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

The Day of the Bear

by Joseph Lipham, Student Assistant

Here’s a photograph of President W. R. White, celebrating with students in 1958. Found in General Photo Files, Accession #3976.

Following the tragic death of Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks in 1931, the newly elected Pat Morris Neff inherited a rather difficult situation. After the United States Stock Market crashed in 1929, crippling the American economy, President Neff came into his presidency during the Great Depression. By 1932, the face of Baylor was covered in signs of the Depression. Students were not immune to the financial shockwave that the Great Depression sent throughout all of America. President Neff, seeing the falling enrollment rates and a nation turning apathetic towards college, declared an annual one day reprieve from classes, so as to enhance the overall student experience. Initially titled “All-University Day”, this day off was meant to provide students with a reprieve from both academic and financial burdens that tended to become more cumbersome towards the latter half of the semester.Continue Reading

Research Ready: February 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

Jules Bledsoe: Waco’s Famous Baritone

by Amanda Neel, Graduate Assistant

Jules leads the program at New York City’s Town Hall on 28 July 1940. You’ll find this item in the Jules Bledsoe Papers #2086, box 4, folder 2, at The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

The shelves here at the Texas Collection hold many collections about the lives and experiences of African American Texans. One of these collections, the Jules Bledsoe Papers, concerns the life and musical career of Jules Bledsoe. Julian (Jules) Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe was born in Waco, Texas on December 18, 1898 and went on to travel the world for his career as a baritone singer. His papers include his library of sheet music, recordings of performances, personal correspondence, programs, and much more.

Jules served in the military during World War I and moved to New York City after the end of the war. While in New York, he received an Honorable Discharge. However, his stint in New York only lasted a short while. Jules signed a performance contract with the Young Men’s Christian Association, Colored Branch in Penniman, Virginia. While in Virginia, Jules sat for photographs in dress uniform for, in his own words, “40 years from now I might want to point back to when I was a soldier in the World War and you know nothing is better evidence than a picture.” Though he lived and performed in Virginia, he set his sights on returning to New York City.

Jules returned to New York by 1920 and saw his career take off by 1925. He performed in places like the Manhattan Opera House and critics hailed him as one of the greatest baritones of the day. His letters home mention his work with great New York composers. He even performed his own compositions during recitals, including his most well-known piece, “Old Man River.” Though based in New York City and traveling the world, Jules never forgot about home. He returned to Waco many times throughout his career and performed multiple times at the New Hope Baptist Church.Continue Reading

Looking Back at Baylor: The Spirit of Abe Kelley

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth originally was published in The Baylor Line in September 1976, then was reprinted in Looking Back at Baylor (1985), a collection of Keeth and Harry Marsh’s historical columns for the Line. Blogging about Texas periodically features selections from Looking Back at Baylor, with hopes of sharing Keeth’s work with a new audience.

This January marks the 91st year since the accident that took the lives of the Immortal Ten. We take a moment to remember those were lost, and learn more about one individual in particular. Please note, that this publication stated the Immortal Ten accident occurred on January 21, 1927 but further research shows that the accident occurred the following day, January 22, 1927. 

January 22, 1927 LariatFront Page

One of the greatest tragedies that Baylor has ever experienced occurred on January 21, 1927. On the morning of that day the university bus carrying the Bear basketball team to a game with the University of Texas, travelling in a misting rain on a slick road, collided with an Illinois and Great Northern railway train at a level-grade crossing in Round Rock. Ten students were killed in the accident, and most of the other passengers were injured. The university, Waco and the state were stunned by the catastrophe. Hundreds of messages of condolence poured in from individuals, groups and other universities; and a crowd of three thousand attended the memorial service held on campus for the victims. Among those killed was Clyde “Abe” Kelley, Baylor’s all-round athlete and star halfback of the 1926 season. Described as being equally proficient in football, baseball and basketball, Kelley had been selected only a month before his death to be captain of the 1927 Bear football team. In tribute to his ability, and perhaps also as a memorial to the “Immortal Ten” who died in the wreck, Kelley’s captaincy of the team was not rescinded. A newspaper article datelined Waco, August 6, 1927, (sent to the Baylor Line by James A. Fox Jr. ’28 of Lufkin) announced: “The spirit of Abe Kelley again will direct the Baylor Bears when the Green and Gold jerseyed football team takes the field next month to make a try for honors in the Southwest conference. It was decided not to elect another captain, but to let “Abe” continue to run the team in spirit, if not in actuality. A member of the team will be appointed before each game to act as captain.” The “spirit of Abe Kelley” continued to manifest itself on Baylor’s campus for some time. Nearly five years after the accident Dave Cheavens, who had traveled with the team that day as sportswriter for the Lariat, described the incident to the student body. “I saw Abe Kelley pick up his best friend and throw him out the [bus] window when he could see the train bearing down to a certain crash. That was the true Baylor spirit.” The impact of the tragedy was not confined to Baylor. Among the many Texas newspapers which editorialized against the level-grade crossings used by railways throughout the state, the Daily Texan, student publication of the University of Texas wrote: “The slaughter of ten men of Baylor University . . . brings home to Texas the tragedy attendant on the grade crossings which at resent exist by the thousands in Texas. The only thing that will entirely remove grade crossing deaths is their complete elimination. This accident was preventable.” Other publications and groups continued to prosecute the campaign against level-grade crossings, and with the recent Baylor incident to support their arguments, they succeeded in bringing their message to the ears of state highway planners and railroad officials. The November, 1937, issue of Texas Parade—at that time the organ of the Texas Good Road Association—published a photograph of a recently completed railroad underpass at Round Rock. The picture’s caption read: “Had this underpass been in existence eight years ago several Baylor students would not have been killed.” Because the 1927 Round Rock tragedy epitomized the need for improved standards of safety in highway construction, its long-term effects have been beneficial. Texas motorists for the past fifty years have traveled under the protection of the spirits of Abe Kelley and the others of the Immortal Ten.

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.

Herman Moll and His Distorted Map

by Rachel DeShong, Special Event Coordinator and Map Curator 

“Recalculating” is a term that many of us are far too familiar with. We hear it when the GPS navigation system on our phone is telling us how to get from Point A to Point B, but we somehow managed to miss the turn. It is hard to imagine a time when maps were unable to give accurate directions in real time. Modern maps are expected to be flawless and up-to-date. So, what happens when maps are wrong?

A New Map of the North Parts of America Claimed by France Under Ye Names of Louisiana, Mississippi, Canada, and New France with Ye Adjoyning Territories of England and Spain. 1720. Drawer 1 Folder 3, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Maps drawn centuries ago often contain inaccuracies that seem painfully obvious to viewers in the present day. For example, let us consider A New Map of the North Parts of America Claimed by France Under Ye Names of Louisiana, Mississippi, Canada, and New France with Ye Adjoyning Territories of England and Spain. (What a mouthful!) Produced in 1720 by Herman Moll, this map was a direct response to an earlier French map entitled Carte de la Louisiane du Cours du Mississippi that claimed French ownership over portions of the Southwest and the Carolinas. Moll’s map, by contrast, attempted to assert British ownership over the Carolinas. However, Moll’s map contains numerous mistakes:

  • California is portrayed as an island
  • Florida is much too small
  • the Great Lakes are far too large
  • all the rivers in Texas flow north and south
  • non-existent mountain ranges are depicted in western Texas

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Songs of the Past and Present: Baylor Sheet Music at The Texas Collection

by Joseph Lipham, Student Assistant

In 1930, the illustrious Baylor University became officially accredited as a School of Music by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Under the guidance of the School of Music director, Roxy Grove, who was granted the position in 1926, the Baylor School of Music would have quite the pivotal impact on the university. Grove, being a proud Baylor alumna, noticed that the university lacked a solidified alumni song. In 1928, Grove put her ideas to paper and music, and thus, “Alma Mater” was born. Her take on an alumni song for Baylor is quite powerful and somewhat poignant; perhaps the most pervasive line of the tune being, “…All hail Alma Mater, all hail to thee thou guiding star of our destiny…”. Lyrics like these make it undoubtedly evident that Grove, like thousands of Baylor alumni, held the school in the highest of regards. While this song was quite the powerful homage to the beloved alma mater, it did not stick around long; the song would be completely replaced in 1931 by another Baylor alumna, Enid Eastland Markham.

Enid Eastland Markham, wife of Robert Markham, a senior professor of music at Baylor, can be credited for one of the most beloved pieces of Baylor music. In 1931, a large gathering of Baylor exes (also known as alumni), flooded through the doors of the newly constructed Waco Hall. This tradition of Baylor exes meeting to relive the euphoric splendor that was college, was nothing new to Baylor University, as the first such tradition began nearly 22 years prior. However, something was quite different this time; Markham, playing the organ and leading the exes in singing of one of Baylor’s most well-known songs, “That Good Old Baylor Line”, was quite shocked. The origins of “That Good Old Baylor Line” can be traced all the way back to 1907 when a young student named George Baines Rosborough jokingly pinned lyrics for a song based off the Broadway hit, “In the Good Old Summertime.” Rosborough, clamoring for a song to sing at Baylor Bear football games, sat and wrote lyrics that mocked Baylor’s then crosstown rival, Texas Christian University (TCU). The original parody lyrics spoke of the Baylor football team doing the opposing team “…up in turpentine…”. Markham, in one of her correspondences regarding her version of the song, claimed the words “…remained inadequate and even absurd…”. Markham even went as far as to say “…I was struck anew with their utter unworthiness as I watched a group of dignified, middle-aged Exes solemnly intoning the ridiculous little turpentine words…”

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A Secretive Collaboration for Waco’s Integration

by Thomas DeShong, Project Archivist

As a student of history and an archivist, I am oftentimes awestruck by the rich and diverse collections I have had the privilege to process at The Texas Collection. During my brief time here, I have worked with materials relating to a wide range of topics including the Branch Davidians, Baylor University presidents, Texas governors, the American Civil War, World War II, and Baptist organizations, just to name a few. Needless to say, I find great satisfaction in my job. I never know what I might encounter on any given day. For instance, just a few months ago, I stumbled upon one of my most exciting finds yet: the Joe Lett Ward, Jr. papers.

 General Photo Files, Box #245.01, Folder #20, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
Joe Ward, Jr. was known for his involvement in Waco’s city government as well as a number of local board memberships.

Joe Ward, a fifth-generation Wacoan, was known throughout the city for his public service and community involvement. He served four years on the Waco City Council and was later appointed the Mayor of Waco from 1959 to 1960. Despite all of his accolades, however, one of the most fascinating aspects of Joe Ward’s service was also quite secretive.

The Joe Ward papers are not extensive by any means; they are housed in a single document box. Yet the papers within shed light on part of Waco’s history that has long been shrouded in mystery. One-third of Joe Ward’s materials are products of his tenure on the Waco Community Relations Committee and its predecessor, an un-named subcommittee operating under the Committee of Fifty. Initially, this nine-man committee was comprised of some of Waco’s leading entrepreneurs and citizens including Chairman Joe Ward and Baylor University President Abner McCall. They worked in conjunction with the Progressive Community Council, a group of prominent African American leaders led by Reverend Marvin C. Griffin, to integrate Waco’s schools, restaurants, and businesses.Continue Reading