National Take the Stairs Day

Today boasts many silly “holidays” including Bittersweet Chocolate Day and Peculiar People Day. The one that stood out was National Take the Stairs Day, which isn’t annual but a monthly holiday falling on the second Wednesday of the month.

We have a few pictures of people “taking the stairs” around the campus or at least posing on them. Hopefully, it can provide you some motivation.

Malcolm Gillis, ca. 2010

University President, Dr. Malcolm Gillis, ca. 2010

Randall Furlong with friend on steps, 1979

Randall Furlong with friend on steps, 1979

Upcoming Projects


2017 was an incredibly busy year for the Woodson. It included completing an inventory of all of our rare books, creating new online and physical exhibits, growing our fine arts and Jewish history collections, exhibiting the history of Camp Logan, placing the KTRU Rice Radio archive online, co-hosting the Houston Folk Music Archive Celebration with the Friends of Fondren Library, participating in the Oh Project collection, and helping our Fondren Fellow discover and map the hidden bits of information in our Civil War diaries.

Here’s some of what’s coming up in 2018:

  • We’re continuing our participation in the OSSArcFlow project to improve our digital preservation workflows and discoverability.
  • We’re going to be the home base for the Harvey Memories Project. This multi-institutional group will working to document the stories, images, audio, and video related to Hurricane Harvey. We will be taking the lead in digitally preserving any donated items.
  • We will be making new collections available for research from Audrey Jones Beck, Brochstein, Inc., and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston [CAMH].
  • We’ve continued to work with the Chao Center and are expecting new additions and improvements to the Houston Asian American Archive website.
  • Starting last year, we began working on our legacy media backlog. Over the past few months, the old floppies and zip disks have been preserved. Soon, our finding aids will contain descriptions of the files contained on that media.

As we complete some of the projects above and add new ones, we’ll update you on the results. Here’s to a great 2018.

Architects in the Archives – Lenard Gabert, Sr. (1894-1976)

Lenard Gabert Sr. at the 1916 class picnic

One of our newest architectural collections is the Lenard Gabert, Sr. Architectural Records (Lenard is the handsome fellow sitting on the far left of the table in the picture above.) Gabert was part of the first class to matriculate at Rice, and one of the first students to earn a B.S. in Architecture at the Institute (in 1917.) During his long career he designed residential and commercial buildings of all kinds in Houston, including a dog pound, a zoo service center, warehouses, schools, clinics, and churches.

Gabert’s most famous buildings are his synagogues, including temples for Congregations Israel, Shearith Israel, Emanu El, Beth Yeshurun, and Adath Emeth and Beth Jacob (now part of United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston.) Here is one of my favorite drawings from the collection, an elegant rendering of the floor plan of Temple Emanu El:

Architectural drawing of Temple Emanu El, 1946

And a bonus picture from this morning: Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Chanukah!


Poet’s Club Books


The Poet’s Club established around 1908 published four volumes of poetry. One of the founding members’, T.E. Hulme, poetry in the volumes is an early version of Imagism.

The first volume appears to be an advanced copy of what would end up being their second book entitled The Second Book of the Poet’s Club, Christmas 1911. Our version is The Book of the Poet’s Club, Michaelmas 1911. Released a few months before it contains all of the same poetry, except the editors added four poems for the second book.


Note contained in our version of the first volume

This first book only seems to exist elsewhere in the Ezra Pound Papers at Yale University. Given that he was a member of the group, it makes sense that a working copy of the manuscript is there.

Another interesting aspect of these books is the amount of female writers. In the first, there are at least six easily identifiable woman, which include: Katherine Miller, Sibyl Amherst, Marion Cran, Dollie Radford, Lily Hodgkinson, Regina Miriam Bloch, and Florence Farr. Given the celebrity of actress, producer, director Farr, here is her entry.



We also have The Third Book of the Poet’s Club, Christmas 1913. Although Houston’s winter does not compare, a winter poem seems fitting for this time of year.




The Bookman Christmas Catalog

The Bookman bookstore owned by Grace David had an amazing 1960 Christmas catalog. Below are a few pages.









Our collections reveal a few connections to the famed Grace David, who served as the inspiration of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment. We own the Charles Tapley architectural collection, which feature architectural drawings of the Grace and Henry David home. We also have a collection of Larry McMurtry papers. He both briefly attended Rice and taught here.

Architects in the Archives – Ralph Anderson, Jr. (1923-1990)

Ralph Anderson Jr. in Army uniform

Ralph Anderson, Jr. was a native Houstonian, and graduated in 1943 with a B. A. in Architecture and in 1947 with a B. S. in Architecture, both from the Rice Institute. While at Rice, he won The American Institute of Architecture Student Medal, and was the first architectural student at the university to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He began his practice early, designing several homes on the east side of Houston which were built before he achieved his first degree; you can see pictures of a couple of these homes here in the Rice History Corner.

After being inducted into the Army in 1943, he was sent to Harvard University. Upon completion of an Advanced Studies Program, he went to France where he served in the European Theatre of Operations. As a result of a head wound received at the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Like so many in his generation, his service in the war remained very important to him; six boxes of his collection are related to his service in World War II. Anderson later wrote a military history and designed spaces for military veterans, including a war memorial, a service men’s center, and a rest camp for veterans.

Drawings of proposed War Memorial (undated) and proposed School of Architecture at the Rice Institute (1947)

More about Anderson’s architectural practice, his many architectural awards, his activities as an artist, lecturer, and writer, can be found in the Ralph Anderson Jr. papers.


Memorabilia Monday: Bowling Trophy

Chinese American Citizens Alliance Bowling Trophy (men), ca. 1960’s

Much of the memorabilia in the Archives remains there, waiting for interested scholars and community members to revisit them in the Woodson. Not this bowling trophy! It began as a prize for the bowling champ of two Texas chapters of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, one in Houston and one in San Antonio, trading communities during the 1960’s as different players won the trophy. It finally landed with the Houston chapter for good, and came to the Woodson as a part of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance records (MS 606.) When my colleagues Anne Chao,  Amanda Focke and I attend events to talk about the Houston Asian American Archives here at Rice we like to bring along the trophy as a fun example of of items collected to document the communities and their activities.

We encourage families to donate memorabilia, photos, correspondence, business records, oral histories, and more to document the history of Asian American citizens in Houston.  Our goal is to collect materials that scholars will use to tell more of the stories of the community; please let us know if you want to contribute.

Architects in the Archives – Anderson Todd (b. 1921)

Anderson Todd sketching during a class, 1962

Anderson Todd earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Architecture from Princeton, serving in WWII between his degrees. He seemed to live at the center of 20th century American life: waving to Albert Einstein daily on campus at Princeton, challenging Frank Lloyd Wright at a lecture, and meeting Mies van der Rohe, the enormously influential modernist, who would serve as his architectural and philosophical mentor throughout his career.  William Ward Watkin, who had an exceptional eye for recruiting faculty, brought Todd to Rice in 1949, and by1969 Todd had assumed the duties of the Director of the School of Architecture and won the George R. Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching. More information about his creativity as an educator, his contributions to the MFAH, his many awards and accomplishments as an architect, and his partnership with Rice Professor William T. Cannady (whom we will talk about at a later date) can be found in the Anderson Todd Architectural Academic and Career papers.

One surprise in Todd’s materials were his doodles and sketches, which he apparently made wherever he went, on cards and scraps of paper. Here are a few examples:

doodles, pen and ink on paper

scallywag, pencil on paper

Hotel Porto, Torri del Benaco, Italy, pen and ink on paper