Fred Gildersleeve and An Amazing Journey

Format Gallery

by Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

and John Wilson

Fred Gildersleeve, sister-Jessie Ellen Gildersleeve, mother-Sarah Pew Gildersleeve

The man who would become Waco’s most famous photographer, Fred A. Gildersleeve, was born near Boulder, Colorado, on June 30, 1880, to Captain Allen Jesse and Sarah Ellen Pew Gildersleeve. His father, Allen Jesse Gildersleeve was a Civil War veteran having served as a Union Army Captain in the Missouri Cavalry, 14, Regiment, Company D, and died in 1881 at the age of 46. After the father’s death the family moved to Kirksville, Missouri, near the mother’s family. There, young Fred attended the Model School (part of the Normal School) graduating at the age of 16. His photography career began at the age of eighteen when he was given a Kodak box camera by his mother. He photographed students at the school and sold them for twenty-five cents each. In 1903, Gildersleeve graduated from the Illinois College of Photography in Effingham, Illinois, and soon after, his career as a professional photographer began.

In 1905 Fred Gildersleeve came from Texarkana, Arkansas, to Waco to work in the photography business having had a brief photography career in that city. His sister, Jessie Ellen, arrived in Waco around the same time to work as a doctor of Osteopathy. Their mother, Sarah Gildersleeve later joined them and lived with her daughter. Fred married Florence Jennette Boyd on December 24, 1908, in Texarkana, Arkansas, who then joined him in Waco. They had no children.

Fred Gildersleeve became a pioneer in the field of industrial photography in Texas. Examples include his commercial photography from the air in the mid 1910s. He photographed oil fields in Mexia and took the first aerial photos known to exist of Baylor University. His ability to use magnesium powder to create “flashlight” to illuminate night-time photographs broke national records. His 1911 photo of Waco’s Prosperity Banquet set a record for being the largest flash photo ever at that time. The event seated 1200 people and ran the length of two city blocks. His skills at photo enlargement also set records. In 1913, he enlarged a panoramic photograph of Waco’s Texas Cotton Palace to 120 inches wide becoming the largest photo print made up to that time. He had a representative from Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, bring him the photo paper to do so. He also photographed the construction of the Amicable Life Insurance Company Building “Alico” in Waco. The structure, being 22 stories tall, held the title of being the tallest building in the Southwestern United States upon construction in 1911.Continue Reading

Research Ready: October 2018

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!Continue Reading

Research Ready: September 2018

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!Continue Reading

We Want That Picture! Fred Gildersleeve’s Record Breaking Texas Cotton Palace Print

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

In 1905 or 1906, Fred Gildersleeve came from Texarkana, Arkansas to Waco to work in the photography business. He later became a pioneer in the field of industrial photography in the state. One of his more famous pieces of work was his enlargement of the Texas Cotton Palace Main Building in Waco, Texas. Shown is a picture of the enlargement being processed. At the time, this photograph set a world record among photo prints at 120 inches wide. A representative from Eastman Kodak personally delivered the large roll of photo paper it required and supervised the enlargement process. The photo was exhibited for some time until it was sold for $50.00 to the building’s architect, Roy Ellsworth Lane. Gildersleeve later recalled that was “a good price in those days…as you remember, at that time 1913 the largest enlargement ever made. Eastman Kodak sent George McKay to supervise this. It was written up in Studio Light Magazine and also used this photo.”Continue Reading

Research Ready: July 2018

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!Continue Reading

Texas Over Time: “The Raleigh Building, Waco, TX”

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 Meta Slider’s that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

The Raleigh Building, Waco, TXContinue Reading

Research Ready: January 2018

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!

January’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

Photo at Harry S. Truman Birthplace State Historic Site, Lamar, Missouri
Photo of Dr. Lois Marie Sutton, professor at Baylor University, at the Truman Birthplace State Historic Site. It was one of Sutton’s lifelong goals to see the birthplace of each United States president, and there are many pictures of her at these presidential sites in the collection. Lois Marie Sutton photographic collection, Accession #4035, box 1, folder 25, at The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

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

Part of the Adams-Blakley collection, the volumes below recount the lives and legends of outlaw brothers Frank and Jesse James.

James, Edgar. The Notorious James Brothers: the latest and most complete story of the daring crimes of these famous desperadoes ever published : containing many sensational escapades never before made public. Baltimore: I. & M. Ottenheimer, 1913. Print.

James, Edgar. The Notorious James Brothers: the latest and most complete story of the daring crimes of these famous desperadoes ever published : containing many sensational escapades never before made public. Baltimore: I. & M. Ottenheimer, 1913. Print.

Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

 

 

 

The James Boys. A complete and accurate recital of the dare-devil criminal career of the famous bandit brothers, Frank and Jesse James and their noted band of bank plunderers, train robbers and murderers, specially compiled for the publishers. Chicago, He

The James Boys. A complete and accurate recital of the dare-devil criminal career of the famous bandit brothers, Frank and Jesse James and their noted band of bank plunderers, train robbers and murderers, specially compiled for the publishers. Chicago, Henneberry Co. [date of publication not identified]. Print.

Click here to view in BearCat.

 

 

 

 

Frank James and His Brother Jesse: The Daring Border Bandits. Baltimore, MD: I. & M. Ottenheimer, 1915. Print.

Frank James and His Brother Jesse: The Daring Border Bandits. Baltimore, MD: I. & M. Ottenheimer, 1915. Print.

Click here to view in BearCat.

 

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: September 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!

September’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

  • Santa Fe Railroad Route Map, undated
    Two historical markers now commemorate Long Branch Cemetery: one recounting the history of the cemetery and the other honoring a former slave named Sylvia King who is buried there. Long Branch is one of the oldest cemeteries in central Texas. You’ll find these items in the Long Branch Cemetery collection, 2009-2016, undated (#4020), box 1 OVZ, folder 4, at The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

     

  • 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, [1874]. Print.Ellis, Edward Sylvester. Lightning Jo: The Terror of the Santa Fe Trail. New York: Beadle and Adams, [1874]. 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.

     

     

     

     

    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.