Growth from the Ashes: Highlights from a Century of Preserving History at The Texas Collection

F. L. Carroll Library and Chapel opened in 1903. Adorned with its exquisite furnishings, a stained-glass dome atop the building and a pipe organ on the stage, the first library building on Baylor’s campus provided ample seating for the entire student population. On February 11, 1922, a fire of unknown origin prompted students to rescue library materials before the building was engulfed in fire and smoke. While the interior was destroyed, the exterior was salvaged and used to create the new, fireproof library building, adding a basement and third floor to the structure.

On June 12, 1923, Dr. Kenneth Hazen Aynesworth officially donated his personal collection of Texana to Baylor University, establishing the Texas History Library. The materials were kept under the care of Francis Gevrier Guittard, Chair of the History Department, until a suitable space could be opened in the newly renovated Carroll Library. The first Texas History room was opened on the second floor of the library.

The continued support of Dr. Aynesworth allowed the History Department to appoint Miss Aleph Tanner as the first Curator of the Texas History Library as well as Professor of Texas History. Her course was the first Texas History class taught at the university level in the state. As curator, Tanner’s duties allowed her to grow and collect materials related to Texas.

In addition to general Texas interests, The Texas Collection has also been home to the Baylor University Archives, with materials dating to the school’s presence in Independence (1845-1866). The history of the oldest continuously operating university in Texas is very much a part of Texas history itself. Items featured in this exhibit highlight the beginnings of the collection, showcase the collecting interests of past curators and directors, and in some cases are the materials handled by our earliest benefactors.

Texas Women and Theatre: People, Places, and Performances

The proximity of Houston to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans led to the first Texas professional theatre performance in 1838. As popularity grew, participation of women did as well. Women can be found in the roles of performers, managers, content creators, monetary contributors, and promoters. This exhibit aims to highlight the works of Texas women as well as their support of the theatre community. 

Waco roots are well represented in this display, but that does not discount representation from cities such as Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and El Paso. Some of these women have also flourished in areas outside of Texas, including Ohio, New York, and Washington, DC. Their contributions have been documented in a variety of ways and provide insight into the various opportunities afforded throughout their careers. 

Opportunities to relive a performance are integral to the theatre experience. Photographs, posters, ticket stubs, programs, books, and recordings share the rich and diverse story of female representation in Texas Theatre. Whether it’s teaching, management, or advertisement, these items document the occasions and create historical and cultural context for future generations. 

Culture has always been present in Texas theatre. Spanish Colonial presentations in the early 1800s as well as German immigrants in 1850s Fredricksburg and New Braunfels. During the Mexican Revolution many performers ceased touring in Mexico and South Texas, some even taking up residencies in the state. Many cities have played host to the Black experience as well as represented religious diversity. 

Exposure to theatre comes in many forms. Throughout it all, women have always been involved. As you visit the exhibit, learn how Texas Women have impacted the theatre on stage, behind the curtain, and in the audience. 

Pauline Breustedt

Pauline Breustedt was born July 3, 1898, in Waco, Texas, to William and Jean Breustedt. Pauline’s early education was in Waco schools followed by Miss Wright’s School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Pauline also attended finishing school in France.

Throughout her schooling, Pauline was a regular on the stage, performing in shows at Miss Wright’s and Smith College. She obtained her first professional acting credit on Broadway, performing in the Broadhurst Theatre production of “Wild Oats Lane.” In 1925, she joined the Stuart Walker Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. She spent three seasons with the company and performed regularly in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio.

While Pauline Breustedt spent much time away for school, work, and leisure travel, she always claimed Waco as home.

Pauline spent much of her time in the spotlight. In addition to her stage roles, she was crowned Cotton Palace Queen in 1923. This photo, taken in New York, often appeared in newspapers alongside reviews and stories about her career. 
Pauline Breustedt collection, Accession #1832, Box 1, Folder 11
Pauline’s many interests can be found in her scrapbooks. Books, theatre, royalty, and women’s rights are only some of the topics she collected. The scrapbook below documents her career as an actress in the Stuart Walker Company. She often cut and kept newspapers reviews of her performances, marking mentions of her performance. 

Pauline Breustedt collection, Accession #1832, Box 1 OVZ, Folder 2. 

Laura Maverick

Laura Wise Maverick was born on November 22, 1878, to William and Emilia Chilton Maverick in San Antonio, Texas. Laura attended schools in San Antonio and Massachusetts, and then returned to San Antonio, where she married Dr. Amos Lawson Graves in 1897. The couple had two children, Amos and Laura. Upon divorcing Graves, Laura and the children moved to New York while she pursued a career in music.

A mezzo-contralto, Laura’s New York performances soon brought opportunities to perform internationally. She spent time in Europe studying and performing, and upon returning to America in 1912, she debuted with the Russian Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. In August of that year, Laura wed Carl Hahn, the director of the San Antonio Orchestra and an accomplished violoncellist. They toured together, performing joint recitals. Eventually, Laura became one of the first performing artists of her status to incorporate the music of Mexico into her repertoire. 

Laura passed away in 1956 and is buried in San Antonio, Texas.

This undated promotional photograph of Laura Maverick represents her work and dedication to her craft. The Maverick name was well known in Texas (her grandfather signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, and her father was a rancher and developer), but Laura pursued her own passions to become an accomplished operatic singer.
Laura Wise Maverick papers #663, Box 1, Folder 8.
The Scrapbook below includes a  promotional piece from Laura’s 1912 performance with the Russian Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York. Her operatic repertoire included pieces performed in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. 

Laura Wise Maverick papers #663, Box 1, Folder 3. 

Annie K. Randle

Annie Keeling Randle was born in October 1887 to Ben and Arie Keeling. The family moved to Waco in 1906 where she attended Central Texas College and took courses in sewing, millinery, and music in addition to her regular education. During this time, she was also introduced to theatre work. 

In her oral history, Annie recalls being one of several students chosen for drama and speech lessons at her school. The students practiced and performed plays, dramatic readings, and other programs at the school and local churches. She described this activity as one of her favorites, an activity she would have pursued professionally if there were opportunities. Instead, she began working for the City of Waco Recreation Department. However, through this work, her passion for the stage was recognized by the Superintendent of Waco Schools. He was insistent to offer these opportunities in the Black schools of Waco.

Around 1932, Annie attended Baylor University to acquire the necessary training, studying under Paul Baker and Sara Lowrey. Although she did not receive credits, Annie was one of the earliest Black students to attend the university. She taught drama for 10 years in public and government schools.

In addition to teaching, Annie was also a playwright. Copies of her plays, “The Voice on the Wire” and “The Blood Calls Out” are included in the Annie Keeling Randle papers. 

Annie was a performer. Although she only taught for 10 years, she was a long-time participant in her church choir. This 1976 photo shows Annie, front row, third from the left, with the rest of the Senior Choir at New Hope Baptist Church.  
New Hope Baptist Church records, Accession #662, Box, Folder 11. 
To the left is a representation of “The Voice on the Wire,” a play with the prologue written by Mrs. Annie K. Randle. This play was endorsed by local school principal, J. H. Hines, as well as R. L. Smith, President of the Farmers Improvement Bank, and performed at the North Eighth Street Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, around 1919. 
Annie Keeling Randle papers, Accession #2545, Box 1, Folder 1.  

Gussie Oscar (1875-1950) was born the youngest child of Rudolph and Ella Oscar of Calvert, Texas. The Oscar family owned Casimir’s Opera House and Grand Hotel in Calvert, which likely influenced Gussie to choose music as a career and embrace the theater lifestyle. She trained in classical music and supported herself by playing weddings, churches, dances, and theaters. Once she settled in Waco, Oscar began playing piano in vaudeville and opera for the Majestic Theater and Waco Auditorium; the latter of which she would become manager.

Gussie was a popular manager and performer.  In addition to the Auditorium, she promoted acts at The Cotton Palace and Waco Hall. She was, however, not always popular with the census board; she was twice arrested for opening the Auditorium on Sundays. Although the Auditorium closed in 1928, she continued to book local programs including Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Rogers, the Marx Brothers, John Philip Sousa, and William Jennings Bryan. Her work was responsible for much of the growth of the Waco theater scene in the first quarter of the 1900s.

Gussie is buried in the Hebrew Rest Cemetery in Waco, Texas.

Gussie Oscar made no apologies for her actions. The photo here depicts her attitude well, when she brought “The White Cargo” to town in 1926, she defended its content to the local paper saying: “While in its portrayal are depicted some scenes from life that do not occur in the Sunday school room […] I maintain that lessons can frequently be well taught by a true portrayal of real life.”
Texas Collection General Photo File, Accession #3976, Box #183.
One of few still in existence, the program to the right prominently displays Gussie Oscar as manager of the Waco Auditorium Theatre. The program is dated 1927 and promotes “Richelieu” and “Julius Caesar” to be performed by the Robert B. Mantell and Genevieve Hamper Company.  
Waco Auditorium Company #2134, Box #[125], Folder # ‘Programs’.

Doris Goodrich Jones

Doris Goodrich Jones (1902-1993) was born in Temple, Texas to William Goodrich Jones and Zollie Luther Jones. Doris earned a degree in Music from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a teaching certificate from Baylor University. She taught elementary school in Gatesville, Texas for a short time before turning her hobby of puppetry into her profession. 

Doris traveled extensively in Texas performing for schools, churches, and libraries. Most of her plays paralleled folk tales and moral stories and featured her handmade puppets. Doris performed all tasks within the play herself: voices, sound effects, movements, and music.

Doris became nationally recognized as a puppeteer and was well-loved and respected. Her love of puppetry, which began in Chautauqua, New York, also resulted in over 20 years teaching the craft in the same town. 

She passed in July 1993, and is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Temple, Texas.

Doris Goodrich Jones made a name for herself far and wide with her fresh, humorous, and meaningful plays and puppets throughout the 1940s. This photo was taken for a promotional flyer which advertises her experience with “Monologues, Marionettes, and Violinlogues.” 
Doris Goodrich Jones papers #1693, Notebook, loose material
In addition to writing and performing her own plays, Doris Goodrich Jones also made her own puppets. To the left is Elizabet Ney, a papier-mâché marionette created and assembled by Doris. Jones spent a number of years performing and teaching puppet making in Chautauqua, New York; many of her hand-crafted characters now reside at the Chautauqua Institution New York. 
Doris Goodrich Jones papers #1693.

Ima Joy Gandler

Ima Joy Chodorow Gandler was born October 25, 1929, in Waco, Texas. She married Jacob E. “Jake” Gandler on 1950 June 25 and they had three children; Sharlane Michaele, Laura, and Howard.

As an active member of Waco Temple Rodef Sholom, Ima Joy began collecting materials on Texas Jewish Culture in the 1970s. She began with a local archive to document each confirmation class at Rodef Sholom and moved on to document the history of the Waco Jewish Community as well as Jewish Communities across Texas. She was a founding member of the Texas Jewish Historical Society. 

In addition to her religious interests, Gandler was also a patron of the arts and enjoyed travel. She regularly supported the Waco Hippodrome Theatre as a season ticket holder and visited larger cities in Texas, such as Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and Houston, to attend shows as well.  Visits to New York and Washington DC included stops on Broadway and the Kennedy Center, respectively. 

Ima Joy Gandler was a lifelong Wacoan who pursued many interests. Her Jewish faith was a catalyst in her support of the arts as well. Throughout her collection, Ima Joy’s activities tied to the Texas Jewish Historical Society and other Jewish organizations often coincide with visits to the theatre in cities such as Dallas, New York, and Washington, DC. 
Ima Joy (Chodorow) Gandler Texas Jewish collection, Accession #855, Box 2, Folder 11.
Ima Joy Gandler was a patron to many arts and held season tickets for the Waco Hippodrome Theatre. The flyer to the right invites members, new and old, to take part in the 1996-1997 Hippodrome season.  
Ima Joy (Chodorow) Gandler Texas Jewish collection, Accession #855, Box 4, Folder 16.

Programs, Postcards, and Ephemera

Programs, ticket stubs, and postcards are often overlooked and kept as ephemeral items. As the case shows, these items can give access to a larger story. Programs provide names of performers and directors as well as dates and even valuable information about the venue. Ticket stubs can show habits of an individual viewer regarding the types of shows they are interested in or how far they are willing to travel. Travel for new places of interest is also depicted in postcards. The cards were not only a means of communication, but also a way to provide a peek at sights of interest away from one’s home. On occasion, they are also the only visual record of what once was or of a place that has been razed, destroyed, or remodeled. 

Pauline Breustedt, Broadhurst Theatre; New York, New York

Pauline Breustedt was active on the stage for many years in her youth, keeping a scrapbook of reviews and programs of shows in which she took part. This poster, taken from a page in her scrapbook, documents her 1922 appearance at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway, her professional debut. 

Pauline Breustedt collection, Accession #1832, Box 1 OVZ, Folder 2
Casa Mañana; Fort Worth, Texas 

Casa Mañana opened in 1958 as an opera theatre complex that would house Broadway Musicals in Fort Worth, Texas. The theatre in the round provided a unique setting for the audience, including Ima Joy Gandler. Ima Joy supported the theatre for nearly a decade attending shows prior to the company’s move to Bass Performance Hall. 

Ima Joy (Chodorow) Gandler Texas Jewish Collection, Accession #855, Box 4, Folders 11, 15
Naomi Ruth Cobb; Waco, Texas

The Cobb family was musically gifted and active in the Waco Community. Naomi Ruth Cobb was a Soprano singer and appeared in several recitals with her nephew, Julius Lorenzo Cobb (Jules) Bledsoe. The programs here outline a 1916 appearance at the Waco Auditorium Theatre and a 1917 appearance in Marlin, Texas where they both performed.

Jules Bledsoe papers, Accession #2086, Box 4, Folder 1.
The Dallas Negro Little Theatre; Dallas, Texas

The Dallas Negro Little Theatre was borne out of the greater Little Theatre Movement which was popular in the early 20th Century. These amateur groups often performed at smaller, more intimate venues than professional companies of the time. Booker T. Washington High School was the first African American high School in Dallas, Texas and has since evolved into a magnet school for Performing and Visual Arts in the Dallas Public Schools system.  

The Texas Collection, RBT PN 2270.A35 D35 1937
Majestic Theatre; Houston Texas

The Majestic Theater in Houston, Texas, was built through the gracious gift of Jesse H. Jones and opened in 1910. Descriptions and photographs of the grand interior can be seen throughout this souvenir booklet. Space for women and children are specifically called out as “essential to the pleasure and convenience of the fair sex and the children.”

The Texas Collection, RBT PN2277.H68 M35 1910
Laura Wise Maverick, Advertisement; New York, New York

Laura Maverick was an accomplished Mezzo-Contralto opera singer and toured throughout the United States. This advertisement was created and distributed by her New York management team after her 1912 performance with the Russian Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. 

Laura Wise Maverick papers, Accession #663, Box 1, Folder 3. 
Grand Opera House; San Antonio, Texas

The Grand Opera House was built in 1886 at 303 Alamo Plaza in San Antonio, Texas. The house had seating for 1,370 guests for opera and theatre performances. The house hosted acts such as Anna Held, Laura Maverick, and Edwin Booth. The Grand Opera House closed in the 1930s and was razed in 1954. 

The Texas Collection, ML 1711.8.S158x G736 1900z
Texas Theatre Postcards; Austin, Dallas, Marble Falls, Waco, Texas

Theatres were often constructed in high traffic areas; from Theatre Row in Dallas to downtown Marble Falls, accessibility was key to their placement. Postcards illustrate this placement as well as provide a visual account of theatres that have been altered, including name and structural changes, or destroyed. 

Texas Collection, Postcard collection 
Ima Joy Gandler Ticket Stubs; Texas, New York

Ima Joy Gandler was a steady advocate of the theatre. In addition to her local theatre in Waco, Ima Joy traveled to larger cities in Texas to see shows. She attended shows put on by students, professionals, and amateurs alike. Her travels also took her to theatres in New York City and Washington, DC. 

Ima Joy (Chodorow) Gandler Texas Jewish Collection, Accession #855, Box 4, Folder 15.
Nina Vance and the Alley Theatre; Houston, Texas

The programs represent two plays directed by Nina Vance, a Yoakum, Texas Native. Nina began the Alley Theatre of Houston, Texas in 1947 with only $2.14 and a postcard appeal to the community. In addition to director, she was an actress, teacher, and manager at the Alley Theatre. 
 The Texas Collection Vertical Files: Houston, Texas: Alley Theatre

Representation and Culture

Through founding the companies, creating content, and marketing, culture permeates the theatre. In early 20th century San Antonio, La CompañíaVillalongín and El Teatro Colon provided entertainment for the Mexican and Mexican American population. In the 1970s, the Sojourner Truth Players embodied the Black experience in Fort Worth, and Carol and Paul Kantor documented Jewish history in Cleveland, Ohio. More recently, individuals such as Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad continue to invest in the future of a diverse theatre culture.

People, Places, and Performances affect the stories told and how culture is represented on stage. Catering to a specific audience allows themes and ideas to inspire while also reinforcing the work it takes to succeed. Inclusion and support of many voices allows theatres to grow and evolve with their communities.

Erma Lewis, Sojourner Truth Players; Fort Worth, Texas

As the Founder of the Sojourner Truth Players, Erma Lewis staged 2 plays a year which usually portrayed the Black experience. In addition to the plays, the company hosted workshops and community projects. She led the group from 1972 until her death in 1982. 

Stages of Struggle and Celebration: A Production History of Black Theatre in Texas; Sandra M. Mayo and Elvin Holt. Texas PN2270. A35 M35 2016
Sons of David, Daughters of Miriam; Cleveland, Ohio

Ima Joy Gandler was active in collecting the history of the Jewish Community. This play, Sons of David, Daughters of Miriam, was written in 1976 by Carol Kantor and Paul Kantor as a “cultural history of the Jewish people.” Jewish culture is displayed through eleven dance sequences accompanied by this narrative and a slide show to enhance the experience.  

Ima Joy (Chodorow) Gandler Texas Jewish collection, Accession #855, Box 4, Folder 13.
Debbie Allen; Houston Texas

Debbie Allen was born in Houston, Texas, and earned a Bachelor’s degree from Howard University. She began her career on Broadway, appearing in shows such as Raisin, West Side Story, and Sweet Charity. Her work as a dancer is highly respected, even starting the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. She and her sister, Phylicia Rashad, also an actress, established the Dr. Andrew Allen Scholarship at Howard University to support students studying acting, singing, and dancing, in the Department of Theatre Arts. 

Black Texas: They Overcame; Marian E. Barnes. Texas E 185.96 .B29 1996
Compañía Villalongín; San Antonio, Texas

Companies were often in charge of marketing for their own shows. This 1911 advertisement shares the place, Teatro Aurora, dates, September 30 and October 1, and cost, 10 cents, of the show. Multi-Act dramas were often presented in part over multiple nights. Variety performances were also included during intermissions. 

A History of Hispanic Theatre in the United States: Origins to 1940; Nicolás Kanellos. Texas PN 2270 H57 K36 1990
Teatro Colon; El Paso, Texas

El Teatro Colon was established by Silvio Lacoma and James C. Quinn in El Paso, Texas. The theatre opened November 22, 1919, with 1,000 seats and began hosting opera, musicians, and circus entertainers. Appearances by prominent Mexican performers included Pedro Infante, María Félix, and Cantinflas. These performances promoted the importance of El Teatro Colon in the life and culture of the local Mexican and Mexican American population. 

Showtime! From Opera Houses to Picture Palaces in El Paso; Cynthia Farrah Haines. Texas PN2277.E4 H35 2006
Antonia Pineda de Hernández and Concepción Hernández, Compañía Villalongín; San Antonio, Texas

Antonia Pineda de Hernández and Concepción Hernández were members of La Compañía Villalongín, a traveling company under the care of Carlos Villalongín. Around 1911, the company began a residency in San Antonio, Texas. Concepción was the leading actress and daughter of Antonia. It was customary for Mexican and Mexican American family companies to merge and include multiple generations to fill out their casts. 

Footlights Across the Border: A History of Spanish-Language Professional Theatre on the Texas Stage; Elizabeth C. Ramírez. Texas PN2270.M48 R36 1990

Additional Resources

“Alamo Plaza History.” San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation. Accessed October 13, 2021.

“December 20 in San Antonio history… .” San Antonio Public Library. Accessed October 13, 2021.

Edmonds, Randolph. “THE NEGRO LITTLE THEATRE MOVEMENT.” Negro History Bulletin 12, no. 4 (1949): 82–94.

 “Grand Opera House.” Emporis. Accessed October 13, 2021.

“History.” Casa Mañana. Accessed October 13, 2021. 

“History of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.” Dallas ISD. Accessed October 13, 2021.

Jones, Doris Goodrich. Interview by Betsy Oates. January 26, 1977, in Waco, Texas. Transcript. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, Tx.

“Nina Vance.” Alley Theatre. Accessed October 13, 2021.  

“Paramount History.” The Paramount Theatre. Accessed October 13, 2021. 

Randle, Annie Keeling. Interview by Rebecca S. Jimenez. April 19, 1983, in Waco, Texas. Transcript. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, Tx.