanding of American politics, geopolitical relations and his beliefs on the subject of leadership.

(1) Photos of Edwards’ tour by Allyson Riley

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