Looking Back at Baylor: The First Homecoming

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in September 1979, 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 Homecoming in full swing this weekend, it is the perfect time to take a moment and look back at how it all started. Baylor was one of the first schools to organize a Homecoming event for alumni over a century ago, and today it is one of the most widely celebrated Baylor traditions. 

Invitation to the first Homecoming in 1909

In 1909, when Baylor held its first Homecoming, a pattern was set which holds remarkably true even today. Though seven decades have passed, and generations of alumni have come and gone, the traditional highlights and festivities of Baylor’s annual “family reunion” have retained a remarkable likeness to those of their distant prototype.

The purpose of the original Homecoming in 1909 was “to give an opportunity for the joyful meeting of former student friends, an occasion when old classmates could again feel the warm hand-clasp of their fellows, recall old memories and associations, and catch the Baylor spirit again.” To this end members of student organizations, local alumni and representatives of each graduation class launched a campaign of correspondence and advertisements in major state newspapers, inviting all former Baylor students to spend Thanksgiving at the Homecoming celebration.

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Portrayals of Texans in Western Films

by Ben Leavitt, Graduate Assistant

This call sheet for Three Young Texans indicates resources necessary for a day of filming at California’s famed Iverson Movie Ranch—including three wranglers, eight horses and eighty-five hot lunches.

The Texas Collection maintains more than a half dozen screenplays either written by Texans or set in Texas. Many of these screenplays were used in the production of Western films, and from them we can get a good idea of the archetypal Texan. Generations of Americans were fascinated by the “Wild West”—how did they perceive the inhabitants of the Lone Star State when watching Westerns of the 1950s and 1960s?

Written by Gerald Drayson Adams and set along the Rio Grande in the early 1870s, Three Young Texans (1954) features cowboys with names like Johnny Colt, Tony Ballew, and Jeff Blair. Johnny’s character is “ruggedly handsome” and “intensely devoted to his boyhood pals,” while Tony “goes in for bright colored shirts and neckerchiefs.” Jeff, for his part, is “a big man both physically and mentally,” and “is friendly, easy-going and always ready to help a neighbor.”

Opposite Johnny, Tony, and Jeff is only one major female character: Rusty Blair. Played by actress Mitzi Gaynor, Rusty is nearly as much a cowboy as her male counterparts. Her character description notes that, “On the ranch she rides and ropes and gets her face dirty with the rest of the cow hands,” but “when she goes to a dance she’s a knockout and undisputed belle of the Rio Grande Valley.”Continue Reading

Introducing Rachel DeShong and Leanna Barcelona

Rachel DeShong, Special Event Coordinator and Map Curator and Leanna Barcelona, University Archivist

Equally as important as the materials themselves are those responsible for creating access and caring for the materials within the library and archives. The Texas Collection is pleased to welcome two new members to our staff and faculty at Baylor University.

Rachel DeShong is the new Special Event Coordinator and Map Curator. She is originally from California and earned her Master’s degree in Museum Studies from Baylor University. She previously worked at The Texas Collection as a graduate assistant. Rachel was the Collections Manager for Meeteetse Museums in Meeteetse, Wyoming and the Curator of Collections for Historic Waco Foundation in Waco prior to coming back to The Texas Collection. In her new role, Rachel will work with our extensive map collection and coordinate the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair (HOTRHF). “I am excited to work with such an amazing collection and to coordinate an important event like the history fair.”

Leanna Barcelona is the new University Archivist. She is originally from the Chicago suburbs and earned her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Leanna works with materials and records related to Baylor within the University Archives at The Texas Collection. “I enjoy working in academic archives because university campuses are hubs of history and reflect a larger national narrative, and the documents generated as a result of this can help researchers in several capacities.”

From Page to Air: Sharing Baylor Football since 1951

by Sylvia Hernandez, BULAA Project Archivist

Cover of the 1951 Baylor Football Data guide.
Cover of the 1951 Baylor Football Data guide.

As football season gets underway, we find ourselves in the stands of our favorite stadium watching the game, hoping the best for our team. But what about the times you can’t make it? Have you ever listened on the radio or watched the television broadcast? Where do they get those stories? How do they know those stats? How do you say that name?

Media guides have all the answers. Most of them.

While processing a large collection of Baylor Athletics materials, a “Baylor University Football Data” guide from 1951 was found, one of the earliest in the collection. It features several players on the cover, season schedule, coach and player bio’s, school record holders, and yes, even a key for “those hard-to-say names.” These guides were, and still are, made available by the Athletic Department to sports editors, radio/television announcers, and several others who may be covering the game in some capacity.

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Looking Back at Baylor: The Origin of the Green and Gold

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in June 1978, 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.

Baylor Yell Leaders help cheer the Bears to their 1974 SWC Championship
Baylor Yell Leaders help cheer the Bears to their 1974 SWC Championship, while sporting the Baylor green and gold proudly!

Across campus, across Texas, and even across the country, Baylor fans have sported green and gold for over a century. But did you know, it all started with a dandelion? Kent Keeth, with the help of Baylor alumnae Sara Rose Kendall Irvine, recount how Baylor’s colors came to be:

Generations of Baylorites have pledged their loyalty to the Green and Gold, and some have gone so far as to incorporate the colors into their private lives as a motif for their automobiles, their sportswear or their living rooms. Many have probably speculated idly, at one time or another, about their significance and the reason for their adoption as the university’s official colors.

In a letter written in 1959 to Professor Guy B. Harrison of The Texas Collection, Mrs. Sara Rose Kendall Irvine (’02) of Waco offered a first-hand account of their selection and of the inspiration for the choice. A portion of Mrs. Irvine’s letter, slightly edited, appears below.

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