In A World Not Like Our Own

The Science Fiction or Si-Fi world has expanded and captured the minds of many due to its striking details, other worlds, and personable characters. Today it produces TV shows, box office features, and conventions that bring visitors from around the world, but the phrase “Si-Fi” as we know it today was not always common tongue. Forrest J Ackerman, science fiction writer, editor, and avid collector of Si-Fi memorabilia was the first to coin this phrase.

Forrest J. Ackerman, ca. 1970s.
Forrest Ackerman, ca. 1970s.
Box 105, Forrest J. Ackerman papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

While in college at the University of California Berkeley, Ackerman worked as a movie projectionist at various companies before being enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He rose to the rank of staff sergeant and became the editor of the base’s newspaper. This editing experience helped with his next career shift as editor and principal writer of the American magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. This magazine, published from 1958-1983, included brief articles, publicity stills, and graphic illustrations that highlighted horror movies and their histories throughout its publication.

In 1947, Ackerman created a science fiction literary agency and collaborated with many Si-Fi writers such as Ray Bradbury, L. Ron Hubbard, and A. E. van Vogt. These connections through the Science fiction community also provided Ackerman the opportunity to gather memorabilia from shows, films, conventions, and fans. All of which was housed in his 18-room home and museum known as the “Son of Ackermanison” until his death.

Throughout Forrest J Ackerman’s life, he represented more than 200 writers through his literacy agency, published over 50 books, contributed to film magazines around the world, and introduced the world to the history of science fiction to inspire many artists to pursue their careers in Si-Fi. He has won several awards including the prestigious Hugo Award for “#1 Fan Personality.” Ackerman was the first and only celebrity to receive this special award.

Forrest Ackerman speaks to a meeting of the Count Dracula Society, which was founded in 1962 for the study of horror films and Gothic literature, ca. 1960s.
Forrest Ackerman speaks at a meeting of the Count Dracula Society, which was founded in 1962 for the study of horror films and Gothic literature.
Box 105, Forrest J. Ackerman papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The American Heritage Center’s Forrest J Ackerman collection consists of material relating to Ackerman’s long career in science fiction and a portion of his memorabilia collection, including correspondence, fan mail, speeches, and scripts for movies and television shows.

Forrest Ackerman engulfed in sci-fi memorabilia in his home which he called the "Son of Ackermansion," ca. 1960s
Inveterate collector Forrest Ackerman engulfed in memorabilia
at “Son of Ackermansion,” ca. 1960s
Box 105, Forrest J. Ackerman papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
  • Post contributed by AHC Accessioning Unit Supervisor Kelly Miller

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in Fantasy, Hollywood history, Horror, Motion picture actors and actresses, motion picture history, popular culture, science fiction, television history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Asked, You Answered: Documenting Life During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Why is the Diary of Anne Frank one of the most important works of literature of all time? How did this book influence how we remember World War II, the Nazi Regime, and the Holocaust? Although the Holocaust can be viewed as a shared experience, not everyone was a young Jewish girl hiding in an attic with eight people hoping not to get caught and tortured by an enemy. Anne Frank wrote her everyday observations of life in hiding during the Holocaust. It was proof of a time, a place, a people, and an event. Currently, our lives are being dictated by a silent enemy, coronavirus, and we are in fear of the enemy catching up to us and causing tremendous harm.

Archives hold photographs, audio and film recordings, textiles, ledgers, and other types of materials that paint a picture of what it was like to live in a certain period of time, to know a person, and to experience a place. When these materials fail the test of time and are not made widely accessible, we as a people lose the chance to learn and improve from the knowledge of the past. Collecting Covid-19 materials, like the AHC Covid-19 Collection Project hopes to do, is a way of gathering evidence that this historic time existed and how it impacted our communities at individual, state, and national levels and, finally, at a global scale.

UW yard sign found on lawn in Laramie, Wyoming. that reads "Better Days Are Ahead Pokes!" in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo taken by AHC Archivist Sara Davis.
Yard sign from the University of Wyoming found on lawn in Laramie, Wyoming, provides a message of hope.
Photo taken by Sara Davis.

The AHC’s Covid-19 Collection Project collects materials that reveal our community’s views on this pandemic through direct donations or via a guided survey. The survey guides participants through a series of questions that prompt reflections on what has made us happy or sad during this time, what changes we have seen, and what we want to be remembered about this time.

As of May 14, 2020, the survey has attracted 26 participants ranging in age from 18 to 85 years and includes a mixture of ethnicities, nationalities, and genders. The responses reflect the diversity of the participants and the different ways this pandemic has affected their lives.

A yard sign at Laramie's Linford Elementary School depicts a message of caring to the community. It reads, "Our Hearts Are Together Even While We're Apart. Always a Linford Lion." Photo taken by AHC Archivist Sara Davis.
Yard sign at Laramie’s Linford Elementary School depicts a message of caring to the community.
Photo taken by Sara Davis.

One survey participant who contracted the coronavirus shared an overview of the experience.

It was not nearly as bad as others get. I did not have to be hospitalized long term. I spent most of my time at home. But it was one of the worst illnesses I have ever experienced and I do not want to ever get it again.

Another participant shared:

Things that make me happy include watching dogs walk by my house. Seeing everyone doing their part to take care of their communities and donate towards finding a vaccine or cure for this disease is making me hopeful that I’ll be able to visit and hug my family again sometime soon.

Others expressed frustration:

[I’m] angry that as I walk into Walmart or the Loaf and Jug people are wandering around with no mask. If you don’t care about your own health, fine. But care about your fellow man and protect them. Getting the virus once does not mean you are immune and can’t get it again…we have to protect each other.

These responses show the human side of pandemic and inform others of the complexity of the situation.

Kiowa Park in Laramie, Wyoming, is shown with signs indicating it is closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo taken by AHC Archivist Sara Davis.
Kiowa Park in Laramie, Wyoming, is closed to the public during the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo taken by Sara Davis.

Another purpose of the AHC’s Covid-19 Collection Project is to provide a safe space for people to share their experiences with the hope that others will find comfort and peace in the knowledge that they are not alone and the community is here to listen. In addition to the survey responses, the AHC received a few poems, a short essay, and an inspirational quote that fits this second goal. Carol Miller from New Mexico submitted the following quote that has been inspiring her while she writes her thesis:

We must learn to sing our songs in a strange land. We may feel abandoned in an empty, merciless wilderness full of detritus and death, but we who are left must travel through the in between timespace listening, seeing, attending afresh. We need to develop a thriving, forward-looking age by compassionately transforming the mournful terrain into a realm of wisdom, hope, and love. We have the responsibility to faithfully search for the possibilities and implement the discoveries that will bring us into a newly imagined dimension of interconnection with and understanding of each other and our world.

Like many of the submissions the AHC has received thus far, Miller’s contribution helps tell the story of our community’s camaraderie, support, and sense of hope for the future during this pandemic.

In the article, “We Are What We Collect, We Collect What We Are: Archives and the Construction of Identity,”[1] published in 2000, Elisabeth Kaplan argues that identity can be asserted through the types of historical documentation that are kept inside the walls of archival institutions. As archivists, we collect, preserve, and make accessible diaries, correspondence, news clippings, photographs, and other materials that document a certain period of time, person, and place. If there is no record, there is also a lack of evidence to prove someone or something existed. Similarly, if there is not access to these records, no one will know what and who came to pass. We do not know how long this pandemic will last or the ramifications and eventual outcome, but we can determine how this historical time is remembered by documenting through writing, photographing, and creating artwork that reflects our observations and emotions during this time and then collecting these conceptions in a place where they can safely be preserved and accessed for the long-term.

UW yard sign found on lawn in Laramie, Wyoming, during the coronavirus pandemic encourages a sense of community. It reads, "Kindness, Courage, and Optimism Are Contagious, Too." Photo taken by AHC Archivist Sara Davis.
UW yard sign found on lawn in Laramie, Wyoming, encourages a sense of community.
Photo taken by Sara Davis.

To contribute to the historical record of this momentous time or learn more about the project, please visit the AHC Covid-19 Collection Project webpage at https://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/covid-19-collecting.html. #COVID19WY #alwaysarchiving

  • Post contributed by Sara Davis, University Archivist, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

[1] Elisabeth Kaplan, “We Are What We Collect, We Collect What We Are: Archives and the Construction of Identity,” The American Archivist vol. 63, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2000): 126-151, accessed May 14, 2020, https://doi.org/10.17723/aarc.63.1.h554377531233l05.

Posted in announcements, Collection donor, Coronavirus outbreak, Current events, Digital collections, Flu, medical history, Pandemics, Public health, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Western history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green River Art Student Receives AHC’s 2020 Undergraduate Research Award

Each spring semester the UW American Heritage Center awards a cash prize to the best undergraduate project based substantially on materials—manuscripts, archives, rare books, photos, maps, audio, film and video—at the AHC.

Typically, the students’ projects are research papers, but they can take many forms, such as creative writing, artistic productions, websites or even group exhibitions, says AHC Director Paul Flesher.

This year’s award was given to Ben Nathan, a student of Professor Mark Ritchie of UW’s Department of Visual and Literary Arts. Ben is a UW senior pursuing a BFA in visual arts. His project titled “Views of the West-Then and Now” used journals housed at the AHC as inspiration for an artistic project.

Photo of Ben Nathan, a senior in the University of Wyoming's Department of Visual and Literary Arts. He won the 2020 American Heritage Center Undergraduate Research Award.
Ben Nathan is a graduating senior in
UW’s Department of Visual & Literary Art.

Ben describes his process of creating art based on journals found in the AHC’s collections:

For the past two years in my artistic practice I have become increasingly interested in landscapes. Most of my work focuses on creating a visual reflection of the memories I associate with specific places and times of year. Because I am from Wyoming, I find it easiest to focus on particular feelings and experiences as related to the landscapes I know most intimately, namely, Wyoming and surrounding states. Until recently, however, I have only made art that was informed by my own experiences in a given landscape. The work was purely introspective.

“Views of the West: Then and Now” is my first attempt at making art about someone else’s experience in a landscape with which I identify. To conduct the necessary research, I utilized the AHC’s wide-ranging archive to identify collections containing extensive journaling. My plan involved becoming well acquainted with the writings of two people who had spent time in or near Wyoming. Using their journal entries and selecting and focusing on a single day from each, enabled me to make a run of sixteen variable intaglio prints that I felt responded to the landscape seen on a particular day by each person. I sought to use one journal from the nineteenth and one from the twentieth century.

With help from the AHC’s digital catalog and leads from AHC staff, I identified several collections that seemed promising. With additional research online and at the AHC, I was able to narrow down to two collections that I thought would best suite my needs: the Gerhard Luke Luhn papers and the Edith K.O. Clark diaries. Once I had selected the two collections, I began to really dive into who these people were through the lens of their own journal writings.

The G.L. Luhn papers, which include Luhn’s journals and correspondence as he served in the 6th and 4th infantries between 1863 and 1895, held particular interest for me due to their brief and quick descriptions of weather and places he marched through. The entry that most caught my attention was a typewritten account of an elk hunt Luhn went on November 4, 1868, with several other officers near La Prele Creek when stationed at Fort Laramie. Many of the portable leather-bound journals found in the Luhn papers also inspired me to design the format for the leather portfolio that holds my “Views of the West” project.

Edith K.O. Clark was the Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1915 to 1919. A dedicated journal writer, Clark’s journals were of interest to me because of her record-keeping style. Her journals are full of ticket stubs, photographs, postcards, plant specimens, and other such keepsakes glued to the pages alongside descriptive sections of handwritten text. In an entry that spans three days – June 14 to 16, 1916 – Clark describes a motor trip from Cheyenne to Denver. Drawing equally from the content of the entries and the interesting format of the journal, I was able to make an artistic composition that, to my interpretation, visually describes her summer journey.

After selecting the two specific journal entries, collecting the necessary information, and reflecting—with sketches and color selections—I was able to etch and prepare two copper intaglio plates, one for Luhn and one for Clark. To my interpretation, the plates served as a good starting point for visually describing the two unique western experiences. By printing these plates through a printmaking discipline known as “Intaglio,” I was able to pull one black and white print—to illustrate the etched qualities of the individual plates—and fifteen colorful variable prints for each plate. While making the prints, I used pre-selected ink colors and materials for Luhn’s and Clark’s plates respectively. By focusing on what I had learned from their journals, I feel that I was able to produce two small series of intaglio prints that visually represent the crisp air and quiet outdoor environment of an elk hunt (Luhn) and the sunny, dusty, nature-filled drive to Denver (Clark).

Upon completion of the thirty-two historically inspired prints, I reflected on one of my own memorable days in Laramie. It was a wintry February day filled with snow drifts and flurries, freezing temperatures, and beautiful vistas of the Snowy Range Mountains. Following the same pattern I used for the aforementioned works, I produced sixteen prints—fifteen in variable colors and one in straight black and white—to echo the work I had done earlier, but using another plate that I created to specifically represent that February day.

Finally, I arranged the forty-eight prints into three similar portfolio flipbooks. Each book was designed to hold the sixteen prints that were particular to myself, Ms. Clark, and Mr. Luhn. These smaller books make use of a blizzard binding technique which allows for each individual print to be easily removed, handled by a viewer, and replaced. I also made a larger leather-bound portfolio case to fit all three smaller books. When considered all together, I like to think that this large leather portfolio highlights the differences, and similarities, between three individuals’ very specific experiences with the landscape in and around Wyoming during three different centuries.

My time spent making research-based artwork has allowed me to recognize how much of ourselves we can project onto others’ experiences and has piqued my interest and motivated me to continue to use historical resources to inspire my prints.

The AHC congratulates Ben Nathan on his award, which is a $500 check. The AHC’s Undergraduate Research Award is given each spring semester. Every faculty member from every UW department is eligible to submit, on behalf of their students, two projects each semester. Students are welcome to initiate applications so long as the submission is accompanied by a letter from a faculty member. You’ll find more information about the award at a link on the AHC website.

  • Post contributed by AHC Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener. Photographs of artwork by AHC Photographer Hanna Fox.

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in announcements, Artists, Current events, military history, Student projects, Uncategorized, undergraduate students, University of Wyoming, Western history, women's history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poet Drama in the Selden Rodman Papers

Selden Rodman (1909-2002) was a prolific author, biographer, poet, editor as well as an art collector and cultural critic. He published a book nearly every year of his adult life.

He was a rebellious young man who, while attending Yale in the 1930s, co-founded the irreverent campus journal The Harkness Hoot. He didn’t even attend his own graduation from Yale. Instead he rushed off to Europe and befriended literary luminaries such as Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Thomas Man.

Selden Rodman, undated photo. Selden Rodman papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Selden Rodman in undated photo. Selden Rodman papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

He returned to his hometown of New York City and was asked by Alfred Bingham, a leader of left-wing causes, to partner on new political magazine titled Common Sense. It was published from 1932 to 1946. Rodman cultivated contributors for the magazine, who were mostly progressives. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., in The Politics of Upheaval, called the magazine the most lively and interesting forum of radical discussion in the country.

Cover of the April 27, 1933, issue of the political magazine Common Sense co-founded by Selden Rodman.
A 1933 cover of Common Sense produced not long after the magazine’s founding in 1932. Selden Rodman Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Over time Rodman accumulated an astonishing number of connections in the literary world. He had conversations with Ernest Hemmingway, Jackson Pollock, H.G. Wells, Edward Hopper among others.

In the late 1950s, Rodman befriended poet E.E. Cummings. In a series of letters between them a dramatic scene is played out.

E.E. Cummings, 1953
E.E. Cummings, 1953. World-Telegram photo by Walter Albertin. This work is from the New York World-Telegram and Sun collection at the Library of Congress. According to the library, there are no known copyright restrictions on the use of this work.

Rodman and his wife visited Cummings and gave him one of Rodman’s books as a gift. When Cummings read the book, he discovered Rodman wrote biographies of poets, and accused him of being a “professional interviewer in disguise.”

Rodman was hurt by the accusation and assured Cummings he only wanted to be friends and not secretly interview him. The writers seem to have made up and Rodman later included Cummings’ work in one of his anthologies.

See Rodman’s correspondence with E. E. Cummings and other literary figures in his papers at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center.

  • Post contributed by American Heritage Center Simpson Institute Archivist Leslie Waggener.

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in Authors and literature, Journalism, Poetry, Political history, Politics, Uncategorized, writers and poets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AHC’s Toppan Library: Moving Toward Improvement

Behind the scenes at the archives, it’s bustling and constantly moving. That’s the case more than ever as we move materials from the Toppan Rare Books Library into one consolidated space. It’s the biggest physical move of our collections to take place since relocating into the Centennial Complex 25 years ago.

And this is only part of it! There were many books to move from the Toppan Library to their new home in the book vault. The Library will now be a teaching space and display space featuring Toppan Library treasures.

When we began this project in early January, moving 950 cubic feet of books from the existing library into the already half-full book vault seemed daunting. Would it all fit? Would it be an improvement to the current system? What troubles would we run into along the way? We had many questions but, with an excellent team, we put our heads together and launched the project.

As the project manager and a full-time UW student majoring in business marketing and management, I had a full plate. I’d been at the AHC for three years, learning the ropes of the archive and immersing myself in a field of work very different from my area of study. I was eager to gain experience from spearheading this book move project; merging my two areas of interest. I was thrilled to dive into the collection and see all it had to offer. I saw the wide range of subject matter, various printing and binding techniques and, most impressive to me, the vast history embedded in each book, all while applying skills of project management I’d developed in my degree path.

The first step was to create a detailed inventory of the existing collections located in both the book vault and the Toppan Library to begin planning the logistics of the move and evaluating the physical space available. From there it was a matter of clearing as many carts as possible to be able to safely transport books down one floor and across the building into their new homes. We soon realized that the movable compact shelving, which maximizes space by eliminating aisles between rows, only allowed us to open one range at a time. This proved to be our biggest hurdle as we sought to maximize efficiency as we re-shelved books.

AHC employee Ashley Dewey hard at work in the book vault, April 2020.

Within the first month of the book move project, we hosted one university-related photoshoot in the ever-changing library, accommodated four class visits, and successfully rehoused 40 collections to new shelves in the vault. During the whole move process, the library collections have been accessible to the public too. As I said, constantly bustling.

Now that we are more than halfway finished with the move, the path to the end of the project is clearer than ever. We have successfully moved 75 collections with just a few remaining cabinets in the library to be emptied. Managing this project has been a whirlwind full of learning experiences and further skill development for me. I even think I got a little stronger moving all these books! We’re excited to have a better-organized system and one cohesive space dedicated to the specific needs of the Toppan Rare Book collection.

– Post by Emily Hakert, AHC Archives Aide and Book Move Manager

Emily Hakert is a senior at the University of Wyoming, and has worked extensively with the AHC’s Anaconda Geological Documents Collection, and also in rare books as a part-time employee. Based on her strong knowledge of AHC collections, and project management skills, she was promoted to Book Move Manager in January in order to plan, coordinate, and oversee this important project. She oversees two additional part-time employees as part of the book move team.

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in Authors and literature, behind the scenes, Centennial Complex, Current events, rare books, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Vivid Life and Photographs of June Vanleer Williams

June Vanleer Williams was born on June 24, 1921, in Cleveland, Ohio. She was the first African American woman to be in a Stanford University Journalism fellowship program. She was part of the program from 1969 to 1970. As a journalist, she worked at the Cleveland Call & Post and the Cleveland Gazette.

She was also a playwright and actress. She wrote at least four plays: The Face of Job, A Bit of Almsgiving, The Eyes of the Lofty, and The Meek Won’t Inherit S#.*!!. Williams acted in plays and was involved in Hollywood productions. Two notable mentions are that she starred in the Broadway play Don’t Play Us Cheap, and she was the casting director for the 1974 movie Claudine, starring James Earl Jones and Diahann Carroll.

Photo of June Vanleer Williams from the June Vanleer Williams papers at the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center
June Vanleer Williams used the stage name “Jay Vanleer” as an actress. June Vanleer Williams papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Her papers contain professional and personal correspondence, newspaper clippings, drafts of her plays, notes from her time as a casting director, a plaque, and a trophy. Out of all of ten boxes of material the most fascinating pieces are the photographs. This collection has an extensive number of photographs ranging from professional to promotional to personal.

The professional photographs include head shots for casting roles in Claudine. These head shots are both men and women, and the ages range from 5-65 years old. All of these photographs are undated, but they are suspected to be from around the 1960s and 1970s. They are interesting because they show some of the fashion sense of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the plays and movies that all these aspiring actors starred in.

Other promotional photographs are from the 1975 film Mahogany, starring Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, and Andrew Perkins. The context of the photographs is unknown because June Vanleer Williams was not involved in the film’s production nor did she act in the film. Despite the mystery behind the photos, they are nice promotional stills from the movie and behind the scenes. The photographs allow for a close-up look at one of Diana Ross’s most iconic movie roles and tell the story without giving away too much. For those who haven’t seen the movie, these stills allow for a great curiosity about it.

Publicity photograph of Diana Ross and Anthony Perkins from the 1975 film Mahogany. June Vanleer Williams papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
In the film Mahogany, Diana Ross plays a struggling fashion design student who rises to become a popular fashion designer in Rome. One of her co-stars is Anthony Perkins who plays a fashion photographer who reinvents her as “Mahogany” and with whom she shares an uneasy relationship. June Vanleer Williams papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Finally, the personal photographs range from the early 1900s to the 1970s or 1980s and tell about her life. There are photographs of her father’s family, such as his adopted sister as a little girl. There are also photographs of June Vanleer Williams in various stages of her life. The bulk of the photos are from 1930 to 1984. One of the scrapbooks is full of the pictures, specifically from a special dinner for those involved in Karamu House. Karamu House is the oldest African American theater in the United States. Williams was very involved in Karamu House throughout her life. Along with the photographs there is also correspondence between Williams and the founders of the theater.

All of the compelling materials in June Vanleer Williams’ papers cannot be described in one short blog post, so contact the American Heritage Center at ahcref@uwyo.edu if you would like to learn more about this influential lady!

– Post by Anne-Marie Stratton, AHC Carlson Intern

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in African American history, Hollywood history, Motion picture actors and actresses, motion picture history, popular culture, Uncategorized, Under-documented communities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archive Your Wyoming Coronavirus Story with the American Heritage Center!

The COVID-19 (or coronavirus) pandemic has dramatically changed the way the world functions and people connect. These world-wide modifications to how we operate and interact as a people, a community and a society make this an unusual time, one worth recording for future understanding. Every individual’s written thoughts and/or creative projects can help future historians understand what it was like to experience daily life during this local and global crisis.

The University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC) wants to hear from you! The AHC is initiating a COVID-19 Collection Project to gather experiences from across Wyoming. Your submissions will document for future generations the impact that this pandemic has on your work, education, personal life, community, along with any additional observations you may wish to make. These stories tell us what’s happening from an individual perspective, providing a personal and in-depth look at the impact of COVID-19 on our community.

Laramie Chapter of the American Red Cross, ca. 1918. Ludwig & Svenson Studio Photographs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

To aid in collecting your stories, the AHC has created an online survey that you can access here. The survey provides questions that can help inspire your remarks on this experience. If you find that you have more you wish to share, the AHC welcomes other types of items that capture your experience, such as poems, photographs, and other creative works.

As we learn more about COVID-19 and the impact of this pandemic fluctuates, our lives and observations will also evolve. Since this project is open-ended, we encourage you to submit multiple stories. Your comments should be open and honest, but only insofar as you feel comfortable.

Wyoming Drug Store in Rawlins, Wyoming, ca. 1930. Frank J. Meyers papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Participants in the survey and donors to this project must agree to give permission to the AHC to archivally preserve these stories and to provide public access to them. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can select that option within the survey. There is also an option to restrict public access to your story for five (5) years. Please note that we are unable to accept submissions from persons under the age of 18. We are also unable to accept submissions with HIPAA content.

We are more than willing to discuss any aspect of this project with you. For any questions regarding this project, restrictions, anonymity, or if you want to donate anything beyond the scope of the survey, please contact Sara Davis, University Archivist at sarad@uwyo.edu, or Rachel Gattermeyer, Digital Archivist at rgatterm@uwyo.edu.

Be well and thank you for being a part of history!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

Who can participate?

Any person 18 years or older who agrees to give permission to the AHC to archivally preserve and provide access to their story. Please contact the other Wyoming institutions (see below) to determine if they will accept materials for participants younger than 18 years of age.

What types of formats are accepted?

All common image, text, audio, and video formats are accepted. Please contact Sara Davis (sarad@uwyo.edu) or Rachel Gattermeyer (rgatterm@uwyo.edu) if you have specific inquiries.

Is there anything we should avoid writing about?

We are not able to collect any material with HIPAA content. HIPAA requires that personal health information remain confidential. This means that you must agree not to include personally identifiable health information about yourself, another person or persons, or information that could allow a third party to identify the people. This rule encompasses information about members of your family, neighbors, and others. If you elect to share personal health information, the third party must separately submit the survey and the submissions must be fully anonymized for both the submitter and any third parties identifiable in the submission. Please let us know if you have questions.

What should I document?

The AHC’s COVID-19 Collection Project hopes to record community narratives as well as individual ones. We want to see the impact of the COVID-19 virus through your eyes.  Be creative. Share with us your observations about how this has impacted your community and beyond, as well as the daily impact to your personal and professional life.

I’m an instructor and I’d like to turn this into an assignment for my students. Is there anything I need to know?

This is great!  Instructors needs to be cognizant that student educational records as well as schoolwork is protected through FERPA, and teachers cannot require that students donate materials to the archives.  Instructors should notify their students that these projects are eligible to be part of the AHC’s COVID-19 Collection Project with their permission and provide them with the AHC’s release form with the assignment, the link to the survey, and contact information for Sara Davis (sarad@uwyo.edu) or Rachel Gattermeyer (rgatterm@uwyo.edu) for more information.

How do I submit?

To participate in contributing your stories, please complete the online survey.  If you are interested in submitting material other than just the survey, please contact Sara Davis (sarad@uwyo.edu) or Rachel Gattermeyer (rgatterm@uwyo.edu).

How frequently can/should I submit?

As the impact of COVID-19 will change over time, participants are encouraged to submit multiple observations.

What other Wyoming institutions are collecting?

In addition to the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center, the Wyoming State Archives and the Wyoming State Museum are collecting materials.  For more information or to offer items, please contact Kathy Marquis, State Archivist at kathy.marquis@wyo.gov, or Jennifer Alexander, Wyoming State Museum Supervisor of Collections at jennifer.alexander@wyo.gov.

Can I keep the copyright to what I submit?

We request that participants give the AHC permission to preserve and provide access to the materials they submit.

Can I restrict public access to my submission for a period of time?

Yes, the online survey allows users to request to restrict the material.  The default restriction is for five (5) years. Those interested in restricting their submitted information need to contact Sara Davis (sarad@uwyo.edu) or Rachel Gattermeyer (rgatterm@uwyo.edu).

Can submissions be anonymous?

Yes, we want people to feel comfortable sharing their stories.  Please indicate on the survey form that you are requesting anonymity.  In these cases, the AHC will remove any identifying information from the submitted information before storing them in the archive.

– Post submitted by AHC University Archivist Sara Davis and AHC Digital Archivist Rachel Gattermeyer.

#COVID19WY

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in community collections, Coronavirus outbreak, Current events, Digital collections, Economic History, Family history, Flu, Local history, medical history, oral histories, Pandemics, Public health, Uncategorized, Western history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When Lions Fly

It’s a familiar sight – a roaring lion’s head in a golden frame. We see this iconic image at the beginning of our favorite films, TV shows, and cartoons, but the history behind this logo is little known.

One of the MGM lions. This one is named Tanner, although he was known, like the others, as "Leo the Lion." Tanner was featured as the MGM lion from 1934 to 1956, and in the 1960s. Source: Wikipedia. Originally sourced from the film Easter Parade (1948). Image reduced significantly from original size.
Tanner was the MGM lion from 1934 to 1956. Like the other MGM lions, he was known as “Leo the Lion.” Image source: Wikipedia.

MGM’s Leo the Lion was actually seven different lions over the course of 41 years from 1916 to 1957. The last lion, which was the only lion actually named Leo, is the current logo and has been in use since 1957. Each lion contributed a new take on the logo throughout the years.

Jackie's roar being recorded in December 1928 for use at the beginning of MGM sound films. A sound stage was built around his cage to make the recording. Image source: Wikipedia. Public domain image.
Jackie’s roar being recorded in December 1928 for use at the beginning of MGM sound films. A sound stage was built around his cage to make the recording. Image source: Wikipedia.

One lion in particular, Jackie, had a rather eventful term as Leo the Lion. In 1927, MGM was seeking publicity and came up with a stunt where “Leo the Lion” would be flown from San Diego to New York City non-stop. MGM selected the pilot Martin Jensen, who had recently come in second place in the Dole Air Derby to carry out the stunt. A custom plane was built for the event— a modified Ryan B-1 Brougham plane with a lion cage built in, an extra fuel tank, and tanks for milk and water. Jensen flew out of San Diego on September 16, 1927 with his feline passenger, a canteen of water, several sandwiches, and a .45 caliber pistol.

Martin Jensen with the plane that carried Leo the Lion as part of an MGM publicity stunt, 1927. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen with the MGM plane, 1927. Note the cage behind the cockpit. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, "The picture of the Ryan Plane with Leo the MGM lion and the frightened Pilot Martin Jensen. Note the glass plate on this side and on the right side with a glass door in which I crawled forward the Pilots cockpit." Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, “The picture of the Ryan Plane with Leo the MGM lion and the frightened Pilot Martin Jensen. Note the glass plate on this side and on the right side with a glass door in which I crawled forward the Pilots cockpit.” Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The flight, however, did not go as planned. Jensen hit a storm over Arizona and crashed into a small copse of trees in a desert canyon. Both Jensen and Jackie survived the impact with no injuries. After gathering his wits, Jensen left his sandwiches, the milk, and the water for the lion while he trekked across the desert looking for help.

Martin Jensen's plane crashed in the Arizona desert. He and the lion survived. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Wreckage of Martin Jensen’s plane. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, "This picture was the end of the Lion flight. I had repeatedly warned the Ryan Engineers that it could not get over the Mountains. They compared it to Lindbergh's flight, but he had 48 foot span and I only had 42 foot span. Their reasoning was based on theory not on facts." Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, “This picture was the end of the Lion flight. I had repeatedly warned the Ryan Engineers that it could not get over the Mountains. They compared it to Lindbergh’s flight, but he had 48 foot span and I only had 42 foot span. Their reasoning was based on theory not on facts.” Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

After four days, he found a small ranch. The ranch hands working there kindly agreed to help Jensen. They took Jensen to a ranger station so he could use the telephone to call for help. However, the ranger refused, saying that he had to keep the line open because a man was lost and search parties were looking for him. After establishing his identity as the man they were searching for, the ranger let Jensen use the phone to call the people at MGM.

As soon as MGM realized it was Jensen calling, the man on the phone yelled, “How’s the lion?” Jensen was ordered to spare no expense to get the lion out alive. Within two days, and with more help from some local ranch hands, the lion was retrieved safely. Jackie was then transported to New York by truck.

Martin Jensen captioned this photo, "Sam Haughton on left and some of his ranch hands which helped to bring the (Leo the Lion) out of the area where this picture was taken. The area was surveyed about 15 years later and it was reported that the surveyors had to wear stove pipes over their legs to keep the snakes from striking." Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, “Sam Haughton on left and some of his ranch hands which helped to bring the (Leo the Lion) out of the area where this picture was taken. The area was surveyed about 15 years later and it was reported that the surveyors had to wear stove pipes over their legs to keep the snakes from striking.” Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Photo from newspaper article about Leo the Lion (Jackie) arriving in Payson, Arizona, after his rescue from the Arizona desert. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Photo from newspaper article about Leo the Lion (Jackie) arriving in Payson, Arizona, after his rescue from the Arizona desert. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The plane remained in the desert until 1991, although scavengers made off with some of the smaller pieces of wreckage. The canyon that Jensen and Leo crashed in is now named Leo Canyon in honor of the event. It is located in Gila County, Arizona. After surviving this incident and several other accidents (two train wrecks, an earthquake, and a studio explosion), Jackie was given the nickname “Leo the Lucky.

Martin Jensen is seen in this 1991 newspaper article holding the rudder cover of his plane that crashed in the Arizona desert. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen is seen in this 1991 newspaper article holding the rudder cover of his plane that crashed in the Arizona desert. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Learn more about pioneer aviator Martin Jensen in his papers at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center

— Post by Sarah Kesterson, UW American Heritage Center Archives Aid

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Posted in Animal actors, aviation, aviation history, Hollywood history, motion picture history, Student projects, television history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shopping Center of Tomorrow is History

From gardens of rhododendrons and azaleas to marijuana. That seems to be the case with the Northland Center located outside of Detroit. Designed by Victor Gruen, the Northland Shopping Center opened on March 22, 1954.

Designed to accommodate a rapidly changing post-war America, Northland reflected the desires of consumers who were settling into the new and fresh suburban life where the automobile became a necessity for daily living.

Architect Victor Gruen designed Detroit's Northland Shopping Center as an open-air pedestrian mall with arrayed structures. The mall opened on March 22, 1954. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Architect Victor Gruen designed Detroit’s Northland Shopping Center as an open-air pedestrian mall with arrayed structures. The mall opened on March 22, 1954. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

A few days before the center opened, a press event was held for media and dignitaries. In a speech delivered to the group, Gruen described the Northland Center as “the first ‘Shopping Center of Tomorrow’ to come to life – a ‘Shopping Center of Tomorrow’ which you will see today.”

Gruen described the role of the shopping center when he proclaimed, “Our sprawling suburbs have lost connection with the mother city. They need new Shopping Centers; but they need, in addition to that, cultural, civic, and social centers.”

He continued by describing the many features of what was at the time the largest shopping center ever built – 1¼ miles of store fronts surrounded by 7500 parking spaces, mass transit ports, and highway links. Retail shopping opportunities now will be “restful and fun,”

Gruen declared. There are “public areas for relaxation and amusement.” The complex included retail clusters surrounding the Hudson Department Store. Gruen said to the audience, “When you wander around Northland we would like you to observe not only the buildings, but the other important, town-planning element: the space between the buildings.”

Northland Shopping Center had 1¼ miles of store fronts surrounded by 7500 parking spaces, mass transit ports, and highway links. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Northland Shopping Center had 1¼ miles of store fronts surrounded by 7500 parking spaces, mass transit ports, and highway links. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Gruen, who was born in Vienna, Austria in 1903, came to America, and, in 1939, started Victor Gruen Associates. His European influence was incorporated in his designs. Explaining the concept to the audience, Gruen said, “For the first time in a new commercial project, open, architecturally defined spaces have been created which resemble the market squares of European cities.”

Victor Gruen, ca. 1955. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

He described the garden areas as “having been richly planted with trees, shrubs, and flowers – different ones [including rhododendrons and azaleas] in each court and mall.” He went on to describe another first – the use of modern art. “For the first time modern art has been included, on a large scale, into the architectural concept of a commercial project.”

Flowers surrounded a piece of modern art at Northland Shopping Center. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Flowers surround a piece of modern art at Northland Shopping Center. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Northland flourished for many decades. In 1974, the center became a mall when it was enclosed. However, by the late 1990s, Northland entered into a decline. Stores like Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney, and T.J. Maxx closed. In 2015, the last of the major anchor stores, Target and Macy’s, closed. Northland Center officially closed on April 15, 2015. 61 years after its opening, the “Shopping Center of Tomorrow” is history.

The City of Southfield purchased the property and demolition began in the fall of 2017. Plans for the future redevelopment of the site were announced in 2019. Those rhododendrons and azaleas that filled the gardens of Northland could be replaced with housing, retail space, and a medical marijuana facility. Northland reflects an ever-changing America.

Learn more about Gruen’s innovative architectural designs in the Victor Gruen papers at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center.

– Post by UW American Heritage Center Archivist John Waggener.

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Posted in architectural history, Architecture, Built environment, city and regional planning history, Demolition, Design, Post World War II, Retail history, Retail stores, Shopping centers, Suburbia, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Finding Aids: April 20

Behind the scenes we’re busy as ever archiving and processing collections. Here’s another round of finding aides we’ve published so you can see what’s been added to our collections.

The strengths of our collections include Wyoming and the American West, politics and public policy, ranching and energy, entertainment and popular culture, industry, transportation, and military history. The documents and archives we hold serve as raw data for scholarship and heritage work, and support thriving communities of place, identity, and interest in Wyoming and beyond.

Finding Aid Updates

Cartoonist Jerry Palen. Jerry Palen was born in Paris, Tennessee, on July 9, 1943. He moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, with his parents at the end of the World War II. His father worked as a large animal veterinarian for 32 years, thus giving Palen extensive experience in Wyoming agriculture. He received his B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Wyoming in 1969. Jerry, his wife Ann, and their sons owned a Wyoming ranch for several years, and eventually operated the Saratoga Publishing Group. Palen is best known for his cartoon series Stampede, which was the largest syndicated cartoon feature in the agricultural sectors of the United States and Canada. His papers contain cartoon scrapbooks, correspondence, printed material, original drawings, calendars, and prints related to Palen’s cartoon series Stampede. It also contains antique spurs, bridles, stirrups, a pair of chaps, saddles, and a saddle vice.

University of Wyoming Wool Division. The UW College of Agriculture began to study sheep and wool in 1907 after passage of the Adams Act, which provided $5000 per year for land-grant universities for sheep and wool research. UW purchased the Wyoming Territorial Prison near Laramie in 1907 and remodeled it for livestock work, including housing of its Rambouillet sheep flock. The college established the Animal Husbandry department in 1911. It was renamed Animal Production in 1934, then the Animal Science Division in 1961, and then the Animal Science Department in 1986. The Wool Department was established in 1913 and conducted research, training, and experiments on sheep and wool in cooperation with the Agricultural Experiment Station before being merged with the Animal Science department in 1955. The collection contains administrative records, projects, events, photographs, news clippings, and scrapbooks on the evolution of the Wyoming wool industry and on international processes and tests. The UW Wool Laboratory Collection is located at UW Libraries’ Emmett D. Chisum Special Collections.

University of Wyoming Geology professor D.L. Blackstone. Donald L. Blackstone was a geologist and professor of geology at UW. Born in Montana, he earned a PhD from Princeton University in 1936. He worked for Carter Oil Company before taking a teaching position at UW in 1946. He became head of the Dept. of Geology in 1963. From 1967 to 1969 he was Wyoming State Geologist and oversaw the reorganization of the Wyoming State Geological Survey. He retired as a UW faculty member in 1974 but continued to teach Structural Geology into the 1980s. The collection contains information about the UW textbook investigation of 1947-1948, the National Park Service Centennial in 1972, photographs and manuscripts by Blackstone and others, and a binder relating to the Carter Oil Company. Also included are geological, mining, and oil maps, mainly in Wyoming.

University of Wyoming Geology professor Albert C. Boyle. Albert C. Boyle was a geologist and mining engineer. He was born in 1880 in Salt Lake County, Utah, and graduated from the Utah State University in 1906 with a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering. He received a Ph.D. in the same field from Columbia University in 1913. After his time as an assistant professor of geology and physics at Columbia from 1907 to 1910, he became professor of mining and geology at UW, serving from 1910 to 1920. He was also state assayer and mineralogist of Wyoming. He resigned from UW after a dispute regarding his summer employment by the Union Pacific Railroad. He became chief geologist for the Union Pacific in 1920. He also worked as a consulting geologist for numerous oil companies in various western states. His papers contain photos of mines and geological sites in Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Utah, and California. There is also correspondence; geological reports; UW Dept of Mining and Geology annual reports; and business records and photos of the Pyramid Garage, a Boyle family-owned business in Laramie, Wyoming.

These and other AHC collections can be discovered in the University of Wyoming Libraries catalog. Our reading room is currently closed due to concerns about COVID-19, but our reference department is happy to assist you by email or phone at ahcref@uwyo.edu or 307-766-3756.

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Agricultural history, Agriculture, cartoons, commercial art, Economic Geology, faculty/staff profiles, Finding Aids, Geology, Laramie, Livestock industry, Local history, mining history, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming history, Western history, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment