By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
On Friday, 10 panelists from universities around the world will be given three minutes to present an item found in one of Baylor’s five special libraries.
This virtual event is called “Pictures, Portraits and Snapshots: Glimpses Into Baylor’s Special Libraries” and will be free and available to the public at 3:00 p.m.
There will be 10 panelists from universities including Collin College, Mercer University, University of Exeter & Bristol, Masaryk University and Baylor as well as one panelist from the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum in Austin.
Each of the presenters has spent time researching in one of five special libraries on campus. These include the Armstrong Browning Library, the Institute for Oral History, the Keston Center for Religion, Politics and Society, The Texas Collection and the W.R. Poage Legislative Library.
Kathy Hillman, director of Baptist Collections and Library Advancement & director of the Keston Center, said that each library has selected two individuals who will present one item from the library during a three-minute session, which will then be followed by a group Q&A session.
“I’ve seen all the videos, and they are really exciting,” she said. “As it has turned out, we almost have some themes, which we didn’t really plan, but it has beautifully fit together, and so that has been a wonderful surprise and excitement for us because we’re not limited by geography.”
She said the virtual format has allowed the university to host a greater variety of individuals than are typically available.
“We have presenters from the farthest west in California to the farthest east in Prague, in the Czech Republic,” she said. “So we’re going across the world for our presenters.”
Each presenter had to choose one item that is already in Baylor’s collection.
“Something that they ran across or discovered — we like to say a treasure — they discovered when they were on campus doing their research,” Hillman said. “So they’ve all come to campus, they’ve all done research in our various collections and so they picked something that had really stood out to them and their research.”
Among the items presented are a lock of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s hair, constituent letters to Congressman Sam B. Hall, bound documents of the Christian Committee for the Defense of Believer’s Rights in the USSR and sheet music from Jules Bledsoe.
Dr. Betsy Brody of Collin College, just north of Dallas, is another one of the presenters on Friday’s panel.
She received the Charlton Oral History Research Grant from Baylor’s Institute for Oral History in 2018. With that, she proposed to interview individuals who were refugees from Vietnam during the 1970s and 1980s in North Texas.
She will be presenting a portrait of Connie Pham holding her drafting notebook. Pham is a refugee that Brody has interviewed.
“We had each of the people that I interviewed come to Byrd [Williams IV]’s studio in Denton, and we asked them to bring one object that was important to their journey, and Connie brought a notebook that she had received while she was at a refugee camp in Malaysia,” Brody said.
While the notebook is still in Pham’s possession and the photograph is archived at the University of North Texas, all of Brody’s transcripts and interviews are archived at Baylor.
Dr. Cheri Larsen Hoeckley from Westmont College in Montecito, Calif., will be presenting a passport issued to Robert Browning by the Austrian Embassy in London in 1856.
She said that she holds a fellowship at Armstrong Browning Library and Museum and studies Elizabeth Barrett Browning as well as the travel of Victorian women.
“It’s not just a 19th century relic. It raises some questions and connects with the way we talk about people moving around today or not moving around today,” Larsen Hoeckley said.
She said that the Armstrong Browning Library has a reputation among Victorian historians as being “somewhere you want to get to, if you can.”
Hillman said that she hopes attendees realize how vast the array of primary sources that are available on Baylor’s campus.
“Anyone who is doing research in those collections and in those libraries can really run across treasures in them,” Hillman said. “Some of which probably haven’t seen the light of day in a long time.”