Time Capsule Essay

Five years ago, while beginning research for what eventually became The Brownwood Connection, I visited the Walker Memorial Library at Howard Payne University in Brownwood. I was interested in acquiring copies or photographs of Robert E. Howard’s stories in The Yellow Jacket. I also wanted to go through their yearbooks and catalogues, anything and everything from the 1920s. Unfortunately, some of the material was not available for viewing on that first visit, and I ended up returning to HPU several more times in the years that followed, each time getting more and different information, much of which has appeared on this blog.

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About three years ago, I was told why the library never seemed to have everything I was looking for at any one time: their archives were being digitized and uploaded to the web. Uploaded to the web?

Yup. And where on the web would these archives be? I wanted to know. This would save me lots of time and travel expense.

The answer is here: The Portal to Texas History. Not only do they have the files from Howard Payne, but also the archives from Daniel Baker College (where Clyde Smith and Novalyne Price attended), McMurray College (Austin Newton’s alma mater), and many others. Each college’s collection of catalogues, yearbooks, and school newspapers are available in searchable format. It’s a researcher’s dream.

And that’s not all that’s available on the website. There are also period photos from all over the state, city directories, legislative documents, various books and journals, a whole slew of information. There are a few drawbacks: the available images aren’t always of the best quality and the search function doesn’t always turn up all the results, especially from the school newspapers. So, when looking for something in those publications, sometimes the old-school approach—a page-by-page search—yields better results.

And there are some gaps in the available material. For example, while they do have issues of Daniel Baker’s Collegian, they don’t have any of the issues from Tevis Clyde Smith’s reign as editor, hence none of Bob Howard’s poems. But the issues they do have, especially when coupled with the yearbooks, provide a good picture of what it must have been like to be a student there in the 1920s.

The website takes some getting used to, but for the first-time visitor, I’d suggest clicking on the “Explore” tab at the top right of the home page, and then the letter “Y” under Collections. This will take you directly to the Yellow Jacket files.

Have fun.

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