Research Ready: August 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 August:

"Big Auto Race at Cotton Palace Track, 1916"
Pictured is a “Big auto race at Cotton Palace track, 1916”–one of the many attractions held at the Texas Cotton Palace exhibitions in Waco, TX. The Texas Cotton Palace Records cover the life of the exhibition, from 1910 to 1931, and include correspondence, minutes, programs, and many fascinating photographs.
    • Cego German Evangelical Church Records: These records contain the minutes of Cego German Evangelical Church (located in Falls County, Texas), produced by secretary A.A. Miller during the Great Depression.
    • Matthew Ellenberger Papers: The Matthew Ellenberger Papers contain Ellenberger’s research notes and correspondence as well as literary publications concerning Texas Revolutionary Albert C. Horton and American Revolution figures Thomas Walker and Jack Jouett.

      B. H. Carroll on Evangelism--an address at the Southern Baptist Convention in 1906
      A leader among Texas Baptists, B. H. Carroll contributed many years to Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, among other denominational efforts.
    • Texas Cotton Palace Records: This collection contains correspondence, legal and financial documents, literary productions, photographs, and an artifact pertaining to the Texas Cotton Palace and its festivities in Waco, Texas.
  • Benajah Harvey Carroll Papers: The Benajah Harvey “B.H.” Carroll Papers consist of correspondence, financial records, and literary productions regarding the various positions Carroll held throughout his life, including pastor of First Baptist Church in Waco, professor and chairman of the board of trustees of Baylor University, secretary of the Texas Baptist Education Commission, and founder and president of Baylor Theological Seminary/Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Baylor Bear Facts: Fun and Games at The Texas Collection

Baylor Bear Facts trivia game
Although we can tell the game was created in the 1980s, we don’t know much about its origins. Anybody out there know more about this project?

The Texas Collection’s holdings include many weighty academic tomes and important archival records. Even the paintings that hang in our reading room tend to the serious side—neither Samuel Palmer Brooks nor Pat Neff look amused in their portraits. But we have many fun items too, like the Baylor Bear Facts.

Baylor University Registration in the 1990s
Baylor women in this 1990s registration photo are taking advantage of the dress code rule passed in 1969. (#4)

A trivia game centered on Baylor, the game was produced in the 1980s and includes trivia tidbits in the categories of sports, clubs, history, personalities, and potpourri. Below are just a few of the many questions available in the game. Try your hand at some Baylor trivia and find out how well you know Baylor! You might be surprised by some of the “bear facts.” (The photos are clues for a few of the questions—and answers are below the photos.)

  1. What was Baylor’s first women’s social club?
  2. Were there any dancing classes taught at Baylor in 1922?
  3. What did S.P. Brooks abolish in 1906?
  4. On April 7, 1969, what could Baylor coeds wear for the first time anywhere on campus?
  5. Baylor played a cross-town rival in its first-ever Homecoming football game. Who did Baylor beat in that historic game?
  6. What year did the senior class gifts become a Baylor tradition–1907, 1931, or 1945?
  7. Who was Baylor’s first clean shaven president?
  8. He is a Baylor grad, [was] director of the Student Center, and was elected mayor of Waco in 1984. Name him.
  9. This famous folk group performed in Marrs McLean Gym in a three hour show in 1969. The show was referred to as the P, P, and M show. What was the name of the group?
  10. This former Baylor student of 1856 rescued Cynthia Ann Parker from the Indians. Who was he?
Sul Ross, a Baylor alumnus, Texas governor, and president of Texas A&M
After rescuing Cynthia Ann Parker, this gent went on to serve in the Civil War, as Governor of Texas, and as president of Texas A&M. The elementary school that was behind the Whataburger near campus bore his name. (#10)
William Carey Crane, Baylor University's fourth president
This president helped Baylor survive through the end of the Civil War and the university’s last years in Independence, Texas. A program for gifted undergraduate students in Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning bears his name. (#7)

 

1899 Baylor football team--the first!
As rough a sport as football can be today, in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, it was brutal. Baylor was among many universities that were concerned about such a violent sport being a part of their campus life. (#3)
Baylor University Centennial Monument, 1945, located on Founders Mall
The Centennial Monument, located on Founders Mall, was not the first senior class gift. Here we see students bring forward the time capsule to be placed in the monument. The capsule is to be opened in 2045. (#6)

Answers:

  1. Alpha Omega (now Pi Beta Phi)
  2. Yes, in the Physical Education department, folk dancing was taught. (The first official dance at Baylor wouldn’t be till 1996, however.)
  3. Football (due to the brutality of the game—but the sport was reinstated in 1907, due to popular opinion and modifications to the game to make it safer)
  4. Shorts and slacks (Before, even if a woman had a physical education class, she had to wear a long coat over her gym attire while walking to class.)
  5. Texas Christian University (before its move to Fort Worth)
  6. 1907 (The gift was a circular bench to sit outside Carroll Library–and it is still there in Burleson Quadrangle.)
  7. William Carey Crane. (The Texas Collection holds the William Carey Crane papers in its archives. The Royston Crane papers also have a good deal of information about Crane’s presidency and Baylor at Independence.)
  8. Ruben Santos (He served 35 years as director of the Student Union Building. Santos also was active with the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair, which is now housed within The Texas Collection.)
  9. Peter, Paul, and Mary. (To learn more about the wide variety of guests Baylor has hosted, check out this Digital Collections blog post on the Baylor press release digitization project.)
  10. Sul Ross (He rescued Parker in his role as a Texas Ranger. He went on to serve as a Confederate general, President of Texas A&M University, and Governor of Texas. The Texas Collection holds the Ross Family papers in its archives.)

The Texas Collection has archival records on many of these historical figures and events. Come visit us to learn more!

Research Ready: July 2012

A.J. Armstrong, Adventure, Andrew Joseph Armstrong, Annexation Temperance Society, Archives, Armstrong Browning Library, Baptist history, Baptist missions, Baylor at Independence, Baylor English department, Baylor University, Ben Milam, Bosque John McLennan, Brazos County, Brenham Texas, Bryan Texas, Cartoonists, Charles Chaplin, Cherokee, Chippewa, church history, Civil War, Clark Herring, Confederate States of America, Daughters of the American Revolution, Delaware Indians, Edward Rotan, Edwin James, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Elizabeth Gordon Bradley chapter DAR, First Baptist Church Austin Texas, First Baptist Church Brenham Texas, First National Bank Waco, First Presbyterian Church Waco, Francisco Banda, frontier and pioneer life, Galveston College, genealogy, Henry Downs chapter DAR, Historic Waco, Indian captivities, Indians of North America, John Gill Pratt, John Kern Strecker, Jotham Meeker, Kate Harrison Friend, Kate Sturm McCall Rotan, Lucy Exall Chaplin, Lykins Johnston, Mary Maxwell Armstrong, McLennan County, Medicine, Medina County, Milam Park, Milam's Colony, missionaries, missions, Moses Merrill, National Association of Railway Surgeons, National Catholic News Service, Neil McLennan, Noname Club, Oakwood Cemetery, Ojibwa, Oto, Ottawa, Pat Neff, Potawatomi, Railroads, Reconstruction, Religious journalism, Republic of Texas, Research Ready, Richard Pryor, Robert Browning, Robert Hodges Jr., Roger Conger, Roy Crane, Royston Crane, Sam Houston, Santa Anna, Shawnee, Sidebars: Reflections by a Missionary Journalist in New York, Snyder Texas, Tennessee history, Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, Texas land grants, Tracy Early, United Methodist Church, Waco, Waco Humane Society, Washington County Texas, William Carey Crane, William Maury Darst, William Shakespeare, Women social reformers, Woodmen of the World--Texas, World Church Council, Wright's Brigade, Zoology

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 July:

William Butler Yeats and William Howard Taft speak at Baylor Diamond Jubilee, 1920
A.J. Armstrong secured many renowned authors, politicians, explorers, and more, to visit Baylor. (See blogs.baylor.edu/armstrongbrowning to read more.) The Armstrong papers document some of his efforts to bring these speakers to Waco, among his many other activities.
    • Andrew Joseph (A.J.) Armstrong papers: The Andrew Joseph Armstrong papers consist of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials collected during his tenure as Chairman of the English Department at Baylor University. His wife Mary’s genealogical records comprise the final series of the collection.
    • Francisco Banda papers: Papers regarding Francisco Banda in relation to a 1922 conflict with his landlord, Clark Herring. Texas governor Pat Neff was asked to intercede.
    • Baptist Missionary Publications: Indians of North America collection: This collection contains religious and educational publications in American Indian languages, most of which were translated and printed by Baptist missionaries in the Midwest.
    • Bryan First United Methodist Church records: The Bryan First Methodist Church Records, 1903-06, consists of documents created by members of Bryan First Methodist Church (now First United Methodist Church of Bryan). The papers contain meeting minutes, financial ledgers, and attendance records.
    • Charles and Lucy Exall Chaplin papers: The Charles and Lucy Exall Chaplin papers contain literary scrapbooks, and photographs pertaining to the Chaplin and Exall families in Texas. The papers document the lives of important Baptist leaders in Texas during Reconstruction, and the family’s service at several important churches around the state.
    • Charles "Charlie" Exall, 1861-1862
      The Chaplin papers contain many photographs of family members around the time of the American Civil War, including this one of Charles Exall in 1861-1862.
    • Royston C. Crane collection: The Royston C. Crane collection contains personal and family correspondence, financial documents, legal documents, literary productions, and photographic materials belonging to Royston C. Crane, the son of former Baylor University President William Carey Crane.
    • William Maury Darst papers: The William Maury Darst papers consist of manuscripts collected from 1894-1973. These papers contain literary productions and photographic materials, with essays, notes, slides, and other printed materials, reflecting his historical research interests and medical work in Texas.
    • Daughters of the American Revolution: Elizabeth Gordon Bradley Chapter records: The [Waco] Daughters of the American Revolution: Elizabeth Gordon Bradley Chapter Collection contains materials concerning the organization’s activities in the McLennan County area. These include minutes, scrapbooks, video tapes, yearbooks, programs, clippings, handbooks, and directories.
    • Tracy Early collection: The Tracy Early collection contains professional and personal materials pertaining to newspaper and magazine articles written by Early, including correspondence, diaries, photographs, school work, books, and sermons.
    • William Carey Crane's home in Independence, Texas, 1912
      A reunion of friends in Independence, Texas. The Royston C. Crane papers include a good deal of genealogical work on the extended Crane family and historical research on Baylor's early days.
    • Kate Harrison Friend papers: The Kate Harrison Friend Papers consists of correspondence, literary manuscripts, scrapbooks, and photographs. The majority of the letters were to Kate Harrison Friend, philanthropist of Waco.
    • McLennan Family collection: The McLennan Family Collection consists of correspondence, legal, financial, literary, and photographic materials. This collection focuses on Neil McLennan, namesake of McLennan County.
    • Ben Milam papers: One letter from Ben Milam to Richard Pryor regarding the settling of Texas.
    • Rotan (Edward and Kate Sturm McCall) papers: The Rotan Papers contain literary productions, correspondence, photographs, clippings, and a ledger book. Edward served in the Civil War, then became a business leader in the Waco community as president of First National Bank, among other positions. Kate was very active in various civic organizations and helped establish Waco’s first public library.
    • John Kern Strecker papers: The John Kern Strecker Papers consist of correspondence, financial documents, literary productions, and a photograph. Strecker was curator of Baylor’s museum, which was named the Strecker Museum in his honor.

    You can see how wide and varied The Texas Collection’s holdings are! These records—and the finding aids we have online—are just a small representation of the thousands of collections we preserve for future researchers. We’re working hard to make our collections more visible and hope that one of them will spark your interest!

Soaring on Wings like Eagles: Greaver Miller, Rich Field and World War I

A German Albatros D.V war plane, captured during the war and brought to Rich Field in Waco, Texas
A German Albatros D.V war plane, captured during the war and brought to Rich Field in Waco, Texas

The year was 1918. The United States, under the leadership of President Woodrow Wilson, had struggled to remain neutral in a conflict that had engulfed the European powers and their colonial empires in war. For three years, Wilson successfully navigated his nation on the path of peace, but by 1917 it was painstakingly clear that the United States could not condone the belligerency of Germany. The sinking of passenger liners such as the Lusitania and provocations like the infamous Zimmerman Note had infuriated American officials. On April 6, 1917, Congress declared war against Imperial Germany.

An American pilot in training during World War I
An American pilot in training. It is evident throughout Miller’s collection that while learning how to fly, pilots at Rich Field were often trained in aerial photography. Diagrams for how to capture a good landscape photograph are included within these materials.

World War I witnessed shocking innovations in the realm of warfare. German U-Boats patrolled beneath the waves of the Atlantic for unsuspecting targets. The Allies and the Central Powers alike shelled their opponents from miles away with debilitating chemicals. Yet perhaps one of the most influential shifts in modern warfare theories arrived on the wings of the airplane. All nations, including the United States, understood that future military victories would require control of the skies.

Greaver Lewis Miller in his pilot gear, ca. 1918-1919
Greaver Lewis Miller was born on July 2, 1897. He enlisted with experience in the “automobile trade.” Here he is seen donning his pilot gear. His shin guards (not pictured) are in excellent shape and can be seen in the collection.

Thousands of miles away from the nearest battlefield, in the small town of Cooper, Texas, Greaver Lewis Miller was preparing to fulfill his civic duty. At twenty years old, Miller enlisted with the Army’s Signal Officer’s Reserve Corps with the hopes of becoming a certified pilot. With no prior aviation experience, Miller graduated from the U.S. School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Texas at Austin on July 13, 1918. Armed with the latest aviation theories, Miller put his knowledge to the test at Rich Field.

An airfield near Waco, Texas, Rich Field was devoted to the training of American pilots in the 1910s and 1920s. It was named after Perry Rich, a soldier who had died in a flying exercise in 1913. Abandoned shortly after the war, the airfield was used as a civilian airport for a number of years. (And for our Waco readers—yes, Richfield High School was constructed on part of its site.)

Greaver Lewis Miller's pilot book
A small sample of Miller’s pilot book that he kept while training at Rich Field. Notice how detailed these records were. (Click on the image to see a larger view.) There were sharp variations in what type of plane was used, what type of exercises were conducted, the duration of the flights, and the maximum altitude reached.
Greaver Lewis Miller's certificate of promotion to Second Lieutenant, 1919
On February 15, 1919, Miller was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant. His certificate was signed by the U.S. Adjutant General and the Assistant Secretary of War.

In its prime, Rich Field was home to some of the best pilots the U.S. military had to offer. Flying an airplane was an art, and Miller excelled at it. On December 13, 1918, he officially became a “Reserve Military Aviator” by passing the required examinations. While Miller’s papers don’t tell us much about the particulars of his WWI service, we know he continued to impress his superiors—he rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant on February 15, 1919.

Like many young boys, Miller had a dream to one day soar through the skies. Thanks to his determination and the opportunities that pilots had during the First World War, Miller’s dream became a reality. He had earned his wings.

Greaver Lewis Miller's pilot wings
This is the dream of anyone aspiring to become a pilot. Miller received his wings in 1918. The intricate detail of the feathers and the shield are nothing short of astounding.

The Greaver Lewis Miller papers, a small collection of Miller’s personal records, are available for research at The Texas Collection, thanks to the generosity of his son, Jerry. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day, The Texas Collection thanks Greaver Lewis Miller and all those who have served our country.

By Thomas DeShong, Library Assistant

Research Ready: June 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 June:

Lane-JohnsonResidence-Waco
Roy Lane was one of the most famous architects to have ever resided in the Waco area. The Roy E. Lane Collection contains various sketches and photographs of local houses that Lane designed.
    • William Cowper Brann Collection: The William Cowper Brann Collection contains secondary materials and a few primary sources detailing the career and death of influential journalist William C. Brann, editor of The Iconoclast.
    • Robert F. Darden, Jr. Collection: The Robert Darden, Jr. Collection contains correspondence, literary productions, and photographic materials belonging to Darden, a veteran of the Korean War and a resident of Texas.
    • De La Vega Land Grant Papers: This collection includes original correspondence, court documents, financial receipts, and newspaper clippings pertaining to the De la Vega Land Grant and Roger Conger’s research on the land grant.
    • Roy Ellsworth Lane Collection: The Roy Ellsworth Lane Collections consists of correspondence, literary productions, photographs, and blueprints highlighting Lane’s impressive career as an architect in the central Texas region.
Luper-BrazilMission-program
The Lupers were a Baptist missionary family who served in Portugal and Brazil during the 20th century. This program is indicative of their conscientious efforts to spread the gospel to the rural regions of Brazil.
  • Luper Family Papers: The Luper Family Papers are comprised of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials pertaining to a missionary couple and their experiences during the mid-1900s in Portugal and Brazil.
  • Greaver Lewis Miller Collection: The Greaver Lewis Miller Collection contains materials from an American pilot who trained at nearby Rich Field in Waco, Texas, during World War I. Materials include photographs, certificates, and artifacts from Miller’s time in the Army.

You can see how wide and varied The Texas Collection’s holdings are! These records—and the finding aids we have online—are just a small representation of the thousands of collections we preserve for future researchers. We’re working hard to make our collections more visible and hope that one of them will spark your interest!

The Life and Times: Diaries As Research Tools

Worrying about the health of family members? Fretting over school and work? If you are, you may write about these concerns in a diary. People have kept diaries, and have written about the same kinds of subjects, for a long time. Diaries are special that way—they are records of daily life. For researchers, they contain a wealth of information about a person, their activities, social interactions, community and private affairs.

Box of diariesSo when we began working with the Baines Family Collection, we were pleased to find—in addition to correspondence and literary materials—a bevy of diaries. 47, to be exact.

George Washington Baines Jr. was the son of George Washington Baines, Sr., Baylor University’s third president (1861-63) and great grandfather to Lyndon Baines Johnson. George Jr. was born in Louisiana in 1848, and soon moved to Texas and attended Baylor University in Independence, Texas, where he graduated in 1875.

He became a fourth-generation Baptist minister and served at several churches in Texas. Baines was also a missionary to El Paso, establishing the First Baptist Church in El Paso, was Dean of the Bible Department at the San Marcos Baptist Academy, and was on the Baptist Education Commission of Texas.

Baines’ diaries span 1861-1912, but not consecutively. They contain small diaries and notebooks—some no bigger than a deck of cards—full of entries, pastor notes, sermons, diaries of churches where he preached, and places he visited.

For example, Baines’ 1890 diary, the marbled one on the top row of the photo below, contains a wealth of information, from Baines’ life to insight into the times. Diaries detailThe beginning of this diary contains information similar to what we find in day planners today, but with some twists: a calendar, train time tables, interest tables, pages with the value of foreign coins, dates for eclipses, wind direction and velocity signals, and territorial statistics.

Later entries recount daily thoughts and activities. In the 1890 diary, Baines expresses concern about his schoolwork at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky:

Was examined in Homiletics today. Sat from 9am to 5:30pm. Ate no dinner. Hard work, and it came near to flooring me. Tonight I feel nervous. Head feels like a balloon. I can’t stand much of this. Fear my paper will be a poor one.

Another entry from the same diary reads:

At home all day. Janet had high fever this afternoon. We feel quite anxious about her. William is about well, so is George. But Janet’s condition is very serious.

Both of these entries could be seen in a modern seminary student’s diary! However, the collection also contains diaries dedicated to specific events. The “journal of a buffalo hunt in December, 1871,” for example, might be quite interesting indeed.

Open diaryThough sometimes hard to read (old-fashioned handwriting trips up everybody), diaries and journals help us understand the lives and circumstances of people in other times, and valuable information on that day and age. Diaries can inform, inspire and delight. They can contain affirmation, negativity, and anything imaginable. As research tools they are very valuable. Come see us at The Texas Collection to research or if you just have an interest in diaries.  We will be more than happy to show you our treasures.

Photos by Ann Payne

Introducing Research Ready

Processing archival collections is one of our central activities at The Texas Collection. In archivist lingo, “processing” means to enhance access to our records through arrangement and description. Archives are different from books—they usually don’t have a title page, table of contents, or an index to tell you about the contents.  And they’re often messy.

enfranchisement document
The Fred Bell papers: An 1867 enfranchisement oath.

Sometimes collections come to us in good order, with everything beautifully organized. However, it’s probably more common that we receive records that appear to have been boxed up with no particular order. In these cases, it’s our job to discern and implement an organizing principle, then to describe the arrangement and the records in what we call a finding aid. That way researchers have a good idea of what they might expect to find in an archives and can plan their projects accordingly.

The Texas Collection’s finding aids are posted on our website by subject and alphabetically. We’re in the process of upgrading our arrangement and description procedures to comply with Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), and we’re working with catalogers at Baylor’s Moody Library to get our finding aids into BearCat (Baylor’s central catalog) too.

All this to say, we want you to know about our most recently processed collections! So we’re adding “Research Ready” as a monthly feature of “Blogging about Texas.” Each month, we will 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 May:

  • Olga Fallen Papers: The Olga Fallen Collection contains material accumulated during her years at Baylor University as women’s athletic coordinator, basketball and softball coach, and professor. The items include correspondence, financial, photographic, and organizational material. The bulk of the collection relates to basketball. (See our blog post for more detail.)

    James Warren Smith, Texas Ranger
    The James Warren Smith Sr. papers provide insight into the Texas Rangers' activities along the Mexican border in the early 1900s.
  • James Warren Smith Sr. Papers: The James Warren Smith Sr. Papers consist of a diary, scrapbooks, and literary productions. The scrapbooks contain many photographs. Smith was a Texas Ranger in the early 1900s.
  • Fred Bell Papers: The Fred Bell Papers consist of one manuscript, an enfranchisement oath for African-American Fred Bell, living in Travis County, Texas.

You can see how wide and varied The Texas Collection’s holdings are! These records—and the finding aids we have online—are just a small representation of the thousands of collections we preserve for future researchers. We’re working hard to make our collections more visible and hope that one of them will spark your interest!

Location, Location, Location: Navigating the 1940 Census

On April 24, 2012, the 1940 census records were released online—the National Archives’ first-ever online U.S. census release. The National Archive website had approximately 22 million hits in four hours, and additional servers had to be added to meet the demand. Did we mention it was a long awaited event? After 72 years, any person interested in accessing these records can do so online for free.

Waco, TX search yields 47 reportsThis census took place at a pivotal time in America’s history—the country was pulling its way out of the Great Depression and striving to regain economic stability through Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. The 1940 census contains more in-depth information than previous census records about wages, occupation, previous residences, and grade levels achieved—all helpful when working on a family history.

Finding people will take time and effort, because there is not a name index—yet. The National Archives is crowdsourcing that process, meaning they’ve invited anyone who is interested to help with identifying and indexing names. You can learn more about volunteering at https://the1940census.com/.

Pat Neff's census recordIn the meantime, we wanted to walk you through the process of finding someone in the census using the current search tools. As an example, we chose former Texas governor and past president of Baylor, Pat M. Neff. First, navigate to www.1940census.archives.gov. Start your search by entering as much information as you know: state, county, city and physical address for the individual, or the enumeration district for the person you seek.

For Pat Neff, we knew the state, county, and city. Searching these options gave us 47 enumeration district reports, which are anywhere from one to 60 pages. You would have to search each page for the name.

Enumeration district maps viewLuckily, the Waco city directories we have at The Texas Collection contained the address for Neff in 1940. By entering the street name in the last search field, we cut the results down to 8 districts. We further limited our search by choosing the Maps tab. This option brought up a map of Waco from 1940 which listed street names and enumeration districts. When you find the street you need, the enumeration district will be marked close to that section of the map in the form of a three number set followed by a two number set. Neff’s district was 155-20.

Enumeration district 155-20Returning to “Start Your Search” where you entered state, county, city and street information, you also have the option to search by enumeration district. We entered the number 155-20 for Pat Neff, and it returned one file.

Enumeration search optionClicking on the ED 155-20 file, we saw that it contains 40 pages—sounds like a lot, but it’s not too bad to skim through. On the last page of the file, we found Pat Neff and learned, among other things, that he made $8,400 that year and is listed as being 67 years old.

Again, this takes time, and the more information you know, the quicker a successful search. Consult city directories and phonebooks. If unavailable, try courthouse records or church records for help. Your local library may have these helpful genealogical resources and advice. The Texas Collection has city directories and many other sources to help you search for individuals—we’d love to see you!  And we’d like to hear from you—please let us know in the comment section below how your searches went and what you found. Happy hunting!

By Benna Vaughan, Manuscripts Archivist

A Homegrown Vision: Robert L. Smith and the Farmers Improvement Society

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.

 

Click on images to enlarge.

Texas Trailers


The Texas Collection staff decided to have a bit of fun over the summer and created video trailers to introduce you to some of our favorite collections.  Our Texas Trailers are up on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.  We’ve put together short movies about western pulp fiction, panoramic photographs, promotional literature, the Adams-Blakley collection, and Jules Bledsoe archival materials. We hope you’ll enjoy this look into the stacks and vaults here at Carroll Library.  Leave your comments below!