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Rice University Harry Carothers Wiess College Records

Identifier: UA 0079
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 for more information.

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of College Cabinet minutes, as well as other college-related documents and lists, such as the Constitution and by-laws, Plan and Perspective, handbook, freshman orientation, other publications, correspondence and memos, photographs and negatives, video, news clippings, theatrical programs, and space utilization plans.


  • Creation: 1950 - 2018


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 for more information.

Restrictions on Access

This material is open for research, except for Box 44, Folder 20. The Wiess Vault USB is restricted until 2033. Please see note on Series XXXI.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from the Rice University Harry Carothers Wiess College Records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Biographical / Historical

Wiess Hall was built in 1949 by the generous gift of the estate of Harry Carothers Wiess. Wiess was an oil tycoon and founder of Humble Oil (which later became Exxon and now Exxon-Mobil). Wiess Hall originally was built to house the growing numbers of students after World War II and consisted of 100 bedrooms and a small lobby known as the Outer Commons. It was popular for its outdoor hallways, wrap-around balconies and cross-ventilation construction in the pre-air-conditioning era.

In 1957, Rice's residential college sytem was established. South, East, West and Wiess Halls were all male, and became Will Rice, Hanszen, Baker and Wiess Colleges. Jones College was all female. Wiess received additions such as a commons, public basement area, more rooms, a library and grassy courtyards. Wiess' first Master was Dr. Roy Talmage (Biology), who insitituted formal blazers which were worn at formal Sunday dinners. Freshmen served as waitstaff during family meals and were made to wear green beanies to distinguish themselves. Wiess became co-ed in 1983. Wiess is known for its large public party, Night of Decadence (NOD), Pumpkin Carolling, its theater, Wiess Tabletop, and jacks. Wiess students engineered the most famous jack (prank)in Rice history in 1988 when they turned the statue in the academic quad of William Marsh Rice around to face the Fondren Library. The perpetrators of the jack and their exact methods are still unknown.

IN 2002, Wiess College was rebuilt. The original 1949 building had become unsafe and had foundation problems.

Excerpted in part from Wiess O-Week manual, 2002.


34.75 Linear Feet (47 boxes)

0.011 Gigabytes (Nearline access: UA0079aip_001 (0.011 GB))

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Language of Materials



Harry Carothers Wiess College is one of eleven residential colleges at Rice University. These records contain files related to Wiess governance, student life, handbooks, memos, photographs, video, constitutions, by-laws and minutes.

Acquisition Information

Some of these documents were given by Michael Alliston of Wiess College in November 1969, and by Mark Hurwitz, 2006 and by tranfers from the college in 2009. Bill Blanton and Bill Wilson gave materials in 2010. Nancy Letness transferred materials in 2012 and 2013. David Payne donated the Wiess Vault electronic records in 2013. Ewart Jones tranferred materials in 2013 and 2014.


Future additions are expected for this material.

Related Papers

See Rice University Archives for records about other Rice University residential colleges. Contact Woodson Research Center staff for assistance.

Guide to the Rice University Harry Carothers Wiess College Records, 1950-2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

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

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