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Holmes McNeely Papers

Identifier: MS 0068
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Scope and Contents

The Holmes McNeely Papers document McNeely’s work as director of the Rice Owl Band (1951-67); materials include photographs, color slides, news clippings, brochures, a scrapbook, bound volumes of band music, three Rice Owl Band uniforms, and CD recordings of band concerts under McNeely’s direction, performed by the Rice Owl Band and the Jefferson Davis High School Stage, Concert, and Marching Bands.


  • Creation: 1948 - 1968


Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research.

Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish from the Holmes McNeely Papers, MS 68, must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Biographical Note

Marion Holmes McNeely (known as Holmes McNeely) was born December 4, 1907, in Milford, Texas, the only son among four children born to Marion McNeely and Mary Ella Suggs. He attended the public schools in Memphis, Texas, where his father was the local dentist. Family members attribute his musical talent to his mother’s family; it was his mother who gave him his first music lessons on the piano, and beginning in his early teens he played trumpet in the Memphis regimental band, participating frequently in band contests around the state. He also had considerable artistic ability and in later years enjoyed painting scenes remembered from his Colorado summer home.

McNeely received a B.A. degree from Hardin-Simmons University during the period of the Great Depression; he then went to Falfurrias, Texas, to accept a teaching position in the public schools, where he directed the marching and concert bands and also organized one of the first mounted bands in the state for both parade and rodeo activities. While in Falfurrias he met his future wife, Carol Virginia Turner; they were married July 10, 1934, and had one son, Robert Holmes McNeely.

In 1935 McNeely accepted a position in Navasota, Texas, as Band Director. During World War II he worked from 1942-45 as an inspector for the Naval Inspection Service in Houston. He later returned to Navasota, where in 1947 he was appointed Director and Supervisor of Music in the Navasota Public Schools, and his reputation began to grow as the city’s bands won high ratings in state competitions. During this period McNeely also devoted several summers to the completion of a Master’s degree in Music from the University of Michigan.

McNeely came to Houston in 1948 as Director of Instrumental Music at Jefferson Davis High School, where (in addition to directing the concert and marching bands) he developed a stage band that earned top honors in state competitions. In 1951 he was appointed Director of the Rice Owl Band and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1967. He had meanwhile continued his work at Jefferson Davis High School and retired from that position in 1970. He died in Houston on November 4, 1984, after a long illness.

[Compiled from family records and excerpted in part from The Owl Band of Rice University, c. 1965]


8 Linear Feet (2 box + 4 oversized boxes)

Language of Materials



Papers of Holmes McNeely, director of the Rice [University] Owl Band 1951-67, with material including brochures, news clippings, photographs, slides, CDs of Rice Owl Band and Jefferson Davis High School Band concerts under McNeely’s direction, bound volumes of band music, and Rice Owl Band uniforms.

Acquisition Information

The Holmes McNeely Papers were donated by Thomas Holmes McNeely (grandson) and received Nov. 26 and Dec. 20, 2004; and Jan.10, 2005.

Related Material

See Information File in the Rice University Archives on the Rice Owl Band.


Guide to the Holmes McNeely Papers, 1948-68
Lee Pecht
2005; update 2018
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