My day started out not so great–third round with the dentist–but got much better as it went along. I’m actually all a-twitter because this afternoon I came upon not one but two exciting collections that I’d never seen before. The first came about due to my special “reach up on the shelf and pull off a box” technique, but I’m saving this one for later. The second I found by pure happenstance. I was walking through the back room of the archives and heard two of my colleagues discussing a woman named Pender Turnbull. I most definitely recognized the name–a fair number of photographs in our collection have labels that indicate they were donated by her. I didn’t really know anything about her, though, except that she worked for years in the library. I was most surprised to learn that we have a box of her things and when the box was delivered this afternoon I was even more delighted to learn that the box is full of photos. I’ve only had time to look through a couple of envelopes, but I’m already swooning.
Here is the entirety of the biographical note that accompanies the collection: “Miss Euphemia Pender Turnbull was born on November 6, 1896, in Rockingham, Nova Scotia, enrolled at Rice Institute in the fall of 1915 and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1919. After graduation she accepted a summer job at the Institute and became a permanent member of the library staff that fall, remaining on campus for the next fifty years. Although she never received the title of University Archivist, she was best known in this role.” I have some ideas on where to look for more information, but don’t hold your breath. Staff members around here disappear like melting snow.
The image above was in her collection. It’s Stockton Axson, Rice’s first English professor, waiting for the trolley on a warm day, probably in late spring. If you zoom in, you can see “For Whites Only” stenciled on the wall behind him. I was surprised by this, but of course I had no right to be. This was what it was back then.
Bonus: So here’s something that happened today–they covered up the owl sculpture by the RMC, then they came and planted a very, very large number of azaleas all around him.
He’s going to be very surprised when they remove his blindfold.