Sloan Takes History to the Community . . . and Fixer Upper
Dr. Stephen Sloan, Associate Professor of History and Director of Baylor’s Institute for Oral History, brings history out of the “ivory tower” of academia to the people and community of Central Texas . . . and beyond.
You may have recently seen Dr. Sloan appear on Baylor alums Chip and Joanna Gaines’ new series, Fixer Upper: The Castle. The Gaines’ popular renovation television series, Fixer Upper, has made Waco a popular tourist destination and helped revitalize downtown with their commercial complex at the Silos. In their most recent series, they take on the renovation of the Cottonland Castle in Waco, Texas. To learn more about the castle’s history, they turned to Stephen Sloan, who provides them with an understanding of the structure’s historical context in episode one.
It is really no surprise that the Gaines consulted Dr. Sloan. After all, he is the brainchild behind the Waco History app and the Waco History podcast, all of which share local history with anyone who would like to know more about Waco and Central Texas.
Waco History is a free mobile app that puts the history of Waco and McLennan County at your fingertips. Waco History let the user explore the people, places, and moments that have shaped the community’s history. App users can learn about Central Texas through layered, map-based multimedia presentations, use social media to share stories, and experience curated historical tours of Central Texas. The app includes self-guided tours such as “Houses of Worship,” “Waco Tornado 1953,” and a “Latino History Tour.” You can find the Waco History app in the App Store.
As explained on wacohistory.org, “Waco History is a joint venture by the Institute for Oral History, which Dr. Sloan directs, and The Texas Collection. The Institute for Oral History houses the work of Waco History, identifying sites, supervising the creation of entries, and coordinating public partnerships for the project. Their collection of over 6,000 oral histor[ies] enrich Waco History’s audio and video content. The Texas Collection shares its significant holdings on local history, heritage, and culture . . . . in particular, The Texas Collection’s wealth of historic images of Waco and McLennan County provide Waco History’s visual elements.”
Dr. Sloan extends that work on the Waco History podcast, where he talks with others about Waco’s known and unknown past. Recent shows feature interviews with guests talking about the Waco Mammoth Site, the Freedom Fountain, Madison Cooper’s novel Sironia, Cameron Park, and the Wichita peoples of Central Texas. The Waco History podcast can be found on Spotify or Apple podcasts. Information on the app and the podcast can be found at https://www.wacohistory.org.
Bringing local history to life has become a habit for Stephen Sloan. He regularly leads our first year students in what we call the “Waco Walk,” sharing his knowledge of the community with them in an effort to help Baylor students know more about the city in which they will live for four years.