Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the Rice University Department of Fine Arts records, John O'Neil, Chairman, 1960-1969 UA 036

creator Rice University. Department of Fine Arts.
Title: Rice University Department of Fine Arts records, John O'Neil, Chairman
Dates: 1960-1969, bulk 1965-1968
Abstract: This collection contains correspondence, memos, budgeting and accounting records, and other materials associated with the operation of the Fine Arts Department of Rice University from 1960-1969. The bulk of the material is from 1965 to 1968.
Identification: UA 036
Quantity: 3.5 Linear Feet(8 boxes)
Language: English
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Biographical / Historical

Rice University's Department of Fine Arts was established as part of Architecture in 1959 and James Chillman acted as the temporary chairman. Mr. William Caudill took over this job in 1961. In the early 1960’s the Fine Arts Department (changed to the Department of Art and Art History in 1978) consisted of several courses in drawing, painting, sculpture, and art history. The faculty at that time was made up of Charles Schorre, David Parsons, Katherine Brown, and James Chillman as well as Jasper Rose, an Englishman who taught painting and art history. Eleanor Evans came in 1964 to teach a basic design course for freshmen architects. During that time the department offered neither a degree nor a major in fine arts. It served as a service department for the entire University to provide electives for all students. Sandy Havens, director of the Rice Players, requested he be assigned to the Fine Arts Department instead of the English Department.

At that time the Department was housed in the basement of Fondren Library with studio courses being taught in a temporary metal building at the base of the track stadium. In 1968, the Department moved to Allen Center where the first art gallery was established. During the first years, important exhibits included drawings of Dorothy Hood and photographs of Geoff Winningham. It was decided to begin building a permanent collection. The department moved to their new quarters in Sewall Hall in the early 1970’s. There they had classrooms, studios and offices.

In 1969 Dominique and John de Menil left the sponsorship of the Art History Department and gallery at the University of St. Thomas and proposed moving these activities to Rice University. The move of the entire Art Department, collection and staff, was completed and the de Menil’s Institute for the Arts at Rice was born. The Institute sponsored exhibits and published catalogs of national and international interest.

In 1965 John O’Neil was asked to become Chairman of the Department of Fine Arts. He accepted on the basis of being ‘acting’ chairman since it was not certain what the situation would be. In 1967 he decided to accept a permanent appointment at Rice. When the de Menil merger was completed, he continued as Chairman and Mrs. de Menil was the director of the Institute for the Arts.

In 1965 a proposal was made for an undergraduate major in Fine Arts at Rice University. In the 1970’s and 1980’s a Master of Arts degree in history of art and 5th year bachelors degree in studio were offered.

Parts excerpted from "The Cornerstone," published by the Rice Historical Society, Winter/Spring 2001. Also see History of Fine Arts, File 7.8

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence, memos, budgeting and accounting records, and other materials associated with the operation of the Fine Arts Department of Rice University from 1960-1969. The bulk of the material is from 1965 to 1968. Additional records include materials associated with the operation and promotion of the Allen Center gallery. Most of the papers are from the years when John O'Neil was active in the department. Some early papers are from Bill Lacy, associate chairman, and William Caudill, chairman of the Architecture Department. This collection offers a look at how Rice University created the Fine Arts Department that eventually led Dominique and John de Menil to transfer their patronage from the University of St. Thomas to Rice in 1969.


Restrictions on Access

This material is open for research. Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via woodson@rice.edu or call 713-348-2586.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from the Rice University Department of Fine Arts, John O'Neil, Chairman records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Index Terms

financial records
Rice University. Department of Art History.
O'Neil, John

Related Materials

See also information files for Fine Arts Department and Art and Art History Department and John O'Neil.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Rice University Department of Fine Arts records, John O'Neil, Chairman, UA 036, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Acquisition Information

On November 21, 2002, Geraldine Aramanda, the archivist with the Menil Museum, gave these papers on behalf of the Menil to Rice University.

Processing Note

Archivist removed some items including personnel files that contained correspondence, resumes, letters of recommendation, etc. for applicants for positions in the Fine Arts Department. As far as can be determined, none of these applicants were hired. Some of these files had water damage and were not suitable for retention.


No future additions are expected for this material.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Administrative Files, 1962-1968

Scope and Contents note
Included are budget and accounting papers, University policy memos, faculty travel and flood insurance correspondence and claims generated from a flood in the basement of Fondren Library on May 13, 1966 that damaged artwork from applicants for a faculty position. Some salary information for faculty may be found in the budget files. Budget for library purchases is in this series.
Box Folder
1 1 Accounting Memos, 1965-1968
2 Accounting Policies - Fine Arts Department, 1965
3 Budget, Current, 1965-1966
4 Budget, Current, 1966-1967
5 Budget, Current, 1967-1968
6 Budget, Request, 1965-1966
7 Budget, Request, 1966-1967
8 Budget, Request, 1967-1968
9 Budget-Library, 1967-1968
10 Flood Insurance, 1966-1967
11 Policies - Dr. Pitzer, 1962-1968
12 Policies - General, 1965-1968
13 Travel - Faculty, 1964-1968

Series II: Committees - On and Off Campus, 1965-1968

Scope and Contents note
Series II contains correspondence and in a few cases, minutes, from various on and off campus committees and organizations.
Box Folder
2 1 Advisory Councils, 1967
2 Committees - Miscellaneous, 1965-1968
3 Cultural Affairs Committee, 1968
4 Committee on Examinations and Standing, 1966-1967
5 Committee on Humanities Research, 1966
6 Committee on Public Lectures, 1966-1968

Series III: Courses and Enrollment 1965-1969

Scope and Contents note
Series III contains documents pertaining to the art and art history courses offered, enrollment, and schedules. There is also correspondence relating to the proposal of a Fine Arts Major at Rice University. Also there are lists of students accepted as majors. Grading and examination schedules, etc., are also included.
Box Folder
3 1 Course Enrollment, 1965-1968
2 Course Schedules, 1966-1967
3 Course Schedules, 1967-1968
4 Course Enrollment, 1965-1967
5 Course Offered, 1967-1968
6 Course Offered, 1968-1969
7 Fine Arts, Majors, 1966-1968
8 Fine Arts, Proposal 1965
9 Grading and Examination Schedule, 1965-1968

Series IV: Exhibits and Gallery Information 1960-1969

Scope and Contents note
Series IV contains material from art department exhibits and gallery information. The exhibits are listed by artist name. There are gallery exhibits and transient exhibitions. These files may include press releases, brochures and announcements sent out to the community. Some of the general files pertain to artwork gifts and the CAA collection. There is also a folder of membership information such as MOMA, College Art Association, American Educational Theatre Association, Print Council of America, etc. Policies for operation of the gallery are included as well as a brief outline of the opening of the Allen Center Gallery and the plans for its operation.
Box Folder
4 1 Acquisitions Advisory Committee - Artwork gift for Rice University, 1967
2 Thomas Bang Sculpture, 1967-1968
3 CAA Collection/Rice, 1960-1968
4 College Art Association of America, 1965-1968
5 DeKuffner, Tamara Donation n.d.
6 Exhibitions, 1965-1966
7 Exhibitions, 1966-1967
8 Exhibitions - Fine Arts Gallery, 1967-1969
9 Exhibitions/Transient - American Federation of Art, 1967-1968
10 Exhibitions/Transient - Museum of Modern Art, 1966-1968
11 Exhibitions/Transient - Museum of Modern Art, 1968-1969
12 Fine Arts Exhibit, 1964-1965
13 Fine Arts Gallery, 1967
14 Gallery Exhibitions - American Printmakers: The Avant Garde, 1967-1968
15 Gallery Exhibitions - Thomas Bang Sculpture, 1968-1969
16 Gallery Exhibitions - The British Eye Prints, 1968
Box Folder
5 1 Gallery Exhibitions - Bob Camblin, 1967-1968
2 Gallery Exhibitions - Dorothy Hood, 1969
3 Gallery Exhibitions - Ferdinand Rotan Galleries, Inc., 1968
4 Gallery Exhibitions - Daniel Shapiro, 1967-1968
5 Gallery Exhibitions - Oli Sihvonen, 1967
6 Gallery Exhibitions - John Thomas Paintings, 1968
7 Gallery Exhibitions - Winningham/Johnson, 1968
8 Gallery Policies, 1967
9 Memberships, 1965-1968
10 Press Releases, 1967-1968
11 Tony Smith Exhibition, 1969
12 Earl Staley, One Man Show, 1967

Series V: General Business and Correspondence, 1961-1968

Scope and Contents note
Series V contains the general files such as calendars, correspondence and other general business of the Fine Arts Department. Much of the correspondence is between the chairman and other university offices, such as Dean of Humanities, faculty, and other campus departments. There is one folder of John O’Neil’s personal correspondence and includes a photograph of him. Some of the general information pertains to students and a couple of folders pertain to foreign study. There is correspondence about the publishing of a student magazine called "Collage." Fellowship and scholarship information is found in this series. One file contains correspondence relating to the Fine Arts Studio Building near the old stadium. One architectural drawing is included. There is a brief history of the department’s early days.
Box Folder
6 1 Calendar, 1965-1967
2 Calendar - Fine Arts, 1966-1967
3 Correspondence - Campus Departments, 1966-1968
4 Correspondence - Dean of Humanities, 1965-1968
5 Correspondence - Drama, 1966
6 Correspondence - Faculty, 1965-1968
7 Correspondence - Fine Arts, 1961-1964
8 Correspondence - Fine Arts, 1964-1965
9 Correspondence - Fine Arts, 1965-1968
10 Correspondence - Fine Arts Studio, 1965-1967
11 Correspondence - Miscellaneous, 1967-1968
12 Correspondence - John O'Neil, Memos, 1967
13 Correspondence - John O'Neil, Miscellaneous, 1965-1967
14 Correspondence - John O'Neil, Miscellaneous, 1968
15 Correspondence - John O'Neil, Personal, 1965-1967
Box Folder
7 1 Faculty Meeting Minutes, 1965
2 Fellowships and Scholarships, 1965-1967
3 Films, Lost Claim (Hepworth and American Folk Art), 1968
4 Fine Arts in Texas Research Project, 1967
5 Foreign Proposals, 1965-1966
6 Graduate Student Information, 1956-1968
7 Guadalajara Summer Session, 1966-1967
8 History of Fine Arts Department
9 Houston Arts Festival, 1967
10 Lecturers - John O'Neil, 1968
11 Rice University Review, 1966-1967
12 Student-Related Information, General, 1964-1968
13 Student Journal, Collage, 1966
14 Thresher, General Course Review, 1966

Series VI: Personnel 1962-1969

Scope and Contents note
Series VI contains the personnel files from the Fine Arts Department. Files on some visiting lecturers and some resumes and correspondence are included here. The then current staff member’s curriculum vitae files are included. One file is from President Pitzer’s office and pertains to Fine Arts candidates for employment. The Miscellaneous Correspondence file includes some personnel correspondence that has references to hiring decisions and other departmental milestones such as the gallery program.
Box Folder
7 15 Alahadeff, Albert, History of Art, 1968
16 Alloway, Lawrence, Visiting Lecturer, 1966-1967
17 Bang, Thomas, Studio, 1967-1969
18 Baumann, Edzard, Art History (Declined), 1965
19 Begley, Wayne, Art History, 1966-1968
20 Belz, Carl, Art History (Declined), 1968
21 Caldwell, Martha, Art History, 1966-1967
22 Fridge, Roy, Special Projects, 1968-1969
23 Kane, William M., Art History, 1965
24 Kung, David S., Lecturer, 1965-1966 1965-1966
25 Mears, Herbert, Studio, 1965-1966
26 Rose, Jasper, Art History, 1964-1965
27 Staley, Earl V., Studio, 1966-1969
Box Folder
8 1 Candidates - Fine Arts (from President's Office), 1962-1965
2 Personnel - Curriculum Vitae, 1966-1967
3 Personnel - Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1963-1969
4 Personnel - Recommendations, John O'Neil, 1965-1967
5 Visiting Lecturers, 1964-1968