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.

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