Book Signatures


Perusing the rare books shelves can reveal a variety of surprises.


One unassuming volume, Lettres D’Emerance A Lucie by Jeanne-Marie Leprince De Beaumont (1765), has some interesting signatures from Sir William Clayton Bart and C.E. Clayton, Harleyford, 1819. It’s unclear if these are two separate signatures, thought they appear to be in the same hand or E.C. Clayton refers to the Clayton-East-Clayton baronets.


by William Beechy, 1802

Above is Sir William Clayton, 4th Baronet (1762-1834), who was a member of Parliament for Great Marlow.

How a book from Sir William Clayton / Harleyford Manor wound up in our rare book collection is a bit puzzling.

Image from:

New HFMA Oral Histories

The Houston Folk Music Archive has been steadily posting new oral histories online. Here are few of the newer ones.

Danny McVey


He talks about his time doing sound for a variety of performers in the city.

Jack Saunders


He discusses playing with local bands, joining The Shake Russell Band, his duo with Shake Russell, and his recording studio White Cat.

George Ensle


He describes how he came to folk music and his recording projects.

Dana Cooper


He tells about his life growing up in Missouri and his careers in Houston and Nashville.

We’re also working on other oral histories by Don Sanders, Lynn Langham, Isabelle Ganz, Sara Hickman, and Franci Jarrard and Lyse Moore.


Architects in the Archives – William Ward Watkin (1886-1952)

First things first- we HAVE to start with William Ward Watkin. We’ve talked about Watkin at length on the blog, so this post will be more personal.

Here’s Watkin as he’s portrayed by colleague and good friend James Chillman (note the students bowing and one poor fellow ground under Watkin’s heel!  a design approved by Watkin himself for the Chemistry Building.)

Watkin caricature in stone capital of Chemistry building, Rice University

High school yearbook staff, Danville High:

High school yearbook staff, including William Ward Watkin in the center of the first row, 1903

College, hanging out with friends:

William Ward Watkin at University of Pennsylvania, ca. 1908

With his young family on their passport photo:

Passport Photo of Watkin family, 1925

Archi-Arts Ball in 1929:Watkin inspired the theme of the first Archi-Arts Ball, which started in 1922. Here he is in costume for the Venetian Ball:

Archi-Arts Venetian Ball, 1929

Watkin, the first chair of the Rice Architecture Department, remained in Houston until he died in 1952. He developed a thriving private practice in Houston and around Texas, and wrote thoughtfully about architecture and communities. To learn more about him you can view this online exhibit or examine his papers in the WRC.

Primary Source Literacy


Recently, we taught primary source literacy skills to students in Sophia Hsu’s FWIS 191. Literature and Public Health. The students looked at newspaper clippings, photographs, fliers, and other pertinent documents to get  a sense of how members of the administration, faculty, and students viewed the event. They also heard the voices of some of the major players including Dr. William H. Masterson on his megaphone, Dr. Clark Read speaking his mind, and Bari Kaplan explaining events from a student perspective.

In the class, the students first considered the differences between primary and secondary sources, identified the subjectivity of the archival items on their tables, and extracted information from the items, like key players and power relationships.


After these exercises, the groups looked at the primary source materials that they will be working on for the semester, which includes a few items from the McGovern Historical Center and the Woodson’s Encyclopédie and the Vince Bell collection.

If you are interested in us doing the same for your course, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Images used: “Rice University students and faculty protesting outdoors during Masterson presidency controversy, wearing “It Can’t Happen Here” signs.” (1969) Rice University:

Artists in the Archives – George Cruikshank (1792-1878)

Thanks to Dr. Robert Patten (Lynette S. Autrey Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Rice University) we have extensive materials, including rare books, on George Cruikshank, popular English humorist and illustrator of Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Today we’ll look at some examples of Cruikshank’s lesser known works.

Cruikshank began his career as a political satirist in the mode of Hogarth:

Valour and Discretion

Later he became interested in book illustrations and theatrical caricatures:

The Betting-Book

George Cruikshank’s Fairy Library

In his lifetime Cruikshank created nearly 10,000 prints, illustrations, and plates; collections of his works are in the British and the Victoria and Albert museums. You can learn more about his works in the WRC in this collection.



Fate Magazine


Over the past year, we have expanded our collecting focus to include the paranormal. As part of a larger collection from Robert Fuller, we have Fate magazines dating back to 1948. They have incredibly interesting advertisements.







Everything else seems like an ad found in a paranormal magazine, but the one below doesn’t really fit.


Memorabilia Monday: Gilley’s Bumper Sticker


This bumper sticker from the early 1980s comes from the Jack Saunders collection, which is currently being processed.

For those not from Pasadena/Houston area, Gilley’s is synonymous with Urban Cowboy the movie based on the Esquire article “The Ballad of the Urban Cowboy.” If you haven’t read about Rice’s connection to the story, you should read this blog post from the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies published a few years ago.