One of my co-workers in the Woodson has been laboriously sorting a large collection of papers which consist mostly of old land leases that belonged to William Marsh Rice. This is pretty tedious work. (It’s also dirty and uncomfortable–papers that have been sitting around that long get moldy.) These papers aren’t all that valuable historically, but among them were a couple of boxes called “Sundry Contracts” and “Financial Records.” Here, things get more interesting. I’ll be posting a few of the surprises we found.
The financial records turned out to be seemingly every single receipt collected for every single expenditure of the William Marsh Rice Institute from the moment of its formation in 1891. Since there was no actual school, these are extremely minor purchases: stamps and stationery, the salary of a night watchman for the Institute property downtown, fees for the filing and copying of legal documents, etc.
The most interesting receipts are in the 1907 folder. They are for the reimbursement of travel expenses for several candidates for the presidency of the Institute, including Edgar Odell Lovett, who eventually got the job. I’m now busy trying to understand who some of these guys were and why they got interviews.