One of the great joys of my job as Curator of Digital Collections is the opportunity I get to go in-depth with the materials we host as part of the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections. They are drawn from every special collection library on campus, and they are filled with hidden treasures both revelatory and mundane – glimpses of a time long past, a name forgotten, or an event as contemporary as last week.
While working to enhance the metadata for the Baylor University Annuals (The Round Up) Collection, I came across some interesting photos of student groups in the 1906 edition. Baylor has a long history of student groups both high-minded (the Philomathesian Society, the Erisophian Society, the Mission Band) and decidedly irreverent (the NoZe Brotherhood), but the clubs found in this volume run the gamut from the temporary to the absurd. And what better time to showcase them than the week before our students go on Spring Break, a time of relaxation and revelry where anything can happen – and anyone can form a group that may find its way to the pages of the campus yearbook!
West Texas Club
Embracing their home region’s stereotypical mode of dress (and even throwing in a six-shooter or two for good measure), the West Texas Club was a co-ed celebration of all this Western. While this group was only a generation or so removed from the “closing of the West” that took place over the last decade of the 19th century, they certainly helped keep its spirit alive.
As straight-forward as it gets, this club of 10 Baylor men is a dapper assembly.
One of the more interesting elements of the clubs of the early 20th century is their willingness to coin new words or adopt unique spellings for their group’s name. This co-ed group created a portmanteau of the phrase “get there” and became the Gethere Club. This approach is not without its perils, however: on the page preceding this image, the club is listed as the “Gethera Club,” an equally made-up but less logical moniker that proves sometimes a unique spelling is more trouble than it’s worth. They do receive bonus points, however, for disguising the male group members in this photo as “bon bons” to be delivered to Georgia Burleson (G.B.) Hall.
Fat Men’s Club
“Strive above all things to become fat and handsome.” Advice most college students – men and women alike – would be hesitant to embrace on campus nowadays, but a credo thought important enough to justify the creation of a group dedicated to celebrating the more full-figured among the student body of 1906.
Another in the long line of unexplained acronym-based clubs, the girls of T.A.F. get the award for Best Use of a Prop Ladder in a Group Photo.
Bananas are inherently funny. For decades they have served as comedic props, from the use of their peels as implements to inflict a fall or the absurdity of placing a banana in one’s ear while pretending it’s perfectly normal, the comedically inclined among us have long embraced them to make people laugh. However, these gentlemen took their appreciation of the peel-able fruit to a new level when they formed a club devoted to the object of “increas[ing] the banana trade.” Their password – “Give me a banana” – is absurd simplicity at its finest.
As you’re perusing our campus yearbooks in your own research, keep an eye out for any interesting, unique, or downright bizarre clubs and shoot us an email with your favorites!
The 1906 Round-Up is available online via the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections, digitized from the original held by The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas. For more information on materials available at The Texas Collection, visit www.baylor.edu/lib/texas or email them at email@example.com.