Tag Archive for Open Letter

(Digital Collections) An Open Letter to Whataburger: Advertising Deliciousness at Baylor Since 1954!


Dear Folks at Whataburger,

Did you ever wonder what would happen if you advertised your delicious hamburgers consistently in a university’s publications since 1954? You’d get 186 occurrences of ads and other mentions of Whataburger throughout the Baylor University archives, and pardner, that’s just what we wanted to talk to you about!

Of course you’ll recognize the “flavor” (pardon the pun) of that opening line from one of your most memorable ad campaigns in recent memory, but it also serves as a nice intro to this open letter. Let us start by saying all of us in the Digital Projects Group are BIG fans of the hot, fresh, juicy goodness you serve up 24 hours a day, every day. We all cut our teeth on your burgers, fries, taquitos, milkshakes, you name it. And, lucky for us, there’s a location right across the highway from our beautiful campus here in Waco, so we’re never more than a few minutes away from getting our fix, day or night.

The recent Waco cold snap put some of us in a mind to grab some taquitos and sausage biscuits recently, which led me to thinking: what would happen if we searched our 250,000+ items in the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections for the word “Whataburger”? Well, it turns out you’ll find 186 items spread throughout our archival collections. That includes mentions in our campus newspaper, the Baylor Lariat, the annual yearbook (The Round Up) and other sources.

Below are a some of our favorites, starting with the earliest ad from the January 20, 1954 Lariat:

1954-01-20Within just four short years of your founding, you’re already in the empire mindset, with locations spanning as far afield as Kingsville, Alice and Waco. While the store at 17th and LaSalle is gone now, we’re proud to be home to five Waco-area locations today.

One year later, you’ve added some delightful artwork to help differentiate your burgers – all served on a very specific 5″ bun – from the competition. (Ad from the February 18, 1955 Lariat.)

1955-02-18_LariatIn the 1970s, you really “upped” your game by flying the Whataburger balloon over the campus during Diadeloso, an annual spring celebration that sees classes cancelled and college students generally behaving like half-civilized young people. (From a Baylor University Press Release dated April 23, 1974.)

1974-04-23If there was ever an ad that screams, “I was made in the 80’s!” it’s this one. It’s got everything: a bold serif font headline, three-column text, inset photos, large image of whimsical person’s face, a chance-based game – it’s all too rad! (From the April 12, 1984 Lariat.)

1984-04-12_adYou’ve even been such a part of campus life that you got your own mention in the 1990 Round Up as a pivotal part of the fun to be had by our freshmen!

1990_RoundupOf course the samples don’t include the dozens of times you’re listed as sponsors for our athletics programs or other special events, and you’re included in items as recently as a couple of years ago, so we know you remain an active part of our students’ shared experience right up to today. In fact, I nearly tripped over an empty drive-thru bag on my way into my office in our main campus library the other morning, because nothing says, “I’m cramming for mid-terms” like a bag full of taquitos.

So keep making our state proud with your amazing burgers, and we’ll keep making it proud by maintaining a tradition of academic excellence, Christian ideals and athletic dominance. And if the guy that did the voiceover for those “Did you ever wonder” spots is still around, send him our way. I’ve been told my impression is pretty accurate, and I’d love to hear what he thinks!

All the best,

Your friends at the Baylor University Digital Projects Group

This post is part of a series of Open Letters to musicians, authors and others that we hope will connect our collections to prominent people in America. If you have someone to suggest, or if you’re the subject of this post and want to drop us a line, send us an email (digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu).

For more information on Whataburger, visit their website. And be sure to follow their awesome Twitter account!

(Digital Collections) An Open Letter to Darius Rucker Re: The Black Gospel Music Restoration Project


Dear Mr. Rucker,

Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are the Digital Projects Group, five dedicated professionals in the world of digital collections in academia, specifically Baylor University in Waco, Texas. You probably don’t know who we are, but we know you’re familiar with Baylor: you and your buddies in Hootie and the Blowfish played a huge concert here in 2005, as evidenced by this photo and article from our campus newspaper, the Baylor Lariat:

Vintage you (and your buddies) from the December 1, 2005 "Lariat"

Vintage you (and your buddies) from the December 1, 2005 “Lariat”

But we’re not writing today to relive the glory days of Waco’s early 2000s music scene. Our goal is to pique your interest in our Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, about which we’ve written extensively on this blog, and you may have seen featured on NPR’s “Fresh Air” and in various publications across the country. It’s even going to be a part of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open on the National Mall in 2016.

The reason we see this as something that might be of interest actually harkens back to a bonus track featured on the Blowfishes’ seminal 1994 album Cracked Rear View. Tucked away at the end is a beautiful a cappella rendition of the traditional Negro spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child. We know YOU know what that sounded like, but for our readers who may not have experienced it yet, here’s a version from YouTube.

It’s impossible to say just how much emotion, history and tradition are embodied in that 54-second clip. According to Wikipedia, this particular song dates back to as late as the 1870s, with an early documented version showing up in 1899. It has particular resonance for African Americans given its ties to the destructive era of slavery in our country, but it also holds universal appeal to anyone who’s felt alone, lost and without a destination beyond the hoped-for “home” beyond this earthly life.

Our Black Gospel Music Restoration Project contains a dozen different versions of this song performed by artists ranging from Willa Dorsey to the Singing Stars of Louisburg, North Carolina (a short five-hour drive up the road from your native Charleston, South Carolina, as the map below indicates).

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 11.46.58 AM

In case you were interested in a road trip!

Of all the versions of that song to be found in the BGMRP, we are partial to the one recorded by the Malcom Dobbs Singers ca. 1963 for their album Great Spirituals. It is spare – only vocals, a timpano and an ethereal organ – but it contains a world of emotion, and it builds to a satisfying payoff of grandness tinged with sorrow. Take a listen below.

(Copyright RCA Camden, all rights reserved. See the full item in our Digital Collection for more information.)

Whichever version you prefer, it’s obvious to us that you felt a connection to this song, and we wanted to take a moment to point out its prominence in a collection we are very proud of. We hope you’re able to discover a new version you hadn’t heard before, and we hope our collection helps further your love of American gospel music.

We’re certainly not asking for anything on your part – you can consider this a publicly available version of an FYI – but if you were to, say, offer to come back to Waco and grace us with a concert of your favorite gospel-inspired songs, we certainly wouldn’t be opposed to that. (But seriously, if you want to talk, drop us an email: digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu.)

Best wishes on a successful tour of the UK!

Your friends in the Baylor University Digital Projects Group

This post is part of a series of Open Letters to musicians, authors and others that we hope will connect our collections to prominent people in America. If you have someone to suggest, or if you’re the subject of this post and want to drop us a line, send us an email (digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu).

For more information on Darius Rucker’s music, including available discs, upcoming shows and info on his latest release of Christmas music called Home for the Holidays, visit his website.