AHC Exhibit for Homecoming Week, October 13-20

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

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


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

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

ah100263_early football

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

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


Colorful collection material included in the exhibit are:

1920 scrapbook with Homecoming souvenirs from the Josephine Irby collection,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 marks the 20th remembrance of Matthew Shepard’s murder

To honor Matthew Shepard’s memory and continue efforts to strengthen compassion and inclusivity in our community for LGBTQ+ and all social identities, the American Heritage Center curated an exhibit that is on display until October 31 at the Buchanan Performing Center of the Arts. It is also on display digitally in the Loggia of the Centennial Complex until October 20 and in the breezeway of the Wyoming Union on October 10, 11, 12, 22, and 25.


Postcard from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, circa 2008.
Spectrum records, Collection #300518, UW American Heritage Center.

The exhibit contains a page from a memory book created by Rulon F. Stacey, an administrator at Poudre Valley Hospital when Shepard was admitted. Shepard died at the hospital on October 12, 1998 from a severe beating that occurred near Laramie. The memory book contains notes from Poudre Valley Hospital employees, a photograph, newspaper clippings, and correspondence relating to Shepard.

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“Angel Action,” an activist group of people dressed as angels with large wings, was founded by Matthew’s friends Romaine Patterson and Jim Osborne to contrast Fred Phelps’ messages of hate and intolerance during protests at Matthew’s funeral and the anticipated protests outside of the courthouse for the trials of Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. Angel Action participation in protests was in a silent, peaceful, and loving manner.

Angels 2

Angels in front of the Wyoming Union on UW campus. Wyoming Union records, Collection #513007, UW American Heritage Center.

Students and community members marched in Laramie in support of Matthew Shepard and tolerance. The University of Wyoming United Multicultural Council’s armbands represent UW students and the UW community unifying against any and all acts of violence and disrespect toward any other human being. The green circle is the international sign of peace and the yellow background is a symbol of intolerance for violence.

Laramie street

Students and community members march in Laramie, undated.
Matthew Shepard Collection, Accession #300014, UW American Heritage Center.

Current memorials at the University of Wyoming aspire to promote the message of compassion, community, and hope through activities and programs that emphasize an understanding of social justice that is intersectional in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, and class.

– Text submitted by Sara Davis, AHC University Archivist.




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Lovell’s Latin American Colony

In 1916, the sugar beet industry brought the first serious wave of Mexican-speaking migrants to Lovell: betabeleros, the beet workers, to hoe the fields and help with the harvest. Yet most were not Mexican nationals, but rather Spanish-speaking people from Texas, New Mexico and southeastern Colorado, wrote Augustine Redwine, then a graduate student at the University of Wyoming, in a Fall 1979 Annals of Wyoming article, “Lovell’s Mexican Colony”. While many of the workers were still “Mexican Na­tionals,” they had immigrated earlier and had already received resident/worker status when the Great Western Company recruited them. Some stayed, but most moved back to Texas or the Southwest.


Undated post card showing a side view of the Great Western Company factory in Lovell. Photo file: Wyoming – Lovell, UW American Heritage Center.

Redwine recounted the experience of the Rodriguez family who came to Lovell in 1924 to work for the Great Western Company:

The Rodriguez family gathered their possessions and boarded the train in El Paso on May 2, 1924. Three full cars of people from all parts of Texas and Mexico made the train trip to Lovell with only one stopover on the way. At the stop in Denver, they received further instructions about where they were going. Accommodations were cramped and they were never allowed to leave the train. Bologna sandwiches, sar­dines, and coffee were provided for meals. When Secundino and his family arrived in Lovell, a farmer was waiting to take them to his farm and the one-room house he had for them. They also saw the acreage they were to work for the first time. It was not a small plot like the re­cruiter told them. Their main duties included not only work­ing the beets but feeding the cattle as well. Rodriguez’s nephew Eusebio was recruited by a free-lance recruiter who took his money then told him his destination was Oregon. Instead, he was sent to Boise, Idaho. He came to Lovell in 1924.

There are conflicting opinions as to the date the Lovell colony was established. One long-time Lovell resident said there were some houses in the greasewood area later known as the Colony before 1923. The Great Western company’s magazine, Through the Leaves, printed two photographs of the Colony houses in 1924, indicating that the Colony had only been established that year. While accounts vary as to the number of houses built there, no more than 20 were in existence at any one time. They lined a single unpaved road at the end of which stood a building, about twice the size of the residences, that served as a meeting house.

In 1927, early in the colony’s history, residents formed an organization, the Comision Honorifica (Honorary Commis­sion) for both social and political reasons. At one point there were 30 members, according to Eusebio Rodriguez. The Comision controlled the community meeting house, known as “El Salon,” where social functions were held as frequently as once a week. In El Salon the area’s laborers celebrated Mexi­can national holidays which occurred nearly every month. The Comision had committees like the Comite Pa­triotico (Patriotic Committee) whose chief function was to plan Mexican holiday parties.


Undated photograph of El Salon function in Lovell. Hugo G. Janssen Photographs, Accession #11712, Box 2, Folder 5, UW American Heritage Center.

The organizers of the Comision, Nicolas and Manuel Almazan, formed it to fight discrimination and to seek help from the Mexican consul in Denver if residents needed assis­tance from the outside. The social function came later. While American-born laborers could go to the police and other authorities if they had difficulties, the Mexican citizen believed his only hope lay with the Mexi­can consul. The Comision was the link to the consul.

Complaints of discrimination in bars, the local pool hall and restaurants were frequently made. Even in the local Catholic Church, seating for the Mexicans was divided from that for “whites.” At one point, Mexicans and African-Americans were refused admittance to bars altogether. The policy was amended to allow them to purchase beer or liquor in the bar although they were still prohibited from consuming their purchases on the premises. The sugar company re­mained silent about the discrimination so the only recourse was a complaint process to allow the Mexican consul to intercede in such cases.

The Comision existed until 1940 when Mexican member­ship dropped off. The founders, the Almazan brothers, left that year and the others moved away to join the war effort, returned to Mexico or simply lost interest. The Colony was demolished in 1954. At that time, there were 20 houses, and the majority of the residents were related to Secundino Rodriguez. When the colony closed, they found quarters in town or in the surrounding area.

Excerpted from “Lovell’s Mexican Colony” by Augustin Redwine, Annals of Wyoming 51 (Fall 1979): pp. 26-35.

Posted in Agricultural history, community collections, Immigration, Local history, Mexican-American history, Uncategorized, Under-documented communities, Western history, Wyoming history | Leave a comment

Psycho: A Novel by Robert Bloch

Robert Bloch was an author of pulp science fiction and crime stories. A protégé of H.P. Lovecraft, he grew up reading Weird Tales magazine and after high school began writing science fiction stories for the magazine himself.

Bloch moved away from science fiction and into horror themes like black magic, voodoo and demon possession. He began writing crime stories and in 1959 wrote Psycho which would be adapted into the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film.

Psycho is strikingly similar to the story of infamous murderer Ed Gein. However, Bloch wrote most of the book before Gein was caught. Strangely, while writing Psycho, Bloch lived only 35 miles away from Gein in Wisconsin.


Author Robert Bloch wrote Psycho, which was later adapted into the Alfred Hitchcock film. Robert Bloch papers, American Heritage Center.


Although Bloch wrote sequels to Psycho, the sequels to the movie are completely different stories. Bloch wrote a speculative screenplay for his own sequel, but it was never made.

Robert Bloch’s papers are available at the UW American Heritage Center. The collection consists of materials related to Bloch’s personal life and professional career, as well as the development of the horror and science fiction genres. Contents of the collection include extensive personal and professional correspondence, a large selection of science fiction and horror books and periodicals, convention announcements and programs, and annotated screenplays, scripts, and manuscripts produced by Bloch and his contemporaries, among other materials.



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A Wyoming Frost

Verna Elizabeth Grubbs, better known to her poetic peers as Ann Winslow, was a driving force in the shaping of young poets during the early-to-mid 1900s. The Ann Winslow collection evidences her immersion in the world of the golden age of American poetry, which includes correspondence between her and poets such as Robert Frost, Joseph Auslander, and Ezra Pound, and letters from fellow editors of poetry like Virginia Kent Cummins.

Ann Winslow Portrait

Ann Winslow (Verna Elizabeth Grubbs), 1932, Photographic files, American Heritage Center.

To her family she was known simply as “daughter” or “sis,” but the Verna who attended Grinnell College in Iowa became Ann, a University of Wyoming professor of English and a creative mind behind the successful poetry journal College Verse which circulated for 10 volumes over the course of 10 years.

Her most lasting effect on the University of Wyoming was her involvement in the dedication of the Robert Frost Poetry Library in Hoyt Hall, now known as the Mathison Library. A newspaper clipping from The Branding Iron, the University of Wyoming student newspaper, speaks of the books dedicated by Robert Frost during his visit to Laramie and of Ann Winslow’s work as executive secretary for “College Verse.”

Newspaper article page 1

“English Dept. Developing Library,” Branding Iron, undated clipping, Ann Winslow papers, Box 4, American Heritage Center.

Newspaper article page 2



Of the suggestion to name a library after him, Robert Frost wrote to Ann that, “I shall of course want to respond with such gifts as are within my power to give. Poetry hasn’t made me rich enough to be much of a benefactor. But there are a few books I can help you with …Would you accept some sort of special portrait?” [Frost to Winslow, May 30, 1938, Winslow papers, Box 1]. The portrait of Robert Frost, with a handwritten dedication, remains on the shelves of Mathison Library and Frost’s visit is immortalized through Winslow’s own words in a manuscript of her unpublished book in the Winslow collection.

Robert Frost portrait

Robert Frost, circa 1966, Clark Kinnaird papers, American Heritage Center.

Ann’s enthusiasm for poetry is also reflected in her work with young poets through “College Verse” and her book, Trial Balances, published by The MacMillan Co in the mid-1930s. Of this work, her good friend and frequent correspondent, Alexander Laing, wrote in 1965, “What impresses me now is the percipience of your operation. Fifteen of the new poets presented, by my count, have emerged as notable practitioners: one short of half of the thirty-two! That’s miraculous” [Laing to Winslow, September 3, 1965, Winslow papers, Box 3].

Little is revealed in the collection about her experience as an instructor in the English Department at the University of Wyoming. However, one letter written by, presumably, Winslow’s former student at basic training in 1943 suggests that the enthusiasm with which she approached poetic culture was also applied to her teaching. “I always like to hear from the folks back at Wyo. U.,” he wrote, before signing the letter as “One of Winslow’s Wild Wyomians” [Lt. E. Minich to Winslow, August 21, 1945, Winslow papers, Box 2).

College Verse front cover

College Verse back cover “College Verse” Front/Back, Ann Winslow papers, Box 5, American Heritage Center.

– Submitted by Lydia Stuver, William D. Carlson Award Intern, American Heritage Center.

Posted in Authors and literature, found in the archive, Poetry, Robert Frost, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming history, writers and poets, Wyoming history | Tagged | Leave a comment

Party like it’s 1993: AHC Celebrates 25 years in the Centennial Complex

The University of Wyoming American Heritage Center and Art Museum are hosting a public open house for the 25th anniversary of their shared building, the Centennial Complex on Friday, September 14, from 1-4 p.m.

On the theme of “Celebrating the Past, Looking Forward”, the Open House will feature tours and highlights from the American Heritage Center collections, spotlight tours in the Art Museum exhibitions and galleries, hands-on art-making activities and musical performances throughout the afternoon.


One of the originally proposed building designs for the American Heritage Center with a large “W” on facade, 1980-1989. AHC Photo Files.

In 1986 the University of Wyoming launched the “Centennial Campaign,” at the time the most ambitious fundraising campaign in UW’s history with the goal to raise $19 million for a new building to house the American Heritage Center (AHC) and University of Wyoming Art Museum (UWAM), as well as an additional $6 million to build endowments to support student scholarships and faculty positions. Until that time, the Wyoming Legislature had been the major source of funding for the university. This new initiative began a trend of substantial private contributions bolstered by matching state funds that kicked off a new era in growth around campus.


Construction of the Centennial Complex, 1992. AHC Photo Files.

Architect Antoine Predock described his inspiration for the building as an “’archival mountain’… with a village, the art museum, at its base.” Predock wrote that he hoped to create “a sense of rendezvous, that timeless quality of meeting on an open landscape that we can trace from Native Americans to French trappers to Anglo settlers.”


Antoine Predock, left, discussing the schematics of the Centennial Complex using a scaled, dissected model, 1989. AHC Photo Files.


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


Detailed look at model and the various construction phases of the Centennial Complex including its collection areas, undated. AHC Photo Files.

“In step with the development of the University mapped out in its Strategic Plan, ‘Breaking Through: 2017-2022,’ the AHC continues to develop a strategic plan with initiatives designed to see the AHC as a place increasingly aligned with the educational mission of the University of Wyoming,” says acting director and Dean of Libraries, Ivan Gaetz. “As the AHC maps passageways through the mountain and carves tunnels that lead to truly great discoveries of the objects contained therein, we can lead to profound discoveries by students and researchers of their own learning potentials—and these are the truly spiritual dimensions of the whole edifice.”


Centennial Complex today.


For more information on the festivities, contact the AHC at (307) 766-4114, or follow the AHC on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


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Andrew Bugas’ Account of the Rock Springs Massacre of 1885

Andrew Bugas was not quite 20 years old in 1885 when he arrived in Rock Springs to work in the Union Pacific’s coal mines. Born in Austria, he came to the United States in 1880 to join his father in Mahoney, Pennsylvania, where young Andrew worked as a “slate picker” and as a “trapper” in the coal mines. Slate picker and trapper were menial jobs usually performed by boys. Slate pickers plucked sharp-edged pieces of slate and other impurities from the coal. Trappers sat underground, usually in total darkness, opening and closing wooden doors (trap doors) located across the mine.


“Boys Picking Slate in a Great Coal Breaker, Anthracite Mines, Pennsylvania.” Photo from Coal Region History Chronicles.

It’s not certain what led Andrew to Rock Springs, but he probably heard of the coal boom in southwestern Wyoming. He had an adventurous spirit, which showed itself in 1888 when he left Rock Springs to travel the United States for eight years.

In 1885, Andrew walked into a situation in the Rock Springs mines that was about to spin out of control. The tensions between white and Chinese miners had reached a breaking point.

The Chinese had worked in the Union Pacific’s mines since the early 1870s. They had proven themselves to be hard workers who would labor for cheap. Even though they were paid less than whites, Chinese miners could earn many times more in the United States than they could in China. If they were careful, in a few years, they could save a lifetime’s fortune to take back home. By 1882, anti-Chinese sentiment was rampant and Congress limited the number of Chinese immigrants. But the new law was full of loopholes, and the immigration question was open-ended and confusing.

Union Pacific Railroad policies did not help an increasingly tense situation. Pay cuts and paycheck gouging by UP company stores led to unrest among the white miners. And, although white and Chinese miners worked side by side every day, they spoke different languages and lived separate lives. This made it possible for each to think of the other as not entirely human. As the anger of the white miners intensified, they staged a number of strikes but with no results. At the end of an 1884 strike, mine managers in Rock Springs were told to only hire Chinese. By the time Andrew arrived, there were nearly 600 Chinese and 300 white miners working the Rock Springs mines.

On the morning of September 2, 1885, Andrew was at his house, located only a short way from Bitter Creek which was one of the staging areas for a mob of men, women, and even children determined to drive the Chinese from Rock Springs. By 10:00 A.M., Andrew saw that the “[Chinese] dinner carriers, who daily carried the dinners on poles across their shoulders…were being stoned with rocks and chased by boys and men until they had to drop their loads and flee for safety”.

Rock Springs

View of Rock Springs, Wyoming, undated. Photofile: Wyoming – Rock Springs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

After the stoning of the dinner carriers, Andrew watched through the window as “the mob with guns on their shoulders began their march towards Chinatown”. He followed the brigade “½ curious and ½ scared”. When the mob came to Chinatown’s Joss House, Andrew saw them halt and send a committee to tell the Chinese inside of the mob’s intent. Confusion reigned among the Chinese men in the building; some seemed to want to stay and others to leave. Andrew heard and saw “loud jabbering and swinging of arms, etc. etc., that could be observed from outside…through the windows”.

As the time to evacuate the Joss House neared, the mob grew impatient and moved toward the building. Andrew “saw some Chinese jump out the window upon a bundle of what looked like blankets.” By then, members of the mob were against the house and “some one hit the locked door with an axe or sledge from the way it sounded”. Chinese men (only a few women lived in Rock Springs) poured out through the doors and window while “the mob started shooting into the house and toward the fleeing men”. Andrew noticed that “hundreds of shots must have been wasted for the scare”. He continued to follow the mob as they advanced into Chinatown, “driving out of the houses those that were too frightened to run and setting fire with kerosene oil to all houses after first plundering each house of everything valuable”. He watched as some of the Chinese men were killed inside their houses while most were shot in the back as they ran.


Here’s a Pretty Mess!” (in Wyoming) – 19 September, 1885 by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly. Thomas Nast Source: [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Soldiers were brought in to restore order. Andrew observed that “at first the soldiers and whites were distrustful of one another and many fist fights took place in the saloons”. But later, soldiers and miners began to fraternize. Discipline was not a strong suit among the soldiers. Andrew reported that “[on] several occasions a Chinaman was caught in darkness and his ‘pigtail’ cut off by soldiers”. That act, he noted, “was held to be a very grave offense by the Chinese and a soldier if proven to have committed it was given severe penalty”. The “blue coats” as the soldiers were known spent their money freely in Rock Springs and “were missed by Rock Springs businessmen when they finally left in 1898 after 13 years in Rock Springs.” Though Andrew did mention that “…a year or so prior to the final withdrawal of the army from R.S…[o]ne or two companies or detachments of companies of colored soldiers came, the white army leaving. The colored army sojourn in R.S. while brief, was the most trying period for the peace officers as well as citizens in general…R.S. drew a breath of relief when this colored army was replaced by a white one…” He doesn’t elaborate on the what took place except to note that the town peace officers’ “resourcefulness in their line saved R.S. a dangerous outbreak and killing of probably many citizens and negro soldiers”.


Federal troops, shown here on Front Street in 1885, stayed in Rock Springs for 13 years. Wyoming Tales and Trails photo.

Andrew Bugas lived in Rock Springs until 1888 when he began his travels in the United States. He must have seen Rock Springs as home because he returned there in 1896, married a local girl in 1902, and raised a family. He opened a saloon, invested in a coal mine at Point of Rocks, and served as a state legislator, school district treasurer, and precinct committeeman. But he never forgot what he witnessed upon his arrival in Rock Springs. His account of the Rock Springs Massacre was written in 1933, many years later. The account can be found in the papers of his son John Bugas, which are held at the UW American Heritage Center.

AP Bugas

Andrew P. Bugas, undated. Find a Grave photo.

Posted in Chinese Americans, found in the archive, International relations, Labor disputes, Local history, mining history, Railroad History, Rock Springs Massacre, Uncategorized, Violence - history, Western history, Wyoming history | Tagged , | Leave a comment