Tag Archive for humor

(Digital Collections) Choose Your Own Civil War Letter Adventure!

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“Choose Your Own Adventure” book covers, image via Google image search.

We’re currently processing a couple of Civil War letters collections – to be unveiled soon! – and getting them ready for online access  inspired this week’s blog post. After reading and/or transcribing dozens of examples of 1860s correspondence, certain patterns in their organization and content began to emerge. And for whatever reason, that reminded me of a beloved book series from my childhood: the Choose Your Own Adventure series! So, after an examination of the content and structure of these letters, we’ll let you get in on the action with a Choose Your Own Civil War Letter Adventure!

The Internet of the 1860s

Putting yourself in the shoes of a person who lived in centuries prior to your own existence can be extremely difficult. It’s as hard for us to consider what daily life was like for someone alive in the 1860s as it would be for someone in the 1860s to picture life in the 1710s. So when you start to examine material like someone’s written correspondence – something that was created as an intimate conversation between two distinct individuals with a shared history and their own inside jokes, casual references, etc. – it can be hard to separate the person from the artifact.

One thing that jumps out immediately as you work with these kinds of resources is their repetitive nature. They open almost without fail on a statement like, “I’m taking a moment to sit down and write you these lines to tell you …” and then a modifier like, “… I am well” or “I am tolerable well” or “I am very sick” and the like. To a contemporary reader in 2015, this can quickly become boring – “We get it! You’re sitting down to write a letter and are feeling okay! Move on!” – but to a reader in 1860s rural America, just seeing something comforting like a documented case of someone taking time to sit down and use their resources to write a letter would be cause for celebration, especially in a time of war.

The letters tend to be a mix of mundane daily details (“I slept well last night”), updates on health (“I am well except for a terrible cold”) and news on shared acquaintances (“Johnny is with a new regiment, Bill is dead”). And there’s almost always news that someone has died. It was, after all, the 19th century and the middle of the bloodiest conflict in American history; what else would you expect?

Unexpected jewels I’ve come across include a repeated request for cornbread (the writer is eating plenty of beef and white bread but asks repeatedly for cornbread – a true Southerner!), a story about soldiers killed while playing cards near an outhouse, and the statement, “I am almost bare footed but its [sic] a free country.” Considering that last one was written by a Confederate soldier in 1863, it carries a particularly poignant irony.

All of this works together to create archival resources that are at times repetitive, often surprising, and always informative, the kind of thing you hope for from a favorite blog or website today but written in iron gall ink and hastily scribbled on a piece of scrap paper procured in the heat of 19th century combat.

Choose Your Own Civil War Letter Adventure!

Now it’s your turn! Read through the template below and fill in your favorite response from the list of options, nineteenth century battlefield spelling and punctuation preserved (mostly) for authenticity. No pen or iron gall ink required!

(NOTE: many of the choices are drawn from actual letters in the collections we’ll be posting soon. Others are purely for my own enjoyment. See if you can guess which are which!)

Click to Enlarge!


(Digital Collections) Spotlight On Graduate Student Scholarship: Digital Exhibits From MST 5327, Archival Technology and Digital Collections Management

One of the great privileges afforded by my work with our digital collections is the opportunity I’ve earned to teach some of Baylor’s finest graduate students from the Department of Museum Studies. Over the past three years, I’ve taught several courses on technology, marketing, historic preservation and digital archival management, and I can say that it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career.

Following the success of a combined technology/marketing course first offered in the Spring 2013 semester, I worked with the MST department and my excellent supervisory chain in the libraries to split that coursework into two new courses: Archival Technology and Digital Collections Management (Fall 2014) and Outreach and Community Relations (Spring 2015).

For the Archival Technology course this semester (which was limited to second-year students only), their capstone project was to create a new digital exhibit using curated materials from our Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music. In this post, I’m excited to reveal the excellent work they’ve done, and to encourage you to check out their insights into four themes that interweave the collection: dance, humor, love and war.

Each student chose their own pieces from the more than 5,600 pieces in the digital collection that illustrated their assigned themes. They chose the WordPress templates and plugins they felt best displayed their work, and the contextual research they conducted helped make the topic more relatable and enhanced users’ engagement with the items from the collection. In short, they had total editorial and creative control on their exhibits, and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Without further ado, I present the capstone projects of MST 5327: Archival Technology and Digital Archival Management!

Click the image of each project’s homepage to access the exhibit.

Let’s Dance! Dance in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Popular Sheet Music (Jennifer Browder)

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Humor in Music of the Early 20th Century (Becca Reynolds)

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American Diversity and Love in Early 20th Century Popular Music (Raquel Gibson)

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Masculinity and Music in Turn of the Century America: An Examination of the Spencer Music Library (Erik Swanson)

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Big thanks to Becca, Erik, Jennifer and Raquel for their outstanding work this semester. You can learn more about the Baylor University Department of Museum Studies at their website or on Facebook

(Digital Collections) “Confuse Me, I’m Irish”: Evaluating Unusual Irish-Centric Sheet Music From The Early 1900s

Pictured: cognitive dissonance. From "The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago." 1920.

Pictured: cognitive dissonance. From “The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago.” 1920.


As anyone with a pulse will recall, this past week saw the annual celebration of all things Irish: St. Patrick’s Day. And like any culturally specific holiday, it was a rousing blend of traditional folklore, modern contrivance (everyone should drink green beer, just like the Real Irish People Do!) and a smattering of stereotyping. And while modern society has, for the most part, toned down its outright offensive tendencies on days like St. Paddy’s (or Patty’s – there’s actually an ongoing argument online about that one), it wasn’t that far back in our history that the very real plight of Irish Americans was portrayed in popular culture in a starkly different way.

While browsing our Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music earlier this week in pursuit of some new material for our Tumblr, Digitized and Randomized, I went straight to a set of results based on Mrs. Spencer’s category, “Ethnic-Irish.” I got more than 300 results, and they ran the gamut from patently offensive to heartbreaking and everything in between. And so I thought it would be fun to examine some of the more unusual pieces of music from the Irish category, especially those that feature Irish protagonists in strange situations.

How Did We Get Here?

Before we jump into our results, it’s worth a quick peek into the history of Irish Americans prior to the mid-1900s (the time when the pieces we’ll examine were all created). In the late 1800s, Irish immigration to America had seen hundreds of thousands of men, women and children arriving in the U.S. and swelling the ranks of established Irish neighborhoods in East Coast cities as well as strongholds in the South. As the poorest of all immigrant groups to arrive in the U.S. in the 19th century, they often took dangerous, low-paying jobs. Add to this fact a tendency for urban neighborhoods to be crowded, unsafe and unsanitary, and you began to see a rise in alcohol abuse and crime – two stereotypical traits assigned to Irish Americans in the popular culture of the day (as we’ll see below).

Other sources of “inspiration” for the pieces we’ll explore today include the long-standing (and often violent) split between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants; the alleged belligerence and/or violent tendencies of Irish men; the supposed moral and intellectual inferiority of the Irish; and the pervasive myth that the Irish are perpetually inebriated. As composers of the early 20th century set pen to paper in the pursuit of filling the American public’s insatiable appetite for musical entertainment, they kept these “facts” and half-truths about Irish Americans in mind, spawning pieces that drew on Irish Americans’ fond remembrances of their native culture (example) to anti-Irish sentiment (example).

An Irish Pharoah?

But understanding pro- and anti-Irish sentiment is a relatively easy task compared to puzzling out the meanings behind our featured pieces for this week’s post. They are loosely gathered around a pair of themes: the Irish protagonist in an unfamiliar setting and/or the presence of Irish where audiences wouldn’t expect to find it, like our first piece: The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago.

"The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago" by Chris Smith. 1920.

“The Irish Were Egyptians Long Ago” by Chris Smith. 1920.


The visuals on this piece are particularly striking, with a typical desert scene set before the pyramids mixed with the cognitive dissonance of a repeated shamrock motif on the throne of an Egyptian queen. The central conceit for this piece is that the narrator has deciphered a startling fact from the “weird and cryptic” writings found “upon the tombs that dot Sahara’s sands”: the Irish were Egyptians long ago – “Just read between the lines and you will know.”

The “proof” of their ancient Egyptian heritage is given as the fact that the pyramids were built by manual labor (“It must have been the Irish who build the Pyramids / For no one else could carry up the bricks”); the Nile was dug by a tough, brave man (“For no one but an Irishman would fight a crocodile”); and the drovers of desert caravans had to have been named Houlihan, Mac or O.

This piece achieves a strange blend of whimsy (adding shamrocks to a typical Egyptian scene) and humor with negative stereotyping of not one but two cultures. This two-front offensive is also evident in our next piece, Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney.

"Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney," by Theodore Morse and Jack Drislane. 1907.

“Since Arrah Wanna Married Barney Carney,” by Theodore Morse and Jack Drislane. 1907.


Another “humorous” piece that trades on the unexpected mashup of two traditionally oppressed and/or caricatured cultures, this piece details the chaos that naturally followed when an Indian princess (Arrah Wanna) marries an Irishman named Barney Carney. It seems all it took to completely disrupt Native American culture (at least as the stereotypes would have it) was for one woman to marry a man from Erin, as evidenced by such strange occurrences as:

– “[n]o more do the Indians put paint upon their face”

– “The tom-toms play the ‘Wearing of the Green'”

– “The wigwams are full of Irish Blarney”

– “The Pipe of Peace is made of Irish clay”

There are more, but you get the picture. The introduction of an outsider of Irish origin upsetting the local culture (or attempting to assimilate into it in unexpected, humorous ways) will be repeated in our remaining pieces, each with the theme of romantic interest as a primary motivator. Up next is our final example of an Irishman falling under the guile of a “foreign” culture: O’Brien is Tryin’ To Learn To Talk Hawaiian.

"O'Brien Is Tryin' To Learn To Talk Hawaiian" by J. Rennie Cormack. 1916.

“O’Brien Is Tryin’ To Learn To Talk Hawaiian” by J. Rennie Cormack. 1916.


Here, a hapless tourist from Ireland arrives in the Sandwich Isles (the name given to the Hawaiian Islands by Capt. Cook in the 1700s) and discovers the native women to be of such beauty that he instantly forgets his wife at home in the presence of a “lovely Hula dancer down beside Hawaii Bay.” Pat O’Brien, our protagonist, is revealed to be a skilled performer in his own right (“He won Bridget, Kate and Mary by singing ‘Tipperary’ / And he’ll win his Lulu too”) who is so moved by the girls’ beauty that he attempts to learn her native tongue, to hilarious results. In addition to being a standard “man falls in love with beguiling, exotic beauty” tale, there’s also the opportunity for lyricist Al Dubin to mock the languages of both Ireland and Hawaii, as in this tongue-twisting passage:

He’s sighin’ and cryin’ and all the time he’s tryin’
Just to say “I love you true”
With his “Arrah Yaka Hula Begorra Hick Dula”
And his Irish “Jiji Boo”

We never learn if this would-be suitor succeeds in his philandering pursuits, but we’ll leave him at his studies (“Hawaiian’s hard to get with an Irish alphabet”) and shift our attention to two pieces where the object of the narrator’s affection is a woman of Irish heritage. The first is set in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and bears the title Santiago Flynn.

"Santiago Flynn: A Spanish-Irish Episode" by Theodore F. Morse and Edward Madden. 1908.

“Santiago Flynn: A Spanish-Irish Episode” by Theodore F. Morse and Edward Madden. 1908.


This piece relates a tale of two would-be lovers: Santiago Flynn (“He dressed like a Spanish grandee / He rode on a pony thin”) and an Irish Rose who lived on a nearby plantation. Though Rose liked the cut of Santiago’s jib (“She cried, ‘You’re a hot tamale'”), she regrets that she can only marry a man from Ireland. And then, to our surprise (SPOILER ALERT!), Santiago reveals his secret:

“He jumped in a wild fandango
He cried with an Irish grin
‘Tho born underneath the Mano
My father was Paddy Flynn’

And so was Santiago able to gain access to his lover’s abode (“She cried ‘Come in, Mister Flynn / I’ll never say again'”) and all ends well for our protagonist. It should be noted that this piece uses a particularly unpleasant slur used in reference to Santiago’s outward appearance, so be ready if you click over to read the lyrics in full.

Our last piece combines the exotic (an Egyptian setting) with the romantic, the stereotypical and the allure of an Irish woman’s beauty, all under a ridiculous title: Cleopatricola.

"Cleopatricola (Cleo-patrick-ola" by Jean Schwartz and Alfred Bryan. 1920.

“Cleopatricola (Cleo-patrick-ola” by Jean Schwartz and Alfred Bryan. 1920.


This piece comes closest to embodying all of the elements we’ve discussed so far into one semi-coherent package. Rather than post excerpts of the lyrics, I’m choosing to reproduce them in full:

Once I took a camel ride
Far across the desert wide
Met a maiden way down by the Nile
As I sat down by her side
Her entrancing form I spied

Then she gave me a sweet Irish smile
She told me that she was born in Erin
Cleopatricola was her name
Mighty soon my love I was declarin’
I spoke these words and set her heart aflame

Cleopatricola Cleopatricola
tell me what to do
By my heart and soul O Cleopatricola
I’m in love with you

There I found my Shamrock in Sahara
By the River Nile so fresh and green
Cleopatricola Patricola,
My Egyptian Colleen

As the sun was going down
We went down to Cairo town
Met King Pharaoh and all of his crew
First we read the Rubaiyat
Then we had a little chat
Played Casino with Pharoah till two

She told me that she was “jipt” in Egypt
And that King Rameses was the blame
He told her she’d be a queen of Sheba
And spoke those very words before I came
(Repeat CHORUS)

This one’s got it all: a fish-out-of-water, a besotted suitor, a jilted lover, Irish motifs (the shamrock), local flair (Casino and the Rubaiyat) and Irish slang (referring to Irish women as Colleens). Add that to what I consider the best example of cover art of the pieces we’ve examined today – she looks like an Egyptian princess by way of Zelda Fitzgerald – and you have a winner in the category of Wait, Did I Seriously Just Read A Song About An Irish Person Doing WHAT?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lighthearted look at some of the stranger pieces from our Irish subcategory in the Spencer Collection. There are no end of interesting pieces in the Spencer Collection, and we’ll be taking a look at them again from time to time. ‘Til then, if you find any fun examples of cross-cultural curiosity, send us a tip at digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu. See you next week!

For more examples of Irish-themed sheet music in the Spencer Collection, click here. Special thanks to our friends at the Crouch Fine Arts Library for the partnership that brings the Spencer Collection to you via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!

(Digital Collections) We Don’t Pin But We Do Tumble: The Rationale Behind Our Social Media Outreach

Our social media mix. Blue is obviously a favorite of their founders.

Our social media mix. Blue is obviously a favorite of their founders.

It’s become an accepted fact – and has drifted well into trope territory – that everyone is obsessed with social media. Saturated with it. Filtered through it. Even addicted to the point of being unable to sit through an entire meal without checking it. The corollary to this “fact” is that everyone, everywhere should be using every conceivable format to deliver the minutiae of their lives via as many pixel-dependent, wirelessly-delivered vehicles as possible.

I know this to be true because I just used my smart phone to Google quotes about social media that people Tweeted to their followers before reblogging it on their Tumblr accounts, all while Instagramming my morning snack as I listened to Spotify.

Increasingly, we are asked by users, colleagues and random people on the street what kind of social media we’re using, and, more importantly, why? So I thought it might be illuminating to outline what social media/outreach avenues we do use, and address the reasons why we don’t use others.

Blog (hosted by EduBlogs using WordPress)

If you’re reading this post, then you already know we have a blog. But you may be a new reader, or someone who’s always wondered, “Why a blog, exactly?” Simple: a blog allows for longer investigations, deeper reporting and an agile approach to providing context and access for our digital collections. Here on the blog, I can wax poetic about a single item, opine on the state of the industry, or just take a moment to tell you about our latest collections. It’s a multipurpose platform that’s gotten us a fair amount of contact from the general public and from researchers looking into a specific topic.

The blog is great for all of this, but it isn’t our first choice for a “catch-all” execution that would serve as a hub for our social media strategy. That distinction goes to …

Our Facebook page, with a partial cameo by Doris Day.

Our Facebook page, with a partial cameo by Doris Day. If you want to know why she’s there, click over and see!

Facebook (www.facebook.com/baylordigitalcollections)

By now, we’ve all heard the conventional wisdom about Facebook: everybody has one, but at first it was only college students, and then the teenagers came in, and now it’s all people “your mom’s” age, and wow, isn’t that funny? I’m reminded of the old Yogi Berra joke: “Nobody goes there, it’s too crowded.”

The truth is, of course, that Facebook has an enormous global reach, and it serves a wide range of people from high school students through retirees, businesses to non-profits. We use Facebook as an aggregator of our various social media executions: we’ll post links to the blog, a photo of an item from the collections, a link to a colleague’s blog post, anything that might be of interest our 169-and-counting friends. A big advantage for us is the residual exposure we get when a friend shares something on our page, which is seen by their friends, and their friends’ friends, and on and on until every person on the planet has seen it. (This only happens in cases of cat-related memes or recipes for Jalapeno Ranch Dip – JUST LIKE CHUY’s!!!!#!%!$%.)

The header for our Flickr photostream. Click the image to access!

The header for our Flickr photostream. Click the image to access!

Flickr (www.flickr.com/baylordigitalcollections)

Flickr is a pretty straightforward platform that allows users to share photos, either to their friends and family or to the world. It’s been used by large institutions for years to add materials to The Commons, a project that seeks to catalog and describe photos from collections at places like the New York Public Library, the Texas State Archive, the National Archives and more.

We use Flickr to post small sets of images from our collections that we’d like users to find and use in their own creative executions, or to show what an item might look like if it were digitally restored (as opposed to the non-retouched versions that live in our Digital Collections). By far the most-accessed set of images to date is our set of full-plate images from the War of the Rebellion Atlas.


The homepage for the @GWTruettSermons page. Click the image to follow us!

Twitter (@GWTruettSermons)

It’s personal confession time: Twitter doesn’t much appeal to me. I mean, I get the instant access to breaking news, and the ability to follow lots of sources for information, but the ability to blurt the latest random thought or retweet someone else’s random thought just doesn’t do much for me. Fortunately, it also isn’t an avenue that lends itself to our strengths as a group, except in the case of the George W. Truett Sermons collection. For that, we did create a Twitter account to deliver twice-weekly snippets of Rev. Truett’s sermons to our small (but growing) base of followers. But until we become a “breaking news” kind of shop, we’ll probably not be launching an official DPG Twitter account any time soon.

Our brand new Tumblr homepage! Click the link to take the fall.

Our brand new Tumblr homepage! Click the link to take the fall.

Tumblr (baylordigitalcollections.tumblr.com)

If you’ve made it this far, you deserve to be rewarded, so here you go: We’ve just launched a new Tumblr blog! You can find it at baylordigitalcollections.tumblr.com, and we’ve chosen to call it Digitized and Randomized. Our vision is to make it a daily source of completely randomized materials from the collection, including photos, quotes, video clips and more.

Tumblr is a “micro-blogging” site that allows users to post bite-sized snippets of information. It bills itself as platform that allows you to “effortlessly share anything,” with a philosophy that focuses on creativity, positivity and geekiness. It’s also loaded with memes. Lots and lots of memes.

Tumblr also tends to skew younger, though it does have an active core of library professionals (dubbed Tumblarians, natch) who post library and archive-related materials, literary trivia and general library nerd-fuel. We are actively hoping to be included on one of the influential lists, like this one.

Someday, we, too hope to be on this list. Help us achieve the goal by following our Tumblr!

Someday, we, too hope to be on this list. Help us achieve the goal by following our Tumblr!

Now, I know what you’re saying: “But Mr. Curator Guy, I don’t want to fire up another account just to see this awesome new outreach tool. Can I follow your Tumblr without signing up for one myself?” Well, Mom, the answer is, “Yes!” Just bookmark the URL as a favorite, or us your RSS reader to follow our feed and you’ll never miss a post. But I’d encourage you to sign up for an account anyway, especially if you like things that are funny. Or related to “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” Or GIFs.

The Eternal Question: Why Aren’t You On Pinterest?

Another personal confession: my wife has recently become a Pin-Friend. (Or a Pinner. Or a Pinfluential Person, or whatever people who spend increasing amounts of their free time browsing the limitless time-devourer that is Pinterest.) We get asked now and again why we’re not using Pinterest for our digital collections, and the answer is two-fold.

One, it doesn’t play particularly nicely with CONTENTdm, the software that presents our collections online. Not to get too far into technical details, but Pinterest needs a stable source for its image files (i.e., something that ends with .jpg in a URL) to work nicely. That way, people can find it, “pin” it and access it later when they want to see it in its original context. CONTENTdm serves up content as a series of dynamic files that includes image files like Pinterest needs, but it’s not obvious to most people where to find them, and anything that makes using our collections more confusing is not something we’re interested in pursing at this time.

Secondly, we don’t have much in the way of restaurant copycat recipes, cat photos or decorations for themed birthday parties, so it doesn’t really fit with our core content at this time. But who knows? Maybe someday someone will donate the world’s largest collection of Princess Fantasy Birthday Party Idea photos, and Pinterest will make more sense for us.

(You should, however, check out the official Baylor Proud Pinterest page – it’s awesome!)


We hope you’ll find time to check out all of our social media channels, and engage with us where you feel the most connection. And if you have ideas for how we can make them better, drop us a line at digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu. For our Tumblr followers, that’s an email address, and it’s something people used to communicate in the mid-1990s. (Ask your grandparents.)

(Digital Collections) A Club for Every Interest: The 1906 “Round-Up”

One of the great joys of my job as Curator of Digital Collections is the opportunity I get to go in-depth with the materials we host as part of the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections. They are drawn from every special collection library on campus, and they are filled with hidden treasures both revelatory and mundane – glimpses of a time long past, a name forgotten, or an event as contemporary as last week.

While working to enhance the metadata for the Baylor University Annuals (The Round Up) Collection, I came across some interesting photos of student groups in the 1906 edition. Baylor has a long history of student groups both high-minded (the Philomathesian Society, the Erisophian Society, the Mission Band) and decidedly irreverent (the NoZe Brotherhood), but the clubs found in this volume run the gamut from the temporary to the absurd. And what better time to showcase them than the week before our students go on Spring Break, a time of relaxation and revelry where anything can happen – and anyone can form a group that may find its way to the pages of the campus yearbook!

The West Texas Club from the 1906 “Round-Up.” Click to enlarge. (Image via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, courtesy The Texas Collection)

West Texas Club

Embracing their home region’s stereotypical mode of dress (and even throwing in a six-shooter or two for good measure), the West Texas Club was a co-ed celebration of all this Western. While this group was only a generation or so removed from the “closing of the West” that took place over the last decade of the 19th century, they certainly helped keep its spirit alive.

The “10 Club” from the 1906 “Round-Up.” Click to enlarge. (Image via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, courtesy The Texas Collection.)

“10 Club”

As straight-forward as it gets, this club of 10 Baylor men is a dapper assembly.

The Gethere Club from the 1906 “Round-Up.” Click to enlarge. (Image via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, courtesy The Texas Collection.)

Gethere Club

One of the more interesting elements of the clubs of the early 20th century is their willingness to coin new words or adopt unique spellings for their group’s name. This co-ed group created a portmanteau of the phrase “get there” and became the Gethere Club. This approach is not without its perils, however: on the page preceding this image, the club is listed as the “Gethera Club,” an equally made-up but less logical moniker that proves sometimes a unique spelling is more trouble than it’s worth. They do receive bonus points, however, for disguising the male group members in this photo as “bon bons” to be delivered to Georgia Burleson (G.B.) Hall.

The Fat Men’s Club from the 1906 “Round-Up.” Click to enlarge. (Image via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, courtesy The Texas Collection)

Fat Men’s Club

“Strive above all things to become fat and handsome.” Advice most college students – men and women alike – would be hesitant to embrace on campus nowadays, but a credo thought important enough to justify the creation of a group dedicated to celebrating the more full-figured among the student body of 1906.

The T.A.F. Club from the 1906 “Round-Up.” Click to enlarge. (Image via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, courtesy The Texas Collection)

T.A.F. Club

Another in the long line of unexplained acronym-based clubs, the girls of T.A.F. get the award for Best Use of a Prop Ladder in a Group Photo.

The Banana Club from the 1906 “Round-Up.” Click to enlarge. (Image via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, courtesy The Texas Collection)

Banana Club

Bananas are inherently funny. For decades they have served as comedic props, from the use of their peels as implements to inflict a fall or the absurdity of placing a banana in one’s ear while pretending it’s perfectly normal, the comedically inclined among us have long embraced them to make people laugh. However, these gentlemen took their appreciation of the peel-able fruit to a new level when they formed a club devoted to the object of “increas[ing] the banana trade.” Their password – “Give me a banana” – is absurd simplicity at its finest.


As you’re perusing our campus yearbooks in your own research, keep an eye out for any interesting, unique, or downright bizarre clubs and shoot us an email with your favorites!

The 1906 Round-Up is available online via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, digitized from the original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas. For more information on materials available at The Texas Collection, visit www.baylor.edu/lib/texas or email them at txcoll@baylor.edu.