The AHC has completed a grant project to digitize photographs, glass plate negatives, glass lantern slides, and stereo cards from the Isberg Family papers, a collection of a Laramie family with material dating from 1884 to 1930.
The magnificent scenery of Wyoming has inspired many artists, but Hans Kleiber’s work stands out for the medium he used to capture the mountains, wildlife, and people of the state. Kleiber’s art was often created with line only, etched on zinc or copper plates. From these plates prints were made. Occasionally the prints were tinted, but many said all they needed to with lines.
Murray C. Bernays, a name perhaps not known to most, was responsible for constructing the legal framework and procedures for the Nuremberg War Crime Trials after World War II. His work was of utmost importance as it helped bring justice to those found guilty of heinous crimes during WWII. For his work at Nuremberg, Bernays was awarded the Legion of Merit.
The State of Wyoming began issuing motor vehicle license plates in 1913. Who got plate number 1? The man who wrote the motor vehicle licensing law, state senator Jacob M. Schwoob of Park County. Schwoob continued to apply for, and receive, plate 1 annually until 1929, when he was awarded the number for the term of his life. The honor recognized not only his authorship of the licensing bill but also his continuing advocacy of good roads for the sake of economic development.
Jacob M. Schwoob was born in Ontario in 1874. At the age of 18 he immigrated to the United States, arriving first in Buffalo, New York, then moving to Cody, Wyoming, in 1898. He was business manager of the Cody Trading Company until 1916, when he purchased the store and became its owner. A Republican, he served in the state senate from 1905 until 1913. He pushed through a law to permit counties to issue bonds for road-building, as well as pressing for the introduction of automobiles into Yellowstone National Park. Automobiles were officially allowed inside the Park in 1915.
Schwoob’s only child, Thornton W. Schwoob, died as a young man in 1928. Jacob Schwoob died just four years later in 1932. In 1948 Schwoob’s papers and photographs were in the possession of his grandson, Thornton. The younger Thornton W. Schwoob donated the materials to the University of Wyoming, where they comprise a valuable record of a time when automobile travel was a new experience for most citizens of the state. To learn more about Jacob Schwoob and his collection at the American Heritage Center, please see the inventory for the Jacob M. Schwoob papers, available here: https://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=wyu-ah00097.xml.
-D. Claudia Thompson, Processing Manager
Did you perhaps wonder as you sipped your coffee this morning about how Wyoming Equality Day originated? Cheyenne native and Wyoming state legislator Harriett Elizabeth “Liz” Byrd was the guiding individual behind it. Byrd was the first black woman to serve in Wyoming’s House beginning in 1980. A few years later, she was elected to Wyoming’s Senate, and was the first black legislator to serve there.
Byrd’s parents, Robert “Buck” and Sudie Rhone, supplied her with an “outsider/within” legacy as described by Evelyn Haskell in a 2006 Annals of Wyoming article about Liz Byrd. Haskell explains that the outsider/within perspective is that of an individual who is outside the dominant culture, and yet has access to and intimate knowledge of the workings of the dominant culture. Buck Rhone’s family had settled in Wyoming in the 1870s, and Buck was the first African American child born in Albany County. Liz was born in 1926 with deep family roots already established in Wyoming.
This is not to say that she didn’t experience her share of racism. According to an interview with Byrd pasted into a scrapbook housed at the AHC, as a high school student, she was refused service in a Cheyenne drugstore. Her white classmates threw the ice from their drinks over the counter and walked out. When she applied to the University of Wyoming in 1944, Liz was told that, because she was African American, she would not be allowed to live in campus housing. In the end, she attended West Virginia State Teachers College, a historically black college, graduating in 1949 with a degree in education.
During Liz’s college years, she married James Byrd and the couple made Cheyenne their home, Liz teaching school and Jim working in law enforcement. The couple was soon raising a family of three children, two sons and one daughter. Liz was happy teaching school and didn’t originally have political ambitions. It was the tragic death in 1979 of her younger brother, Robert, that led her into politics. Buck Rhone had high ambitions for his son Robert to gain public office and, after Robert’s death, this ambition was shifted to daughter Liz. Despite running a low-cost campaign, Liz was elected to the Wyoming House of Representatives in 1980.
In oral history interviews with Evelyn Haskell, Byrd described an atmosphere in the statehouse that was hostile to women, and to her in particular because she was a black woman. Of a total of 90 seats in both Wyoming’s House and Senate, only 14 were held by women. She found that some of her efforts to present and pass bills were hampered by the fact that a significant number of her female colleagues refused to support her bills; they were afraid of losing good committee assignments by supporting bills sponsored by Liz Byrd. Another complicating factor was Byrd often sponsored unpopular “special” legislation relating to human interests instead of those involving the state’s economic interests.
Her most important bill of national prominence, and the one that presented her with the most difficulty, was ratification of a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The nine years she worked on the bill were marked by strife and animosity. Wyoming state newspapers were filled with letters pro and con from the public and from her fellow legislators. Even one of Liz’s fellow teachers spoke out publicly against the bill. To finally gain passage of the bill, Byrd had to agree to add “Wyoming Equality Day” to the holiday’s name, which became Martin Luther King, Jr./Wyoming Equality Day in 1990. Byrd went on to become the recipient of a number of awards and honors, one of the most notable is sharing the pages with Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks and other African American women of accomplishment in the book I Dream a World, published in 1989.
A number of events around the state are planned to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr./Wyoming Equality Day, including a schedule of events from January 28 through February 4 on the University of Wyoming campus, called Days of Dialogue. For more information about Days of Dialogue and a list of events, please see https://www.uwyo.edu/studentaff/mlkdod/
– Leslie Waggener, Assocaite Archivist
Much of the text is courtesy of Evelyn Haskell’s article, “Harriett Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Byrd: Wyoming Trail Blazer in Education and Politics,” published in Annals of Wyoming, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Winter 2006).
The Ames Monument, located about 20 miles east of Laramie off Interstate 80, is one of 10 newly-designated national historic landmarks announced November 2 by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.
The press release, the National Park Service wrote:
The Ames Monument is a pivotal and highly significant work in the career of Henry Hobson Richardson. The simple massing and naturalistic materials of the Ames Monument, designed midway through his career, are a pure manifestation of a critical shift in his architectural design away from a reliance on references to historical stylistic motifs.
At an elevation of 8,247 feet, this monument stands at what once was the highest point on the route of the Union Pacific Railroad. The tracks were rerouted a few miles to the south in 1901, but the monument still looms over the surrounding plains and can be easily accessed from I-80.
Completed in 1882 at a cost of $64,000, the 300 x 32-foot structure honors Oakes and Oliver Ames, financiers and politicians whose business skills were largely responsible for the completion of the transcontinental railroad. The Ames brothers took control of the management and financing of the Union Pacific portion of the railroad at President Abraham Lincoln’s request. Prior to their involvement with the railroad, only 12 miles of track had been completed. Not long after the railroad’s completion in 1869, however, Oakes Ames found himself at the center of a massive scandal concerning the railroad’s financing.
The monument was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson, famed architect of Trinity Church in Boston, and was Richardson’s only commission west of St. Louis. The monument also features two bas-relief sculptures of the Ames brothers—Oakes on the east side, Oliver on the west—crafted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, renowned sculptor whose creations include the Robert Gould Shaw memorial on Boston Common, the Parnell Memorial in Dublin, and a $20 double eagle gold piece for the U.S. Mint.
The Norcross Brothers of Worcester, Massachusetts built the monument, employing some 85 workers who lived on site. Workers cut the stone for the pyramid from a granite outcropping common in the area. They then used oxen teams to skid the stone a half-mile to the work site. The rough-faced granite blocks used to construct the monument in many cases weigh several tons. Workers constructed the pyramid near the remote railroad town of town of Sherman, where passengers were encouraged to get off (and look at the pyramid) while the engines were changed. Sherman became a ghost town once the railroad tracks were moved, with nothing left today but crumbling foundations, including those of the roundhouse and turntable.
Blogger Phil Patton wrote after a visit to the monument in 2009:
“Oliver and Oakes Ames are now largely forgotten by the public, but those few who come across the pyramid are forced to consider their identity. The monument is testimony to the frailty of historical memory—and its power.”
– Leslie Waggener, associate archivist
Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek. The original series aired its first episode, “The Man Trap” on September 8, 1966 on NBC. Fifty years, 79 episodes, five spin-off series, and thirteen movies later, Star Trek is an implacable cultural phenomenon that has touched the lives of countless people around the globe.
The American Heritage Center holds the collections of several notable figures associated with the original Star Trek series, including series writer Gene L. Coon, composer Gerald Fried, and superfan Forrest Ackerman.
Gene L. Coon was a television writer and producer who wrote or contributed to thirteen Star Trek episodes. His papers at the AHC include scripts for “The Devil in the Dark” and “Metamorphosis.” His papers also include an incomplete memoir.
Gerald Fried was a film and television composer, who was known for scoring several early films of Stanley Kubrick, including Paths of Glory. For Star Trek, he composed the music for five episodes, including “Catspaw,” “The Paradise Syndrome,” “Friday’s Child” and “Shore Leave,” but his most enduring work on Star Trek is the “Vulcan fight music” from the episode “Amok Time.” Fried’s working titles for the fight music were “The Ancient Combat” and “The Ritual.”
Forrest Ackerman was a central figure in science fiction fandom from the 1940s through his death in 2008. His collection of Star Trek memorabilia includes production stills from the original series and the Motion Picture, as well as a tribble from the set of the episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.”
Other Star Trek-related collections held at the AHC include:
Sam Peeples – wrote the second pilot episode for the series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”
Robert Bloch – screenwriter of “Wolf in the Fold.”
Sol Kaplan – scored the episodes “The Doomsday Machine” and “The Enemy Within.”
Jerry Sohl wrote the teleplay for “The Corbomite Maneuver” and the story for “Whom Gods Destroy.” Notably, Sohl also wrote the scripts for two other Gene Roddenberry- conceived television shows: Genesis II, and The Questor Tapes. The scripts from these television movies are available in his collection at the AHC.
Everyone at the AHC wishes Star Trek a very happy golden anniversary!