Once A Cowboy, Always A Cowboy: The History of Homecoming at the University of Wyoming

Today, homecoming celebrations are often associated with fall and football, but it may not always have been true.  The tradition of homecoming is generally a celebration of welcoming former students and members of high schools, colleges, or churches within the United States to celebrate an organization’s existence.[1]  This definition does not explicitly involve football, so the question remains about the origins of homecoming celebrations within the United States and at the University of Wyoming.

two people on a parade float that reads "Once a Cowboy, Always a Cowboy"
Homecoming Parade, 2015. UW Photo.

The history of homecoming celebrations is ambiguous.  It is often recognized as taking place in September or October and revolving around a central event such as football, basketball, or soccer game so that alumni and former students can join in rooting for their alma mater with current students and the community.  Historically, most homecoming celebrations include a homecoming court, parade, tailgate or picnic, pep rally, alumni band, and homecoming dance.

large group of dressed up people standing in gymnasium
University of Wyoming Homecoming Dance, Laramie, Wyoming, 1927 (Negative Number 14851.1), Box 11, Ludwig & Svenson Studio Photographs, Accession Number 167, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Many schools have claimed to have held the first homecoming celebrations.  The list includes Baylor University in 1909, Southwestern University in 1909, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1910, and the University of Missouri in 1911.  The main events for these homecoming celebrations were the parade and football game, where the opponent is usually the home team’s rival.

paper with text
ASUW Homecoming Committee, Box 30, Folder ASUW Correspondence Telegrams, 1919-1920, Samuel H. Knight papers, Collection #400044, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The University of Wyoming Alumni Association, established on March 26, 1895, established an annual gathering for former students and alumni of the University of Wyoming centered around commencement.[2]  The gathering usually took place in the summer months, primarily in June, and activities took place over five days.  The reunions usually included music recitals, baccalaureate ceremonies, the Cadet Ball, an alumni banquet, an alumni play, commencement, an official meeting of the alumni association, and many small-group gatherings. [3] 

letter with text
ASUW Alumni Invitation Letter, Box 30, Folder ASUW Correspondence Telegrams, 1919-1920. Samuel H. Knight papers, Collection #400044, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The first annual banquet and business meeting of the Alumni of the University of Wyoming occurred on June 20, 1895 at the Ladies Study Hall.  Annual dues for the members were set at 25 cents per person; in addition to the annual dues, members in attendance of the annual gathering were required to pay an extra dollar per person.  To put this in perspective, one dollar in 1895 is approximately equal to $29.89 in 2018.  Mrs. Reiger furnished refreshments for sixteen at $11, and members provided ice and cake.[4] At the annual business meeting, elections were held.

Despite previous years of alumni gatherings, October of 1922 is attributed as the official documented date of the University of Wyoming’s first homecoming. Dr. Samuel H. Knight, an alumnus of the University of Wyoming and professor of Geology, served as the president of the Alumni Association from 1921-1924 and served on the athletic committee.  Knight was keen on the national movement of coinciding football with homecoming celebrations and was instrumental in collaborating with the Alumni Association to move the alumni celebrations to coincide with the first football game of the 1922 season. Part of this effort included having an official setting for alumni, former and current students, faculty, staff, and the community to enjoy the games while creating a revenue stream to continue the athletic programs.  Although Wyoming football origins date as early as 1893, the football games were played in Prexy’s Pasture. 

black and white photo of group of men -- a football team.
Black and white photograph of the University of Wyoming football team, 1895 (Negative number 21209 and 25483), Box 11 A, Folder 9, Holliday Family Papers, Collection #347, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

In 1922, Knight fundraised, used his own monies and sweat equity and community connections to establish Corbett field as the new football field.   Knight also worked diligently with alumni and students to finish building the bleachers on the old Corbett field in time for the game.  It was a true community effort.

letter with text to citizens of Laramie
Thank You Letter to the Citizens of Laramie, Box 8, Folder Office-Homecoming 1929, University of Wyoming. College of Engineering and Applied Science records, Collection #550000, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Over the years alumni reunions have been replaced with homecoming and as a result of and in conjunction with societal changes, the traditions of homecoming have changed.  In 1921, the University granted its first honorary degree, an LL.D. degree, to Carrie Chapman Catt, a leading advocate for women’s suffrage.[5]  That year, Catt not only received the honorary degree but also gave the commencement speech.  Despite the first honorary degree being awarded 11 years earlier, it wasn’t until 1932 that honorary degrees became an accepted procedure. 

Beginning in 1922, the homecoming celebrations evolved and included class reunions, open houses, the homecoming dance, homecoming parades, and the football game.[6] Homecoming served as a way for the alumni, current students, and the community to come together to celebrate.  Most memorable is parade floats, which usually the fraternities, sororities, and campus organizations funded themselves.  Each year a theme would be announced and the parade floats would relate to the theme. Due to the costs of creating floats, there was discussion of canceling the parades certain years, but significant pushback from students and the community makes it one of the most beloved activities to this day. 

paper with text
Homecoming Schedule of events from 1931. AHC UW Photo Files, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Fast forward to today. Homecoming traditions of old exist and new traditions have come to be. One of the oldest traditions for UW’s Homecoming is the annual Homecoming Sing. The program is hosted by Iron Skull – UW’s junior honorary organization. The group coordinates many student organizations, fraternities, and sororities participating in an annual sing and dance competition. Groups take the music to songs and change the lyrics to match the homecoming theme.

In recent years, student group competitions have become popular to get students excited for Homecoming. The competitions often incorporate Homecoming Sing, UW Athletics annual car push competition, and other various competition-style programs throughout the week. In addition to alumni and community-focused programs, other student-focused activities occur throughout the week such as the ASUW annual barbeque.

a student on knees in a pile of shaving cream searching for words
A Homecoming Week Spirit Relay was held on Prexy’s Pasture on Oct. 13, 2015. Student teams participated in a variety of tasks to race against the clock. The Latter-day Saint Student Association (LDSSA) won the relay. Aaron Anderson, of LDSSA, searches for phrases in the shaving cream tarp. The winning phrase was the Homecoming theme, “Once a Cowboy, Always A Cowboy.” UW Photo.

One newer tradition that started in the fall of 2013 is The Big Event. Since it’s creation The Big Event has acted as the annual homecoming week kick-off event. The purpose of the program is to promote campus and community unity as UW students come together for a day to do service-oriented activities in the surrounding community. Hundreds of students gather early in the morning to receive their volunteer assignments and then go out into Laramie to provide support to community residents through the afternoon. The program serves as a way for students to say “Thank You” to their community.

person with shovel doing yard work
The Big Event, UW’s annual Homecoming Kickoff event was held on Oct. 10, 2015. Hundreds of students visited dozens of locations and homes across Laramie for a day of community service. Some painted homes, helped out with yard work or cleaned up trash. UW Photo.

The culmination of the student competitions ends with student groups, departments, and community groups taking part in the annual parade. The parade happens the same day as the football game – and is another great way for community members, students, and alumni to come together and celebrate.

And though some things have changed throughout the years — the purpose of Homecoming has always remained the same for the University of Wyoming. It will always serve as a way to build and reinforce our Poke Pride for students, alums, and the community.

Homecoming 2019 kicks off on Saturday, October 12 with The Big Event and this year’s theme is “Breaking Through.” For a complete listing of events and activities taking place, please visit the UW Homecoming website. Additionally, the AHC will have University of Wyoming items on display the October 1 – October 19. Our hours of operation are available on the AHC website.

The American Heritage Center serves as the official repository for the University of Wyoming (UW) Archives. The UW Archives not only collects the official records of the university but also accepts donations of materials documenting experiences of alumni, former students, staff, administration, faculty, and affiliated entities of the University.  Please contact Sara Davis, university archivist, by email, sarad@uwyo.edu, or 307-766-6832 for more information.

Have fun memories of Homecoming as a student, alum or community member? Leave us a comment below!


[1] Wikipedia. Homecoming. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homecoming

[2] Minute Book, 1891-1899 Box 2, Folder 2, University of Wyoming. Alumni Relations Records, Collection Number 512002, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

[3] Hardy, Deborah, Wyoming University: The First 100 Years, 1886-1986 (Laramie, Wyo.: University of Wyoming, 1986), 100.

[4] Minute Book, 1891-1899 Box 2, Folder 2, University of Wyoming. Alumni Relations Records, Collection Number 512002, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

[5] Hardy, Deborah, Wyoming University: The First 100 Years, 1886-1986 (Laramie, Wyo.: University of Wyoming, 1986), 232.

[6] Hardy, Deborah, Wyoming University: The First 100 Years, 1886-1986 (Laramie, Wyo.: University of Wyoming, 1986), 101.


Research and blog written by Sara Davis, University Archivist with contributions from Jennifer Kirk, the AHC’s Marketing & Communications Specialist

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Posted in Athletics, community collections, Current events, Student Life, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Fandom to Fanfiction to Nonfiction: Researching the Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary

In 2008, when I rediscovered Alias Smith and Jones (ASJ), a 1970s TV show I watched as a kid, I had no idea that several years later I’d be writing a book about the Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary.  Revisiting ASJ on DVD led me to online message boards about it and then to reading fan-fiction based on the show.  Eventually I began writing my own ASJ fan-fiction. 

black and white image. Two men in cowboy outfits and hats
Ben Murphy as Kid Curry and Pete Duel as Hannibal Hayes in Alias Smith and Jones; Press Release photo, December 15, 1970. Public domain image. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alias_Smith_and_Jones_1970.jpg

That’s when I got into researching the Old West.  I became more and more interested in the actual history of the West and less interested in writing fictional stories about it. 

In 2011, I visited the Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary in Laramie with friends from one of the ASJ message boards.  It was a fascinating place and I wanted to know more about it. 

Although a book listing all the convicts who’d been incarcerated there was available, I didn’t see anything that was a general history of the penitentiary.  So I decided that I would write a book about it myself.

black and white image of two older buildings -- one is a prison
Image of the Wyoming Territorial Prison from September 1903. Buffum negative number 971 Source: University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center, B. C. Buffum Papers, Accession Number 400055, Box 32, Item 28

My first research trip was to the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection in 2012, followed by a trip to the Wyoming State Archives in 2013.  In 2017, I went to the Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary State Historic Site to discuss my project with Ms. Deborah Cease, the site superintendent, and use the library at the site to continue my research.

We decided that the book would be a pictorial history, using images to tell the story of the penitentiary.  Ms. Cease told me the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming had lots of information about the prison.  I knew I’d have to return to Laramie and visit the AHC at some point.

I also knew I’d have to go to the National Archives in Washington because that was where most of the information about the penitentiary during Territorial times was located.  In the fall of 2018, I spent a week doing research there.  But I didn’t get through everything and have to return to NARA when I get the chance.

I knew the AHC offered travel grants to researchers who wanted to use their collections.  I decided that this year I was far enough along with my project to apply for one.  I received an email in June notifying me I’d been awarded a travel grant and made plans to visit in July.

woman posing sitting with hat, computer and book on desk.
Susan Schwartz presents her research findings during her visit to the AHC in July.

What a productive trip it was!  I searched through 22 collections during my week at the AHC.  It was exciting to find material I’d never seen before.  

I was elated to discover, for example, photographs of a doctor who worked at the penitentiary, UW professors who gave lectures to inmates, and an ex-convict and his wife.  I also found images of Fort Sanders, which confined convicts before the penitentiary was built, and photos and maps of Laramie, some of which pictured the prison.

In addition, I found correspondence about renovating the prison in 1889, 1890 census data for Wyoming, and an 1891 contract between James Marsh and the State of Wyoming for operating the prison.  Some of the collections I consulted included copies of articles from 19th century Laramie newspapers, which offered a different perspective of the penitentiary from the official documents that I found.

I’d like to thank all the people at the American Heritage Center who so kindly helped me with my research.  The wealth of material I located in the week I spent there will greatly enrich my book about the Wyoming Territorial Penitentiary.


Blog contribution by Susan L. Schwartz, a 2019 travel grant recipient.

Follow her on social media and her blog:
Picturing the West Instagram –
https://www.instagram.com/picturingthewest/
Picturing the West Blog –
https://www.picturingthewest.com/

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in grants, Laramie, Local history, motion picture history, Research grants, television history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Continuing the Conversation: “Breaking the Boom and Bust Cycle: Viewpoints from Southwest Wyoming”

The AHC’s Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership is continuing the conversation on Wyoming’s economic future, this time from Southwest Wyoming. A recording of the inaugural event held in April at Laramie County Community College (Cheyenne campus) can be found on the Simpson Institute website.

On October 9, 2019, the Simpson Institute is collaborating with Western Wyoming Community College to host a discussion, “Breaking the Boom and Bust Cycle: Viewpoints from Southwest Wyoming.” This free public event will be at 6:30 PM in the Western Theater on the WWCC campus.

group of people sitting at head table with microphones looking at person at podium speaking
From left to right: Rep.Sara Burlingame, Samuel Western looking at Pete Simpson at the podium. Behind the podium is Rep. Cathy Connolly, Rep. Sue Wilson, and former Rep. Michael Madden at the Breaking the Boom and Bust Cycle: Viewpoints from Southeast Wyoming program last spring in Cheyenne.

Moderating the discussion is former Wyoming Governor and U.S. Ambassador Mike Sullivan. Panelists are former Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, Sen. Dan Dockstader (R-District 16, Lincoln, Teton, Sublette counties), Sen. Tara Nethercott (R-District 04, Cheyenne) and Wyoming author Samuel Western.

The discussion will focus on Wyoming’s vision for the future from a socioeconomic standpoint. What is working? What requires change? What is success? The discussion will occur in the spirit of UW Professor Anne Alexander’s statement at the 2017 Southeast Wyoming Economic Report Luncheon, “It’s not going to get better unless we make it better…There’s no cavalry on the way. We’re the cavalry…” There will be a period at the end of the program for audience comments and questions.

Having this discussion in this part of Wyoming is particularly opportune as minerals-rich Southwest Wyoming grapples with a downturn in the energy market. But that doesn’t mean  good things aren’t happening. Groups such as the Sweetwater Economic Development Coalition are working with those interested in starting, growing or sustaining their businesses in this part of the state. The event moderator and panelists have been in trenches working on issues related to Wyoming’s economy and will share their thoughts, plans, and experiences.

Wyoming PBS will livestream the event and will most likely broadcast a 60-minute edition of the program at a later date.

Co-sponsors of the event are the Wyoming Humanities Council, WWC Foundation, John W. Hay III, and Bernadine Craft.

For more information about the event, call Leslie Waggener at (307) 766-2557 or email lwaggen2@uwyo.edu.

Posted in Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership, announcements, Economic Geology, Economic History, energy resources, events, Natural resources, resources, Western history, western politics and leadership | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

New Finding Aids: September 2019

Another productive month for our archivists at the American Heritage Center. Here’s another round of finding aids we’ve published so you can see what collections we’ve recently processed.

As a reminder, Finding Aids act as a table of contents for our collections. These aids help you find information about specific collections we have, and the information contained in the collections. We create these aids so it’s easier for researchers to figure out if collection is relevant to their work.

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.

person standing on stool in archive area pulling a box down
Clarissa Nord, of Arvada, CO is getting her master’s degree in public administration. She hopes to attend law school, work for the government, a public organization or in a nonprofit position that would serve the community. Clarissa loves working at the American Heritage Center as an archives aid, and is photographed in the collections area of the AHC.

Finding Aid Updates (from collections processed 7/11/19 – 8/12/19)

GP Bar Ranch films. The Gannett Peak Bar Ranch was a dude ranch in northwest Wyoming.

Andy Lewis scripts. Lewis wrote the screenplay for the movie “Klute.”

Wyoming Legislature House and Senate bills. Contains proposed and passed bills, resolutions, and memorials.

Harry S. Bossart oil field maps. Bossart was a Midwest Refining Company employee in the Salt Creek Field.

University of Wyoming African American and Diaspora Studies Program. Included are student projects from “The Black West” seminar class in 2016.

Ohio Oil Company materials. The company’s operations in Utah and Wyoming are documented in photographs.

Petroleum geologist Jean Paul Gerlough. Gerlough helped to develop the Kevin Sunburst oil field in Montana.

Geologist Carroll H. Wegemann. Wegemann examined oil lands on the Crow Indian Reservation.

The following 11 collections have been added to DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) as part of UW’s participation with the Plains to Peak Collective to harvest digital collections from various institutions across the Rockies.

Al Christie Papers #05334
Alcott Farrell Elwell Scrapbook #01908
Alfred Jacob Miller Paintings #04912 and #12530
American National Cattle Women Records #05552
Arthur E. Demaray Papers #04031
Beck Family Papers #10386
Betsy Talbot Blackwell Papers #09073
Bill Mahan Papers #10045
Bill Manbo Papers #09982
Black 14 (Laramie, Wyo.) Films #10963
Blackwell Smith Papers #01065


These and other AHC collections can be discovered in the University of Wyoming Libraries catalog. We are open for walk-in research on Mondays 10 am – 7 pm and Tuesdays through Fridays 8 am – 5 pm. For distance research assistance please contact our reference department at ahcref@uwyo.edu or 307-766-3756.

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Posted in African American history, Digital collections, energy resources, Finding Aids, Laramie, Local history, motion picture history, newly processed collections, Politics, Ranch history, resources, Student Life, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, western politics and leadership, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Once A Cowboy, Always A Cowboy: The History of Homecoming at the University of Wyoming

The updated history of UW Homecoming blog has been recently republished.

two people on a parade float that reads "Once a Cowboy, Always a Cowboy"
Homecoming Parade, 2015. UW Photo.
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Former Members of Congress to visit UW

The American Heritage Center is hosting two former Members of Congress as part of the Congress to Campus program. The program allows college students throughout the U.S. to interact with former Members of Congress by sending bipartisan pairs of former Members of Congress to college campuses. The former Members provide insights into the realities of American democracy by sharing their experiences of both achievement and occasional frustration and bring to life for students the theory and the practice of democracy. The former Members also deliver an important message about bipartisan cooperation.

overhead shot of chairs parliamentary style

Scott Klug (R-Madison, WI) and Dr. Brian Baird (D-WA-3) will on the UW campus September 16 and 17 visiting classes across academic disciplines. They will also interact with students from the UW Lab School and Laramie County Community College (Albany Co. campus).

head shot portrait of a man
Scott Klug. Photo provided.

Scott Klug

Mr. Klug served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Wisconsin’s 2nd congressional district in Madison, from 1991 until 1999. Rep. Klug was a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He developed expertise in health care, insurance, financial services, telecommunications and energy policy.

Additionally, Mr. Klug is an Emmy-award winning television journalist, serving as anchor and reporter for various stations in Seattle, Madison, and Washington, DC. Also, in 2013, he authored The Alliance, a mystery novel about religion and antiquities.

head shot portrait of a man
Brain Baird. Photo provided.

Brian Baird

Dr. Baird served in the U.S. House, representing Washington’s 3rd congressional district from 1999 until 2011. He chaired the Science and Technology subcommittees on Energy and the Environment, and the Research, Technology and Education subcommittee. He also served on the House Budget; Transportation and Infrastructure; and Small Business Committees. He was the primary of the STOCK Act and of the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act.

He is a member of the ReFormers Caucus of Issue One, which is an American nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that seeks to reduce the role of money in politics.

Dr. Baird is a UW alum. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Wyoming and practiced clinically for twenty years.

Scott Klug and Brian Baird will join U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson (Wyoming; retired) in a public event to discuss the topic, “The Constitution, Congress and the Presidency: What are the Limits of Power?” Please join us in the AHC’s Stock Growers room at 3:45pm on September 17th to be part of the discussion.


Blog contribution by Leslie Waggener, Archivist, Arrangement and Description

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership, announcements, events, Politics, University of Wyoming | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archives Rewind Vol. 7

August is almost over and the start of the fall semester is about to get underway once again. Before all of that gets going, let’s take a step back and enjoy some more highlights from our “Archives on the Air” series.

black and white image of old reel to reel player with "Archives on the Air" text on top.

Let’s rewind Volume 7…

Episode 145 – Looney Tunes – Michael Maltese Papers

Charlie Chaplin and Yosemite Sam had one thing in common: a mustache.

black and white cartoon story board featuring Quick Draw McGraw
Storyboard drawn by Michael Maltese for Quick Draw McGraw: Gun Shy Girl, undated. Box 1, Michael Maltese papers.

Episode 58 – Win a Trip to the Chicago World’s Fair – Montgomery Wards Records

Last week we honored Montgomery Wards because it marked the anniversary of the production of the very first Montgmery Ward catalog. Back in 1933 they gave out 200 trips to children to visit the World’s Fair. The trick was convincing other folks to order products from them.

group of kids sitting and standing posing for a photo with a banner
The Denver district winners of the Montgomery Ward World’s Fair trip contest, 1933. Box 44, Montgomery Ward records.

Episode 45 – Predock’s Centennial Complex – University of Wyoming Communication Records

As you drive into Laramie from the east, you can see the beautiful Centennial Complex — it’s where our offices and archives reside, along with artwork from all over the world. Did you know we almost had a completely different building design?

architectural drawing of inside of building
Early sketch of interior, forest area (now the Loggia) of the American Heritage Center, Centennial Complex, undated. AHC Photo Files.

Episode 40 – Wyoming Boy Makes It Big In Hollywood – Wally Wales Papers

Once a cowboy, always a cowboy is a motto we often use at the University of Wyoming. However, there’s a difference between ‘film cowboys’ and ‘real cowboys.’

But what happens when you’re someone like Wally Wales and you’re both?

man sitting on ground outside with calf roped, horse, campfire and lots of cattle behind them.
Wales and his horse sitting on the range, undated. Box 1, Wally Wales Papers.
Posted in Archives on the Air, cartoons, Local history, Montgomery Ward, Motion picture actors and actresses, motion picture history, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Western history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the Future in Wyoming: Addressing 1980s Energy Boom Impacts in Evanston

“I’ve got to see it to believe it” was Evanston mayor Dennis Ottley’s first reaction when he heard about the Overthrust Industrial Association (OIA). A 1983 issue of the Christian Science Monitor, reported that Ottley was incredulous that an industry-backed organization would assist his southwestern Wyoming town through the growing pains of an energy boom. “I made that statement, but I ate them words,” said Ottley, adding, “I think we proved to the world that industry and local government can work together.”

The Overthrust Industrial Association (OIA) was an organization of 36 oil and gas producers and service/supply firms founded in 1980 by Chevron, Amoco, and Champlin. The OIA’s mission was to help local governments in southwestern Wyoming, northeastern Utah, and southeastern Idaho manage socioeconomic and environmental impacts caused by the rapid development of oil and gas resources in the energy-rich geological formation known as the Overthrust Belt.

There was certainly an overflow of issues for the energy companies and Evanston to tackle. Schools were packed to the rafters; oil field workers were living in their cars; construction workers had set up “bachelor camps” on the edge of town; and crime rates soared. According to a Winter 1981 article in the magazine Wyoming Issues, Evanston had grown from a population of 4,862 in 1977 to 7000+ in 1981.

image with text; number projections
Employee projections for 1981 and 1982 contained in report issued by the Lincoln-Uinta Association of Governments. Overthrust Industrial Association records, Box 1, Folder 2.

The first step by the industry-community partnership of OIA was a series of meetings, beginning in February 1981, where Evanston residents could air their grievances. Next came the establishment of a committee to present community requests to the OIA, which, as of 1983, provided about $100 million for schools, roads, water lines, sewers, and other projects.

The Monitor’s article quotes Evanston city administrators regarding the OIA. City administrator Stephen Snyder explained to the Monitor that the OIA was pushed into existence partly because of pressure from county government, which had the power to deny the building permits the companies sought. According to Mayor Ottley, by the time the OIA was launched, the people of Evanston had long been in the dark as to how big a boom to expect. “The energy companies weren’t telling us much,” Ottley said.

“But the OIA has been very good,” Julie Lehman, director of the city housing authority, told the Monitor. ”And if it never did anything but facilitate communications between industry and governmental entities, it would be worth it.”

The Monitor was somewhat patronizing in concluding, “Evanston may not be your candidate for city beautiful, but Chuck McLean of the Denver Research Group gives the city high marks for the way it has coped.”  

Besides passing out funds, the OIA retained a consulting firm, the Denver Research Group, to develop a comprehensive plan for streets, utilities, and so on, and to help the city lobby for grant money from other sources. Out of these efforts came the seed of the Evanston Renewal Ball, which still exists and has grown from a community celebration involving a handful of volunteers to a major fundraising event. The primary purpose of the Ball has become the preservation and revitalization of the downtown and the rail yards.

image with text - memo from Denver Research Group, Inc.
The Denver Research Group closely monitored media coverage for industry partners in the OIA, Overthrust Industrial Association records, Box 11, Folder 5.

As the energy boom subsided in the mid-1980s, so did the OIA. By 1984, the OIA was publishing its last issues of Overthrust News. By 1985, an energy bust had already engulfed Wyoming.

The OIA records at the UW American Heritage Center contain administrative files beginning with the development of the OIA concept in 1979 and ending with the practical shutdown of the organization in 1985. Files document interaction with local government agencies and oil and gas corporations and describe the assistance provided to impacted communities. Original order has been maintained and a printed guide to the files, written by the organization, is included.


Blog contribution by Leslie Waggener, Archivist, Arrangement and Description

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Economic Geology, Economic History, energy resources, Local history, Natural resources, Western history, western politics and leadership, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Finding Aids: August 2019

We’ve had a busy and productive summer processing collections! Here’s another round of finding aids we’ve published so you can see what we’ve been up to.

As a reminder, Finding Aids act as a table of contents for our collections. These aids help you find information about specific collections we have, and the information contained in the collections. We create these aids so it’s easier for researchers to figure out if collection is relevant to their work.

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.

black and white image; one person smiling in hall of archives shelves. person holding collection

Finding Aid Updates (from collections processed 6/9/19 – 7/10/19)


Wyoming attorney and judge John R. Arnold. Arnold was a county officer in Uinta County in the 1890s.

Petroleum industry historian James P. Martin. Martin compiled information about Standard Oil and the Rockefeller family.

Richard S. Putney oral history. Putney was a minister with the University of Wyoming campus ministry in the 1960s and 1970s.

Edwin M. Binder photo album. Binder’s service as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force in Germany in the 1960s is documented.

Bennett Hammer LGBT clippings collection. From 1970-2009 Hammer collected articles on LGBT-related issues to preserve the dominant discourse in United States culture.

Montana-Yellowstone Oil Company. The company brought the first rotary drill to Cedar Creek Oil Field (Mont.) in 1917.

University of Wyoming Outreach School. The Outreach School was incorporated into the Office of Distance Education Support in 2017.

Wyoming Quilt Project. The project aimed to document quilt-making and its history in the state.

Jean Howard was a Hollywood actress, hostess, celebrity, and photographer. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center (AHC) has digitized and made accessible online 1500 negatives from the Jean Howard papers #10714. Her book, Jean Howard’s Hollywood: A Photo Memoir (1989), depicts the time of the Palm Springs movie colony and studio rule. She was born Ernestine Hill on October 13, 1919 in Longview, Texas. Her father financed her participation in fashion shows and beauty contests. She signed a contract with MGM, but went to New York with Lorenz Ziegfeld instead. She was in the 1930s Ziegfeld Follies and later in a number of films including The Prize Fighter and The Lady. Louis B. Mayer fell in love with her and proposed marriage, but she rejected him and married Charles Feldman (agent-producer) instead. They divorced in 1948, but continued to share their intimate and professional life until his death in 1968. In 1964, she met musician Tony Santoro in a Capri nightclub. They lived together and migrated between Capri, Italy and California until they eventually married and settled in California in 1973. After their divorce, Howard spent more of her time in Italy, but returned to California during her last years. She died at home in 2000. Jean Howard’s interest in photography began during the 1940s on the advice of a graphologist, who convinced her to take some serious classes (her student work is in the collection). Her ability to capture fellow celebrities at their ease makes her pictures remarkable. They appeared in Life, Vogue, and other major magazines while her fame as a photographer grew. Collection contains biographical material, correspondence, celebrated photographs, subject files, and materials for autobiographical photo books on Hollywood and Cole Porter.


These and other AHC collections can be discovered in the University of Wyoming Libraries catalog. We are open for walk-in research on Mondays 10 am – 7 pm and Tuesdays through Fridays 8 am – 5 pm. For distance research assistance please contact our reference department at ahcref@uwyo.edu or 307-766-3756.

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Digital collections, Hollywood history, Laramie, LGBT, LGBTQIA+, Local history, military history, Motion picture actors and actresses, motion picture history, Natural resources, newly digitized collections, newly processed collections, oral histories, Out West in the Rockies, popular culture, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Western history, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archives Rewind Vol. 6

It’s hard to believe it’s August already. Time flies while we’re busy archiving. It’s that time again — more highlights from rewinding our “Archives on the Air” series.

black and white image of film reel player with "Archives on the Air" text and UW AHC logo

Let’s rewind Volume 6…

Episode 70 – The Flying Nun – The Harry Ackerman Papers

Why was Sally Field was a little embarrassed by the concept of “The Flying Nun”?

image with "The Flying Nun" text and nun flying in sky in background
Title card from The Flying Nun, 1968, from Screen Gems.

Episode 73 – UFO Psychology – Leo Sprinkle Papers

Considering Area 51 is a hot topic as of late, it seemed appropriate to talk about the psychology of UFO conspiracies.

newspaper image with mountain and possible "UFO" in sky
Photograph of a UFO or a natural phenomenon from Dr. Leo Sprinkle’s research files, undated. Box 14, Leo Sprinkle papers.

Episode 68 – Canada Connected Coast to Coast – Burt Buffum Papers

Since the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Transcontinenal Railway happened this summer, it seemed important to point out that there was also a Canadian Pacific Railway.

Map of Canada and northern United States
Early map of the Canadian Pacific Railway, printed on a lantern slide, undated. Box 39, B.C. Buffum Papers.

Episode 43 – Take Me Out To The Ball Game – Joseph C. O’Mahoney Papers

Baseball season is in full swing — but were you ever curious about how “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” came about? Senator Joseph C. O’Mahoney got the answer for us.

men in suits sitting in chairs inside a room
Senator Joseph O’Mahoney (center) interviewing six songwriters about the Jukebox Problem (royalties to writers). Jack Norwood (far right) composed “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, 1958. Box 386, Joseph C. O’Mahoney papers.


The purpose of the Archives Rewind series is to highlight episodes from our “Archives on the Air” segment that airs on Wyoming Public Media.

“Archives on the Air” can be heard on Wyoming Public Radio Monday through Friday at 8:50 am, 11:50 am, and 6:50 pm or online on Wyoming Public Media’s website.

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Archives on the Air, Motion picture actors and actresses, motion picture history, music, Sports and Recreation, television history, western politics and leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment