Jaw Dropping Video, 1972: Dr. Thomas F. Freeman Reflects on His Time at Rice University

In that weird, almost but not quite aimless way of things on the internet, last night I ran across a wonderful web site I’d never heard of before, the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. I was originally sucked in by a Facebook post that linked to a very short, silent and spooky clip of a man walking in Galveston in the aftermath of the Great Storm. But once I was there I was hooked. Within five minutes I found this riveting half-hour long home movie, shot in 1972 as silent, but now accompanied by a 2012 audio interview with Dr. Freeman about his time at Rice. Freeman, the legendary debate coach at TSU, was one of the earliest black teachers here. He himself isn’t sure if he was the first or second and, frankly, neither am I. (It might not even be possible to figure that out.) I am sure that he is an accomplished, interesting and admirable man.

The video itself is a wonder.  There’s not much of a plot and it gets a little wobbly in spots but it takes us on a pretty thorough tour of the entire campus as well as the streets immediately adjacent. For whatever reason I wasn’t able to embed it here, but here’s the link. I spent a couple of hours pouring over it and I learned a lot.


I can’t resist noting that at 8:44 we see the same lamp post I was talking about yesterday and it now has proper headgear. (Also, it does seem to have the wrong, rounded bottom that I originally talked about here.) BUT when he gets over to the gym, you can see lamp posts with globe tops like the one in the 1962 picture from yesterday.

Bonus: Here’s a screen shot to induce you to click on the link to the video. It’s too good to miss and the site also has a  couple of shorter clips of Dr. Freeman teaching at Rice that are well worth your time if this is the kind of thing you’re interested in .

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.58.31 AM


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12 Responses to Jaw Dropping Video, 1972: Dr. Thomas F. Freeman Reflects on His Time at Rice University

  1. C Kelly says:

    TAMI is a fantastic endeavor. I’ve got 100+ cans of 16 and 8 mm film I want them to digitize. It’s all local (Fort Bend County) footage, which qualifies for free digitization. The only qualification is they want unedited copies to save in their archive and post on their Web site. I encourage anyone with Texas-oriented film (which they are inclined to share in a public archive) to contribute to this cause.

    Just my $.02.

  2. Cool site and film. This was the time when I was a freshman. It is interesting to think that Dr. Freeman and I were getting to know the campus at about the same time, coming to the same place from very different backgrounds and points of view.

  3. Oh, in case you missed it, your favorite lamppost appears again at 13:28

  4. effegee says:

    Weren’t the original “German high-hats” gas lamps? I vaguely remember that some of the lamps in the older parts of campus, like to quad, were gas in the late ’60s/early ’70s. Perhaps the Anderson “turban” was an early test of electricity?

  5. Buddy Chuoke says:

    Dr. Freeman brought up the name of Dr. Niels Nielsen, chair of the Religious Studies department in the early 1970’s. Anyone know how his career ended? Was it at Rice? The two semesters of intro religious studies taught by Nielsen made a most profound and lasting impact on my life.

  6. Keith Cooper says:

    On the lamps, … FEG is correct; the German High Hats were gas lamps. At some point, late 70’s or early 80’s, they were converted to electricity.

    While the streetlamps were, almost exclusively German High Hats, the lamps on walkways were not standardized. I have the impression that the current standard was adopted under the leadership of VPFA Curry and Mr. Bill Mack (then head of Facilities & Engineering), sometime prior to 1995. I served on some committee that looked at illumination on campus in the 1995 to 1997 time frame; at that point, the current standard was in place and accepted.

  7. Andy Arenson says:

    I’m struck by how little the campus changed between this video and when I arrived in 88.

  8. Pingback: Thomas Freeman, RIP – Billie's Back Porch

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