I was looking back over some posts this morning and realized that I may have inadvertently given everyone the impression that the “Sundry Contracts” file is full of important–or at least semi-important–documents. In truth, though, the stuff in there is nothing but sundry. It’s just various and that’s all.
I will illustrate this point with one of my all-time favorite near-meaningless archival documents, this bill of sale from the “Sundry Contracts” box:
What we have here is documentation that in 1951 the Rice Institute (through it’s agent, Jack Daugherty) traded in a ten-year-old Chevy Club Coupe and bought a ten-year-old Pontiac. They only got 95 bucks for the Chevy.
Here’s a picture of what the Pontiac looked like:
And here’s a great, very short, YouTube clip of a 1941 Chevy Club Coupe (worth a click for the narrator alone–he’s really digging it).
What can I tell you about this? Only a little. Jack Daugherty was a parasitologist, a faculty member in the Biology Department. My guess is that the department needed a car to take on collecting trips, which by 1951 had moved farther afield than Buffalo Bayou and the meadows surrounding the Institute campus.
The vast bulk of material not only in the Sundry Contract file but in the archives as a whole is pretty much like this. And there’s a mountain of it.
Bonus: I’m out of town for a day or two longer, but Rice History Corner Special Correspondent Karen Hyde sends this photo of breaking news.
Caveat: We seem to have a lot of things carved onto buildings that are difficult to spot, let alone read. Here’s one from the Biology Building. I don’t even know how many times I walked past it before I saw it: