Fall 2019: A Semester in Review

This blog post was written by Processing Archivist Thomas DeShong.


            As the end of the fall semester approaches and jingle bells are heard quietly in the distance, the early weeks of December often serve as a time of reflection for Baylor’s faculty and staff. This is especially true for the members of the W. R. Poage Legislative Library. The act of looking back and reviewing the semester is a worthwhile exercise in self-assessment to ensure that we are honoring the visions of Bob Poage, Baylor University, and the Poage Library.

40th Anniversary

Visitors come to celebrate the 40th Anniversary Open House.

The Fall 2019 semester kicked off with the 40th anniversary of Poage Library on September 21st. To honor this significant benchmark in our library’s history, staff members hosted an Open House celebration on Friday, September 20th. Stations were set up to encourage voter registration, provide sneak peeks of our permanent exhibit floor plans, enjoy a 40-year photo slideshow in the Viz Studio, and showcase some autographed works from Jack Hightower’s Book Vault.

NEH Grant Proposal

Dr. Karon LeCompte of the School of Education

One of the most exciting developments of Fall 2019 has been the continued collaboration between Poage Library and Dr. Karon LeCompte of the School of Education. Expanding on the partnership that has formed as a result of the annual iEngage Summer Civics Institute, this collaboration has sought to create a grant proposal for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Poage staff have been scouring our congressional collections for constituent correspondence on race relations, and Dr. LeCompte has interpreted these sources and composed the initial grant proposal. The end goal of the project, pending its acceptance, is a digital collection of resources that educators nationwide can access to help teach more difficult aspects of our nation’s history.

Standing Committee

Poage archivists Amanda Fisher and Mary Goolsby present finding aids during ribbon-cutting ceremony

On Friday, November 8th, The Standing Committee, Poage Library’s friends’ group, met for its 15th annual luncheon. Dr. Stephen Sloan, the Director of the Baylor Institute for Oral History, served as our master of ceremonies. Dr. Karon LeCompte addressed the group and spoke at length about the aforementioned collaborations between Poage and the School of Education. A brief ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to honor the opening of the Mattie Mae McKee papers and to celebrate the re-opening of the Alan Steelman papers and the W. R. “Bob” Poage State Legislative papers. These donors and their families were presented with a bound copy of their collection’s finding aid. Director Mary Goolsby then delivered her annual “State of the Library” address, providing an update on the permanent exhibit and foreshadowing some of the opportunities Poage will have in the coming year.    


Professor Kathy Hillman addresses her class in the Poage reading room.

In addition to these major celebrations and projects, it is important to remember that a special collection would be nothing without its patrons. Poage hosted several classes this semester. In September, Dr. Andrea Turpin of the History Department brought her historiography class for a brief introduction to archives and a short, hands-on exercise using archival materials. In October, Professor Kathy Hillman, Director of the Keston Center for Religion, Politics, and Society, brought her U1000 class to the Poage reading room to expose the freshmen class to special collections and to learn more about some of the key figures whose collections are housed at the library including Bob Poage, Bob Bullock, and Jack Hightower. Staff members also aided students of Dr. Lauren Poor’s HIS 1304 class, helping them find sources on key topics such as immigration.


Archivist Amanda Fisher with researcher Dr. Stephanie Boddie

The Poage Library has also hosted and assisted several researchers across the country including Minnesota, New York, Harvard University, and PBS to look at a wide range of collections including the Bob Poage papers, the Bob Bullock papers, and JFK-related collections. Dr. Stephanie Boddie of the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, Poage’s Summer 2019 Teaching Fellow, returned to the archives this semester to continue researching social issues in the John Dowdy papers.


To help future researchers and to promote greater access to our collections, Poage Library staff and student assistants have continued to process and re-process our holdings. The Clark W. Thompson papers have been processed, and the finding aid is currently in review. The Donald G. Adams papers have also been processed. Its finding aid is currently under construction. Meanwhile, progress continues to be made on several other collections in processing: the O.C. Fisher papers, the Jack E. Hightower papers, and the W. R. “Bob” Poage U.S. Government papers.


It has been another exciting and productive semester at the Poage Library! We are in great anticipation of the next semester and 2020 in general as our campus (and nation) gears up for another election year. New adventures await with the excitement one only feels at the start of a new semester. Spring 2020 is a clean slate with new opportunities to educate our students and to help patrons find the resources they need. We hope all of our readers, donors, patrons, and friends have a very Merry Christmas and a blessed 2020!

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