Dr. Henry O. Nicholas, Part I

Sometimes if I’m getting something from the photo files I’ll idly open up a nearby folder just to see what’s in it. I did that today and was most pleased to find these three fantastic pictures of Chemistry Professor Henry O. Nicholas giving the lab equipment (does anyone know what these instruments are?) a workout in the fall of 1949:

New Henry Nicholas 1949

New Henry Nicholas

They’re all good but I especially like this one, with it’s obsolete technology and the glimpse out the window:

New Henry O Nicholas Chemistry professor fall 1949

As I sat there scanning these images I realized both that I really like this fellow with his rolled up shirt sleeves and that I knew nothing about him at all. Assuming him to be a short-timer I didn’t expect to find much, but hey, I have to look.

It turns out that I was very wrong. Nicholas arrived at the Institute in 1921 after doing a Fellowship at Yale and stayed until he retired in 1956. Surprisingly, in addition to teaching Chemistry he served as Athletic Director for some period of time I haven’t yet been able to ascertain. Here’s the article announcing his appointment in January, 1934:

New Henry Nicholas AD Jan 19 1934 Thresher

If I have a minute I’ll check out what happened with the Presbyterians.

Something really wonderful turns up in Part II, coming Monday . . .

Bonus: This time will be different.


Lined up like soldiers:


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13 Responses to Dr. Henry O. Nicholas, Part I

  1. Karen says:

    That equipment certainly takes me back. I believe that’s very similar to what we used in freshman chem lab in the late 70s. Assuming you mean the middle picture, the “jar” on the right is a desiccator, which would be very important with Houston’s humidity. As I recall, the item on the left, that looks like a rectangular glass case, is a balance.

  2. Mary B. McIntire says:

    Looks like some issues being addressed in athletics.

    Sent from my iPad

  3. effegee says:

    The cypresses are obviously recent imports from Rome … haven’t learned to recline yet.

  4. john wolda says:

    Dr Nicholas was my Father-in-law. He was AD for one year,1934, when Rice won its first SWC football championship. He was Chairman of the Rice Athletic Committee for 20 years.

  5. chris nicholas says:

    Dr. Nicholas was my grandpa. Many happy memories of being with him on Carson Court in Houston! Thank you.

  6. almadenmike says:

    The glass object in the top photo is called a volumetric pipette. It would have had a single mark that indicated when a specific volume of liquid had been sucked up into the tube. These types of pipettes were used in chemistry experiments and analysis — in conjunction with balances for weighing solids — for creating solutions with precise concentrations of their various constituents.

  7. Lou Ann Montana says:

    I’m fascinated by his necktie! Were paramecia a precursor to paisley? 😉

  8. Melissa Kean says:

    Someday I’m going to do a collage of neckties through Rice history. I’ve seen some crazy stuff.

  9. Edward Summers '59 says:

    Those are the right answers on the lab equipment.

  10. Leslie Nicholas Granger says:

    Dr. Nicholas was my grandfather. I had never seen these photos before so thanks so much for posting!

  11. Nick Wolda says:

    This is awesome!!! I was named after Dr. Nicholas. Nick Wolda

  12. Pingback: A Few Band and Football Odds and Ends, 1934 | Rice History Corner

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