McFarlin Fellows Dinner and Dr. Randall Fuller

Last night, February 16th, members of the Special Collections department had the privilege of attending the first McFarlin Fellows dinner of 2017. The Fellows are an integral group of donors without whose help McFarlin Special Collections and Archives would not be able to purchase new collections that encourage intellectual development for not just TU and Tulsa but also for researchers from around the country and the world.

As always, the night began with a cocktail hour filled with conversation and catching up. Following the cocktail hour in the faculty study lounge, we moved downstairs for dinner. As dinner came to a close, Adrian Alexander, the Dean of McFarlin Library, informed the Fellows of the large number of researchers who have utilized Special Collections recently and the subjects they are studying. He then introduced the speaker for the evening: Randall Fuller, the Chapman Professor of English and Chairperson of the English Department at TU. Dr. Fuller presented his recently published book The Book That Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation. Since its publication at the end of January 2017, it has gained acclaim and has had such praise as “evocatively told” (The Atlantic) and descriptions of Dr. Fuller as a “lively, engaging writer, with an eye for detail” (The New York Times).

Dr. Fuller described to the gathered crowd how Darwin’s On the Origin of Species first came to America. Darwin himself sent 3 copies of the book to America in late 1859 to 3 separate acquaintances. One of these copies was sent to Asa Gray, a highly respected botanist at Harvard. His copy remains at Harvard University and Dr. Fuller was able to examine it while doing his research for the book.

The book opens with a small dinner party where Charles Loring Brace (cousin of Asa Gray who had borrowed Gray’s copy of Darwin’s book), Amos Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May Alcott) and Henry David Thoreau at Franklin B. Sanborn’s home on New Year’s Day 1860. These men began discussing the recent execution of John Brown which led them to discuss abolition. Charles Loring Brace began telling the others gathered of Darwin’s theory that all species of animals and plants had developed from a common ancestor. Although Darwin left humans out of his theory, it was easy for the men to assume it would apply to humankind as well and they used it to support their ideas of abolition. This was part of a much larger nationwide debate that would eventually lead to the Civil War. Dr. Fuller’s book follows essentially 3 threads of the effects of Darwin’s book in America: religion, politics, and ideology. If Dr. Fuller’s book is half as interesting and dramatic as his lecture, then it is an engrossing read.

For more information on Dr. Fuller and his other works see his page on the TU website at: To find out more about the McFarlin Fellows visit the library’s page on them: 





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Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer was an early to mid-twentieth century British author credited with the creation of the regency romance genre. She also wrote several works in the mystery and historical fiction genres. Heyer’s novels were popular to her contemporaries, though far underappreciated by her critics. Many of her books and short stories are still in print today. Her novels have often been described as humorous, witty, and detailed with a high degree of historical accuracy. Heyer devoted much of her time to researching the periods in which her characters lived and created many notebooks with historical facts and quotations.  Her novels provide a very accurate view of upper class life in the Georgian and Regency eras. The characters’ dialogue and their use of idioms and slang add to the sense of reality and accuracy.

Heyer was a very private person and never in her life time provided interviews about her life or writing process. It was not until ten years after her death that her family and estate provided access to her personal papers, photographs, and interviews of her surviving family and friends. A biography was written by Jane Aiken Hodge in 1984 titled The Private World of Georgette Heyer. This book provides information on Heyer’s writing and research process and nominal insights into her private life. It is known that Heyer became friends with several of her publishers and many of her letters discuss not only business matters but also friendly bits of news and humor. The University of Tulsa Special Collections and Archives has a small collection of these letters to her literary agent L. P. Moore and his assistant Norah Perriam, at Christy & Moore, Ltd. Heyer’s personality and sense of humor are evident in these letters and it is quite easy to see she was a witty human being but also a writer who stayed on topic while still providing an amusing flow of natural conversation.

Of her novels my personal favorites are:

The Masqueraders – 1928. This is a Twelfth-night like adventure story where two siblings must cross-dress to avoid recognition as former Jacobites, set in England in the year 1745.   Duels, highwaymen, and intrigue abound.

Powder and Patch – 1930. This charming story, set in mid eighteenth century centers on the romance of two young friends. Philip, who has loved Cleone his whole life, has been rejected by her due to his lack of polish and refinement. He travels to Paris to gain courtly manners and dress style. Upon his return to England Cleone discovers she does not enjoy the frivolous foppish Philip and truly loves Philip for himself. This story is filled with humorous and witty repartee that ensures the reader many moments of laughter.



Hodge, Jane A. The Private World of Georgette Heyer. London: Bodley Head, 1984. Print.

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Marie Edna Whitehill Kendall College Photographs

Marie Edna Whitehill was originally from Chelsea, Oklahoma and attended Kendall College. She graduated in 1911, only four years after the school had been moved from its original location in Muskogee to Tulsa, where it remains to this day. During Marie’s time at the University there were only three buildings on campus: the original Kendall Hall (torn down in 1972) and two others. McFarlin library, the heart of campus, was not constructed until 1930. The University continued to grow and officially became The University of Tulsa in 1920. This collection of photographs (acquired in 2007) shows scenes of everyday life on campus. As a current student at The University of Tulsa, the photographs are intriguing because they highlight the differences between the university today and over a hundred years ago. Marie has a photograph showing a member of the Kendall College baseball team, an athletic team that no longer exists at the University. An image of Kendall Hall shows the drastic difference between the original building and the current Kendall Hall that sits on campus. She also has an image of the inside of a dorm room featuring banners and photographs on the wall next to the bed. It is interesting to note that even back then students liked to add their own personal touches to make the dorms feel more like home.

Dorm Room

There are several group photographs of Marie and her friends. Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson is in a few of these. After graduating from Kendall College he would go on to become a justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and to be the first Oklahoma Supreme Court justice to be impeached.

Group of friends. Napoleon Bonaparte Johnson is the first person of the right.

There are many other intriguing things to note in the entirety of the photographic collection. The full collection can be viewed at the Special Collections and University Archives website.

Baseball Player Marie Edna Whitehill

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Andre Deutsch Collection

The Andre Deutsch collection [1988:013] is the largest in Special Collections and University Archives. It contains editorial, production, and publicity files for approximately 2000 books published by the Andre Deutsch London firm. Most of the folders hold first drafts and the exchange of ideas between author and editor. This collection includes correspondence with authors, such as Jean Rhys, Stevie Smith, Timothy Mo, V.S. Naipaul and many others. It also consists of the work of Deutsch editor Diana Athill – who is considered to have influenced women’s writing in Britain.

A second shipment of Deutsch material arrived at Special Collections in 1989. It included the Children’s Literature material and likely the Rhys/Atwood correspondence. This collection is organized into three series. In the first and third series, the folders are organized by author first, then title. In the second series, the materials remain in the organization system used by the firm. Some of the Jean Rhys material was rehoused with the Jean Rhys archive, Coll. No. 1976.011.

Deutsch is definitely our largest but least written about collection due to its vast and versatile material. It is difficult to narrow in on one topic when there are 737 boxes from which to choose. I have chosen to write an excerpt on Toni Frissell.


Toni Frissell was an American photographer. She first became involved in the industry after her brother, Varick, introduced her to photography. Varick’s death and her lack of interest in acting led to a brief occupation working for Vogue as a caption writer. She was fired from this position for her poor writing skills, but soon published her first photograph in Town and Country. Her images earned her a contract back at Vogue under the direction of Cecil Beaton. In her later work, she would take high fashion photographs for Harper’s Bazaar, celebrity portraits for Life magazine, and active women photographs for Sports Illustrated.

Pictured below: Frissell at 10 Downing Street London to photograph Churchill.


Frissell is also well-known for her photographs of World War II. She partnered with groups such as the American Red Cross, Eighth Army Air Force, and Women’s Army Corps. She took all kinds of war photographs, some of which were used as war media. Frissell had strong similarities with other female photographers at the time, such Louise Dahl Wolfe and Lee Miller, who also worked for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

The Toni Frissell Collection was first published in 1994 by the Andre Deutsch firm. This collection now resides at the Library of Congress and includes over 300,000 photographs dating from 1935 to 1970.

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The Weird and Wonky: the stuff you didn’t know we had in the Special Collections and Archives

For the start of the 2017 semester the Graduate Assistants (Jennifer Murphy, Amanda Vestal, and Hannah Johnson), at the McFarlin Library Special Collections and Archives, have created an exhibit which features some of the stranger items in our collections. Over the years, many people have donated various books, documents, and works of art. Among these more conventional donations we have also received some rather remarkable and odd items. Many of these items were haphazardly thrown in with large donations without much explanation for their presence.

In the Anna Kavan Papers we discovered used hypodermic needles. After some basic research about this author we learned that Kavan was a heroin addict most of her adult life. When processing this collection, the librarians found the needles acting as staples holding papers together.


In the Vann family archive we found a trove of weird items, some were very personal objects. The Vann family were an important and prominent Cherokee family, originally from Georgia, who later settled in Indian Territory Oklahoma in the mid-1800s. In this collection we discovered shoelaces, a meat cleaver, handmade lace collars, baby shoes, and a pair of dentures made with human teeth.


For this exhibit we also included several items from the seemingly random John W. Shleppey collection. From this collection we have displayed a man’s wedding ring, a bag of rocks, miniature playing cards, and a mysterious object made from two walnut shells and two small wooden stakes. We have postulated that this mysterious item could be a child’s toy, a fishing bobber, or even a drop spindle. If anyone has any information or ideas about this item we would be most appreciative to hear from you.


The items mentioned in this post are only a taste of what we have displayed in our exhibit hall and these items are only a fraction of the interesting items we have in our many collections. This exhibit is free and open to the public Monday – Friday 8am-5pm and will be on display until March 26th

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Holiday Hours

Happy Holidays!

The Special Collections department will be closing at 5:00 PM on Thursday, December 22rd for the holiday break. We will reopen again at 8:00 AM on Tuesday, January 3th. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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Tulsa Municipal Airport Ledgers

McFarlin Special Collections and University Archives is home to many objects related to Tulsa and Oklahoma history.  Many of these are part of the Oklahoma Collection (Coll. 2006.012) and provide insight into the vibrant history of the state.  Part of this collection focuses on the Tulsa Municipal Airport and its interesting background.  Surprisingly, Tulsa is well-connected in the aviation industry with relationships with Boeing and American Airlines.  In fact, Tulsa is the global maintenance headquarters for American Airlines.  The airport is also able to boast that it was the busiest airport in the world in 1930.

One box of this collection contains three ledger books from the Tulsa Municipal Airport from July 1928 through May 1934.  The entries in the ledgers contain the pilot’s signature and information for the flight including the destination, departure times, type of aircraft, and the owner of the aircraft.  The first ledger contains a note from the airport’s acting manager about its official opening.  It was dedicated on July 5th, 1928 following the arrival of the National Air Tour at the airport two days before.  The first delivery of mail left the airport on July 5th at 6:30 PM and carried 186 pounds of mail.  The second ledger makes reference to the business of the airport during 1930.  It states that “[passenger] records have been repeatedly broken by this airport” and that for the last five months Tulsa has had more passengers and flights than the main airports in Berlin, London, and Paris.  This note also boasts that they have 40 flights in and out each day; for comparison, on the first date listed in the ledger (July 13th) in 2016 the Tulsa airport had 600 operations.  For me, the most intriguing part of the ledgers are the pilot entries.  Amelia Earhart’s name is listed three separate times, Charles Lindbergh is listed once, and Wiley Post is listed several times throughout the ledgers.  The entry for Lindbergh contains a note saying that it is his real signature.  The ledgers are available for any registered reader to see.

Amelia Earhart Wiley Post Charles Lindberg

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Hugo “Hap” Gruenberg Collection

Special Collections and University Archives is well-known for its World War I materials. The Hugo “Hap” Gruenberg (1991-008) collection consists of personal ephemera and photographs of Private 1st Class Hugo August “Hap” Gruenberg of Ambulance Company 167, 117th Sanitary Train, 42nd (Rainbow) Division, American Expeditionary Forces.


The “Rainbow” Division was established in August 1917. It was made up of volunteers from the regular army units scattered throughout the United States. Gruenberg’s section was formed from the Tulsa Ambulance Company into a unit of the National Guard. Their unit met up with the other sections at Camp Albert L. Mills on September 2nd.


On the morning of November 1st, six transports arrived at the French seaport in St. Nazaire. The unit spent about 2 years in France pulling wounded and transporting them for medical attention. They returned home on April 17, 1919 on the U.S.S. Mount Vernon.

“The record of 22,260 patients evacuated from the firing line during action by the 117th Sanitary Train is a record of which every officer and man of the organization may justly be proud.” –Iodine and Gasoline: History of the 117th Sanitary Train

This collection contains numerous personal ephemera, some of which includes Gruenberg’s diary (1917-1918), soldier’s pay record book, Gruenberg’s dog tags and brass key on a leather thong, and one pair of regulation leather leggings. Within the photographs, there is a group photo taken of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1927.


This collection was donated by Gruenberg’s son, Charles Gruenberg, in September 1991. The Victrola records have been converted into digital files and can be listened to as part of the collection.

Our collections are available during normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM at the University of Tulsa Special Collections and University Archives.

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Closed for Thanksgiving 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

McFarlin Library Special Collections will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday starting at 2:00 PM on Wednesday, November 23 through Friday, November 25. We will reopen at our normal time on Monday, November 28. Have a safe and happy holiday.

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A Civil War Romance: General George Armstrong Custer and Elizabeth Clift Bacon

Elizabeth B. CusterGeneral George Armstrong Custer and Elizabeth Clift Bacon had a devoted and passionate love affair that lasted their entire lives. Custer was a young cavalry officer in the Union Army at the start of the Civil War. He formally met his future wife Elizabeth, often called Libbie, in 1862. Due to her family’s objection they were not allowed to meet together or become engaged until 1963, after Custer had obtained a higher rank. Despite the opposition of her family, the couple began corresponding clandestinely through a mutual friend, until they were allowed to write to each other directly.  They were married in February of 1864. They sent many love letters to each other filled with endearments and innuendo. Special Collections has a first edition copy of The Custer Story: The life and intimate letter of General Custer and his wife Elizabeth by Marguerite Merington, published in 1950. This book also has many letters to and from other relatives and friends of the couple and provides glimpses into the intimate and daily life of the Custers.

A few of the more personal intimate passages are as follows: In June of 1864 Custer’s belongings were stolen by Confederate soldiers. Among these things were his letters from Libbie. In Custer’s next letter, June 21, 1864, to his wife, informing her of what had occurred, he chides Libbie to be “more careful hereafter in the use of double entendu.” Libbie replied,

“I suppose some rebel is devouring my epistles, but I am too grateful to feel badly about that. Let me unburden my mind about the matter, since you letter implies chiding, tho the slightest and kindliest. No Southerner could say, if they are a gentleman that I lacked refinement. There can be nothing low between man and wife if they love each other. What I wrote was holy and sacred. Only cruel people would not understand the spirit in which I wrote it.”

To this Custer responded on July 3, 1864:

“And so “Somebody” thought her boy intended to chide her at least little bit about her captured letters? Ha, ha, dear one, you do not know him if you suppose he intended to “chide” his heart’s idol. I only wished to impress on you the need for more prudence in writing—but the effect was not lasting, for the very next letter would afford equal amusement to my Southern acquaintances as those now in their hands. Now do not think me exacting or too particular.”

Elizabeth B. CusterGeneral George Armstrong Custer is most known for his last battle against the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne Native American tribes in Montana territory, the Battle of Little Bighorn. This battle is considered one of the most controversial that occurred in the United States. After his death, Mrs. Custer began a campaign to exonerate Custer’s failure and immortalize him as a Civil War and Western frontier hero. She wrote three books about her life with Custer during the Civil War and in the Western territories; Boots and Saddles (1885), Tenting on the Plains (1887) and Following the Guidon (1890). Special Collections has first editions of each of these books. Libbie never remarried and spent the rest of her life writing, speaking about her life with Custer and ensuring the memory of her husband remained positive in American history. Due to her efforts the early to mid-20th century viewed Custer as an American icon.


Anderson, H. Allen. “Custer, Elizabeth Clift Bacon”;; American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Fri Nov 18 2016 10:11:42 GMT-0600

“Battle of the Little Bighorn.” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 Aug. 2014. Accessed 18 Nov. 2016.

“George Armstrong Custer.” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 13 Feb. 2014. Accessed 18 Nov. 2016.

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