Sometimes something turns up that is interesting enough to keep even though I don’t have any clear idea of what I’m going to do with it. These pictures from the installation of Rice as the Texas Beta Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1929 are an example. I found them several years ago and liked them enough to sit down and scan them, but then I just let them sit on my hard drive while I waited for . . . something.
Here are the installers, a frightening looking bunch. From left to right they are the historian Henry Osborn Taylor, who gave the address, Oscar Voorhees, the General Secretary of Phi Beta Kappa, and Dr. William J. Battie from the Texas Alpha Chapter at the University of Texas:
And here’s the entire gathering:
What brings this to mind today is Box 1 of the PBK collection, which I noticed on a shelf this afternoon while I was looking for something else. The first folders hold the correspondence surrounding the decision to grant Rice a chapter, which was not without controversy. The first issue that arose was whether a technical institute had enough focus on the liberal arts. The organization was quite doubtful about this, citing their earlier denial of a chapter to MIT, but Radoslav Tsanoff, who led the effort, fairly easily convinced them that Rice’s offerings in the humanities were adequate.
Once this first objection was met, a surprising second question was carefully raised: why so many women?
Tsanoff’s reply is a straightforward and simple statement of fact. It is also a lovely commentary about what ought to lie at the heart of the house of intellect.
(Don’t worry about the overtyping at the top–the important part begins after.)
Bonus: Speaking of the Texas Alpha Chapter, I saw a decidedly strange sight this afternoon out on the loading dock behind the Mechanical Engineering Building. These are three volumes of the University of Texas yearbook, the Cactus, with assorted trash: