Tag Archive for Texas Collection

(Digital Collections) Stop the Presses, Start the Scanners: Digitizing Baylor’s News Release Archive

Baylor University news releases from the 1930s

It’s hard to imagine given the pervasive nature of the media outlets available today – from the major broadcast networks, cable news networks, blogs, microblogs, social media avenues and more – but there was a time when the concept of a press release didn’t exist. The content readers found in their daily newspaper or heard over the air on their RCA radios came from journalists doing “shoe-leather” reporting, hitting the streets with steno pads and press passes, determined to get the scoop.

That began to change in the 1910s and 1920s with the advent of the field known as public relations. Early practitioners like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays pioneered tactics like crisis communication and publicity via the media. As more and more corporate and public sector clients began to use tools like the press release, the idea of seeding the media with pre-packaged news items – professionally written, accurately worded, and unfailingly positive for their originators – became common practice.

Dating back to at least the 1920s, Baylor University embraced the notion of writing news items for distribution to the media outlets available around the country. Beginning with the University News Service and continuing to the present as the division of Marketing and Communications, skilled wordsmiths began writing stories and announcements that would expand the world’s awareness of the goings-on at the world’s oldest (and largest) Baptist university.

For many years, the Texas Collection kept vertical files of the press releases generated by the university, from the 1920s to the present. In 2011, the Digitization Projects Group began the process of digitizing these important original sources. Texas Collection staff and students spent hours pulling the press releases from their various holdings and condensing them into almost 50 bankers boxes. After months of slow but steady progress, a concentrated effort to finally put the press releases into chronological order was begun two weeks ago.

After 500 combined staff and student hours were spent on the project, the press releases have been sorted into chronological order and duplicates removed. Our rough estimate is that some 60,000+ pages of press releases will be digitized and placed online as part of a fully searchable collection documenting events major and minor in the history of the university.

Below are some photos of the painstaking process of sifting through more than 120,000 pages of documents that overtook the Riley Digitization Center in the past month. (The additional 60,000 pages were duplicates removed before scanning begins.) As digitization gets underway, we’ll update you on progress towards getting these invaluable resources online for everyone to access via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections.

In addition to staffers Darryl Stuhr, Allyson Riley and myself, the project received excellent efforts from a bevy of student workers:

  • Sarah Minott
  • Holly Tapley
  • Sierra Wilson
  • Leslie Zapata
  • Sannya Salim
  • Kaitlin Pleshko
  • Liz Haddad
  • Brooke Farmer
  • Macy Floyd
  • Jilli Floyd

(Digital Collections) Scott Joplin’s “Great Crush Collision March” and the Memorialization of a Marketing Spectacle

For most people, the name Scott Joplin brings up a common range of responses: ragtime music, the Maple Leaf Rag, and his opera Treemonisha. But you’d be hard pressed to find someone whose first reaction to hearing Joplin’s name would be, “Oh, he’s the guy who wrote the song about the staged train crash near Waco!” Strangely enough, that person would be just as correct as the rest of us.

While conducting contextual background research for the Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music, I came across a reference to the collection having been cited in the preface of a book entitled The Collected Works of Scott Joplin. I retrieved a copy from the Crouch Fine Arts Library holdings and began reading the preface, looking for a mention of the collection. In a section on Joplin’s early years, I read the following paragraphs:

In 1896 the Quartette toured Louisiana and Texas. In Temple, Texas, Joplin secured his first piano publications: Combination March and Harmony Club Waltz, both with the local imprint of Robert Smith; and The (Great) Crush Collision March, published by John R. Fuller.

The first two pieces are uneventful period pieces. Crush Collision March, however, is a period piece of a special sort. As much program music as a march, it is, strangely, ‘Dedicated to the M.K.&T. Ry.,” this being the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway, which runs through Temple and there crosses the tracks of another line. The march describes a train wreck that, quite possibly, had recently occurred (otherwise, why the dedication?). Could there have been a wreck at the crossing in Temple? And could Joplin have added sound-effects and descriptive narrative to a piece already written but unpublished? Or had he quickly composed a work to fit the situation?

It was quite a surprise to me to discover that Joplin, a Texas-born composer and son of an emancipated slave, had written a song commemorating a marketing gimmick concocted to sell tickets on a regional railroad with deep ties to Central Texas. Though the editors’ guesses were incorrect, the actual story behind the piece is something so brazen, so unique that it bears much closer examination.

Detail from “The Crash at Crush” by artist Robert Roswell Abernathy (1911-1981).

The Origins of the Crash

Beginning with the so-called Panic of 1893, the economy of the United States began a decade-long slide, with high unemployment, devalued currency, and the collapse of several major railroads epitomizing the dire situation. It was this last situation that indirectly led to the staging of the “Monster Crash” outside Waco.

As confidence in America’s railroad system eroded with the faltering economy, railroads began looking for ways to both boost their sagging bottom lines and provide some positive attention in an era when the over-extended growth of railroads was seen as a major cause of great personal financial insecurity. At the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad (known to many by its nickname, the Katy), a passenger agent named William George Crush had an idea: use a head-on collision between two locomotives to generate income (and newspaper headlines). Officials at the MK&T agreed, and planning was underway.

The event was staged on September 15, 1896 in a valley north of Waco. Crush and his crew of MK&T laborers built a temporary depot, bandstand, viewing stands, and a temporary length of track measuring 4 miles long. Two locomotives were placed at either end; one was painted bright green, the other bright red. Both had been toured around the state in the months leading up to the crash in order to generate publicity. Crush dubbed the location of the spectacle “Crush, Texas.”

Admission was free, and round-trip tickets to “Crush” cost only $2 per person. As a result, 40,000 people showed up for the event, making “Crush, Texas” the second-largest city in the state (if only for a day).  At 5:00 PM, the two trains were released under a full head of steam, speeding down the track at approximately 45 mph. The resulting collision caused both locomotives’ boilers to explode, sending shrapnel into the crowd that killed at least three people and wounded dozens of others.

The aftermath of the spectacle is almost unthinkable in modern times. Crush was immediately fired by the MK&T, but with officials seeing no widespread outrage in the media, was rehired the next day. The railroad paid settlements to the victims’ families of cash and lifetime rail passes, and the debris was cleaned up by MK&T crews and souvenir hunters. By the end of the day, “Crush, Texas” had ceased to exist. And within a few decades, the whole event would pass from the collective memory with the exception of railroad fans and Texas history buffs.

Click the image above to access a PDF of the complete score.

Joplin Immortalizes the “Crash” in Song

Fresh off a stint performing with his first band at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Scott Joplin was touring Texas in the late 1890s where he saw three of his compositions published in Temple. There was one waltz (Harmony Club Waltz) and two marches, the Combination March and the Great Crush Collision March. The latter of the two marches was dedicated to the “M.K.&T. Ry.,” which is of course the very railroad that had just staged the Crash at Crush. In fact, the work was copyrighted a mere 30 days after the spectacle, leading biographers to believe that Joplin had either witnessed the crash himself or heard about it from one of his acquaintances who worked as a porter on the Katy line.

While the particulars of how Joplin learned of the crash are unclear, what is known is his reaction as recorded in song. Joplin created something more than a standard march: he added instructions for creating “sound effects” for the last third of the piece that would depict the crash through music. Joplin’s notes on the piece include the following written below the staff:

The noise of the trains while running at the rate of sixty miles per hour
Whistling for the crossing
Noise of the trains
Whistle before the collision
The collision*

This approach brings to mind the kind of scoring that would become standard for Hollywood pictures in the decades following the Great Crush Collision March’s publication. It was an attempt to insert narrative flair into what was otherwise a fairly straightforward composition and was a foreshadowing of Joplin’s later work with dramatic compositions that would find their culmination in Treemonisha.

“The Great Crush Collision” Revisited

My work on this blog post brought about an exciting opportunity to bring this piece back to life. Working with our sound engineer, Stephen Bolech, we arranged for graduate student in performance studies Eunhye Shin to perform the piece at First Baptist Church, where Stephen also serves as a sound engineer. The piece is included below, performed for the first time in more than a century, mere miles away from the site of the marketing spectacle it was created to commemorate.


*Note: The sound effects described above begin at the 2:04 mark with “The noise of the trains …” and end with the sustained note at 2:17 representing “the collision.”


Works Consulted

“The Crash at Crush” (artwork) by Robert Roswell Abernathy (ca. 1937). Original on display at the Texas Collection

King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era by Edward A. Berlin (1994)

The Life and Works of Scott Joplin by Addison Walker Reed (1973)

Dancing to a Black Man’s Tune: A Life of Scott Joplin by Susan Curtis (1994)

The Collected Works of Scott Joplin edited by Vera Brodsky Lawrence (1971)

Scott Joplin on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Joplin)

The Crash at Crush on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crash_at_Crush)

The Crash at Crush from the Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/llc01)

Visit the Texas Collection online at http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas for more priceless Texana.

(Digital Collections) Hidden in Plain Sight: The Students of Baylor University, 1920

Photo of Baylor University students taken on Burleson Quadrangle, February 26, 1920
(Click photo to enlarge)

This installment of “Hidden in Plain Sight” features a group photo of Baylor students posed on risers on the Carroll Science Building side of the Burleson Quadrangle. The photographer – P.N. Fry of Kansas City, Missouri – would have been positioned near the Quadrangle side entrance of Carroll Science; this vantage puts portions of Old Main, Georgia Burleson Hall and Carroll Library in the background of this photo.

The students are segregated by gender, with female students and faculty members on the left of the photo and male students and faculty members on the right. One of the first things that jumps out at the viewer is a young man on the front row in the lower right of the frame.

Of the hundreds of students in the photo, he is one of two who managed to sneak in a copy of the day’s Lariat, which he made a specific point of positioning so it would be visible in the finished photo. Enhancing the scan reveals the headline for the issue: “Annual freshman reception will be brilliant affair.” This headline, coupled with the fish in the masthead of the issue led me to the February 26, 1920 issue. This just happened to be a special edition of the Lariat dedicated to the freshmen (alluded to in the masthead fish, as freshmen were called “fish” by upper classmen).

Above-the-fold portion of Lariat issue of February 26, 1920 (visible in panoramic photo)

Seated front and center in the photo is the president of Baylor, Samuel Palmer Brooks.

Brooks served as president from 1902 to 1931 (the year of his death) and is the namesake of Brooks Residential College at Baylor. Among his many notable achievements at the helm were allowing students to vote for the university’s first mascot (won by a bear, of course) and instituting Baylor’s first homecoming celebration.

Another notable Baylor luminary seen in the photo is Frank Allen.

Allen served as registrar for decades and was well-respected by students and faculty alike. In fact, the senior class of 1911 dedicated that year’s issue of the Round-up to Allen as a mark of their esteem for his service to Baylor and her student body.

A note written on the original of this photo indicates it was either owned by or autographed by O.B. Darby. A search of the 1920 Round-up uncovered this page:

Darby is shown in the first position at the top left of the page. A search of the panoramic reveals a student thought to be Darby, shown below first in a larger setting and then under magnification.

If this is indeed Darby, it is interesting to see where he was positioned in the photograph and to know that it was his decision to keep a copy that ultimately led to its digitization and presentation as part of his alma mater’s digital collections.

One last image of note concerns the architecture of Old Main, seen in the background at right.

The windows in this photo are the original configuration of windows found in Old Main. They are four-over-four sash windows, where the lower four panes slide up into the frame to allow air to circulate. A later renovation to the building installed single pane, energy efficient windows visible in current photos like this portion of a desktop wallpaper available from Baylor’s website.

Although the newer windows make good sense from an energy efficiency and modern craftsmanship point of view, some have lamented the change to one of Baylor’s oldest buildings, with one professor likening it to having the same effect as painting modern sunglasses onto the subject of a Renaissance painting.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this closer look at another of the panoramic treasures from the holdings of the Texas Collection. There are dozens of large format photos in the collection, with more being digitized and added online regularly, so be sure and check out http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu for more great photos.

Images enhanced for online presentation. Digitized from the original print housed in the photographic holdings of the Texas Collection. Visit the Texas Collection online at http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas for more priceless Texana.

(Digital Collections) Spring Hats, Julius Caesar and Marriage Proposals: Leap Day Through the Front Pages of the “Lariat”, 1904-1988

Today is February 29th, which of course means it’s Leap Day, the extra day added to the calendar every four years to make up for the fraction of an extra day we experience beyond the standard 24 hours. Over the course of four years, those fractions add up to another full day, so we add it to the end of February, and the world celebrates with news reports of people who only celebrate a birthday every four years.


But a quick review of the front pages of the Baylor “Lariat” dating back to February 29, 1908 show a diverse range of stories penned by Baylor students on Leap Days past. On that day in the early 20th century, it appears Leap Day didn’t even rank a front-page mention, but the ad in the lower corner certainly wouldn’t look out of place today in that it promotes Spring fashions on a date still firmly in winter’s grip.


Fast forward to 1928, where our first mention of leap year is made by an anonymous “Lariat” scribe. They posit the idea that people with Leap Day birthdays only celebrate every four years and “consequently they never do get very old.” Unfortunately for the Bears of 1928, the author notes that there were no students listed with February 29th birthdays.


Bill Donoho, who penned this cheeky review of the tradition of women proposing to men on Leap Day, used the real names of Baylor students to voice fictional (one assumes) opinions on the subject. Reponses range from wholeheartedly embracing the notion to one male’s assertion that only an examination of a woman’s “bank account” would lead to his accepting such a proposition.  A review of the 1940 “Round-Up” reveals photos for three people mentioned in the post: Dorothy Kelly, Mildred Adams, and Joe White, seen below.

1968Kay Wheeler’s report from Leap Day 1968 mentions the women-proposing-to-men trope, but she goes deeper by asking Jack Thornton, Data Processing Director, to run the “student data cards” through his computer to see if any of Baylor’s enrolled students had a February 29th birthday. The shocking answer: no. She ends her piece with a rather deadpan response from Dr. Walter Williams, a professor of math, who noted that “February was the shortest month, it’s the one that got [the extra day].”


In 1984 the review of Leap Day’s history takes a decidedly scientific (and non-humorous) turn, reviewing Julius Caesar’s decree in 46 B.C. to reform the Roman calendar, but then noting that the 365.25 year was “a little [sic] longer than the solar year of 365.2422 days, a difference accounting to 0.0078 of a day per year, or about three days every four centuries.”

Regardless the decade, if you’d like to read more of these Leap Day issues from the 20th century years of the “Lariat”, click on the links below, or head to http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu and click on the Baylor “Lariat” collection to start your search for whatever makes you leap for joy.

View the “Lariat” for the following Leap Days:

February 29th, 1908
February 29th, 1928
February 29th, 1940
February 29th, 1968
February 19th, 1984

Visit the Texas Collection online at http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas for more priceless Texana. 

(Digital Collections) Hidden in Plain Sight: Looking Closer at the Diamond Jubilee, Baylor University, 1920

Baylor University was in the mood to celebrate in 1920, for that was the year of its diamond jubilee. Seventy-five years earlier, in the Washington County town of Independence, the university was established and named for Judge R.E.B. Baylor; the ensuing decades had seen it grow into a thriving institution in a new city, Waco.

This photograph was taken on June 16, 1920, Commencement Day for the proud new graduates. The scene is Burleson Quadrangle, a tree-covered swath of campus bounded by Carroll Library (at left), Georgia Burleson Hall (middle left), Old Main (middle right) and Carroll Science Building (right). The photographer’s perspective is centered on the statue of Rufus C. Burleson, crafted by Italian-Texan sculptor Pompeo Coppini. (Coppini’s work can be seen in the statuary of another famous figure from Baylor’s past: the seated statue of Judge Baylor located in front of Waco Hall is also his handiwork.)

As with the YMBL panoramic we examined in an earlier post, it is worth looking deeper into this photograph for glimpses of the vignettes taking place before the unblinking eye of the photographer’s camera. We note from the inscription that the photo was signed by Fred Gildersleeve, indicating his studio took the shot and developed the print, but evidence we’ll outline below indicates that it may have been Gildersleeve’s assistant who actually captured this particular image.

But we begin our journey in the upper left, where the dome of Carroll Library peeks out above the treeline. No one who saw the building after February 11, 1922 would ever see this sight again, for a massive fire would severely damage the building on that fateful day, and the reconstructed Carroll Library would not feature a restored dome.

Near the Burleson statue we see this gathering of women and children enjoying a summer day on the quad. The women are all wearing hats, including one that features a row of flowers encircling the crown (second from right). Even the youngest among them is sporting her Sunday best, with clean, bright dresses and fancy hats in evidence on the children playing in the grass in the foreground.

The tower of Old Main looms in the middle background, and a faint “’15” can be seen emblazoned on its shingled surface. This is the fading evidence of a tradition that for many years led graduating seniors to paint the numbers of their graduating year (in this case, 1915) on the towers of Old Main. It is a testament to the long-lasting nature of the class of ‘15’s choice of paint that it is still evident after five years exposed to Texas’ notoriously mercurial weather.

This scene in the background at right, near the steps to Carroll Science Building, reminds us of the purpose for the gathering: graduates in caps and gowns gather with friends and family to celebrate the newly minted alums’ big achievements.


Lastly, seated in the shade of a tree near the far right of the photograph, is a man wearing a striped shirt. Behind him is a camera on a tripod, and the figure has his hand to his chin as if pondering the best way to capture the scenes playing out in front of him. From his posture, trademark cap, and profile, it appears that this is Fred Gildersleeve, former jockey and master of the photographic art. Gildersleeve had been snapping photos in Waco since at least 1907, and over the course of a half-century he captured some of the most iconic images of a Waco transitioning between frontier cotton town and major Texas city. “Gildy” employed assistants over the course of his career, and since it appears he is the man in the chair, it seems logical to assume that we have an assistant to thank for capturing this view of the Diamond Jubilee Commencement Day’s celebration.

(1) Images excerpted from an original panoramic photograph from the Texas Collection; images enhanced for Web viewing.

To view the original online, visit http://digitalcollections.baylor.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/tx-phot/id/63/rec/35

Visit the Texas Collection online at http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas for more priceless Texana.

(Digital Collections) A Friday Afternoon Lagniappe: Sketches from a Reconstruction Era Diary

We’ve got a big blog announcement going live on Tuesday morning, but until then, we present a lagniappe (from the Creole for “a little something extra”) from one of our current projects. The sketches below were found in the margins of a Reconstruction era diary kept by Henrietta Hardin Carter Harrison, the wife of the owner of Tehuacana Retreat Plantation, located near Waco. The diaries date between 1868 and 1877, a time of turmoil, uncertainty and transformational change for the states of the former Confederacy.

Mrs. Harrison’s diaries record daily weather conditions, the comings and goings of local personages and other family-related information. But like most of us when we’re trying to do something productive, her mind must have wandered, leaving her idle hands to sketch these quaint illustrations in the margins of her journals. Called “marginalia,” these seemingly dashed-off additions to the main entries in a journal or diary often reveal glimpses of the diarist’s personality. In this case, Mrs. Harrison showed an aptitude for sketching flowers, butterflies and the phases of the moon. Enjoy!

View the diaries of Henrietta Hardin Carter Harrison in the Texas Collections – Selections section of our Digital Collections.

Visit the Texas Collection online at http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas for more priceless Texana.

(Digital Collections) Hidden in Plain Sight: Deconstructing a 1912 Panoramic Photo

Our first post of 2012 featured this photograph of a train excursion taken by the Young Men’s Business League (YMBL) to the Texas town of Comanche in 1912. It turns out there’s a lot going on in this one photo, so we’re going to take some time today to look a little closer at what lies within.

Since it’s unlikely these yardsticks were on-hand in case the people of Comanche had a spontaneous need to measure something in 3-foot increments, it’s likely they were branded with the name of a Waco company and passed out on the stops along the YMBL’s route. During this stop, the men took the opportunity to use them to spell out WACO, just in case later viewers of this photo were unsure of the train’s point of origin.

Of course, with almost every man in the photo wearing a hat reading, “Texas Cotton Palace/November 2 to 17/1912/Waco, Texas,” it would be hard to miss the source of these itinerant community spokesmen. The YMBL was a forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce; using their motto of “Come to Waco,” the YMBL toured Texas while touting the benefits of relocating to Waco for business or pleasure. In a book published by the League in 1912 (the same year this photograph was taken, coincidentally), the group listed “Situation [location], Natural Resources, Railroad and Capital” as reasons for choosing Waco as a permanent residence.

The Cotton Palace was another major point of pride for Waco, and a big draw for visitors from other cities. It made sense to promote the exposition to people across the state, as their attendance meant additional revenue for business owners in Waco. The hats worn by the men in this photo were just another way to get the message out about the date of the Cotton Palace – and they made a handy shade from the sun, to boot.

But what’s a pep rally for an entire city without a band? On this particular trip, the YMBL brought along a contingent of the Baylor University band, seen here posing with their instruments. Unlike the men wearing the Cotton Palace hats, the BU students are seen wearing a motley assortment of headgear, including what appear to be “slime caps,” or felt hats worn by Baylor freshmen.

Baylor wasn’t the only Waco institution of higher learning represented on the trip to Comanche. Here was see a small group of students from Toby’s Practical Business College, a school that purported to teach its students the most up-to-date techniques in the world of business. With branches in Waco and New York City, Toby’s was a fixture on the local scene and even fielded a football team – in fact, Baylor’s first football game in 1899 was played against Toby’s, with Baylor winning handily 20-0.

The real focus of the trip was commerce, and what better way to show Waco’s importance to the regional economy than to wear the message on one’s sleeve – or, in this case, across one’s back. This young man turns his back to the camera to reveal a message: “Ten Wheeler Overalls/Made in Waco/by Longley Mfg. Co.” While history may have forgotten his face, his endorsement of a favorite brand of local overalls is captured for posterity.


If ever a group of men could appreciate the importance of good overalls, it would be the engineer and fireman of the locomotive pulling the YMBL special along. The badging on the cab of the locomotive identifies it as belonging to the St. Louis Southwestern Railway, part of a conglomerate known more commonly as the Cotton Belt Line. Servicing major cotton markets in Texas, Arkansas and Missouri, the Cotton Belt is recognized as one of the more famous regional railroads in the South.

These little vignettes within the larger photo make for a more interesting composition than might otherwise be expected. But the real challenge for historians when confronted with photos like this is the overwhelming lack of documentation associated with them. The caption in the upper left gives us some good information, but we’re not told if this photo was taken in Comanche or at a whistle-stop along the way. An even bigger challenge is identifying the men in the photo with any sense of accuracy. Precious few of these photos contain listings of people seen in them, and in this case, their identities may be lost forever.

But we have to emphasize the word may. The unique approach of using Internet users to identify elements of historic photographs – called “crowdsourcing” – can be helpful in identifying people, places, and events in historic photos. So, if you recognize your great-great-grandfather in this photo, drop us a line. You just might be able to help save a small part of Waco history.

(1) Images excerpted from an original panoramic photograph from the Texas Collection; images enhanced for Web viewing.

Visit the Texas Collection online at http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas for more priceless Texana.

(Digital Collections) “War of the Rebellion Atlas” Puts DPG on the Map in Tennessee

The Digitization Projects Group’s efforts to put the War of the Rebellion Atlas online have once again led to an exciting collaboration, this time with Zada Law, Director of the Fullerton Laboratory for Spatial Technology at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). Law will be utilizing high-resolution copies of several Atlas maps of the Nashville area to see if defensive earthworks built around the city by Federal forces might still be discoverable today, almost 150 years after the war ended.

Law, a PhD candidate at MTSU, plans to overlay the Atlas images with “modern high resolution orthographic aerial images,” she told me via email. Using records from the Tennessee Division of Archaeology and enhanced elevation (LiDAR) datasets, she hopes to locate “previously unrecorded extant earthwork sections or identify where archaeological traces of entrenchments may still remain.” (1)

Defenses of Nashville, Tenn. from the War of the Rebellion Atlas

Before she located the Atlas using a simple Google search, Law was relying on hard copies of the Atlas and other records to conduct her research. That all changed when she found our Digital Collections.

“Finding Baylor’s freely accessible high resolution image of an original copy of the War of the Rebellion Atlas plus searchable metadata was the tipping point for me to finally proceed beyond the dreaming phase,” Law said. “And, as GIS becomes an accepted part of scholarly research in the humanities, I’m certain the need for access to digital copies of original maps will increase.”

The metadata Law refers to is the cataloged information that accompanies each image in our digital Atlas, including information like city names, names of battle participants, descriptions of geographic formations and more. This is the fully-searchable information that makes finding specific locations or persons in our Atlas much faster than using traditional printed indices and page-by-page searching available elsewhere.

In addition to her work on the Federal defenses of Nashville, Law shared access to the Atlas collection to Dr. Wayne Moore of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Moore is heading up a project called the Tennessee Civil War GIS Project, where he and his team are working to “inventory and describe the geospatial data points for approximately 700 Tennessee Civil War military engagements” throughout the state. “Having the Atlas’ maps available online and searchable and ‘zoomable’ through your website will improve our workflow and will be less tedious that looking at hard copies of the maps with a magnifying glass,” Law said.

Finally, Law hopes to use an image of the area around Murfreesboro – specifically a location called Fortress Rosecrans – to search for the location of a nearby contraband camp. “Contraband” during the Civil War referred to Confederate-owned slaves who sought protection in Federal camps or who lived in areas that fell under Federal control. The public history program at MTSU is documenting a “rural post-emancipation African American community that likely had former residents of that camp,” Law said, and the maps provided by Baylor could help them in their work.

Topographical Sketch of Fortress Rosecrans from the War of the Rebellion Atlas

We’ll keep you posted on how Law’s research goes, and we wish her and her colleagues all the best in their efforts. We’re happy to be collaborators in this important work, and we look forward to seeing where it leads as the Civil War Sesquicentennial continues through 2015.

(1) Excerpts from email from Zada Law, received 1/5/2012

Visit the Texas Collection online at http://www.baylor.edu/lib/texas for more priceless Texana.

(Digital Collections) Get On Board with the DPG!

Waco-Young Men’s Business League: 1912, from the Texas Collection’s Photos (1)

As we kick off a new year of digitization excellence here at the DPG, we wanted to take a moment to answer a question we’re getting with increasing frequency: “How can I help?” We’ve got three simple answers!

Tell your friends
The more people know about our collections, the better it is for a number of reasons. Of course, we like seeing our materials show up at the top of Google results, and it’s always fun to see us getting mentioned in the news, but it’s also the best way for people to get involved through …

Contributing materials
When people hear about the work we’re doing, many start telling us stories about their own treasured collections. Whether it’s a packet of letters from World War I, a program from a Baylor football game, or a stack of gospel LPs, we’re always looking to enhance our collections through the addition of new materials. Whether you’d like to make an outright donation to the University or if you’d like to loan materials just for scanning and adding to the collections, we’re happy to talk to you about how you can help.

Make a gift
Thanks to generous gifts from supportive donors, we’ve been able to secure some of the most advanced digitizing technology available. From fragile books to large format maps and audio/visual materials, our center can digitize an increasing number of materials. But we’re always looking to augment our technology, hire more graduate students, and purchase other tools that help us in our work. For more information on how your gift can support the work of the DPG, contact Trey_Hagins@Baylor.edu.

If you’d like more information on how to add your materials to the growing digital collections of the Baylor University Libraries, contact Curator of Digital Collections Eric Ames at Eric_Ames@Baylor.edu.

(1) See the full-size panoramic photo at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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