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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McFarlin Fellows Dinner

Thursday night McFarlin Library held the first McFarlin Library Fellows Dinner of this school year. The night began with a book sale where the guest lecturer, Jane Smiley, had her novels for sale, which could then be signed by the author. The cocktail hour featured engaging conversation and I had the pleasure of meeting Smiley. During our short conversation, she discussed her childhood dream of becoming a jockey, which was later made impossible by her tall height. Following a delightful dinner, the gathered group were treated to a lecture by Smiley, a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Her talk, entitled “The Life of a Novelist,” revealed to the audience her process of approaching her novels and provided insights into the mind of an author.

The three main revelations Smiley made were related to the conception of the novel and its existence after it is created by the author. Smiley disclosed that some scenes from her works are inspired by her own experience and draw from her interests. For example, in Some Luck the youngest daughter, Claire, has to go to the eye doctor where she becomes bored and starts making up answers to the questions she is being asked. This scene was directly drawn from Smiley’s childhood when she had to go to the optometrist as a young girl. The author discussed the creation of a novel. She described it as an abstract thing that she pulls into herself and then makes concrete by writing it down. When the reader picks up the book and reads it, the book then becomes more abstract again as it now lives in the mind of the reader. Therefore, the novel is always slightly different for everyone. The one last observation Smiley shared with the audience was that every author has their own theory related to their writing or their book. This theory is written into their books and weaves its way throughout them so that to truly have an understanding of the author’s thoughts one must read many of their works and read them carefully.

Author Jane Smiley





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McFarlin Library

mcf6People at the University of Tulsa may have noticed over this last fall work being done on the McFarlin Library building. Most of this has been necessary maintenance and cosmetic repairs to the building. This began with repairing the slate roof tiles, and starting this morning, some scaffolding on the roof to snug up some minor masonry separation before it becomes an issue.

As we have discussed in the past, McFarlin Library was built beginning in 1929, and completed in 1930 along with Phillips Hall and Tyrell Hall. The architect was Henry C. Hibbs of Nashville, Tennessee. The original architectural plans are with the Henry C. Hibbs Papers, 1882- at the Nashville Public Library.

mcf3The library became a true heart of the university, and for many years graduation ceremonies were held on the west steps of the building facing the original “U”.  The student ROTC met and drilled on the “U”, and the homecoming Bonfire was held annually, just to name a few.  In our collections we have images of the bright Christmas lighting on the library that is reflected today in the holiday lighting on the Tucker Drive oval, the new “U”.

Over the years there have been three major alterations to the building. In 1967, the original tiny east wing was removed and replaced with a considerably larger structure that still remains.

mcf4In 1979, the library built the underground book stacks portion and leading to the dedication of the Albert Plaza on the west side.

mcf5In 2009, the Pauline M. Walter Technology Resources Center was dedicated on the north side of the 1967 wing, further propelling the library into the modern digital age.

As may be seen, the University strives to keep up with needs of the library and its care.


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New acquisition: Hard Times punk fanzine

Special Collections has newly acquired Hard Times, a punk fanzine that was published in Maywood, New Jersey. The magazine was focused on the punk rock scene of New York City that featured letters, interviews, pictorials, and cartoons. The original run of the magazine lasted for seven issues, from August 1984 to June/July 1985.

Hard Times, v.1, no. 3 (Oct. 1984)

Hard Times, v.1, no. 3 (Oct. 1984)

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The Charles King Library

General Charles King

General Charles King (1844-1933) was an American author who spent most of his life in the military. A graduate of West Point, he served in the Army until he was wounded at the Battle of Sunset Pass during the Yavapai War. Later in life he served as Brigadier General of Volunteers during the Spanish-American War where he helped out after the Spanish surrendered. During the Philippine-American War, he led a brigade during the Battle of Manila and the Battle of Pagsanjan. Once he returned Wisconsin, he stayed active in the Wisconsin National Guard and helped train troops during World War I.

Charles King published over 60 books and novels relating to military life, western adventure, and frontier and pioneer life. While he had published quite a bit before 1893, he lost much of his royalties when the bank he used failed. He then lost most of his books and papers in a warehouse fire. This pushed him to come out of his retirement back into the military, hence his involvement with the Volunteers from Wisconsin. He also began writing and publishing again in his non-military free-time.

In 1963, C. E. Dornbusch published a bibliography of Charles King’s books from the National Library of Australia. Many of the books in the McFarlin Library Special Collections can be found in the bibliography and have written markings to indicate if they are listed in the bibliography or if they are undocumented by Dornbusch. All of these books, including the C. E. Dornbusch bibliography can be found by searching the Charles King Library.

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Kent Frizzell Wounded Knee papers

Recently The University of Tulsa College of Law made a pastoral announcement concerning the passing of Kent Frizzell, retired Professor of Law, and Director of the National Energy Law and Policy Institute from 1977 to 1995.

Frizzell also served as United States Under Secretary of the Interior from 1975 to 1977, and as Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources from 1972 to 1973.

Special Collections and University Archives was honored to receive Frizzell’s papers, photographs, and other materials related to the Wounded Knee Occupation in South Dakota in 1973. During this period he served as Chief Government Negotiator in the capacity of Assistant Attorney General (Land and Natural Resources Division, U. S. Department of Justice) and later as Solicitor, U. S. Department of the Interior.

These historical papers and photographs are available for viewing in the Special Collections Reading Room from 8am-4:30pm, Monday through Friday.

Kent Frizzell, seated at third from left.

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The History of Tulsa High School Newspaper


The University of Tulsa Special Collections and University Archives houses more than just books. When looking through our oversize collection this week, I came across a folder titled Tom-Tom and, of course, I was curious as to what was inside. I quickly realized that Tom-Tom was a school newspaper published by students of Tulsa High School and Banknote Printing Company during the early 1900s.

The first edition of Tulsa’s newspaper Tom-Tom was published in 1909. It was given top ratings by the Oklahoma Inter-Scholastic Press Association and has been ranked nationally many times since 1926. Tulsa High School modeled their school paper, also called Tom-Tom, in its form. At first the school paper came out once a month but, in 1918, a class was formed specifically to distribute the paper. The name of the school paper later changed from Tom-Tom to Tulsa School Life. In 1939, the paper began to discuss news from all three Tulsa High Schools.


Tulsa High School opened in 1906. It was located on Boston Avenue between Fourth and Fifth Street. In 1913 Tulsa High School became the third school in Oklahoma to attain accreditation. In 1917 Tulsa High School became Tulsa Central High School when it opened a new school at Sixth and Cincinnati. The north half was opened in 1917 and the south half was later added in 1922. In the second volume of Tom-Tom, one student writer describes the transition between schools:

“we have entered a new building where the beautiful is all about us, [with] all the    things that the student could possibly wish for…”

Around 5,000 students attended the new school between tenth and twelfth grade. It was not until the construction of Tulsa’s freeway and the cost of downtown parking that the school decided to move its location outside of downtown. Tulsa Central High School moved to a forty-seven acre lot and campus was opened in 1976. The Old Central High campus now serves as the headquarters for the Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO). The building was recognized by the Tulsa Foundation of Architecture as a historic Tulsa landmark.



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New and Improved! World War I pamphlets collection

Just a few of the pamphlets available for use.

Just a few of the pamphlets available for use.

In our ongoing efforts to make searching our collections more user-friendly, the World War I pamphlet collection has been updated with more searchable words to make it easier to do research. Looking for something that was published by the Commission for Relief in Belgium or how the food supply was affected by the war? Now you can search for this information and much more relating to World War I by typing in a variety of keywords into the McFarlin Library catalog. Come look at one of the 678 World War I pamphlets available from Special Collections.

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