Burrus Beer Mug

Image of Sid Burrus and the text "csb@70."

A few items were dropped off at the Woodson last Friday bound for our Rice University Memorabilia collection (UA 225). Among them was a cute little beer mug from the 70th birthday celebration for Charles Sidney “Sid” Burrus – Rice alum and Maxfield and Oshman Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

We were sad to hear of Dr. Burrus’s passing on Saturday at the age of 86.

If you would like to learn more about him, News and Media Relations wrote a nice obituary.

Jacob Boehler in a Can

Front image of can

We recently received a rather odd time capsule found during the renovation of Mech Lab. It’s a Prince Albert tobacco canister with two items inside. The first is a piece of wood that has been written on with pencil. The other is a piece of paper crammed down in the bottom with potentially the same information as the piece of wood. The paper was so brittle and wadded up that I could only make out the name to confirm that the transcription of the wood was correct.

Back image of can

The text on the wood reads (we think): Jacob Boehler, 902 Ninton St., Toledo Ohio, 1911. I found a Jacob Boehler via the 1940 census living in Toledo, Ohio. At that time, he would have been 51, which would make Boehler approximately 22 yrs. of age when he “put himself” in the can, assuming this is the same man.

Piece of wood

A “Jacob Boehler” does pop up in some newspaper articles from Toledo, but our library doesn’t have access to the newspaper.com database. I reached out to the Local History and Genealogy Department of the Toledo Library for information and will provide an update if I learn more.

As for the address, I can’t find a Ninton via Google maps. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t exist, but I couldn’t find it via a 1904 Toledo map either. Feel free to see if you can discover where he might have called home.

Celebrating the Houston Asian American Archive

Willet Feng and Diane Wu Feng are owners of the restaurant Burger-Chan and Rice University alumni.

Sometimes we’d like to remind everyone of our amazing resources. One of these that exemplifies the diversity of Houston is the Houston Asian American Archive [HAAA]. Created in conjunction with the Chao Center for Asian Studies, the archive contains at this point 323 oral histories, a variety of archival collections, and more. You can access the oral histories via scholarship.rice.edu and the Chao Center’s custom site that contains much more about the archive and its activities. You can also find collections in our Asian American Materials in Special Collections research guide.

Covid Anniversary

Caption from submitter: One of our O-Week group members had her birthday during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her friends put together a COVID-safe celebration/party with social distancing. 2021-02-21

In case you are one of many who are in the mood to look back on the last year of the pandemic, please visit our online exhibit Covid-19 Reflections at Rice. You’ll find images, journals, student reflections, and an oral history with more to come.

If instead, you want to think about something not Covid related, then there’s this.

Student drinking from a keg while on a bike, Rice University

New Music Exhibit

Images include: Taj Mahal, Stanley Clarke, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker

While the library may not get as much foot traffic, the Woodson staff has continued to create exhibits to showcase the archives and our various projects.

A new one went up inside the Woodson entitled “One Night in Houston: Selections from the Ralph Fales photograph collection.” One thing I must admit is that many of these performers did perform more than one show in Houston and sometimes they performed a set of shows. But the title is catchy and concert-related, and a shoutout to the new film One Night in Miami.

Images include: Jimmy Reed, Albert Collins, Tyrone Brown, Gatemouth Brown, Bob Marley, Anthony Braxton, Buckwheat Zydeco
It must be noted that cell phone images of exhibits never capture them in their full glory.

Anyway, the new exhibit highlights photographs from the Ralph Fales collection that came in almost exactly a year ago. It also focuses on more specifically Black musicians that graced the stages in Houston in the mid-1970s. The performers include: Bob Marley, B.B. King, Jimmy Reed, Houston’s own Lightnin’ Hopkins, and many others. If you are wondering why no Black women, there is only one image of Sippie Wallace from a show in Boston.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bobby Blue Bland, Fats Domino, B.B. King

If you want to see more of this collection, it will be getting its own online exhibit later in 2021.

Mystery Silver

image of front of the sterling silver trophy

At the Woodson, we wish that everything that comes through the door is easy to identify. Sometimes, it’s not. If we don’t know the donor of the materials, which sometimes happens with our university archival items, then it’s really a mystery.

I present a small sterling silver trophy with the letter SSE on it. Does anyone know what this might be? Is this a Rice item or not?

up close image of engraving
image of back of the sterling silver trophy

Thanks for your help.

Friendly Gifts

The Woodson Research Center has re-opened this week, which means we’ve been diligently working on reference requests. One of these required me looking through Oveta Culp Hobby’s correspondence. It yielded some interesting results like letters filled with gratitude for various food-related gifts.

The first letter is from Madame Chiang Kai -shek aka Soong Mei-ling to Hobby. The 1953 letter thanks Hobby for their recent long conversation and hope that Soong’s gift of tea is similar to the one Hobby and Soong shared in Nanking aka Nanjing.

Letter is summarized in above text.
Letter is summarized in above text.

The next letter is from Nelson Rockefeller thanking Hobby for pecans.

Letter is summarized in above text.

The last letter is from Wilton B. Persons, the Assistant to the President in the Eisenhower Administration. Persons’ gratitude is in regards to “the famous Texas citrus fruit.” Would that be grapefruit? His phrasing is a bit odd.

Letter is summarized in above text.

Based on these various gifts, which one would you have wanted to sample? I think the tea would have been amazing.

Chandler Davidson African American oral histories

While we don’t know much about the creation or intent, there are two interviews in the Chandler Davidson Texas Politics Research collection with two Black men. The interviews focus on voting, working, and teaching as well as their relations to white people. Sadly, the interviewees are unknown, their identities lost to history. In the second interview, the interviewee seems to be quite old, recounting his life in 1889.

During the summer and fall of 2020, Gabby Parker transcribed the digitized audio for the bulk of the interviews that Davidson and others completed in the mid to late 1970s. All of those interviews are available online.

If you want to explore other oral histories by Black people from the Houston area, you can explore the Gregory School Interviews.

Fondren Transcription Project continues


U.S. Civil War journal, Nov. 1861 – Feb. 1862, page 7

Staff at Fondren are continuing their work to help the Woodson improve access to the hundreds of manuscripts in the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive (scholarship.rice.edu). The manuscript above is from one of four notebooks, written in the hand of Albert Sherrad Campbell at St. Louis, Missouri, covering the early months of the U.S. Civil War. Included are descriptions of battles and other political and military events.

As of the end of the year, 332 transcriptions (59% of the project total) are now online in the IR. Another 151 transcriptions (26% of the project total) are in the final review process. Many thanks to the staff in Technical Services, Access Services, Reference and Library Administration who volunteered for the project and made this possible.

As a reminder, most of the materials transcribed were chosen to provide resources useful for the Rice University Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, & Racial Injustice. Many of these documents date from the U.S. Civil War and touch on the authors’ opinions at the time on slavery and political issues. It should also be noted that these specific Civil War collections include voices of white authors, and there is a gap in our Civil War collections of African American voices.

Houston Public Library provide online access to William Marsh Rice papers

Support for the research work of the The Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice continues in Fondren Library in 2021. In addition to digitizing materials from the Woodson Research Center collections and making them available online, staff are providing research assistance to Task Force members, graduate and undergraduate students, and our Postdoctoral Research Associate, Dr. Will Jones.

Archival materials related to William Marsh Rice’s history are not only found at the Woodson Research Center. The Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC), an archival branch of the Houston Public Library, focuses its collections on the history of Houston. The William Marsh Rice Papers is a collection of Rice’s personal and financial correspondence as well as financial records covering his residency in Houston, with the earliest papers dating from 1841. There are some financial records dating back to 1869. The collection also contains personal and financial papers of Frederick Rice, Rice’s brother, and of John H. Brown, a business associate of Rice and the first husband of Rice’s second wife, Julia Elizabeth Baldwin.

Thanks to the wonderful librarians and archivists at the HMRC, this collection has been digitized and is now available online providing additional resources to researchers investigating William Marsh Rice’s history in Houston. For more resources on books and archival materials see our research guide.