Six unique collections you’ll find right here at Baylor
It makes sense that you’d find the oldest and largest library of pure Texana in the State of Texas at the oldest institution of higher education in Texas — and if you’re a Baylor Bear, you’re likely at least a little familiar with the university’s Texas Collection.
But you probably aren’t aware of some of Baylor’s other special collections — like the letters and journals from Christians who faced persecution in the USSR, or the rare books that include a Latin Bible from 1478, or the papers of Texas Congressmen dating as far back as the 1890s.
These are just a few of of Baylor University Libraries’ special collections. A collection is simply a “grouping of similar items together,” University Libraries Interim Dean John Wilson told Baylor Connections in March. While we can’t list all of Baylor’s special collections, here are six every Bear should know about:
* The Texas Collection — Baylor’s first collection features anything Texana — materials written by or about Texans, including magazines, biographies, sheet music, photos, even a large collection of Texas cookbooks. Baylor history buffs can also find a vast array of photos and publications that bring the university’s past to life.
* The Keston Center for Religion, Politics and Society — What was life like for people of faith in the Soviet Union? The Keston Center houses letters, journals, books, photos, underground publications and other documents written by believers who faced religious persecution under totalitarian regimes.
* Rare Books and Manuscripts — This collection houses books published before 1801 — some of them way before 1801. There’s a Latin Bible from 1478, as well as a Latin translation of the letters from Hernan Cortes to the King of Spain, printed in 1524. That’s just a small sampling of the discoveries that have aged incredibly well over half a millennium.
* Political Materials — Baylor’s W.R. Poage Legislative Library houses papers from many of Central Texas’ U.S. Representatives over the years, ranging from the 1890s (William Smith) to the 2000s (Chet Edwards). Beyond their congressional archives, additional collections cover topics like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
* Royce-Darden Collection — You likely know this collection of 2,000+ pieces of classic black gospel music better as the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. Named after founding professor Bob Darden, BSEd ’76, and Charles Royce, a philanthropist who was moved to support the project after reading Darden’s 2005 New York Times essay, this collection’s influence has traveled all the way to the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
* Armstrong Browning Library — Last, but certainly not least, the Armstrong Browning Library houses more than 27,000 books and 11,000 letters, many focusing on the lives and works of 19th-century poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Visitors can also 19th-century art, artifacts, book and manuscript collections from figures like Charles Dickens and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The beautiful facility’s famed stained glass windows also constitute a collection — believed to be the largest collection of secular stained glass in the world.
Each of these collections is a Baylor treasure — but it’s not just the Baylor family that enjoys these collections. In any given month, Wilson says, you’ll find scholars, researchers and authors from around the world who travel to Baylor specifically to utilize our collections for their work. You can, too — and if you can’t make it to campus, you’re not out of luck: thousands of items from these collections are available online through the University Libraries Digital Collections. Explore at your leisure!
Sic ’em, Baylor special collections!