Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. This is our one-year anniversary of telling you what’s Research Ready, so we added things up. We’ve announced nearly 90 finding aids completed between May 2012-May 2013. Wow—that’s a lot of research just waiting to happen! We look forward to sharing many more research opportunities with you. Here’s the scoop for May 2013:
Nick Pocock papers, 1971-1983, undated: Correspondence, photographs, and a newspaper clipping pertaining to Nick Pocock, a former aviation correspondent for The Waco Citizen and a former professor at Texas State Technical College.
R. H. Smith Papers. 1836, 1839: Three letters, one of which has a typed transcription. Several incidents described in the letters relate to the Texas Revolution.
Meet Paul Fisher, Baylor graduate (BA 2009, MA 2011), native Texan, and Processing Archivist, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:
From Civil War hospital records, to documents about Baylor’s activities in Independence, to old photographs of early Texans, The Texas Collection has a great deal of fascinating materials. My work preparing archival record groups (groups of records that share the same creator or collector) for researchers means that I get to see all the cool items we have on a daily basis. I have a BA in museum studies and an MA in history, both from Baylor, so “old stuff” definitely fascinates me, especially Civil War-related materials.
So how do I go about preparing archival record groups for users? This usually includes organizing the collection if needed, rehousing the materials in new acid-free folders and boxes, and writing documents called finding aids to help researchers locate and use them. An increasing part of my job is to help students discover how to do this work well, whether they are student interns, students in a class, or students who work for us.
Much of my work now is devoted to preparing our new archival software system, called Cuadra Star, for launch this summer. For the past 11 months I have led a team of staff and students on a number of projects to get ready for this launch. There have been some challenges to solve along the way, but we address them and continue to forge ahead. Cuadra Star will allow us to find information, organize our collections, and provide better archival service to you than ever before.
One of my favorite activities as part of working at The Texas Collection has been working with a class from the Department of Museum Studies here at Baylor. In fall 2012, Dr. Julie Holcomb taught her annual Archival Collections and Museums class to thirteen students, and as part of the class each student processed one archival record group for use by researchers. The class was taught here at The Texas Collection, and I offered special office hours every week when students would come to work with me on their assigned archives. The project gave them valuable professional experience, and also prepared thirteen of our record groups for use.
We also showcase exhibits on various interesting topics throughout the year, and I have helped with several during my time at The Texas Collection. One of the most interesting was our spring 2012 exhibit, which featured the Farmers Improvement Society (FIS) and R.L. Smith. The society was founded by Smith to help African American sharecroppers in the early 1900s have access to financing for their farms, life insurance, better farming methods, and an agricultural school. Such exhibits help increase awareness of the resources we preserve. More than year after this exhibit was over, we were still receiving questions about our FIS-related records on this blog, and we hosted a research fellow this year who came from New York to spend a week studying these records.
With all of these different projects to work on at The Texas Collection, from working on record groups to planning the next exhibit, every day is different. Yet some things remain the same day to day. Every day is a chance to do more than tell people about history—it is a chance to highlight rediscovered pieces of history from the actual documents written by Baylor and Texas people past and present.
The Texas Collection turns 90 this year! But even though we’ve been at Baylor for so long, we realize people aren’t quite sure what goes on in a special collections library and archives. So over the course of 2013, we are featuring staff posts about our work at The Texas Collection. See other posts in the series here.
“I will help you in every possible way to get before the people, to cultivate the students and reach a maximum of opportunity for you to develop in.”
Samuel Palmer Brooks wrote those words to Francis Gevrier Guittard in a 1902 letter asking for Guittard to come and lend his services to the students of Baylor University. Today Baylor faculty and staff today are given the same message—that Baylor will give them opportunities to develop professionally, while also helping them to cultivate students who will go above and beyond.
We see the fruits of this support from Baylor as we celebrate each graduating class. But some professors, like Guittard, offer an especially good example of what is possible. On this Commencement weekend, we offer the graduating class Guittard’s story as a model of lifelong learning and service.
Guittard’s beginnings are similar to that of many others who lived in late nineteenth century America. His father, Dr. Francis Joseph Guittard, had immigrated to the United States from France. The elder Guittard, who had renounced his parents’ desires that he pursue the Catholic priesthood, moved to America in search of a better life. He settled in Ohio, where he met his wife, Lydia. As the younger Francis came of age, his parents agreed that the economic prospects in Ohio were bleak. Thus, in 1886, the Guittards sent young Francis on a one-way trip to Texas with the hope that he would succeed and find financial success.
Now on his own, Francis decided that the medical profession his father had pursued was not for him. Instead, he wanted to teach history. In the early 1890s, Guittard attended Baylor University but was unable to complete his degree. Not to be deterred, he applied to the University of Chicago, one of the nation’s rising schools. It was here that Guittard earned his bachelor of arts in 1901 and his master of arts in 1902.
Armed with his new degrees (and following the letter quoted above), Guittard returned to Baylor University. His friend, Samuel Palmer Brooks, had just become President. Neither Guittard nor Brooks knew at the time just how long they would serve Baylor and her students. For over forty years, Guittard taught in the Baylor history department, serving most of these years as the department’s chairman. He also was an adviser to the debate team, offered input on Texas Collection acquisitions (including the Sam Houston piano pictured above), helped coordinate the first Homecoming, and made many other contributions to the lives of Baylor students.
If such devotion to his profession was not enough, Guittard’s pursuit of a doctoral degree was a testament to his belief in the value of education. Many would have become complacent with steady employment and raising a family, but not Guittard. (Brooks’ encouragement of his faculty to pursue doctoral degrees helped too.) In the 1920s, he began taking summer courses at Leland Stanford University (more commonly known as Stanford) in California. His dedication paid off in 1931, when Guittard, at the age of 64, earned his doctorate with his dissertation, “Roosevelt and Conservation.”
Dr. Guittard continued to teach at Baylor and cultivate young minds with a love for history until his passing in 1950. Even now, he continues to support the education of others through the Guittard Fellowship, a family-funded scholarship given to first-year history graduate students. (In fact, I was a grateful recipient of that fellowship.) Guittard showed how one can shape the future, even while preserving history.
The Francis Gevrier Guittard papers, which consist of 38 boxes, house the personal and professional papers of Dr. Guittard. Because of Guittard’s long tenure at Baylor University and his desire to remain relevant in his field, researchers can find a number of subjects to explore in his papers. Come to The Texas Collection and discover the legacy of a man who not only improved his own lot in life, but then went on to devote his time and energy to the education of the up-and-coming generation. And to the graduating class of 2013—remember to walk in Guittard’s footsteps and pursue lifelong learning as you shape the future.
By Thomas DeShong, Archival Assistant and Digital Input Specialist
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the May 11, 1953, tornado that hit Waco, Texas, causing the deaths of 114 people. To honor those who lost their lives on this tragic day, and the great loss of a large part of Waco’s central business district, we have put on our Flickr page some unseen or seldom seen photographs of the affected areas of Waco, before and after this storm.
This group of images includes digitized 35mm, 4×5 and 8×10 photograph negatives, Kodachrome slides, stereo-slides, and printed photos, and features images captured by Waco photographers such as Hiram Blaine Sherrill, Randall W. Todd, Fred Marlar, and the Army Air Force Photography Division. We also included “before” photos, giving us a sense of what these stricken parts of Waco were like before the catastrophic storm.
Fred Gildersleeve, a well-known Waco photographer, also documented the storm’s wreckage. In a 1977 oral history interview, Waco historian Roger Conger remarked of Gildersleeve that “…Waco was most fortunate in having him here because he rode the crest of Waco’s remarkable development during the first twenty-five or thirty years of this century.” But sadly, just a few years prior to his death in 1958, he also saw the destruction of part of the city he had made a living photographing. He likely lost friends in the tragedy. However, like his earlier work, his documentation of the aftermath of the 1953 Waco Tornado helps to record an important part of the city’s history.
Another photographer whose work is being brought to light is Dr. Hannibal “Joe” Jaworski. He resided in the nearby Roosevelt Hotel (400 Austin Avenue) and had a medical practice on the third floor of the Amicable (ALICO) Building, on the corner of 5th and Austin. In the aftermath of the storm, he led medical care of the wounded at Waco’s Hillcrest Hospital. Jaworski previously served as a colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corp, and so his experience earned during WWII made his contribution vital in helping those injured in this catastrophic natural disaster.
When going to some of these hard-hit areas now, all that remains are some empty lots and historical markers. However, there is nothing like a photograph taken during this time or just before to help us realize why this event was sometimes referred to as the “Monster from the Skies.”
Check out more before and after images of the 1953 Waco tornado in our Flickr slideshow. Click the arrow to make the slideshow start, and click the crosshairs in the bottom right corner to make the slideshow full-screen.
Richard L. Farr papers, 1858-1889: Correspondence between Richard L. Farr and his wife Elizabeth K., as well as between other Farr family members and friends. Most of the correspondence dates from Richard’s service in the 30th
Georgia Infantry during the American Civil War.
Elsie and Tilson F. Maynard papers, 1942-1983: Primarily letters from former members of the Emmanuel Baptist Church of Waco who were serving in the armed forces during World War II. Addressed to Reverend and Mrs. Maynard and other church members, many of the letters express their writers’ gratitude for the church’s concerns and prayers.
Ney-Montgomery papers, 1836-1913: The Ney-Montgomery materials consist of literary materials, manuscripts, correspondence, legal documents, and photographic materials relating to artist Elisabet Ney and her husband, Edmund Montgomery.
Gordon Kidd Teal papers, 1919-1990: School materials, personal materials, professional materials, and awards accumulated by Dr. Gordon Kidd Teal, a famous twentieth century scientist who graduated from Baylor University in 1927. Teal invented the first commercial silicon transistor for Texas Instruments, among other achievements.