November 29 marks the 140th birthday of Dard Hunter (1883-1966), born William Joseph Hunter. Sometimes referred to as the father of hand papermaking, Hunter is known for his extensive worldwide travel documenting the hand papermaking tradition in Asia, his publications about historical papermaking, and his active work as a printer and papermaker.
But before he turned his interest to hand papermaking, early in his career Hunter worked and lived as a Roycrofter. Located in the community of East Aurora, New York (not far from Buffalo), the Roycrofters worked within the traditions of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which had its origins in England during the 1880s, and developed as a reaction to changes brought about with the industrial age and mechanization. American writer and publisher Elbert Hubbard founded the community in 1895 and the enterprise produced furniture, textiles, ceramics, leather and metal goods, in addition to the products of the print shop, including books and several periodicals. The community eventually went bankrupt in the 1930s.
Dard Hunter worked in the East Aurora community from about 1904 to 1910 and although he started in furniture making, he also worked in iron, copper, pottery, stained glass, and book design. Many publications from the Roycroft Print Shop are among the holdings of the American Heritage Center’s Toppan Rare Books Library and were donated primarily by William Fitzhugh, a physician and rare book collector.
The Roycroft Print Shop created decorative books and made them available to the American public, implementing a comprehensive production and marketing strategy that allowed publication of a single title in various grades of paper, binding, and design that was suited to the means and desires of the consumer. From finely crafted, illuminated limited editions to mass-produced books, the American people were exposed to affordable Roycroft book decoration and craftsmanship. Hunter’s graphic design work for the Roycroft Print Shop was therefore also made available to many categories of consumers.
One of Hunter’s early Roycroft designs was for Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle (1905), and one of his last designs included advertising postcards for the Roycroft Inn. He designed title pages, plus coordinated elements such as borders, roses, and initial letters used in various combinations within a publication. His designs could be specific to the subject of a particular book or be more generalized designs used for books or other periodicals produced by the Roycroft Print Shop.
His “DH” initials are seen on many of his designs, and his stylized rose design (in orange) became affiliated with Roycroft publications. Hunter’s use of line drawings, stylized botanicals, rectangular borders, and the colors black and orange, sometimes with green, are typical of many of his works.
Publications of the Roycroft Print Shop, including many samples of Dard Hunter’s graphic arts designs, can be studied at the Toppan Rare Books Library. Please contact email@example.com to set up a viewing appointment on weekdays 9am-4pm.
Post contributed by Ginny Kilander, Supervisor of the American Heritage Center Reference Services Dept. Ginny is also an artist whose interests include papermaking, marbling, and the books arts.
For the American public at home in 1942, the war raging thousands of miles across oceans could seem remote and opaque. Richard Tregaskis’ Guadalcanal Diary brought the stories of the American forces engaged in brutal fighting to the homefront in a popular and vivid format.
Richard Tregaskis (November 28, 1916 – August 15, 1973) was an American journalist, war correspondent, and author. As a war correspondent, he covered the Pacific and European theaters of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War from the front lines. Tregaskis was embedded with combat troops, even being severely wounded himself in Italy during the Second World War. The American Heritage Center houses the Richard Tregaskis papers, which is a collection of his publications, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs and more.
Tregaskis is most well-known for his WWII reporting and specifically for his book Guadalcanal Diary (1943). The book covers the first several weeks of the Guadalcanal Campaign – the first allied ground offensive of the Pacific during the war. Tregaskis was attached to the Marine troops for the first several weeks of the battle, from the landing on the beach to the Battle of Alligator Creek, through to the Battle of Edson’s Ridge.
Tregaskis’ on-the-ground, matter-of-fact style which drew heavily upon conversations with Marine troops—from the generals in charge of the operations down to the “grunts”—made it a bestseller at a time when the American public was hungry for news of the war and of the soldiers overseas. Published before the war (and even before the Guadalcanal Campaign) was over, the book was so popular it was even made into a movie the year it was released.
Tregaskis took copious and careful notes during his reporting trips, which allowed him to reconstruct his experiences into news wires and books later on, for example, “But the general remained calm. He sat on the ground beside the operations tent ‘Well,’ he said cheerfully, ‘it’s only a few more hours till dawn. Then we’ll see where we stand.’ Occasionally, he passed along a short, cogent suggestion to Col. Thomas. He was amused at my efforts to take notes in the dark.”
In these notes, he recorded the names and hometowns of every soldier that he talked to during his reporting. This may be one reason why the book was so popular, as readers could more readily identify with the names and hometowns of the service members as opposed to the more sterile and censored newspaper reports typical of the early war period. An example from an after-action interview typifies this approach:
“I found Lieut. Fink (Chris Fink of Gray Bull [sic], Wyo.), the naval dive-bomber who had hit the enemy cruiser, a new vessel of the Jintsu class. He was a slow-speaking Westerner, and said, as the other pilots had said, that he had not had a chance to watch his bomb hit. But his radioman, Milo L. Kimerblin (of Spokane, Wash.), told the story: ‘The bomb hit right on the bridge and a sheet of flame and smoke went right up to the clouds. I could see the stack and bridge lift out of the ship and go kerplunk in the ocean. She was still burning when we left. You could see the smoke and flames for about forty miles.’”
Tregaskis, Guadalcanal Diary, 163.
In 2023, 80 years after the battle, with the detailed ranks, names, and hometowns that Tregaskis supplied, and with modern resources readily available such as WWII casualty rolls, genealogical websites, and military citations databases, it is often possible to find out what happened to many of the men that Tregaskis interviewed after the publication of the book. Chris Fink survived the war and later served in the Korean War, retired from the Navy and died in 1999. Radioman Milo L. Kimberlin also survived the war, dying in 1985.
Richard Tregaskis’ papers at the AHC contain such things as his notebooks from his war reporting, manuscripts for articles and books, his published books, personal and professional correspondence, and more. Of course, some of these relate to Guadalcanal Diary:
“Back at my tent, I found Don Dickson and Lieut. McLeod (William J. McLeod of St. Petersburg, Fla.) sitting on a bunk, deep in conversation. They seemed to be working over some sort of document. Dickson, who usually has a wonderfully good temper, said rather curtly: ‘We have a little private matter here.’
I felt a little cut, but later found out what the conspiracy was. P.F.C. Tardiff informed me that I was under arrest, and two marines with fixed bayonets took me in tow. Dickson came by and said with mock gravity, ‘You’re a prisoner of war.’
Capt. Hodgess, the Australian, was also brought along under military guard. We stood side by side – ‘Stand at attention, Pvt. Tregaskis,’ snapped Lieut. Wilson – while Col. Hunt marched out and gravely read a long ‘citation’ for each of us. This document honored us for our speed in getting to a dugout amidst a bombardment and drafted us for membership in the ‘Lunga Point Shell-Dodging Marines.’
Don Dickson, who had been an artist and cartoonist in civilian life, had embellished our citations with comic drawings. Making them had been his ‘private matter’ in the tent. The documents were embellished with official-looking seals made from J– beer-bottle labels.
Col. Hunt solemnly pinned captured Japanese medals on Viv Hodgess’ chest and mine. It was the Eighth Order of Palenowa. ‘We found a case of those in the J– tent camp,’ said Col. Hunt. (Later he told me: ‘We had to put on some kind of show for the boys. They were getting a little but glum.)”
Tregaskis, Guadalcanal Diary, 169-169.
To learn more about Richard Tregaskis’ life and career and to view his papers, visit the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming.
Post contributed by Marcus Holscher, Toppan Rare Books Library, American Heritage Center.
 Also covered by Robert Leckie in Helmet for My Pillow (1957) and subsequently HBO’s The Pacific (2010).
 Richard Tregaskis, Guadalcanal Diary (New York: Random House, 1943), 228.
The “Skull of [a] Medicine Man” sits among 728 photographs in William Henry Jackson’s Descriptive Catalogue of the United States Geological Survey of the Territories produced between 1869 and 1873. This seemingly unremarkable catalog listing obscures a disturbing reality – the skull belonged to a deceased Tonkawa person. Jackson’s photographs of indigenous remains were not anomalies. His catalogue includes images of Apsáalooke burials, a “Sioux Burial”, and “No. 831. Indian Burial.” Below the heading of photographs made from observing Sauk and Meskwaki towns in Kansas, entry number 692 simply lists “Dead Indian.”
These images illuminate the entanglements of science, collecting, and colonial violence in the late 19th century. As geologists scoped mineral riches, photographers like Jackson pictured a “disappearing” people, furthering belief that Native Americans would inevitably “vanish.” However, Jackson’s photographs, while lamenting vanishing cultures, also played an active role in undermining indigenous sovereignty in that period.
From 1871 to 1878, Jackson traveled the Mountain West as part of the Hayden Survey––one of the four “Great Surveys”––and was a photographer of the Photography Corps of the Geological and Geographical Survey. Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, a surgeon and geologist, led the survey through Wyoming and Colorado.
While Jackson took pictures, Hayden scouted the landscape for coal and lignite fields, iron mines, and lead, galena, and zinc ore beds. Mining and geology proceeded together in the west, as the surveys overlapped with the Montana Gold Rush and the Black Hills Gold Rush in South Dakota and Wyoming. Hayden foresaw fossil capital’s rise in Colorado, a territory possessing “an abundance of cheap fuel in its mines of coal”, and in Wyoming, where “coal is the most important” natural resource. Today, Jackson’s photographs are collected at academic repositories including the American Heritage Center and public history sites like Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska. The National Parks Service recognizes Jackson’s work as part of a larger postbellum American effort of “venturing westward in search of a national identity.”
Photographing Death in the American West
Why did Jackson assemble photographs of human remains alongside landscape pictures of rock formations, mountain peaks, and canyons? Jackson’s photography includes other subjects that visualize the material infrastructure of settler colonialism and Manifest Destiny: boarding schools, Bureau of Indian Affairs agencies, “Various Indian Agents”, missionary churches, railway stations, and fortifications constructed by the United States Military and garrisoned with infantry to prosecute warfighting against American Indian nations and manage the American reservation system. Indeed, it is valuable to recall that the BIA acted under the War Department until its reorganization in 1947, and today operates under the auspices of the Department of the Interior.
Photography allowed American scientists and collectors to shift their museum-based gaze to the field. This aided efforts to undermine Native American sovereignty and identity through the collection and display of human remains and burial artifacts. Artists, particularly painters, supported the efforts of military-scientific expeditions since the antebellum era. Men like Joseph Drayton and Henry Cheever Pratt produced artworks of “Indian Costume” and vistas of natural sublime landscapes emptied of human settlement that aestheticized conquest. Thomas Moran, a painter associated with the Hudson River School, also joined the Hayden Survey. Jackson’s photography contributed to the deep belief held by settlers that Indians would soon “vanish” and pass into extinction. Despite this imperial gaze, Native sitters did use photography for their own purposes as well by posing as diplomatic delegations for photographers like Jackson as a means of explicitly enacting their own sovereignty.
Like their colleagues in other federal agencies––such as the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers and the Signal Service Bureau––the US Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories (USGGST) extended the visual reach of the US Government in the Mountain West in the late nineteenth century. While conducting research at the AHC, I focused on the Hayden Survey, a scientific expedition for the USGGST, that ranged across the Colorado and Wyoming Territories on seasonal excursions from 1868 to 1877. Documents from the Howell, Fryxell, and Foster collections illuminate the daily workings of the survey in rich detail.
Visuality and Racial Theory
What interested me about the survey initially was the textual depiction of American Indians by the scientific corps, particularly in relation to the sensory or emotional dimensions of their narratives. George Allen, a botanist with the survey, for instance, felt that the Shoshone, Northern Paiute, and Bannock people he encountered in the eastern portion of Utah Territory were “wild, filthy looking creatures” who begged for scraps of food from their party. Allen likewise described Indians living near Virginia City, Montana, as “hideous, dirty, painted creatures.” Allen’s descriptions, and others, match what the moral philosopher Martha C. Nussbaum terms projective disgust, a concept that refers to the “projection of disgust properties (such as bad smell, foulness, animality) onto groups of people.” Allen and others used projective disgust to position the bodies and senses of American Indians as fundamentally opposed to and essentially alien from those of White descendants of settlers. This form of racism based on the senses has roots in Western European intellectual history’s emphasis on vision and the visual. Terms like “ocularity” and “ocularcentrism” refer to the privileged position that sight and observation held in fields like philosophy. In Classical Greece, Plato and others prized sight as the most epistemically valuable sense, and in The Republic Plato contends that “the soul is like the eye” as a source of knowledge. Donncha Kavanagh goes so far as to argue that Western philosophy rests on a spectatorial epistemology, whose precepts can be recalled in common phrases such as “the mind’s eye” and the Enlightenment.
Allen wrote at length on the “Eye of the Indian” in his journal from 1871. Allen sensed a “deep, dark, deceitful and determined expression, which added to the intense blackness of the pupil,” which he conjectured, “is surely suggestive of treachery and blood.” He reflected on the “stoic fixedness” of the “Indian’s eye”, and claimed it represented “the most watchful, cautious, plotting observation.” Allen’s thoughts are worth consideration in full:
An ophidian eye that cannot apparently be moved from its purpose, and yet, if closely watched there will now and then be detected a lurking twinkle bespeaking a consciousness of having satisfactorily formed some diabolical plot to be executed in the future. That concealed twinkle that occasionally flashes up, like the dim and distant lightning flash upon the evening cloud seems but the precursor of the swift winged arrow, the bloody tomahawk or the scalping knife. This dark and treacherous expression of the Indian’s eye is greatly intensified by the blood-red paint so plentifully bestreaked upon their foreheads and high cheek bones which constitutes the frame of its setting.
Allen’s articulation of the threatening American Indian eye resonates with other depictions of unsettling, alien Indigenous anatomy from this period. An essay in The Medical Brief from 1892, for instance, contended that “Savages have good eyes and good ears, and good noses”, and that “a modern Anglo-Saxon” could, if brought from civilization to wilderness, “leave the savage far behind in his sense of smell, and the other senses.” Ophthalmologists influenced by the eugenicist Francis Galton fretted over the powerful “savage” eye in this period, and worried that British and Americans might become literally short-sighted over time due to excessive reading.
Allen’s story of the deceptive American Indian eye clashed with competing scientific theories of emotions. James Haines McCullough, an ethnologist and physician, theorized in 1829 that Native people’s allegedly unchanging faces were evidence of their mental inferiority. What he perceived to be the permanently impassive American Indian face, he alleged, signified that their “features assume a fixed, grave, and even stern expression, according to the peculiar temper of the mind.” McCullough likewise used his emotional theories to defend slavery and attack African American minds as “equally ignorant and barbarous.” Perhaps what lay in common for Peale and McCullough was their shared strategy in transforming American Indian people into scientific evidence for their own research agendas and political ambitions.
Nineteenth-century ophthalmologists became fascinated with American Indian eyesight due to its alleged “superior visual acuity.” One writer hypothesized this was due to “concentrating their attention on objects” pertaining to their survival with greater focus than “civilized people.”
Ophthalmologists held that eye diseases appeared with much greater frequency among the “white civilized man” than “the lower animals and savages.” One researcher speculated that the “delight of children and savages” for the color red could be attributed to “numberless centuries of blood-covenants and blood-shed.” Ethnographers further racialized American Indians as sensory others by attributing to them the ability to hear and understand speech at remarkable distances. And, since the work of the German cosmographer Alexander von Humboldt, ethnologists considered American Indians to possess an acute sense of smell due to their “savage” state. Ideas about the senses, phenomena, and perception crystallized in this period around racialized axes––one has only to recall Lorenz Oken’s well-known racial typology of the European “Eye-Man” placed above the “Red, American” “Nose-Man”––that divided the globe and its inhabitants by sensorial organs. Through his claims to possessing the superior eye, Oken also claimed to possess the gaze itself, the tool of what Kavanagh referred to as the West’s way of understanding things by watching them, a skill embedded in the White body and extended through technology.
Seeing the photographs of the Tonkawa person’s remains and others of human remains reminds us of the role that race played in developing the scientific gaze of Louis Agassiz, founder of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University and a remote collaborator of the USGGST. Agassiz employed another photographer, Walter Hunnewell, during the Thayer Expedition to Brazil from 1865 to 1866. Hunnewell shot dozens of Indigenous and Black people in Manaus, Amazonas, during the expedition to make “a mass of new and interesting information on the many varieties of the colored races” of the North Region. Fifteen years prior, Agassiz commissioned the photographer Joseph T. Zealy to photograph enslaved people–– including Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, Jack of Guinea and his daughter Drana, and two other men detained on nearby plantations, Fassena and Jem––residing on the Edgehill Plantation of the Taylor family in Columbia, South Carolina. Agassiz and his friends, the Scientific Lazzaroni––which included key Smithsonian Institution personnel such as Joseph Henry and Cornelus Conway Felton––seized the gaze as a means of differentiating races and reinscribing Oken’s human taxonomy through photography.
Ethnographic photography visually portrayed the lethal authority of the US Government to condemn sovereign nations to removal, privation, and death, as Jackson hoped to catch the “fast passing away or conforming to the habits of civilization” of American Indians. And daguerreotypes of enslaved people likewise buttressed pseudo-scientific claims that facial features indicated African American mental inferiority and racial difference. Jackson’s “Indian Photographs” circulated widely to scientific centers and museums like the Smithsonian and the MCZ at Cambridge as the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories took stock of the Mountain West between 1867 and 1879.
The Hayden Survey, like the other surveys of this period, happened simultaneously in a multi-territorial war zone and what one soldier termed “the greatest laboratory that nature furnishes on the surface of the globe.” Some of the conflicts that overlapped with the four Surveys of the Territories includes Black Hawk’s War in the Utah Territory between 1865 and 1872, Red Cloud’s War in the Powder River Country of northeastern Wyoming from 1866 to 1868, the Yellowstone Expedition of 1872, and the Ute War of 1879. War trophies gathered by soldiers on the battlefield and in the aftermath of massacring unarmed noncombatants, particularly the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864, found their way into scientific collections as well. Human remains like a Cheyenne finger necklace, framed ears, and scalps, as Cora Bender shows, ended up in the cabinets of the Smithsonian alongside gemstones, stratigraphy illustrations, and taxidermied animals. Like Jackson, Hayden dehumanized American Indians as threats to the future of the United States and akin to animals. “A Sharp’s rifle is a handy thing to have”, he advised would-be settlers, “not because there is anything or anybody, to fear, but elk, antelope, and Utes are to be met with, and are excellent––when dead.”
The Hayden Survey amid Chinese Exclusion
Simultaneous to the period of the postbellum Indian wars, the story of the Hayden Survey further overlaps with the history of the Chinese and East Asian diaspora in America. Given that Hayden found it important to reproduce in full in his book The Great West––and its publication two years prior to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882––it is worthwhile to read Charles G. Yale’s essay “The Chinese Question” as it pertains to Hayden’s worldview. Since at least the passage of the Foreign Miner’s Tax of 1850, Euroamerican settlers sought to exclude East Asians and Mexicans from the profits of Western mineral booms. Hundreds of thousands of emigrants from the provinces of Guangdong, Fujian, and Guangxi arrived in the American West in the late nineteenth century. Women and men seeking prosperity intended to join the rush to unearth Gum Shan, 金山, or Gold Mountain, a term initially used to signify California but later encompassed the mineral rushes of the Intermountain West.
During the California Gold Rush, John Ross Browne reported to the Treasury Department in 1868 that the “Chinese are looked upon with much jealousy by the white race.” In 1872, Rossiter Raymond, a Commissioner of Mining Statistics, wrote that “Chinese labor is employed for certain purposes”, in particular placer mining, and other kinds of low-wage work. Raymond praised Chinese workers in the West as industrious, faithful, and intelligent. Yale agreed with the sentiment that Chinese workers were “industrious” in general yet argued that “Their habits of life are totally at variance with ours.” First, he claimed, they “crowd their dwellings like rats” and live in “any hovel” available. Second, Yale argued Chinese laborers were less physically strong and able than White miners. And, he concluded, Chinese workers required a “herder” to keep them organized throughout the day. Rather than outright support Chinese Exclusion, Yale hoped that “if they confined themselves” to the “unhealthy work which white men refuse” a kind of peaceable coexistence might be possible. For Yale, “unhealthy work” ranged from farm work to working in mercury mines, building irrigation ditches, reclaiming tule-lands and “other drudgery.” While Hayden himself did not directly address the so-called “Chinese question”, other authors appended to The Great West fueled the rhetoric of Yellow Peril and characterized Chinese migrants as “nuisances” and a “mass of ignorant, immoral, and degraded heathens” interloping on the future wealth of settlers.
Conclusion and Further Questions
Moving forward with this research, I am interested in the ways in which scientists like Hayden, Allen, and Jackson mobilized the senses and emotions to cast American Indians, African Americans, and East Asians as physiologically and culturally alien to the American West. I want to dwell on two overlapping and entangled spaces crucial to Manifest Destiny: the war zone and the laboratory. Cameron Strang has argued that natural knowledge and war are best understood as inter-linked projects in American history. Cycles of frontier violence, expropriation, exploitation, data collection, and knowledge production trace the connected histories of the laboratory-war zone as a space in the American West. So, I want to know what happens if historians follow the lead of Gustavus Cheyney Doane, who saw the Mountain West torn apart by the American Indian Wars of the late nineteenth century as “the greatest laboratory that nature furnishes on the surface of the globe”? To what extent can we understand science and war in this period as inextricably coupled institutions? And, finally, what if we approach sensorial descriptions, as put forth by the phenomenological historian Andrew Kettler, as “embodied perceptions of Othering” that are necessary for understanding race-making in the history of science and military history?
– Post contributed by Chris M. Blakley, PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor, Core Program, Occidental College and 2023 AHC Travel Grant Recipient.
 William Henry Jackson, Descriptive Catalogue of the Photographs of the United States Geological Survey of the Territories, for the Years 1869 to 1873, (United States: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1874), 73, 77, 81, 83. On Jackson see Rachel M.Sailor, “Collecting Indian Portraits: Governor Kirkwood, William Henry Jackson, and the Nineteenth-Century Photographic Album,” Great Plains Quarterly 34, no. 3 (2014): 257-273. Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, The Great West: Its Attractions and Resources. Containing a Popular Description of the Marvellous Scenery, Physical Geography, Fossils, and Glaciers of this Wonderful Region; and the Recent Explorations in the Yellowstone Park (United States: C.R. Brodix, 1880), 122, 205.
 “Viewing the William Henry Jackson Collection,” National Park Service, Last modified March 2, 2022. https://www.nps.gov/thingstodo/the-william-henry-jackson-collection.htm. On skull collecting and the military see Elise Juzda, “Skulls, science, and the spoils of war: craniological studies at the United States Army Medical Museum, 1868–1900.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40, no. 3 (2009): 156-167.
 Robert E. Bieder, “The representations of Indian bodies in nineteenth-century American anthropology,” American Indian Quarterly 20, no. 2 (1996): 165-179; Sofie I. Senecal, and John Pickles, “Supranational to the Grave? On the Geopolitics of Corpse Repatriation in the EU,” Geopolitics 28, no. 3 (2023): 1186-1209.
 On Drayton see Charles Wiles, Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition: During the Years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, (United States: C. Sherman, 1844), 425-426.
 Miles A. Powell, Vanishing America: Species Extinction, Racial Peril, and the Origins of Conservation, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016).
 Wendy Red Star, and Shannon Vittoria, “Apsáalooke Bacheeítuuk in Washington, DC: A Case Study in Re-Reading Nineteenth-Century Delegation Photography,” Panorama: Journal of the Association of Historians of American Art 6 (2020).
 On the Signal Service Bureau see Raines, Rebecca Robbins. “Storms and Swarms: The Role of the US Army Signal Corps’ Weather Observers during the Rocky Mountain Locust Plague of the 1870s.” Great Plains Quarterly 43, no. 1 (2023): 65-91; and on the Army Corps of Topographical Engineers see Sean Fraga, “Native Americans, Military Science, and Ambivalence on the Pacific Railroad Surveys, 1853–1855,” Princeton University Library Chronicle 75, no. 3 (2014): 317-349.
Yellowstone and the Great West: Journals, Letters, and Images from the 1871 Hayden Expedition, edited by Marlene Merrill, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), 72.
 Barbara Malvestiti, “An interview with Martha Craven Nussbaum. Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice (Second Part).” Phenomenology and Mind 8 (2015): 258-264.
 Donncha Kavanagh, “Ocularcentrism and its others: A framework for metatheoretical analysis.” Organization Studies 25, no. 3 (2004): 445-464; Anthony Synnott, “The eye and I: a sociology of sight.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 5 (1992): 617-636.
The Anthropological Review, (United Kingdom: Trübner and Company, 1866), 400.
The American Phrenological Journal and Repository of Science, Literature and General Intelligence, (United States: Fowlers and Wells, 1854), 106.
 On Oken see Erica Fretwell, Sensory Experiments: Psychophysics, Race, and the Aesthetics of Feeling, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020).
 Louis Agassiz, and Elizabeth Cabot Cary Agassiz, A Journey in Brazil, (United States: Ticknor and Fields, 1868), 296.
 Brian Wallis, “Black Bodies, White Science: Louis Agassiz’s Slave Daguerreotypes,” American Art 9, no. 2 (1995): 39-61; Molly Rogers, and David W. Blight, Delia’s Tears: Race, Science, and Photography in Nineteenth-Century America, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).
Jackson, Descriptive Catalogue, 3-4; Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019).
 Molly Rogers, and David W. Blight, Delia’s Tears: Race, Science, and Photography in Nineteenth-Century America, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010).
 Fryxell Papers, Box 42 and Box 50, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
 Gustavus Cheyney Doane, Letter from the Secretary of War, Communicating the Report of Lieutenant Gustavus C. Doane Upon the So-called Yellowstone Expedition of 1870, (United States: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1871), 38.
Cora Bender, “‘Transgressive Objects’ in America: Mimesis and Violence in the Collection of Trophies during the Nineteenth Century Indian Wars.” Civil Wars 11, no. 4 (2009): 502-513.
What if you could see the world through the eyes of an American Indian photographer? How would their perspective differ from outsiders who often portrayed them in stereotypical or exotic ways? Richard Throssel was a Cree photographer who had a unique connection to the Crow nation and captured the life and culture of the Crow people with respect and intimacy. As we celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month this November, let’s take a closer look at his remarkable work and legacy.
Richard Throssel was born in 1882 to an English immigrant father and a half-Cree mother. Raised in Washington state in a small hops farming community called Roy, located just south of Puget Sound, Throssel’s journey as a photographer began in an unexpected way.
In 1902, at the age of 20, Throssel moved to the Crow Reservation in southeastern Montana, near the Wyoming border. His decision to move was driven by practicality rather than artistic aspirations. Suffering from rheumatism, Throssel’s doctor advised him to seek a drier climate. Fortunately, his older brother, Harry, had recently taken a job on the Crow Reservation in the Indian Services office. Harry offered Richard a home and a job in the same office, providing the opportunity for a fresh start.
Shortly after his arrival at the Crow Reservation, Throssel purchased his first camera and began teaching himself the fundamentals of photography. He walked into a world filled with art and creativity, as the Crow people were renowned for their superb craftsmanship and artistic expression. Their distinctive and technically excellent beadwork adorned clothing, personal accessories, horse gear, and military articles. The Crow presented themselves impressively, with a strong sense of national identity, even showcasing their artistic talents in the construction of elegant and graceful tipis.
The Crow people have a remarkable history. Their beautiful and abundant homeland allowed them to thrive, and their territory once extended across much of present-day Montana and Wyoming. However, as white settlement encroached upon their land, protecting their homeland against invaders became a constant struggle. The Crow became renowned for their military skills and courage, adapting their traditional warfare tactics to defend their land and survival.
Unlike many other tribal nations, the Crow recognized early on that their survival meant cooperation with the most powerful nation pressuring them: the United States. They foresaw the extermination of the buffalo and the inevitable arrival of cattle grazing on Crow lands. Consequently, they aligned themselves with the U.S. government, becoming scouts in battles against their tribal enemies, the Sioux and Cheyenne.
This was the world Throssel entered as a young man with dreams of being an artist and photographer. Settling down on the reservation, he married, had two children, and was eventually adopted into the Crow Tribe in 1906. His adoption likely stemmed from practical considerations, as American Indians were each allotted pieces of land on the reservation and having more tribe members increased the likelihood of retaining land ownership.
Throssel’s journey as a photographer took a significant turn when he encountered Edward Sheriff Curtis, a prominent photographer documenting American Indians for his 20-volume work, The North American Indian. Observing Curtis at work and witnessing the results was a revelation for Throssel, who still considered himself an amateur photographer.
Curtis befriended Throssel, and through their relationship, Throssel acquired new photographic enhancement and composition techniques. By 1907, just two years after their initial meeting, the influence of Curtis became evident in Throssel’s work. His photography took on a more romanticized look at Crow life, infused with a deep appreciation for the cultural richness and spiritual significance of the Crow people. Throssel’s images captured the nuances and beauty of Crow life, exhibiting a level of intimacy and personal connection rarely seen in photographs of American Indians.
Throssel’s photographs became a virtual census of the Crow people at the turn of the century. His lens preserved the past, connecting older generations to the future as he documented elderly war chiefs like Medicine Crow and the emerging leaders such as Barney Old Coyote, Sr., who would later advocate for the preservation of the Crow Reservation.
In 1909, Throssel contributed to Edward Curtis’s work by providing an image and description of the Northern Cheyenne Massaum ceremony, one of the rarest and most sacred ceremonies of the Crow. Throssel’s images of this ceremony marked the first visual record, as the government had banned it at the time. He was privileged to document such a significant cultural event.
In 1911, Throssel and his family left the Crow Reservation, and he opened his own photographic studio in Billings, Montana. This marked the first time he marketed his work under his own name. His business relied on his personal collection of nearly 1,000 images captured during his time on the reservation. He marketed his Curtis-style images under the title “The Western Classics.”
Throssel’s journey extended beyond photography. He delved into politics, serving as a member of the Montana State Legislature in 1924 and 1926. He also pursued marksmanship, becoming Montana’s secretary to the National Rifle Association and an award-winning marksman in rifle matches. Tragically, at the age of 51, Throssel passed away in 1933 from a heart attack shortly after arriving at the National Guard Camp.
Despite his short life and relatively brief time on the Crow Reservation, Richard Throssel left an enduring legacy. Through his photography, he compiled a vast visual record of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne, capturing a crucial period in their history as they adjusted to reservation life. His images bridged the generations, preserving the past and inspiring future tribal leaders to embrace their heritage. Richard Throssel’s remarkable work continues to serve as a testament to the cultural richness and resilience of the Crow.
Post contributed by AHC Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener.
In this blog series, we are celebrating the life and work of Richard Matheson, a master of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. His stories and novels have inspired countless films, TV shows, and writers, from The Twilight Zone to Steven Spielberg, from Stephen King to George A. Romero. He wrote about vampires, shrinking men, haunted houses, time travelers, and more. We are also exploring his connections to three of the collections at the American Heritage Center. In the first part of this series, we focused on his early life and his works in the 1950s. In this second part, we will look at his works in the 1960s.
Throughout the 1960s, Matheson wrote for several television series, including fourteen episodes of the TV series The Twilight Zone (1959-1964). Those encompassed some of the most memorable ones, such as “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “Steel,” and “The Invaders.” His short story “Little Girl Lost,” which he also adapted into a Twilight Zone script was based on a real-life incident involving his young daughter, who fell off her bed while asleep and rolled against a wall. Despite hearing her daughter’s cries for help, Matheson’s wife was initially unable to locate their daughter.
He also wrote the script for the first episode, “Forgotten Front,” of the war series Combat! (1962-1967), which followed the grim lives of a squad of American soldiers fighting the Germans in France during World War II. The series offered a unique perspective on war, focusing on the moral dilemmas faced by soldiers rather than action-packed scenes. “Forgotten Front” was directed by Robert Altman and credits Matheson’s pseudonym “Logan Swanson” as the writer. Matheson’s own WWII war service would have aided him in writing this episode. A copy of Matheson’s script for the episode is included in the papers of writer Jerry Sohl, which are housed at the AHC.
Following the success of this film, Corman directed several more films based on Poe’s writings, and Matheson wrote three of them – The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), and The Raven (1963). Matheson’s adaptations of Poe’s work are considered classics.
Matheson also wrote the horror comedy “The Comedy of Terrors” (1963), which was directed by Jacques Tourneur for American International Pictures. The film depicts dishonest undertaker Waldo Trumbull (Vincent Price) and his sidekick Felix Gillie (Peter Lorre) who create their own customers when they cannot find willing ones.
The movie was not a big success at the box office with The New York Timescalling it “A MUSTY, rusty bag of tricks rigged as a horror farce.” Nevertheless, Matheson countered that he was proud of the picture. He stated, “It didn’t lose any money. They [AIP] told me that the title itself cost them a lot. It’s such a contradiction in terms, though. Terror sells and comedy makes them go away, so it’s like they’re walking in two directions at once. But I thought it was very clever to do a take off of Shakespeare’s, Comedy of Errors…. I think they were probably sorry they didn’t use a Poe title, because Poe had a certain marketability. I guess they couldn’t figure out how to market it. But it was the last one because I was getting tired of writing about people being buried alive, so I decided to make a joke about it.”
Richard Matheson was a master of suspense, imagination, and emotion, who explored the dark and mysterious aspects of human nature. He left behind a legacy of unforgettable works that will continue to entertain and challenge readers and viewers for years to come.
Post contributed by Processing Archivist and AHC film expert Roger Simon.
Richard Matheson was a master of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. His stories and novels have inspired countless films, TV shows, and writers, from The Twilight Zone to Steven Spielberg, from Stephen King to George A. Romero. He wrote about vampires, shrinking men, haunted houses, time travelers, and more. In this two-part blog series, we will explore his career and his connections to three of the collections at the American Heritage Center. In this first part, we will focus on his early life and his works in the 1950s.
Born in 1926 to Norwegian immigrants in Allendale, New Jersey, Matheson was raised in Brooklyn by his mother after his parents divorced. As a youngster he first set his sights on a musical career, a love of fantasy books lit up his imagination and energized his creativity; he was only eight when a story he wrote appeared in a local newspaper, the Brooklyn Eagle. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943 and then served in World War II as an infantry soldier. In 1949, he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California. His writing career spanned over six decades, during which he wrote novels, short stories, film scripts, and adaptations.
Matheson once said: “I think we’re yearning for something beyond the every day. And I will tell you that I don’t believe in the ‘supernatural,’ I believe in the ‘supernormal.’
Horror-thriller author Stephen King wrote in a tribute to Matheson, “He fired my imagination by placing his horrors not in European castles and Lovecraftian universes, but in American scenes I knew and could relate to. ‘I want to do that,’ I thought. ‘I must do that.’ Matheson showed the way.”
As a young child, Matheson had been transfixed by seeing Dracula(1931) at a local cinema and by his teens had the idea for the vampire story I Am Legend. In 1954, he published I Am Legend, a novel about a pandemic that has wiped out most of the human population and turned the remaining infected into vampires. Described as being “influential in the modern development of zombie and vampire literature in popularizing the concept of a worldwide apocalypse due to disease.”
In the late 1950s, Matheson began a working relationship with film producer Albert Zugsmith, whose papers are at the AHC. The first of their collaborations was the science-fiction film The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) about a man named Scott Carey who gradually shrinks to microscopic size after being exposed to a radioactive mist and an insecticide. He faces many dangers and challenges as he tries to survive in an ever-changing environment.
The film was adapted by Matheson from his 1956 novel The Shrinking Man. The author explained, “I had gotten the idea several years earlier while attending a movie in a Redondo Beach theater. In this particular scene, Ray Milland, leaving Jane Wyman’s apartment in a huff, accidentally put on Aldo Ray’s hat, which sank down around his ears. Something in me asked, ‘What would happen if a man put on a hat which he knew was his and the same thing happened?’ Thus, the notion came.” A poster and multiple stills from the film are in the Ackerman papers, and drafts of Matheson’s screenplay are in the Zugsmith papers.
Matheson is also credited with co-writing the 1959 crime film The Beat Generation, which Zugsmith produced. The film offers a sensationalized portrayal of the rebellious counterculture of the “Beat Generation.” The movie also had the alternative title, This Rebel Age.
He also wrote two unproduced scripts for Zugsmith – “The Fantastic Shrinking Girl,” a follow-up to The Incredible Shrinking Man, and “A Voyage to Lilliput,” based on Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. The Zugsmith papers include script drafts for these projects.
Richard Matheson was a prolific and influential writer who left a lasting mark on the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy in the 1950s. His stories have been adapted into films that have entertained and terrified generations of audiences. His legacy is also preserved in the collections at the American Heritage Center, where you can find more information about his life and work.
Stay tuned for part two of this blog series, where we will cover Matheson’s works in the 1960s.
Post contributed by Processing Archivist and AHC film expert Roger Simon.
100 years ago, on October 25, 1923, the U.S. Senate Committee on Public Lands published its first report on the Teapot Dome scandal. The scandal stands as one of the most notorious episodes of political corruption in American history. Centered around the illicit leasing of federal oil reserves, the scandal exposed a web of bribery, cronyism, and abuse of power that reached the highest echelons of government.
The Mammoth Oil Company, headed by Harry F. Sinclair, was at the center of the scandal, defending its actions and facing public scrutiny. One prominent figure in the events was Wyoming’s U.S. Senator John B. Kendrick.
A successful rancher turned politician, Kendrick played a crucial role in shedding light on the corruption surrounding the scandal. As a member of the Senate Committee on Public Lands, Kendrick recognized the significance of the suspicious leases.
On April 14, 1922, the Wall Street Journal broke the story, announcing that the Teapot Dome reserve had indeed been leased.
This revelation led to a surge of public pressure for further information. Senator Kendrick found himself inundated with telegrams from Wyoming oil operators and associations demanding answers. B. B. Brooks, president of the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Producers Association and former Wyoming governor, sent a telegram arguing against private negotiations without competitive bidding. Other protests from the business community and the oil industry called for greater transparency in the leasing process.
The next day, Senator Kendrick and Wyoming U.S. Representative Frank W. Mondell took action within Congress. Kendrick requested the Senate consider a resolution calling upon Secretaries Fall and Denby to clarify whether negotiations were underway for the leasing of Teapot Dome and if competitive bidding was being followed. The concerns expressed by the oil interests prompted further scrutiny of Secretary Fall’s methods.
Not everyone was eager for an investigation. The petroleum industry, already facing multiple investigations, expressed reluctance and presented various arguments against further inquiries. Some viewed investigations as burdensome, hampering business operations and producing futile results. They argued that big business had always been fair, honest, and satisfied with reasonable profits, rendering investigations unnecessary.
The path to investigating the Teapot Dome scandal was fraught with delays and diversions. Various factors contributed to the slow initiation of the investigation. The fatiguing summer weather in Washington and the pressure of other Senate business, often referred to as “political fence mending,” hindered the efforts of Senator Reed Smoot, who had yet to call a meeting of his committee. Additionally, Senator Kendrick and Senator Robert LaFollette, the chief instigators, had to campaign for re-election as the congressional elections loomed on the horizon.
The Teapot Dome scandal gradually came to public attention through investigative efforts and critical testimonies. Kendrick’s role in the events surrounding the scandal was not limited to the committee hearings but also involved his close association with B. B. Brooks and Leslie Miller, an oil operator and later state governor. Brooks and Miller, concerned about the suspicious leases and potential corruption, alerted Kendrick to the situation. As the congressional investigations unfolded, Kendrick played an active role in interrogating witnesses and examining evidence to expose the depths of the corruption. Working alongside Senator Thomas J. Walsh, the lead investigator, Kendrick collaborated to maintain focus and drive the inquiry forward. While he was not without criticism and faced political pressures, Kendrick’s commitment to the process remained steadfast.
The Teapot Dome scandal elicited a range of attitudes within the business community and shaped public sentiment. Small oil operators in Wyoming, who felt betrayed by the government’s actions, expressed their outrage at the favoritism shown to large corporations. Kendrick, with his close ties to the Wyoming community, understood their concerns and actively worked to address them. The scandal also heightened public disillusionment with political corruption and served as a catalyst for reform.
As public sentiment shifted, demands for transparency and integrity in governance grew louder. Kendrick’s role in shedding light on the corruption and advocating for accountability contributed to this change in public sentiment.
If you are interested in learning more about John B. Kendrick and his role in the Teapot Dome scandal, you can explore his papers at the American Heritage Center.
Post contributed by AHC Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener.
In commemorating the 100th anniversary of Disney Brothers Studio, now known as the Walt Disney Company, it’s a good time to reflect on the remarkable individuals who have left an indelible mark on its history.
Disney is a studio that has given us a number of much-loved characters as well as enduring stories that have captured the hearts of audiences around the globe. However, Disney has also faced scrutiny over the years, from concerns about cultural representation to debates on artistic originality. Amidst these discussions, one cannot overlook the exceptional contributions of individuals who played a pivotal role in shaping the animation industry. One such person is Carl Stalling, a creative talent who composed music for many Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons.
In 1923, the brothers Walt and Roy Disney founded Disney Brothers Studio with a mission to create entertaining and imaginative cartoons. Walt, with his endless creativity and passion for storytelling, became the driving force behind the studio, pushing the boundaries of animation and overseeing the artistic direction. Meanwhile, Roy, with his keen business acumen and financial expertise, managed the operational aspects, ensuring the studio’s stability and growth. Together, they formed a remarkable partnership that laid the foundation for the enduring Disney legacy. Notably, their early collaboration with Margaret J. Winkler, a prominent figure in the animation distribution business, played a crucial role in the studio’s success.
Enter Carl Stalling, a gifted composer and arranger, whose contributions to Disney Studio left a lasting mark on the world of animation. Stalling’s exceptional musical talent and innovative approach to scoring animated films elevated the viewer’s experience and become synonymous with Disney’s magic.
Stalling was born on November 10, 1891, in Lexington, Missouri. With an innate musical talent, he began his career as an organ accompanist for silent films at the Isis Movie Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. His virtuosity captivated audiences in the early 1920s. Walt Disney got his start at the Isis as well by drawing commercial slides for the theatre. Stalling’s ability to combine well-known music by other composers with his own improvised compositions impressed Disney.
Walt Disney and Stalling kept in touch and when the Disney brothers opened a studio in California, Stalling was hired soon after. The musical impresario composed several early cartoon scores for Disney, including Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho in 1928, which were the first two Mickey Mouse animated short films in production.
Collaborating closely with Walt Disney, Stalling forged a creative partnership that would influence the direction of animated storytelling.
During his tenure at Disney, Stalling lent his musical prowess to numerous projects, crafting unforgettable scores for a diverse range of films. His compositions brought depth and emotion to classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), the very first full-length animated feature film, where his music added a layer of enchantment to the storytelling. Stalling’s melodies accentuated the whimsy of Pinocchio (1940) and the grandeur of Fantasia (1940), firmly imprinting his genius on these Disney masterpieces.
In the early 1930s, Carl Stalling made the decision to leave Disney Studio and join the ranks of Warner Bros. Cartoons, where he continued to make significant contributions to the world of animation. At Warner Bros., Stalling’s musical genius found an ideal canvas to shine.
He revolutionized the integration of music in animated cartoons, employing a wide range of musical styles, from classical compositions to popular tunes and original scores.
While Stalling’s time at Disney was relatively brief compared to his later career at Warner Bros., his contributions to the studio’s early successes cannot be overstated. His musical arrangements set the stage for the enchanting world of Disney animation and established a legacy that continues to resonate with audiences to this day.
The papers of Carl Stalling can be found at the American Heritage Center, providing invaluable insights into the creative process of this exceptional music man.
Post contributed by AHC Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener.
Christopher Nolan’s latest film Oppenheimer depicts the dramatic events that surrounded the development of the atomic bomb and its aftermath. One of the key episodes in the film is the confirmation hearings for Lewis Strauss, who was nominated by President Eisenhower for U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 1959.
Strauss was a prominent figure in the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and had orchestrated a security hearing that branded J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, as “a security risk.” The film shows how a freshman senator from Wyoming, Gale W. McGee, helped expose Strauss’s role in Oppenheimer’s persecution and led the opposition that ultimately defeated his nomination.
Gale McGee was a Democratic Senator from Wyoming who served from 1959 to 1977. He was a former professor of American history at the University of Wyoming and a specialist in foreign policy and international affairs. He founded and chaired UW’s Institute of International Affairs in 1946.
McGee was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on March 17, 1915. He attended public schools and had planned to study law in college but was forced by the Great Depression to attend the State Teachers College in Wayne, Nebraska. He graduated from the Teachers College in 1936 and worked as a high school teacher while studying for a master’s degree in history at the University of Colorado. In 1946, McGee received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago.
Shortly after receiving his doctorate, McGee accepted a position as a professor of American history at the University of Wyoming. He quickly became popular among his students and colleagues for his engaging lectures and his expertise on international affairs.
McGee became active in Democratic Party politics and was asked to run for the U.S. Congress in 1950, but declined, saying he wanted to get more in touch with Wyoming and its people. In 1955–56 he took a leave of absence from the university to work as top aide to Wyoming Democratic Senator Joseph C. O’Mahoney.
By 1958, McGee believed the time was right to run for political office. He left the university to make his bid for the U.S. Senate, challenging incumbent Frank A. Barrett. McGee ran on a program of youth and new ideas. He was elected and began serving as a freshman senator on January 3, 1959.
Only two weeks into McGee’s senate term President Eisenhower nominated Lewis Strauss for Secretary of Commerce. The nomination was referred to a committee on which McGee was the lowest-ranking member.
Strauss was accomplished. He had received the Distinguished Service Medal. Eisenhower chose Strauss to head the AEC in 1953 and awarded him the Medal of Freedom. However, Strauss also had a dark side. He had set up a security hearing that was akin to an inquisition, intending to have Oppenheimer declared “a security risk.”
Strauss withheld critical information from the AEC hearing board that condemned Oppenheimer, such as exculpatory evidence that showed Oppenheimer’s loyalty to the U.S.
The movie chronicles these events, which were revealed largely as a result of the work of a tenacious freshman senator from Wyoming.
At the Senate hearings, Strauss anticipated an easy ride but didn’t help himself when he encountered McGee for the first time. Strauss had not made McGee’s acquaintance and replied arrogantly, “I don’t respond to questions from staff members.” McGee politely informed Strauss he was a senator who would appreciate answers to his questions.
It was downhill from there.
McGee exposed Strauss’s role in Oppenheimer’s persecution and accused him of “a brazen attempt to hoodwink” the committee. McGee also found allies among other senators who had personal or professional disagreements with Strauss, such as Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson and Senator Clinton Anderson, who chaired the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Before Wyoming’s freshmen senator knew it, he had become an obstacle that a U.S. President faced in his quest for something he wanted badly.
In his office, McGee and his staff put in long hours, day and night. Oppenheimer came in at night, under cover of darkness, to assist. They were aware of the gravity of the situation: they had to challenge the president of the United States on his appointment of a Cabinet secretary.
After raucous debate, the nomination was defeated 49-46.
Eisenhower called it “one of the most depressing official disappointments I experienced in my eight years in the White House.”
After leaving the Senate, McGee reflected on his role in the Strauss affair, calling it “an accidental event of rather considerable proportions.”
The portrayal of Senator McGee in Oppenheimer serves as a reminder of the complex political dynamics that surrounded the development of nuclear weapons and their subsequent impact on global politics. His presence during Strauss’s confirmation hearings underscores his involvement in these critical historical events.
To learn more about Gale McGee, see his extensive papers held at the American Heritage.
This post is partly based on a wonderful article by Gale McGee’s biographer Rodger McDaniel that appeared in the July 29, 2023, issue of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. McDaniel is the author of The Man in the Arena: The Life and Times of U.S. Senator Gale McGee (2018).
Post contributed by AHC Archivist Leslie Waggener.
With the increased popularity of video conferencing platforms like Zoom over the last few years, more and more people began to notice room backgrounds. The idea of “rating the room” often became more important than what was discussed.[i] Many of these ratings focused on a person’s book shelves and their contents, organization, or disorganization. The raters would dissect the shelves’ contents to see what details they offered about those they met only virtually. In a time when many of us were only visible on computer or phone screens, viewing a person’s library was another way to form some sort of connection.
In the Toppan Rare Book Library, we acquire the personal libraries of individuals and use the collections to learn more about them by looking at the books they collected and kept. Were the books well-read, did the owner make notes throughout the books, what types of personal items were tucked away in the book, like a pressed flower or a valentine? All of these clues can tell us more about the books’ owners and we can even surmise in some instances why these particular books were kept over time.
One of the benefits of researching at the American Heritage Center is the large manuscript collection and the Toppan Rare Book Library. Many of the persons who donated their personal papers also generously donated their book collections so you can study both sets of materials side by side. This is especially beneficial in the case of authors where you can examine their manuscript collections to discover their work process but then look at their book collection to see what books or authors they read for research, enjoyment, or inspiration.
Some examples of corresponding manuscript and rare book collections housed at the AHC are psychologist R. Leo Sprinkle, journalists Grace Richardson, Irene Kuhn, and Joan Younger Dickinson, author Katharine Burt, and University of Wyoming professor Agnes Mathilde Wergeland.
Recently the Toppan Library catalogued a set of books owned by Harriet Hinsdale. Her collection contained copies of books she authored but also a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction on various subjects. The AHC also holds Hinsdale’s manuscript collection, which contains photographs, articles and book drafts, some correspondence, research for her writing, and diaries.
In particular her diaries offer a fascinating look at her research and writing process. Hinsdale’s five-year diary written between 1946 and 1950 indicates that she spent similar amounts of time researching and working on each project and can even track the times of year she generally traveled for research trips.
This diary provides an in-depth look at two of her well-known projects, the 1943 play Crescendo and her 1950 romance novel, Be My Love. She traveled to Boston while writing Be My Love and noted research visits at various libraries and explorations at historic sites around the city that were significant for the setting of the book. In her book collection is a volume titled Report of the Record Commissioner, Boston Town Records, 1742-1757 which contained laws and town policies. Another likely useful book in her research was Three Heroines of New England Romance published in 1895. Publications like these helped to ensure an accurate depiction of the social and political society of the time periods she portrayed in her works.
In addition to her personal papers, Hinsdale’s rare book collection offers us more insight into her work and her personal life. Her library contains numerous novels, non-fiction, poetry, and other genres, but of particular significance are works that were adapted into plays. The latter relates not only to her work writing Hollywood screenplays and plays, but also to her father, Thomas W. Broadhurst, and her uncle, George Broadhurst, who also worked as writers, playwrights, directors, and producers.
Works written by women authors or books about gender relations were also prominent in Hinsdale’s library. Novels by Lillian Hellman, Ethel Jacobson, Rachel Field, Irehna Hobson, and Fern Rives all feature prominently in the collection. Some of the books related to the relationships between men and women, but a few look more deeply into gendered ideas of the time such as Women Pro & Con (1958) and Wings to Youth (1950) by Irehna Hobson which looks at ideas of beauty and the struggle to remain young. While we cannot know for sure whether these were for research or pleasure, we can surmise that these books were significant to Hinsdale as she kept them in her collection, knowing she would eventually donate them to a library upon her death, which occurred in 1982.
One of my favorite aspects of being a researcher and an archivist is having the opportunity to have access to the collected papers of individuals whose story can be told through the materials they collected throughout their life. While the breadth of the manuscript and rare book collections at the AHC is vast and varied, taking the time to consider an individual’s personal book collection is worthwhile. It can reveal a lot about that person. It can also help those of us in the present day relate and make connections to the books that have been read, enjoyed, and treasured over time.
Post contributed by Toppan Rare Books Librarian Mary Beth Brown.
[i] Room Rater X (twitter) account: @ratemyskyperoom