“for reasons distinctly racial I am seeing all the doors of universities closed in front of me,” 1928

This is a picture of the first faculty of Yeshiva College (now University), taken in 1928. I found it reproduced in a biography of Bernard Revel, Yeshiva’s first president, and when I looked at the names along the bottom my heart nearly skipped a beat. The young man standing in the middle of the back row is named Solomon A. Rhodes and I’d been searching for a picture of him for many years:

Rhodes taught French and Spanish at the Rice Institute for three years before joining the faculty at Yeshiva. Over time I’ve pieced together most of the story of his experience here, which is much too complicated for a blog post–or even a dozen blog posts–but which will have an important place in a larger work in progress on the history of Jews at Rice.

I visited the archives at Yeshiva last week, where I was met with a warm and generous welcome and two folders full of relevant material. There are several references in this letter that I will need to work to understand but the general point is both absolutely clear and utterly dismaying:


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

What’s In Woodson: “one of the joys of our collection,” 1975

I’m sure many of you have already seen last week’s post by my colleague Norie Guthrie in our What’s in Woodson blog, but if you haven’t this link will get you there. It’s about a collection of American Civil War pictures that was ably put in good order by our student archivist, young Trevor Egerton. Unsurprisingly, many of these photographs are quite disturbing, terrible and grisly depictions of the human consequences of all-out war.

Which is why I feel bad that this letter from the then head of the Woodson, Nancy Parker (Boothe) to Alice Pratt Brown, the donor of the collection, made me giggle. The image of Frank Vandiver, full of delight, showing them off to visitors was just too much for me:

Bonus: I’m sitting at the airport waiting to go to New York. I have a pretty packed schedule the next couple of days but a very interesting one, with visits to both Cooper Union and Yeshiva University. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to post again but with luck when I’m back I’ll have something good.



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

“the only real objection is the appearance of men’s legs,” 1936

So this all started last week when I was looking in the information files for the Service Awards folder. Here’s what it looks like inside one of these drawers:

It’s safe to say I’ve opened this drawer hundreds of times but this was the first time I registered the yellow reference sheet. “Shorts?,” I thought to myself. “What could that mean?” The first thing that jumped to my mind was short films and I was kind of excited at the prospect. So I hustled over to check out “Goode, W.J.”

But no, it turned out to actually be about shorts:

This story seems to have been catnip to the newspapers–several clippings from papers near and far are in the file. This one from the Houston Press is, I think, the most evocative.  You need to read all the way to end to get the full impact of Mr. Goode’s theory:

Goode, being a bright fellow, did as he was told and wore pants for the rest of the year. He then transferred to the University of Texas and embarked on a rather spectacular academic career. His obituary, which mentions his expulsion from Rice, makes fascinating reading:

William Josiah Goode, former President of the American Sociological Association (1972) and Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, died unexpectedly on May 4, 2003. He was best known for his pioneering cross-cultural analysis of marriage and divorce although his work covered basic issues in sociological theory focusing on social control systems of prestige, force and force threat, and love.

William J. Goode (known as Si to his family and friends) published 20 books and more than 80 articles on a wide range of topics, including Religion Among the Primitives (1951), Die Struktur der Familie (1960), World Revolution and Family Patterns (1963), Explorations in Social Theory (1973), Principles of Sociology (1977), The Celebration of Heroes (1978), and World Changes in Divorce Patterns (1993). His Methods in Social Research with Paul Hatt (1952 with many printings) was widely translated (including a pirated Chinese edition) and was used to teach research methods to three generations of social scientists throughout the western world and Asia.

Si Goode was best known for his 1963 book, World Revolution and Family Patterns (The Free Press). Drawing on his knowledge of nine languages, the research included data from more than 50 countries and covered a half-century. It demonstrated the critical impact of family systems on what was previously assumed to be purely economic forces, such as society’s capacity to industrialize.

Thirty years later, Si published an equally pioneering cross-cultural analysis of divorce, World Changes in Divorce Patterns (Yale University Press, 1993), which laid out the conceptual basis for analyzing and predicting patterns of divorce, revealing anomalous patterns in some societies.

Goode’s classic articles, such as “The Theoretical Importance of Love,” “A Theory of Role Strain,” “The Protection of the Inept,” “Violence Among Intimates,” and “Why Men Resist,” offered insights into social processes that often were contrary to popular wisdom, and moved research beyond existing paradigms. His book, The Celebration of Heroes (1978), of which he was proudest, was a keystone to his overarching analysis of the subtleties of social forces involved in the production and distribution of prestige, honor, and respect.

Goode was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and his scholarship was honored by numerous awards and prizes, including an honorary Doctorate of Science, Upsala College, 1971; the Merit Award for a Lifetime of Scholarship from the Eastern Sociological Association; two Guggenheim fellowships; National Institute of Mental Health Senior Scientist Career Award; the MacIver Prize for the best scholarly book, given by the American Sociological Association (ASA); and the Burgess Award in 1969.

Goode also served as President of the Sociological Research Association and President of the Eastern Sociological Society. In 1982, the ASA’s Section on the Family named its annual scholarly award for the outstanding book on the family in his honor, and in 1994 he himself was granted the William J. Goode award for World Changes in Divorce Patterns (Yale University Press, 1993).

Born in Houston, Texas, in 1917, and encouraged by his high school debating coach, the future U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, Goode started college at the age of 16 on a full fellowship at Rice Institute. Characteristic of a lifelong tendency to nonconformity about matters of small importance, he was expelled from Rice in the spring of 1936 for violating the school’s dress code by wearing shorts to class. He completed his BA and MA degrees (in Philosophy) at the University of Texas, Austin in 1938 and 1939.

He was studying for his PhD in Sociology at Pennsylvania State University when he enlisted in the Navy and became a radarman on an attack transport ship carrying and landing troops in the Pacific (1944-45). After the war, Goode became an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Wayne State University (1946-50).

He moved to Columbia University in 1950 to collaborate with Robert K. Merton on a project analyzing the professions in American society. In 1952, he became an Associate Professor and in 1956, Professor of Sociology.

Goode was named the Franklin H. Giddings Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in 1975. He was chair of the Department of Sociology for several periods in the 1960s and 1970s and also served as the Associate Director of the Bureau of Applied Social Research and on its Board of Governors from 1956-70.

During his years at Columbia, he was an early supporter of the nascent women’s movement, both intellectually and personally, working with Betty Friedan when she was writing The Feminine Mystique, and with Cynthia Fuchs Epstein on a jointly edited book The Other Half: Roads to Women’s Equality (1971). Unlike many male professors of his generation, he encouraged and promoted the careers of his women graduate students—from whom he demanded nothing less than excellence.

In 1977, Goode left Columbia to become a Professor of Sociology at Stanford University where he taught for the next nine years. He became an Emeritus Professor at Stanford in 1986, and joined the Department of Sociology at Harvard University (until 1993). He became affiliated with the Sociology Department at George Mason University in 1994.

Goode’s reputation for scholarship and teaching was widely acknowledged internationally, and he was invited to many foreign countries. He was a Visiting Professor at the newly opened Free University of Berlin in 1954; a visitor at Wolfson College, Oxford University, in 1980; a distinguished guest lecturer in China for the Chinese Academy of Science in 1986; and a Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1992.

Si Goode was often referred to as a “renaissance man,” excelling in a wide range of activities, including painting, sculpture, sailing, tennis, skiing, mycology, and birding. In the past three years he won numerous tennis trophies in the mid-Atlantic region in the over 80’s singles category, saw one of his paintings published on the cover of a book, and wrote an article on “bird watching with your ears” for the East Hampton (New York) SOFO Naturalist magazine.

Goode is survived by his wife, Lenore J. Weitzman, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Sociology and Law at George Mason University; three children, Erich Goode, Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stonybrook, who is currently Visiting Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland; Barbara Baldwin, Women’s Health coordinator for the Washington, DC Department of Heath; and Andrew Josiah Goode, an architect in Shingle Springs, California; and a sister, Rosalie Grizzle of Magnolia, Texas.

His family is planning a funeral ceremony at the Columbarium of Arlington National Cemetery (date to be announced.) They would welcome contributions to the ASA for the William J. Goode international fellowship, which is being established in his honor to provide support for graduate students engaged in cross-cultural dissertation research.

I was half astonished (but only half, because of course) to see that it was his high school debate coach, Lyndon B. Johnson, who urged him to enroll at Rice at age 16. The Sam Houston High School yearbook that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago was still on my desk so I took a look. Sure enough, there’s no picture of Goode but his name is there, listed as a freshman.

Bonus: There’s an unanswered question here, of course. Did they let him wear shorts at UT? We may never know.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Friday Follies: Probably O-Week, no date

Nothing says “I’ve arrived at an elite institution of higher learning” quite like a shopping cart race:

This is a really nice Baker College scrapbook that has everything except a date.

Note: The Woodson is closed Monday so I’ll be back Tuesday.


Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

“Computer Science at Rice,” 1966

I got some questions in the comments to yesterday’s post about John Alan Robinson and the possibility that arose in 1966 of starting a Department of Computer Science–so here’s what I know. In the fall of 1966 President Pitzer brought in an external review committee to take an objective look at the state of computer science at Rice. They were kept incredibly busy, meeting with what seemed like half the campus at fifteen minute intervals during the entire day of  September 26th and the morning of the 27th, with most meals taken with small groups at Cohen House. Here’s a look at the schedule, which seems to be a bit on the demanding side:

They did not dawdle in their work. By October 6th Rice Dean of Engineering and Science Bill Gordon sent out a memo relaying their advice to the concerned members of the Rice community. I am told that this was very good advice but how much (if any) of it was followed is unclear to me. I’m hoping someone will have something to say about this.

Bonus: When I saw this on the way in I just assumed someone was getting ready to take pictures for a wedding or quinceañera.

So it was surprising to come out and see a man in a suit.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Rice’s First Computer Science Class, 1964

From what I can tell it was offered by the Department of Philosophy, Psychology, and Education. (How’s that for frugal administration?) It was taught by John Alan Robinson, a British born philosopher, mathematician, and computer scientist:

This class was an almost explosive success. It’s enrollment that fall was 37, with another 15 auditors, many of them faculty members.

Robinson earned a classics degree from Corpus Christi College at Cambridge University 1952, a master’s in philosophy from the University of Oregon in 1953, and finally a doctorate in philosophy from Princeton in 1956. He then spent several years working at DuPont, where he began work on applied mathematics and computer applications. By 1960 he decided to return to academic life and went to the University of Pittsburgh for a year as a Mellon Research Fellow. Here’s how he described his work there: “I used this year to write a paper on Hume’s theory of causation . . . and to begin my still current investigations into the proving of mathematical theorems by means of computing-machine methods.” When he arrived at Rice as an assistant professor of philosophy in 1961 this was the work he would focus on and it would result in the 1965 publication of his pathbreaking paper A Machine-Oriented Logic Based on the Resolution Principle.

By all accounts Robinson wasn’t only an academic star he was also a cheerful and helpful colleague and a really fine teacher of logic (sadly, not all that common of a skill). But almost from the moment he got here he was heavily recruited by other universities. For a few years President Pitzer managed to fend off the employment offers by means of rapid promotion, salary increases, and title changes, first to Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science and then just to Professor of Computer Science.  There was, of course, no Department of Computer Science in 1966 but notes in Pitzer’s files strongly suggest that if Rice had managed to retain Robinson a Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science would have been begun more or less immediately. Alas, in 1967 Robinson finally received an offer he couldn’t turn down. He spent the rest of his highly productive career at Syracuse, while the formalization of a computer science program at Rice had a good long wait in front of it.

The picture of him above with the rest of the Philosophy, Psychology, and Education Department is the only image of him we have. Or at least I thought so until this afternoon when I found this picture attached to his transcript from Princeton:

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Malcolm Lovett–Troublemaker, 1919

I got a kick out of this clipping I found in a student scrapbook yesterday. It reads like a message from the Old Rice, that far distant place whose social world was dominated by the activities of classes rather than colleges and whose students took the trolley downtown to watch vaudeville shows. When I saw who was the instigator of this small riot I couldn’t help but laugh. It was Malcolm Lovett, class of 1921 and later chairman of the Rice board of trustees:

That’s Lovett second from left in the front row. He was Rice’s first real basketball star:

Here’s an ad for the the show from the Houston Post:

And just in case you’re burning with curiosity here’s a little review, also from the Post. Sounds like one of those mix-up comedies, which seem to have always existed and which  will surely be with us until the very end of time:

Bonus: Sophomore Anah Marie Leland, from whose scrapbook the clipping emerged, was deeply impressed with the near surgical efficiency of the freshmen’s attack.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Frances Vanzant, ’22: “Soap is the thing I missed most at the front.”

This afternoon I was looking for the file on Moshe Vardi and I paused to check out the folder right next to his. Interestingly, it’s mislabeled. It says”Francis Van Zandt,” which is also how her name appears in the 1922 Campanile. I had never heard of her.

The Campanile managed to misspell her entire name. She was actually Frances Vanzant, which took me quite some time to figure out. The reason I bothered to keep looking (and the reason I forgot about Moshe) is that the stuff in the folder was so unexpected. It was full of newspaper clippings, all praising the “girl doctor” who went off to Spain during its civil war as part of an American unit of doctors and nurses who provided medical services to refugees. This piece is from the New York Daily News, published on May 3, 1938:

I found this picture of her with the group of medical personnel she led to Spain in the fantastic Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. She’s in the middle of the front row:

Dr. Vanzant earned her medical degree from the University of Texas medical school in Galveston and was one of the first two women to intern at John Sealy Hospital. She then spent five years at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota before she returned to Houston and private practice as a gastroenterologist.

There’s some indication in the file that she may have written a series of columns for the Houston Post during her time in Spain so I hope to have more about her soon. I think she’s wonderful and I’d like to hear more from her.

Bonus: Here’s her Campanile photo. She looks very serious. That big round collar is a dead giveaway that it’s 1922, by the way. All the girls had them.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Friday Follies: “I’m planning to Raise Hell but I need some help doing it,” nd

It’s the P.S. that made me laugh:

There’s no date and I don’t have an alumni directory handy but I’d guess mid-70s.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

“But I’m Ready For Another One,” 1921

I came across this note yesterday while looking for something truly obscure in Dr. Lovett’s files concerning the French Department. Very unexpected and the sort of thing that you just have to go look up whether you have the time or not:

So what was all the fuss about? We trailed Tulane the entire game, mounted a furious last minute drive, scored, and missed the extra point with time running out.

This guy was on the front page of the next issue of the Thresher. We might want to think about reviving him:

We did win the next game but it turned out to be a mediocre 4-4-1 season with only one SWC victory.

Bonus: From the dictionary of philosophy terms.


Ataraxia (pronounced AT-uh-RAX-ee-yuh) is Greek for “undisturbed” or “untroubled.” It’s a kind of inner peace – the ability to remain calm despite fear, anger, sadness, or stress. A person who with strong ataraxia has mastered the emotions and can rise above the ordinary difficulties that we all encounter in life. Ataraxia is the ultimate form of “keeping an even keel.”

Ataraxia is sometimes translated as “happiness,” but that’s a bit misleading. When we talk about happiness, we usually mean a temporary state of joy or pleasure. Ataraxia isn’t necessarily pleasurable – it’s calm.


Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments