The Vivid Life and Photographs of June Vanleer Williams

June Vanleer Williams was born on June 24, 1921, in Cleveland, Ohio. She was the first African American woman to be in a Stanford University Journalism fellowship program. She was part of the program from 1969 to 1970. As a journalist, she worked at the Cleveland Call & Post and the Cleveland Gazette.

She was also a playwright and actress. She wrote at least four plays: The Face of Job, A Bit of Almsgiving, The Eyes of the Lofty, and The Meek Won’t Inherit S#.*!!. Williams acted in plays and was involved in Hollywood productions. Two notable mentions are that she starred in the Broadway play Don’t Play Us Cheap, and she was the casting director for the 1974 movie Claudine, starring James Earl Jones and Diahann Carroll.

Photo of June Vanleer Williams from the June Vanleer Williams papers at the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center
June Vanleer Williams used the stage name “Jay Vanleer” as an actress. June Vanleer Williams papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Her papers contain professional and personal correspondence, newspaper clippings, drafts of her plays, notes from her time as a casting director, a plaque, and a trophy. Out of all of ten boxes of material the most fascinating pieces are the photographs. This collection has an extensive number of photographs ranging from professional to promotional to personal.

The professional photographs include head shots for casting roles in Claudine. These head shots are both men and women, and the ages range from 5-65 years old. All of these photographs are undated, but they are suspected to be from around the 1960s and 1970s. They are interesting because they show some of the fashion sense of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the plays and movies that all these aspiring actors starred in.

Other promotional photographs are from the 1975 film Mahogany, starring Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, and Andrew Perkins. The context of the photographs is unknown because June Vanleer Williams was not involved in the film’s production nor did she act in the film. Despite the mystery behind the photos, they are nice promotional stills from the movie and behind the scenes. The photographs allow for a close-up look at one of Diana Ross’s most iconic movie roles and tell the story without giving away too much. For those who haven’t seen the movie, these stills allow for a great curiosity about it.

Publicity photograph of Diana Ross and Anthony Perkins from the 1975 film Mahogany. June Vanleer Williams papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
In the film Mahogany, Diana Ross plays a struggling fashion design student who rises to become a popular fashion designer in Rome. One of her co-stars is Anthony Perkins who plays a fashion photographer who reinvents her as “Mahogany” and with whom she shares an uneasy relationship. June Vanleer Williams papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Finally, the personal photographs range from the early 1900s to the 1970s or 1980s and tell about her life. There are photographs of her father’s family, such as his adopted sister as a little girl. There are also photographs of June Vanleer Williams in various stages of her life. The bulk of the photos are from 1930 to 1984. One of the scrapbooks is full of the pictures, specifically from a special dinner for those involved in Karamu House. Karamu House is the oldest African American theater in the United States. Williams was very involved in Karamu House throughout her life. Along with the photographs there is also correspondence between Williams and the founders of the theater.

All of the compelling materials in June Vanleer Williams’ papers cannot be described in one short blog post, so contact the American Heritage Center at ahcref@uwyo.edu if you would like to learn more about this influential lady!

– Post by Anne-Marie Stratton, AHC Carlson Intern

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in African American history, Hollywood history, Motion picture actors and actresses, motion picture history, popular culture, Uncategorized, Under-documented communities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archive Your Wyoming Coronavirus Story with the American Heritage Center!

The COVID-19 (or coronavirus) pandemic has dramatically changed the way the world functions and people connect. These world-wide modifications to how we operate and interact as a people, a community and a society make this an unusual time, one worth recording for future understanding. Every individual’s written thoughts and/or creative projects can help future historians understand what it was like to experience daily life during this local and global crisis.

The University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center (AHC) wants to hear from you! The AHC is initiating a COVID-19 Collection Project to gather experiences from across Wyoming. Your submissions will document for future generations the impact that this pandemic has on your work, education, personal life, community, along with any additional observations you may wish to make. These stories tell us what’s happening from an individual perspective, providing a personal and in-depth look at the impact of COVID-19 on our community.

Laramie Chapter of the American Red Cross, ca. 1918. Ludwig & Svenson Studio Photographs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

To aid in collecting your stories, the AHC has created an online survey that you can access here. The survey provides questions that can help inspire your remarks on this experience. If you find that you have more you wish to share, the AHC welcomes other types of items that capture your experience, such as poems, photographs, and other creative works.

As we learn more about COVID-19 and the impact of this pandemic fluctuates, our lives and observations will also evolve. Since this project is open-ended, we encourage you to submit multiple stories. Your comments should be open and honest, but only insofar as you feel comfortable.

Wyoming Drug Store in Rawlins, Wyoming, ca. 1930. Frank J. Meyers papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Participants in the survey and donors to this project must agree to give permission to the AHC to archivally preserve these stories and to provide public access to them. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can select that option within the survey. There is also an option to restrict public access to your story for five (5) years. Please note that we are unable to accept submissions from persons under the age of 18. We are also unable to accept submissions with HIPAA content.

We are more than willing to discuss any aspect of this project with you. For any questions regarding this project, restrictions, anonymity, or if you want to donate anything beyond the scope of the survey, please contact Sara Davis, University Archivist at sarad@uwyo.edu, or Rachel Gattermeyer, Digital Archivist at rgatterm@uwyo.edu.

Be well and thank you for being a part of history!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)

Who can participate?

Any person 18 years or older who agrees to give permission to the AHC to archivally preserve and provide access to their story. Please contact the other Wyoming institutions (see below) to determine if they will accept materials for participants younger than 18 years of age.

What types of formats are accepted?

All common image, text, audio, and video formats are accepted. Please contact Sara Davis (sarad@uwyo.edu) or Rachel Gattermeyer (rgatterm@uwyo.edu) if you have specific inquiries.

Is there anything we should avoid writing about?

We are not able to collect any material with HIPAA content. HIPAA requires that personal health information remain confidential. This means that you must agree not to include personally identifiable health information about yourself, another person or persons, or information that could allow a third party to identify the people. This rule encompasses information about members of your family, neighbors, and others. If you elect to share personal health information, the third party must separately submit the survey and the submissions must be fully anonymized for both the submitter and any third parties identifiable in the submission. Please let us know if you have questions.

What should I document?

The AHC’s COVID-19 Collection Project hopes to record community narratives as well as individual ones. We want to see the impact of the COVID-19 virus through your eyes.  Be creative. Share with us your observations about how this has impacted your community and beyond, as well as the daily impact to your personal and professional life.

I’m an instructor and I’d like to turn this into an assignment for my students. Is there anything I need to know?

This is great!  Instructors needs to be cognizant that student educational records as well as schoolwork is protected through FERPA, and teachers cannot require that students donate materials to the archives.  Instructors should notify their students that these projects are eligible to be part of the AHC’s COVID-19 Collection Project with their permission and provide them with the AHC’s release form with the assignment, the link to the survey, and contact information for Sara Davis (sarad@uwyo.edu) or Rachel Gattermeyer (rgatterm@uwyo.edu) for more information.

How do I submit?

To participate in contributing your stories, please complete the online survey.  If you are interested in submitting material other than just the survey, please contact Sara Davis (sarad@uwyo.edu) or Rachel Gattermeyer (rgatterm@uwyo.edu).

How frequently can/should I submit?

As the impact of COVID-19 will change over time, participants are encouraged to submit multiple observations.

What other Wyoming institutions are collecting?

In addition to the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center, the Wyoming State Archives and the Wyoming State Museum are collecting materials.  For more information or to offer items, please contact Kathy Marquis, State Archivist at kathy.marquis@wyo.gov, or Jennifer Alexander, Wyoming State Museum Supervisor of Collections at jennifer.alexander@wyo.gov.

Can I keep the copyright to what I submit?

We request that participants give the AHC permission to preserve and provide access to the materials they submit.

Can I restrict public access to my submission for a period of time?

Yes, the online survey allows users to request to restrict the material.  The default restriction is for five (5) years. Those interested in restricting their submitted information need to contact Sara Davis (sarad@uwyo.edu) or Rachel Gattermeyer (rgatterm@uwyo.edu).

Can submissions be anonymous?

Yes, we want people to feel comfortable sharing their stories.  Please indicate on the survey form that you are requesting anonymity.  In these cases, the AHC will remove any identifying information from the submitted information before storing them in the archive.

– Post submitted by AHC University Archivist Sara Davis and AHC Digital Archivist Rachel Gattermeyer.

#COVID19WY

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in community collections, Coronavirus outbreak, Current events, Digital collections, Economic History, Family history, Flu, Local history, medical history, oral histories, Pandemics, Public health, Uncategorized, Western history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

When Lions Fly

It’s a familiar sight – a roaring lion’s head in a golden frame. We see this iconic image at the beginning of our favorite films, TV shows, and cartoons, but the history behind this logo is little known.

One of the MGM lions. This one is named Tanner, although he was known, like the others, as "Leo the Lion." Tanner was featured as the MGM lion from 1934 to 1956, and in the 1960s. Source: Wikipedia. Originally sourced from the film Easter Parade (1948). Image reduced significantly from original size.
Tanner was the MGM lion from 1934 to 1956. Like the other MGM lions, he was known as “Leo the Lion.” Image source: Wikipedia.

MGM’s Leo the Lion was actually seven different lions over the course of 41 years from 1916 to 1957. The last lion, which was the only lion actually named Leo, is the current logo and has been in use since 1957. Each lion contributed a new take on the logo throughout the years.

Jackie's roar being recorded in December 1928 for use at the beginning of MGM sound films. A sound stage was built around his cage to make the recording. Image source: Wikipedia. Public domain image.
Jackie’s roar being recorded in December 1928 for use at the beginning of MGM sound films. A sound stage was built around his cage to make the recording. Image source: Wikipedia.

One lion in particular, Jackie, had a rather eventful term as Leo the Lion. In 1927, MGM was seeking publicity and came up with a stunt where “Leo the Lion” would be flown from San Diego to New York City non-stop. MGM selected the pilot Martin Jensen, who had recently come in second place in the Dole Air Derby to carry out the stunt. A custom plane was built for the event— a modified Ryan B-1 Brougham plane with a lion cage built in, an extra fuel tank, and tanks for milk and water. Jensen flew out of San Diego on September 16, 1927 with his feline passenger, a canteen of water, several sandwiches, and a .45 caliber pistol.

Martin Jensen with the plane that carried Leo the Lion as part of an MGM publicity stunt, 1927. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen with the MGM plane, 1927. Note the cage behind the cockpit. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, "The picture of the Ryan Plane with Leo the MGM lion and the frightened Pilot Martin Jensen. Note the glass plate on this side and on the right side with a glass door in which I crawled forward the Pilots cockpit." Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, “The picture of the Ryan Plane with Leo the MGM lion and the frightened Pilot Martin Jensen. Note the glass plate on this side and on the right side with a glass door in which I crawled forward the Pilots cockpit.” Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The flight, however, did not go as planned. Jensen hit a storm over Arizona and crashed into a small copse of trees in a desert canyon. Both Jensen and Jackie survived the impact with no injuries. After gathering his wits, Jensen left his sandwiches, the milk, and the water for the lion while he trekked across the desert looking for help.

Martin Jensen's plane crashed in the Arizona desert. He and the lion survived. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Wreckage of Martin Jensen’s plane. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, "This picture was the end of the Lion flight. I had repeatedly warned the Ryan Engineers that it could not get over the Mountains. They compared it to Lindbergh's flight, but he had 48 foot span and I only had 42 foot span. Their reasoning was based on theory not on facts." Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, “This picture was the end of the Lion flight. I had repeatedly warned the Ryan Engineers that it could not get over the Mountains. They compared it to Lindbergh’s flight, but he had 48 foot span and I only had 42 foot span. Their reasoning was based on theory not on facts.” Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

After four days, he found a small ranch. The ranch hands working there kindly agreed to help Jensen. They took Jensen to a ranger station so he could use the telephone to call for help. However, the ranger refused, saying that he had to keep the line open because a man was lost and search parties were looking for him. After establishing his identity as the man they were searching for, the ranger let Jensen use the phone to call the people at MGM.

As soon as MGM realized it was Jensen calling, the man on the phone yelled, “How’s the lion?” Jensen was ordered to spare no expense to get the lion out alive. Within two days, and with more help from some local ranch hands, the lion was retrieved safely. Jackie was then transported to New York by truck.

Martin Jensen captioned this photo, "Sam Haughton on left and some of his ranch hands which helped to bring the (Leo the Lion) out of the area where this picture was taken. The area was surveyed about 15 years later and it was reported that the surveyors had to wear stove pipes over their legs to keep the snakes from striking." Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen captioned this photo, “Sam Haughton on left and some of his ranch hands which helped to bring the (Leo the Lion) out of the area where this picture was taken. The area was surveyed about 15 years later and it was reported that the surveyors had to wear stove pipes over their legs to keep the snakes from striking.” Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Photo from newspaper article about Leo the Lion (Jackie) arriving in Payson, Arizona, after his rescue from the Arizona desert. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Photo from newspaper article about Leo the Lion (Jackie) arriving in Payson, Arizona, after his rescue from the Arizona desert. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The plane remained in the desert until 1991, although scavengers made off with some of the smaller pieces of wreckage. The canyon that Jensen and Leo crashed in is now named Leo Canyon in honor of the event. It is located in Gila County, Arizona. After surviving this incident and several other accidents (two train wrecks, an earthquake, and a studio explosion), Jackie was given the nickname “Leo the Lucky.

Martin Jensen is seen in this 1991 newspaper article holding the rudder cover of his plane that crashed in the Arizona desert. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Martin Jensen is seen in this 1991 newspaper article holding the rudder cover of his plane that crashed in the Arizona desert. Box 1, Martin Jensen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Learn more about pioneer aviator Martin Jensen in his papers at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center

— Post by Sarah Kesterson, UW American Heritage Center Archives Aid

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in Animal actors, aviation, aviation history, Hollywood history, motion picture history, Student projects, television history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shopping Center of Tomorrow is History

From gardens of rhododendrons and azaleas to marijuana. That seems to be the case with the Northland Center located outside of Detroit. Designed by Victor Gruen, the Northland Shopping Center opened on March 22, 1954.

Designed to accommodate a rapidly changing post-war America, Northland reflected the desires of consumers who were settling into the new and fresh suburban life where the automobile became a necessity for daily living.

Architect Victor Gruen designed Detroit's Northland Shopping Center as an open-air pedestrian mall with arrayed structures. The mall opened on March 22, 1954. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Architect Victor Gruen designed Detroit’s Northland Shopping Center as an open-air pedestrian mall with arrayed structures. The mall opened on March 22, 1954. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

A few days before the center opened, a press event was held for media and dignitaries. In a speech delivered to the group, Gruen described the Northland Center as “the first ‘Shopping Center of Tomorrow’ to come to life – a ‘Shopping Center of Tomorrow’ which you will see today.”

Gruen described the role of the shopping center when he proclaimed, “Our sprawling suburbs have lost connection with the mother city. They need new Shopping Centers; but they need, in addition to that, cultural, civic, and social centers.”

He continued by describing the many features of what was at the time the largest shopping center ever built – 1¼ miles of store fronts surrounded by 7500 parking spaces, mass transit ports, and highway links. Retail shopping opportunities now will be “restful and fun,”

Gruen declared. There are “public areas for relaxation and amusement.” The complex included retail clusters surrounding the Hudson Department Store. Gruen said to the audience, “When you wander around Northland we would like you to observe not only the buildings, but the other important, town-planning element: the space between the buildings.”

Northland Shopping Center had 1¼ miles of store fronts surrounded by 7500 parking spaces, mass transit ports, and highway links. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Northland Shopping Center had 1¼ miles of store fronts surrounded by 7500 parking spaces, mass transit ports, and highway links. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Gruen, who was born in Vienna, Austria in 1903, came to America, and, in 1939, started Victor Gruen Associates. His European influence was incorporated in his designs. Explaining the concept to the audience, Gruen said, “For the first time in a new commercial project, open, architecturally defined spaces have been created which resemble the market squares of European cities.”

Victor Gruen, ca. 1955. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

He described the garden areas as “having been richly planted with trees, shrubs, and flowers – different ones [including rhododendrons and azaleas] in each court and mall.” He went on to describe another first – the use of modern art. “For the first time modern art has been included, on a large scale, into the architectural concept of a commercial project.”

Flowers surrounded a piece of modern art at Northland Shopping Center. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.
Flowers surround a piece of modern art at Northland Shopping Center. Victor Gruen papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Northland flourished for many decades. In 1974, the center became a mall when it was enclosed. However, by the late 1990s, Northland entered into a decline. Stores like Montgomery Ward, J.C. Penney, and T.J. Maxx closed. In 2015, the last of the major anchor stores, Target and Macy’s, closed. Northland Center officially closed on April 15, 2015. 61 years after its opening, the “Shopping Center of Tomorrow” is history.

The City of Southfield purchased the property and demolition began in the fall of 2017. Plans for the future redevelopment of the site were announced in 2019. Those rhododendrons and azaleas that filled the gardens of Northland could be replaced with housing, retail space, and a medical marijuana facility. Northland reflects an ever-changing America.

Learn more about Gruen’s innovative architectural designs in the Victor Gruen papers at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center.

– Post by UW American Heritage Center Archivist John Waggener.

#alwaysarchiving

Posted in architectural history, Architecture, Built environment, city and regional planning history, Demolition, Design, Post World War II, Retail history, Retail stores, Shopping centers, Suburbia, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Finding Aids: April 20

Behind the scenes we’re busy as ever archiving and processing collections. Here’s another round of finding aides we’ve published so you can see what’s been added to our collections.

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.

Finding Aid Updates

Cartoonist Jerry Palen. Jerry Palen was born in Paris, Tennessee, on July 9, 1943. He moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming, with his parents at the end of the World War II. His father worked as a large animal veterinarian for 32 years, thus giving Palen extensive experience in Wyoming agriculture. He received his B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Wyoming in 1969. Jerry, his wife Ann, and their sons owned a Wyoming ranch for several years, and eventually operated the Saratoga Publishing Group. Palen is best known for his cartoon series Stampede, which was the largest syndicated cartoon feature in the agricultural sectors of the United States and Canada. His papers contain cartoon scrapbooks, correspondence, printed material, original drawings, calendars, and prints related to Palen’s cartoon series Stampede. It also contains antique spurs, bridles, stirrups, a pair of chaps, saddles, and a saddle vice.

University of Wyoming Wool Division. The UW College of Agriculture began to study sheep and wool in 1907 after passage of the Adams Act, which provided $5000 per year for land-grant universities for sheep and wool research. UW purchased the Wyoming Territorial Prison near Laramie in 1907 and remodeled it for livestock work, including housing of its Rambouillet sheep flock. The college established the Animal Husbandry department in 1911. It was renamed Animal Production in 1934, then the Animal Science Division in 1961, and then the Animal Science Department in 1986. The Wool Department was established in 1913 and conducted research, training, and experiments on sheep and wool in cooperation with the Agricultural Experiment Station before being merged with the Animal Science department in 1955. The collection contains administrative records, projects, events, photographs, news clippings, and scrapbooks on the evolution of the Wyoming wool industry and on international processes and tests. The UW Wool Laboratory Collection is located at UW Libraries’ Emmett D. Chisum Special Collections.

University of Wyoming Geology professor D.L. Blackstone. Donald L. Blackstone was a geologist and professor of geology at UW. Born in Montana, he earned a PhD from Princeton University in 1936. He worked for Carter Oil Company before taking a teaching position at UW in 1946. He became head of the Dept. of Geology in 1963. From 1967 to 1969 he was Wyoming State Geologist and oversaw the reorganization of the Wyoming State Geological Survey. He retired as a UW faculty member in 1974 but continued to teach Structural Geology into the 1980s. The collection contains information about the UW textbook investigation of 1947-1948, the National Park Service Centennial in 1972, photographs and manuscripts by Blackstone and others, and a binder relating to the Carter Oil Company. Also included are geological, mining, and oil maps, mainly in Wyoming.

University of Wyoming Geology professor Albert C. Boyle. Albert C. Boyle was a geologist and mining engineer. He was born in 1880 in Salt Lake County, Utah, and graduated from the Utah State University in 1906 with a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering. He received a Ph.D. in the same field from Columbia University in 1913. After his time as an assistant professor of geology and physics at Columbia from 1907 to 1910, he became professor of mining and geology at UW, serving from 1910 to 1920. He was also state assayer and mineralogist of Wyoming. He resigned from UW after a dispute regarding his summer employment by the Union Pacific Railroad. He became chief geologist for the Union Pacific in 1920. He also worked as a consulting geologist for numerous oil companies in various western states. His papers contain photos of mines and geological sites in Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Utah, and California. There is also correspondence; geological reports; UW Dept of Mining and Geology annual reports; and business records and photos of the Pyramid Garage, a Boyle family-owned business in Laramie, Wyoming.

These and other AHC collections can be discovered in the University of Wyoming Libraries catalog. Our reading room is currently closed due to concerns about COVID-19, but our reference department is happy to assist you by email or phone at ahcref@uwyo.edu or 307-766-3756.

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Agricultural history, Agriculture, cartoons, commercial art, Economic Geology, faculty/staff profiles, Finding Aids, Geology, Laramie, Livestock industry, Local history, mining history, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming history, Western history, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Past Pandemic In Wyoming: The Spanish Flu, 1918-1919

Though disease epidemics were common throughout America and the West in earlier times, the worst epidemic in terms of loss of human life came to Wyoming early in the 20th century, in the fall of 1918. 

From October of that year through January 1919, 780 people died statewide, victims of the flu epidemic. Of those, 169 died directly from the flu while the rest were taken by a combination of flu and pneumonia.

The sickness came just as World War I was drawing to a close. The war had begun in 1914 and the United States had entered it in April 1917. Beginning early in 1918, in the space of 15 months the disease killed somewhere between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide—far more than the 20 million civilian and military deaths attributed directly to the war. In Wyoming, too, the flu was deadlier than the war: Around 11,000 Wyoming men served in the war; about 500 of them died.

U.S. Army flu victims fill an emergency hospital near Fort Riley, Kansas, 1918. Photo from the National Museum of Health.
U.S. Army flu victims fill an emergency hospital near Fort Riley, Kansas, 1918. National Museum of Health.

Though at the time it was called the Spanish Influenza or more often Spanish flu, the epidemic did not begin in Spain. King Alfonso XIII of Spain fell gravely ill after the flu was widely reported in Madrid in May 1918. Spain was not a combatant in the war, however, and, therefore, news of the epidemic was not censored there as it was in France, England, Germany and the United States. The king recovered, but the name “Spanish influenza,” stuck.

The epidemic came in three waves worldwide. The first, in the spring and early summer of 1918, was relatively mild. The second, beginning in summer and gaining vast momentum in the fall, was far deadlier. A third wave, in the winter and spring of 1919, was less lethal than the second but still dangerous. Young children and elderly died, but what made the epidemic unusual, and different from coronavirus, is that many victims of the Spanish flu were healthy young adults.

Like today with the coronavirus, local and state public health officials drastically curtailed public activities—shopping was limited, schools closed, and public and private gatherings were canceled. 

Many died of Spanish flu during the last two weeks of October and the first week of November of 1918, by which time, according to some national news accounts, the epidemic was declining. That appeared not to be the case in Wyoming, however. Reports of disease and flu deaths continued unabated at least until January 1919. A few newspaper editors noted that schools, closed for the semester, were about to reopen in December, but most did not begin sessions until after the Christmas holidays.

Hospitalized patients in recovery would have seen wards such as this one in Laramie, Wyoming's Ivinson Memorial Hospital, 1919. Ludwig & Svenson Photograph Collection, Accession Number 167.
Hospitalized patients in recovery would have seen wards such as this one in Laramie, Wyoming’s Ivinson Memorial Hospital, 1919. Ludwig & Svenson Photograph Collection, Accession Number 167.

Just as recently occurred, the University of Wyoming suspended classes. The University shut down in early October with a formal notice reported in the Wyoming Student. “The culmination of the growing epidemic of Spanish influenza throughout the city came on the afternoon of Tuesday a week ago,” the article noted, “when the health authorities ordered all places of amusement, all public gatherings, and all schools closed until further notice.” 

According to the report, Dr. Aven Nelson, president of the university, “suggested that the enforced vacation would offer excellent opportunity for reading and outdoor exercise, and that if used to catch up on the things for which the ordinary routine does not give time, it would not prove too irksome.” Pointing out that officials discouraged students from spending time downtown, the editor observed, “… since the soda fountains and picture shows are also closed, there is not a great deal of inducement to loiter on the street.” 

Statewide, of the stores that remained open, many limited the number of customers. Some Cheyenne stores allowed only five customers at any one time for each 25 feet of store front. Because reports from other area towns told of the dire consequences of the disease, some towns, such as Kemmerer, managed to escape widespread influenza by imposing quarantines and cancelling public events before the disease made its appearance.

A Rock River, Wyoming, drugstore and soda fountain, 1919. Businesses such as this would have supplied residents with medicines, but probably would have seen few customers for the soda fountain. Ludwig & Svenson Photograph Collection, Accession Number 167.
A Rock River, Wyoming, drugstore and soda fountain, 1919. Businesses such as this would have supplied residents with medicines, but probably would have seen fewer customers for the soda fountain. Ludwig & Svenson Photograph Collection, Accession Number 167.

Workplaces statewide were disrupted. The Wyoming Labor Journal noted, “There has been no part of the state that has been immune nor has any particular class of people been favored. There have been a number of deaths, but in the majority of instances where proper care has been taken the worst result has been from the incapacitating of the victims.”

By mid-December, state health authorities were still urging that quarantines continue because the Spanish flu was spreading again. C.Y. Beard, secretary of the Wyoming State Board of Health, warned of lifting quarantines too soon. He also chastised some Wyomingites who insisted upon continuing card parties and social gatherings.

Officials were still concerned about the epidemic after the New Year. When theaters and churches were allowed to reopen in January 1919, people occupied only alternate seats. 

The last Wyoming cases were reported in the early winter of 1919, although precautions were still in place in most Wyoming schools and towns until the following summer. By spring, no more cases were reported. Still, the following fall, many people were wondering if the flu would return. It didn’t, at least in Wyoming.

Photograph of an audience in the Empress Theater in Laramie after the Spanish flu crisis had passed, 1919. Ludwig & Svenson Photograph Collection, Accession Number 167.
A sense of normalcy began to return in Wyoming later in 1919 as seem in this photograph of an audience in the Empress Theater in Laramie. Ludwig & Svenson Photograph Collection, Accession Number 167.

The death toll from the Spanish flu epidemic has been measured for many states. Inexplicably, Wyoming is not included in the government listing. The Wyoming Board of Health claimed some 700 people died from the flu or its effects; historian T.A. Larson placed the figure at 780. Random samples of cemetery records and newspaper obituaries from the period confirm a number in that range.  

A century later, the question about how such an epidemic might affect Wyoming continues to be raised. Historian John M. Barry predicted the impact of such an epidemic nationally. “If a new influenza virus does emerge, given modern travel patterns, it will likely spread even more quickly than it did in 1918,” Barry writes.

There are many differences between the coronavirus crisis and the Spanish flu pandemic. They are different diseases, of course, but we also have more resources in 2020 to combat disease. As Anne Rasmussen, a historian at the EHESS university in Paris, said to a French newspaper reporter in March 2020, “…It’s a different world now from the one that saw the Spanish flu. Things are done on a different scale now, with much more research and a much more efficient approach to dealing with diseases. There are great reasons for hope.”

Thanks to University of Wyoming emeritus professor Phil Roberts for much of the text for this post. It was taken from his article, “The 1918 Flu: A Pandemic Sweeps Wyoming,” which was published September 24, 2018, on WyoHistory.org.

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Bruce Lee Steals the Show in “The Green Hornet”

The road to Bruce Lee’s screen stardom began in Oakland, California, where his Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute began attracting the attention of the martial arts world. His appearance in the first-ever Long Beach International Karate Championships in 1964 wowed the audience with demonstrations of his “one-inch punch” and astute lectures regarding his fighting philosophy. One of the attendees was celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring who spread the word in Hollywood about this amazing martial artist. William Dozier, producer of the hit show Batman, got hold of some tournament footage and had Lee come in for a screen test.

William Dozier, Executive Producer of the television series "Batman" was featured in an article about the series, ca. 1966. William Dozier papers, UW American Heritage Center.
Article about William Dozier as Executive Producer of the successful television series “Batman.” Box 8, William Dozier papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Bruce Lee screen-tested for the role of Charlie Chan’s son in a series to be titled “Number One Son,” but the series was scuttled. However, the success of Batman gave Dozier the go ahead to launch his new hero/sidekick series, The Green Hornet, which was already a successful comics and media franchise. It featured Britt Reid, owner/publisher of The Daily Sentinel, who fights crime as “The Green Hornet.” His secret remains unknown except to his faithful valet, Kato—a kung-fu expert and driver of “Black Beauty,” the duo’s well-armed car. Bruce Lee would be Kato.

Van Williams (The Green Hornet) and Bruce Lee (Kato) in fighting stance for a publicity still for the television series "The Green Hornet," 1966. William Dozier papers, UW American Heritage Center.
Van Williams and Bruce Lee in fighting stance for a publicity photograph, 1966. Box 18, William Dozier papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Filming immediately met a hitch. Lee refused to fight in slug matches as seen in typical westerns. The essence of his martial arts philosophy was efficiency not sloppy punching. But Lee’s moves were a blur to the TV cameras. So, he shot his fight scenes in slow motion and grudgingly included flashy flying kicks for visual impact.

It was the first time kung fu was seen in the West outside Chinatown movie theaters. Younger viewers were astonished by what they saw. Bruce Lee’s Kato became the series’ real star and he was soon making personal appearances across the country. Van Williams, who played The Green Hornet, took Lee’s fame in stride. They became good friends and Williams went to bat with the show’s producers to give Lee more screen time and lines. In turn, Lee taught Williams some basic techniques that he is sometimes used in the series.

Bruce Lee shows Van Williams some kung fu fighting techniques in this publicity photograph, 1966. William Dozier papers, UW American Heritage Center.
Bruce Lee teaches Van Williams some of his show-stopping moves, 1966. Box 18, William Dozier papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

In 1967, a two-parter was shot in which The Green Hornet and Kato teamed up with Batman and Robin. Batman was the more popular of the two shows and the fight took place on that show. The original script had Batman and Robin winning the fight. Bruce Lee wouldn’t have it. He walked off the show. As a compromise, the scene was rewritten to have the fight end in a draw. On set, leading up to the fight scene, Lee played a joke on Burt Ward as Robin. Lee didn’t say a word, he just stared at Ward and acted angry all day. When they started filming Lee acted like he was going to fight for real, which panicked Ward until Lee laughingly revealed it was all a joke.

Despite considerable interest in Bruce Lee, The Green Hornet aired only one season from 1966-1967. It never found a larger-than-niche audience.

Green Hornet's Executive Producer William Dozier writes to Bruce Lee of the series' demise, March 7, 1967. William Dozier papers, UW American Heritage Center.
Green Hornet’s Executive Producer William Dozier writes to Bruce Lee of the series’ demise, March 7, 1967. Box 8, William Dozier papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming
Letter from Bruce Lee to William Dozier expressing gratitude for his role in the television series, The Green Hornet. William Dozier papers, UW American Heritage Center.
Letter of gratitude from Bruce Lee to William Dozier in which he states that part of his role on the series was “…of minimizing and hacking away the unessential,” May 13, 1967. Box 8, William Dozier papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

To learn more about The Green Hornet and the Batman television series, see the William Dozier papers at University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center.

Post by Leslie Waggener, Archivist, American Heritage Center.

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New Finding Aids: March 2020

We’re still busy as ever archiving and processing collections. Here’s another round of finding aides we’ve published so you can see what’s been added to our collections.

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.

behind the scenes look at the archive at the American Heritage Center

Finding Aid Updates


Petroleum geologist F. Julius Fohs. Ferdinand Julius Fohs (1884-1965) was a geologist who conducted oil and mineral resources exploration and development in the United States, Canada, and West Asia. He first visited Palestine in 1919. He returned to West Asia after World War I, where he studied and reported on petroleum and water resources in the area before and after the creation of the State of Israel. Fohs wrote articles on geology and petroleum in West Asia and the Soviet Union and on world oil resources. His papers contains correspondence, subject files, logs, reports, maps, and photographs all related to Foh’s work in Palestine and Israel. There are also reports concerning resettlement possibilities in that area. There are reports and maps on oil in the Williston Basin, as well as reports and maps on other petroleum resources in the western United States and Canada. Also included are manuscripts of Foh’s articles on world oil.

Construction company Lobo Inc. The company was founded and incorporated in Casper, Wyoming, in 1958 by Robert N. Olsen. It was a construction and civil engineering company primarily focused on highway construction, dams, bridges, and mines. This collection contains correspondence, printed material, film, photographs and negatives, daily reports, estimates, contracts, and financial documents related to the construction projects of Lobo, Inc. and Rongstad-Olsen Construction. It also contains awards, certificates, and personal papers of Robert N. Olsen.

Writer Mary O’Hara. Mary O’Hara Alsop, a writer and composer originally from New York, came to Wyoming in 1930 and along with her husband bought the Remount Ranch near Laramie. While living on the ranch, O’Hara wrote her popular Western novel My Friend Flicka, the first of a trilogy that was followed by Thunderhead and Green Grass of Wyoming, all of which were made into motion pictures. She left the ranch in 1945 and returned to the East Coast. Among her other writings is a novella The Catch Colt, for which she later wrote music and libretto for a musical play version. Her papers contain manuscripts, galley proofs and reviews of several of her written works. There are also scrapbooks, correspondence, fan mail, reviews, clippings, photographs, and audio visual recordings concerning My Friend Flicka, Green Grass of Wyoming, The Catch Colt, and other works.

University of Wyoming, College of Health Sciences. The UW School of Health and Human Services operates under the administration of the College of Health Sciences to provide education and experience to students interested in careers in social work, dental hygiene, speech pathology and audiology, and medical technology. The collection contains student records, a brochure, and a history of the UW Division of Social Work by Dr. Keith A. Miller. This collection also has access to archived websites affiliated with the College of Health Sciences.

These and other AHC collections can be discovered in the University of Wyoming Libraries catalog. Our reading room is currently closed due to concerns about COVID-19, but our reference department is happy to assist you by email or phone at ahcref@uwyo.edu or 307-766-3756.

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Posted in Authors and literature, Composers, Economic Geology, energy resources, Finding Aids, Geology, Hollywood history, International relations, mining history, motion picture history, newly processed collections, Politics, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, women's history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barry Goldwater Strikes Back: A Forgotten Libel Case of the 1960s

The UW American Heritage Center was fortunate in April 2019 to have a visit from Dr. John Martin-Joy, psychiatrist and author who publishes on literary and psychiatric topics.

Dr. John Martin-Joy, psychiatrist and author of Diagnosing from a Distance: Debates over Libel Law, Media, and Psychiatric Ethics from Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump.
Dr. John Martin-Joy

Dr. Martin-Joy researched the papers of Ralph Ginzburg, a provocative author, editor, publisher, and photojournalist who, among other things, published Fact, a short-lived political journal with a muckraking bent.

The important libel suit Goldwater v. Ginzburg (1966-1970) was of especial interest to Dr. Martin-Joy. The case pitted U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater against Ginzburg for an issue of Fact that maintained through psychiatric “evidence” that Goldwater was unfit for office.

Cover of Fact magazine in 1964 in which psychiatrists assert that Barry Goldwater is unfit for office. Ralph Ginzburg papers, UW American Heritage Center.
A 1964 article in Fact magazine led to what is known as the Goldwater Rule, the American Psychiatric Association’s declaration that it is unethical for any psychiatrist to diagnose a public figure’s condition “unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” Ralph Ginzburg papers, UW American Heritage Center.
Cartoon in Fact magazine alluding to Barry Goldwater's lack of fitness for public office. Ralph Ginzburg papers, UW American Heritage Center.
Cartoon from a 1964 article in Fact magazine alluding to Barry Goldwater’s lack of fitness for public office. Ralph Ginzburg papers, UW American Heritage Center

Dr. Martin-Joy has written a book, Diagnosing from a Distance: Debates over Libel Law, Media, and Psychiatric Ethics from Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump. The book traces the Goldwater controversy and illustrates the pertinence of Goldwater v. Ginzburg to the current debates over psychiatric ethics, mental health, and libel in the current political era. The book will be out in April 2020 from Cambridge University Press.

Cover of Dr. John Martin-Joy's book that will come out in April 2020 from Cambridge University Press.
Cover of Dr. John Martin-Joy’s book, which will be available in April 2020 from Cambridge University Press. Image courtesy Cambridge University Press.

Below is a post Dr. Martin-Joy shared with us from his research for the forthcoming book:


At the height of the turbulent 1960s, provocative New York publisher Ralph Ginzburg (1929-2006) pushed the boundaries of good taste and of libel law in a series of publications that deliberately aimed to speak truth to power.

Among his most controversial publications was a special issue of Fact magazine (1964).  In the issue, Ginzburg portrayed 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater as mentally unstable, unfit for office, and uncomfortable with his own masculinity.  Ginzburg did not interview Goldwater.  Instead, he used books, newspaper articles, and television sources to make his case.  He also surveyed American psychiatrists about Goldwater’s fitness for office—and provided shocking excerpts from comments by hundreds of them.  Goldwater, said one, “has the same pathological make-up as Hitler, Castro, Stalin and other known schizophrenic leaders.”  According to another, Goldwater was “emotionally unstable, immature, volatile, unpredictable, hostile, and mentally unbalanced.  He is totally unfit for public office and a menace to society.”[i]  For his part, Ginzburg was proud of the special issue, distributed 236,000 copies of it, and regarded the issue as “very real public service.”[ii]

Goldwater had a habit of making simplistic, provocative statements himself.  During the campaign he said that the use of “low-yield nuclear weapons” would be feasible in Vietnam.  In his acceptance speech at the 1964 convention, he uttered the memorable phrase that Richard Nixon (among others) thought lost him the election: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.  Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.[iii]  But when he saw the special issue of Fact, Goldwater was appalled.  He said losing the election did not bother him.  But reading page after page of psychiatrists’ hostile comments did.  The experience was “rather depressing.”  Now it was impossible to walk down the street in New York without wondering why people were smiling at him.  Was it because they were being friendly and respectful?  Or, he wondered, were they thinking, “there goes that queer or there goes that homosexual, or there goes that man who is afraid of masculinity.”

What could be done?  Overruling his friend William F. Buckley, Jr., Goldwater decided to file a libel suit against Ginzburg and FactGoldwater v. Ginzburg pitted the claims of free speech against the risk of harm to public figures.  Despite the permissive libel standard used by the Supreme Court then and now, Goldwater ultimately won the case—and made a kind of martyr of Ralph Ginzburg.  Ginzburg paid a $75,000 judgment, but he won the honor of a ringing dissent from his hero, liberal Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black.  Black would have reviewed the case and found for Ginzburg, he said in his dissent, “because I firmly believe that the First Amendment guarantees to each person in this country the unconditional right to print what he pleases about public affairs.” [iv]


[i] The Unconscious of a Conservative: A Special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater, Fact 1:5 (September-October 1964).
[ii] Quotes from the trial are taken from the stenographer’s transcript of Goldwater v. Ginzburg, Southern District of New York, May 6-22, 1968.  In Ralph Ginzburg Papers, boxes 32-34, accession number 7755, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY.
[iii] Robert A. Goldberg, Barry Goldwater (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995).
[iv] Ginzburg v. Goldwater, 396 U.S. 1049 (1970), the Supreme Court’s denial of Ginzburg’s petition for writ of certiorari in the case.  Includes dissent by Justice Black, January 26, 1970.  Accessed on 8-22-18 at https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/396/1049/.
 

About the author:

John Martin-Joy, M.D. is a psychiatrist at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has published articles on literary and psychiatric topics, including Emerson’s influence on Hawthorne’s “The Old Manse” and on Hemingway’s nonfiction; the ethics of psychiatrists diagnosing public figures they have never met; and the role of defense mechanisms over the life span. His awards include a Laughlin fellowship from the American College of Psychiatrists and a Dupont-Warren Research Fellowship from the Harvard Department of Psychiatry.

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Beauty in the Books: Treasures of the Toppan Library

Nestled between the Laramie Mountains to the east and the Snowy Range mountains to the west, Laramie is a gateway for visitors and residents alike to explore the beauty of Wyoming’s nature. Yet at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center, there is another type of beauty waiting to be explored; the beauty of rare books from the past.  

The Common Book of Prayer and the Administrations of the Sacraments and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the use of the Church of England, Together with the Psalter, or Psalms of David, Pointed as they are to be Sung or Said in Churches (Common Book Prayer for short) is one of the many rare books housed in the Toppan Rare Books Library, American Heritage Center. For most Anglican Churches in the British Commonwealth the Common Book of Prayers has been the standard liturgical text since 1662[1]. The copy housed in the library was published in 1678 by printers Christopher Barker and John Bill of London and was acquired in 2014.

Book of Prayer Visible Fore-Edge protective box
Custom protective box for Book of Common Prayer. Toppan Rare Books Library, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

 The age of this copy and its remarkable condition are indeed rare, however, it is the workmanship of the bookbinder that qualifies this book as a treasure. Early books were printed and remained unbound or in their original boards until the purchaser of the book sent it to a bookbinder for binding. Known for his beautiful leather tooling and fore-edge painting this bookbinder, whose name has been lost to time and is known as Queen’s Binder B, and their craftsmanship has transformed the book from a mere series of text into a beautiful work of art. The cover is bound in black Moroccan leather with intricate floral tooling stamped in gilt and painted silver. 

close up of Queen's Binder B
Queen’s Binder B – the cover is bound in black Moroccan leather with intricate floral tooling stamped in gilt and painted silver. Toppan Rare Books Library, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

All the fore-edges are gilded, painted with colored flowers, and gauffered, indenting the gilded edges with a heated tool. Visitors to the American Heritage Center Main Reading Room (4th floor) can view this beautiful book by appointment.    

  • fore edge of Queen's Binder B book
  • bottom/tail-edge of Queen's Binder B book

Other books at the University did not arrive in such pristine shape. Found in the University of Wyoming Botany Department’s library in 2014, The British Herbal: an History of Plants and Tree, Natives of Britain, cultivated for Use or raised for Beauty (British Herbal) was sent for conservation work before it was transferred to the American Heritage Center Toppan Library. The spine binding was taped with pressure tape that caused a black residue to form on the split suede, the front cover or board was detached, and some of the pages were pulling away from the binding.

  • The British Herbal book spine before restoration work.
  • The British Herbal book spine after restoration work.
  • The British Herbal book spine with black residue on spine
  • inside look to The British Herbal: an History of Plants and Tree, Natives of Britain, cultivated for Use or raised for Beauty (British Herbal)
  • Inside look of The British Herbal: an History of Plants and Tree, Natives of Britain, cultivated for Use or raised for Beauty book

Written in 1757 by John Hill, the British Herbal was not well received at the time. A partial explanation may be attributed to Hill himself. An apothecary, botanist, writer and part-time actor, Hill, who often referred to himself as Sir John Hill, was not well regarded with his contemporaries of the time. Hill was often referred to as “only a little paltry dunghill.”[2] It appears that Hill not only took such criticism well but relished in the fame that it brought him and his books.

While Hill and his books may not have been appreciated during his day, visitors to the American Heritage Center can experience the beauty of the British Herbal. The split suede cover protects the large volume describing the types of plants and their characteristic. Along with the detailed copper engraving of plants, the British Herbal also has beautiful copper engravings on the title pages.

  • cover of The British Herbal: an History of Plants and Tree, Natives of Britain, cultivated for Use or raised for Beauty (British Herbal) book
  • close up of cover page of The British Herbal: an History of Plants and Tree, Natives of Britain, cultivated for Use or raised for Beauty (British Herbal) book
  • close up of cover page of The British Herbal: an History of Plants and Tree, Natives of Britain, cultivated for Use or raised for Beauty (British Herbal) book

John Hill’s British Herbal and the path it took show why it is such valued treasure. Whether you are visiting Laramie, or you call Laramie home, please remember the beautiful rare book treasures that are waiting for you to experience at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center. Access to rare book holdings is via the Reference Services unit. Please contact us 307-766-3756, ahcref@uwyo.edu, for assistance.


[1] Book of Common Prayer, Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Book-of-Common-Prayer

[2] p. 495. Stearn, William T. and John Hill, “Hill’s The British Herbal (1756-1757), Taxon, Vol. 16, No. 6 (Dec., 1967), pp. 494-498.


Blog contribution by Steve Yeager, former employee, Reference Services

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