“William Marsh Rice Correspondence, Miscellaneous”

I’ve been looking around in the Early Rice Institute papers this week and, as always, it’s proven to be a cornucopia of weirdness. It’s a deeply confusing collection, both tedious and   haphazard, a jumbled mountain of litigation records, business documents, and correspondence that lay bare the legal and financial underpinnings of Rice and its endowment. When you see a file in there labeled “Miscellaneous” you should pay attention because it’s all more or less miscellaneous. In this context the actual meaning of “miscellaneous” is “I give up.”

I was not disappointed. Here’s a small sample, three items chosen not quite at random. The first is a catalog from an elevator manufacturer:

Next, rather odder, a recipe for fixing a leaky roof. I don’t know what half this stuff is:

And finally, the prize of the bunch, some disturbing doodles made on the back of the cover sheet of a contract for the purchase of 369 acres in Falls County, Texas (which contract is not in the folder):

I could have lived without that.

Note: I’m going to be spending the next four days at an undisclosed exotic location. No internet. See y’all Monday.

Bonus: I didn’t need to see this either.

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7 Responses to “William Marsh Rice Correspondence, Miscellaneous”

  1. New version of “My dog ate my homework”: “My dog ate my keys.”

  2. Another Version:

    “Honey, have you seen my car keys?”

    “No, Gene, did you lose them … again?

    Maybe the dog ate them, like last time.
    Jeez!”

    (Please excuse my Italian. We had pizza tonight.)

  3. Matthew Noall says:

    Are the folks in Keck Hall 116 practicing undercover veterinary services? Why would you go there to retrieve these keys? 😀

  4. Here is a translation of the paint ingredients into modern names.

    Sal soda is sodium carbonate, now called soda ash or washing soda.
    Muriatic acid is hydrochloric acid. Maybe they meant some kind of ammonia instead.
    Ammonium carbonate is still called that. Potassium bicarbonate is also still called that.
    Borax is sodium tetraborate, still called borax.
    Japan is an old name for shellac.

    So the recipe mixes together three sets of strong alkalais, then mixes them with oil and shellac. This was likely used to patch or reinforce stucco.

  5. It looks like a formula I saw once in a very old architectural standards book for waterproofing a canvas roof. This was before the development of modern built-up bituminous roofs. The canvas was nailed down, then painted over, then another layer of canvas put on while the first paint was still wet, and another layer of paint applied. After it dried, one applied a second, and then a third coat of the paint. When “dry,” the paint had a putty-like consistency.

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