“I sure hope that the Woodson has a way to flatten these,” 2020

I love the days when I come in and there’s a package waiting for me, especially when I’m not expecting anything. Today it was a long skinny box, very intriguing. Inside were some papers that were so aggressively rolled up that I struggled to see what I had. Luckily there was also a note (sometimes there isn’t!):

I’m very grateful to Dan McCormack ’82 for sending these posters and I’d like to assure him that we do have a high-tech archival solution for flattening rolled up documents–big, flat, heavy pieces of glass:


Bonus: It’s art and it looks great.


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Ticket Line, 1990

When I saw this I immediately assumed the line was for concert tickets:

But it was a basketball game they were so excited about! Georgetown, with their great center Alonzo Mourning, was coming to play Rice just before Christmas break. The Owls had started the season well and the crowd was eager to see their first big challenge:

We lost 47-53 (!) but that must have been an extremely interesting game.


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Friday Follies: Just a Guy and his Ball, no date

But can he be left alone to enjoy it? What do you think?

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Beer Bike, 1961: Crumpled

I’ve been in Omaha at meetings the last couple of days. This is roughly how I feel right now:

I’ll be back tomorrow after I get some sleep.

P.S. Love his shoes.

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Struggle, no date

I found this undated photo in a folder called “Students–recreation” but it looks more like a forced march than anything you could really call recreation:

I have a couple of observations. First, those gym outfits! Wow. Next, where is this? I think it has to be in front of the gym, which to my recollection is the only place on campus that cars could be parked below the level they’re standing on. And finally I may be completely off base but might the master of ceremonies here be a young Jimmy Disch from the Kinesiology Department? Whoever he is, he has great legs.

Bonus: This is from a non-Rice related collection but I’m hoping someone (calling Marty Merritt!) can date the car for me. Thanks in advance!

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Everybody Gets a Trophy, circa late teens

These two images were among those in the box of little glass plate negatives that Tommy Lavergne gave the Woodson back in 2011. You’ll be able to tell at a glance that they are extremely early–there’s nothing whatsoever in the background. I never used them before today because I couldn’t understand them. If I looked long enough I would actually get dizzy.

The reason for this, I now know, is that I had the images reversed. It only took nine years for me to figure this out. In any event, this is how they’re supposed to go:


Bonus: They’re standing pretty close to where the letter B is on this 1927 drawing.



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Main Street

I’m off to find out whether my next grandchild will be a boy or a girl so I’m a bit rushed. (I don’t care, by the way.)

But this is just delicious. Rice off to the upper left.

What do you think? Circa 1960?



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“William Marsh Rice Correspondence, Miscellaneous”

I’ve been looking around in the Early Rice Institute papers this week and, as always, it’s proven to be a cornucopia of weirdness. It’s a deeply confusing collection, both tedious and   haphazard, a jumbled mountain of litigation records, business documents, and correspondence that lay bare the legal and financial underpinnings of Rice and its endowment. When you see a file in there labeled “Miscellaneous” you should pay attention because it’s all more or less miscellaneous. In this context the actual meaning of “miscellaneous” is “I give up.”

I was not disappointed. Here’s a small sample, three items chosen not quite at random. The first is a catalog from an elevator manufacturer:

Next, rather odder, a recipe for fixing a leaky roof. I don’t know what half this stuff is:

And finally, the prize of the bunch, some disturbing doodles made on the back of the cover sheet of a contract for the purchase of 369 acres in Falls County, Texas (which contract is not in the folder):

I could have lived without that.

Note: I’m going to be spending the next four days at an undisclosed exotic location. No internet. See y’all Monday.

Bonus: I didn’t need to see this either.

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Campus Map, 1949 plus the 1958 Class Elections

This is an interesting little map. It came from a 1949 student handbook and it shows several things I wasn’t familiar with, including the infirmary, the numbered stadium gates, and which walkways were paved:


The red handwriting delineate where election signs were allowed. I don’t think this is a thing anymore, or at least I can’t recall seeing campaign signs stuck in the ground, but it was a very big deal back in the day. Here are some pictures from the 1958 election, the first following the advent of the college system, from the collection donated by David Davidson ’58. The transition from class elections to college elections hadn’t really been made yet and would prove to be a bit bumpy but this gives you a good look at how prolific the sign makers were. It’s interesting to note that in 1958 the main site was near Fondren, presumable the center of the most foot traffic:

Bonus: Before Fondren was built all the foot traffic was in and around the sallyport. This is from the 1946 election.

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“I considered throwing away all these photos,” 2020

I walked in this morning and was immediately presented with a box of really pretty good pictures taken by a Rice student for a photography class in 2010. (It seems impossible but that’s already ten years ago!) She sent them through the U.S. mail along with this note:

First, I love being addressed as “Dear Rice.” Second, I include this partly because it’s charming but also partly because I want to commend Isabella Gonzalez (who I think is class of 2011) and urge you all to follow her example. If you have stuff you think we might enjoy looking at, send it in.

Just think how much poorer we’d be without this kind of thing:

Bonus: Beer, 1960.

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