Five Things You Probably Don’t Know About The Texas Collection (Unless You Just Spent Ten Weeks Here)

by Emily Starr, Summer Intern

  1. Bring a sweater. The collections here are kept at 65°, which means it’s chilly. Even on the hottest 110° days, you’ll probably need an extra layer, but it’s for the good of the collections, so it’s worth it. There are really old books, maps, and other valuable pieces of history on paper, so it’s important to do our best to preserve them.
  2. Texas has really weird towns. The Texas Collection has a vast map collection, housing about 14,000 maps of mostly Texas, and I worked with over 2,500 of them. Scranton, Movie Mountain, and Blanket were some of my favorites. You can take a tour of Europe if you’re interested, including towns like London, Paris, Oxford, Dublin, Edinburg, Florence, and Athens. If you don’t believe me, just head to the map room in The Texas Collection. The collection houses a very extensive array of maps, and another thing you might not know is how beautiful they are! From really old historical maps of the U.S. and Texas to maps of Waco, many research needs can be met in the map room.
  3. We are a photogenic school. If you need any historical pictures of Baylor or Waco, The Texas Collection can help you out. Maybe you work for The Lariat, maybe you need vintage fashion inspiration, or maybe you’re just upping your Instagram game – regardless the reason, the archives are your gold mine! If you are like me, and you aren’t the first in your family to come to Baylor, it’s especially fun to see photos of Baylor and Waco when our parents and grandparents were here.
  4. You should start your research paper here. Not only are the resources available valuable for your research, but the reading room is a quiet space for any studying needs. There is always someone at the desk to help you, and it’s a nice change of pace from the other libraries that can be crowded at different points throughout the semester.
  5. If you leave when it’s closing time, you get to hear the bells. Although Carroll Library closes at 5:00pm, one of the best parts of my days this summer has been on the walk back to my car. I try to leave right on time just to to hear the bells because it’s a fun reminder of how the history housed in The Texas Collection is still reflected throughout Baylor today.

Looking Back at Baylor: The “Philos” and the “Sophies”

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in April 1976, then was reprinted in Looking Back at Baylor (1985), a collection of Keeth and Harry Marsh’s historical columns for the Line. Blogging about Texas periodically features selections from Looking Back at Baylor, with hopes of sharing Keeth’s work with a new audience.

With the start of the fall semester kicking off this week, we welcome a new class of students who will begin to make new friends and join new organizations as Baylor becomes their home. There was a time when Baylor did not have national fraternal organizations for students to join and in the early years many students belonged to literary societies. Read on to learn about their competitiveness and “rush season”, as told by a 1909 Baylor graduate.
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Part II: A History of the Baptist Joint Committee and the Protection of Religious Liberty

Pictured here is Joseph Martin Dawson, the first Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee.
Baptist Joint Committee records, Accession #3193, Box #652, Folder #23, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

by Thomas DeShong, Project Archivist

This blog is the first of two that highlights a recently processed collection, the Baptist Joint Committee records, and its place in history.

The 1930s were a desperate time in the history of the United States.  The nation had been plunged into the Great Depression following the crash of the stock markets.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his brain trust crafted the New Deal in an effort to combat unemployment and economic depression.  In order to enact Roosevelt’s proposals, however, the powers of the federal government began to increase dramatically.  Concerned about potential infringements on individual freedom, particularly religious liberty, Baptists across the country began to organize.

In 1936, the Southern Baptist Convention created a Committee on Public Relations to monitor the government’s activities.  Rufus W. Weaver, a prominent Baptist educator and writer, served as its first Chairman.  Under his leadership, the committee tackled various church-state issues including American attempts at diplomacy with the Vatican, the mistreatment of missionaries in Romania, and the formation of the United Nations.  Weaver also facilitated cooperative efforts among the Southern Baptist Convention, the Northern Baptist Convention, and the predominantly African American National Baptist Convention U.S.A., Inc. to maximize their ability to enact change.Continue Reading

Part III: The Red River Resolution: Defining the Border Once and for All

by Rachel DeShong, Special Event Coordinator and Map Curator

This blog post is the third and final post in a series of three highlighting John Melish, a 19th century cartographer, and the impact his 1816 map,  Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessionshad on U.S. history.

As the United States acquired significant territory through the 1840s and 1850s, borders between newly admitted states followed boundaries established in the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. Border disputes between states emerged as a result of several inaccuracies in Melish’s map. One particular hotbed of contention was the Red River area.

According to the Adams-Onís Treaty, the boundary between the Spanish colony of Mexico and the United States began at the mouth of the Sabine River, went north to the 32nd degree latitude line where it intersected with the Red River, and then followed that river west until it reached the 100th Meridian. However, there were several problems with Melish’s depiction of the area. Firstly, his 100th Meridian was off target by nearly 90 miles. Secondly, Melish only recorded a single fork in the Red River while, in actuality, there were two. These errors became problematic in deciphering the border between Texas and the Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

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Part I: Why Do Baptists Care About Religious Liberty?

by Thomas DeShong, Project Archivist

This blog is the first of two that highlights a recently processed collection, the Baptist Joint Committee records, and its place in history.

Of all the rights and freedoms guaranteed to American citizens by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, freedom of religion has proven to be one of the mostly hotly contested.  Throughout the history of the United States, stretching back to the early years of British colonization in the seventeenth century, religious liberty has been at times both staunchly protected and unequivocally denied.  Baptists, due in part to the histories of their denominations, have often stood as key proponents of religious liberty for all.Continue Reading

John N. Rowe III Papers: A Texas Treasure

by Benna Vaughn, Manuscripts Archivist

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, The Texas Collection was the recipient of eight separate donations of materials from John N. Rowe, III. These donations collectively became the John N. Rowe III papers. Rowe, renown numismatist and collector from Dallas, began collecting bank notes as a small boy, and what began as a hobby became a life-long passion. This collection represents that passion and is steeped in Texas and Mexican history.

It isn’t every day that an archivist works with a collection that causes “oohhs” and “aahhs” with every turn of the page. The John N. Rowe, III papers are such a collection. It contains so much early Texas and Mexican history that it is hard not to stop and read every document. One of the most fascinating items in the papers is dated October 11, 1835, written to General Stephen F. Austin, and begins like this:

Bexar has fallen! Our brave citizen volunteers, with a persevering bravery and heroic valor, unparalleled in the annals of warfare, have triumphed over a force of twice their number and compelled the slaves of despotism to yield, vanquished by the ever resistless arms of freemen soldiers.

Now, if you are a Texan, that’ll wake you up in the morning! And just holding the letter, turned dark and torn in places, gives you goosebumps. It brings alive the feeling and zeal of the Texas Revolution.Continue Reading

Part II: Compromise Leads to Conflict: The Adams-Onís Treaty

by Rachel DeShong, Special Event Coordinator and Map Curator

This blog post is the second in a series of three posts highlighting John Melish, a 19th century cartographer, and the impact his 1816 map,  Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessionshad on U.S. history.

John Quincy Adams
Popular Graphic Arts, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-pga-10486.

The Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819 was the culmination of prolonged boundary disputes between Spain and the United States. Spain was attempting to retain their colonial empire in the Americas which was crumbling at the hands of revolutionaries. The United States, on the other hand, was rapidly expanding its borders but was highly concerned about the British presence in Florida. Although officially recognized as Spanish territory, Florida was heavily influenced by British mercantilism. During the War of 1812, British naval vessels used Florida as a launching point for attacks on New Orleans and other ports of the American South. Moreover, the United States had growing concerns regarding the number of runaway slaves and Native Americans residing in Florida. For these reasons, both Spain and the United States sought a mutually beneficial compromise with Florida at the heart of the deal.

Luis de Onís y Gonzalez was the Spanish Foreign Minister who negotiated the treaty. Arriving in Washington, D.C. in October 1809, he was not recognized as a legitimate government representative at first due to a civil war in Spain. It was not until December 1815 that the United States formally accepted Onís’ credentials. Although negotiations commenced under Secretary of State James Monroe (before he became the fifth president), most of the results occurred under Secretary of State John Quincy Adams (who would become the sixth president.) After the finer points were settled, the Adams-Onís Treaty accomplished two of the Unites States’ major priorities:

  1. Spain ceded Florida to the United States.
  2. The United States now claimed a solid, international boundary extending from the American South to the Pacific Northwest.

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Women’s Collections at Baylor University

by Anna Redhair, Graduate Assistant

In honor of Women’s History Month in March, Baylor University Libraries Special Collections and the Institute for Oral History launched a website for researching the various women’s collections and oral memoirs held across campus. The website includes materials from the Institute for Oral History; Armstrong Browning Library and Museum; Central Libraries Special Collections; Keston Center for Religion, Politics, and Society; The Texas Collection; and W. R. Poage Legislative Library.Continue Reading

Part I: The Lines are Drawn: John Melish and His Map of the United States

by Rachel DeShong, Special Event Coordinator and Map Curator

This blog post is the first in a series of three posts highlighting John Melish, a 19th century cartographer, and the impact his 1816 map,  Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessionshad on U.S. history.

Although John Melish is not a name most people are familiar with, his map entitled Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessions (1816) played a significant role in American history. Maps were often critical to international diplomacy, and inaccuracies usually led to conflict.Continue Reading

When Did the Lights First Shine Bright?: Electricity Comes to Baylor

Inside a dorm room at the Georgia Burleson Hall with a light hanging in the middle of the room, circa 1900. Found in Photograph File BU: Buildings: Georgia Burleson Hall-F.L. Carroll Chapel & Library, 1902- 1922, Baylor—Buildings—Georgia Burleson Hall—Interior, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

by Rachel DeShong, Special Event Coordinator and Map Curator

Today, we think nothing of flipping a switch and having instant light. But life was not always that simple. Prior to the spread of electricity, cities primarily used gas lamps for public lighting. Even Baylor used gas lights in its early years. The 1886 university catalog mentions gas lighting in the women’s boarding hall, although students were instructed to maintain candles on hand for their own rooms. So when did Baylor University first get electricity? Before we attempt to answer that question, it is important to learn when Waco first got electricity.

Wabash, Indiana is the first city in the world to be fully illuminated by electric lights when, on March 31, 1880, four 3,000-candle power lamps were lit above the town courthouse. Shortly thereafter, other cities began exploring the potential advantages of electric lighting. Despite the growing nationwide demand for electricity, on January 1, 1885, Waco decided to table the decision of converting to electric power. Writers from Waco newspaper The Day lamented, “Alas! For the prospects of electric lightening in Waco. They are dim.” However, officials experienced a quick change of heart, and on September 18, 1885, the city council voted 5 to 4 in favor of installing electric street lights, making Waco the second Texas city (after Corsicana) to get electric lights. Four days later, the contract with Jenney Electric Company from Indianapolis was approved. Work began, and on March 1, 1886, Waco officials turned on their electric street lamps for the first time. By 1892, there were three electric companies in Waco, proving that Wacoans were absolutely de-light-ed by the transition to electricity.Continue Reading