Since at least 2010 – and for more than 400 posts – this blog has documented the tales and treasures of The Texas Collection. From materials in our archival collections to stories about Baylor, Texas, and the world, we’ve documented the Lone Star State backward, forward, and every which way in between.
Now, after 13 years as a standalone blog, we are excited to announce that we will be joining our Baylor Libraries special collections colleagues at the Promoting Discovery blog. Starting with our next post, all of our stories will be posted exclusively to PD, which you can find at blogs.baylor.edu/baylorlibraries.
But don’t you fret! We’ll keep this space open as an outpost on the digital prairie, a virtual archive of our previous work that you can still peruse all the way back to its roots. (We’ll also be importing these posts into Promoting Discovery, giving it a very welcome injection of Texana.)
Some of you may ask why we’re making this move? It’s simple: when the Libraries maintain multiple blogs, the majority of folks who see those posts are only interested in that topic. But when we post a variety of stories, sources, and subjects in one place, we stand a much better chance of catching new audiences: people who may have come for Texana but stayed for Browningiana, or folks who want to learn about digital collections and became interested in American popular sheet music.
In short, we’re moving because it makes the most sense for a single, active, impactful blog to represent the libraries rather than several sporadically-updated, niche blogs. It’s a better way to serve our patrons, and we are happy to join the other Libraries accounts that have moved into Promoting Discovery already.
So don’t be sad that we’ve picked up stakes for new pastures – be happy we’ve ridden so many fine trails together. And remember: wherever a Texan chooses to put down their roots, a little piece of Texas is planted right there with them.
This post was written by Shelly Salo, Outreach and Instruction Librarian at The Texas Collection
I started working as the Outreach and Instruction Librarian at the Texas Collection in July. From the start, one of the collections that I was most looking forward to working with is our cookbook collection. It consists of over 9,000 cookbooks from all corners of Texas, dating from the nineteenth century to today. Recently, I had the opportunity to explore our cookbooks from 1923 for a back-to-school event held on the Quadrangle outside Carroll Library, home of The Texas Collection.
I selected two cookbooks for the occasion: “LaGrange Cook Book,” from the lady readers of the LaGrange Journal, and “Cook Book,” from the Ladies’ Aid of the First Christian Church of Lubbock, Texas. Many cookbooks from the twentieth century were written communally by women’s groups like these, and you will find more in our collection. This blog post from JSTOR Daily goes into detail about these types of cookbooks and links to other interesting resources on the topic.
Our special events coordinator Alexis sent my chosen recipes to local baking company Baked Bliss. They tested the original recipes and adjusted them for modern kitchens and palates. For instance, the 1923 recipes lack specific details on oven temperatures and baking times. Additionally, none of the original recipes call for salt. According to a 2017 Bon Appétit article, modern bakers can feel free to double the amount of salt in vintage dessert recipes to balance and enhance their flavor.
The Centennial Cookies event was a great success, and we hope to hold similar events in the future. Stay on the lookout for more centennial celebrations with the Texas Collection!
Cook Book. Lubbock, Texas: [publisher not identified], 1923.
Harigel, B. F. LaGrange Cook Book. LaGrange, Texas: Mrs. B.F. Harigel, 1923.
The collections we maintain take many forms: photographs, maps, books, coins, even bells from Spanish missions have found their way into our holdings! All these materials help us tell the stories of Texas in a way that focuses on documented facts.
When you combine that with oral memoirs and the power of creative fiction from works by authors like Dorothy Scarborough, you begin to see the rich tapestry that is the history of the Lone Star State.
Even our best efforts to collect and preserve stories can only go so far. There are gaps and blind spots in our holdings, and areas where we have an over-abundance of materials (that’s why we politely decline to take any more copies of Baylor’s Roundup yearbook). To enrich our collections and tell more diverse stories, it is important to reach out to ask for your help in locating and preserving resources that document Texas and Waco in more complete ways.
A Shifting Waco Landscape
The Waco neighborhood known colloquially as Calle Dos (for its location centered around Second Street) can be seen on some of the earliest maps of the city. Interrupted by Barron’s Branch creek as it flows into the Brazos River, the area sits on land originally deeded to R.W. Goode, M. Johnson, and R.W. Lusk, among others. In time, the area became home to the largest legal red light district in the United States, known as The Reservation.
When The Reservation was officially shut down as part of a deal for Waco to procure military installations upon America’s entry into World War I – Camp MacArthur and Rich Field, specifically – the area became home to a wave of immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America. These numbers swelled as people fled the chaos of the Mexican Revolution and found housing in Calle Dos to be more affordable than other options in the city.
Subsequent events in the Calle Dos story include destruction wrought by the 1953 Waco Tornado, clean-up efforts following the storm, and Urban Renewal from the 1950s-1970s. The end result is today’s largely open tracts of land and some remaining landmarks like St. Francis on the Brazos Catholic Church and Indian Springs Middle School.
Remembering a Vibrant Community
In recent years, there has been interest from community advocates to create a historic marker for Calle Dos, perhaps near the former community gathering place called La Pila. This artesian well-filled fountain served as a source for water and connection for the area’s residents before it was covered over with rubble created by the 1953 tornado. These efforts have been slow to gain traction, partly because the documentation of the lives that once were part of Calle Dos are not readily accessible, but scattered among family papers, small archives, and the memories of elder Wacoans.
The Texas Collection would like to take this opportunity to call on our friends in Waco’s Latino community to partner together to locate, document, and preserve the stories of Calle Dos. We are proud to offer our assistance with training, access to our current resources, and, if asked, provide a permanent home for documents, photos, and other materials related to this vibrant part of Waco’s history.
If you have materials related to Calle Dos and would like to discuss how The Texas Collection can help ensure that they are included in our archives on the history of Waco, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (254) 710-1268.
This post was written by Horace Maxile, a student in the Museum Studies program. Horace recently completed a five-month independent study at The Texas Collection focused on archival work including processing, reparative description, preservation, arrangement, and description. He has written the following reflection, recalling how he became interested in archives as well as some of the lessons he learned in his studies.
My interests in the written traditions of black music, primarily classical pieces by black composers, date to my undergraduate years. As I enter my third decade in the academy, most of my scholarly work involves musical analysis and thinking through extramusical contexts, such as historical and cultural considerations, I rely heavily on musical scores. My analytical endeavors as a young scholar did not explore much beyond the engraved score and commercially available recordings, but an appointment at the Center for Black Music Research challenged me to reconsider my approaches to research and to consider the value and versatility of archival holdings.
Yes, the archival bug bit me during my tenure at the Center for Black Music Research and I am now taking some time to scratch that itch. To say that I am budding at this point in my life and career might be somewhat tongue in cheek, but I am excited to learn about archives and archiving through my studies at Baylor University.
Scrapbook documenting the interests of Ethel Standefer, musician and Baylor Professor. [Ethel Standefer papers, Box 1 Folder 2]
As part of an independent study that was hosted by Baylor’s Texas Collection, I was assigned three projects, all of which piqued my interests in various ways. One project was reparative description for a finding aid. My initial rationale for doing this was to rewrite the description/scope with my connections in mind as well as deciphering what the first preparer may have deemed as the primary “finds” within the collection. This project took me longer than expected because I thought it would be wise to look for connections—or perhaps themes—between the materials. However, I was reminded by my supervising archivist that I was to provide some historical context in the description and allow the details that surface from within the collection do the work. The first lesson: reparative descriptions could move well past the description when necessary, involving edits/rewrites at the series level and, sometimes, relabeling folders. That lesson also challenged me to reassess the subject headings as well, editing and adding a few of my own. Around six weeks after I finished this project, I was informed that a researcher wanted to use the collection for which I provided the reparative work. I would like to think that some of my work guided the researcher to something useful.
The other two projects required me to fully process small collections (assessment, folders, preservation, finding aid, etc.). One of the processing projects was an herbarium. Yes, an herbarium. Compiled in the 1940s by Fannie Mae Hurst, the collection of floral specimens suffered no major deterioration. Other than being nearly 75 years old and dried out, the wildflowers were in pretty good condition. The collection was created by a professor who taught biology at Baylor. My research for the biographical profile yielded fascinating stories about her journey through graduate studies to the professorate as well as suggestive commentaries that peered into plights of women in higher education during the middle decades of the twentieth century. My inexperience was challenged by my supervisor, as all the cool stuff I learned about the creator and the deeper dives into gender and equity that I wanted to take had little to do with the actual collection of floral specimens. So, lesson number two surfaced: bibliographic citations may lead the researcher into deeper dives and aspects of biography and social contexts, but archival descriptions (at all levels) prioritize the contents of the collection. This was a valuable lesson, but so was the brief jaunt into the primary sources that offered insight on matters regarding this woman professor and her tenure at Baylor University.
Ethel Standefer created scrapbooks documenting her musical interests. Here is a page that includes several of the photos and autographs she collected. [Ethel Standefer papers, Box 1 Folder 1]
The other processing project involved scrapbooks and other materials in a collection by Ethel Standefer, another woman with academic and professional ties to Baylor University. She was a pianist who served with the fine arts faculty in the early decades of the twentieth century, but the collection has little to do with her activities as a performer. Whereas the scrapbooks contain concert programs and postcards from her travels abroad and numerous clippings related to musicians and composers of note, most documents that bear her name are professional certificates and autographs for which she is the dedicatee. The research that went into the biographical note places Standefer among the central figures in social and artistic circles in Waco during the 1930s and 1940s but, like Hurst, those contextual pieces were relegated to bibliographic citations. My predilections for music and musical histories were interrogated in the third lesson: collections contain their own stories—it is my responsibility to organize and describe materials so that researchers can get the information they need for their interests, not mine. Indeed, the scrapbooks in Standefer’s collection also reveal an interest in current events and politics, arenas where women during her time were not as publicly observed. I am much more than a musician, so why should Standefer be any less?
Lessons learned. Of course, there is overlap between the lessons and the collections with which I’ve worked and there are, indeed, lessons that were not mentioned in this reflection. The biggest takeaway thus far, in this personal and professional pursuit, is that un-learning that which “works for me” while learning new rationales and best practices for organizing archival materials is both humbling and unbelievably invigorating.
Expansive, rich, divisive, unifying: the history of Texas is, arguably, the most unique of any state in the Union. From the domain of Native tribes to the holding of distant European empires, a place of hope and struggle, triumph and loss, Texas has forged an identity as big as its territorial borders and as intense as its environmental extremes. And for one hundred years, The Texas Collection at Baylor University has collected, documented, displayed, and provided insight into the cultures and stories of generations of Texans.
Established with a major gift from the collection of Kenneth Hazen Aynesworth, The Texas Collection was officially introduced to the Baylor campus at the Alumni Business Meeting on June 12, 1923 as a “Texas History Library.” Over the decades since, we’ve become one of the state’s premier locations for archival holdings of Texana over a broad range of categories including religious life, the American Civil War, cartography, photography, and much more.
The Spirit of ’23
Aleph Tanner, First Curator of The Texas History Library
After his initial donation, Aynesworth continued to support the collection financially as well as with regular materials donations. He even provided a stipend for a Professor of Texas History and Curator of the Texas History Library. Aleph Tanner was hired, and her course was the first Texas History class taught at the university level in the state. Her class became quite popular and was at capacity each time she taught. Although her tenure was short (1924-1928), Tanner was the first curator to care for, grow, and actively use the collection to teach Baylor students.
Each successive director has added their mark to the collection. Under the leadership of Guy B. Harrison (1928-1969), Dayton Kelley (1969-1973), Kent Keeth (1973-2003), Thomas Charlton (2003-2010), John Wilson (2010-2020), and interim, Amie Oliver (2020-2022), the collection has grown to include thousands of print items, maps, archival collections, digitized materials, and become the official home to the University Archives. We look forward to our newest Director, Jeff Pirtle (2022-present), continuing the legacy.
Growth from the Ashes: Our Centennial Exhibit
On February 22, 1922, a fire of unknown origin ripped through Carroll Library and Chapel, destroying roughly half of the library materials and the interior of the building. From that fire, an outpouring of support came through students, alumni, friends of Baylor, and many others. Kenneth Aynesworth’s support encouraged the growth of The Texas Collection.
To commemorate our anniversary, we have put together a two-part exhibit with over 50 items on display at our home in Carroll Library and Moody Memorial Library. We do not often get to share these many treasures at the same time. Items such as the Mission San Francisco de los Tejas Bell, “Texas, Our Texas” sheet music, and a Republic of Texas currency printing plate sit alongside student literary society pins, modern postcards, and the Pomponij Mellae Cosmographi Geographia, printed in 1482.
Telling the stories behind these items is just as important as displaying them. As you visit the displays, you will learn so much more about our history and these items.
Making Our Mark: The Centennial Celebration Mark & Design Inspiration
The Texas Collection Centennial Mark was created to celebrate 100 years of The Texas Collection and remembrance of Texas History using photography of iconic moments and people in Texas, using colors that are representative of Baylor but not exclusive to Baylor, and using elements of design that are iconic symbols of Texas. When choosing typography, we intentionally chose a typeface that resembled old Western typefaces while remaining clean and modern. We carefully selected photos for our poster series that highlighted twelve pillars of Texas history. By using a more muted green rather than the classic Baylor green, we allowed this campaign visually to branch out beyond the Baylor Community and into the community of Texas as a whole. The stars in our celebration mark tie back to the stars of the Texas flag.
Keep the Celebration Going: Online Resources
For a celebration as big as Texas, we want to make sure everyone from Amarillo to Brownsville, El Paso to Tyler and all points in between can share in the fun. Be sure to check out these sites for more great Texana content!
A story as epic as Texas’ requires dedicated professionals with the skills and drive to preserve its archival treasures. The Texas Collection is committed to collecting artifacts of the past, culturally significant objects of the present, and the offerings of the future as they come to us. We also ask that anyone with materials you believe may be of interest to our collections professionals reach out to us via email and we will gladly discuss the possibility of including your items in our holdings.
We are particularly interested in stories and materials from the wide range of ethnic and cultural minority groups in Texas: African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, and religious minorities’ materials are of particular interest as we chart the next century of our collections.
This post was written by Payton Perez. Payton is a Junior, Political Science major; this is her first year working at The Texas Collection. Payton conducted preservation services on the photographs in the Texas Farmworkers in the Midwest Photograph collection, Accession #754.
The newly added Texas Farm Workers in the Midwest Photograph collection tells the story of Texas migrant workers through photographs and articles created by several newspaper media outlets from 1951 to 1969. Eight black and white photos, comprised of candid, posed, and action shots allow access into the lives of Texas migrant farm workers. Many of these workers traveled to Midwestern states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, and Indiana in search of work. Different aspects of life can be seen through these photos: travel, family, housing, education, and the labor experiences of migrant farm workers. Specifically, these photos largely tell the story of Mexican American workers coming from Texas, looking for anyone to hire them. Some photographs are accompanied by articles which offer more insight into the photograph itself and the lifestyle these farmers lived.
Terri Maier reading to two children of migrant farm workers.
Migrant farm workers have been around for decades, and these Texas Farm Workers are no different. When these articles were written, an estimated 127,800 people would leave southern Texas to go work on farms in other states, in addition to the almost a million others who traveled from other parts of the southern United States in search of the same goal. Some migrant workers would find work, but most would not, causing this lifestyle to be extremely uncertain and dangerous. Workers often were subjected to harsh climates and tasks that were expected of them, causing this labor-intensive job to be physically demanding and difficult to sustain.
Educational opportunities were severely limited for families as well. Moving around so often prevented children from attending school regularly, leading them to fall behind not only in their education, but also in basic skills. One photograph from 1965 shows Terri Maier of Wisconsin, teaching two children of migrant laborers outdoors. This was part of a program Maier participated in that had a goal of preparing children for regular school when they could go, and not letting them fall too far behind their peers. The state of Wisconsin also attempted to help provide methods of education to these young people in migrant families so that they could keep up with the other children in school year-round. Furthermore, a photo of two young women, Maria and Barbara Lozano, from 1951 has an article attached to it which discusses Minnesota’s attempts of regulating the problem of children’s education. Hollandale, Minnesota, had been described as “the world’s largest garden patch,” drawing in many migrant families from all over the country, including Texas. This in turn meant that many children of migrant families would occupy Hollandale and cause the city to develop a method of fixing this educational dilemma that then had national impacts.
Group of migrant farm workers plowing a field. Many wearing long clothing and headwear to protect their skin from the sun.
Most of the photos in this collection depict the realities of the day-to-day activities of migrant workers. Their housing was unreliable at best, resembling temporary shacks more than familial homes. Photos of workers physically in the field show them picking cucumbers, cherries, or any other crop they were assigned to. Many of the workers wore full coverage clothing, hats, or other head garments to protect themselves from the sun and other harsh environmental factors. Specifically, the story of Alex Torres and his family is highlighted in an article associated with a photo of him, his wife, and presumably their baby taking a break from their cherry-picking jobs. Torres, a crew leader, oversaw finding work for his family and the people in his crew. Twenty-one people – “10 men and women, 11 children,” Torres was responsible for, and they were luckier than most in finding work at Seth Thompkins’ cherry orchard near Old Mission, Michigan. They migrated from Texas to Michigan in Torres’ “beat up $350 truck” which was the reason Torres was named leader. These seemingly harsh conditions were the norm for many migrant workers during this time, who lived in uncertainty and hope of finding work.
This small collection of photographs and articles opens a window into 1950s-1960s Texas and America as a whole. The typical life of a migrant worker, their travel plans, their educational complications, and their search for work can all be seen in these photographs and the words written about them.
Alex Torres with his wife and child, taking a break under the shade of a tree.
Green, Charles H. “Writer Discovers Migrant Workers Life is Not Easy.” Marshall News Messenger (Marshall, TX). 1963 September 2. Schaefer, Edward. “Hollandale May Set Pattern in Schools for Migratory Workers.” Minneapolis Star (Minneapolis, MN). 1951 December 25.
This post was written by Elizabeth Rivera, PhD, Baylor University Archivist
In anticipation of stress awareness month in April, Bear Country will celebrate its 91st Diadeloso on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. This annual day affords students, faculty, and staff a dedicated time to pause, breathe, and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
When former Texas governor, Pat Neff assumed his role as President of Baylor amid the Great Depression in 1932, students needed a tangible reminder that their educational preparation mattered and was worth the financial commitment before joining the workforce. Therefore, Neff invested in the students’ mental health. He instituted a day of play and suspended classes (all four of them) for the day.
Neff’s organized day of play included the male faculty defeating the male seniors in baseball and the females played their own game of baseball. The female seniors handily upset the female faculty 18 to 4. Then five of Baylor’s Ph.D.’s participated in a yo-yo contest before the barbecue lunch (“First Annual Day”, 1932). This break established a dedicated time for faculty and students to embrace their humanity and find community in being present together.
In more recent years, students have swum with otters (petting otters in a kiddie pool), watched movies on the stadium field (Movies at McLane), and participated in goat yoga (yes, goats standing on students in downward dog pose). The Baylor community continues to have fun together and build relationships. In establishing this day, Neff set a precedent that his presidential successors have continued to embrace. Alexis Whiteford, BU alumna class of 2021, commented that regardless of the activity, DIA (as affectionately referred to by the students) is what you make it.
While the name has undergone various iterations, a 1966 student body vote officially changed the name to Diadeloso, “Day of the Bear.” The purpose remains constant, food, fun, and fellowship bring people together and promote social understanding. Being a college student and preparing for adulthood is tough. Whether students are navigating the pressures of a crippling economy and their financial performance or managing the pressures of academic achievement, intentional respite restores and rejuvenates crushed spirits.
Since DIA is a time to relieve stress, let’s come together, celebrate, and make fun memories. This year’s lineup proves to be slated with diverse fun opportunities— glow in the dark roller skating, archery, human wac-a-mol, caricature drawings, and more (“Attractions”, 2023). From The Texas Collection, be you and seize the DIA at BU!
First Annual Day of Fun Attended by Student Body. (1932, May 12). The Daily Lariat, p. 1-2.
This article was written by Amy Swanson, Rare Books Catalog Librarian
Southern Baptist women played a significant role in the missionary movement of the latter half of the nineteenth century. The mission societies Baptist women created continue to thrive today, creating funding, education, and other opportunities for missionaries, and those who support them, at home and abroad.
Baptist women began organizing the first mission societies in Texas in the 1830s, though some of the work of these societies was already being done in more informal ways through groups such as female prayer societies (Hunt 4). By 1880, following a resolution by the national Southern Baptist Convention two years prior, women from various local mission societies, as well as from the Baptist State Convention organized the Texas Woman’s Missionary Union in 1880, despite some male opposition. This was followed by the formation of the national Woman’s Missionary Union in 1888. Both the Texas and the national unions were an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention.
One of the goals of the Texas Woman’s Missionary Union (known as the Baptist Women Mission Workers (BWMW) by 1886) was to educate women and children on the importance of missionary and charitable work. In doing so, the organization hoped to increase the chances of women collecting and contributing money to the organization’s causes and their getting involved in missions themselves. Other goals were to provide information about ongoing missions, organize and connect mission societies, and aid in similar initiatives (Bullock).
A good way to promote these societies to Baptist women was with the distribution of publications. One such publication was the newspaper, Texas Baptist Worker. The monthly paper “published in the interest of woman’s work in Texas” (Texas Baptist Worker) was founded in 1889 by the first president of the BWMW, Fannie Breedlove Davis. Davis was also the editor of the paper.
Masthead of the Texas Baptist Worker
The cover of Volume 6, Number 5 (March 1895) of the Texas Baptist Worker. It includes the constitution to be used by each local mission society.
The paper was published in San Antonio by the Women Mission Workers of Texas and had an almost entirely female staff. This is important to note as the Southern Baptist leadership structure at the time was male dominated. Publications such as Texas Baptist Worker gave women the opportunity to lead and have a voice.
In keeping with the goals of the BWMW, the Texas Baptist Worker helped gain support for and provide information about domestic and foreign missions, highlight opportunities for female missionaries, and solicit contributions for missions and other charitable causes.
This short article from the issue cited above highlights the need for money to support the Buckner Orphans’ Home in Dallas, Texas.
The paper also featured a section titled “Children’s Corner,” with stories to teach children about Christian principles and the value of missions. The newspaper helped promote various events and meetings held by local societies and provided updates from mission societies around the state. Advertisements for and articles related to Baptist institutions or organizations were often included. The 1895 issue pictured above includes an article about the impressive education for women at Baylor College.
While certainly not the only means by which information was disseminated, publications such as Texas Baptist Worker played an essential role in helping to increase monetary contributions to missions in Texas. In the span of the fifteen years from 1880 to 1895, mission offerings went from $35 to $23,193 (DeLoach).
Early organizational literature such as this paper set a precedent for the caliber of publication expected from the BWMW in the years to follow. Today, the BWMW, now known as the Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, has several publications: Bridge Magazine, as well as an active blog. The Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas has grown and expanded over the past 143 years, but the core values of the organization established by Fannie Breedlove Davis and her contemporaries remain today.
The Acree Family papers contains notes, correspondence, and photographs related to the family’s genealogical research into the Acree, Grimes, and McLeod family lines, and the history of McGregor and Moody, Texas.
The Ellen Beasley Independence, Texas Research collection includes research materials, project files, and media from preservation consultant and historian Ellen Beasley, documenting her historic preservation work for Independence Preservation Trust in the community of Independence, Texas.
The Viola Corley papers document the literary career and personal life of a writer of various published books and poems. The materials include manuscripts, poems, letters, short stories, sketches, and poetry books.
Architectural Drawings for the Skandinaviske Evangeliske Ebenezer Menighed, later First Luthern Church of Waco.
The First Lutheran Church of Waco Architectural Drawings include copies of building and site plans from creation and renovations in 1916, 1956, 1988, 1997.
Ruby Bell Hall McCormick papers #861 The Ruby Bell Hall McCormick papers include materials regarding genealogical research, societies and organizations, and information about Georg Schlumbach in Germany during World War II.
The David Z. Nowell papers contains materials documenting a writing project coordinated by Baylor University and John F. Baugh in response to the Southern Baptist Convention Conservative Resurgence in the late twentieth century.
Eleanor “Nell” Jurney Pape papers #2313 The Eleanor “Nell” Jurney Pape papers contains documents relating to Nell Pape’s life in Waco after her return from Europe. The papers include letters, planning documents, clippings, photographs, and records relating to civic projects, garden clubs, and a bound manuscript of Nell Pape’s unpublished memoir, Hideaway. The collection also includes personal documents from those close to Pape including letters written to her father, Richard Jurney, letters written by her husband, Gustav Pape, and financial documents from Gustav Pape’s business.
The Porter family papers contain correspondence, photographs, and literary materials from two generations of Johnson and Porter families. The collection includes correspondence from World War I and life as Baptist missionaries in Brazil from 1922-1962.
The Baylor Theatre collection mainly encompasses publicity and press materials including proofs and programs that document influential faculty such as Paul Baker as well as performances from 1899-2019.
BU Records: Commencement Activities contains materials regarding the planning and execution of commencement from 1873-2021. The collection includes correspondence, materials regarding commencement marshals, programs, logistical layout of space, commencement committees, graduating students, awards, regalia, and speeches.
The BU Records: Kappa Omega Tau contains correspondence, pledge books, photographs, scrapbooks, directories, patches, pennants, and sashes from the Knights of Tradition fraternal organization at Baylor University, beginning in 1960 when the organization was founded.
The BU Records: The Texas Collection contains documents, photographs, and other materials about the history and operations of The Texas Collection, a special collection founded in 1923, now part of the Baylor Libraries.
By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University
While out antiquing locally in Waco, Texas, I came across an old photograph in the corner of an antique store booth. It was the only photo in site amongst an assortment of vintage household goods. It was a sepia-tone gelatin silver print mounted on board, and appeared to be from the 1900s. The content included a woman sitting on a front porch reading a magazine with a dog beside her. In the corner of the photograph was her name and address: “Home of Mrs. Cobb, 812 N. 6th Street, City,” and the photographer’s name “Greene, Waco,” with their main address: “Chauncey A. Greene, Kansas City, Mo,” included as well. It all seemed interesting and The Texas Collection is always looking for old photographs of Waco, the state of Texas, and Baylor, but this one seemed especially unusual given the name of the woman in the photo: “Cobb,” so it seemed like a logical decision to buy and add it to our collection.
The image below is a zoom and crop of this photograph that gives a better look at Feriba Cobb, as well as her dog.
The first thing we do at The Texas Collection when finding photographs such as this is to try and describe to the best of our ability to enable potential researchers to find them in our Baylor Archival Repositories Database. However, in this case it was much easier to do so with the name and an address included directly on the photo. If we are lucky, someone writes this type of information on the back by hand, but this is not always the case. Consequently, many photos go unidentified. With this particular photo, we were able to check our 1913 Waco City Directory (see below), and discover that the woman in the photo is Feriba Cobb. The directory lists her as the occupant as well as being a nurse by profession.
Page 34, 1913 Waco City Directory (above)
The home’s owner and address “Home of Mrs. Cobb, 812 N. 6th Street, City” [Waco, Texas]
Feriba Cobb was the second wife of the Reverend Stephen Cobb, first pastor and a founding member of Waco’s New Hope Baptist Church. Feriba and Stephen had 10 children with the last 2 dying in infancy. They were: Jacob Cobb, Ruby Cobb Smith, Mae Ollie Cobb Spiller, Esau Cobb, Jessie Cobb Bledsoe, Oscar Cobb, Newton Smith H. Cobb, Naomi Ruth Cobb, Willhimena Cobb, and Isaac Conner Cobb. Many of them went on to become educators and other professionals. One of their girls, Jessie Cobb, went on to marry Henry Bledsoe and had one child: Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe, more commonly known as “Jules” Bledsoe.
So the old antique store photograph was very unusual, indeed, given that the lady in the photograph, Feriba Cobb turned out to be the grandmother of Jules Bledsoe, an internationally known opera singer, and most remembered for his version of “Ol’ Man River” in the musical production “Showboat.” Feriba Cobb died in 1935 at the age of 77, and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Waco. Now after discovering the identity and information behind the photograph, it will be reunited with the rest of the Smith and Cobb Family’s photographs and material in the Smith-Cobb Family collection here at The Texas Collection, Baylor University. We even had some existing photographs of Feriba in this collection, and we will be reuniting this one with them. The Texas Collection also has the archival papers of her famous grandson in the Jules Bledsoe papers. In conclusion, it’s always very rewarding to find old photographs such as this and place them where they belong, and in this case, carefully preserved in an archival collection with the Smith and Cobb family’s name.
The photographer’s signature: “Greene, Waco.”
While the photograph was taken in Waco, Texas, the photographer, Chauncey H. Greene, was based out of Kansas City, Missouri, according to the imprint on the photo board.
The newly discovered photo will be reunited with the rest of Feriba’s and the Smith and Cobb Family’s material located in The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The photo on the left is a much earlier one we already had of Feriba, and the other image is of her husband, the Reverend Stephen Cobb.