Tag Archive for fire the cannon!

(Digital Collections) Documenting 64 Years of Joyful Noise: The School of Music Performances Programs Collection is Complete!

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Header for Ann Northum’s performance program, March 28, 1950. See the whole program here: http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/ref/collection/fa-somprog/id/620.

They were written on typewriters, word processors and laptops. Some used italicized fonts, others used “high tech” typefaces and the most recent ones feature the Baylor University Judge Baylor/Pat Neff Hall wordmark. They could be one page, two pages or dozens. In short, while the School of Music Performances Programs collection may seem like a one-trick pony, there are actually more than 8,000 ways to document and preserve the performances of Baylor’s musically inclined students dating back to 1950.

The completion of this project means 64 years’ worth of music performances are documented online for the first time in Baylor history. Prior to the digital collection’s unveiling, students and scholars had to request bound copies of the original programs – organized by year – and thumb through their pages until they stumbled upon the information they sought. Now, they can instantly discover any number of interesting things within the collection with a simple search, things like:

The number of performances at Roxy Grove Hall since 1950 (4,167 since 1957)

The number of times a student performed Bach’s Fugue in D Major (264 times)

How many performances are attributed to longtime faculty member Helen Ann Shanley (164)

The number of years organist Joyce Jones performed at Baylor during her tenure (1969-2014)

What performance was scheduled for 8:00 PM on September 11, 2001 but was impacted by that day’s terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C. and New York City (“Baroque in the Browning” by Christina Edelen)

And more!

This project came about after a request from our colleagues in the Crouch Fine Arts Library who wanted to find an easier way for music students to access these important – but cumbersome, in their printed form – resources, and we worked for the better part of a year to digitized them, create separate PDFs from the volume-level books, generate original cataloging metadata and generally just push through the time-intensive process of getting them onto the web. The result is an easily searchable, robust collection that details the evolution of musical instruction on our campus dating back to the 1950s, with an aim toward adding each semester’s performance programs as they become available from here on out.

We encourage you to take some time to search through the School of Music Performances Programs collection and see what hidden gems you can find. And if you’d like to embarrass/talk to two of our own staffers – Darryl Stuhr and Stephen Bolech – you can see programs related to their time in the School of Music here and here.

(And as always when we finish a big project: Fire the Cannon!)

(Digital Collections) A New Year, A Major New Collection: “The Baptist Argus” Project Completed, Available Online

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Welcome to a new year of digital collections excellence here at the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog. We’re kicking off 2015 by announcing the completion of a multi-year project: The Baptist Argus / The Baptist World newspaper collection! Through a partnership with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, we are pleased to present a full run of the newspaper, which began in 1897 and ran until August of 1919.

The Argus (which was renamed The Baptist World in 1909) was a weekly newspaper dedicated to covering events and news related to American Baptists, particularly in the South. It contained a blend of editorial content, news stories, advertisements and even the occasional work of poetry. For members of the Baptist church at the turn of the last century, the Argus was a welcome source of information on the doings of the church both domestically and abroad.

The digital collection features 1,131 issues of the Argus, from its first issue to its last. All are keyword searchable as the text has been recognized using OCR (optical character recognition) software, making it easy to search the thousands of pages of newsprint. Thanks to the OCR’d text, researchers can locate instances of words or phrases in seconds instead of the hours of tedious close reading that were necessary before the completion of this project.

We believe this collection will further enhance studies in the development of the Baptist identity in America, as well as its impact on the religious communities planted and sustained by Baptist missionaries around the world. We are also hopeful that scholars will use the resources available in the Argus/World collection to provide new insight into how journalism and religious belief worked together to advance the cause of Christ via the printed page. The possibilities for this collection are many, and we are excited to provide the raw material for scholars, researchers and believers of all stripes via this new collection.

Access the Baptist Argus / Baptist World collection via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections here. For more information on the Baptist Argus / Baptist World, read its Wikipedia entry. Special thanks to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for providing the print copies of the materials in this collection; we literally could not have completed this project without your help!

P.S. What do you think of the new look? We figured, “It’s January, everybody’s trying to freshen things up, why not?”

P.P.S. Fire the cannon!

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(Digital Collections) When The Day’s Work Is Done: The George W. Truett Sermons Project, Complete


G.W. Truett's signature from a letter dated January 3, 1942. Digital image from an original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, TX

G.W. Truett’s signature from a letter dated January 3, 1942. Digital image from an original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, TX


If you’re a loyal reader of this blog, you’ll no doubt remember that we’ve been talking about the George W. Truett Sermons project for quite some time. From their original arrival in late 2012 to an exploration of the story behind their original recording and broadcast via a Mexican “border blaster” radio station, we’ve documented these amazing discs’ life from creation to long-term preservation and 21st century access. On a personal level, I have invested hundreds of hours in the creation of metadata, transcripts, images and digital archival objects for this collection, so it comes as a big point of personal and professional pride to announce that the project is officially complete! (FIRE THE CANNON!)

The project (which also includes 26 commercially produced albums released by Word Records in 1966) presents the largest known collection of Dr. Truett’s unedited sermons in a single source, with a major emphasis on the final years of his life, 1941-1943. Users can now listen to the original audio, view images of the 16″ radio transcription discs, read full transcripts and explore the enduring genius of Dr. Truett’s messages all in one simple interface. The amount of metadata associated with each sermon, as well as the presence of full-text transcriptions, means greater discoverability via online search engines like Google and Yahoo!, making it more likely that these priceless resources will find their way into the hearts and minds of researchers, seekers and the curious alike for generations.


By The Numbers

* 66 total sermons (57 full sermons, 9 sermon segments)

* 258,359 total words generated during transcription process

* 33 hours of audio content

* 74 major Scriptures referenced (39 from the Old Testament, 35 from the New Testament


Interesting Findings

Dr. Truett most frequently cited from the books of 2 Chronicles, the Psalms, 1 Corinthians, Romans and the Gospel of Luke. His most frequently cited passage overall was a three-way tie between 2 Chronicles 29:27, Psalm 43 and Romans 8:28.

– The sermons are loaded with quotations from sources named (John Bunyan, David Livingstone, Martin Luther, John Wesley, William Jennings Bryan and Theodore Roosevelt, to name but a few) and unnamed (Oscar Wilde’s definition of the word “cynic” is cited at least twice without his being named the source). Dr. Truett also frequently quotes poetry and the lyrics to hymns, most often without naming their author or lyricist. Whether this was a simple omission or the result of an assumption on his part that his audience would be familiar with the source of these words is unclear.

– Three voices other than Dr. Truett’s are heard in the course of the recordings:

  • “Brother Coleman,” assumed to be either an associate minister or perhaps a lay reader, delivers a prayer in the sermon titled, “Prayer and Personal Witness for Christ” on March 31, 1941.
  • Several sermons capture brief moments of singing at the conclusion of the recording, and we are presented of the dual treats of the First Baptist Choir and organist, as well as Dr. Truett’s enthusiastic vocal stylings.
  • Throughout the sermons, at times of particular emphasis or emotion, we hear an unidentified man utter a heartfelt, “Amen!” His voice is deep and reverential, at times almost mournful. Because of the clarity of his voice in the recordings, it is assumed that he is an associate pastor or some other member of the church staff with a seat very near to the pulpit. Though he never offers more than his simple statement of agreement, his voice is as indelibly a part of these sermons’ fabric as that of Dr. Truett himself.

– There are two separate sermons, delivered a little more than a year apart, in which Dr. Truett cites “reports” that the wives of poor farmers make up the largest proportions of populations in insane asylums “than any other group in the country.” He blames this sad condition on the fact that these women lead lives of dull monotony, with the daily routines of farm living providing no hope or encouragement but plenty of hardship, so much so that a complete mental breakdown was all but inevitable.

I was able to trace this story back to a widespread assertion made by several reform-minded speakers in the early 19th century, but the claim was debunked by a Dr. George W. Groff (director of a sanitarium) whose report to the 1909 annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Board of Agriculture rebutted these rumors with specific statistics and the opinion of a professional in the field. It is interesting to see how, even thirty years later, those rumors were still being presented as truth by even educated men like Dr. Truett.

These are just a few of the interesting items I came across in the two years our team spent creating this collection, but there are no doubt many, many more hidden gems, major revelations and eye-opening statements to be found. We encourage you to dig deep and find your own, and please drop us a line (digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu) with anything you think should be highlighted in this blog, on our social media sites or elsewhere.

We hope you’ve enjoyed discovering this collection as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it, and we welcome your feedback at any time. And if the mood strikes, please share this post – or our other social media outlets – with anyone you think would be interested in this collection. We want to ensure it gets the kind of exposure it deserves, a goal that Dr. Truett would surely agree is a “worthy ambition.”

You can access the full George W. Truett Sermons Collection here, and be sure to follow the @GWTruettSermons Twitter stream for twice-weekly excerpts from the collection. A special thanks to our friends at the Crouch Fine Arts Library and The Texas Collection for their contributions to this project.

(Digital Collections) Fire the Celebratory Cannon! The Tull Sermons Project Reaches Completion

With all due respect to the brave men at the Battle of Gonzales, we think this version of the flag is pretty great, too.

For years now, our boss, Assistant Director Darryl Stuhr, has joked that we need a cannon to fire every time we finish up a large project. Since he made that comment, we’ve launched a massive campus newspaper project, put more than 80 years’ worth of campus yearbooks online, and brought numerous other small projects from the archival box to the Internet. Needless to say, any cannon we acquire will need to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Today, we’re firing the cannon to celebrate the completion of the Selsus E. Tull Sermons Collection. Just to refresh your memory, Dr. Tull was one of the premier Southern Baptist ministers of the first half of the 20th century, spreading the Gospel from Texas to Arkansas to Florida and back several times over. His handwritten sermon notes touch on topics ranging from the proper way to run a Sunday school program to unmasking the Antichrist and everything in between. For a fuller look at Dr. Tull’s collection, see our blog post from last summer or read his bio on the collection’s landing page.

What’s in the Box?

One of the original wooden boxes that housed Dr. Tull’s sermons.

When we first brought the sermons to the Riley Center back in 2011, they arrived in the original boxes in which Dr. Tull stored them for decades. These varnished wooden boxes were handsomely crafted and in great shape for being more than 50 years old, but they contain chemicals that, over time, could leach out of the wood and damage the envelopes and pages of the sermon notes, so we knew part of the process would include rehousing them in acid-free folders and archival boxes.

The after and before of the sermons’ storage situation.

Because of the compact way the sermons were housed in these wooden boxes, we actually expanded from four boxes’ worth of storage to 12 archival boxes, but the added amount of linear feet is worth the investment to ensure these one-of-a-kind treasures are safe for years to come.

Graduate assistant Chelsea Ferwerda (Museum Studies, 2013 graduation expected) stands with the newly rehoused sermons. Chelsea organized the sermons into their new boxes based on the IDs assigned to them during the digitization process.

The Work of a “Cloud of Witnesses”

This project, which spanned more than two years and multiple sets of student and graduate workers – as well as staff time – was truly a group effort. To wit, the following folks worked on the project at some point in time:

–       Rachel (Carson) DeShong

–       Sarah (Minott) Dodson

–       Chelsea Ferwerda

–       Hannah Kirkhart

–       Elizabeth Edwards

–       Sierra Wilson

–       Hannah Haney

–       Jadi Chapman

–       Allyson Riley

–       Eric Ames

We are truly grateful for the work of all these folks because today, we can unveil a truly unique digital asset to the world.

The finished beauties, ready to return to the archives from whence they came.

Over the next few days, I’ll be working to curate the digital assets and add some additional functionality to the collection – including a way to search quickly by which state Tull was pastoring in when he delivered a sermon, collections of sermons based on particular books of the Bible, etc. – but for now, we hope you’ll join us in celebrating the end of a long journey from wooden box to search box.