While taking care of a reference request for images of Julian Huxley from the 1910s, I ran across a rather striking woman in a scrapbook from the Julian and Juliette Huxley papers, MS 512. But first let’s backtrack a bit. I had noticed a man with the name B. Russell. Because it was a Huxley scrapbook (any famous Brit could be in there), my brain jumped to Bertrand Russell, which was correct.
The woman in the picture next to him reminded me a bit of Virginia Woolf, but upon further comparison, was definitely not Woolf. I couldn’t read the writing (Huxley’s handwriting is horrible.) that identified the woman. There was though a loose photograph of her that had a more complete name written on the back. A Google search led me to Lady Ottoline Morrell, an aristocrat and patroness of artists and writers, including Aldous Huxley. She also had a long time affair with Bertrand Russell, so that’s why he might be at the same get together sitting on the same bench.
You should really check out Lady Morrell’s Wikipedia page. It is fascinating. I’m glad I got to know her today.
While the library may not get as much foot traffic, the Woodson staff has continued to create exhibits to showcase the archives and our various projects.
A new one went up inside the Woodson entitled “One Night in Houston: Selections from the Ralph Fales photograph collection.” One thing I must admit is that many of these performers did perform more than one show in Houston and sometimes they performed a set of shows. But the title is catchy and concert-related, and a shoutout to the new film One Night in Miami.
Anyway, the new exhibit highlights photographs from the Ralph Fales collection that came in almost exactly a year ago. It also focuses on more specifically Black musicians that graced the stages in Houston in the mid-1970s. The performers include: Bob Marley, B.B. King, Jimmy Reed, Houston’s own Lightnin’ Hopkins, and many others. If you are wondering why no Black women, there is only one image of Sippie Wallace from a show in Boston.
If you want to see more of this collection, it will be getting its own online exhibit later in 2021.
The Woodson Research Center has re-opened this week, which means we’ve been diligently working on reference requests. One of these required me looking through Oveta Culp Hobby’s correspondence. It yielded some interesting results like letters filled with gratitude for various food-related gifts.
The first letter is from Madame Chiang Kai -shek aka Soong Mei-ling to Hobby. The 1953 letter thanks Hobby for their recent long conversation and hope that Soong’s gift of tea is similar to the one Hobby and Soong shared in Nanking aka Nanjing.
The last letter is from Wilton B. Persons, the Assistant to the President in the Eisenhower Administration. Persons’ gratitude is in regards to “the famous Texas citrus fruit.” Would that be grapefruit? His phrasing is a bit odd.
Based on these various gifts, which one would you have wanted to sample? I think the tea would have been amazing.
U.S. Civil War journal, Nov. 1861 – Feb. 1862, page 7
Staff at Fondren are continuing their work to help the Woodson improve access to the hundreds of manuscripts in the Rice Digital Scholarship Archive (scholarship.rice.edu). The manuscript above is from one of four notebooks, written in the hand of Albert Sherrad Campbell at St. Louis, Missouri, covering the early months of the U.S. Civil War. Included are descriptions of battles and other political and military events.
As of the end of the year, 332 transcriptions (59% of the project total) are now online in the IR. Another 151 transcriptions (26% of the project total) are in the final review process. Many thanks to the staff in Technical Services, Access Services, Reference and Library Administration who volunteered for the project and made this possible.
As a reminder, most of the materials transcribed were chosen to provide resources useful for the Rice University Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, & Racial Injustice. Many of these documents date from the U.S. Civil War and touch on the authors’ opinions at the time on slavery and political issues. It should also be noted that these specific Civil War collections include voices of white authors, and there is a gap in our Civil War collections of African American voices.
Because of the rise of infections in the city, the university has asked for employees to stay home if they can. Until February 8th, the circulation desk/Access Services will be available for Rice faculty, students, and staff. All other departments including the Woodson Research Center, Reference, the Kelley Center and GIS/Data Center, Friends of Fondren Library, and Digital Scholarship Services will either continue or begin working remotely.
At the Woodson, generally two of us were working in the department each day throughout the fall semester. We cut that down to one after the semester came to a close. With the new changes, we are now all working remotely. What that means is that we’ll be getting new content online, working on digital preservation, and other behind the scenes projects.
If you want to check out new items online, here are a couple of tricks.
One of our newest book acquisitions is this copy of The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements, a groundbreaking volume of biographies of 57 black men and women across history. Issued in 1863, the same year as the first volume, this revised and expanded edition was written by William Wells Brown. Brown was a prominent African-American abolitionist, novelist, and historian.
Writing and publishing The Black Man during the Civil War, Brown writes about his contemporaries acknowledging they were living in momentous times and to single out black men and women too long ignored or belittled: those “who by their own genius, capacity and intellectual development, surmounted the many obstacles which slavery and prejudice have thrown in their way, and raised themselves to positions of honor and influence.”
This first “revised and enlarged edition,” second edition overall, contains four biographies not present in the same year’s 288-page first edition: artisan Joseph Carter; Union scout James Lawson; Union Captain Joseph Howard of the Second Louisiana Native Guards who fought the racism of Northern Union officers to command his black soldiers in battle, and Union Captain Andre Callioux, now recognized as “the first black warrior-hero of the Civil War, an officer in the first black regiment to be officially mustered into the United States Army and the first to participate in a significant battle. Both in life and in death, he did much to inspire, embolden and unify people of African descent in New Orleans” (New York Times). Also featuring Brown’s revised Memoir, along with rear leaf containing “Opinions of the Press,” containing praise from Frederick Douglass’ Monthly, the Liberator, and other key sources—not present in the first edition.
Even though the library is still closed, we have been updating our exhibits for the library’s re-opening. For the space just outside of the Woodson, we’ve added an exhibit that focuses on the new Kathryn Morrow African American research collection.
Many of our online exhibits previously lived at the same URL exhibits.library.rice.edu. We have wanted to move each of the exhibits to a unique URL, but were unable to find the time for it in addition to our other duties. In our remote working environment, nit-picky work like creating unique banners, checking URLs, and updating out of date information became much easier to do.
You’ll find information on Dick Dowling, the Abbie Hoffman Incident, and U.S. Civil War Narratives, along with other exhibits that focus on Rice history, local history, and rare books.
Any new online exhibits and story maps will be added to that page. Have fun!
Archivists are busy prepping materials for digitization as part of a 2-year grant funded Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) project “Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage.” This project will provide public access to collections highlighting the history and experiences of African-American and Jewish communities in and near Houston, which in turn shed light on nationally significant issues including politics, art, race, and religion. These communities are underrepresented in archival repositories across the nation, and particularly in publicly accessible digital repositories.
This project will span two years and will transform scholarship by enabling researchers and community members to engage with thousands of previously inaccessible archival records about the history of two ethnic communities in America’s fourth-largest city, and one of its most diverse. Anniversary booklets and bulletins from Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church from the Rev. William A. Lawson papers are included in this project. Rev. William Alexander Lawson (1929- ), is the founding Pastor of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church located in Houston, Texas. Established in March 1962 with 13 members, the congregation has grown in excess of 3,500 members. The initial emphasis of the church was to help meet the spiritual needs of Baptists in a transitional community near Texas Southern University, but has become one of the leading Baptist churches in the city of Houston.
Original materials in formats such as photographs, correspondence, reports, synagogue and church bulletins, sermon recordings, and more will be digitized, described, and made available online via the UNT Portal to Texas History and Rice’s repository at scholarship.rice.edu. More than 200 of the Lawson sermon recordings, dating from 1996-2004, have already been digitized from their original audio-cassettes and will soon be online at scholarship.rice.edu.