Thomas E. Turner, Sr. papers 1814-2007, undated (#2200): These papers include information on issues, people, and events in Central Texas during the career of Thomas E. Turner, Sr. as a newspaperman for the Dallas Morning News, Central Texas Bureau, and as a Baylor administrator. Materials primarily cover current events from the 1940s-1980s.
William A. Mueller papers, 1871-1995, undated (#3959): Materials include the reading and lecture notes, sermons, and teaching materials from the long and productive career of a German-American Baptist seminary professor of theology, philosophy, church history, and German intellectual history.
This summer, The Texas Collection was fortunate to have four graduate students working with our staff and in our collections. As the summer comes to a close, we asked them to share a little about their projects and what they have learned. We’ll hear from two today, and two next month. This week’s post demonstrates the wide variety of materials we house at The Texas Collection, from the papers of Baptist theologians and missionaries to Baylor basketball film!
My name is Alyssa Gerhardt, and I am a fourth year history PhD student from Sutter, Illinois. I have been working at The Texas Collection for the summer, helping to process materials in the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive. [Alyssa’s work was funded by the Baylor University Libraries Athletics Archive endowment.] While it is common knowledge that Baylor University has gained a lot of national attention for its athletic teams in the past few years, it may come as a surprise to learn that The Texas Collection serves as the repository for materials documenting Baylor sports history. Although The Texas Collection holds a wide variety of Baylor sports material, my main job this summer was to process film from the men’s basketball team. Dating as far back as 1960, most of this film was in 16mm format and was in a range of conditions. It has been my job to identify all of these films, put them into archival-grade containers, and catalog them for future patrons’ use.
Today, we take the process of watching movies or film for granted, but this project has helped me gain an appreciation for the development of both film and film technology over the last fifty years. Because I was working with film reels that had not been properly stored for many years, they were too delicate to simply put on a projector and watch. Instead, using a homemade film reel holder and a handheld microscope, I worked frame-by-frame to pick out players, uniforms, scores, or anything else that would help with identification. Then, using that information, I used sports reports from the Baylor Lariat, team photos from the Round-Up, or game statistics from an athletic department almanac. Needless to say, this could sometimes be very tedious work!
As an avid Baylor sports fan, however, I found the process fascinating. It was interesting to learn about key basketball players throughout the program’s history and feel connected to a long tradition of school pride. It was also intriguing to see how the sport of basketball has changed over the years, something I had not previously given much thought to.
Working at the Texas Collection has given me new appreciation for the range of materials that archives preserve and gave me a glimpse into the many fun and surprising sources we have for learning about the history of Baylor University.
My name is Cody Strecker, and I am a doctoral student of early Christian theology in Baylor’s Religion Department. The most interesting, and most daunting, of my tasks this summer as the Baptist Collection intern has been preparing the William A. Mueller papers. This German-American’s life spanned the majority of the twentieth century. His work as a young interpreter in post-World War I French-occupied Rhineland, as a Brooklyn pastor of a bilingual German congregation, as a student of Reinhold Niebuhr at Union Theological Seminary, and as a professor of history, theology, and philosophy at half a dozen Baptist seminaries and American universities, brought him into contact with a great host of fascinating events and figures. He is, in short, a historian’s dream—not only because of his encounters and activities, but because he took notes on what he read and heard with what appears to have been an obsessive compulsion. And his hundreds of lovely, flowing letters reveal a gregarious man of great faith and good humor. If you desire a lucid summary of Kierkegaard’s thought or a list of the most brutal one-liners uttered by the inimitable Archie Bunker in 1976, look no further.
But this historian’s dream was an archives processor’s nightmare. Although the collection’s folder titles proved that there had been a system of organization, somewhere along the line someone had taken a diesel leaf-blower to the material remnants of Dr. Mueller’s mind. Four weeks of pulling rusted staples, deciphering shaky German handwriting, and reuniting long-lost pages has resulted in twelve boxes of neatly ordered documents, summarily described. Few tasks in my professional life have been for me more satisfying. I look forward to seeing the products of such an active and thoughtful man mined for greater insight into the complex history of modern German theology, or of Baptist higher education in twentieth century America.
On August 14, The Texas Collection opened a special exhibit of ceramic works by Harding Black, one of the pioneers of the American studio ceramics movement.
Harding Black was born near Aransas Pass, Texas, in 1912. As a young man, he became interested in pottery after excavating ancient Native American sites near Big Bend, Texas. These early explorations would set Black on the path to rediscovering some of the ancient world’s most elusive glazes.
Heralded in his own lifetime as “the Dean of Texas Ceramics,” Black had no formal training in the fields to which he dedicated his life. He was taught to throw clay in the early 1930s by his friend Rudolf Staffel, who would himself go on to be recognized as a master ceramist. Black began teaching children’s ceramic classes at San Antonio’s Witte Museum soon after, and also supervised projects for the Works Progress Administration.
Although Black was capable of producing remarkable ceramic forms–bowls, vases, sculptures–his true passion, and indeed the foundation of his legacy, lay in glaze research. By building on the work of prominent researchers such as Charles Fergus Binns and Edgar Littlefield, Black succeeded in his pursuit of the ancient Chinese copper red glaze, publishing his findings in the inaugural issue of Ceramics Monthly, in January 1953.
Black’s love of ancient glazes would lead him to significant developments not only in copper reds, but also in Eastern glazes such as celadons and oilspots, along with Scandinavian satin mattes, and many others. Black shared his research freely, asking only that others continue to extend his work.
Black continued to work into his 80s, but decades of throwing clay and mixing glazes had taken a toll on his health. In 1995, Black donated his extensive collection of research notes and nearly 12,000 ceramic objects from his personal collection to Baylor University.
In 2015, The Texas Collection partnered with the Department of Art on a major effort to process and digitize Harding Black’s extensive collection of glaze notebooks and photographically document thousands of ceramic pieces to create a digital collection of Black’s work, ensuring that his research would be available to future generations of ceramic artists and researchers. Texas Collection staff member Amanda Dietz supervised the project, with museum studies graduate student Josh Garland and undergraduate student Amanda Means contributing.
With archival efforts completed, The Texas Collection is proud to host the exhibit, Lifting the Veil: The Ceramic Legacy of Harding Black. This exhibition features dozens of stunning pieces by Black, curated by Baylor University professor and ceramist Paul McCoy. The exhibition runs from August 14 – October 14, at The Texas Collection. In addition, The Texas Collection will host a reception on September 24, from 3:30 – 5 pm, where McCoy will present a lecture on the life and art of Harding Black. Located in The Texas Collection’s Guy B. Harrison, Jr. Reading Room, the exhibition, lecture, and reception are free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Paul McCoy at Paul_McCoy@baylor.edu.
Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.
A few notable superlatives centered around Austin’s Congress Avenue…
The Bosche-Hogg building was the site of the first steam laundry west of the Mississippi, circa late 1890s.
At nine stories, the Littlefield building (c. 1912) was briefly the second tallest building west of the Mississippi behind the ALICO, which was completed the year before, in 1911. (Many Austin sources state it as being the tallest, despite it being shorter than and built later than the ALICO.)
The street was home to a mule powered streetcar line starting in 1875. It was later upgraded to an electric line. The street was the first in Austin to be paved, in 1905, reportedly causing horses and buggies to fall whenever it rained, as they weren’t used to making fast turns on the pavement.
The Angelina Eberly/Texas Archives War statue (between Sixth and Seventh Streets) is one of the only public sculptures celebrating archives. Eberly is depicted firing a cannon to alert the people of Austin (in 1842) that Sam Houston’s men were stealing the Republic of Texas’ archives, part of President Houston’s efforts to relocate the capitol to Houston. Eberly, who ran a boarding house, fired off a grapeshot load from a cannon, sending soldiers on their way to head off the records thieves and ultimately, preserve Austin as the state capitol.
Castle, Melissa Allen. Austin Through a Century: Know Your Capitol. Austin: S.n., 1939. Print.
Historic Walking Tours: Congress Ave. & E. 6th St. Austin, TX: Visitor Information Center, 1995. Print.
Virginia and Paul Smith Missions papers, 1955-2010 (#3953): This collection describes the pastoral, educational, and humanitarian activities of two Southern Baptist missionaries that lived in the United States, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco, and Lebanon. Materials include correspondence, photographs, and twenty years of Jordan Baptist Mission Board of Directors minutes.