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?