Summer at The Texas Collection: Students Share Their Findings

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.

Photo of Julia and Finlay Graham with son James
Julia and Finlay Graham with son James. You’ll find this photograph in Julia and Finlay Graham papers #4003, box 38, folder 7, at The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Rights: Some rights reserved. E-mail for information about the use of our images. Visit for more information about our collections.

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

Photo of Valencia Johnson, Museum Studies graduate student
Valencia Johnson, Museum Studies graduate student, at The Texas Collection.

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.

Research Ready: July 2016

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!

July’s finding aids
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist

Graham Family Picture
When this family picture was taken in 1964, the Grahams lived and worked in Beirut, Lebanon. Julia led women’s ministries while Finlay served as president and professor of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.

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

This month, we added four volumes to our miniature book collection. This collection, which includes books no bigger than three inches in height, width, and thickness, contains more than 40 volumes. Be sure to compare the size of the volume to the quarter in the image.

Miniature Books

In Clockwise Order:

Huddleston, S. Texas Notes: A Miniature Book Honoring the Texas Sesquicentennial. Brownsville: Press of Ward Schori, 1986. Print.

Published on the occasion of the 150th celebration of the birth of Texas, this miniature book is filled with anecdotes as well as general information about Texas, including natural resources, regional information, and weather. Click here to view the Bearcat record for this resource!

Poska, Valentine Jerome. Stars over Texas. San Antonio: Valentine J. Poska, 1987. Print.

In 1987, Hollywood celebrated 100 years. This volume was published to recognize those television, film, and music entertainers from Texas. Also included is a list of Texas themed films. Click here to view the Bearcat record for this resource!

Poska, Valentine Jerome. Fred Gipson, 1908-1973. San Antonio: Windcrest Press, 1999. Print.

One of only 75 copies printed, this book celebrates the life of Texas writer Fred Gipson. You may recognize Gipson as the author of the popular book Old Yeller, which inspired the Disney movie. Click here to view the Bearcat record for this resource!

Poska, Valentine Jerome. Borglum in Texas. San Antonio: Windcrest Press, 1991. Print.

San Antonio was, for a time, the home of Gutzon Borglum, the noted sculptor of Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which was dedicated in 1941. This volume was published in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the 1941 dedication. Click here to view the Bearcat record for this resource!