International Beer Day

Plugging “beer” into the University Archives and Rice History section of our institutional repository does bear fruit.

People drinking beer . . .

Sid Richardson College Beer Bike, 1971, photographer: J. Venn Leeds

People pouring beer . . .

President Norman Hackerman drawing the first mug of beer at Willy’s Pub, 1975

And doing odd things at Beer Bike like this . . .

Rice Parachute Team incident during Beer Bike, 1972

And this . . .

Member of GSA Riding the Keg Bike at Beer Bike, 2003, photographer: Tommy LaVergne

Hope you can enjoy a beer if you are so inclined on this hot summer day.

The Abbie Hoffman Incident

Students gathered, sitting in bleachers with the signs "come together" and "if free speech is dead..."
Students and banners at the all-student convocation, photographer Bob Roosth

In March, our Fondren Fellow, Anna Ta, completed the second half of the online exhibit entitled “A Time of Protest at Rice.” The first part had been completed in May 2019 by Fondren Fellow Emma Satterfield. It covered the Masterson Crisis. Ta focused on the Abbie Hoffman Incident.

The two major protests in 1969 and 1970 were of their time, but also had a unique Rice spin. The university thoroughly documented one and ignored the other. For Satterfield, the history of the Masterson Crisis had been teased out through oral histories and an archival collection called Dr. William H. Masterson controversy records. Anna Ta’s work on Abbie Hoffman was very unclear. There wasn’t an archival collection devoted to the incident. She had to rely upon a rough timeline, news stories, and the KTRU news masters. She also had to dig around in many different collections like the Dean of Students papers and college minutes.

Banner reads "occupied."
Allen Center occupation banner, photographer Bob Roosth

Anna Ta’s final product breaks down the timeline of what happened and attempts to sort out what is and is not part of the overall event, including bomb threats and more. She even did oral histories with Dr. Ira Gruber and Dr. Allen Matusow. Please check out her amazing work and relive the time through the photography of Bob Roosth and Paul Hester.

Paul Hester’s photograph of a jam session at Allen Center is quite cool.

Image of four piece band playing at Allen Center with others sitting down and standing around.

Getting Ready with New Exhibits

Reads: Kathryn Morrow African American Research Collection - Recent donation to the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library Summer 2020
Exhibit title card

Even though the library is still closed, we have been updating our exhibits for the library’s re-opening. For the space just outside of the Woodson, we’ve added an exhibit that focuses on the new Kathryn Morrow African American research collection.

Image of books, documents, and media from the collection
Two books from the collection - Rice and Slaves; Black Majesty
Forgive the reflections
Image of books and documents from the collection

While it currently needs some updates, you can always check this page with a list of physical exhibits to see what’s on display around the library and in the Rice Memorial Center.

Online Exhibit Refresh

Capture of the H. M. Sloop El Vincego, digitally altered with color
Image from our British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars exhibit

Head on over to the page on our blog labeled “Online Exhibits and Story Maps” to find a host of refreshed online exhibits and some new ones, too.

Many of our online exhibits previously lived at the same URL We have wanted to move each of the exhibits to a unique URL, but were unable to find the time for it in addition to our other duties. In our remote working environment, nit-picky work like creating unique banners, checking URLs, and updating out of date information became much easier to do.

You’ll find information on Dick Dowling, the Abbie Hoffman Incident, and U.S. Civil War Narratives, along with other exhibits that focus on Rice history, local history, and rare books.

Any new online exhibits and story maps will be added to that page. Have fun!

Fondren Library supporting research in Rice’s history in relation to slavery


William Marsh Rice business ledger, noting “Negro property worth $1450.” Source: Early Rice Institute records, call # UA 101, box 2, page 88,  Woodson Research Center / University Archives, Fondren Library. Ledger is being scanned in full for public access.


William Marsh Rice business ledger, noting the exchange of large sums of cotton.  Source: Early Rice Institute records, call # UA 101 box 3, page 130. Woodson Research Center / University Archives, Fondren Library. Ledger is being scanned in full for public access.

Rice University is engaged in exploring its legacy, and sharing that information publicly, with Fondren Library and the Woodson Research Center / University Archives serving as key research support in that effort. The Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice, appointed by President David Leebron in June 2019, has over the past year engaged faculty, students, staff, and the community in research to spark dialogue and to better document our history. Led by faculty members Dr. Alex Byrd and Dr. Caleb McDaniel, the Task Force is supported by Fondren Library in a variety of ways.

Research guide to Resources on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice at Rice University

Research guide to Resources on Black Lives Matter

  • E-books and other materials accessible remotely are highlighted, and suggestions for additional materials are welcome – email

The Woodson Research Center, as home to the Rice University Archives, works to make resources accessible to the public.

Recent activities: 

  • Working with students involved with Rice4BlackLives to provide research support regarding African Americans at Rice over time, for display as a physical and digital exhibit, coming Fall 2020.
  • Digitizing documents and making them available publicly online with the existing Rice history materials, here and here, where photos. documents, The Thresher student newspaper, Campanile yearbook, and General Announcements (faculty and classes listed by year) can all be found.
    • Rice University Charter Trial records, which document the legal process of desegregation at Rice, as well as community response, are already being digitized as an entire group. The archival guide to that record group is here.
    • Documents from the Early Rice Institute records (archival guide here), and other archival collections, are being scanned in collaboration with the Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice.

Fondren Library is also engaged in efforts to build diversity in its collections and work with community members in social justice. Examples include:

    • Collaborating with the Center for Engaged Leadership to host a postdoctoral fellowship beginning July 2020 in Data Curation for African American Studies.
    • Funded a student exploration of expanding Rice’s art history curriculum in Global Art, specifically looking at African art, as part of the Fondren Fellows program, in 2019-2020.
    • Woodson Research Center received grant funding to make available online archives from the African American community and Jewish community in Houston. Yesterday’s blog post features materials from the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, which are currently being digitized. 
    • Staff at the Woodson Research Center are working with area school districts to provide supplemental teaching materials on convict leasing, for the African American history curriculum approved by the Texas State Board of Education. This relates to the Reginald Moore Sugar Land Convict Leasing System research collection, which also has a related research travel grant for research in activism and social justice.


Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration booklet

Archivists are busy prepping materials for digitization as part of a 2-year grant funded Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project “Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage.” This project will provide public access to collections highlighting the history and experiences of  African-American and Jewish communities in and near Houston, which in turn shed light on nationally significant issues including politics, art, race, and religion. These communities are underrepresented in archival repositories across the nation, and particularly in publicly accessible digital repositories.

Third year anniversary booklet

This project will span two years and will transform scholarship by enabling researchers and community members to engage with thousands of previously inaccessible archival records about the history of two ethnic communities in America’s fourth-largest city, and one of its most diverse.  Anniversary booklets and bulletins from Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church from the Rev. William A. Lawson papers are included in this project. Rev. William Alexander Lawson (1929- ), is the founding Pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church located in Houston, Texas. Established in March 1962 with 13 members, the congregation has grown in excess of 3,500 members. The initial emphasis of the church was to help meet the spiritual needs of Baptists in a transitional community near Texas Southern University, but has become one of the leading Baptist churches in the city of Houston.

Original materials in formats such as photographs, correspondence, reports, synagogue and church bulletins, sermon recordings, and more will be digitized, described, and made available online via the UNT Portal to Texas History and Rice’s repository at More than 200 of the Lawson sermon recordings, dating from 1996-2004, have already been digitized from their original audio-cassettes and will soon be online at

Highlighting Black Resources

Since today, June 10th, many universities libraries are focusing on how they can respond to anti-Black racism through “education, action, and healing,” we wanted to highlight two ways that the library is responding.

Image of research guide

The Fondren librarians have created a Black Lives Matter research guide that aims to provide information and resources about the movement for Black lives against white supremacy. It took a team to create both the front facing information as well as the behind the scenes investment in our e-book purchases to make this happen.

Librarians will also be meeting with Black student organizations on campus to improve what we offer and to ensure that we are addressing the needs of our students.

image of research guide

On the archival side, we created a research guide last year to assist the university’s Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice. We are also working with co-chairs Dr. Alex Byrd and Dr. Caleb McDaniel to scan more materials for the task force to aid in research and to make available for the larger community.

Quoted text taken from a University of Maryland Libraries tweet published on June 9th:

Fondren Transcription Project reaches first milestone

As part of our work from home, staff at Fondren are working to help the Woodson improve access to the hundreds of manuscripts in the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive (

Volunteers for the project include staff in Technical Services, Access Services, Reference and Library Administration. With hard work and enthusiasm the team has fully transcribed over 50 historical manuscripts so far. The transcriptions improve access for all our patrons, and enable scholars to more easily use the materials for research purposes such as text mining and geospatial mapping.

Many of the first materials transcribed were chosen to provide resources useful for the Rice University Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, & Racial Injustice. Many of these letters 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.

From the Aaron Martin U.S. Civil War letters (MS 031)

Aaron Martin letter to Mother, 1862, wrc07777

From the Charles Roberts U.S. Civil War letters (MS 377)

Letter from Charles Roberts to Mother, 1863, wrc07686

From the Capt. Edwin Fosha U.S. Civil War letters (MS 664)

Letter from Edwin Fosha to daughter, 1863, wrc07860

As you can see from the examples, having a transcription included with the pdf of the original letter will make research significantly easier; the letters and their transcriptions can be found using the titles beneath each letter as the search term in the Digital Scholarship Archive.

New Online Materials

Since we are primarily working from home, many of us have been providing more content to

If you are interested in finding what’s new, we have two ways to do it.

For university archives, you can go here and scroll down to find the newest things we have uploaded. For additions to what we call cultural heritage collections, which mainly comprises our special collections, you can go here and scroll down.

Here’s a taste of what you might find via cultural heritage collections. There are very recent oral histories via the Houston Asian American Archive.

Three examples of oral histories.

You’ll find Houston Hillel scrapbooks and other materials related to the Houston Jewish History Archive.

Two examples of Houston Hillel scrapbooks

You can discover a trove of images, posters, and other items related to the Houston Folk Music Archive.

Three photographs of Vince Bell with David Rodriguez, with Townes Van Zandt, and by himself.

ERA in Houston

Last month, FX premiered their series Mrs. America, which chronicles the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

Equal Rights Amendment debate, 02-07-1977

On March 30, 1972, Texas ratified the ERA. A few years later, Prof. Kenneth Meier organized an ERA debate moderated by himself and Patti Bellis. On the pro-ERA side was Helen Cassidy and Frances “Poppy” Northcutt. On the other side was Wanda Schultz and Frank Chiles. We have highlighted a snippet of this debate in the past, but for those who want to delve deeper into the “debates” on the amendment during this time, it’s a good window into that time period.