2017 marks the centennial of the U.S. involvement in World War I (1914-1919). An exhibit in the cases near the east entrance of Fondren Library created in collaboration with Rice’s Anthropology department offers a brief account of the history of Camp Logan, a World War I training camp once situated in what is today Memorial Park in northwest Houston. This exhibit marks the 100 year anniversary of the opening of Camp Logan in 1917.
Although this centennial has served as an inspiration for the exhibit, Rice University faculty, staff, and students have been involved in researching and preserving Camp Logan’s history for some time: for example, the Woodson’s collections of papers and objects related to Camp Logan (the Clark Bruster Collection) and the recently acquired Paul B. Hendrickson collection. Dr. Jeffrey Fleisher and students from the Anthropology Department have been investigating Camp Logan archaeologically since 2015. These collections and the results of this research form an important part of this exhibit. Also on display are postcards, ephemera, and images graciously loaned by Robbie Morin from his extensive collection and items from The Heritage Society. These materials have greatly enhanced the exhibit.
Location of Camp Logan in today’s Memorial Park
Occupied for a short period of time from 1917-1919, the story of Camp Logan represents the complexities and tragedies of early 20th-century Houston. Camp Logan emerged quickly at the edge of this small but growing city, and provided a significant economic boost to it as more than 30,000 troops were trained there. But Camp Logan is also tied in historical memory with the Houston Riot and the racial segregation that structured the US military at this time.
One of the most well-known and tragic of these aspects is the Houston Riot of 1917. The all black 24th Infantry was sent to guard the still under-construction site of Camp Logan in early 1917. On August 23rd two Houston police officers assaulted and arrested two members of the 24th Infantry for inquiring why a half-dressed, black mother of five was being assaulted outside her own home in downtown Houston. In retaliation to this unfair treatment, and spurned on by the general racist attitude of the city as a whole, around 100 men of the 24th Infantry took matters into their own hands, gathered weapons from their stockpile and marched towards the police station with the intent of freeing their fellow soldiers. The two-hour riot that followed was a tragic and difficult episode in Houston’s history, the consequences of which meant the death of black and white Americans and the incarceration of black troops.
A current exhibit at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum covers the events of this riot in more detail and the museum is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Houston Riot with week-long events later this month. More information is available on their website: http://www.buffalosoldiermuseum.com/?event=100th-anniversary-of-camp-logan-mutiny-1917-2017&event_date=2017-08-21
The Camp Logan exhibit in Fondren Library will be on display through the end of December 2017.
Brothers Otta Lee Cain ’17 and Edgar Allen Cain ’20 of Yoakum, TX attended Rice Institute before joining the service. Later on, their brother or relative Arthur Benton Cain graduated from Rice in 1922.
Otta Lee Cain
Edgar Allen Cain
Below is a letter from Otta to his father detailing the month’s expenses, along with a daily list.
In his letter, Otta mentions the possibility of entering military service, but admits that he is unsure if he wants to join. Sadly, less than a year after enlisting, he died of pneumonia/influenza in Massachusetts.
Sources: Rice University Memorabilia collection, The Campanile and the Rice Institute Pamphlets.
The first Rice reunion was held on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 1919.
Members of the 1916 class returned to Rice for a full day’s events including an academic procession, football game, and Thanksgiving feast.
Class of 1916 Reunion program
Rice vs. University of Arkansas Thanksgiving game. Rice wins 40-7.
Held after the end of World War I, the day retained a tone of remembrance for the Rice students and graduates who fought and died in the war. Dr. Peter Grey Sears, Rector of Christ Episcopal Church, delivered the Thanksgiving sermon: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” A Thanksgiving feast in the evening was hosted by Captain James A. Baker, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Speeches were given from members of the 1916 class, undergraduates, as well as President Lovett. The day ended with a bonfire celebration.
While little is known about the person who made it, the Sheelah Green-Wilkinson scrapbook album, 1916-1918 is a wonderful collection of mainly Christmas cards, as well as a few photographs from World War I. Many of the cards are quite formal, but others show a bit of whimsy.
Holiday card with explanation on right, 1916
Formal outside of card, 1918
Less formal inside of card with drawing that depicts the solders’ history during the war, 1918
The Christmas dreams of a soldier, 1918
The Woodson Research Center will close at 12:00 PM today and will reopen on January 5th. Have a wonderful holiday season!
The letters of Otto Eisenlohr, a student at the Rice Institute during its early years, can now be found online from the collection’s finding aid at:
Almost entirely addressed to his high school sweetheart, Gainor Roberts, the letters are a window into student life, academics, and athletics at Rice from 1915-1921. Topics include Rice during the First World War, science at Rice Institute, hazing of freshmen by upperclassmen, secret societies on campus, popular movies, dances, Rice football, basketball, and baseball, and ROTC activities during the First World War.
A finding aid for the Thomas Lindsey Blayney Papers, which chronicles the life of one of Rice’s first faculty members, is now available on-line. The 23-box collection includes family genealogy, photographs, personal and professional correspondence, collections of poetry, published and unpublished manuscripts, and newspaper clippings.
Blayney is a World War I hero, and the memorabilia collection includes a number of items pertinent to that era. Uniform jackets and hats, the Croix de Guerre medal awarded to Blayney, and a trunk of cavalry horse tack are part of the collection.
See the finding aid for the collection as well as selected photos on-line.