“It is really splendid!,” 1925

This is, I suppose, really a post about the University of Texas although it started with one of the letters Radoslav Tsanoff wrote to his wife during the summer he spent teaching in Austin. During those six weeks Tsanoff spent a great deal of time in the UT library and frequently noted in his letters books that they held in their collection that Rice did not have and vice versa. His real enthusiasm was for the Wrenn Library and he included a brochure about it in the short note he sent to Corrinne on July 31. This is what caught my eye:

It really does sound splendid, both the books and the room that held them:



I naturally wondered what had become of the Wrenn Library. It turns out that the acquisition of this collection was the first step in a journey that led to the foundation of the great Ransom Center at UT. Here’s a short 2018 piece from the Ransom Center Magazine about the genesis of the collection and its use for scholars today.

And the room, well it’s glorious. Sadly it doesn’t hold books any longer but only administrators– it’s become part of the UT President’s suite. You can see pictures of it here, at a website devoted to Peter Mansbendel, a Swiss woodcarver living in Austin who did the beautiful carvings. I poked around the site a bit and discovered that Mansbendel also carved the dedicatory plaque for Cohen House, over Norman’s head here, so this is a Rice post after all:

Bonus: I couldn’t go to church yesterday but I could start rolling grape leaves for Easter, which is not subject to cancellation.

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5 Responses to “It is really splendid!,” 1925

  1. Galloway Hudson. Wiess '60 says:

    Fabulous post that even engineers can appreciate. Thanks, Melissa. My brother was at UT in the early fifties. I hope he saw that room first hand.

  2. Carolyn Brewer says:

    Most interesting Post !! Wrenn Libray + stuffed grape leaves…..
    Thank you for giving us interesting posts as we shelter in place. Stay well.

  3. Beau Jon Sackett says:

    Slightly off-topic, Melissa, but can you share sometime the mechanics of how you take pictures of book pages for these postings? If you’ve already done that somewhere, can you point me back to that post? I’m guessing you have something better than an iPhone camera to do it with …

    • grungy1973 says:

      The Woodson has an impressive scanner collection.
      The book scanner in the “front” has a somewhat-clunky user interface, but the light source is excellent.

    • Melissa Kean says:

      We have a lot of different scanning options and that’s always my first choice. Sometimes I do resort to my iPhone camera if I’m in a hurry.

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