Sharing Student Scholarship: Students at Baylor University, 1890-1910

Our Sharing Student Scholarship blog posts showcase original scholarship written by Baylor students who conducted research using primary source materials in The Texas Collection. This post is the the third of five in a series of blog posts written by graduate and PhD students from the Fall 2018 Foundations & History of Higher Education Leadership course. 

by Sarah Madsen, Beth Cooper, Allison Combs, Marcus Franklin, and Hannah Glisson

Students at Baylor University during the turn of the twentieth century were highly passionate about their time at Baylor. Whether involved in creating student publications, participating in athletics, or answering the call to come home, Baylor students began creating traditions that can still be seen in campus culture to this day.

During this period, The Baylor University Annual was created as the first yearbook— a place where students truly began to tell their own story.  Early editors gathered photos, stories, and student experiences that helped document their Baylor experience. The creation of The Annual preceded The Lariat, Baylor’s student newspaper, and ultimately functioned as the foundation for The Round-Ups, Baylor’s official yearbook.

Just as the early student publications gave space for students to begin to tell their own story, athletics gave students an outlet to feel more connected to the Baylor spirit. From the inaugural season in 1896 to each following season, the passion and excitement surrounding Baylor football grew significantly. This Baylor spirit not only encouraged the team during successful seasons, but  also pushed the team through the difficult seasons in the middle of the first decade of the twentieth century. The Board of Trustees indefinitely abolished football on Baylor’s campus before the 1906 season, and fans believed that was the end of Baylor football. However, the spirit was diminished, but not extinguished: football returned, and the Baylor spirit ignited within students with more passion than ever before.

The grandstands during a Baylor football game vs TCU (1909)

Just as football returned to Baylor despite a temporary leave of absence, Baylor students remained loyal to their school even when disciplinary actions sent them home. Students were held to high academic standards and a strict behavioral code during the early 1900s. When disciplinary infractions occurred, Baylor administration communicated with students’ families to determine an acceptable course of action to redirect unacceptable behaviors. Often, that meant that students were sent back home on an indefinite suspension. Many of those students corresponded with President Brooks during their absence from Baylor to indicate strong desires to return to school, promising better behavior and attention to academics in return for a spot on the campus they loved so dearly. Although some of their wishes were not always granted, Baylor pride continued to run deep within these students.

Leading up to the final game of the 1909 football season, President Brooks tested the love and loyalty of past and present Baylor students. In the first ever celebration of its kind, the entirety of the Baylor family was called back home to rekindle that good ole Baylor spirit that was once shared across campus. Whether once a troublesome student, or favored among the faculty, old friendships and a shared appreciation for their alma mater united thousands of students for a grand Home-Coming celebration. Recounting the event in the 1910 edition of the Baylor University Bulletin, President Brooks reminded his honored guests that “a fond mother never loses her love for any of her children, good or bad. Old Baylor, this loving mother, welcomes you”.

Students and alumni gather on campus for a Home-Coming celebration (1909)

In an essay written describing the college experience and the culture of Baylor University, Lillie Worley McGee, class of 1896, explained that “our college life is very short and when we stop to look back, it seems but a fleet day. With some of us these days end at graduation and with others before then… So in after years… we may then be able to appreciate our school life, but very seldom do we until then” (1893). These time honored traditions and students’ continued loyalty to their university remain facets of Baylor’s culture nearly a century later.


Baylor University Bulletin (Vol. XIII, #1, 1910). The home-coming of Baylor University (1909). Waco, Texas: Baylor University. Retrieved from:

Brooks, S.P. (1907, May 9). Letter to J. E. Walker. Samuel Palmer Brooks Papers #91, Box 48, Folder “Outgoing Correspondence O-Z”), Waco, TX.

Brooks, S.P. (1908, February 26). Letter to J. A. Stewart. Samuel Palmer Brooks Papers #91, Box 48, Folder “Outgoing Correspondence O-Z”), Waco, TX.

Invitation to the first homecoming in 1909. In Looking back at Baylor: The first homecoming. Waco, Texas: Baylor University. Retrieved from:

McGee, L.W. (1893). Our college life.  Irwin Green and Lillie Worley McGee Papers, Accession #23, Box 1, Folder 8, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Ricketts, J.A. (1907, October 19). Letter to S. P. Brooks. Samuel Palmer Brooks Papers #91, Box 48, Folder “Incoming Correspondence”), Waco, TX.

Rosborough, G.B. (Ed.). (1906, June 5). Football knocked out. The Lariat, p. 1.

Roundtree, C. (1908, January 2). Letter to S. P. Brooks. Samuel Palmer Brooks Papers #91, Box 48, Folder “Incoming Correspondence”), Waco, TX.

The Baylor University Annual (1896). Waco, TX: Ed. S. Stone, Printer and Binder.

The Round-Up (1910a). The home-coming. (Vol. IX, pp.152-183). Waco, Texas: Baylor University.

The Round-Up (1910b). The football game between Baylor and T.C.U. (Vol. IX, pp.168-183). Waco, Texas: Baylor University.

Wilson, O.V. (Ed.). (1907, June 8). Football’s return. The Lariat, p. 3.

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