Museum Students in the Archives: Processing Lawyers and Business Affairs

July 13, 2016 Amanda Norman

This month we will be featuring some collections processed by the Archival Collections and Museums graduate course that was taught at The Texas Collection by Dr. Julie Holcomb, with assistance from TC archivists. Each student in this class processed an archival collection and wrote a publicity piece promoting that record group. Check out a few of these pieces and learn more about the wide array of TC holdings!

Guy B. Harrison to Joe L. Wiley (Houghton Mifflin) on behalf of Robert Grundy, 1944 March 15

Among Grundy’s efforts to get his manuscript on Stephen F. Austin published was recruiting the Texas Collection’s own Guy B. Harrison to write a letter on his behalf. (Apparently Harrison had trouble with the typewriter, hence the misspelling of his own name…) Robert A. Grundy papers #30, box 1, folder 1, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Beyond Legal Pursuits

By Courtney Berge, Museum Studies graduate student

The word “lawyer” carries certain connotations. Some people think of paperwork, others shady practices, even more think of good money, nice suits, or the classic TV show, Law and Order. This, however, is not all that any lawyer is. Like anyone else, lawyers have dreams and aspirations beyond their profession. Even though everyone has ideas about the law profession, what do people really know about lawyers? What about the small town local lawyers who are never depicted on TV? What else is there to know about their lives?

Robert Adams Grundy was a small town, local lawyer. Born in Memphis, TX, he graduated from Baylor in 1919 and again in 1930. He worked as a lawyer throughout Central Texas, but ultimately landed in Waco, where he lived until his death in 1973. His papers were donated to Baylor’s Texas Collection, but what one might expect to find in a lawyer’s papers is not what you will find in this collection. The Robert A. Grundy papers include not the business dealings of a lawyer, but the remnants of his dreams as a struggling author. Not only can you delve into his dreams, but you can also catch a glimpse of his family history through the legal and financial documents of the Grundy family.

Grundy wanted to be an author. He completed a few manuscripts, including a biography of Stephen F. Austin and one of Charles Goodnight, both of which can be found in this collection. You can also see the work and effort he put into his writings through the research notes he compiled for his future manuscript on the history of the Jewish people. Sadly, none of his works were published, but you can see the story of the struggle through the rejection letters he filed away.

Within the collection one also finds some of the financial and legal documents pertaining to the Grundy family. These letters, land indentures, deeds, tax assessments, etc. date back into the 19th century and show how a family living in Texas dealt with their roots in Kentucky. They show the business side of managing land in another state.

The Robert A. Grundy papers aren’t the type of collection one would expect from a lawyer. Instead of legal briefs and correspondence you can get a glimpse at the personal aspirations of a Central Texas boy. He was a man who seemingly loved Texas history and history itself, one who wrote books about his passions and hoped to get them published, a man who was more than his profession, and one who has granted us a glimpse into his life.

Tending to the Business of Baylor

History professor J.D. Bragg to business manager George Belew, 1928 June 26

In addition to making reservations for athletics travels and reviewing dining hall menus, Belew apparently also was responsibility for facilities maintenance…and apparently, all buildings didn’t have light fixtures. The letter runs: “Room 205 Main Building is sadly in need of light fixtures. It is impossible on cloudy days for students to read anything on the blackboards or to see clearly to take notes…”

By Chris Paulos, Museum Studies graduate student

It was the 1920s. Prohibition was the law of the land. The air was filled with the sounds of Jazz. Borrowing money to put in the stock market still seemed like a good idea. Two dollars and fifty cents got you reserved seating at a Baylor game.

BU records: Business Affairs Division: Business Manager (George H. Belew) documents the work of George H. Belew at Baylor, while also giving a glimpse into the concerns of the time. Belew was the Business Manager of Baylor University from 1925 until 1931. He would also serve as Secretary and then President of the Baylor Athletics Association and as Secretary to the Baylor Board of Trustees. The collection is broadly divided into two parts. The first contains records of Baylor’s business office, and the second is made up of Belew’s business correspondence.

Among the records are game contracts with Rice University, Texas Christian University, the University of Arkansas, and other institutions. The letters open a window into the behind-the-scenes work which made the football season possible: arranging transportation, taking bids from hotels for rooms and meals (all bacon had to be well drained), finding a good laundry, and hiring officials to oversee the game. One of Belew’s other duties was distributing football tickets by mail. The letters he received alongside the checks form a “Who’s Who” of the wider Baylor community.

The Belew letters are witness to the history of Baylor stadiums, recording the move from Carroll Field to the Cotton Palace in 1926 and the return to Carroll three years later. A 1927 letter from a stadium builder provides a glimpse into what might have been had Baylor not waited until 1950 to inaugurate its own new facility.

Other documents show how daily life at Baylor has changed. Records show that among the employees of Georgia Burleson Hall were several “Matrons” tasked with enforcing the rules of dining etiquette. These rules feel much more at home at a Victorian dinner party than the food court atmosphere of the 21st dining commons. Yet, another concern found in the Belew correspondence is finding positions for prospective students in what we would probably now call work-study jobs. So maybe we’re not so different from our Twenties counterparts after all.

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