Navigating Botany Led by W.G. Solheim I

Wilhelm G. Solheim was born in Stoughton, Wisconsin, in 1898. He earned his M.A. degree in 1926, followed by his Doctorate in 1928, from the University of Illinois. He came to UW that next year and worked as professor emeritus for over fifty years (Laramie Daily Boomerang, 1978). He headed the Botany department and later he became the dean of Arts and Sciences for a year.

He was known “as the foremost authority on the fungi of the Rocky Mountain region” (Laramie Daily Boomerang, 1978). He retired from UW in 1963 where he then traveled to Afghanistan. He passed away on May 18, 1978, just after his eightieth birthday.

newspaper with text -- transcribed in text
University of Wyoming Associated Students. “Solheim to Serve in Afghanistan Program,” Branding Iron (August 9, 1963) Accessed May 14, 2019: hdl.handle.net/10176/wyu:324065.

Transcription of Branding Iron Article:

Solheim to Serve in Afghanistan Program

W. G. Solheim, UW professor, left Laramie Saturday for Afghanistan where he will serve as chief administrator of the UW Afghanistan contract program at Kabul.

The program is being carried out by a 15-member team of professors under a contract between UW and the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), an agency of the U.S. Department of State. UW has been involved in various phases of the Afghan program over the past 11 years.

Solheim’s appointment became effective Aug. 1, following federal confirmation. His wife will accompany him during the two-year stint.

Enroute to Afghanistan via a western route, Solheim and his wife will stop in Bangkock, Thailand, to visit briefly with their son, W.G. Solheim, II, a 1947 graduate who holds a doctorate in anthropology and who is conducting field research there. They will also spend three days in New Delhi, India, where Solheim will address a meeting of the Indian Phytopathological Society.

Solheim was born in Stoughton, Wis., graduated from Augustana College and Normal School in 1920, received his bachelor’s degree in 1924 from Iowa State Teachers College and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Illionois in 1926 and 1928, respectively.

He has served UW as professor of botany and as acting dean of the college of arts and sciences.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa and numerous other honoraries, including Sigma Xi, Phi Sigma Phi Eta and Kappa Delta Pi, he has also served on the executive committee of the Colorado-Wyoming Academy Research Foundation.

He was a field agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the summers of 1923-25 and taught at North Dakota Agricultural College before joining the UW faculty in 1929.

During World War I he served in Englad and France with the Army and has since traveled extensively in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Solheim has published actively in the field of botany since 1927 and has conducted numerous research projects including those on vitamins and the growth of fungi in pure culture, the effect of natural gases on the growth of plants and rust fungi of North Dakota. His hobbies include hunting, fishing, photography and stamp collecting.

person sitting at desk; person standing looking at person at desk
University of Wyoming Associated Students. “Wyo Senior class of 1950,” University of Wyoming (1950) Accessed May 14, 2019: hdl.handle.net/10176/wyu:78199.

Some little known facts about W. G. Solheim include that he served in World War I.

He earned an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in 1978.

man sitting in graduation regalia with diploma and woman looking on
Newspaper photo of W.G. Solheim and his wife. W.G. Solheim I, AHC Bio File, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

To learn more about W.G. Solheim I and his work in mycology, see the W.G. Solheim I papers at the American Heritage Center.


Blog contribution by MaKayla Garnica, William D. Carlson Endowment Intern

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Posted in Agricultural history, Agriculture, environmental history, faculty/staff profiles, Interns' projects, Local history, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Finding Aids: July 2019

The faculty have been processing collections left and right, so here’s another round of new finding aids we’ve published.

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

The strengths of our collections include Wyoming and the American West, politics and public policy, ranching and energy, entertainment and popular culture, industry, transportation, and military history. The documents and archives we hold serve as raw data for scholarship and heritage work, and support thriving communities of place, identity, and interest in Wyoming and beyond.

black and white image of two people around a table using archives and doing research. AHC logo

Finding Aid Updates (from collections processed 5/24/19 – 6/7/19)


William Field’s Boy Scout photo album. Field’s album shows Scout activities in Wyoming in the 1920s.

William Ward’s Wyoming business signage collection. Casper Neon created business signs in the 1960s and 1970s.

University of Wyoming Botany professor W.G. Solheim. Solheim was the foremost authority of Rocky Mountain fungi.

University of Wyoming English professor Richard F. Fleck. Fleck’s interests included environmentalism and Native American literature.

Ecologist W.H. Romme. Romme is a specialist in the ecological role of fire.

University of Wyoming Dean of Women Margaret Tobin. Tobin’s materials include personal as well as professional papers.

Civil engineer Gayle Lewis. Lewis photographed his work on the Boysen Dam.

Symphony Association for the University of Wyoming. The Association supports the UW Symphony Orchestra.

Geologist Jay Alan Raney. Raney was an exploration geologist for Anaconda in the western United States.

Homesteaders Loran and Ruth Otto. The family moved to the Heart Mountain area in 1948.

NRA field representative Alan S. Krug. Krug was a long-time advocate for gun rights.

Wamsutter Community Development Project. The Wamsutter project aimed to mitigate rapid growth in a small Wyoming community.

Ethyl Corporation motion picture films (Records #00548). The Ethyl Corporation, chartered in Delaware in 1924, originated from the research efforts of scientists and chemical engineers Charles F. Kettering and Thomas Midgeley, Jr. In 1921, Midgley and Kettering discovered tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent in automobile engines. Kettering named this tetraethyl lead “Ethyl” gasoline and made it available to the public in 1923. Midgley and Kettering founded the General Motors Chemical Company to provide distribution of the gasoline. Standard Oil Company of New Jersey joined General Motors Chemical in its manufacturing to create Ethyl Corporation in 1924. Collection includes account books, stock certificates, newspapers and maps, advertisements, and other materials gathered by Boudreau and deal mostly with the petroleum industry in Pennsylvania (1823-1960). Also included is Thomas Midgley’s correspondence (1919-1952) regarding scientific research and business matters; photographs and glass slides of research and equipment (1923-1943); publications and speeches (1923-1983); service and training films; and audio of a 1940 Charles Kettering speech and a 20th anniversary observation. The motion pictures of this collection are digitized and available online.

Wendell C. White collection of Sinclair Oil Corporation films #12704. Wendell C. White started employment with Sinclair Oil Company in 1964 as a City Salesman in Salt Lake City. His next assignment was as Sales Representative – General in a move that took him to Boise, Idaho, in 1965. His next assignment in 1968 took him to Denver, Colorado, to manage Sinclair’s Dealer Training Program. With “stock tender offers” Atlantic Richfield acquired Sinclair in 1969. White became the Human Resources Representative with ARCO and subsequently Human Resources Manager with Pasco, Inc. and finally Human Resources Director with the Holding Family expansion of Sinclair Oil, Sun Valley, ranch and hospitality operations for 24 years. White retired in 2000 completing 36 years of Sinclair service. He continued to serve as Sinclair Historian – Retired. Collection contains digital copies of marketing, promotional, and training films of Sinclair Oil Corporation which was formed in 1916 by Harry F. Sinclair. In 1969, Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) acquired Sinclair, and it became one of the United States’ largest privately owned companies, owning and operating refineries, gas stations, hotels, two ski resorts, and a cattle ranch. The films of this collection are digitized and available online.


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

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Archival Film, Digital collections, energy resources, environmental history, Finding Aids, Heart Mountain, newly digitized collections, newly processed collections, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Folklife in Wyoming

Folklife is a complex, important and large component of culture. It encompasses the art, traditions and knowledge that passes down among a group of people and can be seen through dance, music, artwork, storytelling, ceremonies and belief sharing. While sometimes thought of as something “old” or “old-fashioned,” folklife is instead fluid and changes as the community changes. The elements of folklife – doing, making, believing, speaking and teaching – create a shared sense of identity by connecting people to the past through actions of the present.

wooden box full of decorated eggs
Lisa McDonald, Ukrainian egg decorating

The Wyoming Folklife Archive collection at the American Heritage Center (AHC) documents the activities, artworks and traditions of the many diverse groups in the state. Within the collection you’ll find examples of folklife from Basque, cowboy, Eastern European, Hispanic and Shoshoni communities, among many others. Some elements of dances and craftwork might be familiar, while other elements of cuisine and architecture are new. They all nevertheless represent the widespread uniqueness of Wyoming’s many communities.

decorate origami on a stand on a table
Rose Aguilar, Gillette, Okinawan painter and Origami maker

In 2015, an exhibit, The Art of the Hunt: Wyoming Traditions, was shown at the Wyoming State Museum in Cheyenne. It was a collaborative project between the Wyoming Arts Council and the University of Wyoming’s American Studies Program that explored the deep-rooted traditions, stories and skills Wyomingites have that connect them to hunting. Hunting involves more than the pursuit of animals. It can be stories of previous hunts, sharing of knowledge about how to track, strategies, and migratory patterns, as well as the creation of tools used in the pursuit.

The 5-year-long collection of research behind the exhibit is housed at the AHC. Within it contains photos of and interviews with over 100 people involved in Wyoming’s art of the hunt, such as saddle makers, fly fishers, knife makers, ranchers and taxidermists.

In addition to The Art of the Hunt: Wyoming Traditions materials in the Wyoming Folklife Archives collection, you can see photos of blacksmithing, leather working, jewelry-making, painting, woodcarving, ropemaking and more.

wood carving of grass, tree, and barn
Larry Simmons, Glenrock, Woodcarver

You can also listen to song recordings and both audio and video interviews of fly tiers, knifemakers, spinners, weavers, poets, and songwriters.

The Wyoming Folklife Archive collection at the AHC was created by the folklife coordinators and specialists at the University of Wyoming’s American Studies program and builds on the work of the State of Wyoming’s Council of Arts. Today new records showing Wyoming folklife are collected through the combined efforts of the UW American Studies program, the Wyoming Arts Council and the Wyoming Humanities Council.

To learn more about Wyoming folklife, see the Wyoming Folklife Archive papers at the American Heritage Center.

Blog contribution by Rachel Gattermeyer, Digital Archivist, Reference Services

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Posted in Local history, oral histories, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archives Rewind Vol. 5

Welcome back! It’s that time again — more highlights from rewinding our “Archives on the Air” series.

black and white image with yellow text. image is of old TV, VHS tapes, records, and music amplifiers.

Let’s get Volume 5 on rewind…

Episode 163 – Wyoming Defends Woman’s Suffrage – Morton E. Post Famly Papers 

Women’s Suffrage has been a hot topic as of late, particularly in Wyoming. You see, we’re celebrating 150 years of women voting here — 50 years before the 19th Amendment.

Also relevant — check out this recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine about how Wyoming is celebrating this anniversary.

hallway with shelves full of boxes on both sides

Boxes filled with archival collection material in one of the storage rooms at the American Heritage Center. Photo by Rick Walters.


Episode 72 – The Early Byrd – First African American in Wyoming State Senate

Speaking of women and politics — Harriett Elizabeth Byrd was the first African American legislator in Wyoming. She served in the Wyoming House for 8 years, and Wyoming Senate for 4 years. She was the primary sponsor for legislation that created Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Wyoming.

byrd

Harriet Elizabeth Byrd and her husband James W. Byrd (the first African American chief of police in WY.), Various dates. Box 10, Harriet Elizabeth Byrd Family papers.


Episode 153 – Escape from Bolivia – Gale McGee Papers

And yet another politician from Wyoming — Gale McGee, who served as a U.S. Senator from 1959-77 — found himself in the middle of a coup in Bolivia in 1979.

From perspective of sitting in back seat of a car. Two people in front seat; can see one person in rear view mirror. In the street are a car and a military tank. There are several brick buildings on the right side of the street.

The scene as viewed from the backseat of the McGees’ vehicle, October 1979. Box 25A, Gale McGee papers.


Episode 64 – Communists In Your Neighborhood: Sesame Street’s Mr. Hooper & The Red Scare

Before staring as grocer Mr. Hooper in Sesame Street, Will Lee was blacklisted from acted because he was suspected of being a communist during the McCarthyism era.

man standing behind table/bar inside and holding a glass and towel.

Will Lee as Mr. Hooper on the set of Sesame Street, 1970s. Box 1, Will Lee papers.

 


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

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

#AlwaysArchiving

 

Posted in African American history, Archives on the Air, Blacklisting, Bolivian history, Communism, Gale McGee, Local history, Martin Luther King Jr., Motion picture actors and actresses, Politics, Suffrage -- United States, Women -- suffrage, women's history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Finding Aids: June 2019

We’ll we’ve been really busy this summer processing collections — so much so we’re publishing another round this quickly!

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

The strengths of our collections include Wyoming and the American West, politics and public policy, ranching and energy, entertainment and popular culture, industry, transportation, and military history. The documents and archives we hold serve as raw data for scholarship and heritage work, and support thriving communities of place, identity, and interest in Wyoming and beyond.

person getting box in archival space

Finding Aid Updates (from collections processed 5/8/19 – 5/23/19)


Gamma Sigma Delta. Gamma Sigma Delta was founded as an honor society for Agricultural students.

University of Wyoming professor Conrad J. Kercher. Kercher joined the UW College of Agriculture in 1954.

Agricultural specialist Donald A. Ritter. Ritter was a soil conservationist for the University of Wyoming Extension.

Louisa A. Swain (this collection has also been digitized and is available online). Louisa A. Swain cast her ballot in Albany County, Wyoming Territory, on September 6, 1870. By doing so she became the first woman to vote legally in a general election in the United States. Louisa Swain was born Louisa Gardiner in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1801. She married Stephen Swain, and the couple moved with their four children to what later became Wyoming Territory. When Wyoming Territory was organized in 1869, women’s suffrage was written into the constitution, giving Mrs. Swain, and other women resident in the territory, the unprecedented right to vote on an equal basis with men.

Mary E. Almy journal. Almy traveled with an African-American cavalry troop in 1891.

Petroleum company executive E.W. Isom. Isom joined Sinclair Oil when the company was founded in 1916.

Wyoming residents Howard and Helen Campbell. The couple each wrote reminiscences of their lives.

Walter C. Hawes manuscript. Hawes wrote a history of the cattle industry in southeast Wyoming.


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

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Agricultural history, Agriculture, Digital collections, environmental history, Finding Aids, Local history, newly digitized collections, newly processed collections, Politics, Suffrage -- United States, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Women -- suffrage, women's history | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling With the Ninth Cavalry

The 9th United States Cavalry was formed during the Civil War as a segregated unit with African American troopers and white officers. The regiment was stationed in the West in 1867 and served in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, and Wyoming. In 1898 it took part in the Battle of San Juan Hill in Cuba.

black and white painting of soldiers on horses marching in line in arid mountain climate

Frederic Remington “Arizona Territory, 1888”, oil painting, George Rentschler collection, American Heritage Center. Remington’s painting appeared in Century Magazine under the title “A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers.” Remington was traveling with the 10th Cavalry, sister regiment the 9th, also made up of white officers and African American soldiers.

In 1891, Troop E, located at Fort Washakie, Wyoming, was ordered to Fort Robinson, Nebraska. The wife of one of the officers, Lieutenant Montgomery Parker, had given birth to a daughter three weeks before. She was still weak, so her mother, Mary E. Almy, came to Fort Washakie to help during the move. Mrs. Parker was laid on the floor of the “ambulance” (a covered wagon) cushioned by eight buffalo hides. The new baby, Mildred, was placed in an Arapaho cradle board attached to the ribs of the wagon cover. Between caring for her daughter and granddaughter, Mary Almy kept a journal of the trip which began on May 18, 1891.

circle photo of white house with grassland and sparse trees throughout property.

Fort Washakie, Wyoming, 1895, Mary Wilson Pascual collection, American Heritage Center. Fort Washakie was located on the Wind River Reservation. It was abandoned in 1908.

“I am chief nurse and doctoress and so far am getting along very successfully. L [Lizabeth] stands the trips, excitements and all very well, and her appetite is improving, and I see no reason why she shouldn’t go through all right. [Mildred] loves to cuddle and be cuddled and kissed and fussed over. That makes her such a comfort and plaything.”

Mrs. Almy also took note of the soldiers who created their camp at the end of each day after a difficult march: “This horde of black men got the seven tents up for the officers in marvelously quick time…The escort wagons were mired twice today.” Almy provided details about one such incident. “The escort wagons were ahead. Two first ones decided to drive through the pond, down a steep pitch and up an incline. They got over all right. Number three, the heaviest of all, with trunks and bedding, then came down. Mr. Driver thought he’d take the road…tipping the huge bulky old wagon on its side, down the embankment and into the pond. I thought, ‘Oh, Mary! All the clothes you’ve got are in the consommé!’” Fortunately, the contents of the wagon had little damage.

More excitement was encountered at the crossing of the Sweetwater River. “The men cut down the bank on the farther side of the river to make the ascent less steep. L…took Mildred in her lap and put her feet up on the opposite seat, where the bags and the rugs were piled almost to the top of the ambulance. Mont got in to keep them from falling off the seat, and a lively time those rebellious bags gave him, chasing each other off the seats, on the floor, into the water that slowly oozed in between the cracks, as we bounced over boulders and slipped between the rocks.”

black and white image; nature landscape with hills, two pronghorn in foreground.

Pronghorn in Wyoming, undated, Dan W. Greenburg collection, American Heritage Center. Pronghorn are miscalled antelope — they are actually related to goats.

Hunting was apparently encouraged to supplement rations. “We have had hopes of an antelope all day,” Almy noted, “as we have seen them several times at a distance, but the men are not good hunters, therefore they missed two that are quite close.” Lizabeth Parker also had bad luck. “Close to the road we drove on to seven sage hens. Holmes, the driver, had a carbine. L got out and walked to a good shooting distance and fired and shot too high, of course. She fired again at two, close together, and the ball struck the ground between them. If she had had a short gun, she’d have gotten the two hens.” It was not all disappointment. The Parkers’ “striker”, Greene, “came to the tent and rapped. ‘Can I speak to the lieutenant?’ He had five small fish. Some of the men are catching them in a net here in the Platte River.”

black and white image; dirt road in center of a town -- featuring many wooden buildings

Center Street, Casper, Wyoming, 1890, Looking North, Petroleum Information collection, American Heritage Center.

On June 12 the company arrived in Casper, where, according to Almy, “we attain the commonplace again.” At Casper, the troops were loaded onto railroad cars for the rest of the trip to Fort Robinson. From Fort Robinson Mary Almy mailed her journal to a relative with instructions to return it later, so she could copy it into Mildred’s baby book as a record of “Mildred’s First Journey.”

In 1981 Mildred, now grown and married to General Barton Kyle Yount, sent a transcription of the narrative to the American Heritage Center. “I cannot send the original” she explained, “because the paper it is written on is so old that it is cracking.” Mildred Almy Parker Yount died in 1986.

The location of the original journal is now unknown.

Extracts from Mary E. Almy journal, Collection Number 3596, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Blog contribution by D. Claudia Thompson, Processing Manager, American Heritage Center

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Posted in African American history, military history, Western history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Archives Rewind Vol. 4

Another Monday, another blog — time for round four of our “Archives Rewind” series. Let’s dive in and see what we can come up with today, shall we?

black and white image of vinyl record with image text "Archives on the Air" and AHC logo

Rewinding for Volume 4…

Episode 92 – Downtown Cheyenne – Verna Edicott Papers

We’ve noticed that Cheyenne is one the happening places to be as of late thanks to the great events put on by the City. But it would be interesting to know what it was like in the 1910s and 20s

downtown street with buildings, flag, wagon and people riding horses

Postcard showing cowboys riding down a street in Downtown Cheyenne, arriving for Cheyenne Frontier Days, circa 1907-1929. Box 24, J.S. Palen papers.

Episode 113 – Can You Dig It? – Ernest Tidyman Papers

A new “Shaft” movie, staring Samuel L. Jackson comes out this week. So we thought it was appropriate to highlight our “Archives on the Air” episode featuring the Ernest Tidyman papers. Tidyman wrote the John Shaft novels and co-wrote the screenplay for the original film version.

book cover with text featuring person holding pistol

Cover of Shaft by Ernest Tidyman, circa 1970. Box 71, Ernest Tidyman papers.

Episode 117 – Dorm Rules – E. Luella Galliver Papers

Since there will be new dormitories coming to campus in the coming years, we thought a throwback to the Archives on the Air featuring the Luella Galliver’s Papers was appropriate. Galliver was the Dean of Women from 1932 to 1946.

image of paper with text

First page of a document that lists all student discipline cases at University of Wyoming 1932-46. Code names have been redacted to protect privacy. Box 1, E. Luella Galliver papers.

Episode 154 – Sock It To Me – Dan Rowan Papers 

Another recent popular release relevant to our collections is Netflix’s Still Laugh-In: The Star Celebrate. It was made in tribute to the 50th anniversary of the classic sketch-comedy series Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In and is available on Netflix now. The AHC is home to Dan Rowan’s papers. Rowan created Laugh-In alongside his comedy partner, Dick Martin. Sock it to me!

two men surrounding woman with swords.

Photo taken on set at Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, circa 1968. Box 6, Dan Rowan papers.

 


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

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

#AlwaysArchiving

Posted in Archives on the Air, motion picture history, Uncategorized, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Finding Aids: June 2019

We’re back for round three of Finding Aids updates — if you couldn’t tell, we’ve been busy processing 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.

person getting box in archival space

Finding Aid Updates (from collections processed 3/23/19 – 5/7/19)


Radio actor and announcer John Hiestand. Hiestand broadcast “The Philippine Hour” to keep Americans informed of events in the Pacific during World War II.

University of Wyoming sorority Pi Beta Phi. The Wyoming chapter closed in 2013 after more than 100 years on campus.

Rancher and oral history interviewer Robert T. Helvey. Helvey interviewed his family and neighbors in Sheridan County, Wyoming, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Stephen Poll’s research on the architecture of shopping malls. Poll’s research is historical and international.

Democratic Party (Wyo.). Collection includes materials relating to the operation of the Democratic Party of Wyoming, including by-laws, minutes, and campaign ephemera.

Movie and television composer George Duning. Duning’s motion picture credits included “Picnic” and “3:10 to Yuma.”

Manito Trail exhibit records. The Manito Trail exhibit, created in 2017, documented the Hispanic New Mexican diaspora of the 20th century.

Oil man Floyd Hatfield. Hatfield lived in Rawlins, Wyoming, in the 1920s and developed the Hatfield Incline.

Biochemist Orville A. Beath. Beath was a University of Wyoming professor whose work on selenium toxicity was widely known.


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

Posted in Composers, energy resources, Finding Aids, motion picture history, Natural resources, newly processed collections, popular culture, radio history, Science, television history, University of Wyoming, University of Wyoming history, Western history, women's history, Wyoming, Wyoming history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mort Weisinger: Superman’s Superman

Among the American Heritage Center’s comic book industry collections are evidence of the way in which industry insiders attempted to legitimize their business following the comic book moral panic of the 1950s. Fredric Wertham’s 1954 monograph, Seduction of the Innocent – which linked comic books with juvenile crime and perversion – and the 1954 United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency hearings led to the denigration of comic books as a form of media. In order to save their business, six publishers, including National Comics (DC), formed the Comics Magazine Association of America (CMAA) to self-censor their work.

The records in the Mort Weisinger papers demonstrate how the editor worked to reclaim a cultural space for his medium after this public castigation. As the editor of DC’s Superman titles, Mort Weisinger was in frequent contact with politicians, writers, and others to promote the comics under his purview. His efforts helped both to keep DC’s characters in the spotlight and to rehabilitate the image of comic books following the panic of the 1950s.

In 1963, DC planned to include a story in Superman no. 168 in which Superman worked on behalf of President John F. Kennedy to inspire children to work on physical fitness. It later appeared in issue 170 (cover date July 1964). According to the story’s introductory text, “White House officials… informed [DC] that President Johnson wanted it published, as a tribute to his great predecessor.”[1] Weisinger wrote to the late President’s brother, bringing both the story and a letter from Robert F. Kennedy’s son to his attention. Kennedy’s reply, indication of his appreciation for Weisinger’s thoughtfulness in writing, helps show the way in which Weisinger sought official approval of DC’s work.[2]

Kennedy letter

Letter from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to Mort Weisinger about Superman 170 that was published as a tribute to John F. Kennedy, June 4, 1964. Box 13, Folder 8, Mort Weisinger papers.

Weisinger further courted official support of DC’s characters by gifting Batman posters to Lester L. Wolff, Representative of New York’s 3rd District. Wolff wrote of the posters, “My staff is convinced they can be a great campaign aid. ‘Batman’ is such a phenomenon. I wish I had his touch.”[3] A decade prior, following Fredric Wertham’s accusation that Batman represented gay propaganda, no politician would have joked about using the character as a campaign aide. By 1966, with the success of the ABC series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, it made sense for a politician to jump on the bandwagon.

Wolff letter

Letter from Representative Lester Wolff of New York to Mort Weisinger thanking him for sending “Batman” TV show posters to his New York campaign office, June 17, 1966. Box 13, Folder 12, Mort Weisinger papers.

As an editor at a member company of the Comics Magazine Association of America, Weisinger’s papers include the CMAA’s newsletter. The June 1966 issue details accounts of comics “in use as teaching aids” in the Bronx, Texas, Mexico, and England, thereby arguing that comics play a role as educational tools much like other media, such as film.[4] A second story discusses the Library of Congress’s growing comics collection, at the time including “more than 12,000 copies of some 2,500 titles that have been published since the 1930s.”[5]

CMAA newsletter

The second page of the June 1966 Comics Magazine Association of America newsletter. Box 24, Folder 1, Mort Weisinger papers.

By 1969, Mort Weisinger received a letter from John C. Baker, the Public Information Officer at the U.S. Department of Commerce, reporting that “others in the Census Bureau are enthusiastic about [Weisinger’s] proposal that Superman become a champion of the 1970 census, through two issues of the monthly Superman comic book and a special 16-page Superman book.”[6] The letter builds upon the use of comics as an educational tool, outlining ways in which a Superman story can explain the function of the census and get children involved with their parents in participating. Baker further invites Weisinger to have the artist and writer of a possible story visit the Census Bureau office, thereby granting more official sanction to comics as a medium capable of contributing to society.

The Mort Weisinger papers capture a critical moment in comic book history in which he used his position as an editor at one of the largest publishers to validate the comic book medium after the public shaming of the 1950s. Mort Weisinger sought official approval from members of the government to demonstrate the educational value of comic books and their ability to comment on critical events like any other form of media. As a result of his actions and those of others in the industry, comic book writers and artists currently enjoy greater creative freedom while the comics themselves now influence other forms of media, generating multi-billion dollar profits for their corporate parents.

[1] E. Nelson Bridwell, “Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy,” Superman 170 (July 1964).

[2] Robert F. Kennedy, Letter to Mort Weisinger (1964), Box 13, Folder 8, Mort Weisinger Papers, Collection Number 07958, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

[3] Lester W. Wolff, Letter to Mort Weisinger (1966), Box 13, Folder 12, Mort Weisinger Papers, Collection Number 07958, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

[4] CMAA Newsletter (1966), Box 24, Folder 1, Mort Weisinger Papers, Collection Number 07958, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, pg. 2.

[5] CMAA Newsletter (1966), Box 24, Folder 1, Mort Weisinger Papers, Collection Number 07958, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, pg. 2.

[6] John C. Baker, Letter to Mort Weisinger (1969), Box 14, Folder 3, Mort Weisinger Papers, Collection Number 07958, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Blog contribution by Richard D. Deverell, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, State University of New York at Buffalo

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Archives Rewind Vol. 3

Round three of our “Archives Rewind” series finds us deep in the AHC collections once again. Did you know we’ve produced 150 episodes of Archives on the Air to date?

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

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

black and white image of studio microphone with computer screen faded in background. image text includes UW and American Heritage Center logo and "Archive on the Air" over mic.

Let’s rewind the archives for Volume 3…

Episode 30: “Flying Saucers, Like Girls Are Here to Stay” – Frank Scully Papers

Like something out of the X-Files…we want to believe. We’d like to think that Fox Mulder would have gotten along with Frank, and perhaps there’s some unintended relation to Dana?

frank_scully_3

Cover of The Saucerian, billed as the “world’s largest flying saucer publication,” January 1955. Box 6, Frank Scully papers.

Episode 37: Sweaty Documents – Climate Change in the American Heritage Center

Here’s something a little different for this program — how about a behind the scenes look at the process of letting received materials acclimate to Wyoming’s climate?

pallet with document boxes shrink wrapped.

A wrapped pallet containing historical documents about to be shipped from Utah to the American Heritage Center in Laramie, Wyoming, July 2016. Credit Molly Marcusse

Episode 39: “For All of Large Animals Found in the Sea, Man is the Easiest Prey”

We probably should have saved this highlight for Shark Week. Did you know the release of “Jaws” led to an increase in shark hunting in the United States?

paper document with 14 shark facts with written text.

Sharkfacts promotional material for the release of Jaws II, 1975. David Brown Papers.

Episode 42: The Ram Snuffbox – The Colket Collection; Toppan Library

Did you know Laramie has it’s own “Cabinet of Wonder“?

wooden cabinet, with lots of trinkets, photos, and collectibles.

Image of illustrated Wunderkammer (not in Wyoming) from the home of a music collecting aristocrat. Undated. “ACRONYM: Wunderkammer” New Focus Recordings.com, Accessed April, 2018.

That’s a wrap for Volume three of our Archives Rewind. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for Volume 3.

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Posted in Archives on the Air, behind the scenes, found in the archive, Hollywood history, Laramie, Local history, motion picture history, popular culture, science fiction, Toppan Rare Books Library | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment