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Tumbleweed Smith, Creator of “Sounds of Texas,” Signs Agreement to Donate Archives to Oral History Institute

Feb. 4, 2020

In a move that brings one of the largest privately-owned collections of oral history interviews to Baylor University, the Institute for Oral History has signed an agreement with Tumbleweed Smith, founder and host of “Sounds of Texas,” to bring his recordings to the Baylor Libraries.

Tumbleweed Smith signs the agreement on January 17, 2020

The deed of gift for the Tumbleweed Smith archives was signed on January 17 when Smith and his wife traveled to Waco to make the first deposit of materials with the Institute. The total collection, which will number over 2500 pieces of analog media, will become part of the institute’s collection after the materials are processed by Smith and delivered to Waco, where they will undergo additional processing, cataloging, and long-term storage.

“This acquisition will strengthen our research capabilities by bringing in a large number of interview subjects from an unmatched selection of Texas personalities,” said Stephen Sloan, Ph.D., director of the institute. “We are very excited to receive these materials and we aim to make them available to researchers as soon as possible.”

Tumbleweed Smith is the host persona adopted by Bob Lewis, born in Waco in 1935. After a career in broadcast journalism and a stint in the U.S. Army, Smith launched “The Sound of Texas” in 1969; it has run on-air continuously ever since. Based in Big Spring, Texas, the program was started as, “an experiment in free enterprise to see if I could make a living doing what type of work I enjoyed most: reporting on the fun people, places, legends, folklore and history of Texas,” Smith writes on his website. In addition to his radio program, Smith has authored a syndicated newspaper column that runs statewide.

By Smith’s own reckoning, he has interviewed 13,000 subjects, a tremendous number that includes “storytellers, musicians, writers, poets and interesting individuals,” Smith’s website states. “I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface.”

Over time, the Smith collection will be made available to researchers both in person and online, with an emphasis made to connect the materials to researchers and students working in the digital humanities.

To keep up to date with the status of the Tumbleweed Smith collection, follow @BaylorOH on Twitter or find the institute on Facebook.

For more information on the Institute for Oral History, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020, visit www.baylor.edu/oralhistory.