Things are being rearranged in the archives these days. As new collections come in to be processed, some boxes from the workspace in the basement are moved upstairs, which means that other boxes already on the upstairs shelves have to be moved out to the Library Service Center. I don’t really like this very much, incidentally, since I’m lazy and now will have to relearn where things are located. A happier result of all this commotion is that some things have bubbled up to the surface that I might never have looked at otherwise.
One of these things is a small scrapbook that belonged to Joan Wilson, the daughter of Rice’s first physics professor H.A. Wilson. There isn’t much Rice-related material in it, as it mainly covers the years she attended St. Mary’s College (now a high school) in Raleigh, North Carolina. I did discover, though, tucked away in a two small sleeves, a couple photos of the Wilson family at home. This is pretty good–we don’t have many pictures of H.A. Wilson and I found two more nice ones in one day.
The pictures are completely unidentified. Apart from Professor Wilson and his wife, I don’t really know who anyone is, not even Joan (although I believe she is the young woman standing on the left in the photo above). I’m also a bit adrift about dating these pictures. They’re quite outside my usual experience. I do know that the Wilsons moved in to that house in 1945. (In what has to be an upset it’s still standing, between two much newer behemoths.)
Anyone have any thoughts?
One more thing in the scrapbook made me laugh:
Honor or not, I opened it. Nothing incendiary in there.
Bonus: As I looked through the scrapbook, it dawned on me that I had seen a photo of Joan Wilson in a different collection in the Woodson. Here’s a beautiful portrait of her done by Vera Prasilova Scott, the wife of Rice physicist Arthur Scott and a stunning portrait photographer.
According to the Harris County Appraisal District website, 1515 Milford was built in 1949.
Wilson himself said he moved there in 1945, but I’m betting on the Harris County Appraisal District.
H.A. Wilson was my grandfather. I am the daughter of Joan Wilson Sherred. He and his family lived at 5510 Chenevert in 1945. They moved to 1515 Milford in the mid 50’s but I don’t remember the exact year. The outdoor shot is some of the family. Starting on the left, Melissa Wilson, Evelyn Rush Wilson, John Sherred, Joan Wilson Sherred, Kathy Wilson, Hilary Sherred, Stephen Wilson, H.A. Wilson, Mrs. H.A. (Marjorie) Wilson, Claire Wilson (in arms), Carolyn Wilson, Dorothy Wilson, Jack Wilson, Beth Wilson. The indoor shot is of the same family members on the same day (Christmas). My mother, Joan Wilson Sherred, is the woman standing in the center. My mother was a professional photographer and my grandparents hired a professional photographer that year specifically so my mother would be in the photos instead of behind the camera.
In the indoor shot: the “Craftint Do-it-yourself Copper Enameling Kit” appears to have been introduced in late 1954 or early 1955, according to a March 1955 newspaper article. The patent for the “Strato bank” (US Patent D171243) was issued Jan 5, 1954. Since it’s a Christmas photo and these are probably new items, Christmas 1954 is a good bet, or maybe 1955.
Every first-year physics graduate student was required to take Professor Wilson’s seminar course which met weekly for one hour. I entered Rice as a graduate student in 1960 and signed up for the seminar but right before the semester started Dr Wilson decided that he could no longer make it to the campus and requested that the students come to his house for the seminar.
So once a week in the fall of 1960 the graduate students went to 1515 Milford to spend a pleasant hour or so being served tea by Mrs Wilson, playing games that they had (I specifically remember a game of skittles) and chatting with Dr. Wilson. The exterior and interior of the house are much as I remember them and Dr Wilson looked about the same as in the photos. It was the last course that he taught at Rice
Skittles was a family favorite. But did you ever try to beat him at checkers. Family lore is that he only ever lost two games. One to my cousin Marjorie Henderson and one to me, but I never counted my win seriously. Grandmother had called us to dinner and he was hungry and pretty much gave me the win…sigh.
I’m especially interested in the family photo showing Marjorie, who was Irish and had a masters in physics from McGill. Is this pic available at higher resolution please?
These scans are pretty big but I can make them bigger. Have you already clicked on it twice to enlarge it?
Yes, that helps a lot, thank you! I see they published together too: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14719952-200-amateur-makes-fools-of-the-experts/
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