The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974

Book Reviews

Although all the letters and excerpts in Alphonse in Austin can be found
in Barker's work, Mrs. Hart has compiled a thoroughly entertaining and
readable work. It is not scholarly, but it is fun. Every collector of Texana
will want to add this attractive volume to his shelves.
University of Texas, Arlington SANDRA L. MYRES
Baylor at Independence. By Lois Smith Murray. (Waco: Baylor University
Press, 1972. Pp. xxiii+ 421. Illustrations, notes, appendix, bibliogra-
phy, index. $7.)
The author, a long-time member of the English faculty at Baylor Uni-
versity, has written a narrowly focused study describing the efforts of Texas
Baptists to create and maintain an institution for the intellectual and moral
education of their youth. In narrating the history of Baylor from its begin-
nings in the 1840s to its removal from Independence in 1886, the book has,
indirectly, illustrated the broader aspects of private educational efforts in
nineteenth-century Texas. In their efforts to keep the school in operation,
preacher-teachers such as Rufus C. Burleson, Horace Clark, and William
Carey Crane, like most "schoolmen" of their era, confronted problems of
financial stringency, uncertain enrollment, petty denominational bickering,
and demographic changes. Murray offers detailed descriptions of the finan-
cial and administrative methods employed, and, occasionally, she describes
aspects of student life.
Although the book will certainly become, as Robert Cotner notes in his
introduction, a "source book" for those interested in early Baylor or Baptist
history, it suffers from weaknesses common to most "official" institutional
histories. The author makes little attempt to relate Baylor's years at Inde-
pendence to larger social and educational trends and developments. The
focus is primarily upon administration, and many sections of the book are
repetitive recapitulations of one board of trustees' meeting after another.
There are frequent digressions into lengthy biographical sketches which
have little to do with the history of Baylor. These sketches, and indeed the
entire work, lack critical analysis. The author's genealogical-antiquarian
method clutters the text with endless lists of names and obscure references.
This, along with numerous lengthy quotations, often makes for dull reading.
The work is deeply researched in both manuscript and printed materials.
Indicative of its limited scope, however, was the apparent failure to con-
sult some of the standard works on American higher education. The appen-
dix consists mainly of lists of Baylor notables: trustees, administration and


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 26, 2015.