Dear Mom: I’m not sick; I’m not dead

This blog post was written by Graduate Student Assistant B.J. Thome. B.J. is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature in his first year at The Texas Collection. He processed and wrote a finding aid for the Henry C. Smith papers, #3784. 

Image from original letter by Henry C. Smith with the text: No mother, I am not sick with Influenza nor am I dead. I am just seeing how hard i can work for 33 dollars per month. Every person in this office is in the hospital with the "Influ" and I am trying to see if I  can handle four men's jobs. Believe me it has kept me going 7:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. for the last three days...
Excerpt form the Henry C. Smith letter dated October 11, 1918.

Concerned that his mother might worry about his health given the epidemic raging throughout the United States, Henry C. Smith sends her a message: “No mother, I am not sick with the Influenza nor am I dead.” Replace “Influenza” with “Coronavirus,” and Henry’s message might resemble messages we’ve sent our own mothers recently. But Henry’s message isn’t recent. It is, in fact, more than one hundred years old, written to his mother on October 11, 1918. Despite the century-long gap between Henry’s experience and our own, his descriptions of quarantine and his attempts to deemphasize the epidemic’s effects on his life might feel eerily familiar to our own pandemic experiences.

Henry C. Smith enlisted in the Army near the end of World War I, seeking a commission as a pilot. Throughout 1918, he studied in various camps and flight schools: first at Cornell, then at Camp Dick near Dallas, and ultimately learning to fly at Rich Field in Waco, Texas. (Rich Field was an army air base founded in Waco in 1917.  The Extraco Events Center and Waco High School now sit on the land formerly occupied by Rich Field.)

Black and white photo of twelve men dressed in World War I U S military uniform standing in front of a bi-plane.
During World War I, army cadets like Henry C. Smith and the cadets in this photo learned how to fly at Rich Field in Waco, Texas. Henry often references accidents or damaged planes in his letters suggesting that cadets also occasionally learned how to crash. (George H. Williams papers, Accession #3297, Box [156], Folder 7)
As a cadet, Henry wrote almost daily to his mother; his letters from October reference the ongoing Influenza epidemic and the quarantine measures put in place to slow its spread. In one letter, he notes, “We are not allowed to go in public gatherings from today on.” In another, he tells his mother, “Did I tell you we are under quarantine. We have to sleep with out [sic] bunks at least five feet apart and they prefer having you sleep under the stars.” Avoiding crowds, staying several feet apart, and being safer outside than inside—sound familiar?

Even as Henry frequently notes the quarantine procedures, he attempts to downplay their importance, preferring to focus on his flight training. The October 11 letter, for example, discusses the flu and quarantine in only a few lines, most of which have already been quoted. The bulk of the letter describes his first solo flight and the wonder of that experience. Other letters referencing the flu are similar: lines mentioning that he feels fine and quarantine safeguards, while the rest of the letter recounts his experiences training.

However, despite his tendency to deemphasize the impact of the epidemic and quarantine, his brief mentions of it reveal a more significant effect on Henry’s life than he probably wanted to admit. In a letter from October 13, he notes, seemingly in passing, that the nearby Camp MacArthur is hauling out the dead: “Thirty-three dead ones were shipped out yesterday.” In a letter from October 19, he notes that he loaned his last dollar to one of his bunkmates so that he could go home to care for his sick wife. Given how often Henry’s letters emphasize his lack of money, he obviously thought being sick with the flu was serious enough to give away his last dollar.

Most telling of Henry’s influenza-related fears, is the brief letter from October 23. In it, Henry writes: “I don’t really have the time to write but no letter came today and I am afraid someone is sick. Please write if it is only a note and let me know if everything is alright.” Henry’s mother and sisters had the habit of writing to Henry at least as often as he wrote to them. When he didn’t receive a letter for some time, he began to worry that someone might be sick—and given the ongoing epidemic and his frequent assertions that he doesn’t have it, the clear implication is that he worries someone in his family might be sick with the flu.

Henry’s letters demonstrate experiences from 1918 which we, having survived 2020, might well share. The precautions we are encouraged to undertake during our own pandemic resemble the precautions Henry took during his quarantine. Our own complex responses to the current pandemic allow us to sympathize with the complicated mix of Henry’s desire to focus on the normalcy of his training rather than the danger of the spreading disease while still fearing that it might harm his loved ones.

TEXAS OVER TIME: Then and Now Views of Downtown Waco, TX., from the Alico Building, 1940s-1950s.


By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Waco’s Alico Building has been known to photographers as a “22-story tripod” since its completion in 1911. Setting up a camera on top of the 22-story building gives a spectacular view of the city’s downtown and into East Waco looking over the Brazos River. To help demonstrate this, we have selected a few photographs taken from several vantage points from the Alico’s roof-top from the 1940’s and early 1950’s. These were taken before the 1953 Waco tornado and other changes permanently altered the city’s skyline. The first image is a “slider” which shows a “Then and Now” view of Waco City Hall and the old City Square. The following images are “Then and Now” still photos. We hope you enjoy this selection of photos and views of old Waco in this installment of “Texas Over Time” from The Texas Collection at Baylor University.

The “Then” image is looking towards Waco City Hall and the City Square from the top of the Alico Building, 1952. Photographer Fred Marlar, Fred Marlar papers, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The “Now” image is from a similar view from Google Earth, 2021. 

1940s: The first “Then” photograph was taken from the top of the Alico Building looking southwest. From right to left is Austin Avenue, Franklin Avenue, Mary Street, Jackson Street, Webster Avenue, and Clay Avenue. The Praetorian Building at 601 Franklin Avenue is noticeable in the lower left. Photographer unknown. Wilton Lanning Papers #4039, Box 7 Folder 11, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The second “Now” image is from Google Earth, 2021.

1940s: The first “Then” photograph was taken from the top of the Alico Building looking west up Washington Avenue. Notice the Grand Karem Shrine and the old Waco High School buildings. Photographer unknown. Wilton Lanning Papers #4039, Box 7 Folder 11, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The second “Now” image is from Google Earth, 2021.

1940s: The first “Then” photograph was taken from the top of the Alico Building looking down on 5th Street and Washington Avenue. Notice the McLennan County Courthouse and the old jail on the lower right. Photographer unknown. Wilton Lanning Papers #4039, Box 7 Folder 11, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The second “Now” image is from Google Earth, 2021.

1940s: The first “Then” photograph was taken from the top of the Alico Building looking south, down 5th Street. What is now the WISD building (Professional Building) is seen on the lower right, old Padgitt’s Building on the lower left, the Dr Pepper Bottling Plant (current Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Inst., 300 S. 5th St.) on mid-left, and the First Baptist Church (500 Webster). This area took a hard hit in the 1953 tornado with many of these building either destroyed or damaged. Photographer unknown. Wilton Lanning Papers #4039, Box 7 Folder 11, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. The second “Now” image is from Google Earth, 2021.




Looking Back At Baylor: Sticking to the ‘Baylor Red’

This piece by former Texas Collection director Kent Keeth was originally published in The Baylor Line in February 1979. Blogging About Texas periodically features selections from Looking Back at Baylor, with hopes of sharing Keeth’s work with a new audience.

As we enter a new semester in the dreary, cold of winter there is always warmth in the red brick surrounding campus. Read on to find out how the brick came to be, where it is found, and the man who watched it happen. 

Neill Coker Morris worked his way through Baylor with the help of a part-time job in the campus heating plant, the building whose tall white smokestack remained a campus landmark for five decades. When he graduated in 1927 he was immediately hired by his alma mater as assistant superintendent of buildings and grounds. Retiring in 1973 as Director of Plant Operations, he assumed the emeritus title of Adviser to Plant Operations, a position which he held at the time of his death in June, 1978. In addition to participating in most major building projects on the campus, Morris accumulated during his half-century at Baylor a vast fund of knowledge about the minutiae of its development. Interviewed in 1975 by Baylor’s Program for Oral History, he recorded for future reference some of these facts which might otherwise have become lost with the passage of time. The following excerpt from his memoir, which has been edited and slightly paraphrased for the purpose of clarity, tells of one almost unnoticed transition in the appearance of the campus: the heyday and the eventual supersession of the type of bricks known as “Baylor Red.”


INTERVIEWER: Was there any attempt to make the campus buildings uniform in architectural design?

MORRIS: The planning committee tried to stick to the same color as a rule, on the buildings, with the red brick which became so popular that the brick company at Brownwood named it the Baylor Red. It’s on Memorial and Allen-Dawson and Alexander [dormitories] and Pat Neff Hall. The planning committee always tried to hold to the red brick, but we had varied from the Baylor Reds on two or three buildings. Collins [dormitory] was made out of a Mineral Wells red brick that matched very closely; but Mans McLean Science Building, Sid Richardson Science Building, the air-conditioning center, and Moody Library are all out of a different brick entirely.

INTERVIEWER: Why? Why didn’t you stick to the original Baylor Red; do you know?

MORRIS: Yes, the architects on Mars McLean convinced the building committee that they could use red, but shouldn’t use the Baylor Red because it had a little orange in it. They wanted a straight red. The building committee went along with them. Then, after they got that one in, there wasn’t anything else to do with Sid Richardson and Moody Library but to use the same brick. You couldn’t get that close together with two different bricks.

INTERVIEWER: Why did the architects insist on the darker red? Was it just a matter of personal preference with them?


INTERVIEWER: Did you agree with that at the time?

MORRIS: As long as it was red it didn’t make me too much difference. I don’t remember now who was on that building committee, but they — or the board of trustees — liked it all right, so we went ahead with it.


The old heating plant, in which Morris had first stoked the furnaces as a student and later had supervised the maintenance of campus building and grounds, was remodeled in the mid-1970s. With its smokestack removed and its interior reshaped, it became an administrative annex to Pat Neff Hall, and also remained the headquarters of plant operations. In January 1979, with the approval of Baylor’s Board of Trustees, the building which had served as Morris’ campus base for more than half a century — constructed in the early 1920s of a brick which antedates the popularity of the Baylor Red — was officially renamed and dedicated in his honor as “Neill Morris Hall.”


Neill Morris Hall, built in 1921, was also the long time home for the Baylor Communication Sciences and Disorders department. An anonymous  $10 million gift allowed Baylor CSD to renovate and move into the Cashion Academic Center after the relocation of the Hankamer School of Business to the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation. Neill Morris Hall was demolished in 2017. 

A full transcript for the Neill Coker Morris oral history interview can be found in the libraries’ digital collections while an audio file is available by contacting the Baylor University Institute for Oral History.  

Sharing Culture through Christmas Cards

Text of "Las Posadas" a song traditionally sung during Christmas time in Mexico
The song “Las Posadas” as sung during the processional seeking shelter for Mary and Joseph. Jose (Joseph) first asks for shelter, el Mesonero (the inn-keeper) denies shelter, and the Coro (choir, peregrinos) is finally granted shelter.

This post was written by Sylvia Hernandez, Archivist at The Texas Collection. 

Mexican culture and Catholicism are very much intertwined. I identify in both traditions and attend a church where my culture is highly visible. I remember going as a child during the Christmas season and participating in several traditional events. My family went to Las Posadas, traversing church grounds singing songs and seeking shelter for Mary and Joseph. The Nacimiento (Nativity Scene) was set up and the manger remained empty until Midnight Mass, as Christmas Eve turned to Christmas Day. It was always a joy watching the padrinos (godparents) rock the baby Jesus in his basket down the aisle and gently placing him with Mary and Joseph. As a kid though, I fondly remember receiving a bag with an apple, orange, and a few pieces of candy at the end of mass. A small treat to celebrate the birth of Christ.

I preface this blog with my own story because memories came tumbling back as I processed the Pan American Round Table of Waco scrapbooks. The Pan American Round Table was established in 1916 as part of a larger movement to promote international relations in the western hemisphere. The Waco Chapter was established in 1957 as a local women’s group that met regularly and discussed culture and politics of the twenty-two countries in North, Central, and South America as well as the Caribbean. The scrapbooks document activities of the group from 1957-1995 through newsletters, photographs, yearbooks, correspondence, and photographs.


Black card with traditionally clothed Mexican pilgrims singing las posadas in processional. They are carrying candles and a platform holding Mary and Joseph under the stars.
Los peregrinos carry the likeness of Mary and Joseph on processional through Las Posadas. Mary can be seen sitting atop a burro, los peregrinos are carrying candles to light the way, and the uppermost star is exaggerated in appearance to distinguish it from the others.

As I went through the books, the Christmas cards stood out for their visual content. Several of the cards, mostly from Mexico in the 1960s, depict the imagery I grew up with; Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem, los peregrinos (pilgrims), burros (donkeys), estrellas (stars), velas (candles), and piñatas. I mentioned these images to my coworkers, and they didn’t quite understand why I was so excited. In response, I have prepared the following as my quick interpretation of these images, what they represent, and why they are important from my point of view as a Mexican American Catholic.

Las Posadas/ Los Peregrinos– Las Posadas is a reenactment of the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem taken by Mary and Joseph. For nine nights prior to Christmas, los peregrinos visit houses, predetermined by the church, singing traditional songs seeking shelter for Mary and Joseph. They are denied over and over until finally, los peregrinos are granted shelter and celebrate with a large party. Members of the church dress up to represent Mary and Joseph, or a platform with their likenesses is carried throughout the journey.

A child in traditional Mexican clothing sits atop a burro (donkey) carrying a gold chest and wearing a gold crown in front of two trees. The image is in the lower left corner of a Christmas card with well wished written in Spanish.
A child in traditional Mexican clothing sitting atop a burro carrying a small gold chest and wearing a gold crown is representative of the three wise men. He sits below the bright, guiding star.

Burros- Mary is often seen riding atop a donkey led by Joseph. It is unclear whether it happened or not but would make her journey easier at nine months of pregnancy. Burros are also seen ridden by others, usually children, as they reenact the journey by the wise men to bestow gifts upon the newborn king.

Estrellas/ Velas- La estrella is a depiction of the guiding star followed by Mary and Joseph as well as the wise men as they sought out Jesus after his birth. It is recognizable amongst other stars as it is often depicted larger and looks more illuminated than the rest. Velas are carried by los peregrinos on their journey also to guide them to shelter and Jesus.

Piñatas– In celebration of finding shelter Las Posadas ends with a party to celebrate the coming of our savior. There is a piñata broken by children in attendance, often in the shape of a star. Again, a guiding light to Christ.

The impact of the images in the scrapbooks provided a reminder of the true reason for the season, but also an opportunity to share and spread knowledge through alternate approaches. Our understanding of Christmas traditions is unique to our upbringing. Faith and culture were equally present in mine, therefore traditional images take the form of religious symbols heralded by those who look like me. They bring about memories if family lost and traditions upheld, a common thread no matter how you celebrate.




TEXAS OVER TIME: The Sanger Brothers Department Store and Christmas Event, 321 Austin Avenue, Waco, TX.


By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Waco was once home to Sanger Brother’s Department Store, the city’s largest and most prestigious retail establishment. Outside of the store’s building on 321 Austin Avenue the business hosted Christmas events such as the one held in December 1913, when Santa Clause arrived via a Southern Traction Company railway car accompanied by the Alessandro Band. Santa’s arrival was sponsored by the railway company and Sanger Brothers, bringing in crowds of people numbering in the hundreds. It was a yearly tradition that filled the streets of downtown Waco with citizens trying to catch a glimpse of Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and listen to the band playing Christmas music.  

Waco’s Sanger Brothers Department Sore was founded by Sam Sanger and first opened for business on March 4, 1873. Sanger arrived in the U.S. from Germany in 1866, moving to Cincinnati, where he served as a Rabbi. He was then a teacher in Philadelphia from 1869 to 1872. He then went into the retail industry in 1872, opening a shoe store in New York City. Four of Sanger’s brothers, Isaac, Lehman, Philip, and Alexander, had also emigrated from Germany to the U.S., and were already in Texas when Sam Sanger arrived in the state. Sam Sangers’ brothers had opened dry goods stores in McKinney, Decatur, Weatherford, Bryan, Calvert, Hearne, Kosse, Bremond, Groesbeck, Corsicana, and Dallas, before brother Sam’s arrival. The McKinney store was the first and opened by Isaac Sanger in 1857. Sam Sanger merged the Bryan store to form the one in Waco. Sam Sanger died on December 18, 1919. His son, Asher Sanger, took over the business until 1926, when it was sold to a St. Louis based company. On March 15, 1931, the Waco branch of the Sanger Brother’s Department Store chain went out of business after 58 years. 

Sanger Brothers continued to operate stores in North Texas, and the company remained successful for decades after the Waco store’s closure. In 1961, Sanger Brothers joined with A. Harris and Co., to become Sanger-Harris. Many Sanger-Harris stores were located in shopping malls as anchor stores such as the ones at Valley View Mall in Dallas and Six Flags Mall in Arlington, TX. Sanger-Harris also operated stores in Ft. Worth, Mesquite, Irving, Plano, and Tyler. One former Sanger-Harris building was even modified to serve as the headquarters for the Dallas Area Rapid Transit System (DART). Sanger-Harris merged with Foley’s Department Stores in 1987, and in 2005, the once venerable firm merged with Macy’s

The “Then” in December 1913 photograph shows a Southern Traction Company railway car that has just transported Santa Claus and the Alessandro Band to Waco, from Dallas. The location is outside of the famous Sanger Brothers’ Department Store, once located at 321 Austin Avenue, Waco, TX. Santa Claus came to this store yearly at Christmas time and the event drew hundreds of onlookers. The “Now” image is of the same location in 2020, image by G.H. “Then” image is from: “Gildersleeve : Waco’s Photographer. Waco, Texas: 1845 Books, 2019. Print.”

A similar view to the above but taken in 1914. Santa Claus, accompanied by soldiers, stands in front of the large gathering. The slider or zoom feature shows a close-up of what the crowd came to see. “Then” image is from: “Gildersleeve : Waco’s Photographer. Waco, Texas: 1845 Books, 2019. Print.”


The Sanger building once stood at 321 Austin Avenue, as seen in this 1914 Fred Gildersleeve image. It was formerly the McClelland Hotel, and was also home to the Old Corner Drug Store, birthplace of Dr Pepper. Montgomery Ward occupied the building for many years until it moved to Lake Air Mall. The building, having survived the Waco Tornado of 1953, was demolished during Urban Renewal in about 1964. The site is now a parking lot and is also home to the memorial statue for the 1953 Waco Tornado. Image source: Gildersleeve : Waco’s Photographer. Waco, Texas: 1845 Books, 2019. Print.

Works Sourced:

Amanda Sawyer, “Sanger Brothers Department Store,” Waco History, accessed December 10, 2020,

Anderson, Jennifer. “Sanger Brothers in Dallas,” City of Dallas Office of Historic Preservation, accessed December 10, 2020,

Gildersleeve, Fred A., Geoff Hunt, and John S. Wilson. Gildersleeve : Waco’s Photographer . Waco, Texas: 1845 Books, 2019. Print.

“The Story of Sanger Brothers, Pioneer Retail Store of Texas,” The Southwest Jewish Chronicle (Oklahoma City, Ok.), September 1, 1950.

“Sanger-Harris,” The Department Store Museum,

Research Ready: November 2020

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
  • P. B. McKay papers #375
    • The P.B. McKay papers include three transcribed letters that McKay wrote as a soldier in the American Civil War.
  • John D. Dace papers #385
    • The John D. Dace papers contain a single transcribed letter from Dace, describing how he hopes Vicksburg can outlast the siege taking place at the time.
  • Thomas Travis Moore collection #3450
    • The Thomas Travis Moore collection contains letters and military records from Moore’s service in World War II, as well as research and writings from Moore’s great-nephews concerning his service.
  • Alexander Archer Beville papers #2048
    • The Alexander Archer Beville papers contain a 2nd lieutenant’s commission in the Texas militia, receipts, and check stubs from Waco area businesses.

There are two new additions to the Frances C. Poage map collection: Texas (1835) and Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova (1548). The cartographer for Texas was David H. Burr, who created five editions of this map (1833, 1834, 1835, 1845 and 1846). The 1835 edition show a much larger Texas extending west to the 106th meridian and north to the Arkansas River.

The second map, Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova, is now the oldest in the map collection and is a first edition. California is depicted as a peninsula, and the Yucatán Peninsula is depicted as an island. The Yucatán would be correctly drawn as a peninsula in the 1561 edition. However, cartographers continued to struggle with California, even in later years, as some would depict the territory as an island.

Photograph of map of Texas. Brown background with red line symbolizing border. Border extends panhandle north toward Oregon Country, west toward California, and stops South at the Nueces river. Eastern border edges Louisiana and Arkansas along the Sabine River.
Texas (1835)
Black and white map of Mexico and Southern United States as depicted in 1548. Mexico, Florida, Cuba, and the Baja peninsula are accurately placed while the Yucatan peninsula is drawn as an Island.
Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova (1548)

TEXAS OVER TIME: The Behrens Drug Company, 219 South Fourth Street, Waco, TX.


By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Located on 219 South Fourth Street, Waco, Texas, the Behrens Lofts now occupies what was once known as the Behrens Drug Company building. The structure was completed in 1913, and was headquarters for the Behrens Drug Company. Earlier locations for the company were Fourth and Washington (1891-1896) and Third and Mary Streets (1896-1914), Waco. The company was founded by Dr. Herman Behrens. According to the Waco-News Tribune, April 19, 1925, Dr. Behrens was born in Seehide, Germany, on February 20, 1852. He moved to the U.S. as a child with his parents, and came to Paris, Texas, in 1874, to begin work in the drug industry. He came to Waco in 1878, to continue this trade and helped operate a firm called Behrens and Moser. After operating this company for a few years, he returned to Germany but came back to Waco again to help form another drug company called Behrens and Castles. In 1891, The Behrens Drug Company was incorporated. On December 17, 1905, Dr. Behrens died. However, Dr. W.R. Clifton soon became the company’s president and held this position for many years and the company achieved great success despite its founders’ passing.

 As a wholesale company, the firm sold “drugs, beauty products, talking machines, cigars, sundries, soda fountains, store fixtures, and more, to smaller business. Additionally, it even manufactured medicines in-house for a short time in the 1920’s. In the Waco-News Tribune, April 30, 1922, the company ambitiously states: “there is not an article in the drug dictionary which the Behrens Drug Company does not handle.” Another product sold was called Mrs. McCormick’s Beauty Cream, “popularized by the Behrens Drug Company from the hands of its originator, a Waco woman, who years ago sold it from house to house…” In 1925, Behrens Drug Company employed 68 people, and supplied goods across the state. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, Behrens expanded to include locations in both Lubbock and Tyler, Texas. The Clifton family continued the presidency of this company with Albert C. Clifton, and the company’s last president, William Lacy Clifton serving until the Behrens company was bought out by Cardinal Health in 1994. 

The “Then in circa 1920” picture in the image sequence below shows: the Behrens Drug Company building, located at 219 South Fourth Street, Waco, Texas. Photographer, Fred Gildersleeve, General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Same view of building but now Behrens Lofts in 2020 by GH.

Behrens Drug Company building, circa 1920, Photographer, Whayne Farmer, Waco Chamber of Commerce News, July-September 1926, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.


The Behrens Drug Company at previous location from 1896-1914, at Third and Mary Streets, Waco. General Photo File, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Works Sourced:

“Behrens Drug Company Rounds Out 40 Years of Service in Waco,” The Waco-News Tribune, April 19, 1925.

“Waco Has It,” The Waco-News Tribune, April 30, 1922.

Waco Chamber of Commerce News, July-September 1926, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Texas Army Air Fields

November is National Aviation History Month! According to the Government Printing Office, the month is “dedicated to exploring, recognizing and celebrating America’s great contributions and achievements in the development of aviation. Aviation history refers to the history of development of mechanical flight — from the earliest attempts in kites and gliders to powered heavier-than-air, supersonic and space flights.” This post explores the history of Army Air Fields in Texas using items from our holdings.

Written by Rachel DeShong, Map Curator and Coordinator for the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair

On December 8, 1941, the day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States declared war on Japan. Immediately, the United States government embarked on expanding their military operations as quickly as possible. These efforts included both recruitment and the building of new military installations. Texas offered ideal conditions for military installations as there was plenty of land and relatively warm climate year-around. When World War II ended, there were a total of 65 army air fields[1] in the state of Texas alone.[2] These air fields not only infused the local communities with some much needed income, but also brought in a large influx of young men and women from across the country.

To commemorate their training experiences, air field personnel created souvenir booklets, yearbooks, and postcards. The booklets and yearbooks (called “mug books”) were composed almost entirely of photographs and documented the lives of the cadets rather than the history of the air field. Only a few examples include any historical element, and those that do are very brief. Images depicting physical activity, daily messes, and classrooms were common. The yearbooks shared similar styles with high school yearbooks with elaborate covers and individual photographs of each cadet along with their name, their hometown, and sometimes their aviator call sign. One such yearbook in our collection from the Pampa Army Air Field includes the embossed name of the cadet on the front cover and signatures like those one would find in a typical high school yearbook.

These materials also provide a sneak peek into the cadets’ personal lives. Often included in these books are humorous drawings and captions with inside jokes. Others document the various extracurricular activities that the cadets participated in including sports, listening to music, and reading. Several even include images of their camp mascots which, contrary to what one might expect, tended to be furry, cute, and cuddly. The Amarillo Army Air Field claimed two puppies, a kitten, and a fawn as their post mascots. Other details hint at the romantic lives of the cadets such as the wedding photograph of an unidentified couple from the Blackland Army Air Field or the numerous illustrations referencing the cadets’ perpetual lack of female companionship. Some books also contain a section dedicated to the memory of cadets who died during training. While providing valuable historic insight to training and military installations, these resources help to humanize the pilots and remind us that they were just like us.

One of the post mascots for the Amarillo Army Air Field. Amarillo Army Air Field: a Camera Trip through Amarillo Army Air Field. 1943. Texas UG634.5.A414 A43 1943, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
A humorous drawing included in the Flight: Class of 44H yearbook from Curtis Field. Flight: Class of 44H. 1944. Texas RBT UG634.5.C87 A155 1944, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
A page devoted to the different sports in which the cadets participated. A Camera Trip through Ellington Field: a Picture Book of the Field and Its Activities. Circa 1940. Texas UG634.5.E35 C36 1940z, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
The front cover of the 1944 Pampa Army Air Field yearbook with name of cadet in upper right hand corner.
Gig Sheet: 44 A. 1944. Texas RBT UG634.5.P267 A15 1944, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Stained Glass: Not Just for Churches

This blog post was written by Student Assistant Morgan Ballard. Morgan is a Senior Anthropology major in her second year at The Texas Collection. She assisted processing the L. L. Sams Stained Glass Studio records.

Four panel board depicting the hand of Christ in sunshine blessing the world.
Mock-up of the window found at the former Bergstrom Air Force Base Chapel in Austin, Texas

The words “stained glass” typically elicit the image of large, brightly colored, religious depictions in a church or temple sanctuary. However, these religious buildings are not the only places one can find such pieces of immaculate glass work. Stained glass companies have worked on both religious and secular themed glass for many years. A good example of this versatility is the work done by L.L. Sams Stained Glass Studio. The Studio operated as a division of the L. L. Sams Company in Waco, Texas, from 1952 until its closing in 1992. The studio produced many pieces for numerous churches as well as secular and semi-religious places that stained glass might not be expected.

Blue and white image of a rectangular image wrapped in grape vines around a top hat with cane and bowl and spoon.
A sketch of a proposed window for Oliver’s Restaurant in Odessa, Texas.

In the 1960s secular stained glass became more popular in America. During this time, restaurants began commissioning glass signs and decorative pieces which included restaurant names, still life scenes, and other abstract designs. The L. L. Sams collection holds items from two restaurants, Oliver’s in Odessa, Texas, and Mac’s Driveteria in Abilene, Texas. In addition to businesses, there was also a rise in residential stained glass. These windows were very diverse in style and included designs ranging from abstract patterns to heavily detailed scenery. For example, two residential commissions in the L.L. Sams collection are for a, relatively large, nature scene and an abstract design respectively. Although the trend of residential stained glass has declined in recent years you can still find many houses where it was installed in use today. Surprisingly, institutions such as public schools have commissioned pieces. La Vega High School in Bellmead, Texas, is a good example as they have a large window of the school’s pirate mascot that was commissioned in 1984.

Transom designs for a residential installation. Design one is two rectangles with clear glass with yellow roses in the corners. Design two is a tree on top of red rocks with a grey background.
These two images depict transom deigns created for a residential installation.

Some places, although secular in nature, occasionally have religious themes and areas associated with them. Hospitals, specifically in this collection, had the second most commissions behind churches. Most of the pieces were commissioned for the chapel, or another religious area, of the hospital in which they reside. While most of the pieces for these hospitals have religious themes, there are also many abstract pieces made in conjunction with them. A few of the hospitals in the L.L. Sams collection include Coryell Memorial Hospital in Gatesville, Texas, and Graham General Hospital in Graham, Texas. Mausoleums also account for a good portion of commissions to L.L. Sams. For example, Restland Mausoleum in Dallas, Texas, placed many commissions for both religious and abstract pieces. Military bases including Bergstrom Air Force Base, Lackland Air Force Base, and Fort Hood also commissioned pieces. The most impressive of these are from Fort Hood and reside in the main chapel on base. These windows have religious symbols and figures, such as crosses and Jesus, alongside images of soldiers and other military emblems. All these pieces are large and finely detailed, taking up most of each wall they reside on.


3 by 3 panel of images depicting military insignia such as propeller wings, a castle, crossed swords, and guns.
The Second Armored Division Commissioned images for the chapel at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas.

Universities and Colleges have also commissioned stained glass. Baylor University, although a Christian school, has primarily commissioned secular stained glass. The largest collection on campus, and possibly in the world, is in the Armstrong Browning Library with a total of 62 windows. Most of the windows depict poems by Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Only one window, the “Cleon”, was made by L.L. Sams. This piece is housed in one of the third-floor offices and, unfortunately, is not open to the public. It can, however, be seen via the Armstrong Browning Library website ( This window centers around the poem “Cleon” by Robert Browning and depicts the columns of Baylor’s first campus at Independence, Texas, along with state specific imagery such as mockingbirds, yellow roses, and red honeysuckle. L. L. Sams also created pieces for Burleson Hall, Old Main, and Bennett Auditorium. These pieces, which commemorate past Baylor presidents, can be found above the doorways of each building’s exterior doors. These simply patterned windows contain the name of the president it is honoring and the dates which they served at Baylor.

Although L.L. Sams Stained Glass Studio is no more, and in its place stands an apartment complex of the same name, their work still stands in many places. The commissions mentioned above are only a small fraction of the work they completed. Many more concept pieces and documents are housed in The Texas Collection archives.



Half moon shaped stained glass transom window depicting the years served of Baylor President Rufus C. Burleson that can be found in Bennett Auditorium.
Transom Window above the door in Bennet Auditorium at Baylor University. Other windows of early university presidents can be found in Burleson Hall and Old Main.


“History of Stained Glass.” The Stained Glass Association of America. Accessed October 08, 2020.

Research Ready: October 2020

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
  • Sandra Hancock Trenwith Martin papers #591
    • The Sandra Trenwith Hancock Martin papers consist of letters from her time as a student at Baylor University and a memoir Rape in the Prayer Room.
  • Texas Civil War Centennial Commission records #1006
    • The Texas Civil War Centennial Commission records contain correspondence, reports, and agendas produced by the Commission in preparation for the 1961-1965 commemoration of the Civil War. Also included is a copy of the joint resolution passed by the U.S. Congress establishing the Commission.
  • Alvah A. Torrance papers #3085
    • The Alvah Allen Torrance papers highlight his work with the Amicable Life Insurance Company and its merger with American Life Insurance Company. Travel notebooks, correspondence, photographs, and several publications are included. Also included are slides of his work as an amateur photographer.
  • Harris County Club for United Southern Action letter #1714
    • The Harris County Club for United Southern Action collection contains a letter from J.H.H. Woodward to George Whiting describing the formation and intentions of the Harris County Club for United Southern Action and expressing strong anti-secession sentiment.
  • Pauline Breustedt collection #1832
    • The Pauline Breustedt collection documents the life and travels of a Waco resident from 1917 to 1969. Items of interest include scrapbooks, post cards, news clippings, and photographs of her personal interests, acting career, and travels.
  • Joseph Sheppard Barnett, Jr. papers #499
    • The Joseph Sheppard Barnett, Jr., papers contain letters, documents, and publications that relate to Barnett’s time in the armed forces during World War I and World War II, including many military documents from his time overseeing training at Camp Howze, Texas.
  • [Waco] Jefferson-Moore High School Parent Teacher Association records #2876
    • The [Waco] Jefferson-Moore High School Parent Teacher Association records document the involvement of the organization and outline their purpose, goals, and projects in relation to the school. Meeting minutes, including officers, programs, and financial reports, can be found in addition to newsletters and student directories.

Two new additions to the map collection are Phelps & Watson’s Historical and Military Map of the Border and Southern States (1863) and J.H. Colton’s Map of the Southern States (1864). Produced during the American Civil War, these maps offer a unique perspective because they focus explicitly on the geography of the Confederacy. Phelps & Watson’s Historical and Military Map of the Border and Southern States includes a booklet that provides detailed information on 100 battle. On the map itself, markings are used to indicate battle sites. Two of these, Galveston and Sabine City, are located in Texas.