UW’s Preparatory School

To celebrate the start of the Spring 2018 semester, we thought we’d bring you a flashback from UW’s past.

The Preparatory School at UW was organized “for the benefit of students from counties not provided with complete high school courses.”


Preparatory School class, undated. Samuel H. Knight Collection, Accession #400044

The 1887-1898 University Catalogue also states, “As soon as the various towns of the state possess well equipped high schools, this department of the University will be abolished.”

The Preparatory School became the Training High School in September 1913, and the name was changed to University High School the following year.


Photograph labeled “Training School, Potato Club, Oct. 12,1916, Miss Adsit, Supervisor.”       Samuel H. Knight Collection, Accession #400044

According to the June 1915 issues of the University of Wyoming Bulletin, “This high school is maintained for the purpose of affording opportunities for training teachers for the high schools of the State.”


2nd and 4th grade children playing in the “store”, 1921. Ludwig-Svenson Studio Collection, Accession #00167


Students performing reenactment for Washington’s Birthday, February 1907. B. C. Buffum Papers, Accession #400055

It was variously known as the Training Preparatory School, the Secondary Training School, and the University High School.

Though the University High School ceased in 1973, the University Lab School, with a kindergarten and grades 1-9, continues to operate in the UW College of Education and is now part of Albany County School District #1.


Text courtesy: University of Wyoming by Rick Ewig and Tamsen Hert (Arcadia Press, 2012), p. 61.

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Carl Stalling, Music Animator

A chance meeting in the early 1920s at a Missouri movie theater led to some of the most beloved cartoons ever created.

Carl Stalling was improvising on the organ while accompanying a silent film. A young Walt Disney was in the audience and noticed Stalling’s creative style. After introductions, a mutually beneficial friendship began.

After Disney moved to Hollywood, Stalling soon followed to become Walt Disney Studio’s first music director.


Carl Stalling at the piano in 1929 at Walt Disney’s Hyperion Studio with sheet music for “Minnie’s Yoo Hoo Theme Song.” The song was composed by Walt Disney and Carl Stalling. It was the first Disney song to be released on sheet music. Walt Disney is second from left. American Heritage Center photofile: Stalling, Carl

Stalling and Disney pioneered cartoon animation that matched the music instead of the other way around. The idea led to Walt Disney’s award-winning Silly Symphonies beginning in 1929.

Stalling next took his talents to Warner Brothers Studios. By 1936, Stalling was scoring music for most of the theatrical animated shorts in the famous Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series.

By the time Stalling retired in 1958 he had scored more than 600 animated films.

To learn more about Carl Stalling, visit the American Heritage Center where you can see Stalling’s original music scores and more.

Posted in cartoons, Composers, motion picture history, music, popular culture, television history, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Wyoming Equality Day, January 15, 2018

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. and Wyoming Equality Day!

Ronald Reagan signed a bill in 1983 that established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a nationally observed holiday.  It was not until 1986 that it was first observed; 2000 was the year in which all 50 states observed the holiday.

In 1990, through the efforts of State Senator Harriet Elizabeth Byrd, Wyoming’s state legislature passed a bill that established Martin Luther King, Jr./Wyoming Equality Day as a state holiday.

Here is a copy of the legislation that went into effect.

Harriett Elizabeth Byrd Papers, Collection # 10443, Box 1, Folder 9.

Harriett Elizabeth Byrd Papers, Collection # 10443, Box 1, Folder 9.

There is a week-long schedule of events (January 29 – February 3) on the University of Wyoming campus, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Days of Dialogue to celebrate the continuing impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and ideals. Students, staff, faculty, alumni, and the public are invited to participate in MLK DOD events.

(adapted from AHC post from January 18, 2013)


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Mary O’Hara: “My Heart is in Wyoming”

Could successful screenwriter and socialite Mary O’Hara exchange her glitzy lifestyle for that of a Wyoming ranch wife? Her friends didn’t think so.

But by 1930 Mary had hit her mid-forties and was fed up with her gilded life.

She and her husband traveled from New York to Wyoming in 1930. They lived on the rustic Remount Ranch near Laramie for fifteen years.


Mary O’Hara at the Remount Ranch, UW American Heritage Center, Photofile: O’Hara, Mary.

That first summer Mary came upon the most beautiful sight she had ever seen: a band of wild horses. Observing the horses became a daily routine.


UW American Heritage Center, Photofile: O’Hara, Mary.

Those wild horses inspired her well-known novels: My Friend Flicka, Thunderhead, and Green Grass of Wyoming. The trilogy spans two generations of horses beginning with the wild mare Flicka and ending with Flicka’s colt, Thunderhead.


Mary O’Hara sitting at her typewriter, Remount Ranch, UW American Heritage Center, Photofile: O’Hara, Mary.

All three novels were soon made into popular Hollywood motion pictures.

Mary O’Hara’s papers at the American Heritage Center include personal photographs, scrapbooks, and other interesting items related to her life and career.

Posted in Authors and literature, Children's literature, Local history, motion picture history, popular culture, Uncategorized, Western history, women's history, writers and poets, Wyoming history | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Blizzard of 1949

It began quietly enough as Sunday January, 2 1949 dawned under partly cloudy skies and a forecast for temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s with scattered snow showers. Later that day, the skies darkened, the winds picked up and the temperature began to drop. It began to snow. By that evening a full raging blizzard was upon the eastern portion of the state. It didn’t let up for three days.

But that was just the beginning.. Additional violent snow storms continued to sweep through the state for the next 45 days. Throughout this series of storms, wind speeds fluctuated between 30 and 80 miles per hour. The snow drifted 20 to 30 feet high in places. The average temperature was consistently below zero.

Within 24 hours of the beginning of the first storm, all bus, rail and air traffic was effectively shut down. Entire communities were snowed in and immobilized. Ranches were cut off and isolated. Thirty-three hundred miles of state highways were inundated. Thousands of motorists and rail passengers were stranded.


Men digging out a train, Rawlins. American Heritage Center Collections.

As the storms continued to rage, Wyoming towns began to run out of food. People, livestock and wildlife began to die.

The Air Force and Army were mobilized. Air Force Cargo planes dropped hay bales to starving livestock and food and medicine to isolated families. The U.S. Army mounted the largest bulldozer operation in history in an effort to clear roads and reach stranded cars.


Under Operation Haylift, the U.S. Air Force flew 550 tons of hay from Kansas and Colorado to Casper. Shown here is a C-47 at what was still the Casper Army Air Base at the time–now Natrona County airport.  Photo courtesy Casper College Western History Center.

But initial efforts at clearing roads ended in failure. As soon as a passage was opened it quickly shut down again with another storm or ground blizzard. The snowdrifts became so packed by continuing accumulation and driving winds that some likened their density to that of concrete. Sometimes dynamite had to be used to clear the way.

Astonishing sites like homes and businesses heaped to their roofs with snow and drifts reaching to the lower blades of windmills were common.

House buried

House in Rawlins buried by snow. American Heritage Center Collections.

Automobiles were buried, sometimes with people in them.


Man stands next to car buried in snow (Casper or Cheyenne). W.D. Johnston Papers, Accession #11314 , Box 3, Folder 1

Cattle frozen to death while still standing formed grotesque sculptures. Wildlife ambled through towns, dazed and starving and looking for food, only to be chased down by dogs.

Like the Dust Bowl storms with their ominous walls of black clouds, the 1949 blizzards raged white for nearly two months. The winds seldom stopped their incessant howl. When it was over, the last of the monumental drifts left in its wake eventually melted…in July.

Text courtesy of Wyoming PBS. To see their interesting history of the storm and its aftermath, go to the story on the Wyoming PBS website.


Posted in Uncategorized, Wyoming history | Tagged | 2 Comments

Happy New Year 2018!

Did you ring in the new year like the party goers below, complete with crystal balls?

New Year_ah300595

Group of Laramie young people celebrating New Year’s Eve, 1922. Ludwig-Svenson Studio Collection, Accession #167, Negative #9065a

Hope your New Year is filled with success, health, prosperity and happiness.

Happy New Year!

Posted in Current events, found in the archive, Holidays, Local history, Uncategorized, Wyoming history | 1 Comment

Comics Have Research Value!

Comic book writer Stan Lee turns 95 today, and he’s still at work.

Providing evidence to all his decades of work in the comic book industry, and its expansion to other entertainment media such as film and television, is the AHC’s collection of Lee’s papers, which continues to grow.  Lee’s papers are a valuable educational resource, particularly to the University of Wyoming’s students.

Lee’s collection includes early twentieth century comics, manuscripts of his columns, and fan mail. Students and faculty in multiple disciplines use Lee’s collection to study literature, American Studies, social studies education, and more for research papers, theses, and curriculum development.

stan lee2

An advocate for literacy and education, in 1994 Stan Lee participated in educational events open to the community at the UW campus.  American Heritage Center – Events of 1994 – Stan Lee and Spider-Man April 12-14 Photo File, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

From his papers students learn about different facets of US culture from the twentieth century, including politics and social constructs, for example the Civil Rights Movement.

Comics from Lee’s collection often depict harsh realities of US culture and manuscripts; his columns discuss his reasoning for writing about particular social issues.  Fan mail in the collection tell why particular characters or story lines are important to people, and from these letters students can learn about societal concerns at certain points in US history.

stan lee3

Stan Lee participating in educational panel, 1994 at UW.  American Heritage Center – Events of 1994 – Stan Lee and Spider-Man April 12-14 Photo File, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Open to the public, Lee’s papers are also a resource for anyone who is interested, whether for personal interest or for academic study. For these reasons, Lee’s comics and papers are frequently used, and are a valuable asset to the AHC and the education of its students and the wide number of communities it serves.

stan lee1

Stan Lee signing comic books for former Wyoming First Lady Win Hickey, 1994 at UW.  American Heritage Center – Events of 1994 – Stan Lee and Spider-Man April 12-14 Photo File, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Rest easy, citizens, the AHC is on the job, promoting and protecting history and culture.

Happy Birthday Stan Lee!

– Submitted by Amanda Stow, Assistant Archivist, AHC Reference Dept.

Posted in Comic book history, motion picture history, popular culture, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment