THE TEXAS COLLECTION is a special collection library in the Baylor University Library System. A special collection library has a focused holding of materials on a particular subject—in this case, Texas. By committing to a single focus, a special collection library provides a deeper understanding of the subject. The Texas Collection’s holdings document the development of the Texas region from the earliest North American explorations to the present day.
In 1923 Dr. Kenneth Hazen Aynesworth, a local surgeon, presented to Baylor University his personal collection of more than one thousand volumes of Texana. At that time Dr. Aynesworth stated, “I am fully aware of two facts, that Texas is as rich in historical material . . . as any state in the United States, and that this material must be collected . . . if the culture of the past is to have a meaning for the present and future generations. I cheerfully donate this collection with the hope that the coming years may reveal a saner culture and a happier life because of the spread of knowledge of the history of our great state.” From this beginning The Texas Collection has expanded to become a significant research center whose holdings on Texas and its contiguous regions are among the strongest in the nation.
The Texas Collection’s holdings of books, archives, photographs, maps, newspapers, state documents, oral memoirs, and vertical files provide specialized published and primary materials for research into all phases of life in Texas. They are used not only by faculty, staff, and students of Baylor University, but also by visiting scholars and researchers from across the state, the nation, and other countries.
The Texas Collection is a closed-stack library, in which staff members retrieve items requested by users. Most materials must be used in the reading room, though some library items may be borrowed upon presentation of valid Baylor University identification. The Texas Collection does not participate in TexShare. Individuals who plan extensive research are encouraged to make an appointment with the librarian or archivist to discuss their projects.
THE ARCHIVES DIVISION includes manuscript materials and university records, maps, photographs, newspapers in their original format, oral memoirs, and Baylor University subject files and provides opportunities for research in primary resources. Records of private individuals, businesses, and government, educational, and religious institutions offer opportunities for a broad range of investigation and interpretation of original documentation. There are more than 3600 manuscript collections, ranging from single items to collections comprising more than one hundred linear feet.
The research collections include:
The archives is particularly interested in enlarging its collections of World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War letters written to and from Texans. Other interest areas include local histories of African Americans, Hispanics, and Jews, women’s organizations, and church histories.
THE LIBRARY DIVISION has over 125,000 volumes dealing with Texas and Texans. It also contains over three thousand current and historical periodical titles representing Texas business, professional, historical, genealogical, and special interest groups. More than fifteen thousand vertical files contain a wealth of ephemeral information collected in the form of newspaper clippings, brochures, pamphlets, and other items not usually catalogued separately. This includes term papers on Texas topics, especially small towns and communities, written by Baylor students over the years. Microform holdings include Texas newspapers, United States Census schedules, military records, and graduate theses and dissertations completed at other universities.
Genealogists will appreciate the large number of Texas family histories as well as the many county and community histories housed in the library. An in-house finding aid, The Biographical Gazetteer of Texas, indexes over two hundred late 19th and early 20th century volumes. The various ethnic groups in the making of Texas are well represented in the library’s holdings.
Historical researchers will find a variety of published primary sources including diaries, journals, and memoirs, as well as city, business, and social organizations’ directories. The library has also amassed a large collection of privately printed autobiographies.
The Library is a depository in the Texas State Library System and receives publications from all state agencies. It is also a depository in the Regional Historical Records Depository program and provides these microfilmed county records for both in-house use and Inter-Library Loan patrons. The Texas House of Poetry also utilizes the library as its depository.
Specific areas of collection development include Texas popular literature as depicted in Dime Novels, pulp literature, western stories and modern fiction. The library also collects materials on Texas Baptists and their institutions, as well as other denominations. A rapidly growing area of the library is devoted to Texas and Southwestern cookery.
While the Collection's holdings are physically divided between its Library and Archives divisions, all materials are used within a single reading room complex located on the main floor of the renovated Carroll Library Building.