The Impact of World War I on Waco to Be Explored in Lecture and Recorded Oral Histories on Sept. 25

  • WWI
    A youthful photo of the late Congressman Bob Poage, one of the Wacoans whose World War I memoirs are included in an Institute of Oral History presentation (Courtesy photo)
  • Lockwood
    Youthful image of the late Lee Lockwood, Wacoan whose WWI recollections are included in an upcoming Institute for Oral History presentation (Courtesy photo)
Sept. 19, 2014

WACO, Texas (Sept. 19, 2014) — “The Great War Comes to Waco,” a multi-media presentation and lecture about the impact of World War I on Waco citizens, will be given at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, at Mayborn Museum Complex’s SBC Theatre, 1300 S. University Parks Drive, on the Baylor campus.

“The Great War Comes to Waco,” a multi-media presentation and lecture about the impact of World War I on Waco citizens, will be given at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, at Mayborn Museum Complex’s SBC Theatre, 1300 S. University Parks Drive, on the Baylor campus.

The free event, sponsored by the Baylor University Institute for Oral History, marks the centennial anniversary of the beginning of World War I and will be presented by Steven Sielaff, the Institute’s senior editor and collection manager. It will include a video recording as well as audio ones.

Sielaff will highlight several stories from the Institute’s collection of local citizens through the public debut of Baylor’s version of the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer. The synchronizer allows users an integrated experience between an interview’s media content and the transcript.

Among interviewees who shared their perspectives for the audio recordings are the late U.S. Congressman Bob Poage, a Waco native; the late Lee Lockwood, the 98th Grand Master of Masons in Texas and a Waco native; and the late Harlon Fentress, Waco native and chairman emeritus of Newspapers Inc., which published papers in Waco, Austin, Lufkin and Port Arthur.

Also featured will be a video of Oscar Hessdoerfer, a German man who worked in his father’s Waco grocery store during World War I. In the interview, he talks about the war’s effect on Waco businesses, Waco entrepreneurs during wartime, German-American culture in the early 20th century, anti-German sentiments, rationing practices, Waco's red light district, interurban train service and other transportation options.

A short tutorial on the software and how to search the Institute’s World War I collection is planned after the presentation, said Sielaff, vice president of Texas Oral History Association.

For more information, call (254) 710-3437 or (254) 710-4644 or visit


Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Through dynamic recorded interviews, oral history preserves the stories of individuals who helped create the fabric of history and whose lives, in turn, were shaped by the people, places, events, and ideas of their day. The Institute for Oral History has recorded and preserved oral histories since 1970, earning along the way a strong reputation for multidisciplinary outreach to both academic scholars and community historians by providing professional leadership, educational tools and research opportunities. The Institute creates oral history memoirs by preserving a sound recording and transcript of interviews with individuals who are eyewitnesses to history, thus documenting memories representing the diversity of American society and encompassing varied topics of social and historical significance. The Institute encourages oral history scholarship through fellowships, graduate assistantships, training workshops, publications and public programming.

The Institute is a freestanding research department within Baylor University's Division of Academic Affairs. It also assists scholars whose research covers such specialized areas as religion and culture, civil rights, music and theater, historic preservation, rural life, and women's studies, as well as selected topics in economics, law, education and politics. The oral history collection also provides information for research in historical topics concerning Baylor University, Texas Baptists, Hispanic Baptists, and Waco and McLennan County, Texas.

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