Saturday, October 19, 2013

Matriculation Address: Rice University 1939

It's been about three months since I opened Ethel's Scrapbook. This short blogging hiatus blogging was mostly due to my son's Bar Mitzvah. The hard work that went into the Bar Mitzvah was rewarded with a fantastic ceremony and the celebration which followed. With pride for my son and much joy, I can now return genealogy.

Sitting on the now famous bookshelf ( La Tienda Part I and Part II) collecting dust once again, was the black crumbling scrapbook. Full of excited anticipation, this morning I reopen this treasure my grandmother Ethel left behind to see what the next article had in store. What I discovered, within the yellow crumbling pages, was the inspirational speech Rice's then president, Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett gave at the Matriculation Address. A great speech, perfect to jumpstart this blog once again!

President of Rice Speaks to Freshmen

Obey the Neutrality Law in Letter and Spirit, He Advised Them in Matriculation Address. 

September 20th, 1939

Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett
Source: Rice Campanile Yearbook 1917
Obey the neutrality law in letter and spirit, Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett, president of Rice Institute, advised members of the class of 1943 in his annual matriculation address at the institute Wednesday. 
"Now you can serve the high ends of truth, freedom and justice for yourselves, your people, and for all people, in no better way than by setting soberly about the business that has brought you to this place," Doctor Lovett said.

Symbolizing life as a race, Doctor Lovett advised the students to make competition, co-operation, conservation and consecration of mind and spirit their watchwords.

* * *

Highlights of Address.

Highlight from his address follow: 
The day is indelibly stamped for you by the war. You have been brought up to abhor war, and by that token alone you must deplore the present European war. By law and governmental proclamation we are declared neutral with respect to the war. As citizens of the republic you acknowledge the authority of our constituted government, so constituted by the people more than 150 years ago. IN all good faith you will act accordingly, that is to say, you will obey the law in letter and in spirit. If, by will of the people through an act of congress, the law of the land should be changed, then again you will accept the decision of the government, a decision in which you will have participated through your constitutionally appointed representatives. And therefore in all good conscience you will obey the new law, whatever that law may be. But you can not possibly assume and maintain an attitude of indifference to the war. The devastating distractions of its events, whether rumor, confirmation, denial, or anticipation are brought daily, almost hourly to you. In my opinion the best you can possibly do, and this for the present only in thought, is to resolve quietly and calmly that, in so far as you can prepare yourselves for the next 50 years expectation of life, these things of force and violence and injustice shall not recur. 

* * *

Urged to Take Running Start.

Now you can serve the high end of truth and freedom and justice for yourselves, your people and all people in no better way than by setting soberly about the business that has brought you to this place. IN coming here you are carrying out long-laid plans, either your own long-laid plans or the long-laid plans of your parents for you. With just such plans as yours others have come here before you. Many have succeeded beyond best hopes in them; others have failed. 

For your success I very earnestly hope. Indeed, you must not fail. A running start, where permissible, may be half the winning of a footrace. In your first race here I declare a running start legitimate. I therefore wish to help you to a good running start. 
There  are many kinds of races to be run. Your engagements for the most part will be on a competitive basis. You will be competing not only with others but also with yourself. And you will be all the better for the competition in both kinds. The immediate competition ahead of you is primarily a race of minds. In communities like our own the mind is the man, the heart the other half of him. For us the supreme faculty of mind is a faculty that we call reason. Reason dominates the mind as arbiter and judge. 

* * *

Win by Finding Answers. 

You have no faculties superior to these faculties of mind. You will derive great satisfaction from carrying your mind about with you and using the facilities of that mind of your own on every possible occasion. When running this kind of race with yourself you win as in other conquests of knowledge, by asking the right question and finding the right answers. You will also do well to carry your unsolved problems about with you in your mind, for you are as likely as not to catch up with solutions in the most unexpected ways and places. And I have found encouragement to effort in the fact that in these racings of the mind it is not always the best mind that wins, and that even under unfavorable conditions your mind, when not at its strongest, can often run a very good race. 

Then there is the relay race. Her co-operation is the dominant note. Our civilization has continued and has carried on by the passing on from hand to hand of the torch. Men are despairing of civilization. The history of it justifies some fear for its future. But there is no despair of civilization here.

* * *

Flaming Torch—Not Firebrand.

The really inspiring thing in this day, to you, is that you, in turn, right here and now, are taking up the torch to pass it on. 

It is a flaming torch, but not a firebrand. It is a burning beacon of light and learning; a flaming torch again of reason, of freedom, of humanity, of faith in God and man. The flames of the torch are undying flames. They are fed by the deepest emotions of men and women, but the conscience, courage and conviction of the human heart. You will keep them for ever burning. You will feed them alike in peace and in war. 

One of the most bitter arguments against war is its cost in the youth that go down and to the youth who come back. Pericles likened the loss to taking spring out of the year. What would the year be like without springtime.

* * *

Heartening Sign. 

One of the very heartening signs in the recent times of peace has been the almost universal care and concern for preparing and placing the oncoming generation. Such movements you will inevitably support, but I wouldn't sign up too son, nor would I take on too much of the shouting. A good way to make those movements effective is to make of yourselves the very best men and women of your day: for for example, the best architects, bankers, doctors and engineers; the best farmers, journalists, lawyers and merchants; the best ministers, scientists, statesmen and teachers; in a word, the best thinkers and workers of your day. 

The Reward.

The circumstances of the race are not of his own choosing; he runs at an appointed time, in an appointed place, as often as not on an unknown track, and, more often than not, imperfectly informed of the field against him. Whether he win or lose, he needs either shout nor sympathy, if he knows within him that his character has triumphed in the race. Whether he win or lose, the crowning glory of the race for him is the satisfaction in reward of industry on having run a fair and honest race, with judgement that never flagged and courage that never failed. 

The perfect runner is a perfect machine. The perfect thinker is a perfect machine. Each of them, athlete and academe, may become a perfect machine, each in his own realm. Better still, each of them may become a perfect machine in both realms. Best of all, each of them has with in him possessions far and away superior  to the machine. Man has made and will continue to make machines, machines that outrun the wildest imagination, but the greatest inventions man has achieved are in the realm of ideas. 

* * *

Benefactor of Men.

I single out tow of them, the abstract idea of space and the abstract idea of time. The inventor of these ideas,  like the discoverers of fire, the wheel and the canoe, were to become benefactors of men for all time. It was the manipulation of such abstract ideas that made man the make and master of machines. His greatest discovery, however transcends, that is to say, traverses and goes beyond these fruitful abstract ideas that made his machines possible. His greatest discovery is the discovery of his own soul. 

The several qualities that I have attributed to athlete and academe alike are among the most vital and enduring qualities of the human soul and therefore among the most precious possessions of the human race. 

* * *

Spiritual Values.

We call them, for short, spiritual values. Your own gentleness, courage and faith are of their texture. Beauty, freedom, goodness and truth are their substance. Their attainment is the goal of all our strivings. May the benign influence in the spiritual beauty and freedom of this place transform you through the years into leaders of men, discoverers in science and creators in art, erudite in learning and ever zealous in the search for truth. 

And if you are moved a single pace on that high road of adventure and achievement, your patience in listening to me and my affectionate solicitude for your welfare will have their reward. 

—*— * —*—

Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett left much food for thought. He delivered his speech at a difficult period. Young students were grappling with their role at what turned out to be a turning point in world history. Not three weeks earlier, on September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland, a move that would forever mark the beginning of World War II. The first twenty five articles Ethel posted in her scrapbook almost purposefully avoided the subject of the impending war. With the rare mention of professor Morad's son dying in battle, most of the articles focused on student life, football, social dances, student registration and the hazing incident. I for one was glad to see that Dr Lovett chose not to avoid the issue but rather tackle it head on. He knew his students were facing a difficult task. How can they concentrate on college when war was looming at hand? What he could not have foretold, was that many of those very students would eventually enlist and take part in this terrible war. I picture Ethel sitting in the crowd, taking notes for her article and like the rest of the student body around her,  finding comfort in the president's words. He challenged the students by charting a corse of action for them. Train your minds to be the best they can be and therefore become the best citizens you can.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Full Page of Photos from Rice's Registration Day 1939

Special treat! A full page of photographs to go with Ethel's article from the same day, with a description of who is in the photos!

(Click to enlarge)

Friday September 15th, 1939

Here are a few of the scenes at Rice Institute Thursday morning as registration of 1300 undergraduates began. Most of the early registrations were members of the incoming freshman class.

Top left: Scene of bustling enrollment activity, with professors and department heads assisting the new students to choose their courses. Samuel G. McCann, registrar, is shown at left supervising the enrollment in his office. 

Top Right: Frank Cook and R. A. Stamey, Jr., Houston Sophomores, marking their choice of courses as they sat on the ledge at the front of the administration building.

Central left: Martha Ann Picton, at right, a June graduate of rice appeared at the registration desk with her younger sister, Grace, in the center, who is enrolling at Rice as a freshman. At the left is shown Betty Ruth Robbins, another new student.

(Click to enlarge)
Center right: A group of pretty Rice undergraduates walking from the parking lot to the registration desk. Left to right are shown Grace Ellen McIntyre, Margie Boyd, Betty Gartner, Jeanette Stephenson and Mary Margaret Raymond. 

Bottom left: ONe of the registration groups includes Bill Bryant and Margie Boyd, standing, and Pady Sue Whitecomb and Jeanette Stephenson, seated, from left to right. 

Bottom right: Seated on the lawn between academic quadrangle and the cloisters, upperclassmen plan courses. Left to right are shown David Johnston, John Sanders, Joe Baird and Sam Kohen.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

End of Summer 1939

Summer of 1939 comes to a close for Rice students. Most college students today, report to school in late August, but in 1939, class began at Rice on September 18th. This article does not provide us with much news, but as always, we do find some interesting tidbits which provide insight to life on campus.


Sunday, September 17th, 1939

Total of 1313 Students Already Admitted for 28th Academic Year at Institute.

* * *
Regular classes at Rice Institute will begin at 8 a.m. Monday, opening the twenty-eight academic year. 

A total of 1313 students had been admitted at 5 p.m. Friday, latest tabulation announced, with about 50 more students enrolled this year than last year. The total enrollment, expected to be about 1370 students will be about the same as last year and will be completed by Tuesday.

Dormitories for men were all filled by Saturday morning, with all of the rooms either occupied or reserved. The three men's residential halls on the campus accomodate about 325 students about one-third of the undergraduate men enrolled at Rice. More than 500 out-of-town students are registered at the institute. Usually about 15 faculty members also live in the dormitories. 

* * *
To Leave Hospital.

Richard Wier, Dallas freshman student whose ankle was broken during the initiation ceremonies at Rice Thursday morning, will be released from Hermann Hospital Monday morning, according to Dr. Hugh C Welch, official campus physician. He will use a crutch to attend classes.

Hazing was stopped for the remainder of the week as a result of Wier's injury, but a meeting of sophomore girls has been called for Monday at 1 p.m. in the Rice physics amphitheater by Demaris DeLange, sophomore class vice president, to determine the extent of hazing of freshman girls on Friday.

* * *

Matriculation Address

The annual matriculation address by Dr. Edgar O. Lovett, president of the Institue, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday in the physics amphitheater. An annual tradition at Rice, Professor Lovett shakes hands with each new student following his welcoming address.

The first general student election has been set for October 9, when the assistant business manager of the Thresher, student weekly newspaper, and an assistant cheer leader will be elected. The two positions were left vacant by John Jockusch, elected assistant manager last April and Norvil Baker, elected cheer leader, neither of whom will return to Rice this year. 

* * *

Today, most universities do guarantee housing. I'm not sure what those out of town students who by Saturday found all the dorms filled did. It seems a bit last minute to discover that you will not get housing. My guess is that they boarded with families who rented room near the campus. On another note, it is nice to hear that the Hazing victim, Richard Wier was to leave the hospital  I hope we'll hear more about his recovery. Notice that the Thresher did have an opening, but not for the position of assistant editor which Ethel ran for. Too bad!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hazing Injury Stops Practice for One Week

We last left the Rice campus with a hazing injury. The next day, immediate action was taken by the administration.


Friday September 15th, 1939

Conference to Be Held Next Week to Decide If Practice Will Be Banned on Campus Hereafter. ______

Hazing of Rice Institute freshmen, a campus tradition of more than 20 years standing, was excluded Friday from the registration day routine this year as a result of the injury to one of the new students during initiation ceremonies Thursday. 

The decision to stop hazing for the remainder of the week was reached Thursday afternoon at a conference of university officials and sophomore class officers. Another conference will be held early next week to determine whether registration day hazing will be permitted on the campus hereafter. 

Richard Wier, 17, of Dallas was the injured freshman. Wier suffered a broken ankle when a cartload of sophomores rolled over his left ankle. He had fallen in front of the gardener's cart filled with about 20 sophomores, which the freshmen "slimes" were forced to drag around the campus. 

* * *
Ink, Paint, Polish Applied.

As he lay in his hospital bed, Wier still bore the stains of ink, paint and shoe polish on his chest and face, in spite of vigorous hospital administration of turpentine. his father, Austin S. Wier, Dallas lawyer, hurried to his son's bedside Thursday afternoon. 

Girl students are never initiated until the first Friday of regular classes  termed on campus "Fish Friday." Plans are still under way for the annual make snake dance through downtown Main Street, scheduled for Friday night of next week, Robert Knox, sophomore class secretary-treasurer said. 

The pajama parade, for which slimes will again receive a coat of "war paint," procedes the first home football game each year. The parade will be climaxed in a giant pep rally at Main and Texas preceding the Rice-Vanderbilt football game the following night, according to present plans. 

More than half of Rice's 400 freshmen and 900 upperclassmen had enrolled by 5 p.m. Thursday. Enrollment continued Friday.

New students who have not yet presented entrance records are to register early Saturday. The list of those accepted will be posted during the morning and registration of these students will follow immediately. Monday registration of Jewish students, who could not enroll Thursday and Friday during the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashana, will complete the enrollment this year. Classes begin at 8 a.m. Monday.

Social life has a head start on academic work this year, with the first college danced slated for 9 p.m. Saturday. The dance formally opening the college season at Rice is the first of the regular Saturday night affairs sponsored by students. It will be held at the Arabia Temple, with Fay Godfrey's Orchestra playing. 

Today, hazing is illegal in most states including Texas. It certainly wasn't illegal in 1939. It seems the Institue did take immediate action and suspended some of the hazing, but only for a week. It will be interesting to see how this hazing incident affected practice at Rice that year. Sadly, despite strict hazing laws, hazing continues and at least one college student dies every year as a result of hazing. Hazing practices have escalated in severity, as the nature of hazing each year to out due the hazing done to them. The practice continues to be at the center of university greek life and sports teams and clubs throughout the country. Sadly, injuries continue to make headlines with little change in effect on behavior. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Long-Standing Hazing Tradition at Rice Leads to Injury

After much anticipation, built up by the first fifteen articles in Ethel's scrapbook, we reach the moments where the student body enters the Rice campus. Apparently, things didn't go as well as expected. On the first day of registration, the is a hazing induced injury.

Freshman Injured During Hazing At Rice Ceremonies

September 14, 1939

Richard Wier, 17, of Dallas, Breaks Ankle While Dragging Cartload of Sophomores Around Campus

One Freshman student was hurt in the registration-day hazing at Rice Institute Thursday morning as 1300  students gathered for the start of the fall term. An investigation of the hazing was being made by Rice officials, and it seemed possible that a ban would be placed on hazing at Rice in the future. 

The injured student was Richard Wier, 17, or Dallas, who suffered a broken ankle while helping drag a cart load of sophomores around the campus. Wier was taken to Herman Hospital, where he was admitted for treatment. his foot was being X-rayed Thursday to determine the extent of his injuries. 

Hazing of freshmen by sophomores at Rice has taken place during the first week of the fall term for more than 20 years, and has been featured by such antics as forcing freshmen to roll pingpong balls around the campus with their noses, forcing castor oil and soap down the throats of the freshman "slimes," and other hazing. 

Dean Harry B. Weiser, Registrar S. G McCann and Bursar J. T. McCants held a conference after Wier's injury became known on the campus. McCants refused comment on the hazing or the conference.

Dean Weiser said that hazing would be stopped for the rest of this week, but that the college authorities might allow initiation ceremonies  next week. He and McCann will confer again on the matter early next week, he added.

"There has been hazing at Rice since the foundation fo the institute," Dean Weiser said. "As to the future, we're not going to cross that bridge before we come to it. We want to prevent any more accidents like the one that happend today, however."

Weiser said the sophomores participating in the hazing of Wier would not be suspended.  

Ankle Broken

Wier's left ankle was broken, it was revealed at the hospital, but he planned to attend classes next Monday. His father, Austin S. Wier, Dallas lawyer, was reported to be on his way to Wier's bedside. 

Wier said that his ankle was broken while he was helping a crowd of other freshmen drag a large gardener's cart loaded with "about 20" sophomores around the driveway leading from Main Street to the administration building. 

"I slipped down," Wier said, "and the cart passed over me. The wheel ran over my ankle."

Robert Knox of Dallas, secretary-treasurer of the sophomore class, said that plans were still being made for "Freshman Night" next week. 

"Freshman Night" occurs the night before the first Rice football game, when freshmen are painted up and run through a snake dance in the downtown section. Usually the snake dance ends with a football pep rally at the corner of Main and Texas.

* * *
Note: This section is crossed out. Not clear why.
Banned at Houston University

"Hazing with bodily punishment has never been allowed at the University of Houston, and will not be allowed, "Dean.K. Dupre said Thursday. In the past we have allowed freshmen and sophomores to have a 'fun night' when the sophomores pained up the freshmen  but this is only for one night, and the faculty and the student officers supervise closely. 

"We haven't completed the plans for this year's fun night  but student council officers and the sophomore officers will get together with me within a few days to discuss the plans. "

* * *
Registration Times.

Both new and old academic students registered Thursday. New engineering students and architecture students will register from 8 a.m to 10:30 Friday, and old students in those courses and in academic courses will register from 10:30 am. until 5 p.m. Friday. About 400 freshmen 900 upperclassmen will be enrolled at Rice this year. 

Students filled out registration cards at long tables in the cloisters before entering the registrar's office, where professors and instructors helped them to pick the proper courses. The students were kept moving in small groups to the various registration rooms by Registrar McCann.

Most of Rice Institute's faculty of 95 professors, instructors and fellows, were back to their college offices Thursday to assit students. Dr. Marcel Moraud, professor of French, and Andre Bourgeois, instructor in French, are thought to be still in France. The two professors were expected to sail on the Normandie, September 5, friends said. The Normandie however, is still docked in New York, unable to make the transatlantic trip because of the war. 

Hazing this year seemed unusually mild. The traditional castor oil, tobacco, soap, blue dye pellets, garlic and other distasteful doses usually crammed in large quantities down the throats of freshmen by zealous sophomores were banned this year to make the initiation ceremonies less harmful.

* * * 

Under the direction of Harry Albaugh, sophomore class president, and J. P. Woods, president of last year's sophomore class, the freshmen were captured on emerging from the administration building as they finished registering. Shoe polish, grease paint and ink were used by zealous sophomores to inscribe on the initiates the numbers "43" along with decorative stripes and swirls in brilliant colors covering backs, chests and faces. 

Lard was used generously to shampoo the hair of the new men, stripped to the waist before the initiation ceremonies were began and a handful of gravel in the hair completed the first stage of the initiation ceremonies.

Camera fans enjoyed the pranks of the undergraduates and snapped numerous candid shots for family albums. Peanut races and pingpong ball "blos" drew most attention. Mothers watching from the cloisters showed disman, however, over the paint that covered their sons' clothes. Stained coats, shirts and piles of shoes discarded early in the day adorned the usually prim hedges of the academic quadrangle. 

Unsavory odors of strong-smelling chemicals sprayed by soph chemists added to the repugnance of the freshmen parading through the sallyport during the activity of registration of upperclassmen.

But  the ceremonies were not entirely distasteful. After long sessions of rolling in the gravel and salaaming in praise of Allah, the slimes were allowed to make love to beautiful literary society co-eds enjoying initiation from the sidelines. The proposals of marriage were met with giggles and cold snubs.

Until Thanksgiving slimes will be required to wear Kelly green caps, prominently lettered "43," and huge Windsor bow ties, and slimesses will wer green fingernail polish and green silk hair bows.  New women students  will not be molested until the first Friday of regular classes, when men will receive another initiation. 

The annual slime "snake parade," climaxed by a giant pep rally on the corner of Main Street and Texas Avenue, will be held the night of September 29th, preceding the first Rice football the following night. 

Rice Slime Parade 1921
Freshmen class of 1925.  (Click to enlarge)
Source: Rice University Archives, photo files, Event-Slime Parade,
Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University
What do you think? I found this article, though unusually long, full of amazing information. The hazing tradition was engrained at Rice since it's inception. I found a photo of the slime parade from 1921. Even tough it does seem tame, compared to what hazing has evolved into these days, students were getting injured back then as well. What stood out to me was that this was not a fraternity related hazing, but a university wide event. Sophomores hazing freshmen in full view of mothers and faculty, and city crowds (see parade photo). The green class of "43" caps, bow ties and matching hair bows on the girls did sound entertaining and a long standing tradition as well (see 1921 photo) ! Jewish students must have been pleased that Rosh Hashanah fell during registration in 1939! I wonder if they got hazed by the Jewish sophomores when the arrived for registration the next day?

How about the registration process itself? Things have changed. Try to image today's college students standing in line, registration card at hand, waiting to meet with their professors and workout their schedule—a far cry from current computerized lottery registrations. I bet many a college student today would enjoy some old fashioned personalized attention, though I'm not sure they would be willing to submit to the hazing which follows. 

It's going to be interesting to see when and how the two stranded professors will return from Europe, and if we will learn what happen to Dr. Moraud's son

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Freshmen Women Rush Week 1939

Rush week finally began at Rice! It seems the freshmen girls were approached to rush, even before classes even began. I'm not completely up-to-date as to how things are done now, but at most colleges I visited with my son and we were told freshmen are not rush for least the first semester. Things have changed I guess.

Friday, September 15th, 1939
Rush Week at Rice Institute was opened Thursday night at the Houston Country Club when the Elizabeth Baldwin Literary Society entertained for 26 rushees with a diner and dance. 

The theme followed was that of the Taj Mahal, a large reproduction of which was reflected in the pool under a spotlight. Small pictures of the Taj Mahal were used as place cards. Fruit and purple candles decorated  the tables. Virginia Cashman and Charlotte Carr were in charge of decorations. 

Elizabeth Knapp, general chairman for the affair, was assisted by Betty Butler, Rosemary McKinney, Judy Biossat, Emily Montgomery, Demaris Delange, Margie Parsons, and Margie Boyd in arranging the affair. 

Honorees were Misses Betty Adams, Nancy Allen Blakemore, Katharine Cameron, Flora Clarke, Helen Eads, Eugenia Gantt, Stelloise Godbold, Elizabeht Philbrook, Betty Hall, Barbara Kirkland, Dorothy Herring, Janet Houstoun, Sue Kurth, Marguerite Lane, Hancel Langham, Hortense Manning, Laura Loise Peden, Grace Picton, Betty Ruth Robbins, Evelyn Smith, Virginia Stevens, Hester Stewart, Margaret Ann Sullivan, Ann Tuck, Pady Sue Whitecomb, and Katherine Coburn. 

The Owen Wister Literary Society will honor rushees with a dinner-dance at the Houston Country Club Friday at 7 p.m. Mary Margaret Raymond is president of the society. Elizabeth Hill chairman of arrangements, will be assisted by Katherine Gay, Jeanette Stevenson, Margie Bogar, Elizabeth Potter, Robyn Moncrief, Lois Lee Qualtrough, Lucy Ann Webster, Rhydonia Hamlink, Mildred Hargrove, Jerry Brown and Flora Jackson. 
* * *
Sunday September 17th, 1939
The Pallas Athene Literary Society dinner at River Oaks Country Club entered the series of rush parties at Rice Institute las week. Twenty five freshmen girls were honored at the dinner, followed by the first of the regular Rice Saturday night dances at Arabia Temple. 

Maryellen Snyder president of the society, was assisted in arrangements by Celeste McAshan, Evelyn Williams, Frances Bishop, Lucille Bertin, Marian Smedes, and Mildred Dattner.

Honorees at the dinner were Betty Adams, Nancy Allen Blakemore, Katharine Cameron, Barbara Clark, Flora Clarke, Katherine Coburn, Helen Eads, Barbara Frankl, Mary Olivia Fuller, Eugenia Gantt, Betty Hall, Janet Houstoun, Maisie Jones, Joanne Keith, Barbara Kirkland, Hancel Langham, Cordelia Lynn, Frances Moran, Grace Picton, Betty Ruth Robbins, Evelyn Smith, Virginia Stevens, Hester Stewart, Margie Ann Sullivan, and Ann Tuck

Does anyone know something about literary societies? Are these predecessors to sororities? They sure sound like sororities. The history, is actually quite interesting. They provided a way for women students at Rice, who were not able to live on campus until 1957, to organize and socialize. Not only were there no female dorms, but women had to be off the camps by 5:00 p.m., late into the 1930s. These societies began mostly to promote academic. Over time, they evolved and became purely social and quite exclusive. The societies reached their peak popularity in the fifties and then began a decline and eventually disbanded in the eighties. The Elizabeth Baldwin Society Literary, the first literary society at Rice, was founded in 1914. It's focus was to provide a social space for women to discuss politics and academics. In 1914, women's suffrage was at the top of women's political issues and at the root of the literary society. Together with a short lived male counterpart, The Owl Literary Society, the two groups started The Thresher, the student newspaper. About 75% of women were members of the society as the original idea was universal and for all women. As the demand for the society grew, an offshoot was started in 1919, the Pallas Athene Literary Society, to accommodate more women. This group focused on Literature. Together the two societies helped launched a third group, the Owen Wister Literary Society in 1924. This groups strove to  buy library books and band uniforms. There is a wonderful online exhibit about the history of these societies at the Woodson Research Center, complete with scrapbook and photos. The Cornerstone, the Newspaper of the Rice Historical Society, has a nice article reviewing the history of the Literary Societies available online.

What do you think about the Taj Mahal theme? Sounds like it was hard to beat. The other groups didn't have any decorations worth mentioning so I guess the Elizabeth Baldwin Society Literary took the lead on that! Not surprising since they were the oldest society and probably the most popular. 

I found it interesting that 17 of the 26 freshmen girls, rushed both societies (I've underlined the names which appear in both lists of honorees). It seems there was intense competition between the groups. I also couldn't help but notice that none of the names of the girls mentioned sounded Jewish. I'm pretty sure if you were Jewish, you couldn't get into these groups, that by the 1930's were quite exclusive. Ethel who reported on these societies, and certainly liked literature, did not belong to any of the literary societies. She belong to the Menorah Society instead. I wonder if she went to the various country clubs in order to report on the events, or rather she met with a representative who described the affair instead.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ethel Fights A Bitter Election

As promised, we are taking a small detour from Ethel's scrapbook, in order to peak at The Thresher, the Rice Student publication and learn more about why in 1939, Ethel took a backseat at the student publication where she had been since her freshmen year.

Friday April 15th, 1938
On April 15th, The Thresher staff endorses Ethel as Staff Nominee for assistant editor. Here is the fabulous endorsement they gave her:


By Francis Collins 

Ethel Bloomfield present associate editor, and Claude Maer, present sales promoter have been nominated staff candidates for assistant editor and business manager of the Thresher in the general Student Association election April 25th. 

Unanimously chosen by the 24 members of the editorial staff, and endorsed by the heads of the business staff. Ethel has worked consistently on the Thresher since September. 

During the Thursday afternoon sessions before publications, when routine work piles up, she has been invaluable as a technical assistant, correcting copy writing headlines, and reading proof. 

But besides being well trained in the mechanical details of issuing a newspaper, Ethel also has an original touch in composing her own copy. Her special "Ethyl" feature stories with a punch occasionally signed, appear regularly in these columns, and there is not a type of newspaper article she cannot write well. 

As a granddaughter, I particularly enjoyed this clip which left me feeling very proud of my grandmother. As a researcher, I found it rewarding that my hunch was true. Many of Ethel's articles are not signed. I feel lucky she did signed several, but I now know for sure, that if I want to find all her writing, I need to become familiarized with her special "Ethyl" punch and try to identify her unsigned articles.

This article fails to mention that Ethel was nominated over classmate and the current assistant editor, Bill Ballew, whom she worked under as an associate editor. The staff must have been really pushing for Ethel since the following week, only three days before the election, this small blurb with Ethel's photo appears on the second page of The Thresher.

The caption reads:
ETHEL BLOOMFIELD Present associate editor of The Thresher, has been unanimously chosen by the staff members as their nominee for assistant editor in the general election Monday.

Friday April 29th, 1938
The elections on April 25th, were too close to call. Here is a clip from April 29th, describing what happened with assistant editor position:

Neither Thresher positions were decided. Bill Ballew and Ethel Bloomfield staff nominee, are run-off  candidates for assistant editor. Ballew led the race with 384 votes to 267 for Miss Bloomfield and 189 for Robert Murphy.

It looks like, the student body voted more on popularity, while the staff felt strongly about Ethel. They took out a nice size add endorsing Ethel once more.
Friday April 29th, 1938
On Friday, May 6th, in one small line, it was announced that Bill Ballew defeated Ethel in the election. 

Friday May 6, 1938

1938 Rice Yearbook
I have a feeling she must have been crushed. The scrapbook, a collection of the articles she wrote as the Rice correspondent to the Houston Chronicle, show the pride she took in this job. I would like to think this defeat was bitter sweet. She lost the position at her beloved student publication, but remained as on staff as a contributor. Out of the defeat, came the even better, paying position in much larger local paper. I certainly would not have liked to be in Bill's shoes. He won a close race where he was unanimously un-endorsed by the staff he worked with. I hope that the fact Ethel chose to work for the Chronicle but continued to contribute to the Thresher, helped bridge a peace.

Source: The Thresher (Houston, Tex.), 1938, Newspaper, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Rice University: Woodson Research Center, Houston, Texas.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Extra-Curricular Activities Begin!

I bring the next article from the scrapbook, with a small improvement which I believe will help orient the reader, the day of the week, the article was published. I realized that I have been posting the articles with the date Ethel scribbled on them, but I had no idea what day of the week these dates represent in 1939. Thanks to the Date Calculator at Ancestor Search, I know can quickly calculate the appropriate date of the week. In this article for example, Ethel is referring to class enrollment beginning Thursday, but it's difficult to know how far away Thursday was. Turns out, September 13th was a Wednesday, and therefore the article was published the day before enrollment began. I plan to go back and add the date of the week to earlier posts as well.

At first glance, this article is almost identical to the one published a day earlier, Registration at Rice Begins on Thursday. The first section, is basically a recap of the September 12th article. I've included it here for completeness purposes but feel free to skip ahead to the Lovett's Address section.


Wednesday, September 13th, 1939.

Hours Are Designated for Old and New Students; Campus Activity Already Under Way


Apologizes for the blurry image.
( Click to Enlarge)
More than 1300 students are expected to begin enrollment at Rice INstitute at 8:00 a.m. Thursday in the Administration Building, opening the institute's twenty-eight academic session.

About 400 new students will enter Rice this year. Those in the academic course will register between 8 and 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Freshmen engineering and architecture students will register Friday between 8 and 10:30 a.m.

Old undergraduates and graduate students numbering more than 900 will begin to enroll at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in the academic course and at 10:30 a.m. Friday in engineering and architecture courses, continuing through the afternoon.

Jewish students unable to register Thursday in observance of Rosh Hashana, Jewish religious holiday, will be excused from registration on that day, Samuel G McCann, registrar, said. They may register either on Friday or on Monday, the first day of regular classes.

* * *
Lovett's Address.

The annual matriculation address by Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett, president of the institute, welcoming members  of the freshman class, will be delivered at 9:00 a.m, September 20. All freshman classes will be dismissed for the address, to be given in the physics amphitheater. 

Extra-curricular activities are already under way on the campus in an early start this year. The first of the "rush week" parties will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday when Elizabeth Baldwin Literary Society honors rushees with a dinner dance at the Houston Country Club. The Owen Wister Society will entertain Friday night at the Houston Country Club, and the Pallas Athene group will hold a dinner at River Oaks Country Club Saturday night.

* * *

First Official Dance.

College social life at Rice will formally begin at 9 p.m. Saturday when the first official Rice dance this season will be held at Arabia Temple. Fahy Godfrey's orchestra will furnish the music, Gene Flewellen, president of the student association, announcer and hosts will be present to introduce new students to the upper classmen. 

The first issue of the Thresher, weekly student newspaper, will be ready for students at registration Thursday morning. Bill Ballew is editor. Carey Kind and David Barg, editor  and business manager of the Owl, student humor magazine, have began work on the first issue of the publication, to be ready by the end of September. Barg was appointed business manager of the magazine during the summer to replace David Sanders, chosen last spring. Saunders will not return to Rice this fall. 

* * *

Dramatic Club workers have already begun rehearsals for the first work-shop play of the season, a one act play to be presented at the opening reception, September 27. The production will be done penthouse style, with the players performing in the center of the Autry House auditorium and guests seated in a circle around the actors. Elna Birath, betty Jane Sims, and Jess Bessinger are cast in the production, with Jimmy Terflinger directing. Joseph Kopriva of the Rice English department will be assistant director under Terflinger this year, Wanda Hoencke, president of the club, announced. 

* * *
The first of the series of rush week parties will be held Thursday at 8 p.m. when the Elizabeth Baldwin Literary Society entertains with a dinner dance at the Houston Country Club. Elizabeth Knapp is general chairman, and Rosemary McKinney and Betty Butler are in charge of dinner arrangements. Other committees are: Decorations, Virginia Cashman and Charlotte Carr; dates, Judy Biossat, Emily Montgomery and Demaris DeLange; orchestra, Margie Parsons and Margie Boyd; place, Neely Proctor and Marian Frost. 

The Owen Wiser Literary Society will give a dinner-dance at the Houston Country Club Friday at 7 p.m. The Pallas Athene Society has reserved Saturday night at the River Oak Country Club for a dinner preceding the regular Saturday night dance at Arabia Temple.

Maryellen Snyder is president of the Pallas Athene group, Mary Margaret Raymond is head of the Owen Wiser Society, and Rosemary Yeager is president of the Elizabeth Baldwin Society. 

School has not started, but I love the fact that there is already a lot of student activities going. Clearly the various social clubs, through committees have been working all summer to kick of the year with a bang and enticing students to join with various parties and dance! Ethel, a member of the dramatic club herself had an inside view to this organization. I got a kick out of the description of the penthouse style, as I was not familiar with the term. This type of performance, also known as theater in the round, is often seen in blackbox theaters today. The term penthouse theater actually comes from the Penthouse Theater at the University of Seattle Washington, the first of its kind in the United States. Glenn Hughes, director of theater at the University of Washington imported the concept to America in 1932 when, his troop practiced at a friend's drawing room in an unfinished penthouse of the Edmond Meany Hotel, hence the name. The Penthouse Theater at the University of Seattle did not open it's doors until 1940, making this early production of the Rice drama department quite avant-garde for it's time.

I'm not sure if the last section was part of this article. It's pasted immediate after this article in the scrapbook and has no date or title. It seems to repeat some of the information about the various dinner/dances, so it may have come from another newspaper or just a different date. I did enjoy the extra details the section provides about the planning that went into the various social events. There was even a dates committee! This could mean one of two things, either helping people get a date for the party or schedule the various parties during the year—I'm not sure which.

The Arabia Temple, was the shriners temple, where Ethel's father was a member. I have a great picture of him standing infront of an unidentified building with a group of fellow shriners. Perhaps they are standing infront of the Arabia Temple.

William Bloomfield (Top Right) Ethel's father with his Shriner's buddies.
This photo has won the title Most Entertaining in my collection! 

One other worthwhile note, the Thresher. Ethel mentions the first issue of the Thresher, the Rice weekly student paper and it's editor Bill Ballew. As you may recall, Ethel was on the staff at the Thresher during  the four years at Rice. In my next post, I will make a small deviation from the scrapbook and discuss some interesting findings related to internal politics at the Thresher.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Meet the New Instructors and Fellows

Before I continue with Ethel's Scrapbook, I'd like to direct you to an interview I gave which was featured on today. Sarah Ashley, founder of Geneartistry  genealogist believes, genealogist present their research in an artistic way! After hearing how my work inspired my husband to create an art installation called "Our Ancestors," she contacted me for an interview. Today, she published the  complete interview on her website/blog It might not be the Houston Chronicle, but I think my grandmother Ethel would be proud! I invite you to read the interview and visit her blog!

Now, back the scrapbook and more pre-registration period articles. On September 13th, 1939 Ethel introduced to her Chronicle readers the new faculty hired at Rice for the upcoming academic year. The instructors mentioned briefly at the end of the article form the previous day, take center stage in this article, though we don't learn very much more about them except who they replaced.


September 13, 1939

Dr. Edward S. Deevey, Jr., Walter F. Scofield and Carl R. Wischmeyer Join Faculty.

Appointment of three new men as instructors at Rice Institute and creation of nine new fellowships was announced this week in the new Rice catalog.

Dr. Edward S. Deevy, Jr., formerly of the biology department at Yale University is the newly appointed instructor in biology. Prior to his appointment at Rice, Doctor Deevey was limnologist for the Connecticut state board of fisheries and game. He replaces Dr. Irwin C. Kitchen at Rice, who left this year to take the position of assistant professor of zoology at the University of North Carolina. 

* * *
Other changes.

Walter F Scofield will replace W. Greeley as instructor in civil engineering. Scofield was formerly assistant instructor in civil engineering at the University of Kansas.

New in electrical engineering department, Carl R. Wischmeyer will be an instructor this year. He holds a B.S from Rose Polytechnic Institute, and a master's degree from Yale University where he served as laboratory assistant. 

Absent from the faculty this year is Dr. Grover Leon Bridger, former instructor in chemical engineering. Bridger resigned to take over a position with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

* * *

Nine New Fellowships

Nine New Fellows were appointed this year. Percy Arthur, former Rice football star, will serve as fellow in the physical education department. Sam Bethea of Rice and Ervon J. Eggeman of Iowa State University will hold fellowships in chemical engineering department, and James Holmes of the Georgia School of Technology are new fellows in chemistry.

The physics department will have Henry Dunlap of Rice and Hugh T. Richards of Park University, the biology department will have Donald V. Moore of the University of Nebraska, and the electrical engineering department will have Paul E Pfeiffer of Rice as new assistants and fellows.

Both women members of the chemistry faculty are leaving Rice this year. Miss Eby Nell McElrath, who received her PH.D. from Rice last June, leaves to take over an instructorship in chemistry department at the University of Houston this fall. Miss Mary Emily Miller, the only other woman in the chemistry department will also leave Rice after having received her M.A. last June. 

In this article, we learn who replaces the professor from North Carolina, whom we read about in an earlier article, Loss for Rice gain for University North. Like the rest of the country, Rice was pulling out of the great depression, and though we see some signes of that in the construction projects, we don't see much in terms of new hiring of instructors. It is nice to see, that Rice support it's graduates providing them with fellowships.

I loved hearing about the football star receiving a fellowship in the physical education department. Does that mean an assistant coaching position? I looked it up, and indeed he did become coach. Percy Arthur was quite the celebrity at Rice. He was captain of the famous 1934 Rice Owls team, the first to win the Southwest Conference football championship over Notre Dame. No wonder he got the fellowship. Even after he left Rice and football to become a successful insurance agent, he continues to support the sport and the university.

Percy Arthur makes Thresher headlines as he leads the team to another victory.
Source: The Thresher (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 20, No. 4, Ed. 1 Friday, October 5, 1934, Newspaper, October 5, 1934; digital images, ( : accessed June 04, 2013), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Rice University: Woodson Research Center, Houston, Texas.

The lack of women fellows is apparent, a fact I had noticed when I surveyed the year book. It's interesting that Ethel notes the departure of two women from her own chemistry department, which clearly she saw as a loss.

Many of these faculty members when on to have illustrious careers:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Registration at Rice, 1939

Finally, on the third double page  of Ethel's scrapbook, registration! . On this next page we continue to find clippings dated September 12th -15th (1939). The first article, indicates Rice has yet to open it’s doors and remains in preparation for the new academic year.

Registration At Rice Begins on Thursday

1300 Students Expected as Institution Starts It's 28th year; Classes to Open Monday.

Registration for Rice Institute's twenty-eighth year will begin at 8 a.m. Thursday when approximately 1300 students will begin to enroll in the sally port on the first floor of the Administration Building.

New students in the academic course will register until 10:30 a.m., when sophomore, junior and senior academic students will begin to enroll, continuing through the afternoon. New architecture and engineering students will enroll from 8:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Friday, and old engineering and architecture students will register from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Old academic students may register at any time Friday.

Jewish students will be excused from registration Thursday for the observance of the Jewish religious holiday, Rosh Hashanah Samuel G. McCann, registrar, has arranged that Jewish students register on Friday if possible, or on the following Monday, the first day of regular classes.

The traditional initiation of freshmen will start Thursday as soon as the first freshmen complete registration. Crowds gather in the sally port each year to watch sophomore men initiate the new men students. Freshmen girls will be initiated the first Friday of regular classes.

Tho construction jobs being completed for the opening of the new semester. The dining hall in the men's dormitories is being enlarged, and a new laboratory is being built onto the Chemistry Building.

The mess hall has been enlarged to almost twice its original capacity. The additional 200 feet of floor space will allow facilities for the accommodation of about 650 men. The dining hall formerly accommodated around 350 men.

The new laboratory space will be used by senior and graduate chemical engineering students for the study of unit operations. The two-story annex provides about 1600 feet of floor space. Dr. Arthur Hartsook is in complete charge of construction.

Two new scholarships are being offered for the first time this year for Rice students. The Samuel S. Ashe Scholarship endowed by Mrs. Sailie Ashe Fitch, the late Mr. Ashe's daughter, will be awarded annually to a deserving and necessitous freshman students who completes his first year's work with highest grades. The first award has been made to George W. Krog, class of 1943 of Houston.

Mr. Mabel Franklin Austen has endowed the Thomas Richard and Julia Hadley Franklin scholarship in memory of her parents. The first winner of the scholarship, to be awarded on the basis of scholarship standing and financial necessity, have not yet been announced.

Three new instructors have been appointed to the faculty this year. Dr. Edward S. Deevy, Jr. who received his Ph. D. from Yale University, has been appointed instructor in biology. Walter F. Scofield, new instructor in civil engineering, holds a B.S from the University of Kansas, where he previously held an assistant instructorship. Carl R. Wischmeyer, new engineering instructor  received his bachelor degree from Rose Polytechnic Institute and his master degree from Yale University.

Several curriculum changes have been made this year. New English courses are being offered in the late romantic and Victorian literature and in old English, including a special study of Beowulf. Two new math courses are open to graduate students this year, one in modern algebra, the other in continued fractions. New senior courses in physical chemistry and inorganic qualitative analysis are being offered, as well as graduate course in adsorption, heterogeneous equilibrium, and heterocyclic chemistry. 

This article surprised me on initial read. I wondered why would the Houston Chronicle print such detail information about the registration schedule at Rice? I guess, without email, Rice could best reach it's student body by posting this kind of information in the paper. We do learn from this article, that Rice has been in existence for 28 years and that they were expecting 1300 students in 1939! I love the mention of the Jewish High Holidays and the exception made for the Jewish students. It's nice to know that the university was sensitive to Jewish minority. I can’t wait to hear about the Freshmen initiation ceremony!