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: December 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 materials. 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 Emily Carolin, Graduate Assistant, and Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist
- Nan Allene Anderson papers, 1906-1923, undated (#2267): This collection includes a photo album that documents the Baylor University campus pre-1910, including photographs of sports, Burleson Quadrangle, and other images of campus and student life. Also included are two commencement addresses.
- Emmanuel Henderson Civil War diary, 1862 (#3964): This collections contains documentation of a Confederate soldier through a small leather bound journal. Henderson served as a private in the 14th Texas Calvary in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.
- Helton family papers, 1866-1998 (#4004): The Helton family collection contains correspondence, items from World War I, and other materials about the family as they lived near Clifton, Texas and as various family members went off to war.
- Thomas Mitchell Bartley Jr. photo album, circa 1920s (#3914): This photo album shows the voyage of Thomas Mitchell Bartley Jr., who sailed the western Pacific Ocean in 1929. He was a crew member on a cargo vessel and took pictures in the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal.
- J.L. Walker papers, 1861-1949 (#4): The J.L. Walker papers provide a glimpse into the life of a Texas Baptist preacher, who was deeply interested in religious and secular history. Walker wrote extensively and the collection contains many of his writings on Texas history, Baptist history, and sermons. The collection is especially useful for researchers looking for background information on R.C. Buckner and the Waco Regional Baptist Association.
- Emma Louise McDonald Harrison papers, 1947-1990 (#1607): Emma Louise McDonald Harrison was a local Waco woman and the first African American woman to serve on the Waco Independent School District. She was well-known in the community for her contributions to organizations concerned with civic improvement, education, health, medicine, and youth. Her collection includes photographs, clippings, correspondence, and other collected materials.
- Lawrence Westbrook papers, 1933-1971 (#331): The Lawrence Westbrook papers provide a picture of life as a Works Progress and New Deal administrator during the 1930s and 1940s. His papers hold literary productions, most notably Westbrook’s The Boondogglers, which reflects on his work and the work of other members of the Works Progress Administration.
December’s print materials
By Amie Oliver, Librarian and Curator of Print Materials
Ayer, I. Winslow. Life in the Wilds of America: and Wonders of the West in and beyond the Bounds of Civilization. Grand Rapids: The Central Publishing Company, 1880. Print.
In 1880, the American West was still a largely mysterious place. Ayer believed that Americans, many of whom travel abroad and have extensive knowledge of other countries, should have knowledge about the West. This volume, which also serves as a travel guide, describes many areas of the frontier. Click here to view in BearCat!
Jackson, Andrew Webster. A Sure Foundation. Houston: . Print.
This expansive 644-page volume contains biographical sketches and photos of African-American Texans. The author’s intent was that the people highlighted would “serve as an inspiration” for readers because he believed that studying the successful lives of others could help build a solid foundation for one’s life. Click here to view in BearCat!
Dunn, James Erle. Indian Territory: a Pre Commonwealth. Commonwealth Publishing Company, 1904. Print.
Published three years before Oklahoma became a state, this volume provides a brief history of the Five Civilized Tribes and also provides information about the resources, government, schools, customs, etc. of the Indian Territory. Also included are a number of images of Native Americans, including Quanah Parker, as well as photos of buildings, homes, and farm lands. Click here to view in BearCat!
Over the Generations: Documenting Waco’s African-American Community through the Eyes of the Cobb Family
By Paul Fisher, Processing Archivist
In the 1970s and 1980s, many members of the African-American community in Waco preserved memories of family, friends, and community by donating collections of letters, photos, financial documents, and more to The Texas Collection. While the collections may have arrived separately, the stories they tell often overlap and provide various perspectives on the same people and events. With items dating from 1861-1991, these collections cover many important events in the life of the African-American community in Waco and the story of Waco.
One family in particular, the Cobb family, has brought three generations of family materials to be preserved and made accessible to researchers at The Texas Collection. These items contribute to many record groups documenting the African-American experience in Waco for 130 years. Learn more about these historic figures in the paragraphs below—every hyperlink represents a collection.
Stephen Cobb, representing the first generation of Cobb materials in The Texas Collection, helped found one of the oldest African-American churches in Waco, New Hope Baptist Church. He also served as the first pastor of the church. Through two marriages, Cobb had thirteen children, eleven of whom lived to adulthood.
Many of Stephen Cobb’s children and relatives became prominent in the Waco black community—see the Smith-Cobb family collection to learn more. Several became schoolteachers, one daughter taught music, and another daughter married the noted Texas educator Robert Lloyd Smith. A protégé of Booker T. Washington, Smith served two terms in the Texas Legislature and founded a society to help black sharecroppers in the early 1900s. This society, called the Farmers Improvement Society, had 12,000 members in 800 branches across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas at its high point in 1911.
One of Stephen Cobb’s daughters, Jessie, married Henry Bledsoe. Their son, Julius Bledsoe, or Jules Bledsoe as he was popularly known, was an international opera star in the 1920s-1940s. He sang for audiences around the world, wrote music, and performed in plays, radio, and television. His most famous piece was “Ol’ Man River” from the musical “Showboat,” though he also sang many other songs and spirituals. After a career of 22 years, Bledsoe died in Hollywood in 1943.
At least one generation later, Irene Cobb was also active in the Waco area. A schoolteacher for 31 years at various schools around Waco, Cobb was also active at New Hope Baptist Church. By this time, she was at least the third generation of Cobb family members to attend New Hope.
Irene Cobb’s daughter, Frances Cobb Todd, continued the family tradition of activity at New Hope, and followed her mother’s career path and became a teacher in the Waco Independent School District. Frances Todd was one of several New Hope members to take an interest in preserving historical documents important to the Waco African-American community, and she helped bring several New Hope-related collections to The Texas Collection.
Other African-American record groups at The Texas Collection include the papers of Vivienne Malone-Mayes, the first African-American professor to teach at Baylor University, and of Oscar “Doc” Norbert and Mary “Kitty” Jacques Du Congé—Oscar was the first African-American mayor of Waco. Several of the people in these collections also were interviewed for oral histories that can be found in the digital collections of the Baylor Institute for Oral History.
Resources such as historic photographs, music, letters, financial documents, programs, and many other materials are available for research in our African-American collections. If you are interested in donating materials documenting the African-American experience in Waco or Texas, we would love to talk with you!
Love the photos above? Check out our Flickr set to view a few more from these collections. And then set up a visit to The Texas Collection to see even more great documentation of the African-American community in Waco.
Research Ready: July 2013
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:
- [Waco] Branch Davidians: Bill Pitts papers, 1963-2001, undated: This collection contains materials produced and collected by Bill Pitts, a professor in the Religion Department at Baylor University. The materials primarily cover the Branch Davidians siege of 1993.
- Benjamin Edwards Green papers, 1840-1865: Green’s papers consist of a postcard, pamphlets, written notes, an unpublished manuscript and other chapter fragments. Among other roles, Green was a lawyer, served as an American diplomat at the Mexican capitol in the early 1840s, and was a secret agent in the West Indies.
- James Weldon Jones papers, 1917-1919, circa 2010: This collection contains a series of letters sent from Alexander “Tip” Jones to his son, James Weldon Jones, while the latter was serving in the United States Army during World War I.
- Vivienne Malone-Mayes papers. Inclusive: 1966-1977, undated: Malone-Mayes’ papers consists of correspondence, minutes, reports and other records related to her terms as a member and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for the Heart of Texas Region Mental Health Mental Retardation Center in Waco, Texas. The collection also contains personal materials and coursework Dr. Malone-Mayes assigned in her mathematics courses at Baylor University. She was Baylor’s first black faculty member.
- Irwin Green and Lillie Worley McGee papers, 1893-1899, undated: The McGee papers consist of notes, assignments, and exams produced by Irwin Green and Lillie Worley while attending Baylor in the 1890s, providing insight into Baylor’s curriculum during this period.
- Walter Hale McKenzie papers, 1926-1952: The McKenzie papers contain correspondence and board and committee minutes illustrating McKenzie’s relations to prominent Baptists J.G. Hardin, George W. Truett, Pat Neff, and others, and his service to Baylor University, Baylor College for Women, and the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
- Wellington-Stoner-McLean family collection, 1833-2007, undated: This collection consists of family documents collected by Margaret Stoner McLean. The collection includes correspondence and postcards, photographs, financial documents, books, personal ledgers, and publications about the family and the Stoner ranch.
Leading Locally: Marvin Griffin and his Ministry and Civil Rights Advocacy in Central Texas
“The mission of the Christian experience is expressed in the gospel of liberation, sharing the good news of what God has done in delivering his people from oppression. The gospel of liberation is rooted in the Judeo-Christian faith. It is an experience which is concretized in history. It is a happening, a living reality. This is good news for an oppressed people. God is the God of freedom, He participates in the historical process to liberate his people from oppression and bondage.” –Marvin Griffin, “Teaching Christ through the Black Experience,” 1973
On this 45th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is important to remember that there were many others who fought, and who continue to fight, at a local or regional level for African American civil liberties. One such warrior from the central Texas region was Rev. Dr. Marvin Griffin.
Marvin Collins Griffin was born in Wichita, Kansas, on February 20, 1923, and felt a call to ministry at the young age of seven. Education proved to be a powerful medium through which Griffin could equip himself to preach the gospel and fight for African American civil rights. Griffin earned his bachelor of arts from Bishop College in 1943, a divinity degree from Oberlin Graduate School of Theology in 1947, and a master’s degree in religious education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1955. That last degree was particularly noteworthy, because Griffin was the first African American to earn a degree from SBTS. Years later, Griffin would go on to attain a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Griffin used his quality education and his sense of calling to fuel his ministries. His first significant pastoral assignment was at New Hope Baptist Church in Waco. From 1951 to 1969, Griffin led his congregation in Christian and social activism. He began an extensive radio broadcast ministry and led various marches and pickets in Waco. The Marvin C. Griffin papers at The Texas Collection feature more than 1,500 audio recordings of his sermons and broadcasts, starting in the 1960s and continuing into the 2010s.
In 1969, Griffin relocated to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Austin, Texas where he remained for the next 42 years. Once again, Griffin believed that his church should be involved in the spiritual and secular life of the community. He led the church’s efforts in creating the East Austin Economic Development Corporation in 1998. This organization was a vehicle through which the church could assist the underprivileged through housing programs, day care centers, counseling, and financial assistance. In 2002, the EAEDC building was renamed in honor of Marvin Griffin.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Griffin was also involved in local politics and denominational affairs. He served as the first African American president of the Austin Independent School District Board of Directors, during which time the schools were using buses to encourage efforts of desegregation. Griffin was also involved in the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas, was the Director of the Christian Education Enrichment Program at the National Baptist Fellowship of Churches, and served as a Director-Lecturer for the Teacher Training Department of the National Baptist Sunday School Congress.
On July 31, 2011, Reverend Griffin retired from his tenure as pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Like Martin Luther King, Griffin devoted his life to preaching the gospel and empowering his peers to rise above the injustice of racial discrimination.
The Marvin C. Griffin papers, which have recently been processed, are now open for research. The materials therein provide an in-depth glimpse of Rev. Griffin’s pastoral ministries, his involvement within the Baptist denomination, race relations in the church and in central Texas, as well as the development of a liberation theology. This collection represents a treasure trove for researchers. Come on down to The Texas Collection as we celebrate the life’s work of a revolutionary in Texas race relations!
Learn more about Griffin’s leadership in Waco race relations in this article from the Waco History Project on his role in beginning the interracial Doris Miller Dialogue Group (DMDG) shortly after Martin Luther King’s assassination.
By Thomas DeShong, Archival Assistant and Digital Input Specialist
Research Ready: March 2013
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 March:
- Kenneth Hazen Aynesworth papers, 1826-1965, undated: Aynesworth’s papers consist of family materials, correspondence, literary productions, collected materials, and medical records collected by Kenneth Hazen Aynesworth, a local doctor who gave the first donation to establish The Texas Collection in 1923.
- [Waco] Branch Davidians: “The Facts About Mt. Carmel” Exhibit collection, 1961-2004, undated: This records group contains materials collected by various groups and individuals (including Calvin Smith of the Strecker Museum) to organize an exhibit about the history of the Waco Branch Davidians. The exhibit, entitled “The Facts About Mt. Carmel,” was featured at the Helen Marie Taylor Museum in Waco, Texas, in February 1994.
- Adina E. De Zavala papers, 1830 (copy) -1940, undated: These papers document De Zavala’s historic preservation efforts in Texas to protect significant architecture in the state.
- Thomas L. and Pit Dodson collection, 1710-1991, undated: The Thomas L. and Pit Dodson collection contains a wide variety of collected materials, including literary productions, books, photographic materials, and scrapbooks. While spanning three centuries, this collection consists primarily of early- to mid-twentieth-century art prints and periodical clippings.
- Marvin C. Griffin papers, 1940-2010, undated: The Griffin papers contain literary productions, photographic materials, audio recordings, and other materials pertaining to Reverend Marvin Griffin, an African American pastor who fought for the spiritual and political freedoms of his congregations at New Hope Baptist Church (Waco) and Ebenezer Baptist Church (Austin).
- Roxie Henderson collection, 1852-1919: This collection contains personal items and collected materials of Roxie Henderson, a Baylor graduate who served during World War I as an American Red Cross nurse. Learn more.
- Isabella M. Henry papers, 1931-1981, undated: Henry’s papers features manuscripts detailing her career in the Women’s Army Corps and the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II. Learn more.
- Lula Pace collection, 1895-1969, undated: This collection contains student notebooks, topographical maps, and scholarly publications by Lula Pace, a PhD graduate of the University of Chicago who served as a science professor at Baylor University in the early 1900s. Learn more.
Research Ready: February 2013
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 February:
- [Waco] Evangelia Settlement Records, 1912-1975: Evangelia Settlement was the first day care program for underprivileged children in Waco. The organization’s records consist of correspondence, legal, financial, and literary manuscripts generated by the settlement or written about the settlement, along with scrapbooks that contain newspaper clippings and photographs.
- Gildersleeve-Du Congé Collection, 1910-1918: Former Waco Mayor, Roger Conger, received the extensive collection of Waco photographer Fred A. Gildersleeve
some time after his death. The subject matter of the photo negatives contained in this collection were either requested by Oscar DuCongé, Waco’s first African-American mayor, or selected by Conger to present as a gift.
- Francis Gevrier Guittard papers, 1811-1960: This collection contains the personal papers of Dr. Francis Gevrier Guittard, a prominent history professor who served Baylor University for much of the early twentieth century.
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot: The Musical Heritage of Jules Bledsoe and New Hope Baptist Church
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.