William Houston with Visitor, no date

I’ve been working in President Houston’s papers these days. This is a collection I haven’t used much since I was in graduate school way back in the 90s and it has proven to be a pleasant surprise. Houston has never really gotten his due here, which is partly my fault but also partly just because his tenure fell in between the consequential eras of Lovett and Pitzer. Anyway, in an attempt to correct this neglect I’m actually working ahead on a couple of posts about him but I’ll start with this mystery: who is the visitor? He looks familiar but I can’t quite place him. I’d guess he’s someone important just because they bothered to take photographs, which in the days before everyone carried cell phones took some effort.

Also — look at that telephone!

Bonus: These oak galls are numbered!

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14 Responses to William Houston with Visitor, no date

  1. Gene Lege says:

    I wish I could make out more details of the books on the shelves. Houston was a physicist, of course, and I would love to know what books of the period he found important enough to have directly accessible – the only one I can make out is “High Energy Particles” – I have no idea who wrote or published this.

    I’m sure his own Principles of Mathematical Physics is one of them…

  2. almadenmike says:

    I’m going to guess that President Houston’s visitor was Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, who became president of CalTech shortly after Houston left to become president of Rice. DuBridge was the luncheon speaker following Houston’s April 10, 1947, inauguration (https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/99315/sallyport-vol-03-no02.pdf). But after looking at photos of him found on Google (https://www.google.com/search?q=lee+dubridge&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjGloTU3NXdAhVDWq0KHUkLAlwQ_AUIDygC&biw=1232&bih=588&dpr=1.5), I think the photos above were taken in the early 1960s.

    DuBridge was science advisor to three presidents (Truman, Eisenhower & Nixon) and a long-time member of the National Science Board, which governs the the National Science Foundation and advises Congress and the President.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      Yes! That’s him alright. Great call.

      How did you do it?

      • almadenmike says:

        My first hunch was fruitful. I thought he might be someone associated with the U.S. government science-funding system, which was emerging when Dr. Houston was Rice’s president.

        I Googled for the history of the National Science Foundation and quickly found this timeline: https://www.nsf.gov/about/history/overview-50.jsp. Its first photo was taken in 1951 of the first members of the National Science Board … and I immediately thought that the fellow standing just right of center might be Dr. Houston’s visitor. Fortunately, this timeline photo included a caption that identified all the board members, so I was able to Google additional information and photos of Dr. DuBridge, all of which seemed to confirm my suspicion.

  3. marmer01 says:

    I believe the cover of the phone book says “June 1954.” But it could be 1956, I guess.

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