Artists in the Archives- Elinor Evans (1914-2016)

Evans working in her home, 2006

Elinor Evans had an extraordinary eye for seeing and appreciating natural forms. Born in Kansas and raised on a ranch in Oklahoma, her grandfather was her earliest teacher in seeing the beauty of nature.  Evans translated this appreciation into works of art inspired by the natural world. While most of her exhibitions focused on her leaf collages, she was equally renowned as a weaver and for her creative use of many types of found, homely, simple materials.

An alumna of Oklahoma State University, she earned an MFA at Yale before joining the Rice School of Architecture in 1964 to teach design, earning many awards for superior teaching and for her art. She retired as a professor emerita from Rice in 1985, and continued teaching, lecturing, and creating the rest of her life.

Mixed Media, Portfolio, 1959

On the first floor of the library in the Hobby Information Concourse you can enjoy examples of Evans’ work; the “Art of Elinor Evans: Learning to See” exhibit features selections from the Elinor Evans Academic and Professional Papers (MS 700). The works include woven baskets and hangings, delicate collages, and a “portfolio of ideas” in mixed media.

Memorabilia Monday: The Sisterhood of Temple Emanu El Cookbook


The Cook Book For All Seasons

Last week, we announced our new Houston Jewish History Archive, which we are building in conjunction with Joshua Furman, the Stanford and Joan Alexander and Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies, and Melissa Kean.

We’d like to show off an interesting piece of memorabilia from one of the collections. Produced by The Sisterhood of Temple Emanu El in 1977, The Cook Book For All Seasons, Recipes, Rituals, and Reasons is a very organized cookbook explaining not only what to make and but how to present it based on the holiday or ritual.



The former owner made a few corrections throughout this book.


Each section divider has a lovely line drawing.


It seems like this cookbook would have been a wonderful gift for a new family.

Houston Folk Music Archive: New Collections

Over the past few months, we have been adding to existing collections and finished processing new collections. Here’s a run down of some of our new materials.

Jack Saunders collection


Playing at Rockefeller’s as part of The Shake Russell Band, ca. 1982

Jack Saunders grew up in a military family that lived all across the U.S. After an eye-opening trip to Dallas, he relocated there to join its music community in 1971. Disapointed that the scene had moved on, he quickly relocated to Austin.

In 1976, at the behest of Rick Gordon, he moved to Houston. There he joined a wide range of bands from Taxi Dancer to The Revolvers to The Senders. In 1982, he joined The Shake Russell Band. That partnership with Russell continued for a more than a decade. After The Shake Russell Band broke-up in 1989, Saunders and Russell became a duo until 1996.

After they parted ways, Saunders embarked on a solo career. He followed that up with opening White Cat Studios in 1999.

Saunders currently plays at venues around Houston, most notably McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, works on recording projects for local and regional musicians,  and does side man work with a variety of regional and touring artists.

His collection includes photographs, newspaper clippings, fliers, posters, and a wealth of live music from various stages of his career.

Lynn Langham collection


Playing at Anderson Fair, ca. 1976

Lynn Langham grew up in Texas and spent her teen years in Freeport, Texas. At an early age, she gravitated to music learning first the piano and then the guitar. When she began college at the University of Texas, she started playing clubs in Austin and moved on to playing in Houston, Dallas, and Denton.

While in Houston, she became a part of the music community at Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant. On a daily basis, songwriters shared their work and motivated and challenged each other to improve as writers, players, and performers. She appears on the 12″ LP “Through the Dark Nightly,” which featured players from the venue.

At the request of a friend, she spent time in New York. She played at the famed Bitter End and other clubs in the area. Before ultimately relocating to Los Angeles, she briefly returned to Houston to continue her career.

After a long break from the music business and performing, she began recording again in Los Angeles. Moving to Nashville in 1989, she received a recording contract with Capital Nashville and began writing songs for a publishing company, Hayes Street Music. Although the album deal eventually fell through, she continued working for Hayes Street. While the writing scene has changed in Nashville, she continues to write and tours with her partner Doug Gill.

Her work has been recorded by Wynona Judd, Trisha Yearwood, and Carolyn Hester. The song “Old Yellow Moon,” which she co-wrote with Hank DeVito, is the title cut of the Grammy winning 2014 Americana Album of the Year by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.

Langham’s collection has a large amount of lyrics and photographs.

Sara Hickman collection



Performing at her Necessary Angels party, 1994

Sara Hickman grew up in Houston, Texas and attended the famed High School for the Performing and Visual Arts [HSPVA] in the late 1970s. For college, she moved away from Houston to attend North Texas State University (University of North Texas) and graduated with a BA in painting in 1986. After graduation, she relocated to Dallas and embarked on her musical career, playing at venues like Uncle Calvin’s, Club Dada, and Poor David’s Pub.

After recording and promoting her first album “Equal Scary People,” Hickman signed with Elektra. While with the major label, she re-released that album and put out a new one, “Shortstop.” Due to a variety of factors, she parted ways with the company in 1993.

Since her third album masters were Elektra property, she raised money from family, friends, and fans to buy back her masters and went on to release her fourth album, “Necessary Angels.” Around the same time, she formed the trio Domestic Science Club with Robin Macy, formerly of the Dixie Chicks, and Patty Lege, which ended up putting out two albums.

In 1995, she left Dallas for Austin and has lived there ever since. She released 15 more albums over the next 20 years, including four children’s albums. In 2010, the Texas State Commission on the Arts named her the Official Texas State Musician.

Since her days at HSPVA, Sara has devoted her time to a myriad of charitable activities including Habitat for Humanity, House the Homeless, Race for the Cure, and the Uganda Fistula Foundation. While she retired from music in 2017, she still continues her charity work and does vocal work for national commercials.

Hickman’s collection spans the breadth of her career and documents her life through photographs, lyrics, charity work, music, and even fan mail.

Memorabilia Monday: RMC Roundels


These roundels served as a divider in the front entrance area of the Rice Memorial Center to the right of the entrance to the Grand Hall. Handmade in Italy, they must have looked amazing when the light shown through the front windows. We have been told that the RMC’s architect, Harvin C. Moore, was instrumental in the design.


This black and white photocopy is the only image that we have of them hanging. If you know of any others, please let us know.

National Take the Stairs Day

Today boasts many silly “holidays” including Bittersweet Chocolate Day and Peculiar People Day. The one that stood out was National Take the Stairs Day, which isn’t annual but a monthly holiday falling on the second Wednesday of the month.

We have a few pictures of people “taking the stairs” around the campus or at least posing on them. Hopefully, it can provide you some motivation.

Malcolm Gillis, ca. 2010

University President, Dr. Malcolm Gillis, ca. 2010

Randall Furlong with friend on steps, 1979

Randall Furlong with friend on steps, 1979

Upcoming Projects


2017 was an incredibly busy year for the Woodson. It included completing an inventory of all of our rare books, creating new online and physical exhibits, growing our fine arts and Jewish history collections, exhibiting the history of Camp Logan, placing the KTRU Rice Radio archive online, co-hosting the Houston Folk Music Archive Celebration with the Friends of Fondren Library, participating in the Oh Project collection, and helping our Fondren Fellow discover and map the hidden bits of information in our Civil War diaries.

Here’s some of what’s coming up in 2018:

  • We’re continuing our participation in the OSSArcFlow project to improve our digital preservation workflows and discoverability.
  • We’re going to be the home base for the Harvey Memories Project. This multi-institutional group will working to document the stories, images, audio, and video related to Hurricane Harvey. We will be taking the lead in digitally preserving any donated items.
  • We will be making new collections available for research from Audrey Jones Beck, Brochstein, Inc., and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston [CAMH].
  • We’ve continued to work with the Chao Center and are expecting new additions and improvements to the Houston Asian American Archive website.
  • Starting last year, we began working on our legacy media backlog. Over the past few months, the old floppies and zip disks have been preserved. Soon, our finding aids will contain descriptions of the files contained on that media.

As we complete some of the projects above and add new ones, we’ll update you on the results. Here’s to a great 2018.

Architects in the Archives – Lenard Gabert, Sr. (1894-1976)

Lenard Gabert Sr. at the 1916 class picnic

One of our newest architectural collections is the Lenard Gabert, Sr. Architectural Records (Lenard is the handsome fellow sitting on the far left of the table in the picture above.) Gabert was part of the first class to matriculate at Rice, and one of the first students to earn a B.S. in Architecture at the Institute (in 1917.) During his long career he designed residential and commercial buildings of all kinds in Houston, including a dog pound, a zoo service center, warehouses, schools, clinics, and churches.

Gabert’s most famous buildings are his synagogues, including temples for Congregations Israel, Shearith Israel, Emanu El, Beth Yeshurun, and Adath Emeth and Beth Jacob (now part of United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston.) Here is one of my favorite drawings from the collection, an elegant rendering of the floor plan of Temple Emanu El:

Architectural drawing of Temple Emanu El, 1946

And a bonus picture from this morning: Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Chanukah!


Poet’s Club Books


The Poet’s Club established around 1908 published four volumes of poetry. One of the founding members’, T.E. Hulme, poetry in the volumes is an early version of Imagism.

The first volume appears to be an advanced copy of what would end up being their second book entitled The Second Book of the Poet’s Club, Christmas 1911. Our version is The Book of the Poet’s Club, Michaelmas 1911. Released a few months before it contains all of the same poetry, except the editors added four poems for the second book.


Note contained in our version of the first volume

This first book only seems to exist elsewhere in the Ezra Pound Papers at Yale University. Given that he was a member of the group, it makes sense that a working copy of the manuscript is there.

Another interesting aspect of these books is the amount of female writers. In the first, there are at least six easily identifiable woman, which include: Katherine Miller, Sibyl Amherst, Marion Cran, Dollie Radford, Lily Hodgkinson, Regina Miriam Bloch, and Florence Farr. Given the celebrity of actress, producer, director Farr, here is her entry.



We also have The Third Book of the Poet’s Club, Christmas 1913. Although Houston’s winter does not compare, a winter poem seems fitting for this time of year.