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!
September’s finding aids By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist
September’s print materials By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print MaterialsEllis, Edward Sylvester. Lightning Jo: The Terror of the Santa Fe Trail. New York: Beadle and Adams, . Print.
Part of the Beadle Pocket Novels series, Lightning Jo is the adventure story of a scout leading a party through treacherous Comanche country. Click here to view in BearCat.
Lafrentz, F. W. Cowboy Stuff: Poems. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1927. Print.
Number 98 of 500 copies produced, this special edition volume of Cowboy Stuff, complete with handmade laid paper, is signed by the author, Illustrator, and publisher. Each poem, written by F. W. Lafrentz, who, at 14-years-old immigrated to the U.S. from Germany, has an accompanying etching by Henry Ziegler, noted British artist. Click here to view in BearCat.
This month we are featuring two students that worked at The Texas Collection over the summer. Check out the collections they worked with while they were here!
History doctoral student Joel Iliff
While scholars of pedagogy speak of “flipping the classroom,” I feel that my work at The Texas Collection has been an exercise in “flipping the archives.” By this I mean that as a historian I have long been accustomed to working with archival materials that others have preserved and organized, but now I have preserved and organized materials for others to use.
Instead of letting me get my feet wet with a small collection, the processing archivist, Paul Fisher, began my internship with a metaphorical cannonball into the 72 document boxes of the Julia and Finlay Graham papers. Hailing from Texas and Scotland, respectively, Julia and Finlay Graham met in post-World World II Palestine and served in the Middle East as Southern Baptist missionaries for the next forty years. Though most of the collection documents their teaching and evangelistic ministries, their papers also contain glimpses into the politics of the Middle East, as the Grahams witnessed events such as the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Lebanese Civil War. After removing hundreds of duplicate pages, I reduced the 72 box leviathan to 50 boxes and a finding aid.
Closer to home, I also processed and created a finding aid for the records of the Waco Regional Baptist Association. Founded in 1860, the association remains a vital institution for Baptists in central Texas. I was particularly interested in the association’s records from the 1950s through the early 1970s, which provide a wealth of information on race and religion in central Texas in the era of the Civil Rights movement.
The historian in me constantly envisioned how these collections could contribute to studies of the modern Middle East, twentieth-century Baptist missions, the Civil Rights movement, and a myriad of other topics. Although these studies will have to be written by other scholars, I hope that I have made their jobs easier through my work over the summer.
Museum Studies graduate student Valencia Johnson
For an aspiring archivist with my disposition and imagination, spending time with papers is ideal. At a certain point in processing archival documents, the collection becomes a real entity; life reenters the boxes, and a complex picture emerges. This reanimation is what I learned in my time at the Texas Collection working on the W.R. White papers. His world, voice, and experience had been locked away for decades, and now they are tangible again.
The collection has been a joy and a challenge. I processed a small four box collection for The Texas Collection in the spring, but W.R. White’s collection held 226 boxes—I had entered the big leagues. Undertaking such a vast and diverse collection has deepened my knowledge and appreciation of archival work.
A few weeks ago, we found a most unusual specimen among the records of W.R. White, Baylor president from 1948-1961. Museum studies graduate student Valencia Johnson is processing this collection, and she was surprised to find a portrait of White—painted on a block of sugar!
Fortunately, I immediately knew its context. Before coming to The Texas Collection, I was a writer in University Development and went to the home of Jerry and Mary Marcontell to interview them for Baylor’s planned giving newsletter. Jerry was a key member of the 1957 Sugar Bowl team, and hanging on a wall in their house was a portrait of him on a block of sugar—one was presented to each athlete.
And apparently, administrators got them, too! Since becoming University Archivist, I had remembered that sugar portrait and rather hoped that no one would bring one to us. Cultural heritage professionals prefer not to have food in the stacks, both because it can invite critters who are detrimental to the records and because, well, food isn’t meant to last that long and thus is hard to preserve. But, it turned out that we already had White’s portrait in the house, tucked away in an unassuming archival box for decades. (We hadn’t found it before because the collection was restricted till just recently. Now, maybe we should inspect other old accessions to see what other surprises lurk…)
Fortunately, whatever they did to that sugar to prepare it for painting, it must have also deterred ants, roaches, and other insects who love sugar. There are a few baby roaches who appear to have met their demise in what looks like a tape frame around the object. (I’ve taken a picture of this but am told it’s rather unappetizing, so we’ll spare you.) There otherwise is not too much evidence of nibblings. It has lasted this long—almost 60 years now—and quite frankly, is an amazing object, so we decided to investigate ways to preserve the portrait.
At this point, in email consultation with some archivists and conservators, there seems to be consensus that the primary threat to this item is water and moisture. Fortunately, while maintaining humidity in our stacks, especially in the summer, is a constant struggle, it’s not nearly as humid here as in a coastal area, so that will help. We are investigating housing possibilities, likely a custom box with rigid support (to prevent future cracks) and desiccants (to prevent moisture build-up). And we’ll definitely keep a close eye on bug traps around it to make sure it’s not attracting anything! (Many thanks to Susan Russick, Karen Pavelka, Suzy Morgan, and other conservation/preservation specialists who have weighed in on our piece.)
We’d love to hear if any other archives, museums, or other repositories have a sugar portrait in their holdings and how you’re going about preserving it. From the research we’ve done, it sounds like the Sugar Bowl had these portraits created for at least 10 years, so there must be more out there! Also, the enclosure and support of the portrait has a stamp for Krauss Co. Ltd., which from some quick Googling tells us was a New Orleans department store—perhaps the sugar artist was housed there?
We can’t afford to take in additional sugar portraits—one is enough for research value and display, and we can’t afford all of the custom boxes and space it would take to preserve them. However, we’re delighted to have found this artifact—and with a few months to spare before the 60th anniversary of Baylor’s appearance in the Sugar Bowl!
Every good Baylor Bear is abuzz with excitement about the new Baylor Stadium. The first time in more than 75 years that Baylor Football will play on campus! A new boat harbor and footbridge along the beautiful Brazos River! Baylor is partnering with the City of Waco to make a wonderful new event space for the entire community to enjoy.
But what do you know about the last time Baylor and Waco teamed up to build a football stadium for the Bears? That story begins around 1936, when Baylor Football’s home turf was Municipal Stadium, located at 15th and Dutton Avenue. With a maximum seating of 20,000, it didn’t take long for the Baylor Football program to outgrow this facility.
And so a 500 member-strong Baylor Stadium Corporation formed in the late 1940s. Baylor President W.R. White banded together with Waco civic leaders including Harlon M. Fentress, Jack H. Kultgen, A.M. Goldstein, Gordon Rountree, and Walter G. Lacy Jr., to get the job done. The preliminary cost to build the stadium was projected to be $1.5 million dollars in 1949. (That would be about $14 million in today’s dollars, according to inflation calculators.) The city was to cover $500,000 towards the project, and it was estimated that $1 million dollars could be raised from non-Waco resources such as Baylor alumni, football fans, and “outstanding Baptists [sic] laymen.”
So how did they go about raising that money? The Baylor Stadium Corporation issued 30-year stadium bonds at 3% interest. If bonds of at least $100 dollars were purchased, this would count for tuition credit and prospective students would receive “entrance priority.” (This is not how fundraising works today at Baylor!) Supporters also had the option of purchasing seat options, which guaranteed a seat for all home games for 20 years after the construction of the stadium, with prices varying according to stadium seat locations.
Fundraisers traveled across Texas, with exhortations from President White that “Baylor is not asking for a gift. The bonds are sound investments from a financial standpoint. The [seating] options are investments in future entertainment for sports lovers.” The rhetoric must have worked—by January 1950, $1,001,836.70 and counting worth of bonds and stadium seat options were sold.
While fundraisers were out stumping, Baylor had to figure out the right location for the stadium. Their first choice was to stay in the same area as Municipal Stadium, on the grounds of the former Texas Cotton Palace. But then as now, parking was an issue, and a geological fault on the land caused construction concerns. On to Plan B—a February 1949 news release announced the purchase of a 100-acre plot in “Waco’s west suburbs” for the new Baylor Stadium.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Baylor Stadium was held on May 28, 1949, and construction began in November of that year. And even though the stadium wasn’t quite done yet, the Bears played their first game at Baylor Stadium on September 30, 1950, against the University of Houston. The President of the Baylor Stadium Corporation, Jack Kultgen, presented the stadium to Baylor University.
The stadium’s seating capacity was 49,000 at the time and it was hailed as a “Fittin’ home for the Fightin’ Baylor Bears.” Opening ceremonies included the nearby Connally Air Force Base sending a group of planes to do a flyover of the new facility, while the University of Houston played the national anthem and the Baylor Air Force ROTC color guard raised the colors. Baylor even beat the University of Houston 34-7 on this long-awaited opening day.
The final costs of the stadium? Legendary sportswriter Dave Campbell reported in a 1957 Waco Tribune-Herald article that “the show-piece stadium” where “every seat is good” cost “$1,668,790.27, and that figure includes a $70,000 outlay for a lighting system in 1955. The debt will be paid off by 1980.”
The city of Waco, Baylor University, and a vast network of alumni and sports fans made this vision a reality. Baylor Stadium (which became Floyd Casey Stadium in 1989) was a true investment in the future of Baylor Football and for the Waco community, serving both for more than 60 years. The new Baylor Stadium, with the dedication and support of Baylor fans and Waco citizens alike, also will turn a lofty vision into a stunning reality.
Enjoy a Flickr slideshow with more early photos of Baylor Stadium and its construction. Click the large arrow to start the show–and if you want to see the photos full-screen, click on the crosshairs that will appear in the lower right corner of the photo.
Read more about Baylor Stadium/Floyd Casey Stadium’s early beginnings:
The Invisible Line (The Baylor Stadium Corporation: Waco, Texas, 1949). Baylor University Subject Files: BU Buildings: Baylor Stadium: 1948-1949. The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.
Waco and the Baylor Stadium Campaign: a handbook for workers and a prospectus for investors. Baylor University Subject Files: BU Buildings: Baylor Stadium: 1948-1949. The Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.