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Texas City disaster records

 Collection
Identifier: MS 0529
Finding aid note: Stored offsite at the Library Service Center and require 24-hour notice for retrieval. Please contact the Woodson Research Center at 713-348-2586 or woodson@rice.edu for more information.

Scope and Contents

The Texas City disaster records were created and / or maintained by survivor Robert M. Morris. The reports, statements, images and notes describe the events of the April 16, 1947 when a French freighter carrying fertilizer caught fire and exploded, causing disaster on shore at the nearby Monsanto petroleum plant and other refineries, homes, warehouses and buildings. At least 576 were killed and 4,000 injured, with the town being almost completely destroyed.

Original materials of note include Monsanto statements and reports and correspondence about the events. Two videotapes feature documentaries of the disaster. The History Channel documentary, "Eyes of Texas" (Houston KHOU-TV) segment and two Houston KTRC-TV News Channel 13 segments include first accounts from survivors, including Robert Morris and William Lane.

Dates

  • 1947-2003
  • Majority of material found within 1947 - 1949

Creator

Access Restrictions

This material is open for research.

Restrictions on Access

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Access

Stored offsite at the Library Service Center and require 24-hour notice for retrieval. Please contact the Woodson Research Center at 713-348-2586 or woodson@rice.edu for more information.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from the Texas City disaster records, 1947-2003, MS 529, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Historical Sketch

The worst industrial accident in U.S. history took place on the morning of April 16, 1947 when a French freighter carrying fertilizer (ammonium nitrate) on Galveston Bay caught fire and exploded, causing disaster on shore at the nearby Monsanto styrene plant and other petroleum refineries, homes, warehouses, ships and buildings. At least 576 were killed and 4,000 injured, with Texas City being almost completely destroyed.

Monsanto rebuilt the plant, which was only three years old, in order to help supply the nation's synthetic rubber needs during World War II. The plant was bought by Gordon Cain in 1986 and became known as Sterling Chemicals.

Correspondents include Robert M. Morris of Grantham, N.H.; William H. Lane of Texas City; John F. Jacobs of Nashville, TN; and Fred Ruecker. Lane survived the disaster. Morris was Monsanto's Assistant Plant Manager. After being thrown in a Jeep, trapped under it and nearly drowned by a tidal wave, Morris survived and went on to assist in the rescue efforts. Fred Ruecker lost his father, a plant engineer, in the disaster, as did John F. Jacobs. After surviving the disaster, Morris was transferred to Springfield, Massachusetts (1949) and then to St. Louis (1953), going on to eventually settled in New Hampshire.

Morris' daughter Susie Glasscock earned her BA in economics from Rice in 1962 and currently serves on the Rice Board of Trustees. Her husband Melbern Glasscock earned a BSME from Texas A&M in 1959 and his MS in mechanical engineering at Rice in 1961. Mr. and Mrs. Glasscock have been regular students of the School of Continuing Studies at Rice University for almost 30 years. In January 2006, the school was renamed the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies in honor of the Glasscock's endowment gift believed to be the largest endowment gift ever made to a university continuing education program in the United States.

Extent

1.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Overview

The Texas City disaster records were created and / or maintained by survivor Robert M. Morris, of Texas City, TX. The reports, statements, images and notes describe the events of the April 16, 1947 when a French ship carrying fertilizer on Galveston Bay caught fire and exploded, causing disaster on shore at the nearby Monsanto styrene plant and other petroleum refineries, homes, warehouses, ships and buildings. At least 576 were killed and 4,000 injured, with the town being almost completely destroyed.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Susie Glasscock, 2007.

Related Material

Mansanto Chemical Company archives located at Washington University Libraries, St. Louis, Missouri. Finding aid for this material is on-line at http://library.wustl.edu/units/spec/archives/guides/pdf/monsanto.pdf.

General note

Portions of this collection are available online at https://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/21672.
Title
Guide to the Texas City disaster records, 1947-2003
Status
Completed
Author
Amanda Focke and Lee Pecht
Date
11302007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Contact:
Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA