Lady Ottoline Morrell

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.

5 photographs pasted into a scrapbook
Top left to right: Julian Huxley, Aldous Huxley; bottom left to right: Bertrand Russell, Lady Ottoline Morrell (both pictures)

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.

5 photographs pasted into a scrapbook with one loose one.
Top left and bottom left: Lady Morrell. Top right loose photograph is of Lady Morrell with a girl on a horse.

You should really check out Lady Morrell’s Wikipedia page. It is fascinating. I’m glad I got to know her today.

New Music Exhibit

Images include: Taj Mahal, Stanley Clarke, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker

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.

Images include: Jimmy Reed, Albert Collins, Tyrone Brown, Gatemouth Brown, Bob Marley, Anthony Braxton, Buckwheat Zydeco
It must be noted that cell phone images of exhibits never capture them in their full glory.

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.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bobby Blue Bland, Fats Domino, B.B. King

If you want to see more of this collection, it will be getting its own online exhibit later in 2021.

Friendly Gifts

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.

Letter is summarized in above text.
Letter is summarized in above text.

The next letter is from Nelson Rockefeller thanking Hobby for pecans.

Letter is summarized in above text.

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.

Letter is summarized in above text.

Based on these various gifts, which one would you have wanted to sample? I think the tea would have been amazing.

Chandler Davidson African American oral histories

While we don’t know much about the creation or intent, there are two interviews in the Chandler Davidson Texas Politics Research collection with two Black men. The interviews focus on voting, working, and teaching as well as their relations to white people. Sadly, the interviewees are unknown, their identities lost to history. In the second interview, the interviewee seems to be quite old, recounting his life in 1889.

During the summer and fall of 2020, Gabby Parker transcribed the digitized audio for the bulk of the interviews that Davidson and others completed in the mid to late 1970s. All of those interviews are available online.

If you want to explore other oral histories by Black people from the Houston area, you can explore the Gregory School Interviews.

Fondren Transcription Project continues


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 ( 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.

Remote Again

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.

William Marsh Rice Institute Calcasieu Parish pine land, Merryville tract, 1907
William Marsh Rice Institute Calcasieu Parish pine land, Merryville tract, 1907

University Archives – If you go to, click on University Archives and Rice History, and scroll down, you’ll see all of our newly uploaded materials, including lots of materials related to William Marsh Rice’s financial information and the charter trial from the 1960s. These uploads are related to the work being done by the Task Force on Slavery, Segregation and Racial Injustice.

Alfred's of Houston Delicatessen, 1966
Alfred’s of Houston Delicatessen, 1966

Special Collections – Again, at, click on Cultural Heritage Collections and from the list of Sub-Communities, select Woodson Research Center. From there, scroll down and you’ll discover new items that we’ve added including oral histories and scrapbooks.

We hope everyone stays safe out there.

Honor and Influence

Title page
The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements (1863)

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.”

To the advocates and friends of Negro Freedom and Equality, wherever found, this volume is respectfully dedicated by the author.

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.

Table of contents
Table of Contents

Getting Ready with New Exhibits

Reads: Kathryn Morrow African American Research Collection - Recent donation to the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library Summer 2020
Exhibit title card

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.

Image of books, documents, and media from the collection
Two books from the collection - Rice and Slaves; Black Majesty
Forgive the reflections
Image of books and documents from the collection

While it currently needs some updates, you can always check this page with a list of physical exhibits to see what’s on display around the library and in the Rice Memorial Center.

Online Exhibit Refresh

Capture of the H. M. Sloop El Vincego, digitally altered with color
Image from our British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars exhibit

Head on over to the page on our blog labeled “Online Exhibits and Story Maps” to find a host of refreshed online exhibits and some new ones, too.

Many of our online exhibits previously lived at the same URL 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!

Digitizing hidden selections of Houston’s African American and Jewish heritage

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration booklet

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.

Third year anniversary booklet

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 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