The Rice Institute’s Other Location

The Scientia Institute recently hosted a “Betterment of the World” lecture given by Fay Yarbrough and Caleb McDaniel. They showed the connections between Houston’s Black Fourth Ward community and the early Board of Trustees, who attempted to force people to sell their land. It’s important historical work that was made possible by some of our materials.

If you’d like to learn more, the lecture is now available online.

VHS Digitization

When we have smaller VHS digitization jobs (a collection with 10 or fewer tapes), we can digitize them in-house. We use our laptop, VHS/CD combo player, RCA cable, and a program called Power Director. The output is a mpg video file that we convert to an mp4 using Handbrake.

Laptop in the process of recording sitting atop a DVD/VHS combo

Right now, I’m digitizing a live performance of The Mighty Orq playing at the Artery on January 4, 2008. The video is from the Houston Blues Society records, which are almost fully processed and ready for research.

Blues Society Newsletters

Within the boxes of the Houston Blues Society records is a snapshot of the world of regional U.S. blues and music-related newsletters.

15 Blues newsletters on a table

This grouping of newsletters mainly hails from the mid-to-late 1990s. They offer a glimpse into how the medium fulfilled a need to spread information about performances and engage with small audiences in the years before its generation of readers fully embraced email, message boards, and/or websites. It’s also interesting how many different types of blues societies exist/ed and how many of them loved the name “Blues News.”

The Houston Blues Society records will be fully processed in the couple of weeks.

Rice vs. University of Houston

Tomorrow we play our city rivals UH in the annual Bayou Bucket Classic. Let’s look back at our previous clashes.

Rice players holding the trophy
Winning the trophy in 1993
Rice player #44 running towards the defense while being protected by #42
Future NFL player Earl Cooper on the move against UH, 1979

If you feel like watching games of yore, here’s a highlight film featuring Arkansas, Baylor, and UH from 1987.

Your ears aren’t deceiving you. There is no sound.

Andy Warhol gem in the Doc C collection

Here’s a blog post from Fondren’s Lauren DuBois, Special Collections Librarian, and Jeanette Sewell, Database and Metadata Management Coordinator.

One of the best parts about the Gilbert Morris Cuthbertson Collection of Rare Books and Manuscripts is finding related items tucked in the pages of his books! We’ve found bookmarks, photographs, receipts, electric bills, letters, stamps, scraps of paper, and so much more.

Last week, we stumbled upon this catalog for Raid the Icebox I: a 1969-1970 exhibit featuring items selected by Andy Warhol from the storage vaults of the Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Warhol was invited to curate the exhibition by Dominique and Jean de Menil, founders of the Institute of the Arts and the Media Center at Rice. The exhibition opened here and then traveled to The Isaac Delgado Museum in New Orleans, finally ending in Providence at RISD.

Outside image of Warhol's tree with catalog and ephemera held up in front of it.
Raid the Icebox I catalog & ephemera in front of the Andy Warhol Tree on Rice Campus / photo by Jeanette Sewell

Between the pages of Doc’s copy of the catalog, we found:
1) Andy Warhol’s signature on the title page (!)
2) One Raid the Icebox I exhibit tag published by the Institute for the Arts at Rice
3) Two small postcards announcing the exhibition dates and hours here on campus
4) One large postcard inviting Doc C to attend the exhibit preview
5) One Winter 1969 newsletter addressed to Doc C, detailing the new art center and community response to the new Institute space and Raid the Icebox I exhibit at Rice

Postcards, newsletter, tag, and signature found within the exhibit catalog

Like all of our rare books in the collection, this catalog and accompanying items will be available for viewing only in the reading room at the Woodson Research Center. Just reach out to one of our archivists to schedule an appointment.

You can learn more about this special exhibit on the RISD website here and find a related essay about Warhol’s art at BEST Products’ Indeterminate Façade store here. Happy reading!

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:

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.

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.

Space City! and KPFT Books

Donors have recently given us two Houston-specific books, which we’ll be adding to our rare books collection. The first is Exploring Space City!: Houston’s Historic Underground Newspaper edited by Thorne Dreyer, Alice Embree, Cam Duncan, and Sherwood Bishop. The book re-prints notable articles, interviews, photography, art, and ads from Space City!, which ran from 1969-1972.

If you want to learn more about Fanny, check out a very interesting podcast episode from Lost Notes.

The other Houston book is Live on Lovett Blvd.: Portraits of Musical Guests at KPFT Radio, 2010-2018 by David Britton. The book documents the talent that has graced the radio station’s, now former (or soon to be former), funky house on Lovett Blvd.

Below are a sampling of Britton’s photographs including the late Eric Taylor, Vince Bell, and the trio of Tim Easton, Betty Soo, and Will Sexton.

Impossible Exhibits

We recently updated our exhibits around the library. One which is located in the metal hallway, in the front cases near the main entrance, and the 3rd floor next to the Kyle Morrow Room is in conjunction with Archives of the Impossible conference. If you want to read more about the archives, Wired published an article about Jacques Vallée and his papers.

Inside the Woodson is an example of Covid-related art that has been donated.

Outside Woodson and across from the central elevator are exhibits of James Fraher’s photography for the books Zydeco in Texas and Down in Houston: Bayou City Blues written by Roger Wood. The focus is on the Black women highlighted in the books.

As always, please forgive the exhibit case photos. With all of the glass and without great equipment, they are hard to make pretty.