A Night for Guy

Verlon Thompson playing guitar
Verlon Thompson, longtime friend and accompanist to Guy Clark

Last Wednesday, we co-hosted an event with Shawn Parks and Matt Harlan that celebrates the life and musical legacy of Guy Clark. Enjoy these great shots from campus photographer Jeff Fitlow. You can read more about the event from a wonderful write-up by the Houston Press’s Gladys Fuentes.

Matt Harlan playing guitar and singing
Matt Harlan, co-planner and performer
George Ensle on stage
George Ensle – The Woodson has his archival collection.
Libby Koch playing guitar
Libby Koch
Verlon Thompson, surprise guest Shawn Camp, Noel McKay performing, playing guitars
Verlon Thompson, surprise guest Shawn Camp, Noel McKay

To see more images of the event, check out the Rice News post.

The Woodson staff will be participating in a regional conference this week and will be taking a reading room break next while working on collection management. Our reading room and reference services will resume on May 31st.

J. P. Miller and Steven Stayner

Missing sign for Steven Stayner

A few years back the family of James Pinckney Miller donated his materials to us. A 1941 Rice graduate, Miller wrote the teleplay and the screenplay for Days of Wine and Roses and the teleplay for Helter Skelter.

Draft of
Draft of I Know My Name is Steven

In the 1980s, he tackled another true crime topic, the story of the kidnapping and reappearance of Steven Stayner. Our J. P. Miller collection contains drafts of the mini-series, I Know My Name is Steven, which aired in May 1989. It also contains the preliminary research that Miller did with the Stayner family and others related to the case.

Interview questions

Recently digitized tapes from Miller’s collection form part of the research and the larger story for the new Hulu docu-series, Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story. During the series, actors from the original mini-series lend their voices to transcripts created from the tapes in Miller’s archival collection.

While Woodson materials are used by researchers in different ways, the docu-series was an interesting way for Miller’s research to be re-purposed.

Envelope containing cassette tapes with dates listed. 2 cassette tapes outside of envelope.

Returning back to the original mini-series, it was successful. It received four Emmy nominations and had high viewership. Reflecting on his work, Miller wrote the letter below.

Letter from JP Miller to Ruth Slawson.

Big Walter’s Bullets

A couple of weeks ago Sandy Hickey and Jomonica Phoenix invited me out to a container unit that had the archives of the Houston Blues Museum. One collection in the unit belonged to Big Walter “The Thunderbird” Price. Years ago, it was retrieved by Sandy and Jomonica from a storage unit. It contained all of Price’s possession before he passed.

Leather holster with bullets

Including a holster containing handcuffs and bullets from a .38 special. In addition to being a barrel house piano player and recording artist, Price had a variety of other professions/jobs, such as: record label owner, stage and film actor, crime scene photographer, restaurant owner, and security guard.

Instead of keeping the bullets, I took them to RUPD for proper disposal. Thanks to David Anderson for assistance.

David Anderson inspecting bullets.
Forgive the crazy reflections from the protective glass.

One last note on Big Walter Price, we already had possession of part of his collection from an earlier donation by Hickey and Phoenix. Last fall, I made selections from it to be digitized as part of the grant funded Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project “Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage.” This post won’t be the last on this larger than life man.


In honor of “That Sucks Day,” we hope your day hasn’t felt or been like this.

Rice Institute football game at Rice Stadium, tackle in process, stands in background

April 15th has hosted such bad events as the assassination of Lincoln and the sinking of the Titanic. Good luck getting through this one unscathed.

Space City! and KPFT Books

Donors have recently given us two Houston-specific books, which we’ll be adding to our rare books collection. The first is Exploring Space City!: Houston’s Historic Underground Newspaper edited by Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, Cam Duncan, and Sherwood Bishop. The book re-prints notable articles, interviews, photography, art, and ads from Space City!, which ran from 1969-1972.

If you want to learn more about Fanny, check out a very interesting podcast episode from Lost Notes.

The other Houston book is Live on Lovett Blvd.: Portraits of Musical Guests at KPFT Radio, 2010-2018 by David Britton. The book documents the talent that has graced the radio station’s, now former (or soon to be former), funky house on Lovett Blvd.

Below are a sampling of Britton’s photographs including the late Eric Taylor, Vince Bell, and the trio of Tim Easton, Betty Soo, and Will Sexton.

Raymond Brochstein

Raymond Brochstein, an architect, businessman, philanthropist, and Rice alum ’56 has passed away. He served on the Rice Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2002. His family’s monetary contribution built one of the centerpieces of campus, the Brochstein Pavilion, which opened on campus in 2008.

Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion, Rice University

Over the years, Raymond and Susan Brochstein gave to the university and the archives in other ways. Brochsteins, Inc. constructed furniture used during the 1990 Economic Summit. This table designed by Wayne H. Bruan consisted of curly maple from a tree cut in Michigan in 1962 and cherry from Pennsylvania. Brochsteins had waited decades to use that curly maple veneer for the right project.

Image of Economic Summit participants sitting at a long table in Herring Hall.
Image of Brochsteins Inc employees gathered around the table.

We also have archival collections including the Brochsteins, Inc. corporate records, Raymond Brochstein papers, and materials appear in other architectural collections like the Lenard Gabert, Sr. architectural records.

Survey Request

Woodson Research Center homepage

We’re currently working with a group of students from the University of Michigan’s library sciences program, who have developed a user experience survey about our website. In case user experience seems like a new phrase, it’s a way of understanding how different types of users experience a task, for example.

The survey will take about five minutes of your time and is a way for us to learn how to improve our site.

Thank you!

The Royal Math Book

Vellum cover with decorative detail
Beautiful vellum cover, which is in good condition

Princes of Orange need to learn math, too, and maybe he/they did using this early-mid 1600s math book. While I would definitely admit that math is not my strong suit, I have to say that none of this makes much sense to me.

There is a little explanatory material about the book in French.

Last used page of book featuring a paragraph written in calligraphy that ends with "fin."

Maybe there’s a bit more information on the last page.

Forgive the dreaded cell phone shadow.

If you want to get into the specifics about the Orange lineage, technically whatever prince or very important child used this, they weren’t technically from the original line. It had ended around 100 years earlier with René of Chalon. If you don’t want to a deep dive into the Oranges, then enjoy some painted doodles.

William Wells Brown

corner of book highlighting cover decoration

While it isn’t a first printing, we have a nice second edition of William Wells Brown‘s The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius and His Achievements. As usual, this is one of those little discoveries that we have on our shelves. Brown escaped enslavement to become an abolitionist and writer. Calling him simply a writer does not fully explain what he did. He was the first African American to publish travel fiction, fiction, drama, and a history of Black people in the Revolutionary War.

Although he begins this book telling his own story, he delves into the histories of others.

Another notable element of this book is the simplicity of its title. Brown’s choice of title and its look on the spine makes a strong political statement.


Like some of our other books, this one also has a notable owner, Augustus Gardner Lebroke, a lawyer from Maine and a Republican politician. Given his political affiliation and the mention of his hatred of slavery (in the link above), it makes sense that he owned a book by a fellow abolitionist.

Inside cover featuring a book plate and signature of original owner.

On a different note, friend of the Woodson, Kelley Lash, Director of Student Media, unexpectedly passed away this week. She had been instrumental in providing access to born-digital Campaniles and Threshers. She helped us work through rights language for the student media collections. She also always reached out when she had items to donate like the massive Rice Television and Video Production records. Thresher staff put together a moving tribute to her life and work at the university. Our thoughts are with her family.