World War I Stereocard Collection

This semester the Art History department offered a course titled Cultural Reactions to War in the 20th Century. The class studied painting, posters, music, poetry, prose, and films that were all created in reaction to WWI, WWII, and the Vietnam War. The course explored how soldiers attempted to confront what had happened to them during the war and how civilians attempted to understand and either support or protest the conflicts.


For the final project, the graduate students were challenged to utilize primary sources found in The Department of Special Collections and University Archives at McFarlin Library to investigate a question related to war in the 20th or 21st century that interested them. The students were encouraged to have their final product take form as something that would best suit their topic. As a student in the class, I decided to create a website as I thought that would best present my topic and would allow the most people to experience it. When in Special Collections, I became fascinated by a collection of stereocards from WWI (1000.095). These cards were created to allow the audience to take an image of an event and look at it through special goggles in order to make the image to appear to be 3-dimensional. The cards that Special Collections has have captions on the back that explain to the viewer what is occurring in the image. These captions often use language that is biased in some way. I wanted to explore how these captions would affect the viewer’s perception of the image. The essays on the website focus on four topics: the cards themselves, people from colonized territories, the ruins left behind by the war, and new technologies developed during the war. If you are interested, you can take a look at the website here: If you would like to find out more about our stereocard collection you can search our digital collections website here:


The undergraduate students in the class curated a WWI display in Special Collections for their final project. Topics include the home front, new technologies, and how Christmas was observed during the war. If you are interested in stereocards there are several in the display cases for the exhibition. The exhibit will be up until the beginning of January and you can come see it Monday-Friday from 8am until 5pm.

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Christmas Cards from the Past

Christmas celebrations have been around for hundreds of years. They can be found all around the world, and differ from place to place. They range from fireworks, to parades, to concerts, to more personal celebrations such as family get-togethers. But what about those who you cannot physically be with during the holidays? How do you spread Christmas cheer and let them know you are thinking about them? If you said Christmas cards, you’re spot on!

The idea of sending Christmas cards is nothing new, and has persisted through the years. People from all over the world send out cards to those they can’t be with, and sometimes even to those they do see. Today, cards are often decorated with photographs of the family, and even include the family pets on occasion.

Here in Special Collections, we have an array of Christmas cards that have been sent throughout history. They all vary in style and sentiment, and some are even handmade.

Front of the letter

Robert Frost’s signature!

In the pictures above, you can see a Christmas letter designed by Henry Holt and Co. and signed by Robert Frost. The letter is actually an excerpt from “Mountain Intervals” written by Robert Frost. It can be found in our “Frost, Kohn collection” along with a Christmas card list from Robert Frost (not pictured).


Autumn to Winter

In the picture to the left, you can see the front of a Christmas card from our Alex Lykiard-Jean Rhys archive. The card shows two images of women, and display the words “Automne” and “Hiver”, French for autumn and winter. The inside contains a handwritten sentiment for a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Other collections such as the T.S. Eliot Papers, the Fred Graves Collection, and the Hopi Agency Archive also contain Christmas cards. To see these and dozens of others, please view our collections online at or come by and see us during our hours of operation, M-F 8:00-4:30. And don’t forget the annual Tulsa Christmas Parade this Saturday at 2pm downtown!

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Our Claw-some Cat Collections

McFarlin Special Collection and University Archives houses many author’s personal papers and manuscripts. Recently I discovered that a popular topic amongst writers was their interest in cats. The first author that came to mind when I thought about this close-knitted relationship with cats was Ernest Hemingway and his Florida – Key West home, which survived the recent hurricanes.

So it begs the question: “What is it about cats that writers find attractive?”

Cats have long been a muse for writers. Felines are present in author’s personal papers or as characters in books. I think it is safe to assume that most writers are cat people and have quite the dynamic relationship with these animals. Cats unlike dogs, in my opinion, require people to earn their trust. They are the perfect pet for people who spend copious amounts of time in silent thought.

I began to comb through our collections and found that author after author had some type of material, including photographs, letters, and books, of cats. Below I’ve included some of our many pieces related to cats:

  1. 16 pen and ink illustrations by Jean Campbell Willett, Helen Corke (Coll. No. 1975.001)
  2. The Cats of Copenhagen, James Joyce (PR6019.O9 C387 2012)
  3. Rover and the Other Cats, Hugh Leonard (Coll. No. 1995.021.39.4)
  4. “My Cats,” “Cats in Colour,” Stevie Smith (Coll. No. 1976.; Coll. No. 1976.
  5. Cats in Camera, Jan Styczynski (Coll. No. 1988.013.1)
  6. Correspondence, Rebecca West (Coll. No. 1986.002)

Joyce’s The Cats of Copenhagen short-story was written on September 5, 1936 for Joyce’s nephew, Stephen James Joyce, and illustrated by Casey Sorrow, an American artist. This piece was not published until 2012 due to public controversy on unpublished material and copyright issues. The Cats of Copenhagen is related to Joyce’s other well-known work titled The Cat and the Devil. We have no. 6 of 170 bound copies and it makes for a great addition to our department’s Joyce collection.

Rebecca West and longtime love affair H.G. Wells used cat names, Panther and Jaguar, to describe their relationship and separation from society. She also wrote a short-story titled “Why My Mother was Frightened of Cats” from a typewritten manuscript in 1956 which stated: “For me to keep a cat has all the excitement of a forbidden love-affair” and “Cats can be depended upon to find an infinite number of ways of disconcerting human beings.”

If you are interested in these materials or any others, collections are available for viewing in the Special Collections Satin Room from 8 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. If materials are housed at our offsite location, we ask for twenty-four hour notice. Have a great weekend!

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Christopher Isherwood

McFarlin Special Collections and Archives is home to many collections of author’s personal papers and manuscripts. One such collection is the Christopher Isherwood papers, 1909-1954 (Collection number 1979.012). Isherwood was an English-American author and playwright. He wrote many novels and novellas, helped write stage plays, and created many writings in conjunction with his close friend and poet W.H. Auden.

Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood was born in August of 1904 in Cheshire, United Kingdom. He grew up in a privileged family on the Isherwood estate. He attended Corpus Christi College at Cambridge but purposely failed and left in 1925. He then spent 6 months studying medicine at King’s College London from 1928 to 1929 but left before completing his studies. His first novel, All the Conspirators, was published in 1928. In the late 1920s he moved to Berlin which he later admitted was due to the Weimar Republic’s reputation as a place with sexual freedom where he could live more openly as a gay man. His two most famous works are collectively known as The Berlin Stories are semi-autobiographical works of his time spent in Berlin. This later inspired the stage play Cabaret. In 1933 he left Berlin and then traveled to China in 1938 to do research. In 1939 he and W.H. Auden set sail for New York in a move that many people thought was an attempt to avoid War World II. Soon after coming to the United States he moved to California where he lived for the rest of his life. He lived in Hollywood and became friends with people such as Truman Capote and Aldous Huxley. He became an American citizen on November 8, 1946 and converted to Vedanta for which he visited a guru once a week for the majority of the rest of his life. On February 14, 1953 he met Don Bachardy who was 18 at the time. They had an on and off relationship for the rest of their lives spending the last 10 years of his life happily together. Bachardy painted now-famous portraits of Isherwood as he was dying in their home. In the 1970s Isherwood adopted Bachardy so that he could inherit their house and the author’s royalties after his death since they could not legally marry. Isherwood died on January 4, 1986; his body was donated to science at UCLA and his ashes were later scattered at sea. After his death, his novel A Single Man was turned into a film in 2009 starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. His autobiography, Christopher and His Kind, was adapted into a television film for the BBC starring Matt Smith as Isherwood. He had more than 40 works published, some of which have been published posthumously. Over the last 7 years two books containing his diaries from the 1960s through the 1980s have been published and in 2014 a book of love letters between Isherwood and Bachardy was published.

  Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy

Don Bachardy painting Isherwood


The collection of Isherwood’s papers contains both correspondence and writings. The correspondence consists of letters between Kathleen Bradshaw-Isherwood, his mother, and Richard Isherwood, his brother. There is also correspondence from others to Kathleen and Richard that often refer to Christopher. Handwritten notes and transcriptions of reviews of Isherwood’s works written by Kathleen can also be found in the collection. There are several notebooks and diaries written by Isherwood between 1917 and 1933 and photographs of the author from a young child to middle age, of his friends and family, and of his trips to the Canary Islands and Morocco. There is also a scrapbook put together by Isherwood’s parents containing paintings and photographs of Marple Hall, the Isherwood estate. The writings in the collection include “From Hankow to Shanghai, Through the Back Door,” “The Nowaks,” and “On Reugen Island.” This collection spans 10 document boxes and 1 oversize box. It is kept at our offsite facility so if you would like to look at we will need to know 48 hours in advance to make sure we have enough time to retrieve it.

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The forgotten heroes: Dogs as soldiers

This November 11th marks the 91st official Armistice Day, better known as Veteran’s Day. The holiday dates back to November 11th, 1926, when Congress adopted a resolution in the summer of that year, requesting that the President honor the day with proper ceremonies and dedication to peace. At this time, the holiday was to be known as Armistice Day, a celebration of the end of WWI and those who fought. The day became a legal holiday in 1938.  Then, in 1945, WWII Veteran Raymond Weeks decided the day should be expanded to all Veterans, not just those who fought in WWI. So he changed the celebration to be inclusive. In 1954 a bill was passed that renamed the holiday Veterans Day, and it has been known as such ever since.

Countless men and women have fought for our great country over the years in order to preserve the freedom we cherish so dearly. But what is sometimes forgotten is that they were and are not alone on the battlefields. Some of the most over-looked war heroes are animals. Whether it be horses, who were a huge part of early warfare, or dogs, who are still commonly seen on the battlefield today, these animals played an intricate role in military strategy.

Red Cross dog bringing a helmet back to the trenches!

While horses have somewhat faded from military use over the years due to advancements in vehicles, dogs have remained a large component of many troops. During WWI dogs served as Red Cross members and tended to those injured or killed in the line of fire. While they couldn’t bandage up a soldier or perform a surgery, dogs could lead people to where injured soldiers were, and in some cases drag those soldiers to safety.

leading them to the injured soldier!

They would bring an item back from a soldier, such as a helmet, and show the soldiers or Red Cross Members in the trenches, and then lead them to the soldier from which they retrieved the item. This prevented soldiers and medical staff from wondering around the battlefield blindly looking for injured and risking their own safety.

Over time, the role of dogs in American warfare has changed and expanded. They have been used for attacking and subduing enemies, logistics and communication, detection, tracking, and as scouts. One of the more recent famous instances of a dog in warfare is the use of a Belgian Malinois in Operation Neptune Spear, the operation in which Osama Bin Laden was killed. This dog severed several purposes including alerting soldiers of the presence of other individuals, the arrival of Pakistani troops, the existence of secret rooms, and tracking various scents.

Dogs in warfare have also reached their way into popular culture with movies such as “Max” released in 2015, and “Megan Leavy” released earlier this year. In McFarlin Special Collections we have several images from WWI of dogs in training, as well as active on the battle field. Military Dogs can be seen leading Red Cross members to injured soldiers, enjoying time in their encampment, and patiently waiting next to pilots, just to name a few. If you’re interested in looking at some of these images as well as several other intriguing ones, feel free to stop by Special Collections during our operating hours (M-F 8:00-4:30) and take a peek!

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Dennis Banks, and the Wounded Knee Occupation

On Sunday, October 29, 2017, the world said goodbye to Dennis James Banks.

Dennis Banks, alongside Clyde and Vernon Bellacourt, helped establish the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1960s to protest against the treatment of Native Americans. His character earned him quite a reputation and helped place AIM in the forefront of Indian activism. Banks played a major role in the Wounded Knee Occupation. After Wounded Knee, Banks was declared a fugitive for many years until he decided to turn himself in for a sentence of 14 months. Throughout his life, Banks used his position in Indian Civil Rights to help many Native Americans out of horrible conditions.

Information on the Wounded Knee Occupation

In February 1973, hundreds of individuals belonging to the Ogalala Lakota Nation and American Indian Movement occupied the Wounded Knee Township on Pine Ridge Reservation. After a 10-week stand-off causing casualties, negotiations disbanded the protest.

Wounded Knee, a historical site of conflict during the American Indian Wars, gained large amounts of attention for human rights and anti-war movements from the public .

To learn more about Wounded Knee, read information provided last year by Brian Hosmer, H.G. Barnard Chair of Western American History, University of Oklahoma.

The Special Collection and University Archives Kent Frizzell (1978.008) collection contains correspondence, photographs, and other materials documenting the Wounded Knee Occupation in South Dakota in 1973. Frizzell, a Tulsa resident, was Assistant General of the Land and Natural Resources Division and became the chief government negotiator during this period. We are very appreciative to have received this collection from Frizzell during his time as a University of Tulsa law professor and Director of the National Energy Law and Policy Institute (NELPI).

Our collections are available for viewing in the Special Collections Satin Room from 8 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

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Muriel Spark announcement

Some good news for work.  We will be lending the National Library of Scotland the manuscripts of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Driver’s Seat for their Centenary exhibit, “The International Style of Muriel Spark” on display from 8 December 2017 to 13 May 2018.

There is a discussion of this in an interview on BBC Scotland yesterday, Click on the link and fast forward to 1:05 to hear the interview.

The Department of Special Collections, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa holds 42.5 linear feet (about 14 shelves) of Dame Muriel Spark’s manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, etc.  The National Library of Scotland has considerably more.  We are delighted that they included us in this exhibit.


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Henry C. Merriam papers, 1865-1907

Though McFarlin Special Collections is known for its extensive World War I collections, it also has some material related to other wars and military figures including the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. The Henry C. Merriam papers (1500.001.023) is an archival collection consisting of a letter book containing personal and official correspondence from Merriam dating from April 10, 1865 to October 5, 1877.  This letter book contained several pamphlets and newspaper clippings tucked or pasted in which have been mostly removed and placed into folders.  There is also a folder that contains notes and descriptions from the previous holder of the book.

First page of letter book

The letter book contains drafts of letters from Merriam to his military colleagues and even some personal ones in the form of a letter rebuking his wife’s insubordinate maid.  The first entry in the book regards the capture of Fort Blakely in Alabama by Merriam and the 1st Louisiana Native Guard.  The 1st Louisiana (later reorganized as the 73rd Regiment Infantry) was made up of African American troops and several letters following the taking of Fort Blakely contained Merriam’s defense of his men and their abilities. Some of the letters from later in his career deal with a Native American skirmish near the Arkansas River.  One of the most interesting letters is dated June 2, 1877.  This letter refers to his creation of a knapsack for infantry soldier that was later adopted by the military and called the “Merriam Pack” after him.  A report written by Merriam and published in the Army and Navy Register from April 4, 1891 and a typed condensed record of Merriam’s work in the 7th U.S. Infantry are among the materials that were tipped into the book.  The final folder of newspaper clippings contains several related to the murder of former Governor Stuenenberg of Idaho in 1905 for which Merriam had played a role in the events leading up to the murder.

Inside front cover

Merriam was born in Maine in 1837 and joined the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1862 as a captain. He fought with the Union army in the American Civil War and saw action at the Battle of Antietam. In 1894 he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in the capture of Fort Blakely in the Civil War.  Following the Civil War, he held several different positions across the U.S. and led military troops in the Nez Perce War in 1876 and in the 1885 Sioux uprising following Sitting Bull’s death.  He retired from the army in 1901 and by a special act of Congress was promoted to major general after retirement on February 5, 1903.

Portrait of Henry C. Merriam

For more information on this collection go here.  If you are interested in other Civil War related collections check out our new finding aid here and type in the keywords “civil war.” To see any of our collections send us an email at or come see us on the 5th floor of McFarlin Library Monday – Friday 8am – 4:30pm.

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New in Digital Collections: October 2017

Special Collections at The University of Tulsa is pleased to announce more additions to our digital collections website. We added the following items during the month of October:

  • Correspondence from A.W. Greely to J.C. Van Duzen. This letter is part of the Indians of North America collection, which is currently being reprocessed with help from a grant provided to us by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. The letter itself is about Cheyennes being hunted by portions of the United States Army for crossing into certain areas in Kansas and Missouri. A.W. Greely was a Major General in the Union Army during the Civil War, but is also notable for having led an expedition of men to the North Pole from 1881-1884. The mission was to set up a meteorological station and track weather patterns. Out of the nearly 50 men who went on the expedition, only 6 survived.
  • Correspondence from William Tecumseh Sherman. This letter is also part of the Indians of North America collection, and is a handwritten letter from General Sherman concerning the number of Indian scouts allowed under a United States Act intended to restrict that number. Sherman is of course the Union Army General who used intense, “scorched earth” policies during the Civil War, and burned Atlanta as part of his military strategy to force the Confederacy to surrender.
  • The Lisle and Grace Billington WWI correspondence collection, Coll. No. 2002-012. This is a collection of personal letters between a married couple (with some additions from family and friends). Lisle was stationed in Florida with the Air Service of the United States Army, which would in later years become the United States Air Force. The bulk of the collection dates between spring 1918 to February 1919, when Lisle was released from duty and went home to his wife near Salt Lake City, Utah. The letters are a good example of the normal fears and loneliness for people who had never spent time away from home, let alone in the midst of an international war.
  • Finally, the Charles Alfred Bredin WWI papers, Coll. No. 2001-020 now includes Bredin’s diary from his time as a Private in Company D of the 317th Machine Gun Battalion of the United States Army.
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The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is pleased to announce a new research tool.  Our Collections are now listed on a database called ArchivesSpace, and can be accessed here.

Here processed collections can be searched, as well as unprocessed materials.  They can be searched by keyword, names, subject headings, and by record groups.  There is still a bit of work to do, but it can be used right now.

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