Shelving New Books

Newly catalogued books for Woodson Research Center collections

In addition to the named Rare Book Collections that are housed in the Woodson Research Center we also add newly published books to our collections. We recently received some new books written or edited by Rice University faculty and staff. These include a 2 volume work edited by Dr. Mark Jones, a fellow in political science at the Baker Institute, and a professor in the Department of Political Science: Voting and Political Representation in America; and Joy at Work: Organizing your Professional Life written by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein. Sonenshein is the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at the Jones Graduate School of Business.

It’s also exciting to see new books written by our colleagues here in Fondren. David Bynog, Head of Acquisitions, has recently written Notes for Violists. Published by Oxford University Press, the work offers historical and analytical information on 35 pieces for the viola, from Bach to Weber. Bynog is a violist himself and edited more than 40 compositions. Bynog’s book will be preserved in the Woodson Research Center available for researchers.

Independence Day

We recently welcomed Lauren DuBois as the Copy Cataloger for the Dr. Gilbert M. Cuthbertson Collection. She is working to organize the book collection donated to Fondren Library by the longtime Rice political science professor who passed away in 2019.

“Dr. Gilbert Cuthbertson in his office, Rice University.” (2005) Rice University:

An example from his collection came across my desk this week to review. It’s a copy of Atlas to Marshall’s Life of Washington. Published by James Chrissy in Philadelphia, circa 1832, it contains 10 maps on folded leaves, illustrating Revolutionary War battles and campaigns.

Title page from Atlas to Marshall’s Life of Washington

The atlas is a companion to the multi-volume biography written by Chief Justice John Marshall begun in 1799 following Washington’s death. Marshall was granted by Washington’s surviving family full access to all of his records, papers, and personal archives.

Plan of New York Island and part of Long Island showing the position of the American & British Armies before, at, and after the engagement on the Heights, August 27, 1776.

The Woodson Research Center will be closed Thursday-Friday, July 1-2, 2021 in observance of Independence Day. Happy 4th!

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

Searching our Rare Books

In August, searching the library’s catalog completely changed. We moved from an outdated system that the catalogers used to input the library’s holdings that had a hard time with digital formats to a brand new one that has its own quirks, but is definitely a huge step forward.

One major thing that changed was searching our rare books. In the old system, a researcher could do a location search of our different rare book collections. If you don’t know about our many collections, here’s a page with more information.

In the new system, the steps are a bit different, but we now have an amazing video that is a demonstration created and narrated by Susan Garrison the library’s Access Services Manager.

Rice University Fondren Library – Collection Discovery – Woodson Research Center — Watch Video

The Bookman Christmas Catalog

The Bookman bookstore owned by Grace David had an amazing 1960 Christmas catalog. Below are a few pages.









Our collections reveal a few connections to the famed Grace David, who served as the inspiration of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment. We own the Charles Tapley architectural collection, which feature architectural drawings of the Grace and Henry David home. We also have a collection of Larry McMurtry papers. He both briefly attended Rice and taught here.

Tech Thursday: Leveling

This will be the last Tech Thursday post I author. It’s a bit of a bittersweet occasion for me, and I hope you all have enjoyed this as much as I have. So, without further ado, I’m going back one more time to my favorite source for Tech Thursday posts- the Rare Book Collection.

A few years ago, Woodson then-intern Susan Kirby made an online exhibit for the History of Science Rare Book collection, featuring some scanned images from a little volume entitled Traité du Nivellement by Jean Picard (1620-1682). Picard was a French astronomer credited with a number of advances in his field, the most famous being the first accurate measurement of the Earth’s size. He was also interested in surveying and hydraulics, and was the principle designer of the aqueducts and cisterns that supplied water to Versailles.

Traité was published posthumously by Phillippe de la Hire, a French polymath and contemporary of Picard. Broken up in sections, the book discusses the theory, instruments, and practices of Leveling, a kind of land surveying. La Hire also included a condensed version of another of Picard’s works, Measuring the Earth. The book includes many diagrams of surveying interments, many of which were original to Picard, including a level fixed with telescope lenses and reticules.





Fire Escapes


We’re going to revisit our good friend George Cruikshank’s Comic Almanack. The last time we posted about this book, we focused on the 1836 edition. This time let’s look at one from 1846.

In this section, Rigdum Funnidos, Gent. explains how to escape from a fire using some “new” devices.


Thanks to our new student archivist, Claire, for learning how to create the gif above on her first day.


This book is from our Cruikshank collection: AY758 .C7 C72 v.12-13 (1846-47)

Tech Thursday: Horse-drawn Vehicles

Continuing with the Masterson Texana Collection, here is another little treatise on technology, American Horse-Drawn Vehicles. Written by Jack D. Rittenhouse, this first edition is from 1948. This book surveys about 200 different American coaches, carriages, and wagons. Written when horse-drawn vehicles were still in limited use, the book was a response to demands for historical documentation of the rapidly vanishing form of conveyance. According to the dust jacket, the illustrations are generally half-inch scale and contemporary with their corresponding vehicle. Care was taken to “show construction designed clearly.”




pg3 pg44





Rittenhouse, Jack D. 1912-. American Horse-drawn Vehicles: Being a Collection of Two Hundred and Eighteen Pictures Showing One Hundred and Eighty-three American Vehicles, and Parts Thereof. [First edition]. Los Angeles, 1948.

Tech Thursday: Cryptography

Even more rare books!

What counts as technology? It’s easy to think reductively; objects like airplanes and computers will never fail to capture our attention, but processes and less concrete artifices are deserving of our consideration, too.

The Alan Harris Bath Collection (scroll to the bottom) is another of the Woodson’s Rare Book Collections, this one is focused on military intelligence, with something like seventy five books on codes and cryptography. Most of these are histories, focusing on cryptography in particular periods, countries, wars, agencies, and operations, but some are genuine guides and manuals for making and breaking codes.

Cryptogram Solving

First published in 1933, this little booklet is meant to be an introduction to cryptography. It discusses “Word and Affix Comparison,” “Vowel Spotting,” “Vowel Characteristics,” etc. Its author, M.E. O’Haver was a notable and prolific cryptographer whose work help spark public interest in secret codes.




A quarterly journal on cryptography, the Woodson holds twenty eight volumes, from the 1977 first issue to 2004. These examples are from the first 2004 edition.





Tech Thursday: The Woodring Collection


The Woodring Collection of Ricketts and Shannon Books is one of the Woodson’s rare books collections. According to the Rare Books page on Fondren Website:

Versatile British artists Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon were long-time partners in life and art. Both were members of the Royal Academy. They pursued independent careers as artists and often collaborated on creative projects. Shannon is best known for his painting and lithography, Ricketts for his contributions as book designer and illustrator and for designing costumes and sets for the theater.

While the collection’s focus is art history and literature, it includes many books on printing, binding, design, lithography, and illustration, as well as a rich collection of examples of Shannon and Ricketts’ work. Students and researchers interested in making books and printing can search the collection using the online catalog.