Archives: A treasure trove of Baylor history

The rich history of Baylor College of Medicine dates back to its inception in Dallas as Baylor University College of Medicine, continues through the work of pioneering heart surgeon Dr. Michael E. DeBakey and of Dr. Richard Gibbs and colleagues on the Human Genome Project and will continue with current and future groundbreaking work that the College has become known for worldwide. To preserve this history, the Baylor College of Medicine Archives team works to collect significant items related to the College. Learn more about the work they do through this Q&A with director JoAnn Pospisil.

Archives Team

The Baylor Archives team, from left to right, David Olmos, Carolyn Tabata, Tiffany Schreiber and JoAnn Pospisil.

What is the role of Baylor College of Medicine’s archives?

The Baylor College of Medicine Archives mission is to preserve the history of Baylor College of Medicine and its predecessors the Fort Worth Medical Department and Baylor University College of Medicine (BUCM) in both Dallas and Houston.

What types of items do you collect?

  • Papers of BCM faculty, staff, departments, students and affiliates
  • Historical documents (affiliation agreements, official meeting minutes, contracts, and others)
  • BCM/TMC maps, plats and blueprints
  • BCM/TMC photographs
  • BCM publications (newsletters, yearbooks, books, annual reports, programs, invitations and more)
  • Memorabilia (awards, BCM regalia, medical instruments designed at BCM, books edited or authored by BCM personnel)
  • Films, videos, DVDs, CDs produced by or featuring BCM and/or BCM personnel

What are some of the most interesting items in your collection?

Antique radiology equipment and antique ophthalmology equipment; the heart pump Dr. DeBakey successfully implanted in patient Esperanza Vasquez in 1966; a BUCM 1905 diploma and early commencement programs; an almost complete set of Baylor University Round Up Yearbooks dating from 1902 to 1969 when we separated from BUCM and incorporated as Baylor College of Medicine; and all the BCM Aesculapian Yearbooks from 1956 to the present.

What if someone is interested in donating something to archives? What is the process?

Keep in mind that the Baylor Archives is a permanent repository, that material will not be returned. Contact our office at 713-798-4501 or email to discuss what you have, whether it is relevant to our mission to preserve BCM’s history and whether and where we have space to accommodate the material. When material is accessioned into the archives from outside the College (from a retired individual or the family member of former BCM personnel), signing a Deed of Gift form is required to transfer title for the material to the archives. The Deed of Gift allows the archives to determine final disposition of the donated material. No Deed of Gift is required for material transferred directly from a department or office within the College.

What should people keep in mind when considering donating?

  • Only Baylor College of Medicine-related material can be accepted due to space limitations.
  • Unless authored or edited by Baylor personnel, textbooks and medical books cannot be accepted.
  • Very large items may have to be refused due to space limitations.
  • We always try to help donors locate repositories that might accept material that does not fit our mission.
  • No material donated to the Archives is accepted for temporary storage.
  • All donations are accessioned and processed according to standard archival procedures and housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes.
  • Archival copies are made on acid-free paper.
Butler in archives

Chancellor Emeritus and Baylor historian Dr. Bill Butler in the archives.

Anything else you want to add about archives?

The BCM Archives is the institutional memory of Baylor College of Medicine and its predecessors. The archives plays an important role in most departmental or individual anniversaries. We provide photos for numerous publications both within and outside the College. We locate materials within our collections for researchers both within the BCM community and for visiting researchers. We assisted Dr. William T. Butler, BCM Chancellor Emeritus, with the research for his comprehensive four-volume history of the College. We completed the application necessary to obtain the Texas Historical Marker from the Texas Historical Commission for the Cullen Building. We update exhibits in the Michael E. DeBakey Library and Museum. The BCM Archives plays an integral role in maintaining the integrity of the impressive BCM legacy.