Welcome Our New Director, Jeff Pirtle!

Today marks the first day on the job of our new director, Jeff Pirtle! We put together a short Q&A to help our readers get to know a little more about Jeff, his Texas roots, and his vision for the next phase of The Texas Collection’s service to Baylor and beyond.

Tell us about your background growing up in Texas
Going way back, my paternal grandfather and a couple generations before him were all from Fannin County and Bonham, Texas. Both my parents are from Levelland, Texas and I was born and raised in Amarillo. Some of my favorite childhood memories include trips to Palo Duro Canyon, church camp at Ceta Canyon and summer trips to DFW for Six Flags and Ranger games. I’m a graduate of Amarillo High School, then went to Texas Tech where I earned a BA in History and an MA in Museum Science.

What are some highlights of your pre-Baylor career?
By working as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech’s Southwest Collection / Special Collections Library, I was selected as a graduate intern with the Getty Research Institute’s Conservation Lab in Los Angeles. That experience really set my career in motion, getting the opportunity to work at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, then as the Museum Manager and Corporate Archivist at JCPenney’s corporate headquarters in Plano. Helping with JCPenney’s 100th anniversary in 2002 was definitely a highlight of my time there. Then after that centennial celebration, I accepted a position back in Los Angeles working for Universal Studios and NBCUniversal where I’ve been the last 20 years. The 100th anniversary of Universal Pictures in 2012 was a highlight of my tenure there. Of course, working at a movie studio brought some fun projects – like helping Kirk Douglas write a book about the making of Spartacus, co-curating an exhibit about Universal at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and participating in interviews with national media outlets.

What are some of the big things you want to tackle in your early days at The Texas Collection?
With my experience in celebrating 100th anniversaries, one of the first things I want to tackle is the upcoming 100th anniversary of The Texas Collection in June 2023! It’s a great opportunity to amplify The Texas Collection and I can’t wait to hit the ground running on that. I’m also really looking forward to working with all the professionals at The Texas Collection, learning about the workflow processes and procedures and learning about areas in which The Texas Collection can grow.

How do you see The Texas Collection supporting the ways we teach Texas history?
History is a complex subject, and I hope The Texas Collection can support those who teach history by helping to clearly understand and communicate all the complexities. It’s important that students know all humans – even those revered in history – have their faults and shortcomings, and I hope The Texas Collection helps teachers provide all sides of history.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are a major focus for the Libraries’ leadership team. How will you approach DEI as director of The Texas Collection?
One aspect I love about working in archival collections is when a researcher identifies with and becomes passionate about material they’ve discovered. Content that really resonates with them. The researcher may find a person in history with which they share talents and abilities, they may find primary source material from a historic event they heard about from relatives, or learn more about a painful historic happening that will hopefully never be repeated. In order to provide the content that resonates with each individual researcher, it’s important for The Texas Collection to have that material available. I look forward to prioritizing processing of underrepresented collections and expanding the collection to be more representative with all researchers. I want all our researchers to find collections they identify with and can be passionate about.

What’s your favorite piece of Texana, Texas lore, or Texas culture?
Outside of Tex-Mex, BBQ and college football, as a Panhandle guy I’ve recently come to appreciate the history of the High Plains. The vast ranch lands, the cattle drives of Charles Goodnight, the Comanches and Quanah Parker are all of great interest. I’m also really looking forward to diving into the histories of Baylor and Waco as soon as I get started!

Anything else you’d like us to know?
Fun Fact – the summer after I completed my graduate coursework in Museum Science and was awaiting my Getty Research Institute internship to start, I worked as a bartender and server at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo… home of the free 72 oz. steak dinner (if eaten in one hour)!

“You Are and Ever Have Been an Example to Us”

As the spring semester draws to a close, it is only reasonable to look back and reflect on the time a student has spent on capus at Baylor, and in the city of Waco. The following is a transcript of a Commencement Address found in the Nan Allene Anderson papers. The writer recounts their time as a student shows appreciation for those who graduated before them, recalls their ups and downs, and wishes their prfessors well as they continue to educate the masses. In addition to this address, Nan’s collection includes a photo album of her time as a student on campus and in Waco. Several pages can be seen below. sh


Nan Allene Anderson and Hattie Hutton in their cap and gown, circa 1908.

It now becomes my duty in the name of the class of 1910 to say goodbye. Not that any words of mine may tend to increase your interests and influence but that we as a unit may express our appreciation for the favors of the past few years.

To those who have preceded us in this line of march from these College Halls permit me only one remark: you are and ever have been an example to us. Your association [sic] whether in school or out in the world has enabled us to take courage and continue to labor until we have reached the goal for which we have been striving. Is this graduation hour the end which is to crown the work? Nay, verily, may it not be so; but rather let it serve as a mere stepping stone to our best attainments of the future. If you, my worthy predecessore [sic], have lead [sic] us out so nobly is it not ours to ask a continuance of your sympathies to stand alone? Give us your kind rebuffs and your hearty approvals. We need you and hope later to have you, feel that your trusts in us have not been misplaced. Knowing that you and yours are ours for the asking, we pass to the lower classmen for whom it has been our privilege to serve as “models” in every interpretation of the word.

In many instances we have been weighed in the balances and found wanting but it is to be hoped that you will not remain mindful of these things which recall unpleasant and unprofitable incidents. The careless deeds which are ours will live and cast their shadows about us. If perchance, we have by precept or example sowed some seed in your path see to it that it flourish and bear a thousand fold.

There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it behooves none of us to talk about the others to us.

Baylor Students in front of Carroll Science Hall, circa 1908.

May the good that we did counteract the bad and may you who realize that it is our best only that we would have you immulate. At all times you have been our friends instead of our foes. We shall ne’er forget your innumerable tokens of friendship and loving kindness.

At the close of this last school adieu we reach the climax as we turn to you Prof. Wells and the other teachers who have labored so patiently with us. ‘Tis now we feel a tinge of sadness mingled with joy. ‘Tis now we come to consider you for the last time uccapacity [sic] of instruction of our class. In fact, ‘tis now for the first time we fully realize what it is to break away from those that are so near and dear to us. You who have taught us from active life as well as from text are to be out inspiration from this time on as you were during our intimate relation of teacher and pupil. You who know better than any others our shortcomings and indifferent inclinations are, notwithstanding these faults, our friends. You are more to be admired and respected than we can by mere language, tell you. May our attitudes toward you always be the same as our sincerity as at the present and may your perseverance, patience, and pleasant practices both in the school room and out protect many other young people as they have us. It is our hearts’ desire that you continue in this painstaking labor of love and finally receive your reward of happiness and purest, perfect peace.


Resarch Ready: March-April 2022

The Texas Collection posts newly accessible resources each month. If you have any questions or would like to use these materials, please let us know and we would be happy to assist!

Finding Aids
World War II propoganda leaflet is directed at the US forces on the Anzio Beachhead [Jabez Galt papers, Accession #2347, Box #1, Folder #2]
  • Louise Black papers
    •  The Louise Black papers contain materials on topics regarding genealogy, Black’s career as a teacher, publications, and the history of First Baptist Church of Blossom, Texas
  • Jabez Galt papers
    • The Jabez Galt papers contain scrapbooks, photographs, and negatives representing Galt’s service as a medical officer during World War II in North Africa and Italy as part of the 56th Evacuation Hospital, also known as the Baylor Unit.
  • Helen Canon Lyles papers
    • The Helen Canon Lyles papers contain a variety of materials documenting Lyles’ life as a Baylor Female College student, mother, grandmother, as well as those of her family.

      Loving Hands poem by Fannie Maie Hodges Street
  • Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers
    • The Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers are composed almost exclusively of poems written by Street, most of which are religious in nature.
  • BU records: Graduating Classes
    • BU Records: Graduating Classes contains a variety of materials regarding the experiences of Baylor University’s graduating classes spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly the state of the university and the organization of alumni events such as Homecoming and class reunions.
  • Wheatly-Bahl Family papers
    •  The Wheatly-Bahl Family papers include love letters, family photographs, dance certificates, and genealogical materials related to the Bahl and Wheatly families in Waco, Texas from 1893-1971. Elmer Josephine Wheatly owned the Wheatly School of Dance in Waco. 
  • Gertrude Lewis Family papers
    • The Gertrude Lewis Family papers include a variety of materials, mostly photographic, regarding Ms. Lewis and her husband’s Black-owned funeral business, fashion, social events, family, and travel.
  • Robert Cortes Sr. papers
    • The Robert Cortes Sr. papers document the life and ministry of Robert Cortes Sr. as a Baptist pastor throughout Texas and Mexico.
  • Houston Business Girl’s Club, “Live Y’ers” records
    •  The Houston Business Girl’s Club “Live Y’ers” records highlight administrative materials, newsletters, programs, and photographs for a Houston chapter of the YWCA founded in the 1940s as a social club for high school graduates interested in business careers.
  • Hancock-Kennedy Family papers
    • The Hancock-Kennedy Family papers contain mostly handwritten personal correspondence amongst three related families from Palestine, Texas–Hancock, Kennedy, and Eastland. May Eastland Hancock is the most prevalent writer in the collection writing to her parents about life in Washington, DC with her husband, Harold Hancock.

‘Mother Duck’: How San Antonio Native Margaret Swan Helped Turn Synchronized Swimming into an Olympic Sport


This post was written by Ella Hadacek. Ella is a Master’s Candidate in the Department of History; this is her first year working at The Texas Collection. She recently completed processing the Margaret M. Swan Synchronized Swimming papers and wanted to share Swan’s story as we close Women’s History Month. 

An undated photo of Margaret Swan coaching her team. [Margaret M. Swan Synchronized Swimming papers #1933, Box 11, Folder 43.]
“It’s probably the only synchro club that’s owned and directed by an individual instead of being run by a parents’ governing board or a recreation center. It makes for a benevolent dictatorship, I guess you’d call it,” Margaret Swan told Sports Illustrated in 1971 when they featured her synchronized swimming team, the San Antoino Cygnets.1

Margaret Swan, a San Antonio native, coached the Cygnets, an all-girls synchronized swimming team for fourteen years. Under her “dictatorship,” the team won nine Junior National Championships, enduring hours of daily practice under her strict supervision.2 The team loved her for her dedication to their success, affectionately calling her “Mother Duck.” Swan’s personal papers, which reside at The Texas Collection, include countless letters and cards addressed to Mother Duck and drawings of ducks given to Swan on her birthday.

Margaret Swan always intended to pursue work in athletics. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education from Trinity University, and she even started doctoral work at the University of Texas at Austin in the 1960s.3 The mother of four never finished her dissertation. Instead, she turned her passionate work ethic to synchronized swimming while continuing to teach at San Antonio College.

The Cygnets pose in their costumes after winning at the Junior National Championships, undated. [Margaret M. Swan Synchronized Swimming papers #1933, Box 11, Folder 24.]
Her fascination began in 1950 when she watched two of the earliest synchronized swimmers, Joy Cushman and Ernestine Mignone, perform a duet. She immediately began experimenting on her own, and then turned to coaching after moving back to San Antonio in 1955. Swan served as the coach and faculty sponsor of the Marlins, one of the nation’s first co-ed swimming teams, at San Antonio College. She also coached the Silver Fins, a team started by another woman at the YWCA in San Antonio.

In 1963, Swan cut ties with the Silver Fins under unpleasant circumstances that, at the time, she called beyond her control.4 She later told Sports Illustrated that the split happened “because of parental interference.” After the split, Swan and her first husband, George, built an in-ground pool to coach synchronized swimming, and so was born the Cygnets—a word that means “little swan.”5

Swan, who was named Sportswoman of the Year by the San Antonio Express and News in 1973, not only carried her team to success at competitions in the United States, but she also took them to events in Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Canada, England, Germany, France and Denmark. Swan’s Cygnets even played a part in the Cold War. In 1976, a Trinity University newsletter celebrated that two of their students, part of the Cygnets, would be traveling to Czechoslovakia to demonstrate their “winning techniques” in Eastern Europe.

“Rumors have it that the Russians will be at the meet to view the demonstrations.

The United States and other Western countries have been urging that

synchronized swimming be added to Olympic competition.

According to rumors, the Russians want to see if they can compete.”6

A Cygnets flyer advertising a performance in 1967. [Margaret M. Swan Synchronized Swimming papers #1933, Box 2, Folder 2.]
Swan was heavily involved in forwarding synchronized swimming independently of her work with the Cygnets. She traveled to Colombia to manage the U.S. Team at the Pan American Games in 1971, and she was asked to form a synchronized swimming team for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) in 1973.7 To Swan’s dismay, several of the women who signed up for the WAC team thought it was going to be like school water ballet. Swan recalls, “This proved to be the first hurdle, since the girls did not really understand that they were to be trained as hard-hitting competitive athletes!”8 Under Swan’s apt supervision, the WAC team went on to successfully perform around the United States and Germany.

Swan announced her impending retirement in 1977. She received a flurry of letters asking her to reconsider the decision. One correspondent wrote, “Synchro will not be the same without our favorite ‘duck’ around.”9 Swan, who married sportswriter Harry Forbes in 1979, retired from coaching the Cygnets, but she didn’t abandon the sport. In 1984, she wrote the first book on synchronized swimming, Coaching Synchronized Swimming Effectively. Swan also served on the Synchronized Swimming Olympic-International Committee for two decades, including as secretary and chairwoman.10 In 1984, Vogue called Swan “the woman who succeeded in a thirty-year effort to get synchronized swimming into the Olympics.”

Women like Swan transformed synchronized swimming, popularized in Hollywood films starring Esther Williams, into a serious and respected sport. Through their work, Synchronized Swimming (now Artistic Swimming) grew in popularity in the United States in the 1950s and was officially recognized as an Olympic sport in 1984.11






“Just another Baylor Tradition–Unsynchronized Campus Clocks”

This post was written by Sylvia Hernandez, Archivist at the Texas Collection. Sylvia was a student at Baylor from 2004-2008 and remembers having to cross campus in under 10 minutes. The 15 minute pass period was implemented the semester after she graduated. It is now to her delight that she continues to experience the Baylor Time Zones and hears the out of sync bells regularly.

Time has a funny way of influencing an environment. As we begin daylight savings time, I’m sure many would agree. But what about on campus? How does time affect the way we move and plan for classes? Does having an accurate timepiece influence how fast we travel? Since 1929, the Lariat has documented the peculiarities of time on campus. While it is a well-known quirk, I think we only notice its trouble once every decade or so, except in the 1970s, it was a problem every other year then. When it is noticed, changes are suggested and occasionally they stick.

1965 Student Letter to the Editor wondering about the bells on Pat Nef Hall.

One of the first references to off-time drama is the ringing of bells to signal the beginning and end of classes. Sure, this was an accurate way of dismissing classes at one time, but the inconsistencies of the bell-ringer and the manual bell eventually became a problem. In 1930 an electric bell system was used, fell out of favor at some point, and was reintroduced in 1979 and again 2008. Buildings with these systems included Hankamer/Cashion, Baylor Sciences Building (BSB), Sid Richardson, and Carroll Science. In both 1979 and 2008 the bells were dismissed as being too reminiscent of a high school environment. As if that didn’t cause enough personal trauma, they were also disruptive within other areas. It was found that the bells regularly disrupted activity within faculty and staff offices and caused distress to animals in lab spaces. There were efforts to selectively silence the tones, but because they were integrated into the campus emergency alert system this was not possible and for a third time the chimes were abandoned.

Maybe a clock in every classroom could be of benefit. It’s not for lack of trying, but that has been mentioned more than once in the history of the great time saga that permeates our halls.  In 1969, a student suggested implementing clocks in all spaces connected via a computer system. Not a bad position to take, but most likely not cost effective at the time. However, in 1979 there is evidence of rooms within individual buildings being in sync, that is until the electricity went out. When that happened, the maintenance crew had to go and reset each clock individually. A committee tried again in 2007, this time in hopes of having atomic clocks in every classroom, that would solve the reset issue. To no avail, it was in fact too expensive this time for implementation.

Well, why not have one clock on campus be “The Clock.” It was not going to be the one on top of Draper, head of campus maintenance said it should not have been put in as it was never on time. Pat Neff would make sense, but the Lariat makes it seem as if the bells were busted during the 1960s. They work at present, but if you listen close enough, they are not in sync with other large clocks on campus such as the ones at Truett and BSB. This issue could be one of the continuing reasons for campus time zones.

1972 Independent findings of Lariat Staff and how clocks across campus compared to each other and SRT, Standard Radio Time.

Early in its history, campus only extended from 5th street to 8th street and Dutton to Speight. Within those boundaries, and even a few buildings, time faced issues. The issues helped cause the affectionately named Baylor Time Zones. The few minutes off from one side of the Student Union Building (SUB) to the other often influenced whether one could stop and chat between classes.  These inconsistencies also existed within Russell Dormitory. A 1972 article was helpful for those looking to beat curfew, the clock in North Russel was slow while the one in South was fast. A young woman could gain up to four minutes of extra time with her beau just by entering the right door.

As campus grew, so did the time zones. By 1978 there was mention of extending pass periods between class. Travel from Hankamer to Russell Gym or Castellaw to Tidwell became increasingly difficult to travel in only 10 minutes. Students began incorporating bicycles into their travel plans as it would increase the likelihood of making it to class on time between the inconsistent clocks, continually growing campus, and professors going long in their classes. For thirty years students faced this dilemma.

In 2004, the Baylor Sciences Building opened and students began receiving more tardies as they tried to travel from the farthest reaches of campus to their next class. This was a continuing problem and both students and teachers were not happy as there were formal complaints lobbied into 2006 without much thought. By 2007 a task force was formed to document the phenomena and provide suggestions for improvement. In Summer 2008,administration finally implemented a 15-minute pass period. The extended time allowance helped decrease student tardiness and eased the mind of faculty.

Since then, there have not been too may quirks, but other than computers, classes are far from having a synchronized clock system. Even now, the time zones continue as Pat Neff chimes only to be followed a minute later by one of the other large clocks. In 1930, the Lariat printed “It is going to be a happy day if an adequate system of bells, chimes, whistles, buzzer, or what-nots is ever installed at Baylor.” Who knew, over 90 years later, that “keeping up with clocks on campus [would be] a problem for years and years. Maybe Forever.”


The following Lariat articles can be found online in our Digital Collections

“About Bells.” 1930 December 19.

“Baylor Campus Clocks ‘Can’t Get Together’.” 1930 January 16.

Frost, Jimmy. “Students Wonder About Chimes.” 1965 November 4.

Grigsby, Sharon. “Jogging shoes just won’t help.” 1978 February 14.

“Large Campus Clock Might Replace Bells.” 1929 February 2.

Ledbetter, Robette. “Campus clocks unsynchronized.”  1979 January 25.

MacEwan, Molly. “Tones get axed in buildings.” 2008 November 19.

McCollum, David. “Campus Clocks Embezzle our Time.” 1969 March 6.

McCollum, David. “Some Timely Advice.” March 10, 1972

Morton, Janetta. “Letter to the Editor.” 1975, October 9.

Pere, Anita. “15-minute intervals to ease rush.” September 25, 2007.

The Rich Religious Reflections of Fannie Maie Hodges Street

This blog post was written by Graduate Student Assistant Katie Heatherly. Katie is an M.A. candidate in History in her first year at The Texas Collection.

“The big half moon / shone bright and red / With its points reaching / Upward to the sky – / It seemed to say God / Is not dead, and God / Will never never die.”[1]

In 1967 Fannie Maie Street wrote these words on a crumpled piece of paper. While historians sometimes neglect the private thoughts and reflections of ordinary women for various reasons, collections such as the Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers provide rich source material to alleviate some of these historical gaps. Though the collection is small—only five folders—the Street papers reveal a Central Texas woman’s musings in the mid-twentieth century. Her poems, scribbled onto notebook paper, cardboard, and other various materials, allow researchers a slight understanding of Street’s thoughts and religious insights.

Fannie Maie Hodges Street wrote of the love with which God made the world in her poem “Loveing Hands.” She wrote many of her poems on subjects such as this, often describing the moon, birds, or other aspects of her natural environment. (Box 1, Folder 2)

Fannie Maie Hodges Street was born on January 22, 1896 in Salado, Texas to John Smith Hodges and Elizabeth Pace Hodges. On June 14, 1914 she married William E. Street Sr., with whom she had three children.[2] Street wrote poetry inspired by the world around her. Her religious poems consisted of themes such as nature, the passing of time, her husband, and her children. She appeared to use the sights, interactions, and emotions of her daily life to construct her religious poems.

Street wrote of the world around her: the sun, moon, birds, and other parts of the world to reflect on God. Her observations of nature seemed to instill or reflect her strong sense of God’s plan: “We understand / God in all his wisdom / made it all—It was his plan.”[3] Street therefore seemed to have a great appreciation for place. She wrote, “God created me to be proud / Of the state I call my home— / But give Him first place / In my heart and my life / No matter where I roam. / It is Texas I love best / Texas where I was born / Texas oh Texas my home sweet home.”[4]

Street seemed to move from observing the beauty of the earth and glorifying God, to then caring for people around her. In her poem, “Loveing Hands,” Street wrote, “Loveing Hands made the earth / The sea and the sky / Loving Hands hung the moon / And the stars so high / And it was love that made / You and I.” [5] More explicitly, Street wrote in a different poem, “Did you see the sunrise this morning / And did you hear the birds sweet song … / God spoke to you and you just passed by / Failing to see that one in need / And failed to hear that little child cry.”[6]

Street wrote specifically of her home state in the poem “My Beloved Texas.” In this poem she wrote again of her environment and the idea of place, specifically thanking God for her home. Street also collected a few pieces of Texas history, which this collection contains as well.

Street also wrote poems regarding her family. Reflecting on their life together, she wrote to her husband, “They have all been golden / years my sweet because you / have been so good and kind… / You are still young in heart / my love and have that same / twinkle in your eye.”[7]

One might even get a slight sense of Street’s conception of gender roles. She wrote, “Manhood is ambition looking ahead / To take his place in a world of service / Faithful, trustworthy and kind / Womanhood is charm, and beauty wrapped in love / Fatherhood is showing how to depend on God / For guidance in molding the life of his child / Motherhood is clapping a bundle of sweetness / Close to her bosom and thanking God for his goodness.”[8]

Finally, the Street papers include many of Street’s reflections on death. She wrote in 1967, “Death is an open door to be with God, and / Peace and rest, and eternal happiness.”[9]

The Fannie Maie Hodges Street collection provides an insight into Street’s religious life, demonstrating the ways Street ruminated on her environment, family, and the passing of time in relation to God. Street reminds us that religious history is much more than large published systematic theologies. This is a collection that allows historians access to the intersection of social, religious, and women’s history. It is also the sort of collection that one might read simply for Street’s compelling poetry.



[1] “The Moon,” Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers, Accession #2627, Box #1, Folder #2, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[2] Find A Grave, Inc, “Fannie Maie Hodges Street,” Memorial #23402074, Databases, accessed 2021 December 2.

[3] Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers, Accession #2627, Box #1, Folder #2, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[4] “My Beloved Texas,” Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers, Accession #2627, Box #1, Folder #2, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[5] “Loveing Hands,” Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers, Accession #2627, Box #1, Folder #2, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[6] “Did You See and Did You Hear,” Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers, Accession #2627, Box #1, Folder #2, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[7] “Golden Years,” Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers, Accession #2627, Box #1, Folder #3, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[8] “The Ten Hoods of Life.” Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers, Accession #2627, Box #1, Folder #3, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

[9] “The Report Card,” Fannie Maie Hodges Street papers, Accession #2627, Box #1, Folder #3, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Research Ready: January-February 2022

The Texas Collection posts newly accessible resources each month. If you have any questions or would like to use these materials, please let us know and we would be happy to assist!

Finding Aids
Ben Merrick with his wife Hattie. They were married shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and only had a handful of months together before Merrick was called to active duty with the rest of the Baylor Unit. [Ben Merrick papers. Accession #3896, Box [200], Folder 2, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.]
  • Catherine Prentice White Papers #782
    • The Catherine Prentice White papers contain White’s 1927 scrapbook from her time at Waco High School as well as her 1928 diary, which details her thoughts on her romantic interests, classes, church, weather, and time at Camp Waldemar in Hunt, Texas.
  • Mexican Revolution Photo Postcard collection #631
    • The Mexican Revolution Photo Postcard collection consists of postcards with photographs depicting events of the Mexican Revolution, with a particular emphasis on the United States’ invasion of Veracruz.
  • Oscar K. Strobel Scrapbook #687
    • The Oscar K. Strobel Scrapbook contains a scrapbook documenting the first decade of Oscar’s relationship with his wife, Juanita Campbell; Strobel’s work in the U.S. Border Patrol in Eagle Pass, Texas; and his service in the United States Army during World War II.
  • BU Records: JM Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies BU/403
    • BU Records: J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies contains a variety of materials on topics such as separation of church and state, as well as Institute events, faculty, and graduate program.
  • Sneed-Maskew Family papers #675
    • The Sneed-Maskew Family papers consists of a variety of materials, including scrapbooks, photo albums, and clippings, related to the Maskew Family and their interest in Texas and Texas history.   scrapbooks, photo albums, clippings
  • Henry Morgan Winans papers #1957
    • The Henry Morgan Winans papers contain the collected letters and essays of Winans describing his experiences as chief medical officer of the 56th Evacuation Hospital, also known as the Baylor Unit, during World War II.
  • Ben A. Merrick papers #3896
    • The Ben A. Merrick papers consist of newspaper clippings, photographs, a diary, and literary productions related to Merrick’s service as part of the 56th Evacuation Unit, also known as the Baylor Unit, in North Africa and Italy during World War II.


Traces of Black History in the Archive

This blog post was written by Graduate Student Assistant B.J. Thome. He is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature in his second year at The Texas Collection. In this post, B. J. reflects on the hardships Black Americans face when tracing ancestral connections and how archives provide valuable, yet harsh documentation of family lineage.

In September of 1889, a doctor in Osawatomie, Kansas, sent an inquiry letter to his former home in Forkland, Alabama. His letter was an attempt to reconnect with his past, wondering if any of the people he knew during his childhood were still living. His immediate family had all passed away, and the doctor found himself nearing death. As he notes in his letter, “me ma Died in 1871 Sisters in 67 Brothers in 72 all dead but me Still I may die soon.” As he nears death, he considers his history and, wanting to reconnect with his past, he sends a letter asking the recipient to “send me all of my misstresses picture & masters” and to “tell all of my white folks to send me something togeather [sic] to remember them & I will keep it till I die no matter how small.”

This doctor was formerly an enslaved person, and his letter demonstrates the difficulties encountered when researching Black history in archival collections. The unfortunate reality is that records of Black Americans lives are far more difficult to trace than those of white Americans, especially prior to the end of slavery. White Americans might be able to trace their ancestry for centuries. For example, the Acree Family papers, which house the doctor’s letter, focus on tracing the Acrees’ genealogy, contain documents dating to 1784, and refer to records of the family’s ancestors as far back as the seventeenth century. Tracing Black Americans’ history, however, can be difficult as written records are frequently incomplete. As Eric Gardner observes, written sources of ancestral information, such as census records, seldom do more than acknowledge the existence of an enslaved person. He notes that Lucy Delaney, the author of a slave narrative, “was simply a hash mark on the federal census’s slave schedules for 1830 and 1840. Those census planners and takers—like the creators of local birth records—were uninterested in her existence beyond establishing her as property and tallying her for the U.S. Constitution’s three-fifths clause.”[1]

Archival research for Black history, therefore, must turn to alternate traces of information. Bills of sale, property lists, and wills, despite treating Black Americans only as property, contain traces of their presence. Some, such as Peter Clay’s will, provide more than the mere hash mark of the federal census records by at least naming the enslaved persons. One entry in Clay’s will provides an additional morsel of information, identifying not only the enslaved person’s name “Peter” but identifying his mother “Aggy.” Bills of sale, such as those contained in the J. W. Cocke Civil War papers and Walker Family papers, similarly identify enslaved persons by name and sometimes provide their approximate age. Such records, of course, reduce the enslaved person to property, listing them alongside animals or land in wills and property lists or placing a specific monetary value on their lives in bills of sale. Despite the immorality of such treatment, these records—fragmented and incomplete— offer indirect traces of Black lives, families, and history. These traces can be recovered from archival research, perhaps to add context to recovered slave narratives, as Gardner argues for in his discussion of Lucy Delaney, or provide connection to an otherwise lost past as the doctor attempts to do in his letter.

Despite his explicit requests for pictures or souvenirs from his former white owners, the doctor’s intent isn’t to connect to them. Instead, he is looking for traces of his own family and history, specifically a connection to his mother. Immediately after asking for the pictures, he writes: “I long to see all my mother used to weave.” The connection the doctor seeks is not to see the faces of his former owners. He wants to see the clothes they wore—the clothes which we can reasonably infer his mother weaved. Although he cannot see his mother’s face again before he dies, he holds out hope that he might at least see the clothes she made, the physical evidence of her presence. Because his mother lived most of her life enslaved, it would be highly improbable that she would have had a picture taken of her. Traces of her history, labor, and existence might remain however, in the images of the products of her labor. The clothes she wove might allow the doctor to connect to his history and family, to retain the human connection that the evils of slavery attempted to sever.


[1] Eric Gardner, “Slave Narratives and Archival Research,” in The Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative, ed. John Ernest (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 47.

Acree Family papers, Accession #2986, Box 8, Folder 12, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

The Immortal Ten and Their Impact on Rail Safety

Written by Sylvia Hernandez, Archivist, The Texas Collection


Black and White portrait collage of the Immortal Ten
The February 1927 edition of The Baylor Monthly was dedicated in memoriam of the ten young Men who perished in the Round Rock Bus-Train accident. The issue describes the services and provides a look into the outpouring of support for the families and university. [Winchester-Moore Family papers #460, Box 1, Folder 11.]
As the Baylor University Men’s Basketball team travels to the University of Oklahoma today, we can’t help but remember the tragedy befallen on Baylor 95 years ago. On January 22, 1927, the Immortal Ten perished in a bus-train collision at the Mays Street grade crossing in Round Rock on their way to Austin for a similar event. The weather was abysmal, and they could barely see the train coming. Sadly, these types of accidents were a regular occurrence at the time. When we speak of our young men, and the many others, we often overlook the impact these events had locally and nationally.

In 1921, 7,000 lives were lost to grade crossing accidents nationally1. Obviously, this was a problem. By July 1922 the American Railway Association introduced the Careful Crossing Campaign to highlight the high number of fatalities. Newspapers mentioned safety mechanism implementations at crossings in hopes to make drivers slow down3. The Texas Highway Bulletin also noted that the only safe grade crossing was the one that had been eliminated4. Eventually, legislation to reduce or eliminate grade crossings was introduced at the state level in December 19225. It was not passed.

That same year, the Railroad Commission acknowledged the issue but cited that since there were no laws dictating who must bear the cost of replacing the passes or to give them the right to judge a passing as dangerous, then it was not necessarily their responsibility. The commission did however state that they would join the highway commission to appeal to the legislature and abide by the state law6. Legislation for the Railroad Commission granting safety authority over crossings and eliminations was presented in 1923. It included expenses would be the responsibility of the state, county, and rail commission7.

As Passenger rail travel began to decline many smaller lines began to feel the financial strain of supplementing grade crossing elimination. The states of Texas and Ohio were able to acquire portions of the funding needed from the railroads to supplement state and federal allocations. Both states were early to realize the support.

In 1927, after the Baylor accident, Texas Legislators Ray Stout of Ennis and Roscoe Munge of Mason wrote a bill to eliminate grade crossings. It was not passed by Governor Dan Moody. The dangerous Mays Street crossing was not addressed until 1935 when the first state railroad overpass was finally built in Round Rock8. Finally, the state highway commission called on the railroads to meet and discuss eliminating grade-level crossings in response to the emergency federal highway construction program9. Progress.

President Roosevelt began adding grade crossing elimination to the works relief job efforts in 1935, during the Great Depression. He designated $200,000,000 for 3,500,000 men to be allocated by November 1. By October 22, only $2,000,000 was allocated. Turns out, a clause was inserted into the federal legislation stating rail companies were not responsible for any cost of the crossing elimination10. Because of this, individual states and the federal government were the only responsible parties; the states were only bound to supply the land. Except for Texas and Ohio, many state projects stalled. Texas was awarded $23,000,000 for Highway work, $10,855,982 specifically for grade crossing elimination11.

Over time, safety measures such as over and under passes, and lighting systems have been implemented at many crossings in Texas and throughout the country. In 2017, the Mays Street Bridge in Round Rock was refurbished with a $100, 000 donation from the Union Pacific Rail Road. The city of Round Rock renamed it “The Immortal Ten” bridge which is now adorned with green lamp posts and plaques12 to honor the lives and impact of the young men who perished there ninety-five years ago.

Today, as we remember our Immortal Ten, let us also remember the others who lost their lives in similar fashion as well as the traveling party we send out this weekend.



[1] [5] [6]“Eliminating Road Crossings is Plan.” Wise County Messenger (Decatur, TX), Dec. 15, 1922.

[2] “C.C.C.–What Does it Mean!” Lubbock Avalanche (Lubbock, TX), Jul. 14, 1922.

[3] “Grade-Crossing Plans Make Driver Slow Up.” Austin American (Austin TX), Aug. 6, 1922.

[4] “Spark Plugs.” Austin American Statesman (Austin, TX), Nov. 12, 1922.

[7]“Five Items Highway Legislation Be Asked Of Special Session. The Eagle (Bryan, TX), Apr. 17, 1923.

[8] Danner, Megan, “The Immortal Ten,” Waco History, accessed January 20, 2022, https://wacohistory.org/items/show/103.

[9] “Call Rail Engineers to Study Eliminating of Grade Crossings.” Longview News-Journal (Longview, TX), Jul. 24, 1935.

[10] Pearson, Drew and Robert S. Allen. “The Daily Washington Merry-Go-Round.” Waco News-Tribune (Waco, TX), Oct. 22, 1935.

[11] “Texas Gets Nearly $23,000,000 Funds for Highway Work.” Corsicana Daily Sun (Corsicana TX), Jun. 5, 1935.

[12] “City of Round Rock Honors Baylor’s Immortal Ten.” Baylor University. Baylor magazine, Spring 2017. https://www.baylor.edu/alumni/magazine/1503/index.php?id=941100

Research Ready: November-December 2021

The Texas Collection posts newly accessible resources each month. If you have any questions or would like to use these materials, please let us know and we would be happy to assist!

Finding Aids


  • Church Women United in Waco records # 2073
    • The Church Women United in Waco records describes the activities of the organization through by-laws, meeting minutes and agendas, correspondence, budget records, group projects and ministries. Scrapbooks with pamphlets, yearbooks, handbooks, clippings, magazines, and newsletters are also present.
  • Lawrence Dudgeon Collins papers #1931
    • The Lawrence Dudgeon Collins papers contain a variety of materials related to his service in the 56th Evacuation Hospital, also known as the Baylor Unit. The collection consists primarily of letters Collins wrote from North Africa and Italy to his wife during World War II and his subsequent efforts to type and edit those letters into a coherent narrative for publication.
  • Alice Davidson Boyer papers # 1248 
    • The Alice Davidson Boyer papers contain a variety of materials on topics regarding Waco women’s organizations, Boyer’s family genealogy, photographs, clippings, and transcripts from the Texas State College for Women Radio Program.
  • Bernice Dittmer papers #1702
    • The Bernice S. Dittmer Papers contain proofs and copies of manuscripts from one of Dittmer’s literary works, The Reverend Uncle Bert. This biography covers the life of B.M.G Williams, a former rector at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in El Paso, Texas.
  • Waco Press Club records #2582 
    • The Waco Press club records include extensive minutes, yearbooks, and scrapbooks, as well as some correspondence. The records reflect the interests, charitable giving, and community involvement of the club.
  • Bessie Lee Fitzhugh papers #64
    • The Bessie Lee Fitzhugh papers contain the personal papers of Waco area schoolteacher and administrator Bessie Lee Fitzhugh. Also in the collection are her research and manuscripts for Bells Over Texas, a book about the history of bells in Texas.
  • Fannie Mae Howell papers #783
    • The Fannie Mae Howell papers contain a variety of materials, mostly within a scrapbook, regarding Ms. Howell’s final year as a student at Waco High School in 1935 and the graduating class.
    • The Lois Billings Slater papers primarily contain materials from her time as a student at Baylor University, 1934-1936.