Personal papers of Harry Nicholas Rice
The bulk of the collection is photocopies of the case files for Kansas Bureau of Investigation case number 1-14958 dealing with the shooting death of Harry Nicholas Rice, a student at the University of Kansas. The collection also includes newspaper clippings, the Rice family’s correspondence with federal agencies and with lawyers concerning the case they filed against the city of Lawrence for damages in the death of their son; Douglas County, Kansas district court case number 27,359.
- Creation: January 22, 1970 - March 4, 2009 (bulk July 1970)
Conditions Governing Access
No access restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.
Biography of Harry Nicholas "Nick" Rice (1952-1970)
Harry Nicholas “Nick” Rice (1952-1970) was born to Harry Dollar and Esther "Chris" (Christianson) Rice. Rice grew up in Leawood, Kansas and went to Shawnee Mission South High School and Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO. He completed his freshman year at University of Kansas (KU), studying engineering. He was pledged to the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity, where he had a reputation as a hard worker and a practical joker.
Amidst protests for civil rights and against the Vietnam War across the United States, students at KU were also lobbying for civil rights locally and against military recruitment on campus. When the KU Student Union was burned by arson in April 1970, Nick Rice was one of the students who received a commendation from the city of Lawrence for helping to put out the fire.
Rice worked at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Leawood, Kansas the summer of 1970. He came to Lawrence the night of July 20th with his girlfriend, who lived near 12th and Oread, and a friend from Kansas City to pay a parking ticket. After Rice was told to mail in the payment, the group went to play pinball at the Rock Chalk Café. People were in the area protesting the police shooting of Rick Dowdell two nights earlier. When police closed the Rock Chalk Café, Rice and his friends went down the street to the Gaslight Tavern to continue playing pinball.
Protesters had turned over a car and shot out a streetlight. According to witnesses, Rice and his girlfriend had gotten into his car to leave the area, but they were looking for Rice’s Kansas City friend. When they saw him, Rice parked and got out to meet him.
A person on the street was trying to start the overturned car on fire, and many reported that police yelled “shoot him.” Police fired. Some say they fired at an angle above the crowd, but Officer Jimmy Joe Stroud admits to shooting at the attempted arsonist with a carbine rifle that he had bought earlier that day.
Stroud missed the person he was aiming for and hit Nick Rice in the back of the neck. Another youth was taken in the same ambulance to the hospital with a bullet wound in the leg. Nick Rice was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
[Information retrieved from collection materials.]
.75 Linear Feet (2 document cases + 2 oversize folders)
Language of Materials
Scope and Contents
The collection includes media reports at the time of the shooting of Nick Rice and decades later that questioned police culpability, telling of a coroner’s inquest that ruled the death was not felonious and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) reporting that there was insufficient evidence to prove fault.
Included papers show that Harry Dollar Rice and Esther Christiansen “Chris” Rice, Nick Rice's parents, filed suit against the Lawrence, Kansas police department for damages in the death of their son in 1971. After years of litigation, a portion of the KBI report was released to the parents. In October of 1973 the Rices decided to drop the suit.
According to a Lawrence Times series published in the spring of 2021, Nick’s brother Chris Rice succeeded with legal counsel in getting access in 2020 to the KBI investigation file that is the bulk of this collection.
Though some pages and parts are redacted and missing, the report summary makes it clear that Lawrence Police Officer Stroud shot in the direction of Nick Rice and Officer Foust found a bullet near where Rice fell. The bullet was given to Lawrence Police Captain McClure rather than being admitted as evidence. McClure gave it to Kansas Bureau of Investigations officers after it had been in his possession for a week, breaking the legal chain of custody and making it inadmissible in court.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift, Christopher D. Rice, 2021.
- Guide to the Nick Rice Collection
- Personal papers of Harry Nicholas Rice
- Finding aid prepared by eje. Finding aid encoded by eje.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Finding aid written in English.
- Finding aid permalink
- Preferred citation
Personal papers of Harry Nicholas Rice, PP 647, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas