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.

Happy 4th!

Fireworks over Lovett Hall during the 1990 Economic Summit, Rice University

This photo is from the 1990 Economic Summit, held in Houston in July. Fireworks are lighting up the night sky over Lovett Hall and the academic quad; Willy’s statue is visible in the lower center, and city buildings can be seen in the distance.

We hope your holiday is filled with peace and joy, family and friends.

Recordio Disc

Wilcox-Gay Recordio Disc, c. 1954

More obsolete media!

This disc, dated 1954 and listing a song on each side, popped up in the box with the 78rpm records. It’s a cardboard record, made for home recordings, of plastic-coated thin paperboard. It was manufactured by the Wilcox-Gay Corp; in 1939 they launched the Recordio device, which played records and also allowed the user to use a microphone to record themselves onto a blank record — a “Recordio Disc.” The Recordio machine recorded at 78 rpm.

You can find a short discussion about cardboard records at the Museum of Obsolete Media.

Tape Op magazine’s web site also has an interesting discussion of the history of the Recordio. It includes a reference list for further reading.

We are going to try to recover the recordings on this disc, which has sustained some damage over time. Wish us luck!

Magic Brain

RCA Victor Division inner record sleeve, c. 1940’s

While processing a box of 78rpm records I found this paper sleeve with an ad for the Magic Brain RCA Victrola. Immediately I thought I NEED ONE

Two hours of continuous undisturbed enjoyment.
No needles to change.
Records last indefinitely.

Unfortunately the technology was short-lived; the need for shellac in the manufacture of bombshells during World War II made 78 records scarce, and the industry turned to vinyl. You can find a contemporary description of the Magic Brain here in the International Arcade Museum Library website, and you can read about the history of the technology here at The Prudent Groove.

I found this video on the Magic Brain in operation here. It seems pretty rough on  the records.  If any of you have seen one of these in action let me know-

Charlotte and Maximilian revisited

Dr. Ruiz Razura presents her book to the Woodson Research Center

This week we had a return visit from our friend Adriana Ruiz Razura of the Universidad de Guadalajara, who researched the sheet music of Mexico in the Charlotte and Maximilian Collection.  Ruiz Razura collaborated with the Universidad de Guadalajara and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to present concerts in May and August of 2017 celebrating the country’s rich musical history. She also wrote La Música del II Imperio en México to commemorate the events, and brought us this copy for the archives.

The book describes the historical context of the music and includes a USB drive with a recording of the concerts, which you can enjoy in the reading room.

Music in the Archives- Obsolete Media

I’m processing a local music collection from a 20th century performer who collected recordings in most of the formats of the last 120 years: CD’s, cassettes, vinyl records, 78’s in shellac, and this:

Edison Gold Moulded Records, 1905

Edison Gold Moulded Records, 1905








Thomas A. Edison invented the phonograph, the first device for recording and playing back sound, in 1877. In 1902, Edison’s National Phonograph Company introduced Edison Gold Moulded Records, cylinder records of improved hard black wax, capable of being played hundreds of times before wearing out. This cylinder was labeled “Rescue the Perishing”, a 19th century hymn- but that isn’t what was in the container. Someone over the years had changed out the contents to this:

“For Dixie and Uncle Sam”, George Wilton Ballard, Blue Amberol Record

This is a Blue Amberol recording, made out of a type of plastic similar to celluloid invented by Edison labs and sold beginning in 1912. These records were marked with the name of the music and the performer, in this case a tenor named George Wilton Ballard.  You can hear Mr. Ballard singing other songs in the Library of Congress site The National Jukebox – and you can learn more about Blue Amberol records and other cylinder records in the Museum of Obsolete Media.



Music in the Archives: Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961)

Carlos Salzedo publicity photo, undated

Carlos Salzedo was a French harpist, pianist, composer and conductor, regarded by many as one of history’s greatest harpists. At twelve years old he began studying the harp, and within a year was accepted as a harp student in the Paris Conservatoire. In 1909, Arturo Toscanini invited Salzedo to play in the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera, and Salzedo moved to New York. From the 1920s onward, Salzedo appeared regularly as a soloist with orchestras such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, and on tour as a recitalist, harp ensemble leader and flute-harp-cello trio member. The guide to his papers in the Woodson Research Center can be found here.

Salzedo taught hundreds of students during his career. He began a summer harp school in Camden, Maine in 1930, which continued after his death under the instruction of his student Alice Chalifoux, who was the principal harpist of the Cleveland Orchestra for decades. We have a wonderful photo from the summer of 1946 of Salzedo serving lobster on the beach to some of his students (it’s a Life Magazine photo, so we can’t publish it online, but you can view it in the archives.) Instead, here is a class photo of the Salzedo Summer Harp Colony from 2000, with Penobscot Bay in the background:

Salzedo Summer Harp Colony , 2000

The lovely silver-haired lady with the dog at her feet is Ms. Chalifoux.