Interactive Houston Folk Music Venue Story Map


The Woodson now has a new addition to our Story Maps. We’ve used Esri’s ArcGIS software in conjunction with their Story Map application to create a map that follows the growth and decline of Houston’s folk music scene. Included are photographs of venues, posters, video clips of people describing the places, and some live audio.

If you haven’t checked out our Story Maps on U.S. Civil War Narratives and Journals and Diaries, you are in for a visual treat.

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.

Memorabilia Monday: Original Campanile painting


In our vault, we have a section for paintings, plaques and other items that can stand upright. The above item lives there.

Here’s the label on the back of the painting:

Tidden, John Clark

Original painting from which illustration for “Classes” in 1916 Campanile was produced.

Given by Elva Kalb Dumas in memory of E. F. Kalb, Rice ’16. 07-30-1965


John Clark Tidden, born 1889, was an early member of the Rice Institute Art and Architecture faculty. His artwork is sought after and examples show up in the  HETAG: Houston Earlier Texas Art Group newsletters.

Tidden also enjoyed drama. In 1921, he started “The Green Mask Players” with Caroline Levy and Mrs. Charles Robertson. Blanche Higginbotham a science teacher who taught at Houston South End Junior High, later South Jacinto High School managed the group. Their acting troupe was part of the Little Theatre Movement and was the first of its kind in Texas. On a side note, after looking at the Wikipedia entry, no one has added the Houston theatre to the listing of theatres. If you are a Wikipedia editor, that information would be an easy addition using the source below.

It’s a little unclear what happened to Tidden after leaving Rice in 1925. One source has him marrying a Lois Little and refers to him as a commercial artist. If you know more, please let us know in the comments.

Sources used:

Texas High Schools: Classification and State Aid

The Little Theatre Review: A Forthnightly Survey

The Rice Thresher, December 11, 1925


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.



Memorabilia Monday: AIDS Quilt Commemoration


In honor of Pride Month, this a section from a series of panels made by the Rice community to commemorate the display of the The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, which visited campus. The Community Involvement Center, the Wellness Center, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs spearheaded the display in 2001.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here is a photograph of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Rice Memorial Center around February 15, 2002.


The AIDS Memorial Quilt still goes out on display and is searchable by name. In this vein, the oH Project collection, containing oral histories of HIV/AIDS in Houston, Harris County, and Southeast Texas, has a large number of interview transcripts online. If you want to learn more from AIDS survivors and caretakers in Houston, it is a wonderful resource.

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.


Spare Albums and Deserved Recognition


A recent university archival collection yielded a large amount of LPs. Sadly, many of these are multiple copies. We have kept two for ourselves and will eventually digitize them. We’d like to offer the rest to you for free. Please email if you are interested.

In other news, our own Amanda Focke won the Society of Southwest Archivists Distinguished Service Award. She is a long serving member, who has been active on a variety of committees, served as president, and is currently a board member. Congrats to her on such a well-deserved honor.