Searching the New Site, part 1

With our new digital collections website, we tried to provide a variety of options to search it. I’ll highlight two ways to do that.

Image of menu at - please view there for better accessibility

On the menu at the top, you can select “Explore Collections.” This will take you to an A-Z list of all of the collections on the website. This method works well if you know the name of the collection that you are looking for.

Image of A to Z collection list at - please view there for better accessibility

If you don’t know the name of the collection you want, you can also select by themes. If you want material that is not related to the university’s history, select “Special Collections” on the menu. We have grouped our collections thematically ranging from American Civil War to Medical Humanities and much more. We have also highlighted collections that we maintain with stakeholders like the Houston Asian American Archive and the White House Scientist and Science Policy Dynamic Digital Archive.

Image of Special Collections theme list at - please view there for better accessibility

After selecting a theme, you’ll arrive at a page listing the collections with a bit of information about each one.

Image of American Civil War collection list at - please view there for better accessibility

Finally, by clicking on a collection, you’ll usually encounter a description of the materials, a short biography or other background information, and ways to access the finding aid/inventory for the collection. Depending on the collection, you might even encounter a blue button that will point you to more information. The Aaron Martin letters have been mapped, so the button redirects you to a StoryMap.

Image of Aaron Martin U.S. Civil War letters landing page at - please view there for better accessibility

Depending on the size of the collection, you can decide how to sort the items (by title or date). You can also filter by date on the left hand side.

Here’s a look at the University Archives. There are fewer themes, but we’ve tried to select themes that alums, faculty, staff, and more want to find like oral histories, videos, radio broadcasts, yearbooks, and the student newspaper.

Image of University Archives thematic page at - please view there for better accessibility

Next time, we’ll explore other ways to search the using the search box, advanced search, and the search categories on the home page.

New Digital Collections Website

Website banner and menu from

If you haven’t noticed, things have been pretty quiet on the blog. One major reason is that we have been undergoing a massive migration of all of our digital items that have live here to here.

While we have still have work to do, we have moved over 16,000 digitized/digital items into our new Quartex platform.

Please take some time today to kick the tires at

If you’d like to learn more about the new system, please check out this great Rice News and Media article.

Upcoming blog posts will be highlighting how to use the new site.

Maus in the House

Last Friday, we welcomed Art Spiegelman to the reading room.

Image is of Art Spiegelman holding a pen creating an original drawing in a copy of his book Maus for Fondren Library

Mr. Spiegelman very kindly created an original drawing and signed a copy of his Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel Maus to add to our rare book collection.

Mr. Spiegelman was visiting the Comic Art Teaching and Study Workshop (CATS) Collection of original and printed comic art housed in the Woodson Research Center. The collection forms part of the Comic Art and Teaching Workshop at Rice University. A portion of the works have been created by American artists, including 14 pieces donated by Lewis and Vera Kaminester include a three-panel Mickey Mouse comic strip by Walt Disney, a Bil Keane “Family Circus” illustration and multiple works from Chic Young’s famed “Blondie” series. Mexican, German, Chinese, and Japanese artists are also featured. Initial processing, digitization, and exhibit creation for this material is being undertaken by Rice undergraduates Irene Wang, Jenn Nguyen and Sophia DeLeon-Wilson, under the leadership of Chris Sperandio, as part of a Fondren Fellows project “Out of the Gutter.”

Donated by Christopher Sperandio, the collection supports CATS (Comic Art Teaching and Study Workshop) a research space and annex classroom for the studio art area based in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts at Rice University. It’s a repository for original comic art and books that are available to students, faculty and guests of the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts.

Image is of 2 page spread from Maus: A Survivor's Tale a graphic novel created by Art Spiegelman with an original drawing of a mouse and a speech bubble that reads "For the Fondren Library" and his signature Art Spiegelman 2023.

Tennis Day

Because we love little known “holidays,” today is Tennis Day. While some of you might celebrate by playing the sport, for others, we can let the real athletes do it.

Alberto Carrera reaching high with his racket to hit a ball
Rice University tennis player Alberto Carrera, Class of 1971
Tennis player running toward the ball to hit underhanded
Rice University tennis player reaching for a shot

Or just watch them pose for a group photo.

Women probably from the 1920s in conservative tennis outfits holding rackets. Two rows are seated and one row is standing behind.
Rice Institute women’s tennis team

Busy Around These Parts

New things abound or are in the works with the Woodson right now.

We’re migrating our digital footprint to a new platform. That means all of our materials that currently reside at will have a new home in May. That means we are building out a new website and moving all of our materials over. We are swimming in spreadsheets.

Spreadsheet containing metadata

The new star wheel printing press has also arrived in parts at the Woodson. For info on the press, please see this lovely video for more information. After it is put together, it will live up front near our front door.

Anonymous Copybook

Our new intern, Alondra Morillon, wrote a blog post. Please enjoy!

As a new intern, I wanted to do some poking around in the special collections to acquaint myself with the Fondren Library. In my search, I stumbled across a “copybook,”  which are books intended for others to copy the handwriting that was inside. This little book happened to be full of sermons, letters and fables that were all handwritten in cursive.

Open book displaying cursive writing

The book’s contents were listed at the very beginning, which were also listed in the Fondren Library finding aid page. The sections titled, “Useful and Wholesome Reflections” and “Useful and Amusing Conversations” were what caught my eye initially, but after reading through, the section on “Reflections on Voltaire’s Semiramis” was the most entertaining.

Table of contents in cursive

This little book broke in half when I handled it— the pages were also brittle and falling apart, but the handwriting was still clear and legible. Though, how anyone is expected to copy down this type of cursive is a feat in itself! I wonder if this book was intended for children or for adults. Depending on the subject matter, I’m inclined to believe it was intended for adults or teenagers. 

Showing brittle pages

Shepherd School of Music digitization project

Shepherd School rehearsal

As many of you know, in 2016 the Shepherd School of Music found analog audio and video recordings which had never been digitized. Fondren Library staff in Digital Scholarship Services, the Woodson Research Center, Cataloging and Metadata Services, Reference, and Access Services joined in a project to digitize thousands of past performances by the students and faculty of the Shepherd School. As of June 30th, 2022, the digitization of all content converted from analog formats (printed performance programs, cassette tapes, reel to reel tapes, and CDs) was completed and files were uploaded to the Rice Digital Scholarship archive.

Over 4,200 more audio performances, given from 1974 through 2015, are now available for users to stream. We acknowledge the generous support from Fondren Library, the Woodson Research Center, the Friends of Fondren Library, and the Rice Historical Society, which made this possible.

We hope you enjoy a little Debussy from a 2012 performance by Makiko Hirata, who received her Doctor of Musical Arts from the Shepherd School in 2012:

MAKIKO HIRATA Piano PAINTING IN SOUND DEBUSSY VS. MUSSORGSKY Sunday, September 16, 2012 3:00 p.m. Lillian H. Duncan Recital Hall. The concert begins with Debussy’s Arabesque and Clair de lune.

Bling Rings

Image is of four gold rings displayed in a clear suspension box. Rings are: 
2003 NCAA World Series Championship ring
1996 Champions Forever ring
1997 WAC (Western Athletic Conference) Champions NCAA College World Series ring
1994 Football Southwest Conference Champions - (Rice were co-champions)

The Woodson Research Center recently received 4 rings that belonged to former Rice President Dr. Malcolm Gillis honoring athletic achievements during his tenure:

1996 SWC Champions Forever ring
1997 WAC Champions NCAA College World Series ring
2003 NCAA World Series Championship ring
1994 SWC Football Champions ring – (Rice were co-champions)

Our thanks to Dr. Gillis’s widow, Elizabeth Gillis, for sending us these wonderful additions to our collections. Mrs. Gillis is also the inspiration for the most prestigious prize given to university staff each year, the Elizabeth Gillis Award for Exemplary Service . The award is presented to staff who demonstrate exemplary commitment and service to the university, just as Elizabeth Gillis did during her years of service to Rice.

Color photograph of Dr. Malcolm Gillis, president of Rice University, in the dugout area of Reckling Park baseball field, speaking with members of the Rice Owls baseball team. Gillis is wearing dark glasses, a white, short-sleeved shirt with black collar and a white and black baseball cap. and A trio of players are sitting on the edge of the dugout facing him, with other players and spectators standing in the background. The bleachers, filled with spectators, are visible in the distance.
“Dr. Malcolm Gillis with members of Rice University Baseball team.” (2003) Rice University:

The Rice Institute’s Other Location

The Scientia Institute recently hosted a “Betterment of the World” lecture given by Fay Yarbrough and Caleb McDaniel. They showed the connections between Houston’s Black Fourth Ward community and the early Board of Trustees, who attempted to force people to sell their land. It’s important historical work that was made possible by some of our materials.

If you’d like to learn more, the lecture is now available online.