Research Ready: August 2013

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. Here’s the scoop for August:

Maggie Welch Rose Akin, circa 1945
Born on 1868 June 12, Maggie Welch Rose Akin primarily grew up in Texas. This photo is a part of the Akin-Rose papers, which consists primarily of over three hundred letters written between Maggie and Joseph W. Akin during their courtship from 1887 March to 1889 December. Photo circa 1945, box 14, folder 16.
  • Akin-Rose papers, 1819-1981, undated: Correspondence, diaries, financial and literary manuscripts, and photographs of members of the Akin and Rose families from Virginia and Texas in the early nineteenth century to the late twentieth century.
  • Joseph Martin Dawson papers, 1826-1989: Personal papers and published works of Dr. Joseph Martin Dawson, a Baptist preacher who was influential in the public debates concerning religious liberty and the separation of church and state in the early twentieth century.
  • BU Records: Erisophian Literary Society, 1853-1961, undated: Administrative records, literary productions, and correspondence related to this student organization at Baylor that existed between 1853 and 1932 at both the Independence and Waco campuses.
  • Graves-Earle family papers, 1848-1963, undated: These papers chronicle the history of this influential McLennan County family, including the life and work of Major Isham Harrison Earle and his daughter Dr. Hallie Earle, the first female doctor in Waco and the first female graduate of the Baylor College of Medicine.
  • William E. Moore papers, 1901-1979, undated: The bulk of this collection is the Postcards series, consisting of more than 400 postcards. The collection also contains more than 100 letters written to William E. Moore between 1902 and 1918.
Erisophian Literary Society membership certificate, 1859
The Erisophian Literary Society was the second literary society formed at Baylor University in Independence, Texas. This membership certificate (box 3, folder 1) is one of the oldest pieces in the organization’s records.

Baylor's Finest Hour: Dr Pepper Hour!

By Priscilla Escobedo, University Archives student assistant

Over the long, hot summer, students (and staff!) on campus have been missing one of Baylor’s beloved traditions—Dr Pepper Hour. It goes on hiatus for the summer, but as classes start back up, the Baylor community happily gathers on Tuesday afternoons to enjoy tasty Dr Pepper floats. But how did the tradition get started?

Student Union Building brochure, 1950s
The Tuesday afternoon Coke Party is hailed as the most popular event sponsored by the Student Union. Students gathered for Coke, hot chocolate, games, and fellowship. Other services offered by the Student Union Building included eating facilities, a barbershop, and a newsstand.

The answer begins with the Student Union Building (SUB). Baylor University grew exponentially during the first half of the 20th century, and in response to the overwhelming desire to bring the expanding student body together, Baylor alumni advocated for the construction of a Student Union Building. The project began in 1940, but did not finish until after WWII due to lack of materials caused by the War.

When it was first opened in 1947, the Union Building was home to a soda shop, barber shop, and seating area. As time went on, the SUB became home to a bowling alley, lending library, and even a shooting range. Traditions sprung up in efforts to bring the Baylor community together, and while many faded away with time, some, like Dr Pepper Hour, have survived.

Student Union Building activities calendar, November 1957
Note that instead of Coke or Dr Pepper Hour, the Student Union Building hosted Hot Chocolate Time on Tuesdays in November 1957–it must have been cold outside!

Dr Pepper Hour now is a 60-year-old tradition and a hallmark of the Student Union Building. It was first organized by Mrs. Marie Mathis, assistant dean, and eventually director of the SUB. She was incredibly passionate about student activities in Baylor, with other contributions including founding All-University Sing and Pigskin Revue. Like these other traditions, Dr Pepper Hour has undergone several changes over the years. This particular tradition has its origins with Matinee Coffee Hour in 1952, then became known as Coke Hour in 1953. The beverage offerings were not set for many years—the menu might include Coke floats, Dr Pepper floats, or even hot cocoa or hot Dr Pepper during the winter months. That means you’ll see references to Coke Hour and Hot Chocolate Time in old Lariats and flyers and so forth. (But it usually was Coke Hour.)

"Let this be your finest hour!" Coke Hour flyer, Baylor University, undated
“Let this be your finest hour!” Coke Hour flyer, Baylor University, undated

What hasn’t changed is that every Tuesday at 3 pm, students, faculty, and staff get together, chat, and take a break from their hectic schedules, while enjoying a tasty beverage. Coke Hour, along with the basement bowling alley and the second floor lending library, made the Student Union Building the center for student activities on campus.

<i>Cookin' with Dr Pepper</i> cookbook, 1965
Dr Pepper floats aren’t the only treat you can make with Dr Pepper! This cookbook at The Texas Collection will teach you how to cook everything from meatballs to butterscotch squares, using Dr Pepper as an ingredient. This cookbook is just one of nearly 5,000 Texas cookbooks in our print collection.

In 1997, Baylor University entered an agreement with Dr Pepper Bottling Co., granting them campus exclusivity and sponsorship and promotional rights for athletic events as the University’s official soft drink. That agreement cemented Dr Pepper’s place as the beverage of choice, and the tradition has been Dr Pepper Hour ever since.

So when 3 pm rolls around today, make sure you stop by Barfield Drawing Room (or the 6th floor of Robinson Tower, if you’re over there) for a refreshing Dr Pepper float, and enjoy spending time in community with the Baylor family. You’ll be in good company with the last six decades of Baylor alumni!

Priscilla Escobedo is a senior international studies major from Irving, Texas. She has worked with the University Archives at The Texas Collection for nearly one year. She pulled the images for this post (except for the cookbook) from the Baylor printing office sorting project she has been working on for the past year.  

A Day in the (Texas Collection) Life: Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Telephone switchboard operator, c. 1905
Geoff selected a few of his favorite photos for this post. In this image from the recently acquired E.C. Blomeyer Photographic Collection, we get a beautifully detailed view into the telephone switchboard operator’s world, circa 1905.

Meet Geoff Hunt, originally from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, and Audio and Visual Curator, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:

The Texas Collection has an estimated 1.4 million photo prints, negatives, slides, and digital image files. Additionally, we have thousands of moving image items, and the collection holds an equal number of sound recordings including interviews, music, and many other memorable events. My job as Audio and Visual Curator is to manage all of these materials.

Currently the photograph collection keeps my extremely helpful student photo assistants and me the busiest. Photographs are our most requested materials—lots of people need images, whether they’re looking for photos to use in publications, to supplement their research, or to decorate an office. My undergraduate student workers assist me in scanning, filing, and pulling photographs for projects and researchers. Our main goal is to serve the university and the general public with their needs.

Fred Gildersleeve-Welcome to Waco
This image of Waco was taken by Fred Gildersleeve, circa 1910. On the far left side is Austin Avenue. Click on the image to see a “Welcome to Waco” banner–it almost looks like it was painted on the street!

How do we make such a large amount of images available for use? As with most libraries and archival facilities, you’ll get the most of your experience by visiting us in person. However, we are always working to make more photographs, as well as other materials, available online. The Texas Collection has thousands of photographs made accessible through Baylor’s Digital Collections site, which can be found in Texas Collection-Photos.  Our Flickr page is another way for people to enjoy a small sampling of our large photographic collection.  

Among our visual holdings, The Texas Collection is home to the archives of noted Central Texas photographers Fred Gildersleeve, Fred Marlar, and Jimmie Willis. However, these photographic materials, mostly dating from the early 1900s-1950s, primarily consist of negatives. The first priority in working with items such as these is preserving the original negatives and printed photographs as best as possible. We spend much time doing so by replacing old acidic sleeves and folders with ones that are acid-free and by using protective sleeves (Mylar) for the photo prints.  

Baylor's University's First Computer, Hankamer School of Business, Casey Computer Lab, IBM 1620, September 13, 1967
This IBM 1620 Data Processing System came to Baylor in 1962 and was the university’s first computer. Photos like this one document changing technology and milestones and offer unique insight into our past.

Some of the negatives are made of glass but most are cellulose; these can range in size from 16 millimeters to 8 x 10 inches. Glass is fragile, and cellulose deteriorates with age and climate. By reproducing these negatives and printed photos with specialized photo scanners, a digital “preservation file” and user access copy can be created. We do still keep the original negative and/or photo print—that’s the master copy!—but by digitizing items, we can allow access to the photo without endangering the original. People of today and future generations will be able to see this history of Baylor, Waco, various Texas cities, and many other locations for years to come. [Check out our Preservation Week video if you’re interested in learning how you can scan your own negatives.]

Scanning this variety of media and preserving the originals are what I spend the majority of my time doing. It is a very large collection to work with but I enjoy learning and finding something new and interesting everyday in our holdings. My position at The Texas Collection as Audio and Visual Curator is challenging but I sincerely find it to be “a labor of love.”  

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. (Read more about one student assistant’s work with the photography collection in our March post.)

A User's Guide to the Texas Collection, Part 2, Or, Dealing with Challenging Resources

Baptism in the Brazos River, Waco, undated
Photograph of a baptism in the Brazos River: images like this are astoundingly rare…and so are sources that so clearly “make” a portion of your research!

Kenna Lang Archer, a veteran researcher at The Texas Collection, is our guest blogger for this series, “A User’s Guide to The Texas Collection.” Drawing on her research on the Brazos River, Dr. Archer offered advice on identifying helpful (but not obvious) resources and making use of special collections staffers in her last post. In this installment, she discusses some of the perils of primary resource research: sources that contradict your thesis and the challenges of assessing authenticity in materials.

Unfortunately, archival research does not always yield information that one might call “helpful.”  To research in archives is to invite uncertainty into your academic life. Yes, I have located sources that pulled everything together, but I have also found sources that contradicted all I expected to find. What is the proper response to a source that seemingly undermines your work? There is no one answer, but my advice would be to remember that there is promise in confusion.

Roughly halfway through my dissertation research, I found a source that seemed to weaken my argument in a serious way. It was nothing short of an intellectual catastrophe. I erupted in genuine (if, thankfully, short-lived) tears and stopped work early that day. That evening, I wrote up a brief outline for my project and began to ask difficult questions about the new material—what did it really say, how might it broaden my study, did it undercut the entirety of my thesis or portions of it, could I simply fine-tune my ideas? It took me awhile to incorporate these answers into my outline and then to adjust my writing, but as I struggled through the muddle that once was my project, it became easier to envision the ways in which new ideas could fit together. The end result: a stronger project!

Unfortunately, there have also been times when I couldn’t work out the contradictions that resulted from new information—I’ve discarded projects and entirely reworked projects. Whatever the ultimate outcome, “defiant” sources are beneficial—they help to refine research projects into something both more intriguing and authentic.

Canoeing on the river, 1908
Though I knew something about this photograph (it came from a Baylor student scrapbook), I didn’t have a location. Was this the Brazos River? I sure wanted it to be, but ultimately I had no clear evidence one way or another and so I set aside this image as a source.

That being said, whether or not sources prove to be helpful, researchers must take the time to assess their authenticity. Letters, books, pamphlets—they’ve all been written by individuals with preconceptions and opinions. Photographs and paintings can be staged or emotionally skewed as well. In other words, every source is created in a context that shapes its meaning and its value.

Was a tract written to attract visitors to Texas? It probably emphasized the good and downplayed the bad about life in this state. Was a letter written in 1917? Ongoing war in Europe surely colored the text, and the contextual biases might have shifted from one month to the next.

It is imperative that researchers understand these nuances. So how do you account for the possibility of hyperbole, the use of incorrect figures, the fever of patriotism? When working with a primary source, I try to anticipate what biases might exist by considering the who, what, where, when, and why of its creation. For example, I might ask where this information originated and whether it was corroborated only by people from the same family or city. If possible, I also account for subjectivity by increasing the number of sources that I review and, thereby, increasing the validity of statistics, stories, and so forth.

Flooding at the Washington Avenue Bridge, Waco, circa 1913
The Brazos River flooding, circa 1913: In some cases, it is possible to determine information for sources that is not explicitly given. For example, I can reasonably date this undated photograph by comparing the years of Brazos floods with the construction dates of Brazos River bridges, the advent of technology, and popular styles of dress.

Whether you have one crucial source or twenty adequate sources, take the time to judge the authenticity of your information…and, most difficult of all, have the courage to set aside a source, however valuable, whose information cannot be trusted. It is far more important to work in confidence knowing that you have prioritized accuracy than to squeeze a questionable source into an existing argument.

Stay tuned for the September entry (and final post) in this series.

Archer is an instructor in the history department at Angelo State University. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Baylor and then her doctorate at Texas Tech University. You can learn more about her research on her website, www.

Dime Novels: The Rise of the American Hero

The Texas Collection is proud to present our newest exhibit, “Dime Novels: The Rise of the American Hero.” Gallop into the adventures with our promotional video on YouTube:

From 1860 to 1920, the dime novel was an immensely popular form of entertainment in the United States. The stories were not critically praised and the writing was often a formulaic action story, but the dime novel resonated with American readers. Although the subject matter of the dime novels included detective, military, and even early science fiction stories, it was the Western dime novel that dominated the market. And it was the Western dime novel that introduced the Western hero who would stand as a distinctively American archetype to the present day.

The Two Hunters, Beadle's New Dime Novels, 1865
An early dime novel from 1865, “The Two Hunters.” Dime novel stories would often feature a recurring hero such as Buffalo Bill, Deadwood Dick, Buckskin Sam, or Roving Joe. The printing house could then establish a series and garner a following for these heroes. These heroes were, of course, packaged in a fast-paced adventure story often described as “blood and thunder.”

Adventures for a Dime

The term “dime novel” began as a brand name for the publications first issued by the New York printing firm Beadle and Adams. Beadle’s Dime Novels were an immediate success even though there was already a precedent for an inexpensive, stock adventure publication. The successful dime novel formula included a dramatic cover illustration on a pamphlet-like booklet.

Making Money, Dime by Dime

Writing the dramatic stories for the dime novels was a lucrative business for many late 19th century authors. If the author could establish a popular character in a long running series, he or she could expect a price of up to $1,000 per story. A less established author could expect close to $50 per story. Many authors shared common traits, including the ability to produce an extraordinary amount of pages in a short time and personal adventures that rivaled their dime novel heroes.

One such author, Prentiss Ingraham, achieved success and fame as an author of the “Buffalo Bill” series for Beadle’s and by his own count had written 600 novels by 1900. Most remarkable however, was Ingraham’s life before he became a writer. As a Confederate scout in the Civil War he had harrowing experiences including capture and escape from Union forces. After the war he continued to serve in conflicts in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

The Girl Rancher, or, Nobby Nat, the Tenderfoot of Lone Star, Brave and Bold, 1906
Although not as numerous as their male counterparts, female dime novel authors successfully established themselves in the field, and many provided stories of heroines to a wide audience. Female heroines like Nobby Nat also made appearances in dime novels.

Upon his return to the United States, Ingraham headed west and in 1884 met William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and worked as an agent for his Wild West Show. When he returned east, Ingraham began to write plays, poems, and dime novels, most likely relying on his own experiences for his action stories. Though Ingraham died in 1904, his Buffalo Bill stories were reissued in multiple dime novel publications well into the 20th century.

Female authors also found success in the dime novel market. Most notably, Ann S. Stephens was the author of the very first Beadle’s Dime Novel, a story titled “Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter” in 1860. Already an accomplished writer and editor with Ladies Companion and Graham’s Magazine, Stephens wrote more dime novels but also published popular novels and plays.


Dime Novel Heroes Move to New Media

In the 1880s and 1890s dime novels began to be published in bi-weekly series titled “Libraries.”   These were shorter than the original dime novels, but the size of the pages were made larger to compensate, and the price was dropped to five cents.

Young Wild West Shooting for Glory, or, The Cowboy Jubilee at Red Dog, Wild West Weekly, 1908
The cover art illustrators of the dime novels were just as important as the authors. In the 1890s the dime novel publisher Street & Smith institutionalized the importance of cover art by having the artist produce the image first, then giving the artwork to an author to create a story.

Buffalo Bill dime novels continued to be popular well into the 20th Century and new Western heroes like the young adventurer named “Wild West” became established in the 1900s, but the Western in dime novel form was losing ground to other genres such as the New York detective stories. By World War I dime novels were being published less. At this time, young readers could spend their five cents to see a motion picture instead of paying to read the latest dime novel. The Western heroes from the dime novel didn’t fade away— they simply moved with the audience, becoming the featured stars in the new films and pulp magazines.

You can see the exhibit through the Fall semester at The Texas Collection in Carroll Library.

By Sean Todd (Library Assistant) and Amie Oliver (Coordinator for User and Access Services)