Eclipse Monday: Celestial Observances

Today marks the first total solar eclipse in 38 years. Everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will see at least a partial solar eclipse.

From our History of Science book collection we have examples of 17th-19th century astronomers observing solar and lunar eclipses to test scientific theories and gain knowledge about the sun and our planet. James Ferguson, a Scottish self-taught astronomer published the 1756 bestseller Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles and Made Easy for Those Who Have Not Studied Mathematics and included a chapter “Of Eclipses: their number and periods. A large catalogue of ancient and modern eclipses” and feature these beautiful plates:

phases of solar and lunar eclipses

Plate XI. Solar and Lunar eclipses. 1803.

The Geometrical Construction of Solar and Lunar Eclipses

Plate XII. The Geometrical Construction of Solar and Lunar Eclipses. 1803.

From a more recent book, we have James Turrell’s Eclipse published in 2000 to commemorate the total solar eclipse of August 11, 1999 and Turrell’s creation of a perceptual space: The Elliptic Ecliptic, a Sky Space built on a hillside facing St. Michael’s Mount, in Cornwall, England. The book includes this beautiful aquatint:

aquatint solar eclipse print

Aquatint response print. James Turrell’s Eclipse. 2000

Today, we’ll be (safely) looking to the skies!

Camp Logan in Memorial Park – Houston’s Hidden History

2017 marks the centennial of the U.S. involvement in World War I (1914-1919).  An exhibit in the cases near the east entrance of Fondren Library created in collaboration  with Rice’s Anthropology department offers a brief account of the history of Camp Logan, a World War I training camp once situated in what is today Memorial Park in northwest Houston.  This exhibit marks the 100 year anniversary of the opening of Camp Logan in 1917.

Postcard of Post Office located in Camp Logan, circa 1918

“Post Office, Camp Logan postcard.” (1918) Rice University:

Although this centennial has served as an inspiration for the exhibit, Rice University faculty, staff, and students have been involved in researching and preserving Camp Logan’s history for some time:  for example, the Woodson’s collections of papers and objects related to Camp Logan (the Clark Bruster Collection) and the recently acquired Paul B. Hendrickson collection. Dr. Jeffrey Fleisher and students from the Anthropology Department have been investigating Camp Logan archaeologically since 2015.  These collections and the results of this research form an important part of this exhibit.  Also on display are postcards, ephemera, and images graciously loaned by Robbie Morin from his extensive collection and items from The Heritage Society. These materials have greatly enhanced the exhibit.

Overlay map of location of Camp Logan in today’s Memorial Park

Location of Camp Logan in today’s Memorial Park

Occupied for a short period of time from 1917-1919, the story of Camp Logan represents the complexities and tragedies of early 20th-century Houston.  Camp Logan emerged quickly at the edge of this small but growing city, and provided a significant economic boost to it as more than 30,000 troops were trained there.  But Camp Logan is also tied in historical memory with the Houston Riot and the racial segregation that structured the US military at this time.

One of the most well-known and tragic of these aspects is the Houston Riot of 1917. The all black 24th Infantry was sent to guard the still under-construction site of Camp Logan in early 1917. On August 23rd two Houston police officers assaulted and arrested two members of the 24th Infantry for inquiring why a half-dressed, black mother of five was being assaulted outside her own home in downtown Houston. In retaliation to this unfair treatment, and spurned on by the general racist attitude of the city as a whole, around 100 men of the 24th Infantry took matters into their own hands, gathered weapons from their stockpile and marched towards the police station with the intent of freeing their fellow soldiers. The two-hour riot that followed was a tragic and difficult episode in Houston’s history, the consequences of which meant the death of black and white Americans and the incarceration of black troops.

A current exhibit at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum covers the events of this riot in more detail and the museum is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Houston Riot with week-long events later this month. More information is available on their website: 

The Camp Logan exhibit in Fondren Library will be on display through the end of December 2017.

Memorabilia Monday: Thanksgiving Reunion program 1919

The first Rice reunion was held on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1919.

Members of the 1916 class returned to Rice for a full day’s events including an academic procession, football game, and Thanksgiving feast.


Class of 1916 Reunion program



Rice vs. University of Arkansas Thanksgiving game

Rice vs. University of Arkansas Thanksgiving game. Rice wins 40-7.

Held after the end of World War I, the day retained a tone of remembrance for the Rice students and graduates who fought and died in the war. Dr. Peter Grey Sears, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, delivered the Thanksgiving sermon: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” A Thanksgiving feast in the evening was hosted by Captain James A. Baker, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Speeches were given from members of the 1916 class, undergraduates, as well as President Lovett. The day ended with a bonfire celebration.



Humanities students dig deep in the Archives

This past spring, the Woodson in partnership with the Humanities Research Center supervised two undergraduate students in archival research in the areas of medical humanities and cultural heritage. Students learned to apply their humanistic training to real-world problems and to put their critical thinking to use as they learned new practical skills. The students conducted deep research and analysis of primary sources and learned about the nature of archives.

Miriam Shayeb is a freshman English major and was selected to work with the Kezia Payne DePelchin Yellow fever epidemic letters, 1878-1879 (MS 201). This collection consists primarily of a bound volume of 34 letters, the majority of which were written by Mrs. Kezia Payne DePelchin (1828-1893) of Houston, to her sister, describing her experiences as a nurse during the Yellow fever epidemic of 1878 in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. The letters have been digitized and transcribed and are available in the Rice Institutional Repository. Miriam analyzed the letters to gain insight into the treatment of illness in postbelllum South and the “interactions between doctors and nurses during an era in which nursing was not completely professionalized.” She also focused on the intersection of race and illness and nursing. She created two online articles on the OpenStax / platform:


Edna Otuomagie is a Junior Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA) major and was selected to work on the Between Decisions Omeka Exhibit. Utilizing Fondren’s Omeka web-based exhibit platform, the exhibit explores how Rice University historically handled gender/sex and race relations through discussion of the huge decisions Rice made concerning these issues from 1957 to 1970—a time when Rice underwent many changes including desegregation based on gender/sex and race. Edna researched the topic in the university archives and spoke with University Historian Melissa Kean and others in the Rice community. Edna created a fascinating exhibit on a topic of great interest that had not been covered in a succinct but over-arching way. Her exhibit is available online: Edna was honored with First Prize in the School of Humanities for her research and received the Humanities Research Center’s First Prize at the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium.


Jacqueline McCauley at Rice University, 1965

Both students created thoughtful archival research projects and delivered them in accessible ways online to a broader audience.

Memorabilia Monday: National Secretaries Association scrapbook


Delegate ribbon and badge from the 1960 National Secretaries Association Convention held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The National Secretaries Association was founded in 1942. The purpose of the NSA was to improve the standards of the secretarial profession, to provide educational benefits, and to sponsor civic and social activities.

The Houston Chapter of the NSA was chartered on September 28, 1948 at a meeting in the Sam Houston Hotel with 29 charter members. Houston hosted the National Convention for NSA in 1951 at the Shamrock Hotel. The organization changed names in 1981 to Professional Secretaries International and again in 1998 to the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) to encompass the large number of varied administrative job titles and recognize the advancing role of administrative support staff in business and government.

The Houston Chapter’s scrapbook for 1960-61 documents their activities and includes some fantastic NSA campaign materials.


Loda Mae Davies candidate flyer

Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary

April 23, 2016 was the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Throughout 2016, global events are celebrating and honoring the enduring work and legacy of a man considered the greatest writer in the English language.

In the Woodson we have many fantastic examples of his works starting with the 1623 First Folio. Printed seven years after Shakespeare’s death, the folio is the first complete publication of Shakespeare’s works. The Woodson has three tragedies from the folio: King Lear, Othello, Antony & Cleopatra.


[Three tragedies from the first folio]. [Printed by Isaac Iaggard and Ed. Blount], 1623.

There are wonderful examples of the marginal notes and corrections that owners added to the First Folio.


This beautiful 20th century compilation of works by Shakespeare has metal pin and hole with leather straps.


The poems and sonnets of Shakspere [Shakespeare]/ with an introduction by Edward Dowden. London: K. Paul, Trench Trűbner, 1903.

From our beautiful Limited Editions collection we have the complete letterpress editions of “The Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies of William Shakespeare” published in 1939-1940. Each volume was illustrated by some of the very best illustrators of the day. Much Ado About Nothing includes watercolors by Fritz Kredel:

The comedies, histories & tragedies of William Shakespeare. The Limited Editions Club, 1939-1940.

The comedies, histories & tragedies of William Shakespeare. The Limited Editions Club, 1939-1940.

The play is the thing and in the Woodson we also have many examples of performances of Shakespeare’s works at Rice. Records from The Rice Players and BakerShake (Baker College’s annual performance of Shakespeare since 1970) include photographs, programs, and ephemera. From our Institutional repository here is Dr. Albert Van Helden performing Twelfth Night at BakerShake in 1972:

“Al Van Helden, History professor, during Twelfth Night at Baker Shakespeare, Rice University.” (1972) Rice University:

Spa Day

As summer winds down, a last minute spa vacation sounds like a nice treat. From the Autry Family papers we catch a glimpse of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan.


Under the direction of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, it was the most famous health institution in the country, and encouraged the health food industry. Battle Creek was a popular destination for prominent and middle-class Americans in the early 20th century. James L. Autry, II and his wife, Allie Kinsloe Autry visited in 1913 and again in 1916. From the Battle Creek Sanitarium Prescription booklet: “The Battle Creek Sanitarium method is a system of training which aims to restore health by removing the causes of disease and aiding the body to remove the effects of disease by establishing natural conditions.” The booklet outlined a daily program of massage, hydriatic applications (hydrotherapy), exercise, lectures, and diet prescriptions tailored to each guest.


The daily menus are really interesting, encouraging a low-fat, low-protein diet with an emphasis on whole grains and fiber-rich foods.


Curiouser and Curiouser: 150 years of Alice in Wonderland

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of one of the most beloved children’s books. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll (pen name for Charles L. Dodgson) was published in July 1865. Inspired by real events and a real child, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first imagined on a summer’s day in Oxford. On July 4, 1862, Lewis Carroll traveled downriver with the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford (the college at which Carroll was a lecturer in Mathematics), and his family. Along the way he told the family a story about a bored little girl called Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The family loved it and at the end of that day, the daughter, Alice Liddell, asked for the story to be written down. He wrote “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground” for her, and gave her a handwritten, illustrated copy. The original manuscript is in the British Library and has been digitized:

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures Under Ground, dedication page

Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, dedication page

Friends who read the little book convinced Carroll that it should be published. The story was edited, expanded and renamed, and illustrated by John Tenniel – whose famous images clearly take many of their compositions from Carroll’s originals:

“Curiouser and curiouser!” from Carroll’s original manuscript (facsimile copy) PR 4611 .A7 1886

“Curiouser and Curiouser!” Tenniel’s illustrations

John Tenniel’s illustrations brought the story to life and provided the original published image of Alice. When most people think of Alice in her blue dress, blonde hair, and Alice band (hair band), it’s Tenniel’s illustrations they’re remembering. The first edition was published in an edition of 2,000 copies by Macmillan & Co. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was a publishing sensation, beloved by children and adults alike. The book has never been out of print and has been translated into at least 176 languages. A facsimile copy of the original manuscript was published in 1886.

The sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There was published in 1872. From our Limited Editions collection we have copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland published in 1932 on the centenary of Carroll’s birth and Alice Through the Looking-Glass published in 1935. Both volumes bear the signature of Alice Hargreaves “the original Alice.” The Tenniel illustrations were re-engraved from the originals by Frederic Warde.


The “original” Alice’s signature

Taking selfies with Darwin

Last Monday evening, the Woodson hosted 25 undergraduate students for an after-hours visit. Students from Hanszen College one of the residential colleges on campus, examined treasures from the archives. Highlights included: Nicolaus Copernicus’ masterpiece, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (1566), which marks the dawn of modern science, and dates from the edition which Galileo would have had in his library; Galileo Galilei’s Dialogo suppressed by the Inquisition in 1633; and Isaac Newton’s Philosophia naturalis principia mathematica, from our rich History of Science collection. A first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species published in 1859 was also exhibited.

Students from Hanszen College visit Archives

Students from Hanszen College visit Archives

The students also examined Woodson’s copy of three tragedies without a collective title from the first folio edition of the plays of William Shakespeare, including King Lear, Othello, and Anthony and Cleopatra (1623). The text of King Lear includes a number of alterations and additions in an early 18th century hand.

Students examining History of Science collection

Students examining History of Science collection

It was a great evening and the students enjoyed the opportunity to examine and carefully handle works they have read or heard about in classes and several asked to take selfies with the books to share with friends.