Elizabeth Kalb, ’16: The Owl Who Beat Texas

After yesterday’s post about the sweaty 1916 commencement someone asked me if graduates Ervin and Elizabeth Kalb were brother and sister. I said yes, but that’s wrong.  I momentarily confused Elizabeth with Elva, who was Ervin’s actual sister and also a Rice alumna. (Rice History Corner regrets, but is not particularly surprised by, the error.)

This gave me reason to poke around in some files and up turned something wonderful. I’ll let Elizabeth explain it herself:


And sure enough, right next to her letter to Ola Moore was tucked the poster that was pinned up in the Sallyport in April 1915:


I also found the program for the contest and it contained yet another surprise:


I had forgotten, if I ever knew, that Newton Rayzor (later an important member of the Board of Trustees) had transferred to Rice after a year at North Texas. And I must say that for Elizabeth Kalb to have bested him in an oratorical contest she must have been truly excellent.

Fun Fact: To the best of my knowledge Elizabeth Kalb was the first Rice graduate to be jailed. Active in the National Woman’s Party, she was arrested in January of 1919 at a demonstration for women’s suffrage in front of the White House. Here she is in the editorial room of the Suffragist, the NWP’s weekly journal:


Photo Credit: Library of Congress

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Elizabeth Kalb, ’16: The Owl Who Beat Texas

  1. Katie Beth Gottlieb says:

    I loved this post so much! Her comment about how far women had come between 1915 and 1963 brought a tear to my eye.

  2. Francis Eugene "Gene" Pratt, Rice Institute, 1956 says:

    I also was pleased to read this material.
    However, it seems to me that the #1 and the #2 were probably tied for 1&2.
    The man was probably picked by a male panel of judges. Had that panel been of females, the female would probably have been picked.
    Seems kind of like a tie to me.

    Melissa, may I send a copy of this material to some of my children: I have 3 Aggies (S,D,S-in-law),
    2 Tea-Sippers (D,D),
    and 2 N.TX Eagles (W,D).
    They might enjoy reading it, or having me read it to them, in some cases.

  3. joecwhite says:

    The letter mentions that “study-script” of the oration was enclosed. Would love to read that if it is still extant.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Yes, it’s still in the file. I was waiting to see if anyone asked for it and you’ll be pleased to know that in addition to your request I received several similar emails. With luck I’ll scan it tomorrow. Without luck, I’ll scan it on Friday.

  4. Pingback: The Student Life at Rice, 1915 | Rice History Corner

Leave a Reply