Stan Lee’s Legacy Lives on at the American Heritage Center

Stan Lee’s legacy lives on at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC). Stan Lee – comics industry pioneer, collection donor, and AHC benefactor – died November 12, 2018, at age 95, in his home city of Los Angeles.

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Stan Lee poses with Spider-Man, Stan Lee papers, UW American Heritage Center.

The AHC houses nearly 200 boxes of Lee’s working drafts, photos, videos, articles and fan mail, and these records are open to the public for research and viewing. An exhibit featuring Stan Lee’s remarkable career is on display at the American Heritage Center beginning November 19, 2018.

Young Stanley M. Lieber, born in 1922, landed his first job with Timely Comics in 1939 as an office gofer. Two years later, he wrote a text filler piece titled “The Traitor’s Revenge!” for Captain America No. 3. He used the pen name “Stan Lee” because he was so embarrassed to have his real name associated with lowbrow comics.

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Stan Lee (then Stanley Lieber) in Army uniform creating a cartoon, circa 1943. Lee entered the U.S. Army in early 1942 and served as a member of the Signal Corps repairing telegraph poles and other communication equipment. After the Army discovered his creative talents, he was given the job title “playwright,” and was one of only nine such individuals in the Army at that time.

By the 1950s, Lee was ready to quit the comics industry, but was encouraged by his wife Joan to experiment with stories he preferred. Acting on the advice, Lee created superheroes that bucked the archetype of ideal perfection. Lee’s characters were flawed, complex and naturalistic. They were human. The first superheroes Lee and artist Jack Kirby created together were the Fantastic Four. It was an immediate success.

Timely became Marvel Comics in 1967. By 1972, Lee had become publisher of the Marvel Comics Group; nine years later, he moved from New York City to Los Angeles to develop Marvel’s television and motion picture concepts. He also helped form Stan Lee Media, an Internet site that introduced comics to the Web. Even after retirement in the 1990s, Lee was the public figurehead for Marvel, frequently making cameo appearances in movies based on Marvel characters. He continued independent creative ventures until his death.

A frequently asked question at the AHC regarding Lee’s papers is how they came to Wyoming. In a January 2012 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lee explained: “I have this little archive at the University of Wyoming. You may wonder why I picked that university, but when they asked if I would archive my material there, they said that Jack Benny, he had his archive there, and I was a big fan of Jack Benny’s and I figured if he’s there I want to be there.”

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The papers of Stan Lee, above, are exemplary of the AHC’s entertainment industry collections.

Open to the public, Lee’s papers are also a resource for anyone who is interested, whether for personal interest or for academic study. For these reasons, Lee’s comics and papers are frequently used, and are a valuable asset to the AHC collections and the education of its students and the wide number of people across Wyoming and the globe it serves.

For information about Stan Lee’s papers, please contact the AHC’s Reference Department at ahcref@uwyo.edu or at 307-766-3756.

Posted in announcements, Artists, Authors and literature, cartoons, Comic book history, commercial art, Current events, exhibits, found in the archive, motion picture history, popular culture, Stan Lee, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Farewell Superhero Stan Lee

One of the American Heritage Center’s benefactors, and all around favorite person, was Stan Lee. He passed away November 12, 2018 at age 95.

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Stan Lee and Spiderman, undated. Stan Lee papers, Box 7, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

This amazing man not only gave the AHC valuable research materials spanning his career, he managed to keep us constantly on his radar despite his demanding schedule. He tweeted about us, interviewed about us, and steered others in the comics industry our way so that we could incorporate their historical materials into our archive.

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An advocate for literacy and education, in 1994 Stan Lee participated in educational events open to the community at the UW campus. Photo File, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Lee’s papers are a valuable educational resource, particularly to the University of Wyoming’s students. Students and faculty in multiple disciplines use Lee’s collection to study literature, American Studies, social studies education, and more for research papers, theses, and curriculum development. From his papers students learn about different facets of US culture from the twentieth century, including politics and social constructs, for example the Civil Rights Movement. His legacy will live on at the AHC.

It’s hard to say goodbye. Rest in peace, dear friend. We’ll miss you so.

Posted in announcements, Artists, cartoons, Collection donor, Comic book history, commercial art, Current events, popular culture, Stan Lee, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Wyoming and the End of World War I

By the autumn of 1918 during World War I, Germany found itself bereft of manpower and supplies and was faced with imminent invasion. The country’s leaders requested an armistice from the Allies to end fighting on land, sea and air. Also known as the Armistice of Compiègne from the place where it was signed, it came into force at 11 a.m. Paris time on November 11, 1918 (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”) and marked a victory for the Allies and a defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender. Although the armistice ended the fighting, it needed to be prolonged three times until the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on June 28, 1919, took effect on January 10, 1920.

Thousands of Americans, including many from Wyoming, were demobilized near Cheyenne through Fort D. A. Russell, which had also served as a major mobilization point at the start of the war.

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Cheyenne photographer Joseph E. Stimson labeled this photograph “Red Cross workers, Liberty Loan Drive.” Joseph E. Stimson photographs, Accession #1208, Box 3, Folder 1, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Gov. Robert D. Carey, who had won the 1918 election, appropriated $10,000 for a fund to welcome the soldiers home. There are apparently no records of how this money was spent. However, plenty of projects sprang up to ease the soldiers’ transition back to civilian life.

 The Wyoming State Tribune reported on March 24, 1919, “ninety-eight per cent of … [returning soldiers] will get their own old jobs back, or a job equally as good.” This effort was coordinated by Edward P. Taylor, U.S. Labor Commissioner for Wyoming.

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Monument to University of Wyoming students and graduates and to Albany County residents who served in World War I. The monument was erected in 1924 at the intersection of 2nd Street and Thornburgh (now Ivinson Avenue) in downtown Laramie. After a few years, the monument was moved to the corner of Sixth Street and Ivinson Avenue near the Albany County Courthouse. Ludwig Svenson Collection, Accession #167, Negative #11566.3, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

An article in the same issue announced that the YMCA National War Work Council had opened headquarters in downtown Cheyenne. The Council expected to facilitate soldiers’ travel home and to funnel information to them from various agencies such as the U.S. employment bureau.

By order of the War Department, the War Camp Community Service also planned a soldiers’ club in Cheyenne. The club was to include a lounge, writing room, pool tables and a room for pressing uniforms and shining shoes.

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Soldier’s amusement hall at Fort D.A. Russell. Photo file: Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Four bond drives were held during the war, all Liberty Loans, and one bond drive was held after the war—the Victory Loan. Wyoming residents purchased $23.6 million worth of Liberty Bonds. Victory Bonds paid 4.75 percent, and Wyoming purchased $7.2 million of these. Charitable donations in Wyoming totaled an additional $1.4 million, with individuals giving, giving, giving, “until it hurt.”

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World War I Liberty Loan poster. Edward Lyman Munson papers, Accession #5526, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Visit the American Heritage Center to see a display of original materials regarding Wyoming’s involvement in World War I. The display is located in the Centennial Complex lobby and is available for viewing from November 6 through November 16, 2018.

– Sections of this post were excerpted from “Life on the Home Front: Wyoming During World War I” by Rebecca Hein, WyoHistory.org.

 

Posted in exhibits, found in the archive, military history, Politics, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming history, World War I, Wyoming history | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Adventures in the 20th Century: The Frederick and Cecil Nussbaum papers

Have you ever wondered what it was like to live from the late 1800s to the late 1900s and experience all of the technological advances and a variety of major historical moments that happened heavily through the 20th century?

Frederick Nussbaum and his wife, Cecil Rigby Nussbaum, were born in 1885 and 1897, respectively. The Nussbaums lived through major events like World War I and World War II, and Fred even served in WWI.

After dating for some time, Fred and Cecil were engaged on December 10, 1917.[1]  They officially announced their engagement on February 15, 1918 and Cecil Collin Rigby became Mrs. Frederick Louis Nussbaum on March 16, 1918.[2]  After the war ended, Cecil and Fred lived to France for a few years and then they returned to the States. Fred took a job as the history professor for Temple University in Philadelphia, but he was let go from there for being “too radical for the good of the school.”[3] After Temple University, the Nussbaums moved to Los Angeles where Fred taught at the University of Southern California as a ‘supply’ instructor.  Even after some business venture, things were not looking good for the two, so they returned to Paris.[4] In 1925, the Nussbaums returned to the U.S. for Fred to start his career with the University of Wyoming, which would last until his sudden death in 1956.[5]

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Cecil and Fred Nussbaum. Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, Accession #400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

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The Nussbaum’s wedding announcement. Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, Accession #400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

The Nussbaums traveled regularly, and even after Fred’s death, Cecil continued to travel the United States and the world. Some of the places that they frequented were France, California, and Washington D.C. Fred often served as a visiting professor for other schools such as the University of Texas, Harvard, Western Reserve, University of Minnesota, and New York University.[6] They traveled often for family events and they had busy lives and went to many parties.

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The Nussbaums with their dog Kako. Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, Accession #400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

The Nussbaum’s moved to Laramie in 1925 as Fred accepted a position as a professor of history at the University of Wyoming and Cecil, being a pianist, performed programs and taught students in Laramie. Cecil “was granted the first bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Wyoming.”[7] Fred accomplished many articles and books during his lifetime. Two of those books being A History of the Economic Institutions of Europe, and The Triumph of Science and Reason.[8] On the University of Wyoming campus, the Nussbaums’ dog, Kako, was often brought to class and an article dedicated to him on his passing reads:

In his later years Kako picked up student habits. He would lie down near the front row of sets, sleep until the end of class, then get up and leave promptly when it was finished. Then, too, Kako would skip a class on occasion. Once while loitering in the Campus Shop, Kako found a student who should have been in history class.  While Kako eyed him, the student became flustered, left for class in a hurry.

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Wyoming U.S. Senator Gale McGee and Cecil Nussbaum at Fred’s retirement party. Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, Accession #400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

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Cecil and Fred were heavy supporters of the Democratic Party. Cecil traveled to Washington D.C. where she worked for Senator Gale McGee as an assistant for almost ten years through the Eisenhower Presidency and through John F. Kennedy’s and Lyndon B. Johnson’s terms.

To learn more about Frederick and Cecil Nussbaum, see the Frederick L. Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers at the American Heritage Center.

 

– Submitted by MaKayla Garnica, University of Wyoming student and AHC’s Carlson intern.

                [1] Diary of Cecil Collin Rigby, 1913-1918, Box #5, Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, 1882-2002, 400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

                [2] Cecil Collin Rigby Diary, 1918-1923, Box #5, Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, 1882-2002, 400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

                [3] Frederick Louis Nussbaum biography, Box #2, Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, 1882-2002, 400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

                [4] Frederick Louis Nussbaum biography, Box #2, Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, 1882-2002, 400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

                [5] Frederick Louis Nussbaum memorandum, Box #2, Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, 1882-2002, 400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

                [6] Frederick Louis Nussbaum biography, Box #2, Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, 1882-2002, 400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

                [7] Cecil Nussbaum of many accomplishments in her 90th year newspaper article, Box #3, Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, 1882-2002, 400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

                [8] Frederick Louis Nussbaum biography, Box #2, Frederick Louis Nussbaum and Cecil Rigby Nussbaum papers, 1882-2002, 400033, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Posted in found in the archive, Interns' projects, Student projects, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Wyoming history | Tagged | Leave a comment

Attack of the Killer…Shrews?

With it being the Halloween season, it seems appropriate to take note of a gruesome creature of movie land that may have haunted our dreams, or is kitschy enough to have  made us roll our eyes in disbelief.

You’ve heard of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, giant ants, blobs, and even clowns. But what about shrews? A shrew is small mole-like animal that looks like a long-nosed mouse. They’re actually rather cute.  Shrews are commonly found in North American gardens and farms, so maybe you’ve run across one.

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Photo: Shutterstock

But what about giant ferocious shrews? Now that’s something to reckon with. In 1959, during a period of science fiction film mania, shrews were enlarged in body size and teeth, to become The Killer Shrews.

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Such a scary sight that we can only show you the tail! Forrest J Ackerman collection, Accession Number 2358, Box 116, UW American Heritage Center.

As you might expect, there is a mad scientist involved. In this case, the scientist’s purpose is to shrink humans to half their size to reduce world hunger because he reasons that being smaller, humans will consume less food in a world with a limited food supply. Plausible, right? But his serum, which he’s been testing on the local unsuspecting shrew population, has instead created mutant giant shrews that have – gasp! – escaped and are now reproducing outside in the wild, growing larger and more voracious day-by-day.

Luckily, there is a rough and ready type to outsmart the shrews. And a lovely female to inspire him. Unfortunately, she brings along an inconvenient fiancé. But – spoiler-alert – the shrews make fast work of that guy.

So, what do ferocious killer shrews look like? Are you ready?

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“Killer shrews.” Courtesy https://non-aliencreatures.fandom.com/wiki/Killer_Shrew

Um…they look kind of like…dogs. That’s because they are dogs! For wide shots, coonhounds were costumed as the shrews. Close-ups of the shrews were filmed using hand puppets.

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Handpuppet shrew. http://kaiju.wikidot.com/wiki:killer-shrew

If you watch the film’s trailer below, you may recognize one of the stars – James Best, who went on to become the inept sheriff of Hazzard County, Georgia, in the television series The Dukes of Hazzard that ran from 1979 to 1985.

It was James Best’s destiny was to reunite with the shrews when he appeared in a 2012 remake, The Return of the Killer Shrews, that featured somewhat more high-tech shrews courtesy of computer-generated imagery. And – guess what – his Dukes of Hazzard former nemesis Bo Duke (John Schneider) was in on the fun too.

So, if you’re considering which Halloween costume to don this year, why not try for the killer shrew look? Or possibly you can costume your dog, especially if it’s a coonhound.

The American Heritage Center has a treasure trove of movie posters and publicity stills that attest to the popularity of science fiction and horror genres, particularly during the 1950s.

 

 

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

Celebrating 200th anniversary of Frankenstein

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.

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Mary Shelley, 1831. Artist : Stump, Samuel John (1778-1863). Fine Art Images/Heritage Images / Getty Images

In the novel, Shelley (1797-1851) tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who builds a sapient creature in his laboratory through an ambiguous method consisting of chemistry and alchemy. The monster is described in the novel as 8-foot-tall, hideously ugly, but sensitive and emotional.

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Boris Karloff portrays the creature created by Victor Frankenstein, 1931. Forrest J. Ackerman papers, UW American Heritage Center.

The monster attempts to fit into human society but is shunned. He later begs Victor Frankenstein to create a mate for him, a monster equally grotesque to serve as his sole companion. Victor at first refuses, then acquiesces to the creature’s demand.  But, horrified by the possible consequences of his work, Victor destroys his new creation. The monster, enraged, in turn murders Victor’s new bride. By the end of the novel, both the creature and its creator have come to tragic ends.

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Publicity still from the film The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935. Forrest J. Ackerman papers, UW American Heritage Center.

To commemorate the book’s anniversary and celebrate the continued interest of Frankenstein in its various forms, the American Heritage Center is showcasing Frankenstein materials from the Forrest J. Ackerman papers, as well as an 1832 edition of the book from the AHC’s Toppan Library.

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Title page of 1832 edition held in the American Heritage Center’s Toppan Rare Books Library.

The AHC has placed copies of posters of movie adaptations of the novel at the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts. The exhibit runs through November 2, 2018.

You can also visit the AHC to see a display reflecting Frankenstein’s influence on pop culture, including original materials such as the 1832 book, photos from movie sets, and fan letters from the Famous Monsters of Filmland fanzine. There are also copies of movie posters. Additionally, there is a digital display of materials in the AHC’s Loggia. The exhibit will be on display until November 2, 2018.

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Celebrate Frankenstein Friday on October 26, 2018. It is held each year on the last Friday in October.

On October 26 at noon the UW Libraries will screen the film Young Frankenstein in Coe Library, Room 123, followed at 2pm by a screening of The Bride of Frankenstein, also at Coe in Room 123. A panel discussion will follow each screening. Both events are free.

– Post submitted by Rachel Gattermeyer, AHC Digital Programs Archivist and curator of the AHC’s Frankenstein exhibits.

Posted in announcements, Authors and literature, Current events, events, exhibits, found in the archive, Frankenstein, Horror, Motion picture actors and actresses, motion picture history, Photographic collections, science fiction, television history, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming | Tagged , | Leave a comment

AHC Exhibit for Homecoming Week, October 13-20

While you are out and about planning your attendance at all of the fantastic events around campus and Laramie, please don’t forget to stop by the UW American Heritage Center and check out our Homecoming exhibit on the main floor of the Centennial Complex (2nd floor).

Homecoming is an annual tradition in the United States. People, towns, high schools, and colleges come together, usually in late September or early October, to welcome back alumni and former residents.

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Three University of Wyoming majorettes doing the can-can, Homecoming 1941. UW American Heritage Center photo file: University of Wyoming — Homecoming — 1941

Early homecoming events all had similar characteristics: a football game served as a center point; the events included rallies, parades, dances and dinners. The intention was to unite alumni and students to create a stronger sense of school pride, and they were wildly successful.

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University of Wyoming football team with their mascot, 1895. Holliday family papers, Accession #347, Box 11 A, Folder 9, UW American Heritage Center, 

Using these early events as an example, homecoming celebrations quickly became popular on college and university campuses and by the 1920s homecoming across the U.S. became an American tradition. The first University of Wyoming Cowboys Homecoming was in 1922, spear-headed by longtime UW geology professor Dr. Samuel H. Knight, whose papers are at the AHC.

 

Colorful collection material included in the exhibit are:

1920 scrapbook with Homecoming souvenirs from the Josephine Irby collection,

1933 Homecoming photos from the Ruth Finch Powers and the Holliday Family collections,

1985 and 1990 Homecoming parade photos from the Multicultural Resource Center records,

Newspaper clippings of 1932 and 1985 Homecoming parades found in the Ralph McWhinnie collection,

Handmade flag and “Letter Sweater” (1920) from the Margaret Plumb collection,

Student beret, scrapbook and dance cards (1919) from the Elma Brown collection, and

University of Wyoming jacket and track jersey (1920) from the Ralph McWhinnie collection.

– Submitted by Vicki Glantz, UW American Heritage Center Reference Department.

Posted in Centennial Complex, Current events, events, exhibits, found in the archive, Homecoming, Local history, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming history, Wyoming history | Tagged , | Leave a comment