Remembering Their Sacrifices: Baylor Faculty and Students During World War II

by Thomas DeShong, Project Archivist

World War II witnessed the rise of the United States as a global superpower and the establishment of a new world order.  Historians, amateur and professional alike, devote their entire lives to studying the complexities and intricate details of “The Good War” including its battles, politicians, military commanders, causes, effects, etc.

BU Records: Armed Services Representative, Accession #BU/12, Box #2, Folder #25, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.<br />
Ray Priolo wrote this letter to Merle McClellan after his transfer from Baylor. Note that he only has kind words to say concerning Merle, Baylor students, and the campus. He even gives BU President Pat Neff a vote of approval.

While seeking to comprehend the broader historical and social implications of World War II, we sometimes forget how these events impacted the life of an individual.  Activities that we might take for granted, such as teaching and learning in a peaceful collegiate setting, were dramatically altered in a nation at war.  Over the past few months, I have processed two small but fascinating collections concerning Baylor University during World War II.  As a result, I have come to appreciate the sacrifices made by some of Baylor’s faculty and students during that time.

Merle Mears McClellan was one such remarkable faculty member.  Merle had earned a double major in history and science from the University of Texas in 1917 and had taught for years in the Gatesville area.  Following the death of her husband William, she earned her Master’s degree in 1941 at Baylor University where she taught various history courses over the next few years.  In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Baylor University President Pat Neff appointed Merle as the university’s Armed Services Representative in the spring of 1943.  In this role, she acted as a liaison between the university and the military.

Reflecting on her experiences, Merle was one of the few women who had been appointed to such a task.  In explaining why Neff had chosen her, she wrote, “He said, ‘You are a mother of one son in the Pacific.  Your normal reaction would be to send everyone to help him fight.  So if you say a boy is entitled to exemption no one on the McLennan Co. Draft Board will question your decision.  Furthermore, I know you and I know the Baylor boys will get everything to which they are entitled.” Continue Reading

Research Ready: December 2017

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!

December’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

  • Letter from Charles Wellborn to Elma Merle Mears McClellan Duncan
    Letter from Charles Wellborn, student at Baylor and future evangelist and pastor, to the Armed Services Representative for Baylor University. In the letter, Wellborn describes drilling for the past week, after enlisting in the United States Army in July 1943.

    • BU Records: Armed Services Representatives, 1942-1945, undated (#BU/12): Collection contains correspondence sent by former students, parents, and government officials to Merle Mears McClellan, Baylor University’s Armed Services Representative during World War II. Baylor President Pat Neff appointed McClellan as the acting liason between the university and the military, in conjunction with Baylor University becoming a training site for Army officers prior to World War II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

December’s print materials
By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials

Cunningham, Eugene. Famous in the West. El Paso, TX: Hicks-Hayward Co., [1926]. Print.

Cunningham, Eugene. Famous in the West. El Paso, TX: Hicks-Hayward Co., [1926]. Print. 

Originally published in El Paso as an advertisement for Rodeo Outdoor Clothes, this volume contains info on cowboys such as “Jim” Gillett, Dallas Stoudenmire, Billy the Kid, and Tom Threepersons. Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

 

 

 

College, Belton: For Women. [Belton, TX?]: [publisher not identified], [between 1925 and 1929?]. Print.

College, Belton: For Women. [Belton, TX?]: [publisher not identified], [between 1925 and 1929?]. Print. 

The purpose of this volume is two-fold. The many photographs of the grounds and student body show a beautiful, thriving Baylor College campus while the new development campaign seeks $500,000 to pay university debts and $250,000 to build a permanent endowment. Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

 

 

Waco 52 Playing Cards. [Waco, TX]: [publisher not identified], [2017]. Print.

Waco 52 Playing Cards. [Waco, TX]: [publisher not identified], [2017]. Print. 

Though not a traditional book, this set of playing cards is unique to Waco. Each card is designed by a different artist and contains images of locations throughout the city, including the ALICO building, Waco Suspension Bridge, Hippodrome, Lake Waco, etc. Click here to view in BearCat.

Research Ready: November 2017

Each month, we post an update to notify our readers about the latest archival collections to be processed and some highlights of our print material acquisitions. These resources are primed for research and are just a sampling of the many resources to be found at The Texas Collection!

November’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

    • Texas Sheet Music collection, 1836-1979, undated (#258): An assortment of songs and sheet music relating to Texas. Many of these songs pertain to the Texas War of Independence, famous military leaders, Christmas in Texas, the state flower, the state song, the city of Waco, and life in the American Southwest.
BU Home Economics Department Pamphlets
These departmental pamphlets found in the collection highlight the variety of opportunities available at Baylor and historical changes in higher education for home economics as a whole You’ll find these items in the BU Records: Home Economics Department (#BU/107) at The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Rights: Some rights reserved. E-mail txcoll@baylor.edu for information about the use of our images. Visit www.baylor.edu/lib/texas/ for more information about our collections.

November’s print materials
By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials

Harding, Glenn T. Rails to the Rio. [Raymondville, TX]: [Glenn Harding], [2003]. Print.

Harding, Glenn T. Rails to the Rio. [Raymondville, TX]: [Glenn Harding], [2003]. Print.

Highlighting the 2004 centennial of the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railroad, this volume also provides information on towns created and/or affected by rail construction. Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

Collias, Joe G. The Texas & Pacific Railway: Super-Power to Streamliners, 1925-1975. Crestwood, MO: M M Books, [1989]. Print.

 

Collias, Joe G. The Texas & Pacific Railway: Super-Power to Streamliners, 1925-1975. Crestwood, MO: M M Books, [1989]. Print.

This volume provides a deeper look at 50 years of the Texas & Pacific Railway and is filled with many photographs of trains, depots, and rail yards. Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

Texas over Time: Camp MacArthur

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.

• Named after Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, the camp was opened July 18th, 1917, to train men demobilized from service on the Mexican border at the end of World War I. It was in service for less than three years when it was abandoned on May 15, 1919.
• As well as a demobilization facility, Camp MacArthur served as an officer’s training school and an infantry replacement training camp.
• Located in northwest Waco, local businessmen helped to create a 10,700-acre complex from cotton fields and blackland farms.
• The estimated cost was five million dollars and included a base hospital, administration offices, tent housing for troops, and other military personnel buildings.
• The first commander was Major General James Parker who formed the 32nd U.S. Infantry Division later known as “Les Terribles” for their “successful, tenacious attacks” on enemy troops in Langres, France.
• The camp’s capacity could occupy over 45,000 troops but never exceeded 28,000 troops at a time.
• After the establishment of Camp MacArthur, the large influx of soldiers helped stimulate Waco’s economy until the Great Depression. The military presence also heavily influenced Waco’s Cotton Palace Exposition with an exhibit of a “bullet-ridden German biplane.”

Works Cited
• Kelley, Dayton. “Camp MacArthur.” The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas. Waco, TX: Texian, 1972. 47. Print.
• Amanda Sawyer, “Camp MacArthur,” Waco History, accessed July 6, 2016, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/48.
• Stanton, John. “Camp MacArthur.” FortWiki. MediaWiki, 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 07 July 2016.
• Handbook of Texas Online, Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “Camp MacArthur,” accessed July 07, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qcc27.

See the still images in our Flickr set.

Print Peeks: Waco Newspapers Report on the Beginning of World War I

By Sean Todd, Library Assistant

On August 3, 1914, the British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey remarked, “The lamps are going out all over Europe, and we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”  Grey was commenting on the seemingly unstoppable slide into a cataclysmic war that was overtaking his country and all of Europe. The lights being extinguished across Europe did not go unnoticed in central Texas. A survey of Waco newspapers from early August 1914 demonstrates that people in Texas had practical economic concerns about the events in Europe as well as deep personal connections to the land and people that would soon be plunged into World War I.

Waco Morning News Aug. 5, 1914
Front page of The Waco Morning News for August 5, 1914, reporting on the declaration of war between Great Britain and Germany.

The events following the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on June 28, 1914, were fast moving and complex. Over the course of July and early August, the major European powers found themselves tangled in alliances that resulted in a major war. Even a century later the situation can be hard to fully understand, and this was no different for people all over the globe in 1914. Local newspapers had the difficult job of tracking and reporting each turn in the unfolding events. On August 5, 1914, the popular daily newspaper The Waco Morning News displayed in red ink across the front-page “GERMANY VS. WORLD” to mark the news that Great Britain had declared war on Germany. The Waco Morning News typically focused on national and international news stories from the Associated Press. On the front page of the August 5, 1914, edition, stories were filed from London, Berlin, Paris, New York, Quebec, New Orleans, and Constantinople, giving Waco readers a truly global perspective on the war.

Waco Morning News Aug. 5, 1914, Cotton and War
This August 5, 1914, article in The Waco Morning News examines the economic impact of the war on Texas.

However, on the editorial page a voice was given to local uneasiness about the developing conflict. Titled “Cotton and War,” the article points out that nearly 10 million bales of cotton that the United States annually exports were currently being readied for the international market, a market that was in danger of disappearing due to the war. If that were to happen, the cotton prices could plummet, causing an economic crisis for Texas and the entire US south. A proposal was put forth that if the cotton cannot be shipped overseas, then the federal government should buy the surplus. In one action the United States could aid cotton farmers and invest in a soon-to-be high demand commodity. It wouldn’t be long before European armies clamored for cheap fabric for uniforms and war material.

Another perspective on the war, unique to Waco, can be found in the August 8, 1914, edition of The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune. This newspaper focused more on local events and was able to capture personal reactions to the outbreak of the war. The article, “Thoughts Evoked by the War,” recognized that many Wacoans were German veterans of the Franco-Prussian War of the early 1870s. With the Germans and French again marching to war, these residents were most likely feeling a mix of emotions over the lands of their birth. Ultimately, the editorial called for understanding of people’s regional loyalties.

Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune Aug. 8, 1914
This political cartoon was printed on the front page of The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune on August 8, 1914. The cartoon illustrates the political chaos that existed in Europe in 1914 and led to the beginning of World War I.

Both articles concluded with the hope that the conflict would be short-lived. Unfortunately the War only grew larger in scale and loss. By 1917 these Waco newspapers would be printing the names of drafted local men as the United States entered World War I.

 Bibliography

Spender, J.A. Life, Journalism and Politics, Volume II. New York: Fredrick A. Stokes Company, 1927.

The Waco Morning News, “Cotton and War,” August 5, 1914.

The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune, “Thoughts Evoked by the War,” August 8, 1914.

“Print Peeks” is a regular feature highlighting select items from our print collection.

Research Ready: July 2014

Tarrant County superintendent election certificate for Wade Hill Pool, 1888
Wade Hill Pool earned his bachelor’s degree from Baylor in  1887 and very shortly thereafter was elected the Tarrant County  superintendent of public schools. He returned to Baylor to lead its  Academy in 1892. Wade Hill Pool papers #76, box 1, folder 2

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. This month’s finding aids include several produced by the Archival Collections and Museum class from spring 2014. Topics include the papers of a Paul Quinn College professor, a Texas lawyer involved with the Nazi war trials right after World War II, and a committee that considered moving Baylor University from Waco to Dallas, Texas. Here are July’s finding aids:

Inside pages of “Military Training at Paul Quinn College” pamphlet
This pamphlet shows the military training Paul Quinn College students received during World War II. John H. Talton papers #3082, box 1, folder 7.

 

Soldiers of the Wooden Cross: Military Memorials at Baylor

Walking across the Baylor campus, you may have noticed that your way is marked by distinctive lampposts, some of which bear plaques honoring Baylor men and women killed serving their country. These memorial lampposts are said to serve as honor guards by day and to illuminate the campus by night and are part of a tradition that began in 1946.

Walter Davis Gernand plaque on a memorial lamppost at Baylor UniversityOne day, Frank Jasek, a preservation specialist for the Baylor libraries, paused to read one of the plaques, and he recalls that “I felt as though that plaque was a portal to a friend that I was to meet.” Thus began the project that would become Soldiers of the Wooden Cross, a book compiling information, stories, and photos on each of the men and women memorialized by the lampposts. “It is my hope that after reading what is presented on the pages you will gain some insight into who this hero was.”

Jasek started his research at The Texas Collection, but he also used government documents and even reached out to the families of the deceased, who in some cases were able to provide photos, letters, and other valuable artifacts. Soldiers of the Wooden Cross: Military Memorials of Baylor University is available at The Texas Collection, as is the Frank Jasek papers, which feature the research files compiled in the process of completing the book.

Soldiers of the Wooden Cross, edited by Frank JasekFor more information, see the book’s website, which includes excerpts, reviews, and a list of retailers. The Waco Tribune-Herald and the Baylor Lariat also have done articles on Jasek’s labor of love. Visit the University Development website for information on campus memorials and tributes.

Working with the Waco Foundation, Jasek started the Soldiers of the Wooden Cross Scholarship Fund for veterans, family members of veterans, ROTC cadets, and active duty military. All proceeds of book sales will benefit this scholarship fund.

Research Ready: November 2013

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for November:

Broadside, decree from Jose Gomez de la Cortina, following Santa Anna's capture, 1836
Decree by Mexican Secretary of War Jose Maria Tornel, via District Governor  Jose Gomez de la Cortina, regarding Mexico’s response to Santa Anna’s capture at San Jacinto: while Santa Anna remains in prison, a bow of black crepe was to be placed on all flags and standards, and the national colors were to be flown at half mast. Jones Texas Broadsides, box 1, folder 11.
Program, Woodrow School of Elocution and Physical Culture presentation, 1916
A program from a 1916 presentation by the younger girls attending the Woodrow school. The school used the White system of expression, a noted methodology to teach students how to best utilize gesture, emotion, and voice in public. Woodrow School of Expression and Physical Culture, box 1, folder 1.

Research Ready: October 2012

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for October:

Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work
Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work. Their papers document their work, family, and social life in Waco, Texas.
Bolt Family Homestead and Legion Valley massacre scrapbook photo, 1985
Dr. Johnie Reeves at a vista overlooking the Colorado River and the Comanches’ route after the Legion Valley massacre of 1868. Legion Valley is on the other side of the Cedar Mountains in the distance.
  • William Carley Family Collection, 1834-1936, undated: Documenting the Carley family from 1836-1936, this collection includes records about William Carley’s experiences moving to Texas in 1836, his service in the United States-Mexican War, and other events in the life of the family.
  • Oscar “Doc” Norbert and Mary “Kitty” Jacques Du Congé Papers, 1908-1987: This archives consists of manuscripts pertaining to the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Du Congé. Oscar  was the first African-American Mayor of Waco, and his wife, Mary, was a schoolteacher and secretary who was a leader in the community, a socialite, and a volunteer member of many Catholic religious organizations.
  • Wilhelm Esch Collection, 1870-1943: This collection contains certificates of  appointment and of honorable discharge for German-American soldier Wilhelm Esch, photographs and books concerning military life in World War I, items related to the Order of the Elks and miscellaneous WWII items including ration books.
  • Guyler (Lydia Ann English) [Mrs. William] Papers, 1860:  A correspondence between
    Mrs. Lydia A. Guyler (Mrs. William) from General Sam Houston, in response to Mrs. Guyler’s request for Houston to name her daughter.
  • Adolf Hitler Papers, 1938-1943: Our Hitler Papers contain two documents signed by the Chancellor of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler.
  • Benjamin Judson Johnson Papers, 1942-1960: These papers include correspondence, legal documents, literary productions, and artifacts relating to Benjamin’s experience in the U.S. Naval Air Force during World War II.
  • Jones Family Papers, 1857-1867, 1920, undated: The Jones family records consist of correspondence, legal, and financial documents, including fourteen Civil War letters from family members in the 10th Texas Infantry.
  • Luper Family Papers, 1909-1990: The Luper Family Papers are comprised of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials pertaining to a Baptist missionary family and their experiences during the mid-1900s in Portugal, Brazil, and central Texas. (This finding aid is updated with additional materials that came to The Texas Collection after we initially announced the finding aid in June 2012.)
  • Harry Hall Womack, Jr. Papers, 1940-1948: Womack’s papers consist of correspondence and literary productions relating to his experiences in the 1940s. These include medical school, a tour as a doctor in the Army during World War II, and the beginnings of his marriage and family.