Memorabilia Monday: St. Patrick’s Day Tie

Looking around this morning for a holiday-themed post, I could only find a reference to Tom Kelley’s St. Patrick’s Day tie. Since the box wasn’t onsite, I made the assumption that inside the box there would be a necktie; thus, fulfilling the theme of this post.

Rather than seeing the object, we get a couple of views of Tom Kelley, an employee for Texas Eastern in March 1958 showing off his tie. Does it look homemade to you?

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Vince Bell collection

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ca. 1976

As part of the Houston Folk Music Archive, we’re happy to announce that the Vince Bell collection is ready for research. His collection contains lyrics, journals, photographs, fliers, audio and video, and business records related to album creation, promotion, and touring. Bell also donated quite a few books where he is featured, mostly books on Texas singer-songwriters.

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Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant, 1974

While the physical collection is available, the digital side will take a bit longer. Over the next few months, we’ll be adding digital files, mostly music, to this collection, as well as post his oral history online.

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Calendar drawn by Jean King from 1976 journal

For those not familiar with Bell, starting in 1970, he began playing folk music in clubs across Houston, including Sand Mountain Coffee House, the Old Quarter, Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant, as well as larger venues like Liberty Hall and local universities. He also went on to play the U.S. coffee house circuit.

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Rockefeller’s, 1979

In the mid-1970s, he spent his time living in both Austin and Houston forming bands and playing solo. In 1980, he worked on the rock ballet Bermuda Triangle with James Clouser for the Space/Dance/Theater. The ballet premiered in Houston at the Miller Outdoor Theater in May 1980.

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On European tour with Eric Taylor and Iain Matthews,  1990s

After recording in an Austin studio, on December 21, 1982, he was hit by a drunk driver. The accident damaged his right arm, caused a severe brain injury, and he had a partially paralyzed vocal chord. After the accident, he worked over the next decade to rebuild his life and play the guitar again. This led him to develop a unique picking style and to write new music for his singing voice.

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Austin City Limits: Step Inside This House, 2000. L to R: Guy Clark, Matt Rollings, Steven Fromholz, Sam Bush, James Gilmer, Viktor Krauss, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Michael Martin Murphy, Dan Tomlinson, Vince Bell, Eric Taylor, Gene Elders [?], and Pat Bergerson, photo taken by David Roth

In 1994, Bell released his first album, Phoenix, to wide critical acclaim. He went on tour with The Jayhawks throughout the U.S. and in Europe. He followed this up with, Texas Plates (1999), Live in Texas (2001), Recado (2007), and One Man’s Music (2009), and the DVD New Lamps for Old. His songs have been covered by Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, Little Feat, Trout Fishing in America, among others.

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He later chronicled his life in two independently published autobiographies, which were later re-published as one book entitled One Man’s Music: The Life and Times of Texas Songwriter Vince Bell by University of North Texas Press.

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If you are interested in learning more about the Houston Folk Music Archive, please check out John Nova Lomax’s article.

U.S.S. John Adams and the Slave Trade

In honor of Black History Month, the Woodson Research Center has posted online a collection of original letters from the U.S.S. John Adams in 1849, describing its travels and orders, including the suppression of the slave trade. The deplorable conditions of slave ships and the practice of separating families was recognized by many as inhumane in the early 19th century, even if that belief did not yet go so far as to object to treating people as property. The United States and other countries such as Britain, many years before the U.S. Civil War, had banned human trafficking as piracy.  However, enforcement in a complex international maritime trading environment was very difficult.

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The letters in this collection show the U.S.S. John Adams as having clear orders to “suppress the slave trade,” and reporting in one example of being present at the Brazilian port near Campos, where a slave trading ship had passed through a month earlier, taking on slaves, and moving off probably north to the area of Espiritu Santo.

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These letters include transcriptions which greatly enhance access, created in 2011 by Rice University graduate student, John  Marks.

Images from: “Powell to Storer, acknowledgement of instructions to suppress the slave trade.” (1849) Rice University: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/93944.; “Powell to Storer, report of ship’s cruise to Campos, Brazil.” (1849) Rice University: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/93945.

Richard G. Park, Jr. Scrapbook

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Back in October, we received a wonderful phone call from a woman in the NE offering us a scrapbook, belonging to her relative Richard G. Park, Jr.

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Why would we be interested in this scrapbook? It provides more history on the Texas Mexico Border Campaign. Almost exactly two years ago, we featured a scrapbook on the same topic, focusing on one man’s experiences during the campaign. While the scrapbook is fascinating, it’s unlabeled.

In comparison, Park labeled almost all of the photographs and included people’s names, dates, and locations. It is a treasure trove of information. This would be a wonderful digitization project in the future.

Now, feast your eyes on the photographs.

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For more information on the collection, please see our finding aid: Richard G. Park, Jr. scrapbook, 1915-1917, MS 673, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Freshmen in the Archives

This semester members of the Woodson have worked closely with professors who teach Freshman Writing Intensive Seminars (FWIS). It has been a great experience and a wonderful way to introduce new students to primary sources.

Amanda Focke helped with Sophia Hsu’s FWIS class, “Literature and Public Health.” Hsu’s students worked on archival research projects that culminated in multi-media group presentations and papers. In particular, the students worked with the human anatomy engravings in one of our most popular Enlightenment era rare books, Diderot’s Encyclopedie (published 1751-1766). This would have been one of the first scientific views of the human body published for a general audience. The students considered the following questions. How accurate is it? What did we know about the human body at that time?

Student looking at "The Psychiatric Bulletin"

Student looking at The Psychiatric Bulletin

Students also explored the journal known as the Psychiatric Bulletin: for the physician in general practice (1950s), full of dramatic illustrations, as well as the role of Rice Institute in the development of the artificial heart (late 1960s) as described in newspaper accounts. The students enjoyed the creative spark which using these fascinating primary sources gave to their writing tasks.

Norie Guthrie worked with two classes this semester: Burke Nixon’s “Medical Humanities: Literature, Medicine and the Practice of Empathy” and Dr. Andrew Klein’s “Popular Music and American Culture” course. Rice News did a wonderful write up about singer-songwriter Vince Bell visiting Nixon’s class.

For Dr. Klein’s class, singer-songwriter Richard Dobson spoke to the students about how he became a songwriter, his participation in Houston’s folk music scene, the craft of songwriting, and the current state of popular country music. The class also explored some of our collections from the Houston Folk Music Archive in an effort to understand how primary sources informed their ideas of this music scene.

As a final project, Dr. Klein’s students created websites about a specific scene and/or subculture. Two of the students made websites about the Houston folk scene and used a variety of primary and secondary sources in our collection. We can’t wait to see the results of their work.

Memorabilia Monday: Tis the Season . . .

. . . to give hair.

 

For archives, an envelope filled with hair is not a new thing. It’s part of the job.

This hair is a bit different than what we normally see. It seems to be an early example of clip-in extensions. Note the gathered section that could be pinned close to the scalp.

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Allie May Autry Kelley‘s labeling on the envelope is pretty great, too: “Who’s hair? Mom’s?”

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James Lockhart Autry Family Papers; 1832-1998, MS 003, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Phrenology – bumps on your head defining your aptitudes?

 

Phrenology model and Human Skull

Phrenology model and Human Skull


The Woodson Research Center is collaborating with Rice’s Humanities Research Center and the Houston Academy of Medicine – Texas Medical Center Archives to host local high school students on field trips to Rice exploring the medical humanities.

Lecture portion of the field trip
Rachel Conrad Bracken, a Civic Humanist Fellow at the Humanities Research Center, has developed a lecture entitled “Diagnosing Deviance: How Social Norms Influence our Definitions of Health and Disease,” with the 19th century science of phrenology as a case study to “explore how cultural understandings of race and gender biased medical diagnoses and popular perceptions of “ideal” facial features. ”

Archives portion of the field trip
After Rachel’s lecture and discussion, the students gather in one of Fondren’s collaborative spaces, and have a hands-on experience with archival materials which relate to phrenology and other outmoded models of medicine.

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Osterhout Phrenological chart

From the Woodson Research Center, the John P. Osterhout Phrenological Chart (https://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/27054) shows a 19th century doctor’s evaluation of Mr. Osterhout, measuring his relative powers on a scale of 1-7, and suggesting appropriate careers for him. Strangely, even though he was rated as having a low level of perception and memory of sizes, it was suggested he might be a good mechanic.

Another example from Woodson includes the Mirabeau B. Lamar travel journal of 1835, in which Lamar (who went on to become the second president of the Republic of Texas) describes a speaker in a local church on the topic of phrenology, and whether one can tell from the shape of a man’s head whether he will commit murder (Lamar journal, pg 12).

Students examining phrenological materials

Phil Montgomery and students examining phrenological materials

The Houston Academy of Medicine – Texas Medical Center Archives, represented by Phil Montgomery, brought a phrenological model, a human skull from their research collection, and handed out blank charts for the students to use in trying their own analysis.

Phil also brought a variety of older medical tools such as an early surgery kit, a lancet for bleeding patients, and an early electric shock therapy tool.

Impact
The students really enjoyed seeing the tools of the trade for these outmoded medical models and were inspired to include archives in their future research. Seeing the original tools in person helped the students see how seriously these concepts were in their day, even as we see them now as quack medicine. To quote Rachel’s lecture, “by learning to recognize the flaws in outdated models of medicine and anatomy, students can begin to see how contemporary medicine, too, is shaped by the diagnostic technologies and scientific knowledge available to us—knowledge always mediated by our culture and subject to change.”