Camp Logan in Memorial Park – Houston’s Hidden History

2017 marks the centennial of the U.S. involvement in World War I (1914-1919).  An exhibit in the cases near the east entrance of Fondren Library created in collaboration  with Rice’s Anthropology department offers a brief account of the history of Camp Logan, a World War I training camp once situated in what is today Memorial Park in northwest Houston.  This exhibit marks the 100 year anniversary of the opening of Camp Logan in 1917.

Postcard of Post Office located in Camp Logan, circa 1918

“Post Office, Camp Logan postcard.” (1918) Rice University: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/92653.

Although this centennial has served as an inspiration for the exhibit, Rice University faculty, staff, and students have been involved in researching and preserving Camp Logan’s history for some time:  for example, the Woodson’s collections of papers and objects related to Camp Logan (the Clark Bruster Collection) and the recently acquired Paul B. Hendrickson collection. Dr. Jeffrey Fleisher and students from the Anthropology Department have been investigating Camp Logan archaeologically since 2015.  These collections and the results of this research form an important part of this exhibit.  Also on display are postcards, ephemera, and images graciously loaned by Robbie Morin from his extensive collection and items from The Heritage Society. These materials have greatly enhanced the exhibit.

Overlay map of location of Camp Logan in today’s Memorial Park

Location of Camp Logan in today’s Memorial Park

Occupied for a short period of time from 1917-1919, the story of Camp Logan represents the complexities and tragedies of early 20th-century Houston.  Camp Logan emerged quickly at the edge of this small but growing city, and provided a significant economic boost to it as more than 30,000 troops were trained there.  But Camp Logan is also tied in historical memory with the Houston Riot and the racial segregation that structured the US military at this time.

One of the most well-known and tragic of these aspects is the Houston Riot of 1917. The all black 24th Infantry was sent to guard the still under-construction site of Camp Logan in early 1917. On August 23rd two Houston police officers assaulted and arrested two members of the 24th Infantry for inquiring why a half-dressed, black mother of five was being assaulted outside her own home in downtown Houston. In retaliation to this unfair treatment, and spurned on by the general racist attitude of the city as a whole, around 100 men of the 24th Infantry took matters into their own hands, gathered weapons from their stockpile and marched towards the police station with the intent of freeing their fellow soldiers. The two-hour riot that followed was a tragic and difficult episode in Houston’s history, the consequences of which meant the death of black and white Americans and the incarceration of black troops.

A current exhibit at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum covers the events of this riot in more detail and the museum is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Houston Riot with week-long events later this month. More information is available on their website: http://www.buffalosoldiermuseum.com/?event=100th-anniversary-of-camp-logan-mutiny-1917-2017&event_date=2017-08-21 

The Camp Logan exhibit in Fondren Library will be on display through the end of December 2017.

New Houston Folk Music Archive Collections

Two more collections are available for research from the Houston Folk Music Archive.

Lucille Borella collection

cade

In the late 1960s, Bill and Lucille Cade formed a folk duo. Over the next several years, they performed throughout the region. They played in Houston venues, such as Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant, the UH Coffee House, and the Wooden Nickel Club, as well the college ciruit in and out of the state. They also performed at Kerrville Folk Festival in 1974 with their young baby in tow.

Around 1976, Bill and Lucille Cade broke up. Later on, Lucille, now Borella, began performing with her husband Larry at Anderson Fair in 1979 under the name Larry & Lucille.

While no longer actively performing, Lucille Borella has stayed a member of the folk community. She and her husband support the Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival.

David Rodriguez collection

david-rodriguez-02

David Roland Rodriguez (1952-2015) was a Houston-born folk musician and lawyer. At the age of two, he contracted polio. Because of his decreased mobility, his parents bought him a guitar. Throughout his teens, he played in a variety of musical groups including a rock band, a folk group, and an avant garde ensemble as a pianist. In the early to mid 1970s, he honed his craft in Houston’s folk venues.

After relocating to Austin in the late 1970s, Rodriguez graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1981. He practiced law in Austin into the 1980s, focusing on criminal law and working with the Austin Arts Commission. While he maintained his music career in the early 1980s, he began to focus exclusively on his law practice in 1984. He even mounted an unsuccessful bid for public office in 1990.

At the beginning of the 1990s, Rodriguez began focusing more attention on music. Local Austin music magazine “Third Coast Music” voted him Best Texas Songwriter for 1992, 1993. and 1994.

david-rodriguez-01

David Rodriguez with daughter Carrie, 2000s

In 1994, he moved to the Netherlands to play music full time. While abroad, fellow musician and daughter, Carrie Rodriguez would play fiddle with him on occassion. He had a vibrant career overseas and released a number of albums. David Rodriguez died at his home in Dordrecht, Holland, on October 26th 2015.

His most widely covered song “The Ballad Of The Snow Leopard And The Tanqueray Cowboy” was recorded by Lyle Lovett, Melissa Greener, and many others.

Rodriguez came from a musical family, which includes his aunt singer and actress Eva Garza, his brother singer-songwriter Philip Rodriguez, and his sister singer Leti Garza.

To see more of our collection, please see the Houston Folk Music Archive research guide. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Artists in the Archives – Grace Spaulding John (1890-1972)

Spaulding painting mural at MFAH, detail

Born in Michigan, Grace Spaulding John spent her childhood in Vermont; the family moved to Beaumont, Texas when Spaulding was a teenager. She studied art at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League of New York, the National Academy of Design in New York City, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Chester Springs, where she worked under Charles W. Hawthorne.  She became one of eight young artists in the nation who received a Tiffany Foundation Fellowship, allowing her to study for a summer at the New York home of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

In 1921 Spaulding moved to Houston and married Alfred Morgan John, with whom she had two children. In 1927, Spaulding John went to Europe, painting in France, Italy and Spain. In 1928, she made her first visit to Mexico, returning to Houston with enough paintings for a one-man show at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. During her career she travelled to New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, Florida, Colorado, California, New York, Canada, and back to Mexico and Europe to paint. Spaulding John was adept in many mediums – oil, dry-point, lithography, pastel, charcoal, pen and ink, watercolor, block print, and plexiglas. A hallmark of her work was her use of natural brown linen for her canvases, sizing it first with rabbit skin glue, a technique she learned from Hawthorne. She painted over a hundred and twenty-five portraits, among them Thomas Mann, Edgar Lee Masters, and Oveta Culp Hobby dressed in her uniform as first commander of the WAACS.

Oveta Culp Hobby

Spaulding John was deeply involved with the artist community in Houston; many of her colleagues appear in her papers at the WRC, including Chillman and McVey. She also published three books of poetry, illustrated with what she called her “living line” drawings. She died in Houston on July 22, 1972.

Memorabilia Monday: Kaleidoscope

20170807_094415

Inside this fancy kaleidoscope is the Rice seal and perhaps other Rice-specific items, though it’s hard to tell. Honestly, we don’t have a story about why there’s a Rice branded kaleidoscope or who Van Cort is.

20170807_094345

We thought we would instead give you a view of the images inside.

kaleidoscope

Artists in the Archives- Vera Prasilova Scott (1899-1996)

Gail Singer portrait

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Portland Art Museum in Oregon to see a collection of photographs by the extraordinary photographer and artist Vera Prasilova Scott. Prasilova Scott moved with her family from Houston to Portland in 1937, following her husband Arthur Scott’s appointment as a Professor in Chemistry at Reed College, and continued her career in the area. I was the guest of Curator Dr. Julia Dolan, Registrar Anne Crouchley, and Nadja Scott Lilly, Prasilova Scott’s daughter; they welcomed me warmly, and we shared our excitement over her works.

Exodus, courtesy of Nadja Scott Lilly

Mrs. Lilly was kind enough to show us sculptures created after the family moved to Portland. Prasilova Scott used her work to reflect her humanitarian response to social, political, and emotional events of the time. Exodus, shown here, was given with the Jordan Davidson Humanitarian Awards.

We have discussed the Prasilova Scott collection several times in the blog; both the beauty of her work and the techniques she used to accomplish it. Many of her photographs can be viewed online in the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive. You can also view a podcast narrated by Paul Hester discussing her portraits of Houston society here.

KTRU Tuesdays: Digitization Update

Over the past few weeks, we’ve embedded metadata in all of our WAV and MP3 files. Now, we’re moving on to the next steps.

ktru-folders

First, we split up the files into two groups: what can go online and what can only be listened to in our reading, otherwise known as nearline.

ktru-excel

Second, we’re currently working on addressing the needs of these two groups. For the online files, we are creating a massive Excel document that will hold all of the Dublin Core metadata that our institutional repository will need. For nearline, we are following our standard preservation procedures for handling digital files, which in this case is creating an AIP. This part of the process will take a few weeks and lots of patience.

After the second step is complete, we’ll be moving on to uploading all of the online files to the institutional repository (scholarship.rice.edu). It will be quite exciting.

Artists in the Archives – William Mozart McVey (1905-1995)

Bill McVey, artist, teacher, and athlete, was born in Boston in 1905 and moved to his home town, Cleveland, Ohio, with his parents in 1919. Big and athletic, he enjoyed football in high school, and after entering the Rice Institute in 1923 as an Architecture student Bill was promptly recruited for the team. McVey was elected Slime President (president of the freshman class at the Rice Institute) and became notorious for his good-natured shenanigans: there is a wonderful story in the Thresher about his escaping the pursuit of the sophomore class for days before the Freshman Ball. He made All-Southwest Conference as a defensive tackle in his first year at Rice, playing for Coach John Heisman’s football team. McVey fully enjoyed undergraduate life in Texas; however, by 1925 he decided to return to home to attend the Cleveland School of Art.

After graduating from the Cleveland School of Art in 1928 McVey set sail for Paris, became a student of Charles Despiau (an assistant of Auguste Rodin), and attended the Académies Scandinave,  Colarossi, and  la Grande Chaumière. Returning to Cleveland in 1932, McVey sculpted early works for the Works Progress Administration. He also married Leza Marie Sullivan, a ceramics and textile artist. In 1934 McVey returned to Texas to work, receiving the commission for the frieze and bronze doors of the San Jacinto Monument. He sculpted the bronze statue of Jim Bowie in Texarkana and the pink granite memorial to David Crockett in Ozona in celebration of the Texas Centennial in 1936. His most controversial work, a nine-foot statue of Sir Winston Churchill smoking a cigar, stands on the grounds of the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. One of his last works was a life-sized bronze of John Heisman, now on the campus of Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Several pieces of McVey’s work can be seen at Rice University. The figure “Energy” at the entrance of the Abercrombie Engineering Laboratories depicts man converting energy from the sun. Cohen House, the faculty club, is decorated with his bas-relief portraits of distinguished professors. McVey and his wife, Leza, created terra cotta plaques depicting college life for the commons at Will Rice College and the original Hanszen College. The Woodson Research Center in Fondren Library holds a bronze bust of Architecture professor William Ward Watkin that we spoke about here. You can find more about Bill McVey and his work in his papers at the Woodson Research Center.

Images from:
Rice University Review, Vol 2, No. 1
1925 Campanile
Rice University Photo Files, Abercrombie Hall