Updating Story Maps

ArcGIS within the last year or so updated their Story Map application. While this might not seem like a big deal, it means that we have to update our Story Maps. It would be a shame if they eventually became unusable. FYI one already has a broken section.

Our first finished map is the “Mapping Journals and Diaries of the U.S. Civil War” originally created by Fondren Fellow Eddie Valetin. His text and maps have been preserved, but the style of the layout has changed to take advantage of new options.

Here’s the original, which limited the creator to one kind of layout.

Here’s the updated version.

If you haven’t scrolled through this Story Map, we hope that you take some time to explore it.

As always, thank you to Jean Aroom from the GIS/Data Center for her assistance.

Mary Tobin

Mary Tobin writing at a desk.

We are sad to write that Mary Lampland Tobin, a longtime volunteer, Rice alumnae, and lecturer, has passed away.

In 2016, we wrote a blog post highlighting her work for the university and the Woodson. You can see her influence over the years in our digitized content. Her dissertation is online, as well as the 1973 commencement program, which shows that she won the John W. Gardner Award in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Condolences to her family. We have and will miss her.

Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane

As has been mentioned in previous posts, Woodson staff are still shifting books. We’re almost done, but the shifting has highlighted a new treasure.

Cover of pamphlet. Features an illustration of Calamity Jane holding a rifle.
1st page of pamphlet

This rather odd pamphlet Life and Adventures of Calamity Jane by Herself caught my eye. According to an article by Richard W. Etulain for Montana the Magazine of Western History, after/while doing a speaking tour of sorts, she worked with a ghost writer to produce a 7-page pamphlet about her life. She probably sold the pamphlets to make money, along with photographs. Our pamphlet seems to come from around 1898 or a bit earlier. She or someone else added the name Dorsett, who was a partner of hers for a time. To learn more, I suggest reading the article or better yet Etulain has written a book about her.

Last page of text from pamphlet featuring additions

The pamphlet is in amazing shape. In our catalog record, it is dated as 1895. There are so few physical examples online that is is hard to verify the dating of our version.

Out of This World Exhibit

Things have gotten a bit spacey at the Woodson. We recently put an exhibit together of materials related to our space-related and Archives of the Impossible collections. We were inspired by astronaut Shannon Walker ’87 returning Lovett’s glasses that have now flown in space.

Shannon Walker with E.O. Lovett's eyeglasses in space.
Image via https://news.rice.edu/news/2021/nasas-shannon-walker-87-returns-gifts-space

In the exhibit, in addition to Shannon Walker’s story, there are images of other Rice grads that joined the space program, as well as various images of space exploration. There’s also a case devoted to imagined space from the Larry W. Bryant UFO Research Collection.

Three publications: "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Le Dossier des Soucoupes Volantes, and "Parade" featuring characters from "Star Trek."

HACER Oral Histories

Back around 2000, the Hispanic Association for Cultural Education at Rice [HACER] worked with local oral historian and archivist Louis Marchiafava to conduct a series of interviews with Dr. Ninfa Cavazos ’49, Edmundo Gonzalez, and Dr. Dorothy Caram ’55. HACER also reached out to alums requesting that they write and/or tape record their experiences at Rice. Mary Alice Flores ‘5 responded to that call sending items and an audio recording of her story. For those noticing no graduation year for Edmundo Gonzalez, he actually speaks about his sisters and wife’s experiences attending the Rice Institute in the 1920s/1930s.

Last year we began transcribing and enhancing our oral histories. This batch from the Hispanic History collection had never been digitized from the cassettes and needed transcription. I want to thank Martha Hernandez Galvan for transcribing Spanish phrases and sentences in Dr. Cavazos’s audio, as well as a big thank you to Alejandra Wagnon who digitized the tapes.


It’s spooooooooky season

This week’s blog post comes from Lauren DuBois who is working with the Doc C collection.

We are no strangers to creepy stories, haunted tales, or other unexplained phenomena here at the Woodson, so we felt it was appropriate to feature some ghostly Texas tales ahead of the holidays later this month.

These items have come into our possession (eek!) thanks to Dr. Gilbert M. Cuthbertson, who passed in 2019 and donated his extensive and wonderful rare book & manuscripts collection to the Woodson.

Image of 7 books from the Doc C collection.

We are especially enchanted by Unsolved Texas Mysteries with its chapter on “Raiders of the Lost Archives.” Archive raiders may purloin rare documents to forge and reprint, steal and resell valuable items for personal gain, or might even be collectors themselves. Some important letters and historical artifacts from Texas’ long and colorful history are probably lost forever, but perhaps there are others you can help locate.

You can find these books on display in the exhibit case near the elevators. Happy Halloween!

Got My Eye on You

Frontispiece for Astronomica

As noted in the past, we send out some of our books for special care and custom boxes. Marcus Manilius’s Astronomica (1679) is getting that treatment right now. Before it went away, Amanda took a picture of a rather spooky character gracing its pages.

Engraving featuring cupids/angels, a person covered in eyes, a person holding a globe, instruments measuring the solar system, and a person reclining.

The question is who is this fellow. I’ve found there is a god of eyes named Argus Panoptes, but he is frequently associated with herding. Are there any clues in the Latin on the page?

Instrument Buch

After discovering a few older science books on Wednesday, we ran a report to determine how many books fall under Q in the Library of Congress call number system dating from pre-1699. There were approximately 50 which have now been moved to our separate History of Science collection.

While they are probably all special in their own way, one stood out, Petrus Apianus‘s (Peter Apian) Instrument Buch, published in 1533. The text was intended for the average scientist or non-professional and provides detailed engravings of astronomical instruments and instructions for use. The library catalog notes that five plates are missing.

  • Title page with engraving
  • engraving with instrument and circles
  • Engraving of constellation and measurement
  • Engraving of a man measuring the angle of the sun [?]

There is also some great marginalia.

Example of marginalia

While the pages are great, the cover is highly unusual. At some point, the book was recovered in an illuminated manuscript. Yes, you read that correctly. Someone recovered it in an illuminated manuscript. It would be interesting to know what the portion of the page says. If you can read Latin, let us know.

Back cover
front cover

Book Shifting Treasures

Hope everyone in Houston is enjoying our first fall morning.

Over the past couple of years as we expand our rare book collection, we have gotten a bottleneck in our Houston Library of Congress section, as well as others. That has precipitated one of the book collections being relocated offsite to the Library Service Center and shifting all of the books to provide more space.

While book shifting scientific books in the QB and QC range, two treasures appeared that will now be moved to our History of Science collection.

The first is Guidobaldo del Monte‘s Le mechaniche dell’Illvstriss. Sig. Gvido Vbaldo de’ Marchesi del Monte, tradotte in volgare dal Sig. Filippo Pigafetta published in Italian in 1581 of which three copies are listed on WorldCat.

  • Vellum cover
  • Book spine
  • Page reads: "1st edition of this translation which was made from the work of 1576. It was used by Galileo.
  • Title page
  • Check out slip
  • Writing in Italian on the inside of the back cover

The book is still in its lovely vellum and at one time was available for check out.

If 1581 is not old enough for you, the second book is from 1551. Casper Peucer‘s Elementa doctrinae de circulis coelestibus et primo motu has an amazing carved cover, folded inserts (I’m too scared to move them.) and made a home to some long dead book worms. According to WorldCat, there are seven known copies.

  • Book cover with carvings including flowers and men's faces
  • Unidentifiable writing
  • Title page
  • Writing in another language. Unclear if this wasn't written later.
  • Book worm marks
  • Fold outs

Searching for Alums

While checking the transcriptions for Hispanic oral histories conducted in 2000 by HACER, I have relied heavily on the Campaniles and Threshers to track down the appropriate spellings of names. Is it Barbara or Barbra or which of the many spellings of Christie?

Interviewee Dorothy Farrington Caram ’55 threw me for a loop with one name, Yramategui. I heard “Martequiz.” I found him in the 1943 Campanile by searching his first name “Manuel.” Manuel Armando Yramategui ’44 in his short life made a long lasting impact on the Houston region.

Head shot of Manuel Armando Yramategui
Senior photograph

He became the curator at the Burke Baker Planetarium and was president of the Texas Conservation Council. He was also the go to astronomy and paleontology expert for the Houston Chronicle. Yramategui’s quotes show up frequently in the WATCHEM section. In the 1960s, he would appear on KTRK as a nature expert, a bit like Jack Hanna.

Black and white microform image of Manuel Armando Yramategui holding a fossilized bone next to his colleague.
Yramategui and a colleague, Houston Chronicle image, May 30, 1968

In January 1970, Yramategui’s life was cut short in what appears to be a robbery gone wrong while on his way to view a comet.

A year later the Middle Bayou area that he loved was renamed Armand Bayou. In 1974, Hana Ginzbarg raised funds to start the Armand Bayou Nature Center.

To learn even more about Yramategui, please read this loving and informative blog post about him and Ginzbarg.