George Ensle collection



Under the auspices of the Houston Folk Music Archive, we’re happy to announce that the George Ensle collection is available for research. This collection includes a wealth of photographs, lyrics, fliers, audio, and video chronicling Ensle’s life as a performer.


Growing up in Houston, Ensle began taking guitar lessons at the age of 14. A few years later, his guitar teacher introduced him to Houston’s folk club scene. He moved to Austin to attend the University of Texas in the fall of 1966. The following summer he began playing at Sand Mountain Coffee House where he befriended Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Carolyn Hester, among others.


1979 for cover of Head On

In the 1970s, he made Austin his permanent home. He toured the college circuit with Nanci Griffith. He also played in venues across the state of Texas, including Houston’s Anderson Fair, the University of Houston Coffee House, and the Old Quarter. Towards the end of the decade, he began teaching music in economically disadvantaged schools as part of a Texas Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts program.



Ensle released his first full length album in 1980 entitled, Head On. He followed this up with Heartwood (1990), One Gentle Hand: A Collection (1999), Live Set (2006), Build a Bridge (2008), and Small Town Sundown (2012), and CD and DVD Live from the Brauntex (2013).



Ensle continues to play throughout Texas and runs the weekly Songwriters Showcase at Poodie’s Roadhouse in Spicewood, TX.

For information on other collections in the Houston Folk Music Archive, please check out our research guide.

Images from: George Ensle collection, 1973-2016, MS 680, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

KTRU Tuesdays: Lucinda Williams

On her birthday in 1982, Lucinda Williams visited KTRU studios for an interview with David John Scribner on his “Chicken Skin Music” radio show. In this one-on-one, she discusses how she got started, musical influences, early life, living in Houston, her albums Ramblin’ and Happy Woman Blues, working with the Hemmer Ridge Mountain Boys, and the worst music venue.

For copyright reasons, we have cut out her live performances.

Image from: Sweetheart of Texas Concert Hall and Saloon poster collection, 1974-1975, MS 662, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University. Courtesy of Bruce Bryant.

Art in the Archives: Mary Ellen Hale Lovett (1875-1952)


The portrait of Mary Ellen Hale Lovett looks calmly out over the reading room of the Woodson Research Center. Educated at West Kentucky College and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, she married Edgar Odell Lovett, the first President of the Rice Institute, in 1897. After E. O. Lovett’s career at Princeton the couple spent a year taking a world tour of leading colleges and universities, developing ideas for the Institute.

Mary Ellen Lovett actively worked supporting cultural and artistic projects in Houston. In 1914 she was elected to the board of directors of the Houston Art League, an organization of women supporting the arts that eventually became the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.  In 1928 she received a medal from the Central Federation of the Alliance Française in Paris, given to the president of the local organization which has been the most active, for her work in French-American relations. She was also a member of the group which founded the Houston Symphony and the Faculty Women’s Club of the Rice Institute.

The portrait is oil on canvas, by Auguste Leroux (1871-1954), a French painter, illustrator, and professor at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.  It was offered in 2002 to the Woodson Research Center by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Mrs. Lovett is dressed in a black lace-edged gown, and wears two ropes of pearls and a ring.  The background is a landscape reminiscent of Renaissance paintings, and near her left elbow is a bird (Mrs. Lovett was very fond of birds).

Memorabilia Monday: Tennis Trophy


As an archive, we have various types of trophies from sports to Beer Bike. This tarnished gem is Lucy Taylor’s Doubles Tennis trophy from 1916.


As for specifics on Ms. Taylor, she seems to have only attended Rice Institute her freshman and sophomore years. During her first year, she was a member of the Elizabeth Baldwin Literary Society. After December 1916, she disappears. With such a common name, her post-Rice life is hard to find.

Image from: Rice University. “The Campanile, 1916.” (1916)

Art in the Archives: Margaret Bremond Rice

Patrons visiting the Woodson Research Center reading room often comment on the portrait of Margaret Bremond Rice, first wife of Rice Institute founder William Marsh Rice.  We know very little about her, apart from her obituary notice in the Houston Telegraph. Bremond was the eldest daughter of Paul Bremond, one of the founders of the Houston and Texas Central Railway; she married when she was 18 and Rice a successful businessman of 34.

Margaret Rice was known for her charitable work in Houston. She attended the sick during the city’s many epidemics of yellow fever and cholera, and was active in war relief efforts for the families of soldiers during the Civil War. She died in 1863 at 31 of unknown causes.

The portrait is oil on canvas, the artist and the date unknown.  It was offered to the Rice Institute by a descendant of the Bremond family in 1947, and received in 1948. The painting is described as follows:

She is dressed in a lace-edged robe de style of bronzed green velvet, a Paisley shawl in dark orange thrown across her right arm.  She wears a cameo and matching earrings of a classical temple.

Memorabilia Monday: Archival Flotsam


When certain collections come in, we determine in the beginning what will be saved and what will be not. For example, we might shred forms revealing someone’s social security number. We also avoid saving those items that categorically do not fit in the collection, like this sad, one-eyed teddy bear.

Sometimes when these items are a bit quirky, they become archival relics in our offices. Dara Flinn held on to the bear. While the rest of us, all have something unique that we’ve saved.


Lee Pecht kept this trophy topper with a broken foot.


Amanda Focke is partial to her brass back scratcher with accompanying alligator from her personal collection. The alligator has popped up in a few exhibits.


Rebecca Russell has a random sign that is a bit foreboding.


Norie Guthrie has held on to a trophy topper of a police officer.

Laboratory Equipment Collection


During the fall semester, our student archivist, Chad Fisher identified, labeled, and inventoried all of the laboratory equipment that we keep in our basement annex.


As you can see in the images, each piece of equipment has a little tag with a unique identifier and description. Without those tags , we wouldn’t know the difference between a Unit Oscillator, ca. 1958 and a Precision Voltmeter, n.d. In the inventory, he even went one step further and added even more descriptive information.


Chad’s work will be helpful to us for many years to come.

Here is the new inventory.

KTRU Tuesdays: 1st Houston Area Survey

Yesterday, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research announced the release of the 36th Houston Area Survey.  To see how much Houston has changed, you can compare it to the first survey. On September 28, 1982, Dr. Stephen Klineberg discussed the results of the first Houston survey with Scott Hochberg.

Image from: “Dr. Stephen Klineberg with student researchers Lisa Maier, Mark Brumback, Robert Putzke.” (1982) Rice University:

Memorabilia Monday: Owl Cage Model


In 1991, the last of the live owl mascots passed away. Four years later, the Director of Student Activities and alums attempted to bring live owls back to campus. Here are a few of images of the model they had commissioned from architect, Shane Cook.




Those little bits were part of the ramp’s railing.




To learn more about this plan. Here’s an article from the Thresher.


From 1999, the editorial below mentions that students are still paying into the live owl mascot blanket tax. The writer is calling for these funds to be reallocated for purchasing new Sammy the Owl mascot costumes when the need arises.


Sources: The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 82, No. 27, Ed. 1 Friday, April 28, 1995The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 87, No. 4, Ed. 1 Friday, September 24, 1999