Emancipation in Mexico

A document in Spanish decreeing emancipation for all slaves in Mexico
Broadside – 1837 Abolición de la esclavitud (Emancipation Proclamation of the General Congress of Mexico)

Celebrating freedom this July makes us think of our neighbor Mexico, who began the process of abolition in 1818 while still part of the Spanish empire. The printed broadside pictured is the declaration of April 5, 1837, in which the Mexican Congress “abolished without exception all slavery in all the Republic.” (They also provided compensation for enslavers’ losses on a case-by-case basis: with the exception of settlers in Texas, who had seceded and later joined the United States as an enslaving state.)

May the 4th be with you

Today we celebrate Star Wars Day – May the 4th be with you! And in honor of the day you can find a recording of John Williams’ Jabba the Hutt theme from Return of the Jedi at the 10:50 minute mark on the recording here:


Imagine this played by the Cantina band at Mos Eisley.

We’re also celebrating the Shepherd School of Music Digitization project, and the considerable progress accomplished in the last year. Staff from Digital Scholarship Services, the Woodson Research Center, Reference, and Cataloging and Metadata Services have contributed to the completion of the first pass of audio review of analog tapes for over 1,500 performances. As of the end of the year 2020, over 300 audio files (for performance years 2000 through 2003) have been uploaded to the Digital Scholarship Archive:


Our amazing Digital Processing Archivist will continue to work on the project through the summer of 2021. We hope to have all the 1,500 performances uploaded to the institutional repository by the end of summer.

Fondren Transcription Project continues


U.S. Civil War journal, Nov. 1861 – Feb. 1862, page 7

Staff at Fondren are continuing their work to help the Woodson improve access to the hundreds of manuscripts in the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive (scholarship.rice.edu). The manuscript above is from one of four notebooks, written in the hand of Albert Sherrad Campbell at St. Louis, Missouri, covering the early months of the U.S. Civil War. Included are descriptions of battles and other political and military events.

As of the end of the year, 332 transcriptions (59% of the project total) are now online in the IR. Another 151 transcriptions (26% of the project total) are in the final review process. Many thanks to the staff in Technical Services, Access Services, Reference and Library Administration who volunteered for the project and made this possible.

As a reminder, most of the materials transcribed were chosen to provide resources useful for the Rice University Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, & Racial Injustice. Many of these documents 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.

Shepherd School performances: Karim Sulayman

The Shepherd School of Music has brought us some extremely fine performers, including Karim Sulayman, a Grammy Award-winning tenor. You can hear his Master’s recital from 2001 here:


KARIM SULAYMAN Tenor MASTER’S RECITAL Friday, February 16, 2001 6:00 p.m. Lillian H. Duncan Recital Hall.

The tenor sings a program of French repertoire by Fauré, Debussy, Massenet, and Poulenc, among others. My favorite piece in this concert is Poulenc’s lovely Les chemins de l’amour, which begins an hour and 5 minutes into the concert. After what was clearly a standing ovation by the audience, Sulayman performs an unidentified encore- extra points for anyone who can identify the piece for us.

Sulayman was awarded the 2018 Grammy for the Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for Songs Of Orpheus – Monteverdi, Caccini, D’India & Landi, recorded with Apollo’s Fire, a critically acclaimed period-instrument ensemble specializing in early music (Renaissance, Baroque and early Classical). (The award was given in 2019.)

To learn more about the artist, I recommend this interview and biographical sketch.

Many thanks to our team member Steven Loyd, digital processing archivist and graduate student in English literature, for recommending this performance.

Shepherd School performances

For those of you who follow and support the Shepherd School of Music-there is an ongoing project to digitize the thousands of past performances by the students and faculty of the Shepherd School. With the generous support of Fondren Library, the Friends of Fondren Library, and the Rice Historical Society, recordings in multiple obsolete formats have been digitized and are being added to the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive https://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/77130, along with scanned versions of programs and other documentation.

This post is the first in a series highlighting performances which were recently put online by our team. You can listen to this concert from 2003 here:


CLASS OF 2003 CONVOCATION and PRESIDENTIAL CONCERT Friday, May 9, 2003 at Stude Concert Hall. This concert was in celebration of Rice University’s Ninetieth Commencement; it includes a wide variety of musicians, including the Shepherd School Chamber Orchestra, the Rice Brass Choir, vocalists, pianists, and the Attacca Winds Quintet. I recommend “Vilia” from The Merry Widow, about 24 minutes into the concert; it always makes me smile.

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 (scholarship.rice.edu).

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.

NASA and Rice: from Houston to the Moon (and beyond)

Alan Bean and Suprathermal Ion Detector Experiment 1969-1971 on the Moon, Apollo 12 Mission


July 20th, 1969. “Houston.  Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Humanity’s first words from another world.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing this week , the Woodson Research Center is curating an exhibit in the Fondren Library Hobby Information Concourse.


The exhibit displays items in the Woodson Research Center which were donated by Rice scientists and astronauts during the long and productive partnership between Rice University and NASA. One of the highlights is the mechanical model of the Suprathermal Ion Detector which Apollo astronauts used to train from 1969-1971. The experiment was designed by John Freeman, former NASA scientist and a long time professor at Rice University in the Space Sciences Department. Also included is a flight jacket donated by Scientist/Astronaut Curtis Michel and other memorabilia from the Jack McCaine NASA papers and from former NASA employee Joe Hatfield.  Ray Viator’s book, Houston: Space City, USA, along with pictures of Mission Control and the Johnson Space Center make up the rest of the exhibit.

There is also a permanent exhibit in the alcove nearby with photos of the Rice University scientist/astronauts  who participated in many important missions for NASA, and the Lunar sample (moon rock) awarded to Rice University on the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing.

World War I Chrismas cards, part 2

Christmas cards, 1918

“My heartiest greetings to you this Christmas Morning, and my Best Wishes to you for the New Year”

We’re ending our posts for 2018 with a return to the Sheelah Green-Wilkinson scrapbook album, 1916-1918, and a couple of the Christmas greeting cards for 1918.

Christmas card, 1918, engraving of the tower in the Grand Place, Courtrai, Belgium

One hundred years ago an Armistsice  had been signed and the first World War was winding down to an end. The Belgian city of Courtrai, pictured in the card above, had just been recaptured by the Belgian,  British and French forces in October of 1918.

Christmas card from the Red Cross and Order of St. John, 1918

This formal card, from the Red Cross and the Order of St. John, includes coats of arms of the British Commonwealth nations. The interior of the card is more casual, including a Santa, Christmas pudding, and tobacco with its illustrations of soldiers, ships, and cannon, and looks toward peace in the new year (see above).

The Woodson Research Center closes for winter break tomorrow, and reopens January 2nd, 2019. Have a wonderful holiday, and see you all in the new year!

Autry House

Autry House, ca. 1923

Yesterday we had a delightful visit with a donor whose parents and grandfather attended the Rice Institute. Among her grandfather’s materials were Schlueter photos, including this wonderful photo of Autry House, built in 1921 as a community center for Rice on Main Street across from the Institute.

I particularly like the sign of the Owl, visible through the trees, and the biplane hovering over the area.

Hannah Holliday Stewart (1924-2010)

Installation of Atropos Key in Hermann Park, 1972

Hannah Holliday Stewart, American abstract sculptor and educator, was a prominent member of the art scene in Houston and Albuquerque. She was born on January 23, 1924 in Birmingham, AL, and received her Bachelors in Fine Arts from the University of Montevallo, AL. In graduate school she studied bronze casting, welding and woodcarving at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Shortly after moving to Houston in 1970 she began teaching in the studio art department at St. Thomas.

Hannah Holliday Stewart working in her studio

A second wave feminist, her works often refer to goddesses and mythical and historical female heroes. She is best known in Houston for her sculpture Atropos Key in Hermann Park.

Stewart exhibited, both individually and with groups, at the Smithsonian Institution, San Francisco Museum of Art, High Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Birmingham Museum of Art, and numerous venues in Houston.  She died in Albuquerque, NM in 2010. You can find more about Stewart and her work on her web site, and in her papers in the Woodson Research Center.