Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”


Sometimes when writing blog posts, I plug keywords into the library’s catalog of our rare books. Since there’s a cold front coming through, I chose “cold.” While not surprising, one of the results was Truman Capote‘s important work that helped launch the true crime genre.



What is surprising is that our copy is a hard bound limited first edition. In fact, it’s 261 of 500 and signed by Capote.


It’s always fun to find extraordinary little gems hidden in our rare books collection.

KTRU Tuesdays: Fake Commercials

KTRU personalities over the years have created various fake commercials and comedy shows. Here is one from John “Grungy” Gladu about Blears Weather Beaten Paint, ca. 1979. If there’s a story behind this, please feel free to share.

For those who don’t know “Grungy,” he’s the man in the photograph with the little girl in his lap.

Image from: Rice University Archives general photo files, “Group – Bands – MOB”, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Memorabilia Monday: Tis the Season . . .

. . . to give hair.


For archives, an envelope filled with hair is not a new thing. It’s part of the job.

This hair is a bit different than what we normally see. It seems to be an early example of clip-in extensions. Note the gathered section that could be pinned close to the scalp.


Allie May Autry Kelley‘s labeling on the envelope is pretty great, too: “Who’s hair? Mom’s?”


James Lockhart Autry Family Papers; 1832-1998, MS 003, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

The oH Project


Lee Pecht, Sarah Canby Jackson, and Tori Williams at the Woodson Research Center. Photo from:

In honor of World AIDS Day, we would like to share an important project of which the Woodson is a part. The oH Project seeks to document  the experiences of HIV/AIDS survivors, caretakers, and others affected by the AIDS crisis in Houston.

As one of the founding partners of the project, the Woodson has been tasked with putting the oral history transcripts online. There are currently 12 in our institutional repository. We will work diligently to make more transcripts publicly available as we receive them.

There are many ways to learn more about this important project.

KTRU Tuesdays: Heart Interview

On “Backstage Interview,” Bruce Kessler interviews members of Heart, Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, and Roger Fisher, about the beginnings of the band, individual songs, and working on their album Little Queen. The recording ends abruptly.

This interview comes from the large batch of undated reels, and the assumed date is June 11, 1977 when Heart performed at the Sam Houston Coliseum.

Image from: The Rice Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 65, No. 5, Ed. 1 Thursday, September 8, 1977

Memorabilia Monday: Pocket Watch

New to our memorabilia collection is this personalized Ultra Verithin Gruen pocket watch and knife.



The inscription reads: Rice vs. Colorado U., Second Cotton Bowl Grid Classic, Quincy Cougar G. Rice, Dallas, Tex., Jan 1. 1938.




Here’s a ticket from that game.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving postcard


Another Thanksgiving postcard from the James Lockhart Autry papers. This postcard from 1907 includes an advertisement from Mistrot-Munn Co, a dry goods and clothing store, as well as Buster Brown, and a slightly worried turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Phrenology – bumps on your head defining your aptitudes?


Phrenology model and Human Skull

Phrenology model and Human Skull

The Woodson Research Center is collaborating with Rice’s Humanities Research Center and the Houston Academy of Medicine – Texas Medical Center Archives to host local high school students on field trips to Rice exploring the medical humanities.

Lecture portion of the field trip
Rachel Conrad Bracken, a Civic Humanist Fellow at the Humanities Research Center, has developed a lecture entitled “Diagnosing Deviance: How Social Norms Influence our Definitions of Health and Disease,” with the 19th century science of phrenology as a case study to “explore how cultural understandings of race and gender biased medical diagnoses and popular perceptions of “ideal” facial features. ”

Archives portion of the field trip
After Rachel’s lecture and discussion, the students gather in one of Fondren’s collaborative spaces, and have a hands-on experience with archival materials which relate to phrenology and other outmoded models of medicine.

Phrenological chart

Osterhout Phrenological chart

From the Woodson Research Center, the John P. Osterhout Phrenological Chart ( shows a 19th century doctor’s evaluation of Mr. Osterhout, measuring his relative powers on a scale of 1-7, and suggesting appropriate careers for him. Strangely, even though he was rated as having a low level of perception and memory of sizes, it was suggested he might be a good mechanic.

Another example from Woodson includes the Mirabeau B. Lamar travel journal of 1835, in which Lamar (who went on to become the second president of the Republic of Texas) describes a speaker in a local church on the topic of phrenology, and whether one can tell from the shape of a man’s head whether he will commit murder (Lamar journal, pg 12).

Students examining phrenological materials

Phil Montgomery and students examining phrenological materials

The Houston Academy of Medicine – Texas Medical Center Archives, represented by Phil Montgomery, brought a phrenological model, a human skull from their research collection, and handed out blank charts for the students to use in trying their own analysis.

Phil also brought a variety of older medical tools such as an early surgery kit, a lancet for bleeding patients, and an early electric shock therapy tool.

The students really enjoyed seeing the tools of the trade for these outmoded medical models and were inspired to include archives in their future research. Seeing the original tools in person helped the students see how seriously these concepts were in their day, even as we see them now as quack medicine. To quote Rachel’s lecture, “by learning to recognize the flaws in outdated models of medicine and anatomy, students can begin to see how contemporary medicine, too, is shaped by the diagnostic technologies and scientific knowledge available to us—knowledge always mediated by our culture and subject to change.”

Memorabilia Monday: Thanksgiving Reunion program 1919

The first Rice reunion was held on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1919.

Members of the 1916 class returned to Rice for a full day’s events including an academic procession, football game, and Thanksgiving feast.


Class of 1916 Reunion program



Rice vs. University of Arkansas Thanksgiving game

Rice vs. University of Arkansas Thanksgiving game. Rice wins 40-7.

Held after the end of World War I, the day retained a tone of remembrance for the Rice students and graduates who fought and died in the war. Dr. Peter Grey Sears, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, delivered the Thanksgiving sermon: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” A Thanksgiving feast in the evening was hosted by Captain James A. Baker, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Speeches were given from members of the 1916 class, undergraduates, as well as President Lovett. The day ended with a bonfire celebration.



With the Airmen: A Mystery


One of our largest rare book collections is the Benjamin Monroe Anderson Collection on the History of Aeronautics. Some of the books have beautiful covers like With the Airmen by Claude Grahame White and Harry Harper with colored illustrations by Cyrus Cuneo.


Now, here’s the mystery. This version of the book doesn’t contain a date. Furthermore, when I searched online, I couldn’t find an example of this particular cover. Instead, the one below is the common version.


The only clue about the our book’s publication date is that Auntie Syb. gifted it “Xmas 1925.”

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Location and Hours

Monday - Friday
9:00 AM - 4:00 PM