Please join The Texas Collection for a lecture
by Baylor University professor and
ceramist Paul McCoy,
The Life and Art of Harding Black:
The Power of One
Thursday, September 24, 2015
The Texas Collection’s
Guy B. Harrison, Jr. Reading Room
Reception to follow
Harding Black has long been considered one of the pioneers of the American studio ceramics movement, and his work is today held in public and private collections throughout the United States. In 1995, as Black was preparing to retire from 60 years as a teacher, artist, and researcher of ceramics, he entrusted Baylor University and Paul McCoy–his fellow ceramist, fishing partner, and close friend–with his personal collection, in the hope that future generations of students and researchers would continue to build on his legacy. When Black passed away in 2004, Paul McCoy delivered his eulogy to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts annual meeting.
Harding Black dedicated his life to his art, and to honor that commitment, Baylor University’s Texas Collection partnered with the Department of Art to preserve and digitize Black’s personal research notes, and to photographically document thousands of ceramic objects from his ceramic test collection. This digital archive makes Black’s work accessible to artists and academics around the world.
On August 14, 2015, the Texas Collection opened an exhibit featuring dozens of ceramic works by Harding Black, curated by Paul McCoy. These objects are on view at the Texas Collection through October 14, 2015, from 8 am-5 pm, Monday-Friday. The exhibition, lecture, and reception are free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Paul McCoy at Paul_McCoy@baylor.edu.
Blog post by Josh Garland, Museum Studies graduate student
On January 24, The Texas Collection welcomed the Texas Jewish Historical Society to a special display of materials on Jewish life and faith in Central Texas. Members of the society viewed many different kinds of materials, including:
a letter to a German Jewish family by the German secret police, warning them to leave the country (they later came to Waco, Texas),
an elaborate green velvet scrapbook with photographs from the 1800s of the Goldstein family in Waco,
photographs of Jewish-owned businesses in Waco, such as the Goldstein-Migel and Sanger Brothers department stores,
membership cards and past meeting pamphlets from the Texas Jewish Historical Society, and
photographs of Temple Rodef Sholom and Congregation Agudath Jacob in Waco from the early 1900s.
Twenty-two paintings by Henry A. McArdle, painter and Baylor professor, are on display at the Martin Museum of Art. McArdle served Baylor at Independence as the director of the school of art. These paintings have never been shown together and include three paintings from the Texas Capitol as well as from private collections.
Opening events include a roundtable discussion with exhibition lenders (including our own John Wilson, representing The Texas Collection) on Saturday, August 30, at 3:00 pm, followed by a reception with light refreshments at 4:30 p.m. These events will be held in Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Building and are open to the public.
Read more in the Waco Tribune-Herald’s great piece on the exhibit.
Meet Amie Oliver, originally from Mississippi, and Coordinator for User and Access Services, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:
As the Coordinator for User and Access Services, the bulk of my work deals with patrons. Whether these patrons come in person or contact us online or by phone, I am usually their first point of contact. I’ll let you in on a little secret—I’m the person behind our general email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as our Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (though occasionally other staffers tweet). Using social media has allowed us the opportunity to interact with people all over the world, and I’m happy we have a great following on all platforms we use.
Working with researchers is rewarding, and I never know who may contact me—the Pentagon, the New York Giants, the Texas Supreme Court, or scholars from all over the world. I appreciate all of our patrons, but I particularly like when History Fair students come in because it’s a great way to introduce special collections to younger generations.
Using special collections can often be intimidating, but it does not have to be. We hold a world of information, and I try to ensure that each patron is welcomed and valued. Patrons often say they don’t want to bother me, but helping patrons is my job. I want you to bother me!
One of my favorite duties is consulting with students about research. During the consultation, I try to get to know them, find their interests, and steer them to topics that are personal and interesting to them. I also consult with professors about their personal research or for student projects. It’s rewarding to see patrons take an interest in a topic based on items we have in the collection.
I provide bibliographic instruction to Baylor students where I teach them about our collection and the items it contains. I also give presentations to the Central Texas community. I like seeing people get excited about special collections and the treasures they may find.
Since the Librarian retired, I have served as bibliographer for the collection, and I oversee the rare book room. I receive catalogs from dealers across the country, and it is my job to select books for purchase. One of my recent purchases, Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economical, and Agricultural by Francis Peyre Porcher, published in 1863, is a beautifully bound item and is considered one of the best scientific texts produced under the Confederacy.
With nearly 167,000 volumes, our print collection (including our rare books) is vast, and it is important that I honor the collection by choosing the best items with the most value to our scholars as well as honor the bibliographers who came before me by selecting as wisely as they did. Their contributions helped to make this collection one of the finest Texana collections in the world.
In addition to the work above, I also hire, train, and supervise student workers, plan and implement organizational projects, research and install exhibits, manage statistics, preservation, and serve as editor of our newsletter, Viva Texas.
I enjoy my job because I like helping others, and I am very lucky to be able to work with such an amazing collection.
The Texas Collection turns 90 this year! But even though we’ve been at Baylor for so long, we realize people aren’t quite sure what goes on in a special collections library and archives. So over the course of 2013, we are featuring staff posts about our work at The Texas Collection. See other posts in the series here.
The Texas Collection is proud to present our newest exhibit, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot: The Musical Heritage of Jules Bledsoe and New Hope Baptist Church.” In honor of African American History Month, this exhibit traces the interweaving stories of Jules Bledsoe and New Hope Baptist Church, Waco, Texas.
Jules Bledsoe, one of the first major African-American opera stars in the United States, was born in Waco in approximately 1899 and sang his first concert at New Hope Baptist Church at age five. He sang for audiences around the world, wrote music, and performed on stage, radio, and television. His most famous piece was “Ol’ Man River” from the musical “Show Boat.” After a career of just twenty-two years, Bledsoe died in Hollywood in 1943.
New Hope Baptist Church, a historically African-American church in Waco, has been in operation since 1866. Stephen Cobb, grandfather of Jules Bledsoe, served as the first pastor of the church. Through the years the church has been known for having a vibrant musical tradition, with many choirs, an orchestra, and various musical performances.
“This exhibit represents some of Waco’s best musical traditions,” co-curator Paul Fisher explains. “Bledsoe’s international fame as an opera star was fantastic for the African-American community and Waco, as was New Hope’s national reputation as a musically gifted, vibrant church.” Visitors to this exhibit can see Bledsoe’s music, photographs of New Hope Baptist Church, and information about both Bledsoe and New Hope.
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot: The Musical Heritage of Jules Bledsoe and New Hope Baptist Church” was curated by Texas Collection staff Paul Fisher, Geoff Hunt, and Amie Oliver, and graduate students Amanda Dietz, Adina Johnson, and Mary Ellen Stanley. Archival manuscripts donated by New Hope Baptist Church and ancestors of Jules Bledsoe made the exhibit possible, and these materials are open for research. New Hope Baptist Church continues to worship every Sunday at their church on 915 North 6th Street, Waco, Texas. You can see the exhibit through May at The Texas Collection in Carroll Library.
On a cold December day in 1909, two English professors acted on a common thread of interest—preserving the songs, music, and tales of Texas, known collectively as folklore. John A. Lomax and Dr. Leonidas Payne created the Texas Folklore Society to begin collecting folklore across Texas and the Southwest. Today, the organization still stands as the second oldest such society, behind only the American Folklore Society. Members write papers and articles on different types of folklore and can present their work at the annual meeting that is held in a different Texas town each year.
In recognition of their work and in conjunction with the Baylor University Libraries’ “A Celebration of Texas: Literature, Music & Film,” The Texas Collection is hosting “Texas Folklore Writers,” an exhibit examining the roots of the Texas Folklore Society and its current role. The exhibit displays photographs of the early “pioneers” of the Society, such as Lomax, Payne, Dorothy Scarborough, and J. Frank Dobie; a wide array of the Society’s yearly publications; the story of its symbol, the roadrunner; and the Society’s current activities.
A Baylor literary legend, Emily Dorothy Scarborough, is featured centrally in the exhibit. Ms. Scarborough taught English at Baylor and at Columbia University in New York during the early twentieth century. Ms. Scarborough was passionately committed to preserving folklore and spent summers writing down the “elusive” folksongs of Southern mountain families and African-Americans.
Known for her adept and sensitive portrayals of Texas life around the turn of the century—likely aided by her folklore work—Ms. Scarborough wrote novels set in almost every region of the state. One of her most famous novels is The Wind, written in 1925 and set in West Texas. The book weaves a tale of a young woman from the East driven mad by the howling Texas winds. First published anonymously for media speculation, the book was a hit and made into a movie at MGM studios in 1929, starring Lillian Gish. Original transcriptions, documents and manuscripts, photographs, quotes, and first edition volumes by Ms. Scarborough are on display.
Visit The Texas Collection from March 29–May 31 to see the exhibit. Be sure to drop by the other “Celebration of Texas” exhibits at the University Libraries, including a Texas Writers exhibit at Moody Memorial Library, Texas poetry at Armstrong Browning Library, and Texas works from the Hightower Collection at the W.R. Poage Legislative Library. Check out our calendar of events, too!
In the late 1800s, Robert Lloyd Smith came to Texas. Smith, a highly educated man and an advocate of Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of education and economic improvement for African-Americans, called himself a “practical sociologist.” He was also an educator and a businessman. In 1890 Smith founded the Farmers’ Home Improvement Society in Colorado County.
Smith created the F.I.S. as a self-improvement society to help tenant farmers out of a cycle of debt and poverty. The Society provided life insurance, financed a bank in Waco, operated an agricultural boarding school, and provided a social life in a religious and fraternal setting for African-Americans across Texas. At its high point in 1911, the Farmers’ Improvement Society claimed 12,000 members in 800 branches across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Smith’s wife, Ruby Cobb of Waco, was instrumental in helping him run the F.I.S.
A Homegrown Vision: Robert L. Smith and the Farmers Improvement Society was curated by Paul Fisher and Ann Payne and is made possible through the generous gift of materials from the Smith-Cobb family of Waco.
Stop by The Texas Collection from February 1 – March 20, 2012 to view the exhibit.