Brassy Barbara Stanwyck and Pre-Code Hollywood

In 1934, the Hays Code began to be strictly enforced in Hollywood to clean up alleged indecency in movies. All evil-doers had to meet their just rewards.

What spurred the prudish policing? Hardboiled flicks like Baby Face. This 1933 film had Barbara Stanwyck playing young Lily Powers whose bootlegger father hires out her favors to the local men. She fights off the men who want her, but we’re given to understand that doesn’t mean all of them.


In a scene cut from the original theatrical release, Barbara Stanwyck breaks a beer bottle over the head of a man trying to assault her.

After her father’s death, Lily heads to New York to make her way in the world. She and her African American co-worker/friend Chico (Theresa Harris) hop on a freight train, but are discovered by a railroad worker who threatens to have them thrown in jail. Lily sidles over to him seductively saying, “Wait … can’t we talk this over?” The ensuing scene (below) was deleted by the censors. Scenes like this one were the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Once in New York, Lily sees the soaring Gotham Trust tower and asks a security guard about jobs. He directs her to the personnel department, where an aide asks Lily, “Have you had any experience?”, to which Lily replies, “Plenty!”

Lily proceeds to climb a ladder of Gotham Trust executives. With each advance, she becomes colder, more ruthless, and wealthier.


The film’s original ending has Lily leaving her latest bank executive in the lurch and running away to Europe with her illicit gains. But that ending did not please the censors.

After the film was banned in several cities, a new conclusion was quickly filmed. Instead, Lily realizes the error of her ways and sells everything to rescue the young banker she loves from financial ruin.

Stanwyck’s character in Baby Face is typical of female leads before the Hays Code: strong, resourceful, and determined to succeed doing whatever it takes to get ahead.


To learn more about Barbara Stanwyck, take a look at her fascinating archive at the American Heritage Center.

Posted in Motion picture actors and actresses, motion picture history, Politics, popular culture, Uncategorized, women's history | Tagged | Leave a comment

Remembering Brad Ross

William Bradford “Brad” Ross III, grandson of the nation’s first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, died Dec. 11, 2017, after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 76.


Brad Ross

Brad was born on June 29, 1941, in Olympia, Wash., to Bradford and Dorothy Hardy Ross while his father was stationed there during World War II. He was raised in Washington, D.C.; attended Avon Old Farms, Conn.; majored in political science at the University of Wyoming; and proudly served his country in the U.S. Coast Guard within their Search and Rescue Division.

On March 16, 1979, Brad married Robinette Davis in Naples, Fla., and together they had two children, Nellie Tayloe Ross (Sanders) and William Bradford Ross IV. Brad was a business consultant with a concentration on real estate throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. In later life, he enjoyed raising cattle and horses at his family home, Maiden Point Farm, Newburg, Md. In retirement, Brad and Robinette lived in Williamsburg, Va.

Brad was the grandson of two Wyoming governors — Governor William Bradford Ross and Governor Nellie Tayloe Ross. His grandparents were also the first independently elected husband and wife governors in the United States. Brad committed his life to sharing his grandmother’s achievements through the family’s donation of the Nellie Tayloe Ross Collection to the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming. This collection resulted in a historical book about Governor Nellie Tayloe Ross titled, “Governor Lady: The Life and Times of Nellie Tayloe Ross” by Teva Scheer and a Wyoming Public Television documentary titled, “Nellie Tayloe Ross – A Governor First.”

Brad’s interests included advancing Governor Nellie Tayloe Ross’s legacy, who was also America’s first female director of the United States Mint under Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower.

Bradford was preceded in death by his parents, Bradford and Dorothy Hardy Ross; and two brothers, David Tayloe Ross and John Hardy Ross. He is survived by his wife, Robinette Davis Ross of Williamsburg, Va.; and their children, Nellie Tayloe Sanders, and her husband, Rep. Michael Sanders of Kingfisher, Okla., and William Bradford Ross IV, and his wife, Avery Walker Ross, of Alexandria, Va., Aviza Grafel, and her husband, Matt Grafel, of Winchester, Va.; brother, Robert Tayloe Ross, and his wife, Laurie Hughes Ross, of Richmond, Va.; niece, Catherine Tayloe Ross of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and nephews, James Tayloe Ross of Alexandria, Va., and David Tayloe Ross of Fredericksburg, Va.; grandchildren, Davis Lee Sanders and Walker Tayloe Sanders of Kingfisher, Okla., and Erik, Emma and Connor Grafel of Winchester, Va.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 14, at Bruton Parish Church, Williamsburg, followed by a reception at the Custis Tenement House.  A private internment will be held in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Center of Family Love, P.O. Box 245, Okarche, OK 73750; or Bruton Parish Church, 331 W. Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg, VA 23185.

Share online condolences with the family at

Text and photo courtesy of the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily.

Posted in Collection donor, Current events, Obituaries, Ross, Nellie Tayloe, Uncategorized, Wyoming history | Leave a comment

suffrage \ noun suf·frage \ ˈsə-frij , sometimes -fə-rij \ Definition: The right to vote, especially in political elections

Wyoming is unique among the states that form our nation, in granting women the right to vote in 1869. The territory of Wyoming paved the way for the rest of the country, not only by being the first to allow women to vote but eventually allowing women to hold public office. The letter granting women the right of suffrage was signed December 10, 1869 by the first governor of the Wyoming Territory, John A. Campbell.


GRH_Box21_Fol6_suffrage law with tag

From the Grace Raymond Hebard papers, Collection #400008, Box 21, Folder 6, American Heritage Center.

 Publicity and embarrassment appear to have been motivators for legislator and uneducated saloon keeper, William Bright, to introduce the bill giving women voting rights. Many speculated that the new law may encourage women to move out west. Some arguments were racially motivated and even considered humorous, suggesting the entire issue was a joke. There were also those who thought John Campbell would never sign off on the idea of women voting, for fear he would look ridiculous.

After the tumultuous political climate between the Democrats, who were not inclined to pursue rights for blacks, and the Republicans who chose to oppose their view, the dust of the controversy settled around the feet of women’s rights. Resolutions, laws, and bills were introduced by the newly elected all-Democratic Wyoming legislature. Many passed, including woman’s suffrage, thus ensuring women had rights such as sitting inside the room with the lawmakers, equal pay for school teachers, and owning property.


From the Women’s History Research Center Resource Files, Collection #5879, Box 46, Folder 16, American Heritage Center.

Although the intent in the beginning was blurry at best, the accomplishment is real and clear. This progressive evolution indicates that eventually, every right and equality offered in Wyoming and in this nation will be inclusive of women.

Firsts for women in Wyoming:

  • Louisa Swain – first woman to cast a vote in a public election (1869), Laramie.
  • Esther Hobart Morris – first woman Justice of the Peace (1870), South Pass City.
  • First all-woman jury (1870), Laramie
  • Mary Atkinson – first women bailiff in the world (1870), Albany County.
  • Estelle R. Meyer – first woman statewide elected official [Superintendent of Public Instruction] (1894).
  • City of Jackson – first town in U. S. governed by women: mayor, town council and marshal (1920).

From the Robert E. Miller papers, Collection #11728, Box 1, Folder 3, American Heritage Center.

  • Nellie Tayloe Ross – first woman governor in U. S. (1925).
  • Minnie Mitchel – first woman state treasurer (1953).
  • Wanda Batna – first woman commissioned officer in the Wyoming National Guard (1973).
  • Marilyn S. Kite – first woman justice on the Wyoming Supreme Court (2000) and later first woman Chief Justice (2010).
  • Dr. Laurie Nichols, first woman president of the University of Wyoming (2015).

For additional information and primary source material about woman’s suffrage, including original documents and artifacts, please visit and view the collections at the American Heritage Center, including the collections highlighted below:

John Stephen and Frances Jennings Casement papers, #308: Correspondence with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Equal Rights organizations, National American Woman Suffrage Association, petitions relating to the creation of the Wyoming Territory.


Wedding photo of Frances and John Casement, 1857     John Stephen and Frances Jennings Casement papers, Collection #308, Box 1, Folder 24, American Heritage Center.

Carey Family papers, #1212: Speeches of Joseph M. Carey and his son Robert Carey (both were Wyoming governors and senators); correspondence, including with Susan B. Anthony and Wyoming’s U.S. Senator Francis E. Warren; and subject files regarding woman’s suffrage.

T.A. Larson papers, #400029: UW history professor, Wyoming State representative, and the author of History of Wyoming (1965, 1990). There is material on woman’s suffrage throughout his papers.

Reginald Wright Kauffman papers, #9598: Author, editor, journalist, and supporter of women’s rights. Kauffman represented the U. S. at the first Congress of Men’s Societies for Women’s Suffrage in 1912. He promoted women’s suffrage throughout Europe and Africa.

League of Women’s Voters of Wyoming records, #10437: Created in 1920 at the National American Woman Suffrage Association to educate women on use of their voting power.

Grace Robinson papers, #6941: Includes ten years of National Women’s Suffrage manuscripts (1930).

Wilma Soss papers, #10249: Stockholder rights activist, president/chair/founder of the Federation of Women’s Shareholders in American Business (1947). Soss was a leader in women’s economic suffrage movement, and one of the first women public relations agents.

– Submitted by Vicki Glantz, Archives Aide, Reference Department, American Heritage Center

Posted in Suffrage -- United States, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming history, Women -- suffrage, women's history | Tagged | Leave a comment

Admiral Husband E. Kimmel: Bungler or Fall Guy?

The Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, was one of the most unforgettable events in U.S. history. It catapulted the country into World War II.

Pearl Harbor aftermath

Aftermath of Pearl Harbor attack (photo courtesy Atomic Heritage Foundation)

The need to understand events and point the finger of blame led to nine investigations between 1944 and 1946. A central figure throughout was Admiral Husband Kimmel. Kimmel had been a rising star in the U.S. Navy since 1915. By 1941 he was commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

But on that fateful December day, his stellar career collapsed. He was relieved of his Pacific Fleet command ten days after the attack.

Kimmel argued that intercepted Japanese cables suggesting an imminent attack were in Washington, DC, and not shared with him. In his eyes, he was a scapegoat for incompetence at higher levels. Kimmel’s critics pointed to tactical failures that had little to do with whether he knew the attack was coming.

Kimmel at hearings_1482456158364_7453076_ver1.0

Circa 1946: Adm. Husband E. Kimmel at Pearl Harbor Hearing. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)   (Photo: George Skadding, Time & Life Pictures)

Historians still debate Kimmel’s role in the Pearl Harbor attack. Was he responsible for one of the worst disasters in American military history or did he simply get the unluckiest promotion of all time?

Husband Kimmel’s papers at the American Heritage Center contain his defense and materials for his book, Admiral Kimmel’s Story, published in 1955.


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Transitions at the American Heritage Center

American Heritage Center Director Bridget Burke submitted her resignation to accept a position as Associate Dean for Special Collections at the University Libraries at University of Oklahoma. Her last day at the AHC is December 8, 2017. We have greatly enjoyed having Bridget lead the AHC and we are sorry to see her leave. We wish Bridget all the best in her new position at University of Oklahoma. Congratulations Bridget!

UW Dean of Libraries Ivan Gaetz will serve as Interim Director of the AHC. The AHC will also be conducting an external review with peer archival professionals during the Spring 2018 semester to determine future directions.

The AHC is excited to be working with UW Dean of Libraries, Ivan Gaetz, as Interim Director. Ivan is a gifted administrator and he will be a skilled leader during this transition. The UW Libraries is one of our go-to collaborators, making Ivan a good fit to guide the AHC during this transitional period.

The AHC also warmly welcomes a visit by our peers in the archival profession to help guide our future direction. This external review will support the American Heritage Center in fulfilling our mission and vision statements and our forthcoming strategic plan. We feel this is a perfect time to host a group of archival professionals who can look at our current structure and let us know what is working well and where we can improve to better serve the University community, the people of Wyoming, scholars, and the general public.

The American Heritage Center is considered one of the top non-governmental archival repositories in the nation. In 2010, the AHC received the Distinguished Service Award from the Society of American Archivists. One of the highest honors in the archival field, this award is given to an institution that has “provided outstanding service to its public and has made an exemplary contribution to the archives profession”.

Providing outstanding public service to all remains our highest priority through this transition.


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Today is UW Giving Day!

We hope you will think of UW while you’re planning your holiday giving. Whether it’s one dollar or a hundred dollars, every gift makes a difference. The State of Wyoming provides a solid base of funding, but it’s donors like you who elevate Wyoming’s university to new heights of excellence!

Your support impacts university colleges through undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, internships and career preparation, professorships, research, excellence funds, facilities and technology, operating funds, outreach and extension, or the department or affiliated program of your choice. So, give today! Any amount makes a difference, and it all adds up to a better University of Wyoming.  What a difference a day makes!

If you would like to consider the AHC in your giving plans, the UW Foundation has established a crowdfunding site for the AHC.



Yes. The University of Wyoming is a non-profit institution that aspires to be one of the nation’s finest public land-grant research universities.




Spread the word! Let your UW friends, family, and fellow alumni know that you’ve made a gift, and encourage them to give too. Post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #uwgivingday. Send an email; make a call. Whatever method you choose, your support will make an enormous difference in the success of UW Giving Day.


To have the most immediate impact, give online by clicking here, or you may call toll-free 888-831-7795 or (307) 766-6300






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Mileva Maravic remembers Gebo, Wyoming

110 years ago, the coal-mining town of Gebo was established about twelve miles north of Thermopolis in Hot Springs County. The town took its name from Samuel W. Gebo, an entrepreneurial developer of the coal mines in Washakie and Hot Springs counties. New York investor Rufus Ireland and others were the financial backers who leased the land from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Gebo was the company town of their Owl Creek Coal Company. By 1929, there were about 1,200 employees and family members, with more than 600 employed in the coal mines.

Mileva Maravic (1912-2003) spent her childhood in Gebo. Her papers at the AHC contain historical materials she collected about the town. Also included are reminiscences by Maravic and other Gebo residents.

The excerpts below are from Maravic’s remembrances about the town.

“Everything was owned by the company—the houses, the store, butcher shop, utilities.  Rent was free.  The company charged $1.00 for a load of coal brought in a truck and emptied it in the coal shed by the houses.  A few chose to build their own house or added some rooms to their company house.”

Gebo HS graduation 1930 Mileva back row on right

Mileva Maravic as a high school graduate in Gebo, 1930. Mileva Maravic papers, American Heritage Center

“Gebo was a melting pot of nationalities and cultures.  There were Finns, Czechs, Slavs comprising two groups (the Serbians and Montenegrins).  Other nationalities Hungarians, Bulgarians, Russians, Italians, Scots, Irish, English, and two Japanese families.” (from “Gebo, Wyoming,” by Mileva Maravic)

“The [school] playground had swings, a slide and the monkey bars and a Merry-go-round.

School Playground Gebo about 1921

School playground, ca. 1921 (photo does not include Mileva), Mileva Maravic papers, American Heritage Center

Away from the playground and the school were two small buildings near a pile of large rocks.  They were the outdoor toilets.  One marked BOYS and the other GIRLS.”

“The Owl Creek Coal Company furnished the books.  The children bought paper, pencils, penholder made of wood into which you inserted a metal penpoint.  We also had to buy a bottle of ink which cost ten cents.  The desks had a round hole in the upper right hand corner for the bottle of ink.  The penholder with penpoint dipped in the ink we used when having Penmanship Class.  We practiced many days the push-pull exercises and making large round circles before the teacher accepted the papers which she sent to the Palmer Method Company in Chicago.  They graded the papers and if satisfactory were returned to the School with a Certificate having our name on it.  We also received a Palmer Method Pin we could wear.” (from “The Gebo School,” by Mileva Maravic)

Gebo High School 1930 Mileva front row 3rd from left

Gebo High School, 1930 (note that photo is all girls). Mileva is front row third from left. Mileva Maravic papers, American Heritage Center

“Children entered the Pool Hall at the back door, waited until the clerk came to ask what kind of candy bar, soda pop we wanted.  We could buy with pool hall chips miners sometimes gave us.  A small building near the front of the Pool Hall was the Barbershop.  No women went in the Barbershop.  In the back of the Pool Hall was a round open structure where the Gebo Miner’s Band gave concerts in the summer.” (from “Gebo, Wyoming,” by Mileva Maravic)

Gebo Miners Band undated

Gebo Miner’s Band, undated, Mileva Maravic papers, American Heritage Center

“Growing up in Gebo, Wyoming in the 1920’s was a pioneer life compared to to-day’s living.  It was a simpler life.  It seems though, no matter how rough things were — the place we were young is always close to one’s heart.  Some part of me will always be where I grew up…….Gebo, Wyoming.” (from “Remembrances of Gebo, Wyoming,” by Mileva Maravic)

Gebo HS graduation 1930 Mileva back row on right

High school graduation, Gebo. 1930. Mileva is back row last on right. Mileva Maravic papers, American Heritage Center

By 1938, the coal mines had closed. Mail service to the town was discontinued in December 1955. By 1971 the town was bulldozed, although some buildings and the cemetery remain.

The American Heritage Center is a place to get information not found in many books or even online sources. We have firsthand data and evidence from letters, reports, notes, memos, photographs, audio and video recordings, and other primary sources. We’re accessible onsite at the University of Wyoming and online. No appointment needed to get your information!

– Submitted by D. Claudia, Thompson, Archivist, American Heritage Center

Posted in Economic Geology, found in the archive, Local history, mining history, newly processed collections, Western history, women's history, Wyoming history | Tagged | 4 Comments