Scope and Contents
Business and personal records of J. Russell Wait, Director of the Port of Houston from 1930-1947, offering a comprehensive history of the Port of Houston from 1931-1962. Materials also relate to the Brazos River Harbor Navigation District, Houston Ship Channel maps, and scrapbooks on WWII and Japan. Formats include correspondence, reports, maps, blueprints, scrapbooks, photographs, and more. The bulk of the Wait papers retain their original office filing system and are filed alphabetically according to Wait's subject headings. These headings include correspondence and reports relating to Wait's time as Port Manager, 1939-1947.
Two large scrapbooks in the collection document Houston area daily newspaper coverage of WWII from late August 1939 to June 1942, providing insight into the increasing impact of the war upon American life. A set of four scrapbooks document Wait's 1939 business trip to Japan.
This material is open for research.
Conditions Governing Access
Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713-348-2586.
Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
J. Russell Wait was General Manager of the Port of Houston from 1930 to 1947. He was born in New Jersey in 1882 and graduated from Lehigh University in 1906. Prior to his coming to Houston, Mr. Wait had been director of the Port of Charleston, South Carolina, and had spent a year at the Port of Beaumont. Four years after retiring from the Houston Port Authority, Mr. Wait came out of retirement in 1951 to serve the Brazos River Harbor Navigation District as general manager and re-retired to Kerrville the following year.
While General Manager of the Port of Houston, Mr. Wait was responsible for the dredging of the ship channel from Galveston to the Turning Basin and under his leadership Houston grew from twelfth to the nation's third largest port. During these years, Wait amassed detailed information on the history and activities of the port: its construction, facilities, finances, clients and operations. While with the Brazos River Harbor Navigation District he expanded his collection to include District Annual Reports for the years 1952 through 1958, with supplementing documents and detailed, annotated photographs of the harbor construction, which had taken place from 1952 to 1956.
Although not a Rice alumnus or official faculty member, Wait lectured frequently at Rice and developed a fondness for the university. At the time he announced the gift of his collection to the university he said, "Most of my work was done in Houston, and most of the pictures and many of the books and papers have Houston origins. It seemed to me that this great university should have them."
Excerpted from "Treasures in the Attic" by Alan Harris Bath, featured in Fondren Library's The Flyleaf, Summer 2000.
31 Linear Feet (40 boxes)
Language of Materials