Lindsey Blayney

I’ve probably mentioned that it’s my habit to check out the materials that other people (both staff and patrons) are working with in the Woodson, even as I go about my own work. This is admittedly a little random, but it helps me keep a feel for the collections. I’ve actually found some very helpful and important things this way. And sometimes I just run across something that is flat out awesome. This is one of those awesome things.

A researcher from somewhere far, far away called a few weeks ago looking for some information about a pre-World War II era meeting in Germany that had been attended by a former Rice faculty member, Thomas Lindsey Blayney. We have Blayney’s papers here and there are a lot of photos in the collection. When I poked my nose into one of the boxes that my colleague was looking through, this is what I found. Click on it to enlarge, then again to zoom. I look at a lot of photographs and I tell you this is an epic photograph. He’s the one in the front middle, just to the left of the banner.

Blayney was one of the original faculty members of the Rice Institute. A native Kentuckian, he had met Edgar Odell Lovett sometime in the late 1890s when both were graduate students in Germany, Lovett in Mathematics at Leipzig and Blayney in Comparative Literature at Heidelberg. He came to Rice as the first professor of German and was one of the first Rice faculty to enlist in the military during World War I. He served on the staff of General John J. Pershing and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for his service. (Is that Pershing to Blayney’s right in the photograph?) Blayney left Rice to become president of Texas Woman’s College in 1924 and finished his career as dean of Carleton College in Minnesota.

He was a very popular teacher at Rice. Here’s a picture of him that was taken on the day the German Club was organized. This crowd doesn’t look quite so tough, does it? I’m frankly awed that this is the same person. How amazing what people are capable of.

And would it surprise you to know that we have in the Woodson that saddle he’s perched on?

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8 Responses to Lindsey Blayney

  1. Farrell Gerbode ('73) says:

    “Is that Pershing…?”

    The person as Blayney’s right in the picture is wearing the insignia of a brigadier general (one star). According to the Wikipedia entry for Pershing, he was a major general (two star) when President Wilson made him head of the AEF and a full general. Perhaps an attempt to confuse the enemy?

  2. Pat Campbell says:

    I think the key to the military photograph is establishing which unit he went to France with. My guess is that it was the 90th Infantry Division made up of draftees from Texas and Oklahoma. The general officer on the far left of the picture is probably the commander of the 180th Brigade – it is not Pershing since he is only wearing one star.

  3. Charley Landgraf ('75) says:

    Agreed. 90th Division, 180th Brigade consisted of Texas recruits volunteers (its 179th Brigade was made up of Okl recruits). Also dramatic background looks like Rhineland or Moselle valley, which is consistent with 90th Division’s duties in the Army of Occupation at end of war. We need to see if we can find a photo of the Brigadier who commanded the 180th. — and I think the Rice German Club looks plenty tough or strong; it doesn’t take olive drab and a saddle.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      You’re right–they really were a stalwart bunch and high spirited too, really full of fun. I wish I had a photo with me of some of them picking their way through the muck and debris of the early campus in their pretty shoes. I do have to say that they kicked up quite a fuss about having to wear olive drab during the time the campus went into military mode during the war.

      Maybe I’ll be able to do a post about that when I get back to campus.

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  6. Paul says:

    Whatever happened to that gentleman’s research on Blayney’s pre-war meeting in Germany? I’d be very much interested if you or he were able to find anything regarding this.

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