Today we had a visit from the granddaughter of Percy Daniell, one of Rice’s earliest math professors. She was accompanied by other family members and all of them were friendly and gracious, delighted to see the many letters her grandfather exchanged with President Lovett as they negotiated his arrival in Houston. We also have quite a few photographs of him. Interestingly, most of these are found in student scrapbooks. In the early days of the Institute there was a great deal of easy interaction between the faculty and the students, who were, after all, engaged in the same pursuit: the establishment of a university. The picture at left shows a relaxed Daniell on campus–it came out of Carl Knapp’s (’16) scrapbook. Here’s another, of Daniell and physicists H.A. Wilson and Arthur Hughes taking in a Rice football game in 1915. Daniell is third from the right, in the light colored hat.
His granddaughter also left us with some things, including the manuscript he had been working on at the time of his death. We’re very grateful to have this. She also pointed me to a truly fascinating biographical piece about Daniell. I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in mathematics or history or both. Daniell was a deeply interesting figure and this article sheds light on his time at Rice (he stayed for a decade and did some of his most important work here) as well as the rest of his career.
Here is my colleague Rebecca, at right, showing our treasures to the family:
Bonus: I also ran into some historical characters at the IT Department picnic today. I had a wonderful lunch (so much meat!) and learned some things about the history of computation at Rice. I don’t care who you are, it’s pretty hard to beat that.