Tech Thursday: Cryptography

Even more rare books!

What counts as technology? It’s easy to think reductively; objects like airplanes and computers will never fail to capture our attention, but processes and less concrete artifices are deserving of our consideration, too.

The Alan Harris Bath Collection (scroll to the bottom) is another of the Woodson’s Rare Book Collections, this one is focused on military intelligence, with something like seventy five books on codes and cryptography. Most of these are histories, focusing on cryptography in particular periods, countries, wars, agencies, and operations, but some are genuine guides and manuals for making and breaking codes.

Cryptogram Solving

First published in 1933, this little booklet is meant to be an introduction to cryptography. It discusses “Word and Affix Comparison,” “Vowel Spotting,” “Vowel Characteristics,” etc. Its author, M.E. O’Haver was a notable and prolific cryptographer whose work help spark public interest in secret codes.




A quarterly journal on cryptography, the Woodson holds twenty eight volumes, from the 1977 first issue to 2004. These examples are from the first 2004 edition.





Andy Warhol’s Interview box

Recently, I had a conversation with James Springer who runs the Library Service Center (LSC). He mentioned an art book that was in a suitcase. With some help, I tracked down the item, which is a collection celebrating Andy Warhol’s Interview edited by Sandra J. Brant and Ingrid Sischy. The seven volume set focuses on interviews, covers, pictures, fashion, and directors. It even includes a facsimile of the first and the 35th anniversary issue.




April 1974 cover with Jack Nicholson (misspelled on the cover) and Anjelica Huston

May 1973 cover with Salvador Dali

May 1973 cover with Salvador Dali

December 1972 cover with Andy Warhol and Naomi Sims

December 1972 cover with Andy Warhol and Naomi Sims

Art/Architecture librarian, Jet Prendeville maintains and selects books for the Brown Fine Arts book collection. Some of the art books and facsimiles are kept at the LSC and can only be viewed within the Woodson. In a sense, the art books are our babies, too.  We always love to look at them.


KTRU Tuesdays: Alex Dessler’s Space Predictions

In May of 1977, Information Services and KTRU began making and airing a show called “To the Point.” The 15 minute segment featured an interviewer and a Rice professor discussing a hot topic. Doc C (Dr. Gilbert Cuthbertson) talked about the 65th Texas Legislature, and Dr. C.H. Ward tackled air pollution.

In today’s audio clip, Dr. Alex Dessler goes one step further, focusing on energy and space colonies. He had a lot of faith in NASA in June of 1977

Image from: Rice University Archives photo files, “Individual – Dessler, Alexander J.,” Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library

Memorabilia Monday: Willis Wilson Bobblehead


We received this bobblehead of Coach Willis Wilson last week. The bottom reads, “Runway to the Fashionable Four”

For those of you that love bobbleheads in motion, we featured the Wayne Graham bobblehead last year.

Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Mary Tobin


Leading up to Rice’s Centennial in October 2012, the Woodson was extremely busy creating exhibits around Houston and providing the university with the historical materials that showcased Rice’s history. Our director, Lee Pecht had a conversation with Mary Tobin in 2011 about all of the craziness. She immediately offered her services to the cause and has been at the Woodson on Monday and Wednesday morning ever since.

She has helped us process and describe a variety of collections ranging from the Rally Club records to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee records. Through it all, she has worked extremely hard and used her expertise of the university to help flesh out the history.

English Department, 1987

English Department, 1987. Dr. Mary Tobin on the far right.

Mary Tobin first came to Rice in 1967 as a graduate student in English. She graduated with her PhD in 1973. She began teaching academic writing in the English Department in 1979 and retired in 2009. Her writing classes were a forerunner of the current First-Year Writing-Intensive Seminars.

Mary will soon start processing the Travelers in the Middle East archive, which has only been available digitally. Dr. Paula Sanders recently donated the physical items. Mary is excited about this new collection and will do an amazing job, as she does with everything.

KTRU Tuesdays: Wheatfield / St. Elmo’s Fire

In today’s audio clip, the members of St. Elmo’s Fire are promoting the second performance of their rock ballet Caliban by the Houston Ballet at Jones Hall.

Early on in the KTRU project, it became clear that the DJs loved Wheatfield aka St. Elmo’s Fire. At this point, we have six recordings of the band, which includes multi-reel concerts and interviews. This is the most for any performer in the collection.

Thus, we decided to contact Wheatfield about what we had. Craig Calvert quickly wrote back and wanted to donate his materials. Today, he graciously came in with a lot of great items, including several scrapbooks lovingly assembled by his mother, concert recordings, and posters.

Craig Calvert with just a small amount of Wheatfield's wonderful collection.

Craig Calvert with just a small amount of Wheatfield’s wonderful collection.

Throughout the KTRU digitization project, we’ve amassed a large amount of live folk and Americana music from the radio show, “Arbuckle Flat.” We’re planning on tracking down more of those musicians. If you have any connections to this wonderful 1970s scene in Houston, please let us know.

News clipping image above from The Rice Thresher, February 7, 1977

Memorabilia Monday: WWII Pennants


The two pennants above come from the Claude Addison McElroy papers. During World War II, McElory was stationed on the USS LST 462 in the Pacific. While it’s unclear why he had the second banner from the HMAS Westralia, this banner probably celebrates the ship’s invasion of Lingayen Gulf.

Tech Thursday: Technical Reports of the Aeronautical Research Committee

Last year I posted about a little manual on gyroscopes from the Benjamin Monroe Anderson Collection on the History of Aeronautics. I thought I’d follow up on that with another example from that collection (more rare books!).

The Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was formed in 1909 to advice the British government on the development of aeronautical policy and research. In 1919, it was reconstituted as the Aeronautical Research Committee, and focused mostly on research and education. Part of the Anderson Collection comprises the Committee’s technical reports from 1918 to 1935.  They are an amazing resource on the development of aeronautics and aircraft during that time period, filled with studies on various designs and construction materials.





1921-1922, Vol 2


1921-1922, Vol 2


1921-1922, Vol 1


1935-1936, Vol. 1


1936-35, Vol. 1

Penguin Awareness Day

After a long search, we found some great penguins to celebrate this day of cuteness. Thankfully, Julian Huxley’s library has a wonderful book from the British Museum published in 1915 called Natural History of the Adélie Penguin by G. Murray Levick.








In case you need another dose of cute, we refer you to Benedict Cumberbatch’s inability to say “penguin.”

KTRU Tuesdays: Charles, Prince of Wales in Houston

During the month of October 1977, Charles, Prince of Wales toured the U.S. visiting eight cities, including Houston. This week’s audio clip focuses on a press conference where Mayor Fred Hofheinz gives Prince Charles some Texas spurs, and the prince discusses alternative energy sources.

The image above comes from the 1978 Campanile.

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