KTRU Tuesdays: Major Milestones

Two major milestones have been reached.

A) Metadata has been created for all of the KTRU tapes including 2-track reels, cassette tapes, and DATs.

B) The finding aid has been updated with descriptions of each tape. Below is an example for one tape


and another.


Next, each of the files will have this metadata embedded into the WAV and MP3 files. That will happen over the next few weeks. After that, the files will be separated into those that can go online and those that will only be available for listening in the reading room. There are many more small steps to go, but the end result will be a large chunk of KTRU audio online.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Slave Narratives

Last week, we featured letters dealing with the transport of slaves. This week, we want to feature slave narratives.


This small, thin book is A Narrative of the Life of Rev. Noah Davis, a Colored Man, written by himself at the age of 54 from 1859.




The book focuses on Rev. Davis’s faith, as well as the steps he took to free himself, wife, and children from slavery. The link above explains the narrative in more detail.

The next book is Solomon Northrup‘s Twelve Years a Slave, recently made famous again by the 2013 film of the same name.





It looks like we might have found another treasure sitting unknown on the shelves. This is a first edition and perhaps a very early printing, since it lacks the engravings. There is a little note that explains why.




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.


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.


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.

Memorabilia Monday: Blessed Scarves


Another unusual entry in the Rice University Memorabilia Collection are a few scarves blessed by the Dalai Lama.

On September 22, 2005, the Dalai Lama was scheduled to come to Rice University and give two speeches: one on “Tolerance and University Responsibility” and the other “The Meaning of Compassion in Everyday Life.” Then, Hurricane Rita happened. Almost two years later, on May 1, 2007, the Dalai Lama made it to Houston spoke on the topics above.


As part of his visit sponsored by the Boniuk Institute, he blessed traditional Tibetan scarves called Khata. According to a labeling tag, they symbolize affection, greetings, honor, love, gratitude, and respect.

Image from: Rice University Campus Photographer Files, UA 188, Box 37, Folder 7, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University