New Book Collection Just Dropped

We’ve spent the past year combing through thousands of books generously donated to us by Dr. Gilbert Cuthbertson. Read our previous blog post here. And we’re excited to let you know that some of his rare and unusual books are now available for viewing.

Have you checked out our rare book collections online before? You can browse special collections by going to OneSearch at Fondren Library.

Click the icon with three dots […] at the top and select Collection Discovery. Then select the Woodson Research Center tile to view the special book collections.

Click the Cuthbertson tile to browse the Gilbert Morris Cuthbertson Collection of Rare Books and Manuscripts. If you find an available book you’d like to view in person, just contact one of our staff to schedule a visit to the WRC Reading Room. 

Screenshot of the Cuthbertson rare book page. Each book has a tile with the book's image and title.

Keep your eyes peeled for new books from Doc’s collection added every day!

Public News online

The cover of the first issue of Public News. Features a picture of Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics.
1st edition of Public News

We’re happy to announce that one of Houston’s alternative weeklies is now digitized. Last year, Craig Keyzer donated his early run of Public News. We thought it would be a great newspaper to digitize. We were able to do this with funding from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project “Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage” grant.

We will eventually have Public News in our repository, but now you can view 88 issues from the first three years of the publication via The Portal to Texas History

As part of the same grant, UNT has helped us digitize a variety of newsletters and papers, including:

Swim a Lap Day

Ann Farmer (Mochler) swimming, 1958, photograph by Paul Dorsey

In honor of a very important holiday, here are some swimmers getting in their laps.

Swimmer, 1958, photograph by Paul Dorsey

If that seems to intense, there’s always the art of watching others swim laps.

Pool at the Gibbs Recreation Center, 2008, photograph by Tommy LaVergne

Michael Field

A selection of 5 Michael Field books

We have a large assortment of books by Michael Field, the pen name of the couple Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper. They were friends with Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon. Ricketts contributed to the designs of many of their books as well as published some of their work. Below is a small selection of Field’s work that we have in our Ricketts and Shannon rare book collection.

The Tragic Mary, 1890

Front cover of The Tragic Mary featuring flowers, plants, and other art nouveau decorations

Fair Rosamund, 1897

The Race of Leaves, 1901

Wild Honey from Various Thyme, 1908 – This one includes what looks like an additional poem written by Michael Field. The writing style matches the one in their journals.

Dedicated, 1914 – This book is a posthumous collection of Edith Cooper’s poems assembled by Bradley.

If you’d like to read more about the Ricketts books for Michael Field, check out this older blog by Paul Van Capelleveen, curator of the National Library of the Netherlands. Furthermore, if you want to go down the Michael Field wormhole, Darthmouth has digitized their diaries.

Ads in The Aegis

In the Marguerite Johnston Barnes Research Materials for Houston, The Unknown City, 1830-1991 (MS 455), there is a box of multiple editions of The Aegis, a publication created by Houston High School, later known as Central High School, and now named Sam Houston Math, Science, and Technology Center.

The yearly publication is filled with ads for a variety of things, many that would not appeal to high school students. Let’s take a tour of Houston ads from 1909-1911.

A Night for Guy

Verlon Thompson playing guitar
Verlon Thompson, longtime friend and accompanist to Guy Clark

Last Wednesday, we co-hosted an event with Shawn Parks and Matt Harlan that celebrates the life and musical legacy of Guy Clark. Enjoy these great shots from campus photographer Jeff Fitlow. You can read more about the event from a wonderful write-up by the Houston Press’s Gladys Fuentes.

Matt Harlan playing guitar and singing
Matt Harlan, co-planner and performer
George Ensle on stage
George Ensle – The Woodson has his archival collection.
Libby Koch playing guitar
Libby Koch
Verlon Thompson, surprise guest Shawn Camp, Noel McKay performing, playing guitars
Verlon Thompson, surprise guest Shawn Camp, Noel McKay

To see more images of the event, check out the Rice News post.

The Woodson staff will be participating in a regional conference this week and will be taking a reading room break next while working on collection management. Our reading room and reference services will resume on May 31st.

J. P. Miller and Steven Stayner

Missing sign for Steven Stayner

A few years back the family of James Pinckney Miller donated his materials to us. A 1941 Rice graduate, Miller wrote the teleplay and the screenplay for Days of Wine and Roses and the teleplay for Helter Skelter.

Draft of
Draft of I Know My Name is Steven

In the 1980s, he tackled another true crime topic, the story of the kidnapping and reappearance of Steven Stayner. Our J. P. Miller collection contains drafts of the mini-series, I Know My Name is Steven, which aired in May 1989. It also contains the preliminary research that Miller did with the Stayner family and others related to the case.

Interview questions

Recently digitized tapes from Miller’s collection form part of the research and the larger story for the new Hulu docu-series, Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story. During the series, actors from the original mini-series lend their voices to transcripts created from the tapes in Miller’s archival collection.

While Woodson materials are used by researchers in different ways, the docu-series was an interesting way for Miller’s research to be re-purposed.

Envelope containing cassette tapes with dates listed. 2 cassette tapes outside of envelope.

Returning back to the original mini-series, it was successful. It received four Emmy nominations and had high viewership. Reflecting on his work, Miller wrote the letter below.

Letter from JP Miller to Ruth Slawson.

Big Walter’s Bullets

A couple of weeks ago Sandy Hickey and Jomonica Phoenix invited me out to a container unit that had the archives of the Houston Blues Museum. One collection in the unit belonged to Big Walter “The Thunderbird” Price. Years ago, it was retrieved by Sandy and Jomonica from a storage unit. It contained all of Price’s possession before he passed.

Leather holster with bullets

Including a holster containing handcuffs and bullets from a .38 special. In addition to being a barrel house piano player and recording artist, Price had a variety of other professions/jobs, such as: record label owner, stage and film actor, crime scene photographer, restaurant owner, and security guard.

Instead of keeping the bullets, I took them to RUPD for proper disposal. Thanks to David Anderson for assistance.

David Anderson inspecting bullets.
Forgive the crazy reflections from the protective glass.

One last note on Big Walter Price, we already had possession of part of his collection from an earlier donation by Hickey and Phoenix. Last fall, I made selections from it to be digitized as part of the grant funded Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project “Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage.” This post won’t be the last on this larger than life man.


In honor of “That Sucks Day,” we hope your day hasn’t felt or been like this.

Rice Institute football game at Rice Stadium, tackle in process, stands in background

April 15th has hosted such bad events as the assassination of Lincoln and the sinking of the Titanic. Good luck getting through this one unscathed.