TABLE OF CONTENTS
Description of Series
Rufus Columbus Burleson Papers, 1837-1896
Rufus Columbus Burleson (1823-1901) was born on August 7, 1823, near Decatur, Alabama, the son of Jonathan and Elizabeth (born Byrd) Burleson. A religious conversion in April 1839 set him on the path to become a minister. He enrolled at Nashville University (1840) but had to withdraw the next year because of ill health. He taught until 1845 and was ordained in the same year. In 1847, Burleson graduated from Western Baptist Theological Seminary in Covington, Kentucky.
He transitioned to Texas, doing mission work, and then becoming the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Houston (1848-1851). In June 1851, Burleson was elected the second president of Baylor University (1851-1861). He grew the university by traveling and speaking about the school across the state. On January 3, 1853, Burleson married Georgia (born Jenkins) Burleson (1833-1924) and the two had one son, Richard Adair Burleson (1869-1944).
Conflict percolated at Baylor with disagreement of authority between Burleson and Horace Clark, the principle of the female department. This led Burleson and the faculty of the male department to move to Waco in 1861. William Carey Crane (1816-1885) became the next president of Baylor University.
Burleson became the president of Waco University, developing the school into a coeducational institution that received support from the Baptist General Association of Texas (1861- approximately 1885). Baylor University and Waco University fought over Baptist funds, causing conflict between the two presidents. Eventually, Baylor University moved from Independence and merged with Waco University in 1886 with Burleson as the president.
During his presidency, he continued to develop Baylor into a prominent institution. While president (1894), Burleson was wrapped up in a scandal involving the pregnancy of a young Brazilian girl living in the Burleson's home. He was found innocent by a grand jury, but critiques—including those of William Brann—likely lead to his demotion to president emeritus in 1897. On May 14, 1901, Burleson died in Waco.
J. A. Reynolds, "Burleson, Rufus Columbus," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed April 13, 2021.
The Rufus Columbus Burleson papers contain pPhotostats of letters concerning the educational, administrative, and ecclesiastical careers of Rufus Columbus Burleson (182-1901) and William Carey Crane (1816-1885) as they relate to Baylor University and the educational problems of the Baptists in Texas.
Additional material in TXC 94.
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This collection is open for research.
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There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.
Rufus Columbus Burleson Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Briscoe Center staff.
Subsequent revisions were made by Rebecca Wells, April 2021.