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
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!
Here’s to the Next Hundred Years
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.
The Staff and Faculty of The Texas Collection