Celebrating Texas Collections: 100 years of Texas History in Central Texas

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 5:42 PM CDT|Updated: May. 12, 2023 at 5:51 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Do you want to know more about Waco history, Baylor history or Texas history in general?

There’s a treasure trove of information hiding out on the Baylor campus waiting to be discovered.

The Texas Collection was started in 1923, and it’s been housed in the Carroll Library ever since.

How it got its start is an interesting story. Prominent Waco doctor, Dr. Kenneth Ainsworth was an avid collector of Texana.

“He was a big collector. Volumes of Texas History, original manuscripts, slides, anything and everything that had to do with Texas.” Said the Texas Collection’s director, Jeff Pirtle.

While he was a huge fan of Texas memorabilia, he was running out of room at home. His wife issued an ultimatum.

“He came home one day and found his wife actually throwing some of these valuable, rare pieces of Texas history in the fire. He’s like...what’s going on? She said I’ve had enough of this Texas stuff. It’s a place for me and the kids or you and your stuff. One of you has to go,” said Pirtle.

Dr. Ainsworth got in touch with the university the next day, and the Texas Collection was born.

" We continue to work with collectors and book dealers all around the country when it comes to collecting and preserving Texas history and the donations of our patrons keep the Texas Collection alive and vibrant,” Pirtle said.

Archivists with the Texas Collection regularly pull material to help students research everything from fashion merchandising to foreign languages.

There’s a huge collection of photographs captured moments after an F-5 tornado devastated downtown Waco on May 11, 1953.

KWTX chief meteorologist Brady Taylor found this extremely helpful while putting together the documentary “Monster from the Sky.”

Many researchers also spend hours here researching materials pertaining to the A-T-F raid on the Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco.

But the collection is not just for students and researchers, it’s for anyone with an interest in Texas History.

The Texas Collection is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and part of that will be getting the general public more involved.

“We’re excited about out 100th anniversary. We went with the theme “Texas Your Texas”. That’s based on the state song “Texas Our Texas.” We have that original manuscript here. We went with Texas Your Texas because this is your Texas, It’s your material. Come and see it,” Pirtle said.

The Texas Collection is open Monday thru Friday from 8:15 am to 5pm. Everyone is encouraged to visit and spend some time discovering some of the people and events that made Texas great.