Tag Archive for Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive

(Digital Collections) Gather ‘Round and Download the Tale: A Primer for Digital Storytelling in Archives

Storytelling, the analogue / shiny-shirt-wearing version
From the Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music

The storytelling urge is an ingrained part of human behavior spanning back to our earliest conversant days, when “This plant bad, that plant good” wasn’t just helpful advice for staying alive, it could also pass for a rollicking tale around a campfire.

Among the myriad ways we’ve progressed here in the 21st century is in our ability to tell stories in new ways using archival subject material. Digitized copies of 19th century letters, transcriptions of 17th century diaries, cassette tapes from the 1970s migrated to MP3: these are the tools a digital storyteller can utilize to bring the stories of the past to a new generation of listeners.

But at the heart of that process still lie some basic steps that a curator, scholar or blogger can use to bring the materials to their greatest impact.

  • Evaluate the materials: It may seem simplistic, but taking a good look at the source materials is often the most important part of any storytelling arc. Where possible, sort materials into an order that makes sense for the narrative; chronological is the most likely candidate, but you could also sort by thematic elements or format types as well.


  • Look for unifying themes: If your project encompasses something larger than a single life (where you’re telling the story of one principle character, for example), it can be helpful to look for unifying themes in your materials. Good starting points include a place (geographic), an idea, a repeating theme (freedom from oppression, interpretation of race in popular culture) and the like.


  • Gather your contextual materials: Often, we are unable to tell a full story by pulling only from the archival materials at our disposal. So it is important to gather contextual materials – secondary sources, other collections’ contents, new scholarship, etc. – to help augment the records on hand. Researchers also love seeing lists of these reference materials at the end of a blog post or contextual resource page, so include them as a guide for further investigation.


  • Compile the text: Now that you’ve gathered your materials, it’s time to sit down and actually write your narrative. My best advice for this part of the process? Nulla dies sine linea, or “No day without a line,” attributed to Pliny. That means not getting sidelined by writer’s block; just sit down, start typing, and see what flows. You’ll surprise yourself almost every time.


  • Evaluate: Don’t be afraid to take a good look at what you’ve written, and don’t forget to look back at resources you created in the past to see where they can be updated and revised for the better.


Toeing the Line

One challenge to overcome when writing the story to be told from archival collections is how to present enough information without editorializing or leading your readers/researchers/scholars to conclusions. As a collections professional, it is your job to present as much relevant information as possible without editorializing. Wherever possible, try to present facts in a neutral voice and present facts as plainly as you are able. Avoid the temptation to infer, guess, speculate or otherwise draw conclusions from the evidence; leave that kind of thing for your researchers and subject scholars.

That’s not to say you can’t have your own opinion, of course. Blogs are a great way to expound upon your own opinions about the collection without injecting it into the contextual research presented as part of your digital archive. So fire up a WordPress or Blogger account and flex your extemporizing muscles. After all, you’re likely the one person in the world who’s spent the most time with this particular collection of materials, shouldn’t you have a chance to give your two cents?

Where Does It End?

Just as our friend David Licata and the crew working on the upcoming documentary A Life’s Work know all too well, there are some stories that are difficult to tell simply because they have no definite end. How do we tell the story of the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project with any sense of finality? When do we stop recounting the information touched on in our Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive? These are just two of the collections that could conceivably branch into innumerable storylines with no distinct ends, a potential problem of great concern to researchers and casual users who need the structure provided by a definitive beginning, middle and end to a story.

This is where the epilogue or “to be continued” approach can be very handy. If you’re wrangling with a subject that has no definite endpoint, include a note at the end of your contextual statement that indicates the collection in question is an ongoing project and updates will be added as they are needed. In other cases, it may be helpful to set an arbitrary cut-off date for your contextual research and simply note that, while more information is available for this collection, it is far from settled or even to a point that it can be presented in its proper context, and that an update will take place when the time is right.

A Worthwhile Yarn

The wonderful thing about digital storytelling is that it gives archival collections professionals a chance to open their resources up to a worldwide audience, something that was impossible only a few short decades ago. For truly unique or rare items, this could mean exposing someone a continent away to the treasure stored safely in your neatly ordered stacks, all without the need to undertake expensive travel. As stewards of these materials held in the public trust, it is our duty and our privilege to acquire, preserve, present and promote the materials in our care for use by researchers and interested parties the world over. Anything less would be a disservice to our stated mission of connecting people with ideas.

As you’re sitting down to tell the stories hidden in your archives, take a moment to appreciate the opportunity you have to do something truly impactful and unique in this world. While it certainly takes a great deal of work to get it done, there’s no substitute for the satisfaction of knowing you’ve used your talents to keep a story alive for a new generation of listeners.

And if all else fails, remember this: we can tell all these stories without getting campfire smoke on our materials. Now that’s a story worth telling.

(Digital Collections) Feeding Our Nostalgia: A Sampling of Waco’s Favorite Former Restaurants, Via the BU Libraries Athletics Archive

Although the temperatures outside our offices here on campus don’t reflect it yet, the calendar says we’ve officially entered fall. And with its arrival come the requisite things we love about autumn like changing leaves, cooler days, and a tidal wave of foods flavored with pumpkin and cinnamon.

But nothing says “fall” on a university campus like the return of college football, and as our Baylor Bears are riding a 3-game winning streak this week, we thought it fitting to turn our attention to our Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive (BULAA) for inspiration for this week’s post.

And so it was that while perusing football programs from the 1930s-1980s, I stumbled upon a recurring theme: the ads for restaurants that don’t exist in Waco anymore. Be they beloved staples mourned to the present or mere one-time wonders barely remembered by anyone, they still took the time to invest in advertising space in programs for Baylor home football games, so their impact on our university was easily measure in terms of ad revenue and column inches – if only for a season.

We thought it might be fun to showcase a few of those ads and, as a bonus, add their locations to a custom Google map so you can see exactly where they were located “back in the day.” Longtime Wacoans may well remember dining at some of these establishments; likewise, newer residents (or those just passing through town) can gain a better understanding for our fair city’s historic culinary offerings.

Leslie’s Chicken Shack (from November 24, 1934 game vs. SMU)

Jack’s Café (from October 23, 1948 game vs. Texas A&M University)

Pat Rutherford’s (from November 11, 1950 game vs. University of Texas)

Taco Patio and Mr. Chuc Wagun (from November 12, 1977 game vs. Rice University)

The Water Works (from November 22, 1980 game vs. University of Texas)

This is just a sampling from the smorgasbord (sorry!) of eatery ads to be found in the football programs of the BULAA. We hope you’ll take time to look through the programs for your favorite Waco restaurants, and take a minute to leave us a comment on your fondest food memories. Bon appetit!

(Digital Collections) Loan, Give, Tip: How Your Materials Can Become a Part of Our Collections

Materials from the S.E. Tull Collection of historic Baptist sermons

One of the most rewarding parts of our work in the DPG is knowing that our efforts will lead to better exposure for Baylor’s unique collections and a better understanding of the world in which we live. The materials housed in Baylor’s special collections provide ample resources for a career’s worth of output, but there are times when even our enviable collections could benefit from some outside augmentation.

That’s where you come in.

Several of our major projects are at their best when they’re aided by you, our users and supporters. One important way is through lending or outright gifting of materials to either the Digitization Projects Group directly, or indirectly through our campus special collections partners.

Lending or Donating to the Digitization Projects Group

Our two biggest ongoing projects that can most benefit from your help are the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP) and the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive (BULAA). While very different in content, they both operate on the same principle: we’re digitizing as much material as we can find that fits our criteria, and we know that a substantial portion of it lives off-campus. If you – or someone you know – is a collector of black gospel music or Baylor sports memorabilia, you can lend or donate materials to our group for digitization and inclusion in our digital collections. (See the end of this post for contact information on how to lend or give to the DPG.)

Donating to Our Partners

If you’d like your materials to have a permanent home at one of Baylor’s special collections or institutions, you can contact them to arrange for a meeting with a representative who can appraise and research your materials for possible inclusion in their collections. Then, if they make good candidates for digitization, we’ll work with our liaisons at the special collections to queue them up for digitizing and uploading. (See the end of this post for contact information on how to lend or give to our special collections partners.)


Know someone who has a large collection of Civil War letters? How about antique maps or black gospel albums from the 1950s? If you do, and you think they’d like to contribute to our work, send them the link to our digital collections homepage, pass along our email address (digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu) or have them stop by the Moody Memorial Library on campus and meet with us. We rely on word-of-mouth and user tips from people who collect materials we’re digitizing to help us create larger, more complete digital collections.

So take a minute to peruse your bookshelves or filing cabinets, give that obsessive collector a call, or take an extra minute to look through the gospel section of the used record store for things that might help us create a bigger, better digital collection. We’ll even make sure to list you as the custodian or lender if you’d like to see your name in our records!

The Digitization Projects Group
ATTN: Eric Ames
Baylor University Libraries
One Bear Place #97148
Waco, TX 76798-7148

The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project
ATTN: Denyse Rodgers
Baylor University Libraries
1312 S 3rd Street
Waco, TX 76706

The Texas Collection
or txcoll@baylor.edu

Armstrong Browning Library
or Rita_Patteson@baylor.edu

W.R. Poage Legislative Library
or Poage_Library@baylor.edu

(Digital Collections) On Carroll Field, White Bread, and the Comfort of Electric Power

While working through some exciting new pieces we’re adding to the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive (BULAA) in the next few days, I spotted a couple of interesting items in a 1934 program from the Homecoming game against Texas A&M.

The first thing to note is the location of the game, Carroll Field. Throughout its storied history, Baylor football games have been played in no less than five locations:

  • Prior to 1906, games were played in an unnamed field adjacent to Old Main.
  • Carroll Field
    1906 to 1925, and from 1930 to 1935
  • Waco Cotton Palace
    1926 to 1929
  • Waco Stadium/Waco Municipal Stadium
    1936 to 1949
  • Baylor Stadium/Floyd Casey Stadium
    1950 to present

Carroll Field is seen in the photograph below, just to the right of Carroll Science building.

In the above image, the field is configured for baseball season, but the white picket fence around the field is visible in the background of this photo of a football game against an unknown opponent, circa 1916.

Digging deeper into the program, readers encounter this advertisement at the top of page 5.

A number of assertions in this ad may cause modern viewers to ask some fundamental (if a bit silly) questions. Questions like, “Why is white bread considered energy food?” or “Why is it such a big deal that the bread is sliced?” and “What happened to the Jones Fine Bread Co.?”

Although many today consider white bread a nutritionally neutral option at best, for many in the 1930s, bread was a major staple of their daily diet. But because poorer families often bought bulk flour and baked their own bread or biscuits at home, the idea of buying “light bread” from a grocery store could be a hard sell. Therefore, commercial bakeries used any number of selling points to make their case to consumers – including the idea that their bread would provide the energy needed to make it through a busy day.

Also, because many baked (and sliced) their own bread at home, the idea of buying a loaf of pre-sliced bread was both a novelty and a convenience. While the idea of pulling two slices of bread out of a package to make a quick sandwich means little to us today, the idea of saving a few precious moments by using pre-sliced bread was a luxury to many during the Great Depression.

Lastly, the Jones Bread Company seems to have been a local bakery in the Waco area that supported a unique program called the “Jones’ Fine Bread Kiddie Matinee Show.” According to this article from the Waco History Project by Teri Jo Ryan, the show, which was hosted by Mary Holliday, was a kind of forerunner to American Idol that gave local kids a chance to showcase their talents on a weekly radio program.

Our final point of interest is the ad from the back cover of the program, this one for Texas Power and Light.

The benefits of electric power are listed in relation to something we give little thought to today: the ability to lessen the strain dim lighting puts on our eyes. In a time when large numbers of Americans – especially those in rural areas – were without power beyond what could be provided by candles and gas lamps, the idea of having a home full of evenly distributed, reliable light was nothing short of miraculous. And until the establishment of the Rural Electrification Administration in 1935, there were often few opportunities for people in rural areas to take advantage of such a modern luxury. This ad reminds us of a time when something we take for grated today was considered big enough news to warrant two-thirds of a prominent advertisement on a program seen by thousands of people attending a Baylor University football game.

The entire program, part of the Baylor University Athletics Archive, is available at http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/ref/collection/33athletics/id/2745.



(Digital Collections) A True Team Effort: Unveiling the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive

On the Friday night before Baylor’s homecoming win against Missouri, a team of Electronic Library staff and graduate assistants unveiled an exciting new project to the 30-year reunion of Baylor football’s 1980 Southwest Conference championship-winning team.

The project: the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive, a unique partnership between the Electronic Library, Baylor Athletics, and Baylor’s Institute for Oral History. Established to collect, preserve, and display materials related to Baylor’s 100-plus history of collegiate sports, the Archive was rolled out at the reception for the 1980 team, hosted by their legendary coach, Grant Teaff.

(The BULAA landing page at www.baylor.edu/lib/athleticsarchive)

Presently, items in the Archive are focused on Baylor football, specifically the Grant Teaff era from 1972 to 1992. The Grant and Donell Teaff Baylor Football Collection makes up the bulk of the collection at this time, with a special emphasis on the 1980 team that clinched the SWC championship and clashed with the University of Alabama in the 1981 Cotton Bowl.

The Archive features hundreds of photographs, promotional items, posters, videos, and audio clips that tell the stories of the athletes who represented the Green and Gold in athletic events of all types. The ultimate goal of the project is to collect and display materials from every sport Baylor athletes have participated in since the school’s founding.

Feedback from the attendees was uniformly positive, with several players responding with excited disbelief when they heard their photo was in the Archive. During several demos to 1980 team members, the men would begin to recount stories: memories of a particular game, nicknames of teammates, remembrances of important events, even wisdom imparted on them as 20-year-old athletes by Coach Teaff.

It is these personal reactions to the materials in the Archive that quickly reveal the impact this Archive can have on anyone interested in not just the history of Baylor athletics, but also the personal stories of the men and women who used their physical prowess to support their alma mater.

We hope you’ll take a moment to browse the Archive and relive some of the amazing moments in Baylor athletics history you’ll find inside. The 400+ items available now are just the beginning of the important work to come, so check back often.

Photos from the event

Tim Logan, Assistant Vice President for the Electronic Library, demos the Archive on a large-screen display for an attendee.

Graduate assistant Rachel Carson, from the BU Museum Studies program, demonstrates the Archive to a member of the 1980 team.

Graduate assistant Hannah Mason, a BU Journalism student, demonstrates the Archive.

Digital Collections Consultant Eric Ames demos the Archive for Dr. Ken Matthews, running back (#20) from the 1980 Baylor football team.

Eric Ames and Darryl Stuhr, Manager of Digital Projects (right), pose with coach Grant Teaff.

To view the Archive, visit www.baylor.edu/lib/athleticsarchive. If you’d like to help expand the Archive by either loaning or donating materials or by providing financial support, contact Eric Ames (eric_ames@baylor.edu).

Photos of BULAA unveiling event by Allyson Riley.