Marguerite Shepherd: Assistant to “Ace of Aces” Eddie Rickenbacker

Marguerite “Sheppy” Shepherd (1894-1983) was the longtime personal assistant to ‘Ace of Aces’ Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973), a World War I fighter pilot, race car driver, automotive designer, government consultant in military matters, air transport pioneer, and longtime head of Eastern Air Lines.

Rickenbacker featured on the cover of Knights Templar magazine four years after his death in 1973.
Box 2, Marguerite Shepherd papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Ms. Shepherd was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and, in 1923, became Rickenbacker’s secretary at the Rickenbacker Motor Car Company in Detroit, Michigan. In later years, she became his executive secretary at Cadillac Motor Company, Fokker Aircraft Company, American Airways, and Eastern Air Lines. Shepherd was for many years a member of the Seraphic Secretaries of America and the Women’s Traffic Club of Greater New York.

Sheppy Shepherd (left) with Amelia Earhart at the Pittsburgh airport en route to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 500 Mile Race, May 29, 1935.
Box 2, Marguerite Shepherd papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Group of newspapermen, broadcasters, and others en route to Indianapolis Motor Speedway 500 Mile Race, May 29, 1935. Amelia Earhart just below Dick Merrill, pilot. Sheppy Shepherd is third from right in front row.
Box 2, Marguerite Shepherd papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

By the time Ms. Shepherd became Rickenbacker’s secretary, he was already had a well-established reputation as daredevil par none, but he was also on his way to going bankrupt. He had started the Rickenbacker Motor Company in 1920, selling technologically advanced cars incorporating innovations from auto racing. Probably due to bad publicity from other car manufacturers who feared the competition for their inventory of two-wheel braking autos, the company had trouble selling its cars and eventually went bankrupt in 1927. Rickenbacker went into massive debt but was determined to pay back the $250,000 he owed, despite personally going bankrupt. Eventually, all vehicles manufactured in the U.S. incorporated his four-wheel braking.

Rickenbacker’s career did not want for adventure with at least two near death mishaps, the bold purchase of Eastern Airlines for $3.5 million in 1938 (also $60M in today’s dollars), and a World-War II era fact-finding trip into Russia for the U.S. War Department, and more. Ms. Shepherd was with him during the ups and the downs of his career.

Eddie Rickenbacker with wife Adelaide and sons William and David taken at LaGuardia Airport, December 1942.
Box 1, Marguerite Shepherd papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Shepherd’s papers contain Rickenbacker’s business correspondence; photographs of Shepherd, Rickenbacker, Eastern Air Lines events and personnel, and tributes to Rickenbacker; and programs, speeches, newspaper clippings, and other printed material about Eastern Air Lines. There are also books and magazines by and about Rickenbacker and scripts for radio interviews with Shepherd regarding her secretarial career and her membership in the Seraphic Secretaries of America.

Post submitted by AHC’s Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener.


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Check Out the American Heritage Center’s Virtual Exhibits!

2020 was a banner year for new American Heritage Center virtual exhibits. Take a look this selection of what we’ve been working on this past year.

“Stampede” by Jerry Palen

During the course of its 43 year run, “Stampede” became the largest weekly syndicated cartoon feature in the agriculture sector of both the United States and Canada, reaching a weekly audience of more than 2 million readers. You can explore a selection of some of Jerry Palen’s best comics.

“Which One is Dotty?” Jerry Palen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Souvenirs of War

This exhibit offers a variety of images taken by professional and snapshot photographers during the Vietnam War provide an interesting visual portrait of America’s involvement in Vietnam. This exhibit includes images from renowned war correspondent Richard Tregaskis as well as from the personal collection of war veteran Craig Tiernan.

Soldiers on Ground Patrol, 1962-1963. Photograph by Richard Tregaskis. American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Richard Tregaskis papers.

More Pronghorn Than People

The story of the pronghorn in Wyoming is a story of abundance. This exhibit shows some of the many ways that people and the pronghorn have interacted and highlights the important role the pronghorn maintains in this state as well as around the world.

Boy feeding pronghorn, ca. 1930s. Charles J. Belden photographs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

University of Wyoming: A Brief History of Campus

The University of Wyoming was opened in Laramie, WY in 1886. A university built on a land grant, it has come a long way from its debut to present day. While many of the original buildings still stand, the infrastructure of the University continues to grow. 

Old Main, 1905. Samuel H. Knight papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

And that’s not all. There are other exhibits available for your viewing pleasure. Check back again as more are being created!

Post submitted by the AHC’s Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener.


Posted in announcements, cartoons, Digital collections, exhibits, found in the archive, Photographic collections, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming history, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Cheque-Book of Beautiful New Year Wishes

Christian Isberg was a native of Sweden who came to Laramie, Wyoming, in 1868, when the town was first founded as a supply depot for the Union Pacific Railroad. He settled in the town and raised two sons, William H. and John, and a daughter, Emily.

Son William graduated from Laramie High School in 1895. He was a clerk in the dry goods department of various Laramie stores before opening his own establishment. He was also an amateur photographer who took pictures of Laramie streets and events. His wife, Ginx Rich Isberg, was also an amateur photographer.

William “Billy” Isberg and his wife Ginx send a note while sightseeing in Denver, ca. 1920, Isberg Family papers, Box 1, Scan No. ah00215_0294a, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

One thing the Isberg family papers are not short on is charm. The collection contains photographs and glass plate negatives documenting the Isberg family and their friends as well as Laramie and Albany County as they appeared from the 1890s to about 1918.

But one especially charming item in the Isberg collection isn’t a photograph. It’s a special type of gift for the New Year. The “Cheque-Book of Beautiful New Year Wishes” looks like a checkbook but instead contains detachable greetings that can be given to friends. Each “check” contains a different set of friendly quotes and verses. The account is under the fictitious firm of the “Love and Joy Banking Company Unlimited.”

Thanks to a grant the American Heritage Center received the Wyoming State Historic Records Advisory Board in 2017, the Isberg’s photographs and other materials have been digitized. You can find more than 700 images of interest and charm in the digitized collection.

Happy 2021 Everyone!

Post submitted by AHC’s Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener


Posted in Digital collections, Family history, Holidays, Laramie, Local history, Photographic collections, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Holiday Parade of Trees

For Thanksgiving we offered you a turkey parade. Now we present a parade of trees decorated for the holidays.

The Empress Theater tucked their holiday tree beneath a stairwell in this photograph most likely from the early 1940s. The Empress was built by the Holliday Construction Company in 1912 with a neoclassical facade of cut stone; it originally hosted vaudeville, music performances and silent films. In 1938, the Fox Theater Group purchased the building, changing both the name and the facade. When the building opened in 1939 it featured the Art Deco look you see here.

Ludwig & Svenson Studio Collection, Accession No.167, Scan No. ah001341, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Enthusiastic amateur-turned-professional photographer Lora Webb Nichols (1883-1962) celebrated the holidays with her family in Encampment, Wyoming. Their tree from 1924 was filled with homemade decorations including popcorn, cranberries, apples, and handmade cards. But it also held a photograph of Lora’s father Horace who died that year.

Lora Webb Nichols papers, Item No 1307, Box 4, Accession No. 1005, Scan No. ah01005_01307, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

By 1946, Lora Webb Nichols’ tree sported very bright Christmas lights.

Lora Webb Nichols papers, Item No 13480, Box 13, Accession No. 1005, Scan No. ah01005_13480, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The Clarence P. Soffel family of Laramie pulled out the stops in 1927 by placing their decorated tree in the midst of a toy train village complete with a skating rink.

Ludwig & Svenson Studio Collection, Accession No.167, Scan No. ah300989, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Here’s someone who apparently isn’t a fan of holiday trees. Or maybe it’s a holdup? Could the tree be shaking like a leaf? (sorry, couldn’t resist). Not sure, but the gun-toting curmudgeon was caught in the act by Jackson, Wyoming dude rancher, hunting guide, and photographer Stephen N. Leek (1858-1943).

S. N. Leek papers, Box 48, Accession No 3138, Scan No. ah03138_0807, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

On a happier note, these children appear to be quite proud of their decorating work on a tree just outside their home. Meeteetse, Wyoming rancher and photographer Charles J. Belden (1887-1966) captured the scene.

Charles J. Belden photographs, Item No. 341, Box 6, Accession No. 598, Scan No. ah00598_0341, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Trees adorn the tops of the brightly lit Lovell Chevrolet Garage in Lovell, Wyoming, in this 1934 photograph taken by local photographer Hugo G. Janssen (1893-1960). He owned and operated Janssen Studio in Lovell from 1917 until his death.

Hugo G. Janssen photographs, Box 1, Folder 54, Accession No. 11712, Scan No. ah11712_730, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Are you inspired to decorate a tree? We hope so. We at the American Heritage Center wish all of you a happy and safe holiday.

Post contributed by the AHC’s Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener.


Posted in community collections, Holidays, Local history, Photographic collections, Uncategorized, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering the Good and the Bad: AHC Collecting COVID-19 Continues into Holiday Season and Spring 2021

The holidays starting with Halloween through the Chinese New Year in January have traditionally been a time of celebrations, parties, and gatherings with co-workers, friends, family, and loved ones. With the continued spread of COVID-19 globally, the CDC and Department of Health recommendations for preventing transmitting COVID-19 include limiting in-person interactions, especially with people outside of your residence. The AHC wants to know how you adapted your traditions, celebrations, and normal routine to stay connected with your nearest and dearest through this uncertain time in Wyoming. We’ll preserve your stories for current and future generations.

Participating in this project is easy. The AHC wants our community members to express their observations and feelings about the pandemic in a manner that is best suited for them. We encourage our contributors to take photographs, write stories, create artwork, interview friends and family, participate in the AHC survey, and submit essays that tell us what you see, feel, hear and what has changed over the last few months.

How did you celebrate Thanksgiving? Did you trying cooking your first turkey? Did you create menus with friends and family to share the experience via Zoom?

Al Hovey carving the Thanksgiving turkey at Willow Glen, which was the Nichols family home near Encampment, Wyoming, November 24, 1955.
Box 15, Photo #15845, Collection No. 1005, Lora Webb Nichols Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Will you host a virtual new year’s party? Will it have a theme? Will you play virtual background bingo? Will you be hosting a Netflix party to watch a holiday classic film?

Group of young people at Christmas or New Year’s Party, 1922.
Box 4, Negative #9065a, Collection No. 167, Ludwig & Svenson Studio Photographs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Will you drive around town to look at the holiday lights? Did you participate in your town’s holiday decoration contest?

Christmas lights at the Albany County Courthouse, Laramie, Wyoming, December 1934.
Box 20, Negative #21894, Collection No. 167, Ludwig & Svenson Studio Photographs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Did you send holiday cards? Did you send handwritten family letters?

Photograph of children for Christmas cards at the Children’s Home in Stockton California, January 1946.
Box 13, Photo #13400, Collection No. 1005, Lora Webb Nichols Papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Did you finally try making popcorn and cranberry garland? Did you catch your grandpa snooping under the tree at the presents?

Christmas tree, 1900.
Box 91, Negative #D3-3084 & B-31532, Collection No. 400044, Samuel H. Knight Collection, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The AHC encourages you to be creative and express how this pandemic has impacted your life professionally and personally. Gathering these stories now for long-term preservation ensures an accurate and more complete narrative about your experiences.

The AHC, in partnership with the Wyoming State Archives, Wyoming State Museum, and Wyoming Historical Societies, are creating a joint online platform to display submissions we receive. Your stories will be available for others to interact with and may provide a sense of understanding and comfort.

To contribute to the historical record of this momentous time or learn more about the project, please visit the AHC COVID-19 Collection Project webpage at All donors can elect whether to remain anonymous and even to keep their contributions from being viewed for up to five years.

Happy Holidays! #COVID19WY #alwaysarchiving

Union Pacific Christmas trees and decorations at the old stone roundhouse, Laramie, Wyoming, December 1928. When this roundhouse was no longer being used for the railroad’s operation, it was converted into a community center where holiday parties and other events often were held.
Box 12, Negative #15387, Collection No. 167, Ludwig & Svenson Studio Photographs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming. 

– Post contributed by University Archivist Sara Davis.

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Harry Elmer Barnes: The Father of World War II Revisionism

December 7 is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, marking a time in which Pearl Harbor Survivors, veterans, and others honor and remember the 2,403 service members and civilians who were killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A further 1,178 people were injured in the attack, which permanently sank two U.S. Navy battleships (the USS Arizona and the USS Utah) and destroyed 188 aircraft. 

The USS Arizona (BB-39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. USS Arizona sunk at Pearl Harbor. The ship is resting on the harbor bottom. Public domain image.

Over the years, various interpretations of events leading up to the attack have been laid out and argued over. Academic scholar Harry Elmer Barnes held decidedly different views from those in the mainstream.

Until the 1950s Barnes was a highly regarded cultural historian and sociologist. Especially through his book The New History and the Social Studies (1925), he became a leading advocate of the New History, which sought a deeper understanding of the origin and development of Western culture through the integration and cross-fertilization of history and the social sciences. Another of his significant contributions was History of Historical Writing (1937), which was widely recognized as a monument of learning, universally praised in the United States and abroad as an indispensable source for all advanced students of history.

So, what happened to change Harry Barnes’ reputation?

Barnes had already proved himself a controversial figure with his views that the U.S. had fought on the wrong side in World War I. Although initially a strong supporter of the American war effort, interviews he conducted with German soldiers and leaders after the war led him to believe that Germany bore no responsibility for the outbreak of war in 1914 and had been instead the victim of Allied aggression. But it was his World War II perspectives that led to even greater controversy.

A strong ego steered Barnes into unyielding beliefs, including those about the U.S. entry into the Second World War. In the years following the war, he argued that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had deliberately provoked the attack on Pearl Harbor in order to promote his own political ambitions and to promulgate a deceitful foreign policy. Barnes devoted much of the remainder of his life creating a whole body of revisionist scholarship about Pearl Harbor and the origins of the war.

Notes by Harry Elmer Barnes on a statement by Admiral Husband E. Kimmel made in 1958 on a radio broadcast. Kimmel was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during the Pearl Harbor attack. Box 135, Harry Elmer Barnes papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

A colleague, Commander Charles C. Hiles, assisted Barnes in these efforts. Hiles was a career naval officer serving from 1914 to 1947 and was stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. Hiles believed that Admiral Husband Kimmel, who served as commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet during the Pearl Harbor attack, had been scapegoated for the attack by those Hiles believed were really at fault – Kimmel’s superiors in Washington. 

Notes shared between Harry Elmer Barnes and C. C. Hiles regarding “The Kita Message,” a reference to Nagao Kita who was a Japanese Consul stationed in Hawaii. Instructions Kita received in March and September 1941 from the Japanese government regarding the American fleet in Hawaii were intercepted by U.S. Intelligence but did not raise alarms. Box 135, Harry Elmer Barnes papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Barnes last word on the topic was his book Pearl Harbor After a Quarter Century which was completed just before his death in 1968. Barnes never stopped believing that the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was the fault of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the book, Barnes concludes “Roosevelt’s success in producing a surprise attack was an immensely, even uniquely, adroit achievement in piloting an overwhelmingly pacifically-inclined country into the most extensive and destructive war of history without any threat to our safety through aggressive action from abroad.”

You can learn more about these views of the Pearl Harbor attack in the papers of Harry Elmer Barnes and Charles C. Hiles at the American Heritage Center. Additionally, the AHC houses the papers of Husband E. Kimmel.

Post contributed by AHC’s Simpson Archivist Leslie Waggener.


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Superman’s Pal – Mort Weisinger

After World War II, superhero comics, which had been a welcome diversion for American servicemen, stalwart champions of War Bonds, and other support for the home front during the conflict, largely lost their audience and were gradually replaced by comics with horror, romance, science fiction, war, and western themes.  Following the setbacks to the industry by the establishment of the Comics Code Authority in 1954, superhero comics all but vanished with only Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman continuing to be regularly published.  It wasn’t until 1956 that the genre revived when DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz, published issue #4 of “Showcase” which featured a reimagining of the Golden Age character, “The Flash”.

Mort Weisinger (1915-1978) began writing for pulp magazines while in college and, along with his good friend Julius Schwartz, founded the first literary agency to specialize in the related genres of science fiction, horror, and fantasy.  Weisinger joined National Periodicals (later DC Comics) in 1941 and, much like his contemporary, Stan Lee over at competitor Marvel Comics, he was very much a part of the comics community throughout both the Golden and Silver Ages of Comics.  In addition to editing “Batman” and creating such characters as “Aquaman”, and “Green Arrow, Weisinger was also the editor of the Superman comic books from 1945-1970 and the story editor of “The Adventures of Superman” television show which ran from 1952-1957.

Weisinger’s tenure on Superman was marked with a number of new concepts, story ideas, and supporting characters which became standards in the Superman mythos, which are recognizable today by millions of people who aren’t otherwise familiar with the character.  These include the introduction of Supergirl, Krypto the Superdog, the Phantom Zone, the bottle city of Kandor, the Legion of Super-Heroes, and a variety of types of kryptonite.  It was also under Weisinger that the rationalization that Superman’s powers stemmed from his being from another planet and living under Earth’s yellow sun (instead of Krypton’s red sun) was first used to explain the character’s abilities.

Advertisement for a talk by Mort Weisinger at the University of Kansas, 1974. Box 1, Mort Weisinger papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The Mort Weisinger collection at the American Heritage Center contains materials relating to Weisinger’s work as a writer and editor from 1928-1978. The collection includes correspondence (1932-1978) mostly regarding his work as a writer and editor for “This Week” and other magazines and with companies who were included in “1001 Valuable Things”; the galleys and manuscripts for “The Contest,” “The Complete Alibi Handbook” and “1001 Valuable Things”; the manuscript for an unpublished novel about a U.S. President (ca. 1975); legal agreements between Weisinger and “This Week” and Bantam Books (1954-1978); and photographs of Weisinger, the Weisinger family and various celebrities.  The collection also includes newspaper clippings on Weisinger and Superman (1928-1978); a script for the motion picture version of “The Contest” (1971); 2 16 mm films from “The Adventures of Superman” television show (1957); 5 scrapbooks; comic books; miscellaneous art work for the Superman comic book; and the board game “Movie Millions,” which was developed by Weisinger.

Anyone interested in the history and inner workings of the comics industry in the United States is invited to explore both the Mort Weisinger and Stan Lee collections at the American Heritage Center to learn more about this fascinating aspect of American popular culture.

Post contributed by AHC Collections Manager Bill Hopkins.


Posted in Comic book history, commercial art, Fantasy, Hollywood history, popular culture | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2020 Parade of Turkeys

We at the American Heritage Center wish everyone a warm and happy Thanksgiving holiday.  To celebrate, we would like to share some images of the turkeys and Thanksgiving scenes in our collection.  However, in several of the photographs, the turkey has already been consumed.  Or hurled from the roof of a building . . .

Sill Brothers Turkey Throw, Laramie, Wyoming, 1925. Look at the roofline to see members of the community who just tossed a turkey down on the very eager crowd. If you look carefully you can see the bird flapping its wings rather desperately on the right of the Sill Bros. Bakery building sign. Ludwig-Svenson Collection, negative number 12615.2. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

You most likely won’t see a scene like below this year with Covid-19 in our lives. But we can certainly recall those warm celebrations and know that one day they’ll return.

Will McMurray and friends toasting one another after a turkey dinner, 1940. Ludwig Svenson Collection, negative number 32517. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

And here’s the traditional guest of honor at many Thanksgiving tables . . .

Turkey in a barnyard, with ducks and geese in the background. James K. Moore Family Papers, Accession Number 51, Box 22, 1319. University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


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Finis Mitchell (and Matthew Troyanek) Trailing through the Wind Rivers

In my preparations to become a backpacker seeking adventures in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, my research led me to take the footsteps of a man from the golden age of American mountaineering, whose chronicles and photographs bade me to these mountains with a romantic charm. 

Finis Mitchell drew on decades of experience in the Wind Rivers, describing the trails, routes, wildlife, glaciers, lakes, and streams in Wyoming’s fabulous two-and-a-quarter million acre Wind River Range, published into a guidebook called Wind River Trails.

Over the course of his life, Mitchell climbed 244 of the 300 peaks in the range, with four ascents of Gannett Peak, the highest mountain in the state.

Front and back of a postcard illustrating a view of the Cirque of the Towers taken by Finis Mitchell from Mitchell Peak in the Wind River Range.
Finis Mitchell papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

As a vigorous wilderness advocate, he put together breathtaking slide presentations showing people their own public lands. Mitchell would pour out his philosophy at the public meetings with amazing attention to detail.

Of the 105,345 pictures he took as a hobby, 8,884 that have been digitized for your viewing pleasure. To learn more about Finis Mitchell, see the Finis Mitchell papers at the American Heritage Center.

Post contributed by AHC staff member Matthew Troyanek.


Posted in environmental history, Mountaineering, outdoor recreation, Photographic collections, Wyoming history | Tagged , | Leave a comment

It’s UW Giving Day!

We hope you will think of UW while you’re planning your holiday giving. Whether it’s one dollar or a hundred dollars, every gift makes a difference. The State of Wyoming provides a solid base of funding, but it’s donors like you who elevate Wyoming’s university to new heights of excellence!

Your support impacts university colleges through undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, internships and career preparation, professorships, research, excellence funds, facilities and technology, operating funds, outreach and extension, or the department or affiliated program of your choice. So, give today! Any amount makes a difference, and it all adds up to a better University of Wyoming.  What a difference a day makes!

If you would like to consider the AHC in your giving plans, the UW Foundation has established a site for the AHC.



Yes. The University of Wyoming is a non-profit institution that aspires to be one of the nation’s finest public land-grant research universities.




Spread the word! Let your UW friends, family, and fellow alumni know that you’ve made a gift, and encourage them to give too. Post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #uwgivingday. Send an email; make a call. Whatever method you choose, your support will make an enormous difference in the success of UW Giving Day.


To have the most immediate impact, give online by clicking here, or you may call toll-free 888-831-7795 or (307) 766-6300

Posted in announcements, Centennial Complex, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming | Tagged | Leave a comment