Tag Archive for Texas Collection

Unique Archival Resources Provide “By the Books” Approach to Texas History (From the 2019 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

The Baylor Libraries are widely known for their special collections. The Texas Collection and University Archives receives frequent inquiries from historians, novelists, journalists, Baylor faculty and staff, and many others inquiring into resources on Baylor and Texas history. While the library regularly features its collections via social media, traditional publications remain an important way to introduce its holdings to a wide audience.

In the past 18 months, Baylor Press has published two new books that expose the world to The Texas Collection’s photograph and map archives. Gildersleeve: Waco’s Photographer was released this past September and Mapping Texas: A Cartographic Journey will be available in October.

The Gildersleeve book documents the life of famous Waco-based photographer Fred Gildersleeve. Its 374 pages include a new introduction to the life of Gildersleeve written by Interim Dean John S. Wilson based on the Gildersleeve papers in The Texas Collection. The weighty coffee table-sized volume also features 186 gorgeous photos by the photographer selected from the archives of the Texas Collection and curated by Audio and Visual Curator Geoff Hunt.

Gildersleeve came to Waco in 1905 and began documenting the life and times of his new hometown. Soon after he established his photography studio he became the official photographer for Baylor and for the State Fair of Texas. As the introduction notes, “From special occasions to sporting events, from construction projects to key figures, Gildersleeve documented Waco’s growth as a thriving industrial city during the early days of the twentieth century.” Gildersleeve’s photos are a blend of art and history, and are presented with great clarity in the book.

Even before the Gildersleeve book was complete, the publisher encouraged Wilson to compile a similar volume from the extensive map archive at The Texas Collection. The forthcoming Mapping Texas: A Cartographic Journey features 136 pages of some of the earliest known maps of Texas by Spanish, French, English, and Mexican mapmakers produce from 1561-1860. Rachel DeShong, Special Event Coordinator & Map Curator at The Texas Collection, worked with Wilson to select and curate the maps. The book also includes an introduction by Wilson and an analysis of map art and cartouches by Sierra M. Wilson, who serves as Production Specialist at the University of Chicago Press and happens to be John Wilson’s daughter. As the reader flips through the coffee table sized volume each large map presents a developing perspective on the Texas so many know and love today.

Both volumes present the richness of The Texas Collection’s archival collections to a reading public hungry for new insights into the history of the Lone Star State. They can be purchased via the 1845 Books imprint section of the Baylor Press website.

This story originally appeared in the 2019 Baylor University ITS & Libraries Magazine. To join our mailing list for future editions, email us at university_libraries@baylor.edu.

(Digital Collections) Where The Bears Made Their Dens Back Then: A Multimedia Visualization of Baylor Student Housing From 1913-1914

Student housing, 1913 style. From “Baylor University Students of 1913-1914: A Multimedia Project,” via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.

Welcome back to a new year and a new post here at the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections blog! We’re excited to be back on campus and look forward to another year of providing you with unique insights into our ever-growing array of digital collections.

This week, we’re taking a multimedia look at a pair of resources related to Baylor University and Waco history: the 1913-1914 Waco City Directories and Baylor Round Ups

Abel Maud Miss, student Baylor Univ, res 727 S 17th

This entry for Maud Abel, a student at Baylor in 1913, is the first student-related entry in the 1913 Waco City Directory. The directory – which contains the names, addresses, ethnicities and occupations of Waco’s citizenry – is a rich resource for students of Waco history. While updating the navigation for a number of volumes this collection, I noticed a large number of entries for Baylor students and had an idea: what if we used Google Maps to plot the known addresses of those students on a current map of the city of Waco? And what if we added select photos of those students to the map, so modern researchers could get a sense of where Baylor students in the early 1910s lived during their tenure as Baylor Bears?

And so the Homes of Baylor University Students of 1913-1914 project was born. Using the names listed in the 1913-1914 directories and the 1913-1914 Round Ups, I plotted the hundreds of names in a custom Google Map, along with a sampling of photos of students, some single headshots and others group photos taken on the front steps of their boarding houses.

Exploring the Project

The Google Map plotting the student housing locations of 1913-1914. Click the image to access this resource.

The housing map is simple to navigate, but here are a few helpful tips to make your browsing more enjoyable.

–       You can navigate directly to an address by clicking on it in the list at the upper left of the screen. An entry marked with a blue star indicates a location marker that also includes a photo of the student(s) who lived there. Green markers indicate female students, yellow markers indicate male students, and brown markers indicate either mixed gender residences or students whose gender is unknown.

Navigation panel for the Google Map.

–       As you zoom closer to campus, you’ll see a green rectangle. This roughly represents the boundaries of campus as they stood in 1913-1914.

–       Clicking on a marker will pull up a list of the students who lived at that address. For large dormitories – like Burleson Hall – there are multiple markers with long lists of names.

Location marker for Maud Abel’s home address, 727 S. 17th St.

The photos for the project are housed as a set in our Baylor University Libraries Digital Collection’s Flickr photostream. In the descriptions of each photo, you’ll find a link to the corresponding page in the Round Up from which it was taken so you can explore each photo in its original context.

The Flickr set of images for the project. Click the image for access.


We hope you’ll enjoy exploring the topography of Baylor’s student housing in the earlier 1910s through this multifaceted project. Leave us your comments on what you found enlightening, interesting or confusing – we’d love to hear from you!

Images from the 1913-1914 Baylor Round Ups via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, digitized from originals held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, TX. To see the digital copies of the Waco City Directories or the Round Ups, visit our Digital Collections homepage. To arrange access to physical copies, or to see more resources related to Baylor and Waco history, contact The Texas Collection.

(Digital Collections) Project Update: The George W. Truett Sermons Collection Hits Milestone

Portrait of George W. Truett from the George W. Truett Theological Seminary on the campus of Baylor University.

After a year of devoted attention from myself and Audiovisual Specialist Stephen Bolech, we’re excited to provide an update on the George W. Truett Sermons Collection: all of Dr. Truett’s extant sermons from 1941 have been digitized, transcribed and added to the collection! The 36 sermons from 1941 include 31 Sunday services (or 60% of the Sunday messages delivered that year) and 5 special services – two Saturdays, two Mondays and a Tuesday.

This phase of the project represents the largest chunk of material delivered to us by colleagues at The Texas Collection in late 2011. The boxes of 16″ discs were organized, cleaned, migrated from analog to digital and transcribed by the team at the Digital Projects Group with the goal of getting all the 1941 materials online by the end of 2013. Now, we’ll begin work on the 17 remaining sermons from 1942, the penultimate full year of Truett’s life.

Highlights from 1941

The sermons of 1941 represent what I’ve taken to calling a “Farewell Tour” of Truett’s favorite topics. Looking into publications that contain his sermons from earlier in his ministry, it’s easy to spot some of the major themes – and, at times, outright verbatim copying – Truett spent a lifetime in ministry pursuing. It brings to mind the old joke about the new preacher who gave a rollicking sermon on his first Sunday in the pulpit, then proceeded to repeat it verbatim for the next six Sundays. Finally, one of his parishoners asked him, “Preacher, why do you keep repeating yourself every week?” And the preaching replied, “I’ll keep on repeating my message until you people start living it.”

It’s understandable that a man in his mid-70s would begin to look back over a storied career spent in ministry and giving his congregation at First Baptist Church of Dallas one last chance to hear his most cherished messages. And for a man in his sunset years struggling with illness and beset by worries of the then-approaching Second World War, Truett sounds remarkably powerful in these recordings. At times, his voice will crack, he will appear to lose the word he’s looking for, but it’s no more obvious than when a similar situation is encountered by a much younger speaker.

A few of the highlights from the 1941 sermons include:

  • A sermon ([“Go and Do Thou Likewise”] – September 28, 1941) wherein Truett outlines the one instance in Scripture that Jesus commands his audience to follow the example of a mortal human being.
  • A sermon on the myriad ways in which people neglect various aspects of their life ([The Tragedy of Neglect] – March 30, 1941) that opens with an announcement from the pulpit that someone in the audience – the recording, unfortunately, begins after the name has been read – must go to the church office immediately to take an important phone call. At the end of the message, Truett informs the congregation that the man had to take the call to learn the circumstances of a loved one’s death.
  • The message regarding the applicability of Jesus’ words and ministry to all people ([Jesus Is Everybody’s Preacher] – December 7, 1941) delivered on December 7, a date that would later become known as Pearl Harbor Day. Truett and his congregation had not received word of the attack when this message was being delivered, so no mention is made of it aside from general warnings about the world condition and the darkness of war that gripped much of the countries on Earth.
  • The Sunday following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Truett’s message ([“The Lord Reigneth”] – December 14, 1941) hits notes that will resonate with all who have lived through national disasters and trying circumstances, from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. It also includes Truett’s only outright political discourse on the year: an extended railing against the United States’ decision not to join the League of Nations following the First World War.

There are, of course, many more reasons to check out the sermons below. For example, in the message from July 20 ([The Power of Sympathy] – July 20, 1941), Truett delivers what is the closest thing to a joke as can be found in the collection to date. To wit:

The world is wanting love. No wonder, therefore, that David prayed to God, “Enlarge my heart.” He didn’t pray, “Enlarge my head.” Our heads, often, are too big, often too large.

Jerry Seinfeld he’s not, but the brief glimmer of humor is a refreshing change from the typically straightforward – and often “fire, brimstone and damnation” – style the pervades these messages.

A surprising leitmotif that emerges is Truett’s love of poetry. This harkens back to his history as a teacher and lover of education, and whether he is reciting the numerous poems he peppers into his speeches by memory or is reading them from prepared notes is unclear. What is clear is his love of the art, as evidenced by this reading of a poem entitled The Hidden Line (The Destiny of Men) by Rev. Joseph Addison Alexander. Click the play button below to listen!



Just a reminder: the sermons in this collection are keyword searchable now that they have been transcribed. Just head to the collection’s landing page and use the search box to search for your topic of interest.

We hope you’ll take some time to review these priceless messages, and we look forward to adding further sermons and collection enhancements over the coming months.

The 1941 Sermons of George W. Truett

[Hidden Reinforcements] – Sermon Segment, January 19, 1941
[God’s Will Be Done] – February 9, 1941
[Heaven – The Land and Life Beyond] – February 16, 1941
[“And As Thy Days, So Shall Thy Strength Be”] – March 2, 1941
[God’s Method For Winning People] – March 8, 1941 (Saturday)
[Philip at Samaria] – March 16, 1941
[The Care of Souls] – March 23, 1941
[The Tragedy of Neglect] – March 30, 1941
[Prayer and Personal Witness for Christ] – March 31, 1941 (Monday)
[Duty] – April 6, 1941
[“Have Faith in God”] – April 7, 1941 (Monday)
[“What Think Ye of God?”] – April 8, 1941 (Tuesday)
[Encouragement] – April 27, 1941
[The Cause and Cure for Discouragement] – May 4, 1941
[The Shunammite Woman] – May 11, 1941
[“I Am Ready”] – June 1, 1941
[Trust in God] – June 15, 1941
[The Gifts of God] – June 22, 1941
[“It Is Expedient For You That I Go Away”] – June 29, 1941
[The Chief Standard of Greatness] – July 6, 1941
[The Prayer Jesus Would Not Pray] – July 13, 1941
[The Power of Sympathy] – July 20, 1941
[Paul’s Message And Method As A Worker For Christ] – September 14, 1941
[Patience] – September 21, 1941
[“Go and Do Thou Likewise”] – September 28, 1941
[Enoch’s Walk With God] – October 5, 1941
[Unreserved Dedication to Christ’s Cause] – October 11, 1941 (Saturday)
[God Asks For Our Best] – Sermon Segment, October 26, 1941
[Stewardship] – November 2, 1941
[“Despise Ye The Church Of God?”] – Sermon Segment, November 9, 1941
[Value, Cost And Sacrifice] – November 16, 1941
[Ingratitude: The Commonest Sin] – November 23, 1941
[“Go Bravely On – I Will Not Fail Thee”] – November 30, 1941
[Jesus Is Everybody’s Preacher] – December 7, 1941
[“The Lord Reigneth”] – December 14, 1941
[The Song That Heralds Jesus’ Birth] – December 21, 1941

(Digital Collections) A Double Inspiration: The Tragic and Triumphant Lives of Judge Quentin Corley and Frank G. Coleman

As the work to post the audio of the final years of Dr. George W. Truett’s long career continues apace, I was generating a transcript for his sermon of January 3, 1943 when a story caught my attention. Truett uses a fair number of what I privately call his “modern day parables” to help illustrate his points. Often taking the form of inspirational (or, at times, admonishing) tales drawn from his years in the ministry, they tend to recount stories of anonymous people he’s encountered over the years (“a prominent business man,” or “one of the leading citizens of this state” and the like) whose circumstances illustrate a point he’s driving home in the message.

The wording of this particular story was so striking as to seem outlandish; I admit, for a moment I wondered if Dr. Truett was inserting a tale woven from whole cloth just to see if his audience was paying sufficient attention. The transcript of this story will illustrate the basis for my skepticism:

“We’re to make the best of a so-called accident. A man in this city, years ago, had his arms ground off in a mill. But the young fellow, undaunted, fixed him up some steel arms and went on with his studies and his work, diligently, and became one of the most prodigious toilers of our community, and came to a great judgeship and set a great example of fortitude and high behavior, enough to thrill any man capable of being thrilled by heroic behavior.”

“Sweet creamery butter!” I said to myself. “This has all the makings of a direct-to-cable inspirational movie of the week! Gruesome accident? Check! Hardworking young man refuses to give up, stays focused on his goals? Check! Man acquires high position, inspires humanity? Check and check! How is it that I’ve never heard of this man before?”

It turns out that while Dr. Truett may have gotten a (fairly major) detail about the story wrong, the actual story of Quentin Durward Corley was certainly remarkable enough to inspire both Truett’s use of his life story in a sermon and, later, the life of one of Baylor’s most remarkable graduates.

The “Armless Wonder” of Dallas

Corley was born in 1884 in the town of Mexia, Texas, a rough-and-tumble oilfield town about 45 minutes’ drive from Waco. According to this well-written blog post about Corley’s life, he worked as a bookkeeper and stenographer after graduating from high school before striking out for a career in civil engineering.

His life made a major shift in 1905, however, when he fell off of a train in Utica, New York. The accident left him without his entire right arm and the left arm from the elbow down. What could have been a life-ending circumstance instead served as a source of inspiration for Corley, whose amazing life was only just beginning.

Displaying a strength of will – and cleverness – rarely seen in this or any other decade, Corley set about finding a way to overcome his limitations. He invented – and later patented – an artificial limb for his left arm that featured interchangeable elements such as eating implements (a knife), a simple hook and a pincer.

Judge Quentin D. Corley drives his automobile with the aid of his self-designed prosthesis. Courtesy the Library of Congress via Wikipedia.

If all of this seems far-fetched to modern readers accustomed to our medical wizardry springing forth from laboratories, clinical studies and pharmaceutical manufacturers, it is helpful to remember that Corley came of age only a generation or so removed from the end of the most catastrophic conflict in American history: the Civil War, in which thousands of men returned to their homes maimed and scarred, many missing limbs following gruesome battlefield amputations. It is reasonable to assume that during his childhood in Mexia, Corley would have been exposed to such men at least once a year during the annual Confederate reunions held there between 1889-1946. These gatherings of former Rebel soldiers were major events for the city, and it would seem likely that Corley would have seen and even interacted with amputees at these events, so his experience with artificial limbs may have been more frequent than that of an average citizen.

After studying law at the firm of Muse & Allen in Dallas, Corley was elected justice of the peace in 1908 and was rewarded for his work by being elected county judge in 1912. Corley proved himself a capable administrator and arbiter of the law, earning accolades from his voters and the nickname “Armless Wonder,” a shockingly un-PC moniker to modern audiences but no doubt offered in a spirit of respect by those he served in the 1910s.

Corley’s story would be inspiring enough if it stopped at this point, and, in fact, that is probably how Dr. Truett would have known it to end. What he might not have known – despite a relationship with Baylor University that stretched back to the late 1800s and a lifelong closeness with the school – was how Judge Corley’s life would directly impact that of another young man who faced similar challenges and dreamed of similar successes.

“Baylor Students Complain Over Nothing … How Would They Do If They Were Hindered as Frank Coleman?”

Frank G. Coleman was born without arms and only one leg. This fact opens a rather blunt – but no less inspiring – piece in the January 26, 1926 issue of the Baylor Daily Lariat. The reason for the piece is Coleman’s place on the ballot for judge in Bell County, Texas, where he practices law in the city of Temple. Coleman was a 1925 graduate of the Baylor Law School and, by all accounts, led a remarkable life prior to finding himself in the running for county office.

A look into previous coverage of Coleman’s story in the Lariat fills in some of the details. A “Freshman” edition of the Lariat from March 3, 1921 – which was edited by Coleman, incidentally – includes a write-up of his life captioned, “Frank Coleman First Armless Person in Baylor.” It goes on to detail his early life and disposition – “one of the happiest and best-liked fellows around the University,” who apparently gave himself the nickname the “Finless Fish” during his first year – and tells of his first encounter with Judge Corley.

Profile on Coleman from the “Lariat” of March 3, 1921.

Coleman was a user of Corley’s patented prosthetic arms, and in the spring of 1918, Coleman joined him for a tour of government hospitals housing disabled veterans of the First World War. Intended to “[bring] new hope to disabled veterans by showing them how, though maimed[,] they could become useful, happy citizens,” the younger man discovered an interest in becoming a lawyer, perhaps due to Judge Corley’s own story of triumph over adversity. Coleman would enter Baylor Law School and graduate in 1925. He returned to Temple to practice law.

He appears in the pages of the Lariat again in 1926, with a story that details his appearance on the Democratic primary ballot for judge of Bell County. Unfortunately, his presence in the historical record, at least in terms of Internet-accessible materials, seems to end here. I have been unable to find any evidence of the results of the 1926 election or of Coleman’s later life, though I will document any future findings as updates to this post.

Coleman poses with members of the Bell County Club, from the 1922 “Round Up.”

Coleman and his fellow Law Club members, from the 1922 “Round Up.”


The intertwining stories of Dr. Truett, Judge Corley and “Finless Fish” Coleman are an example of the ways in which a single twist of fate – a misstep from a train in Utica, NY – can affect the lives of countless others, even at a distance of more than a century. Corley’s early patents in prosthetics led to advances in the field that would bring us today’s carbon-fiber artificial legs and remarkably realistic prosthetic arms. Coleman’s inspirational story would bring comfort to wounded veterans and encourage his fellow Baylor Bears to greater heights of academic and personal achievement.

And the story of the judge with the “steel arms” told by Dr. Truett to his audience of parishioners on the first Sunday of a new year would be recorded for prosperity on a 16” transcription disc that would find its way to Baylor’s Texas Collection and, eventually, to the world via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.

(Digital Collections) Expectations for the Freshman Class: An Examination of the Annual Catalogue of 1889-1890

Cover of the 1889-1890 Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Baylor University. Image courtesy the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, from an original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Classes roared back into action last week, and the campus of Baylor University is once again full of vitality, excitement, confusion and triumph – and that’s just what’s involved with trying to find a parking space near the library. But seriously, we’re excited to have students back, as it’s their passion for learning that makes this beautiful campus come alive every fall.
That longing has been part of the Baylor student experience since 1845, a common tie to the earliest days of the university. But much of the college experience has changed since our founding at Independence, Texas, and that is nowhere more evident than in sections of the 1889 Annual Catalogue with headings like “Discipline,” “By-Laws,” “Extravagance” and “Moral and Religious Instruction.” Let’s take a look at some of the established norms for the men and women of Baylor’s freshman class of 1889.


Although occupying only a paragraph’s worth of printer’s ink, this section outlines the basis for recording and enforcing the university’s system of demerits and other “violations of the regulations and laws of the University.” While disclaiming that discipline is “firm, but kind,” the section indicates that each department had an officer whose responsibility it was to keep a log of all violations and make a report of them to the President. This officer, the catalogue warns, will have “all the respect of a teacher or professor.”

“Discipline” section of the 1889-1890 “Catalogue”


The by-laws of the university kept order by employing a system of demerits that were issued to students who violated any of the 43 items listed under this section. Some of the more interesting points include:

3. Disturbances in the chapel, or lecture room, or in any part of the college premises, shall incur a demerit of from two to ten.

5. Absence from rooms after dark and before 9 p.m. a demerit of five; after 9 a.m. a demerit of ten.

6. Any student guilty of playing cards, or any game of hazard, shall be suspended or otherwise severely punished.

10. No student shall be guilty of nocturnal disorders or revelings, nor become connected with any dancing school, society, or social club without the approval of the faculty …

20. Any student guilty of using profane or obscene language, shall be publicly reprimanded, and for the third offense shall be suspended or otherwise punished.

28. No young lady of the Institution, boarder or day student, shall receive the attention or escort of young men. A violation of this rule will incur a heavy penalty at the discretion of the faculty. Books and beaux never go together.

41. Any student who shall ring the University bell, not directed to do so by the proper officer, shall be suspended or otherwise punished.


In a section that reveals just how much the philosophy behind what “parental support” means to a college student has changed, the “Extravagance” section outlines the dangers of providing money to students beyond what is necessary for tuition, room and board. Noting that “there is such a diversity of taste and means among our patrons and students,” (in other words, some students will come from much wealthier backgrounds than others) the section essentially tells students that having extra spending money will negatively impact their ability to succeed in classwork. And while it remains true that college students all too often fall prey to the trap of spending far beyond their means/needs, to see a prohibition against profligacy spelled out in the student handbook is unusual for modern eyes.

“Extravagance” section of the “Catalogue”







Moral and Religious Instruction

One major element of a Baylor education remains consistent over the years: moral and religious support, encouragement and exploration. And while this section contains the expected information about Baylor’s beliefs in the Bible, regular church attendance and honoring the Sabbath, the last two sentences reveal the university’s concern about the influence of popular culture on the student body.

All reading of novels is forbidden as an unmitigated evil. All indiscriminate reading o[f] novels, unless selected by parents or teachers, is an injury.

One wonders what the writers of the 1889 catalogue would think if they were to see the campus of 2013? Perhaps after they took in the sheer size of campus, the technological wonders on display, and the drastic change in the clothing choices sported by today’s student body, they would find that today’s Baylor Bears share a common core of beliefs about God, education and country with their 19th-century ancestors.

One thing is certain, though: they’d be hard-pressed to pry the smart phones – on which they can access millions of digital novels at a moment’s notice – out of their hands. No amount of demerits can accomplish that Herculean task.

To view the entire 1889-1890 Catalogue, click here. You can view the entire collection of digitized University Catalogs – including items created during the Baylor at Independence years and the catalogs of Waco University – click here.

(Digital Collections) Item Spotlight – “Female Education: Address Delivered at the Annual Examination of the Baylor University by Col. William P. Rogers” (The Texas Collection – Selections)

Female Education: Address Delivered at the Annual Examination of the Baylor University by Col. William P. Rogers. Image via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, digitized from the original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

Our item spotlight this time around focuses on an antebellum publication that addresses two controversial issues – one directly, one obliquely – from the point of view of a former U.S. Consul to Mexico, an early law professor at Baylor University and, eventually, a Civil War casualty.

William P. Rogers

William Peleg Rogers (1819-1863) was born in Georgia and grew up in Mississippi. Following an education that included both medical school and law school, Rogers was practicing law in Mississippi when he joined Company K of the First Missisippi Volunteer Infantry Regiment for a stint of service in the Mexican War. There, he earned the rank of Captain and distinguished himself in combat. After the war he was appointed U.S. Consult to Veracruz, Mexico; his wife refused to leave Texas, however, and after a brief stint in Mexico he returned to Texas in 1851 and settled at Washington-on-the-Brazos. He served as one of three professors in the law department at Baylor University before moving to Houston in 1859.

Rogers was a delegate to the Texas secession convention and signed the ordinance of secession on February 1, 1861. He accepted a commission as lieutenant colonel in the Second Texas Infantry and eventually was promoted to colonel in charge of the regiment. Rogers led his men into the thick of the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, where he was killed in action in front of Battery Robinett. His last words were reportedly, “Men, save yourselves or sell your lives as dearly as possible.” [1]

One other piece of information worth noting: Rogers was the first cousin of Margaret Lea Houston – wife of Sam.

The Address

In 1852, during Rogers’ residency in Washington-on-the-Brazos, his association with Baylor University led to an invitation from the Board of Trustees to “deliver an address on the important and interesting subject of Female Education, on the occasion of the Annual Examination of the Students of said University.” [2] Rogers accepted the invitation and on June 10, 1852 delivered the address in the “College Room” of the university.

The address can be broken down into three distinct sections: an opening wherein Rogers discusses the historic role of women’s education, especially as it pertains to “home living”; a defense of the idea of educating women in the institutions of the South, as opposed to sending them “abroad” to study in the North; and an examination of the specific subjects Rogers believes to be of great importance in the education of women. The language employed throughout the text reads like a transcription of his spoken address, with many parenthetical asides (in fact, at times the modern reader is overwhelmed with the number of partial thoughts, backtracks, and run-on sentences present) and a distinct feeling that Rogers is addressing a controversial topic to a group of people who are at least open to his ideas, if not outwardly friendly to them.

Rogers wastes no time laying out his basic premise, namely, that women should be afforded an educational experience on par with their male counterparts – if not always in subject, certainly in quality. While couching his argument in terms of women’s ability to influence world events through their historic roles as wives and mothers, Rogers shows a sensitivity to the idea that women, properly “instructed in the grand arcana of the human mind,” can do contribute even more fully to world events if given access to better education.

The following passage is particularly illustrative of Rogers’ thoughts on the matter:

“How important then is it that these queenly sovereigns of the
home circle, should be themselves properly instructed in the
grand arcana of the human mind. How important, that they
too should be subjected in early lite to a system of mental training,
having for its object the proper discipline of the mind to
habits of thought and reflection ; for it is only by such
training that the mind can be induced to emit those sparks
of delicate purity and beauty so peculiarly the characteristics of
the female mind—sparks of chaste moral refinement, that analyse [sic]
and expound with such care and distinguishing excellence
the great principles of our being and existence.”

Rogers’ advocating on behalf of women’s education is tied up in a secondary theme of his address, namely the improving condition of education in the Southern United States. While acknowledging that the old practice of sending “our sons and daughters abroad to be educated” made sense because of the “meagerness of our educational facilities,” he points to the fact that “[o]ur schools may now claim equality with the schools of the north,” so it makes sense to educate women, “at your own schools, among the people with whom she is to live, and over whom she is to exercise an enduring control. Around whose hearts and affections her influences are to cluster, as the sweet spell of music or poetry.”

Rogers is outwardly dismissive of the educational institutions of the North, as in this passage:

“It is true our institutions
of learning may not have such high sounding names,
nor are our buildings as spacious and lofty as theirs ; but for all
the purposes of education, of solid, substantial, practical education,
our schools are as good as theirs. They may put on
more of tinsel, mere filagree [sic] work, ornamental appendages and
the like, all of which may make woman appear better in that
society, the basis of which is humbuggery, and its principal
actors buffoons, and comic performers. But for all the great
purposes of existence, for all the grand and trying scenes in
which woman is’ to appear in her true and proper character, the
education which she can get here is as good, I believe better,
than that which she can obtain abroad.”

But Rogers evokes a more contentious issue among his leaders, albeit without naming it outright.

“Ours is a broad
and extensive country, stretching from the cold and stormy regions
of the north, almost to the tropics ; amid although governed
by the same laws of State, yet the great law of ‘public opinion
is essentially different in different portions of the country. Our
manners, habits, and modes of thought differ. And although
I regret to say it, yet all will concede that there is among the
people of the north a deep and settled hostility to an institution,
which with us is almost patriarchal, and one from which we can
never part until we cease to be an independent people. They,
on the contrary, will never surrender their opinions, and never
I fear cease to taunt us with their wild and maddened bigotry. It
is already an essential element in the opinions of their private
society. In its hideous deformity it has already entered their
pulpits, and they carry it with them to the halls of federal legislation.
Where it will stop, in what it will end, human sagacity
cannot foretell, but its threatenings [sic] are already sufficient to
teach us the duty of staying at home, the duty of self-dependence.”

Rogers never uses the word “slavery” during this passage, but his audience would have known exactly what he was referring to when he referenced “an institution … from which we can never part until we cease to be an independent people.” As one might expect from a man who signed the Texas articles of secession, Rogers places the institution of slavery as a firm dividing line between North and South, a justification for an end to the practice of sending Southern children to Northern educational institutions.

Rogers goes on to suggest the kinds of subjects a woman’s education should include: History, Geography, the Classics, Mathematics and Latin are singled out as foundational building blocks for a full education. Rogers also questions the notion that a woman should only be educated superficially or to the highest level, that there is no room “in between,” for an education that provides an opportunity to expose women to a broad range of subjects.

“It is true, it is an old and favorite
adage, that a little learning is a dangerous thing ; but it is one
to which I can never subscribe. For the very persons who prate
so much about superficial knowledge, will, in the very next breath
tell you that knowledge is power. Now it is as absurd to contend
that all knowledge which is not complete, is therefore injurious,
as that any one who cannot attain to the highest degree of
knowledge in any particular science, would therefore do better
to learn nothing of it whatever—or that if we cannot keep pace
with all of the most recent discoveries and abstruse theories of
Chemistry, it would be better to forgot the simple principle that
heat expands.”

In other words, Rogers contends that exposing female students to a broad range of topics may not make them experts, but the very act of exposing them to it will make them better able to lead at home, at church, and in society at large.

The Physical Form

For being 163 years old, the piece is in very good condition. There are tears on the cover and evidence of damage from folded pages and minor tears, but the substance of the piece is remarkably intact. We can infer that the piece was in private hands after 1863 due to a discrepancy between the cover and the title page, specifically the title given for Rogers. On the cover, the typewritten text reads, “Captain William P. Rogers.” On the title page, however, someone has stricken the word “Captain” out and written “Col.” above it. This tells us that someone was reading (and updating) the piece after 1862, when Rogers was promoted to full colonel in the Second Texas.

This piece is a prime example of the importance of preserving the information found in physical items through digitization. While it has been kept in good physical condition and is currently housed in appropriate storage conditions at The Texas Collection, its fragile condition gives it a high potential for being damaged by repeated handling. Digitizing the piece and placing it online has given it a new usefulness through worldwide access, with the added benefit of reducing the number of requests to handle the physical item on-site.

You can read the entire Address on Female Education in the Texas Collection – Selections via the Digital Collections of Baylor University. For more information on this or other items held by The Texas Collection, contact them via email at txcoll@baylor.edu or visit http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas.

[1] Rogers’ biographical information retrieved from T. Michael Parrish, “ROGERS, WILLIAM PELEG,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fro64), accessed May 16, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

[2] Quotes from Female Education: Address Delivered at the Annual Examination of the Baylor University by Col. William P. Rogers via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections (http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/tx-coll/id/13795), accessed May 16, 2013. Digitized from the original item held in the collections of The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, TX.

(Digital Collections) Bonnie and Clyde (and Pat) and The Texas Collection Artifact That Ties Them Together

A page from the “Calaboose Register” of McLennan County, ca. 1930.
From the Pat Neff Collection, The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas. (Click to enlarge)

Frank Jasek, the library’s resident bookbinder and preservationist extraordinaire, wheeled the book truck into my office, his face aglow with mischief.

“Have you ever seen one of these before?” he asked, gesturing to a large bound volume measuring about a foot tall by two feet wide. The words “CALABOOSE REGISTER” were stamped on its cover. “No,” I answered Frank. “I can honestly say I have not.”

With a knowing smile, he opened the register’s cover and began turning its lined pages, each covered with orderly columns of pencil-written text. “’Calaboose’ is an old slang term for ‘jail,’” Frank said. “This particular register lists all the people booked into the McLennan County jail between the late 1920s and the mid-1930s.”

He finished turning pages and pointed his finger at an entry on line number nine, page 148, dated March 1930. “Do you recognize that name?” The information, written by a nameless clerk almost a century ago, was easily legible. It read, in part:

Clyde Barrow. Denton. 12.40 AM. Suspect burglary theft of car.

The McLennan County Jail booking information for Clyde Barrow, March 3, 1930.
From the Pat Neff Collection, The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas. (Click to enlarge)

And that’s when I realized that sitting in my office was an artifact from Waco’s direct connection to one of crime’s most infamous duos: Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, known to the world as Bonnie and Clyde.

The First Temptation of Bonnie Parker
When nineteen-year-old Bonnie Parker of Cement City, Texas (a Dallas suburb) met Clyde Barrow in January of 1930, she was a married woman. However, her husband had been in jail since January 1929, so Bonnie was free to fall head-over-heels for the brazen young man with the criminal past. According to most reports, Bonnie and Clyde became inseparable almost from the start. But it wasn’t until March of 1930 that Bonnie’s adoration for Clyde would push her across the line separating infatuation from criminality.

Clyde Barrow’s mug shot from the McLennan County jail, March 1930.
(Image courtesy the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, Waco, Texas)

Clyde Barrow was wanted on criminal counts out of Waco, and he was arrested in Denton County on March 2, 1930. He was transferred to Waco by officers Holt and Hatt on March 3 and on March 5, Clyde pleaded guilty to a total of seven criminal charges filed in McLennan County, including a charge of stealing W.W. Cameron’s automobile. (Cameron’s name is synonymous with Waco history due to his decision to donate hundreds of acres of land to the city of Waco in memory of his father, William Cameron; the land was named Cameron Park in his honor.) Clyde was sentenced to serve two years in the state jail at Huntsville. While awaiting transfer, he shared a cell with two petty criminals named Willie Turner and Emery Abernathy. Together, they hatched a plan for a daring escape, but for it to succeed they would need someone on the outside. Bonnie fit the bill perfectly.

Turner had hidden a gun in a home located at 625 Turner in East Waco. (Sadly, this building has long since been demolished.) If someone could retrieve it and smuggle it into the jail, they could steal the keys from a jailer and make their escape. Bonnie, who had been visiting Clyde repeatedly during his incarceration, agreed to help. On the afternoon of March 11, she retrieved the gun and secured it under her dress using a belt worn around her chest. A 1956 Argosy magazine article picks up the story from there:

“The night before moving Clyde to Huntsville from the Waco Jail, Bonnie brooded for several hours and then made preparations to go see Clyde in jail. Bonnie got a few minutes to tell Clyde good-bye and that was just enough time. From outside the cell, the jailer saw only the lover’s [sic] farewell embrace, but Bonnie whispered in Clyde’s ear, ‘Put your hand inside my blouse, honey.’ Clyde got a surprise; in between her breasts Bonnie had hidden a snub nose revolver. Bonnie shielded Clyde from the jailer’s eyes and Clyde shifted the gun to his pocket. Bonnie said, ‘Be careful, sugar,’ kissed him and left the jail.” (Argosy magazine, March 1956)

Although Clyde claimed he threw the gun used in his jailbreak into an Ohio river while on the lam from Waco, some scholars believe it was a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver similar to this one, currently on display at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas.
(Photo courtesy the TRHFM)

Later that night, the Waco Times Herald reports:

“About 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night Jailer I.P. Stanford, unarmed, went to the second floor of the jail where the three were confined, to carry Turner a bottle of milk. When he opened the door of the cage he was stopped by Turner, then Abernathy poked a gun in to his ribs and ordered Stanford to ‘stick ’em up.’ Stanford was locked in a cell after he was robbed of his keys. Huse Jones, on duty at the turnkey’s desk downstairs, was then held up, and keys to the final jail door taken from him.” (Waco Times Herald, March 12, 1930)

The men fled into the night, dodging bullets fired by jail staff. They stole a series of cars on their way out of Waco, ultimately evading arrest for a week before being rearrested in Ohio. At the time, no one suspected Bonnie’s part in the jailbreak; the Times Herald’s coverage did not note anything “that even remotely linked Clyde’s female visitor” to the act (Guinn, 2009). Bonnie had committed her first criminal act and no one was the wiser.

The story of Bonnie and Clyde’s reunion and subsequent crime spree – and its bloody end in a shoot-out in rural Louisiana – became the stuff of legend. To this day, there are discrepancies and points of dissent woven throughout their brief, violent time together. In some cases, it can be hard to know exactly what is fact and what is fiction.

Which makes the rest of our story today even more fitting.

Governor Neff’s Collection
In our own way, the subject of this post – the calaboose register – is another part of the Bonnie and Clyde mystery. That’s because its provenance is only partially established, and as with any great mystery, it may never be fully solved.

We know for a fact that the register came to Baylor as part of the Pat Neff Collection. Neff, who served as governor of Texas from 1921 to 1925 and president of Baylor University from 1932-1947, left a huge collection of materials behind as part of The Texas Collection’s holdings. The materials cover such a large swath of Texas and Baylor history that it crosses over lines demarcating the University Archives and the Special Collections. It contains materials created by Neff during his time at Baylor and his time in Austin, as well as artifacts and documents he collected during his lifetime.

Which is why it is difficult to establish with certainty when the calaboose register became a part of Neff’s collection. Was it given to him by someone from McLennan County? Did he acquire it at an estate sale? Was it part of his law library or a curiosity he rescued from the scrapheap on a whim? To date, the exact path the register took from the desk of a McLennan County clerk to the collection of a former Texas governor is open for further research.

Just Another Day in the DPG
One question we can answer is how it came to the Digitization Projects Group. When Frank walked through our door with the register on a book truck, he had just finished restoring its cover. Benna Vaughn, the Special Collections and Manuscripts Archivist at The Texas Collection, had sent the register to Frank for repair after she spotted some mold damage on the binding. Frank expertly replaced the damaged section of the binding and even managed to preserve the original cover. Over the course of many hours spent poring over the volume in the course of his work, Frank noticed the dates covered by the volume and used his memory of the Clyde Barrow jailbreak to locate the entry seen above.

We routinely see these kinds of materials moving through the Riley Digitization Center. They are not scheduled as part of a larger collection but our expertise in scanning makes us a prime spot for people to bring materials like this. In some cases it’s because one of our colleagues knows someone in the DPG has an interest in the subject. In others, it’s a matter of sharing something too exciting to keep under wraps. For the most part, these one-offs will not make it online – although the register may one may day as part of the Pat Neff papers – but they do provide an opportunity for us to keep our scanning skills sharp, and sometimes they lead to a fun opportunity to share a story with a wider audience, as we’ve undertaken to do here.

If you’d like to see the Clyde Barrow calaboose register for yourself, call the fine people at The Texas Collection and ask to see the item from the Pat Neff Collection with ties to a high-stakes jailbreak involving two of America’s most notorious folk criminals. They’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.

For more great information on Bonnie and Clyde, including a display of weapons associated with their notorious partnership, visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco. Special thanks to Mary “Kate” McCarthy (Collections Assistant) and Shelly Crittendon (Collections Manager) for their most excellent help with this article.

Sources Consulted

Guinn, Jeff. Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde. Simon and Schuster, 2009.

Ramsey, Winston (ed.). On the Trail of Bonnie and Clyde: Then and Now. Battle of Britain Prints, 2003.

Veit, Richard. “The Waco Jailbreak of Bonnie and Clyde.” Waco Heritage and History magazine. December 1990.

“Killer in skirts.” Argosy magazine. March 1956. From the vertical files of The Texas Collection.

“Jail Break in Waco Was Early Episode in Clyde Barrow Career.” Waco Tribune Herald. October 26, 1975. From the vertical files of The Texas Collection.

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker entries from the Texas Sate Historical Association’s “Handbook of Texas Online” (www.tshaonline.org)

(Digital Collections) The Rise and Fall of the Soash Empire: A West Texas Hard Luck Story

“Ye Olden Days”: An image from a 1909 promotional booklet produced by the W.P. Soash Company

Everything’s bigger in Texas, the hoary old chestnut reminds us, and no group of people understood the Lone Star State’s geographic expansiveness like the speculators who bought up acres of prime Texas land for pennies on the dollar and hoped to turn a quick profit by selling them to newly arrived immigrants and Yankees looking for a better life out West. From railroad companies to chambers of commerce and private corporations, concerns large and small poured their creative efforts into marketing the open range in publications featuring photographs, artistic renderings and glowing testimonials from satisfied customers.

These promotional materials flooded the market with wild claims and speculative gambles dressed up as fact. From pie-in-the-sky layouts of a future metropolis on the High Plains to photos of “modern homes” offered on a dusty, unpaved street on the edge of a field of kaffir wheat, they were masterpieces of salesmanship. To an immigrant family setting foot on American soil for the first time in a major port city, surrounded by an alien culture, they must have been appealing indeed.

One of our smaller – but no less impressive – digital collections is a set of 37 promotional publications related to Texas. These items, which are held by our colleagues at The Texas Collection, tell the stories of the many ways the untamed West was broken through hard work, fast deals and dogged perseverance.

In my pursuit of making our collections more accessible and easier to browse, I was enhancing the navigation on these items this past week when I came across three promotional brochures issued by the W.P. Soash Land Co. of Waterloo, Iowa. The design work on two of the brochures was nothing remarkable, while the third was a veritable tour de force of early 20th century design including illustrations, photographs and overblown rhetoric. They tell the story of one company’s gamble on marketing land in the South Plains of Texas and boldly declare the bright future of the towns of Big Spring and Soash: “destined to be the Twin Cities of the Plains!”

The “Empire Builder”: W.P. Soash and His Company

William Pulver Soash lived a life typical of many of the newcomers to Texas in the waning years of the 19th century. Born in the Midwest, his early life included frequently moving from town to town with his father, a railroad contractor. He dabbled in carpentry and worked as a deputy United States marshal before settling on land colonization. He founded the W.P. Soash Company in 1905 and set his sights on cheap land in the Texas Panhandle and South Plains regions.

Illustration from 1909 Soash Co. brochure

Soash sought to differentiate himself from his competitors by creating a company that would serve as an all-in-one concern. His company purchased the land and sold off its parcels directly to buyers, thus avoiding the stigma of merely serving as an agent or middle-man between the landowner and the buyer. Soash attempted to “[familiarize] himself with every feature of the business,” from studying climate reports to creating special excursion trains – dubbed “Soash Specials” – that ran passengers from the Union Pacific Depot in Kansas City through Ft. Worth and eventually to a terminus in Big Spring.

The Soash Company grew prosperous enough to justify locations in more than a dozen towns across ten states. As its reach grew, the company professed to have been “built along permanent lines and expects to always be in business.” It claimed (somewhat paradoxically) to be the “largest, most progressive and most conservative organization of its kind in the world.” As to Soash’s personal credentials, his brochure claimed that ““… it can be stated without fear of contradiction that W.P. Soash has sold more land contracts than any other man in the United States today.” In short: purchasing land from the Soash Company was a safe bet for opportunity seekers of all stripes, with a track record to match its uniformly positive claims.

Establishing a Namesake on the Texas South Plains: “Why Soash is Destined to be a Large City”

Battling perceptions of the South Plains of Texas was accomplished through the development and distribution of a series of promotional brochures focused on the “Big Springs Ranch Country” of Texas. The company had purchased some 300,000 acres of land comprised of the Big Spring Ranch and adjacent properties for $3 million in January 1909 and quickly set about hacking out smaller parcels for immediate sale.

To counter notions that this area was home only to rowdy cowboys, “untamed Indians” and arid, desert-like conditions, Soash produced a 50-page promotional booklet (“at a very large expense”) outlining the advantages of purchasing a farm or ranch site near Big Spring. The booklet contains a good overview of the company’s history, testimonials from landowners in the Big Spring area and plenty of data on climate and crop futures. A second, smaller pamphlet with similar information on the area was also produced.

Big Spring Ranches of South Plains brochure, cover and back cover, W.P. Soash Co., 1909

For reasons of business success, the enticing opportunity to leave a lasting legacy or inescapable hubris, the company founded a town in the land between Big Spring and Lamesa and called it Soash. The company produced another booklet entitled, “Why You Should Invest In The New Town [of] Soash, Texas,” which included a series of photos depicting scenes from the “Grand Celebration of July 5, 1909.” They show a large gathering of people mingling among several completed buildings, patriotic bunting and American flags in prominent locations.

The pamphlet describes the city in expectedly glowing terms:

“Soash, the new town started a few months ago on Big Springs Ranch, is conceded by every one cognizant of conditions to have a splendid future. The new railway which this company is to build will aid materially in developing the town. Already there has been a good start made as is evidenced by the illustrations on this page. We want to tell you more of Soash, Texas, at some time in the near future.”

Soash built the Hotel Lorna (named after his daughter) and a company headquarters, and within a few months the town boasted several permanent structures and electricity service. New settlers began arriving in increasing numbers and a post office was established by the end of the year. The future seemed secure.

A bright future seemed assured: image from the 1909 brochure for Soash, Texas

Ominous Silence from Rail and Sky

Warning signs mounted quickly, however. Despite repeated assurances that a railroad line from Big Spring would be laid to the city within twenty months of the city’s founding, the line never materialized. The Santa Fe Railroad instead chose to run a line through nearby Lamesa. For frontier towns of the early 20th century, access to a rail line was crucial for long term sustainability.  A railroad meant crops could be exported to market and finished products imported for consumption. It meant quicker access to major cities – with all their social and mechanical innovations – and a sure way for more immigrants to arrive. And its absence from Soash was only the first of two major blows for the fledgling community.

The death knell for Soash came at the hands of something beyond human control. Despite a table in its Soash brochures showing the rainfall totals for the area as comparable to the highest producing regions of the Midwest, the South Plains experienced a three-year drought cycle beginning in 1909. This proved to be too much for the “highest examples of citizenship” to be found in the city, and the population dwindled rapidly. The town lost its post office twice – permanently in 1917 – and the site was abandoned after another drought cycle in 1917-1918.

Map of the Big Springs Ranch area of Texas, including Soash; from booklet by W.P. Soash Co., 1909

“Conservative methods, carried out courageously, will always win.”

The “Empire Builder’s” company could not outlive the death of its namesake city. The W.P. Soash Company filed for bankruptcy in 1912, and its founder would go on to a longer career in land development after a stint in the Texas Cavalry in World War I. The site of Soash returned to the earth from which it briefly sprang, the ruins of only a bank and office building remaining to mark this once much-ballyhooed Texas town. Its name survives only in occasional street names in the counties around Lamesa and Big Spring.


The story of the Soash Company and its namesake West Texas town is but one of the hundreds of boom-bust stories to be told throughout the colonization history of Texas and the greater West. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that so much money was spent on marketing and promoting the city using the height of early 20th century printing technology. The booklets created for Soash are a time capsule of high hopes, speculative marketing, urban planning, early 20th century prairie architecture and irrational exuberance during the waning years of Westward expansion. The Soash saga is a classic example of a man’s reach exceeding his grasp, but its legacy for the present may well be as a snapshot into the mindset of a Wild West-style capitalism and the marks it left – physical and psychological – on the history of our state.


Sources Consulted

Soash, TX on the Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hvsaj)

William Pulver Soash on the Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fso01)

“Why You Should Invest in the New Town: Soash, Texas” from the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections (From the physical copy in the holdings of The Texas Collection)

“The Big Springs Country of Texas” from the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections (From the physical copy in the holdings of The Texas Collection)

“Why You Should Buy a Farm in the Big Springs Country on the South Plains of Texas” from the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections (From the physical copy in the holdings of The Texas Collection)

(Digital Collections) A Century of Daily Baylor History, Now Online: The “Lariat” Digital Collection

The “Lariat” digital collection spans the entire 20th century and beyond

If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll recall a few weeks ago that I teased some “big news” was forthcoming. Well, the wait is over, and we’re excited to announce that thanks to the efforts of the Digitization Projects Group, The Texas Collection and the office of Student Publications, the entire run of the Baylor University Lariat is now available online via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.

From the inaugural issue of November 8, 1900 to the present, users around the world can now access every issue of the Lariat from the comfort of their own homes. Issues from 1900 to 2006 are available in our Digital Collections, while issues from 2007-present are available from the Lariat’s website.

You may have seen some media coverage about this collection thanks to articles in the Lariat and the Waco Tribune Herald, but we wanted to give you some more information here, via our blog, about just what went into the creation of this major collection.

Planning and Process

The process began about three years ago with very early, test scans of bound volumes of the Lariat dating back to the early 1900s. We used our Zeutschel planetary scanner to handle the digitizing and found the process of manipulating bound volumes to be slow and cumbersome. With the addition of the Cruse large-format scanner – and permission from The Texas Collection’s director to unbind the volumes – we made much better progress. In fact, a skilled operator could digitize ten issues of the Lariat two pages at a time on the Cruse, a dramatic increase in efficiency that allowed us to complete the digitization of more than 11,000 issues of a newspaper collection in about a year and a half.

This staggering amount of content is the primary reason most universities choose to either avoid digitizing the full run of their campus newspaper or outsource the job to mass digitization companies. We chose to keep the process internal so as to avoid shipping irreplaceable copies of the Lariat off-site, as well as exercising full control of the metadata creation and collection curation process.

As with all of our digital collections, high-resolution preservation copies of the files were created and stored on our preservation server, and access-friendly PDFs of the issues were created and ingested into our CONTENTdm system. “Skeletal” metadata – basics like date, editor name and page count – were added to all items as they were ingested; later additions to the records include listing headlines for each issue, names of Lariat staff members, and the price per issue.

The Collection’s Impact

Digitizing a century’s worth of the campus newspaper was no small undertaking, and the decision to handle the process in-house from start to finish meant a significant investment in infrastructure, hardware and staff time. But none of those potential obstacles were significant enough to deter us from our goal of giving instant access to the wealth of information available in the pages of the Lariat. Now, scholars around the world can delve into the daily details of campus life, social commentary and world events as seen through the eyes of Baylor University’s student reporters.

Keyword searching makes the collection’s entry points as diverse as the English language. The ability to restrict a search to a single point in time – a year, a month, a decade – makes browsing from issue to issue not only manageable but enjoyable. The ability to zoom in on photos and paragraphs of text makes navigation and closer examination a breeze. And of course, access via the Internet makes it possible for everyone to use the collection, not just those with the ability to travel to the Baylor campus.

We look forward to seeing the ways our users dissect, synthesize and utilize the information in the Lariat collection. If you find something fascinating, earthshaking or downright bizarre in the thousands of pages therein, drop us a line at digitalcollectionsinfo@baylor.edu and tell us about it. Who knows? We might even feature your find in a future blog post (with your permission, of course!).

The digital Lariat collection is available at www.baylor.edu/lib/lariats. The Digitization Projects Group, The Texas Collection and Student Publications collaborated to create this collection.

(Digital Collections) Guest Post: Sierra Wilson, Our 2012 Summer Intern


Welcome to our first guest post here on the BU Libraries Digital Collections blog! We’re excited to welcome Sierra Wilson, a graduate student from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying Library and Information Science. Sierra has been with us this summer working as an intern. Her assignment: the sprawling Baylor University News Releases project, outlined in a previous blog post. Take it away, Sierra!

My name is Sierra, and I was an intern this summer at Baylor’s Riley Digitization Center.  My last day is on Friday, and I’m sad to be leaving the RDC behind to return to school.  I am not new to Baylor; I grew up in Waco and graduated from Baylor in 2008.  Last year, I started graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I study Library and Information Science.   My main interest in grad school has been in archives and special collections, and how these materials can be made more accessible by the use of technology.   My internship this summer was the perfect opportunity to learn more about the equipment and techniques libraries use to achieve this goal.

Although I have been lucky to work on many different projects this summer, most of my time here has been spent working on the Baylor Press Release project that Eric posted about earlier this summer.  After we sorted thousands of press releases into chronological order (no small feat!), the next step was actually digitizing them.   To do this, we load the press releases into binders and scan them with a machine called the Kirtas, which turns the pages of books to speed up the scanning process.  This is the part of the process with which I have been the most involved.  Back in June, I started scanning in 1960 (earlier press releases were scanned on a flatbed scanner); as of this week, my co-workers and I have scanned a decade and half of press releases!

I will admit that there have been times that I never wanted to see another press release again, but I’m sad that I’ll be leaving this project before its completion.  Seeing this task go from a massive, daunting heap of boxes to an organized, streamlined system has been extremely satisfying.  It’s been an important part of my learning experience this summer to see the digitization center’s staffers tackle such a hefty problem.

One of the most interesting parts of the project has been the opportunity to learn more about the history of Baylor and Waco.  I read about the changing landscape of campus, with the addition of buildings like Moody Library and the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as the continual growth of the student body.  Of course, sometimes Baylor history repeats itself: the Noze brotherhood was banned from campus in 1965.

Over the time I’ve spent working on this project, I started keeping a list of the most unusual press releases I came across.  I found myself surprised (and often amused) by the nationally known figures that came to Baylor to speak or perform.  Baylor folk often talk about the “Baylor Bubble,” that invisible barrier that sometimes seems to shield the campus from the outside world, but these press releases prove that Baylor has always played an important, active role in the world around it.  Sometimes Baylor’s visitors were prestigious, and some are just downright unusual, and I would never have imagined before this project that any of them would have come to Baylor.

Sierra’s Top Five Unusual Press Releases

October 20, 1972
Jon Voight comes to Baylor to campaign for George McGovern


There’s something strange in the idea that a big movie star like Jon Voight would come to Baylor to campaign for McGovern.  That’s like Brad Pitt coming to campaign for John Kerry in 2004: hard to imagine.  But he did, not that it made much of a difference for McGovern’s campaign for president.

April 30, 1965
Nina Simone performs at Baylor May Day festivities


Nina Simone was a well-known singer-songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist, and I was shocked that Baylor would have brought in someone as famous as Simone to be their featured May Day performer.  May Day seems to have been the predecessor to Diadeloso.

March 23, 1973
Lenore Romney speaks at Chapel























In March of 1973, Lenore Romney, the wife of George Romney and mother of current presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was a speaker at Chapel.  She herself had recently lost a race for U.S. Senator in the state of Michigan, and spoke about her experience as a woman running for office.  Who knew?

September 28, 1974
Erich von Daniken lectures at Baylor

If you’ve ever come across the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” program, then you are familiar with Erich von Daniken’s ideas about alien contact with ancient civilizations.  At the time of this speaking engagement at Baylor, von Daniken had recently published Chariots of the Gods?, which details his unusual (and frequently discredited) theory that the development of human civilization could have aided by extraterrestrial contact.  I wonder what the Baylor community thought about him?

May 28, 1965
President Lyndon Baines Johnson speaks at Baylor commencement

I bet you didn’t know that President Lyndon Baines Johnson had family ties to Baylor, did you?  It turns out his maternal great-grandfather was the president of Baylor from 1861-2.  LBJ wasn’t the first sitting president to speak at Baylor, either; he was preceded by both Eisenhower and Truman.

The Baylor University News Release collection is being scanned and processed at this time. Images above are for illustrative purposes and are not available via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections at this time. We’ll post an update to let users know when they can access this impressive collection!