This afternoon I sifted through boxes of early library records with great pleasure. This particular set of exchanges, which revolve around eight books on the Victorian writer George Meredith (who would have thought there would be so many?) that Rice had borrowed from the Library of Congress.
First Miss Alice Dean needed to get them back from the faculty member who had them. In this case it is Frederic Thomas Blanchard, who taught in Rice’s English Department for several years beginning in 1913:
She then sent them back to Washington with a nice note:
And received a polite acknowledgement of their receipt in return:
The stately pace and graciousness of this entire correspondence–even the simple acknowledgment from the Superintendent of the Reading Room–filled me with longing. It probably won’t surprise you to know that interlibrary loan was extraordinarily important in the Institute’s early years, when our own collection was in its infancy.
In case anyone is curious, the markings on these papers that read “19-28” relate to an internal library filing system.
Bonus: Frederic Thomas Blanchard left Rice for the University of California, where he taught English at their “Southern Branch,” later known as UCLA. I don’t know much about him except that he seems to have specialized in composition and creative writing. I did, though, come across this moving little piece about the English Reading Room at UCLA and his part in creating what Mrs. Grace Hunt nurtured into a real treasure.