Scope and Contents
This collection consists of records of the Rice Institute/University Rally Club from 1926 to 1970. Included are meeting minutes, rosters, attendance records, and membership directories. There are successive versions of the constitution and by-laws, samples of football game pep ribbons, and a 1946 Rally Club arm band.
Biographical / Historical
The records in this collection document the activities of a Rice University (initially Institute) organization, the Rally Club, from its beginning in 1926 to 1970 (though the organization has continued on campus through the twentieth century). The first meeting was held on September 20, 1926. In the words of an early version of the Club constitution, “The purpose of this organization shall be service—to undertake activities which promote school spirit and fellowship, and to enter into agreements with the administration and campus organizations for ushering and other service activities. Also the club shall be of a social nature and shall hold such activities as it deems desirable.” The Rally Club was for men only. The constitution specifies that membership is open by invitation from current members, and the by-laws describe a process of electing a group from a slate of nominees, the size of the group depending on the number needed for the membership to be at a particular number, 60 active members in the oldest existing version of the constitution.
These records show that a number of characteristics of the Club remained constant through the years, while others changed or even disappeared. The constitution specified once-a-week meetings, and this collection included complete sets of minutes year by year, ending in 1965. Also included are rosters with attendance records and membership directories. Regular attendance was expected, with absences punished by a monetary fine or even with expulsion from the Club if members voted that excessive absences warranted this. As time went on, nominations and elections of members were more frequent, suggesting that maintaining membership at a certain level grew more challenging.
The stipulation “The club shall be of a social nature and shall hold such activities as it deems desirable” is one of the features that continues throughout the records. In the earlier years the minutes record planning for events like picnics at Memorial Park and Galveston beach parties for Club members. Many of these were co-ed events, and for a number of years there was an annual fall open house to which members of the Rice women’s literary societies were invited. Attendance by the women was encouraged by the awarding of a humorous trophy to the literary society that had the largest percentage of its membership present.
A way the Rally Club fostered social activity for the student body as a whole was with at least one all-school dance annually. For a short span of years, the Rally Club dance was called Grundelet, conveying the intention to in a way parody the traditional campus formal dance known as Rondelet. For a period of time in the fifties and sixties a bonfire was part of festivities at the time of the homecoming football game, and it was the Rally Club that built the bonfire. A way the Club generated student spirit for football games was by creating slogans for small ribbons that were sold for ten cents. This collection includes samples of more than one season’s ribbons.
The Rally Club’s purpose of providing service to Rice is the aspect in which most change has occurred. For many years ushering for football and basketball games was a seriously taken service. Members also sold programs (with proceeds shared by the Club and individual sellers). In the earlier years Club members were called upon for services like parking cars at events for Rice supporters or alumni at the Faculty Club or the Memorial Center and leading campus tours for visiting groups. When the annual campus activity known as Beer/Bike began, the Rally Club was called on to put up and take down the bleachers for the race. In the years after the ones documented in this collection, the University arranged for tasks like ushering at varsity games and leading campus tours in other ways.
No account of the Rally Club could be considered complete without mention of the association of beer with its identity. Enjoying the beverage was part of the Club’s social activities from the earliest picnics on. Minutes often record planning for the obtaining of beer for Club parties. Minutes also indicate that deans from time to time asserted influence for the sake of keeping Club activities in line with campus policies. Several violations of the alcohol policy in 1960 caused the Club to be put on probation for the 1961-62 school year. Meetings continued, and by June 1, 1962, the Club had regained accepted standing. Minutes of subsequent years make clear that it was possible for the Rally Club to continue linking beer with its activities without policy violations.