Graduation—The Big Sendoff

When WordPress publishes this post, I will be in the H.A. Chapman field, wearing my cap, gown, and hood and celebrating my graduation from the Museum Science and Management program. I have loved my time at TU and I’m excited to be a TU alumna. I thought it would be a fitting end to blog about the graduation and commencement materials we have in Special Collections as part of the celebration.

The first, and one of my favorite finds, is the program to the First Annual Commencement of the University of Tulsa on May 21, 1921, exactly one hundred years ago this month. The program also notes that it’s the twenty-sixth Annual Commencement for Henry Kendall College. My ceremony will be just 16 days and half an hour short of the exact moment of TU’s first commencement.

This undated photo shows graduates in front of McFarlin Library at night, which is just super cool. Although my ceremony is at 10:00 am, the Undergraduate ceremony will be at 8:00 pm, so it will probably be dark by the end.

In a previous post, I wrote about Aimee Whitman Marrs, the Navy’s first female psychologist, but in it I did not share the photos of her graduation from TU.

 

Our materials are not limited only to TU though. Among the papers in the Nell Stapler Bradshaw collection is a small newspaper clipping featuring high school graduates talking about the summer vacation and starting college in the fall.

This 1934 Commencement program struck me as interesting because it lists Tulsa Central High School, Clinton High School, and Turley High School.

Elsewhere in Oklahoma, we have a 1928 invitation to the Oklahoma A and M College, which eventually became Oklahoma State University. The invitation was from C. Bernard Goodall and is housed in our Oklahoma collection.

Since moving to Oklahoma, I have learned a little about the friendly rivalry between Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, so to maintain balance in the force, I found a program from OU’s 1906 Commencement.

The Kirksville State Normal School (now known as Truman State University) is located in Kirksville, Missouri. It was the first teachers’ college in Missouri, which I thought was neat, since my undergraduate school, the University of Central Arkansas, was the first teachers’ college in Arkansas (and known as Arkansas State Normal School for many years).

While we most often think of graduation in terms of high school or university, I found an invitation to the 1927 United States Naval Academy graduation. Robert Fravel graduated as a midshipman, which is the lowest-ranked officer in the Navy.

 

I imagine that all of these people felt excited and nervous to graduate and move on to new things the same as I am now and graduates well into the future will be. Some probably had careers lined up and some probably looked for work, and so far I find myself in the latter category, but hopeful. While Kelsey and I are leaving, Special Collections will always be here. For in person appointments (TU affiliates) or remote requests (non-affiliates), please email speccoll@utulsa.edu. Have a happy, safe, and healthy summer break!

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Milo Hendrix

For my penultimate post as a Special Collections Graduate Assistant, I am revisiting the topic of the research paper I wrote for a History class my very first semester. In the entrance to Chapman Hall there is a large plaque that caught my eye. I mentioned it both to my professor and to Marc, who told me that there were a few photos and papers about Milo in our department.

Color photograph of the large plaque in Chapman Hall dedicated to Milo Hendrix

The plaque that started it all

Milo had been a student at Spencer Academy and transferred to Henry Kendall College with William Robert King, the new president. He was a member of the school’s first quartet, along with Ben McCurtain, Eugene Gilmore, and Sam Matthews.

From left to right: Ben McCurtain, Eugene Gilmore, Sam Matthews, and Milo Hendrix

Here’s a photo of the Quartette, as they called themselves, pictured with an unnamed woman.

In addition to the Quartette, Milo played on the football team as well.

Milo is seated, wearing a dark shirt, next to the man standing and wearing the HK jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These photos were both taken in the fall of 1897, the last season that Milo played.

Milo is kneeling, 3rd from the right

 

 

 

 

 

 

On May 12, 1898, one hundred and twenty-three years ago yesterday (!), Milo and Eugene Gilmore were among the two hundred men from Muskogee, Indian Territory, who enlisted in Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders regiment. They trained in Texas, where Milo wrote a few letters to Alice Robertson.

Scanned image of a handwritten letter dated San Antonio TX, May 20, 98 Scanned image of a handwritten letter signed by Milo

Milo and Eugene arrived in Cuba at the end of June. They fought the Spanish in a battle at Last Guasimas and then the infamous Battle of San Juan Hill, where Milo was killed by shrapnel. Eugene wrote letters to his father, Alice Robertson, and a neighbor named Thomas Owen, telling them that Milo died.

scanned image of a handwritten letter, at the bottom it says that Milo was killed by shrapnel

In a letter to his father dated July 26th, Eugene wrote that “Milo had been keeping near me all during the fight and was killed by a shrapnel” and he wrote an undated letter to Tomas Owen where he said that Milo had been killed almost instantly but that he didn’t know it at the time. He said that Milo had been buried on San Juan Hill, but his remains were eventually exhumed and moved to Arlington National Cemetery; on her first trip to Washington D.C. newly elected Congresswoman Alice Robertson made a visit to Arlington and found his grave, #15,519.

 

These photos and letters are practically all that remains of Milo Hendrix, but learning about him taught me so much about Henry Kendall College, TU, the Spanish American War, and the Special Collections department. During these two years I’ve spent in Special Collections, I’ve seen so many amazing books, photographs, and objects and I still barely scratched the surface of the untold mysteries we have here!

Although our time here has come to a close, Kelsey and I have put together one last exhibit of some of the fantastic books that are part of Special Collections. We are open to TU students, faculty, and staff by appointment only, plus we can provide digital scans of images for non-affiliates. Email speccoll@utulsa.edu for information.

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Farewell, Special Collections!

Today, I am writing my last blog post from the McFarlin Tower. My two years Master’s program has come to an end and I am finishing up my commitment to this assistantship next Friday. In lieu of writing a new post about a new topic, I thought I would share some of my favorite photographs from the blog posts that I have written over the past two years.

I don’t know that I can describe the wonder that comes along with working in an extensive archive like this one. A stroll down an aisle of books is never boring. Someone can find something new to marvel at here; I often refer to the items in our collections as “treasures” in these posts, because finding them really does feel like finding some treasure.

The front of a stein that looks like a woman's face

The face of the Gertrude Stein Stein

Picture of the Spotlight Theater taken from the Tulsa Art Deco collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since poking around in our Art Deco collection, I find myself noticing Tulsa’s unique architecture whenever I’m downtown. I performed at the Spotlight Theatre as a young girl and was drawn to the subject for my first blog post. Plucking stories out of the collections can be overwhelming initially! The Gertrude Stein stein was another early favorite find of mine.

An image of a tree under a microscope

One of the slides from “American Woods” under a microscope

 

14 books on a cart

14 volumes of American Woods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A botany class’s visit drew my attention to some of the most delicate and unique books I have ever seen. “American Woods” by Franklin B. Hough contains hundreds of very thin slices of trees that allow researchers to observe their cell structure under a microscope.

Color photograph of various pieces of crystal viewed from the top

I love all of the really cool glass that Jacalyn and I were able to set up for our first exhibit. We learned so much about Depression glass and glass blowing techniques while we curated our “American Glassware” exhibit. This exhibit was taken down as the pandemic ramped up and we were sent to work from home for the rest of the semester.

Two men standing in front of an x-ray of the Liberty Bell

Two men discussing the final x-ray photograph of the Liberty Bell

Quite possibly my favorite story was the post about the mysterious X-ray of the Liberty Bell. A few months after writing the post, I received a letter from the mustached man in this photograph. He found my post while searching for information so that he could tell his grandson about it and decided to send me a letter here at the library, identifying himself in the photographs and telling me more about the project.

Jacalyn and I have curated one more exhibit to go on display in the Reading Room next week. It will be made up of books, big and small, that captured our attention.

The Special Collections is still closed to the public but open to TU students and affiliates. Please email speccoll@utulsa.edu to set up an appointment or request scans of our materials.

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The Black Swallow of Death

We recently acquired a new first edition of a book entitled “The Black Swallow of Death”, by P. J. Carisella and James W. Ryan. This book, published in 1972, tells the story of the world’s first Black combat aviator, Eugene Jacques Bullard.

Bullard was born in Georgia in 1895 and was one of ten children. His father, William Bullard, was from Martinique, and would often tell his son stories of France and described a country where all men were equal, regardless of race. At just 11 years old, Bullard ran away from home with the intention of moving to France.

He did eventually make it Paris by first stowing away on a ship and then becoming a professional boxer. He was living in Paris when the WW1 began and he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion. After being wounded in battle in March of 1916, he volunteered to be a gunner in the Lafayette Flying Corps, becoming the first Black combat aviator. He served until after armistice and was awarded copious medals for his service in WW1.

Black and white photograph of a man in a boxing stance.Man standing with a monkey on his arm

Bullard returned to Paris and became a drummer at a nightclub. He was very active in Parisian nightlife for many years, before spending some time playing with a band in Alexandria, Egypt. During his time in Egypt, he would fight in multiple prize fights. Back in Paris, Bullard managed and owned nightclubs that were frequented by many famous people of the time, such as Langston Hughes and Louis Armstrong. Many years later, he would cover the walls of his American apartment with photographs of the many friends that he made throughout his life.

A man standing in uniform, looking at the camera

In 1939, Bullard volunteered to use his position in the nightclubs to spy on German visitors to his clubs. Bullard volunteered and served in the 51st Infantry Regiment after France was invaded by Germany. He was badly wounded and his club was destroyed during WW2, so he ended up back in the United States in 1945. Unfortunately, his fame from Paris did not follow him and his injury never fully recovered. Bullard spent the last fifteen years of his life in the United States with anonymity, working as a security guard, perfume salesman, and eventually an elevator operator in Rockefeller Center.

A man stands in uniform next to a statue of Lafayette with a bouquet of flowers on the ground next to him

This blog post can barely scratch the surface of this man’s incredible life. The book includes excerpts from Bullard’s personal journal, allowing the reader to read his own words. He passed away in 1961, leaving behind an incredible legacy.

There are thousands of other people memorialized in Special Collections, where their stories fill the books that line our shelves here in the McFarlin Tower. If you would like to see any of those books in person, send us an email at speccoll@utulsa.edu.

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Advertising in the Collections

Months ago, while scanning material from a collection, this old advertisement for Kenmore Washers and Dryers caught my eye and when I noticed another ad later, I had the idea to collect various advertisements for a blog post. These advertisements came from a variety of our collections, including Rebecca West, William Settle, The Tulsa Women’s Club, and the Barbara Santee Archive.

The people who work hard to design eye-catching ads love them far more than the people who ignore them as much as possible, especially since we are inundated with a seemingly infinite quantity of ads in magazines, books, television, movies, and websites.

scanned image of an advertisement for Sears and Kenmore Washer and Dryers

The First Advertisement

Some of the ads are for local places, which makes it exciting to see Tulsa’s changes over the years.

scanned black and white newspaper clipping with an advertisement for Borders located at 81st and South Yale and 21st and the BA

We missed the bargain blowout…Borders is long gone

Borders went from two locations to none, while Rib Crib has expanded from four locations to eleven, stretching from Claremore to Sapulpa and everywhere in between.

Scanned image of an advertisement for Rib Crib Award Winning BBQ Ribs with locations around Tulsa

The Rib Crib chain has grown quite a lot since this ad was published

The Skelly Oil Company was eventually acquired by the Getty Oil Company, which itself was later acquired by Texaco. This ad makes a case for its value so it was probably quite successful at the time.

Scanned image of an advertisement that reads "Houses differ in value and so do gasolines / Skelly Gasoline / Skelly Oil Company Here are a few ads we aren’t likely to see again…

Scanned image of advertisements for Evan William alcohol and Newsweek magazine Scanned black and white image of an advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes "In the stocking under the tree-for every smoker on your list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

scanned black and white image of an advertisement for American Express credit card that reads "Even before finals, you could finally get the American Express card"…at least in these formats. No matter how many regulations appear, advertisers will cleverly evolve and the chase will continue.

Speaking of evolution, what has changed more in this picture, car styling or the prices that accompany them? What is advertised, where and how are part of what makes advertising a surprisingly useful snapshot of the past. Insights gleaned from ephemeral ads improve the context of a particular topic or time period. Advertisements can be used to study pop culture, psychology, or history in addition to economics and marketing.
scanned image of a newspaper clipping with a picture of a Geo Metro and a table of rental rates

Scanned image of a newspaper clipping with four book advertisements

Book Advertisements

 

Scanned image of advertisements surrounding book reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the left we have a page of advertisements for four different books, and on the right we have a page of book titles, with advertisements for a variety of things from apartments  to language lessons to paintings for rental.

scanned image of a black and white page of advertisements surrounding an article about Joyce's Dublin

Advertisements…for when you need to read about Joyce and shop for bathing suits and angora sweaters simultaneously

Historical advertisements had to appeal to a much broader audience than today, but this page from Vogue shows that they still targeted particular consumer groups as much as possible.

 

These images were all scanned specifically for this blog post but if you want to see any of the many collections we hold, please contact us at speccoll@utulsa.edu for arrangements. We have in-person appointments for TU affiliates and provide digital copies for nonaffiliates. Our visitor policy can be found here and our archival catalog can be found here.

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Studer’s Popular Ornithology: The Birds of North America

Happy Spring! The weather is getting warmer this week and the birds are chirping. Have you ever wondered what kinds of birds are chirping at you? If you did wonder, you probably googled it. When people used to want to identify birds (or plants or insects or lizards…), they had to look the bird up in a book.

In the mid-1800’s, many books were being published with color illustrations of birds. John James Audubon was publishing books from the 1820’s until almost 1840, and many more were showing up on the market. These books were rarely cheap, with a complete collection of Audubon’s illustrations costing subscribers $1,000 at the time. We have some copies of Audubon publications, but none of the famous illustrations from “The Birds of America”.

Shortly after Audubon was selling his illustrations to the affluent, Jacob Studer (1840-1904) published a much more affordable book of birds. Studer was a printer, lithographer, painter, and ornithologist active in Columbus, Ohio from the 1860’s to 1880’s. He published  “Studer’s Popular Ornithology: The Birds of North America” in 1878. The illustrations in this book are based on the art by Theodore Jaspar, an artist also from Colombus, Ohio. Studer wrote the extremely thorough descriptive text that accompanies Jaspar’s artwork.

The title page of Birds of North America with very decorative text in black and white

Don’t you wish we still used fonts like this?

The copy in our collection is an original first edition and the outside is in delicate condition. The front cover is completely unattached from the rest of the book. Luckily, the illustrations inside are still immaculate, most of them with the original tissue paper in between the pages for protection.

The book includes 700 species of birds from North America, many of them with both male and female coloration and other life stages depicted in the paintings.

A color painting of an adult bald eagle with two chicks in front of it

A bald eagle and chicks

Two cormorant birds standing on rocks in the middle of a body of water, with more in the background in and around the water.

Cormorants- notice the one in the back, under the water, with the fish!

A snowy owl facing the right with other birds situated on a rock in the background

Snowy Owl

A green heron standing in a tree with a nest and young birds next to it and other birds around it

Green Heron and others

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This painting of a prairie hen, or a Pinnated Grouse, even depicts a person and his dog on his way to hunt the bird. The accompanying text for this bird mentions their rarity at the time and unfortunately they are even rarer today. Some of his descriptive text is questionable, and today a bird guide would contain no alliterative text and the accompanying photos would not include a hunter! The prairie chicken can still be found here in Oklahoma on our prairies and is protected in the United States.

Inormation about the Pinnated Grouse

Some of the text accompanying the Pinnated Grouse painting

A color painting of multiple Prairie Chickens with a hunter and dog in the background getting ready to chase them.

Pinnated Grouse

If you would like to see this book or others like it from our collection, we are still open to TU students and affiliates. Our visitor policy can be found here. 

If you have a question or are not a TU affiliate and would like scans of something from our collections, do not hesitate to reach out to us as speccoll@utulsa.edu.

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The Art of Alexandre Hogue

It has been three and a half years, almost to the day, since the last blog post about Alexandre Hogue, but I didn’t know that when I was looking at some of the pictures we have of his artwork. I recognized him because of the campus art gallery bears his name and discovered his work through the collection of his art and papers that we have in the department. Hogue’s work has been exhibited across the country as well as internationally (see here and here for a few examples) and today I’m sharing a few of my favorites.

black and white image of large groups of people doing various activities, with a cloud of burning oil in the background, created by Alexandre Hogue

Spindletop 1901

I love expressive paintings like these two! There are so many things to focus on and a thousand stories in a single image. He captures the essence of business in Texas (where he grew up) and Oklahoma really well; not only does he capture it, I think he critiques the economic, ecological, and social impacts of that business fairly well, too.

black and white image of a tree surrounded by oil pipes and towers, with a man standing nearby on the side, created by Alexandre Hogue

Oilman’s Christmas Tree

 

black and white image of a man wearing books and a large hat, shooting a gun in front of the Texas flag, with the words "at mention of that grand old name I always SALUTE" written on the side, created by Alexandre Hogue

Cover Image, Frank J. Dobie’s Flavor of Texas

This little gem sums up Texas so well! I love that it was the cover image of Frank J. Dobie’s book. Hogue painted a portrait of Dobie as well.

black and white hand drawn image of TU's McFarlin library with people walking around outside, created by Alexandre Hogue

McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa 54/55

Alexandre Hogue was head of TU’s Art Department from 1945-1963 and during his time here, he drew this little picture of our very own McFarlin Library. I have loved this building from the moment I arrived on campus and I think he portrayed it perfectly. Even though the building has changed dramatically since his depiction, its very essence remains unchanged.

Hogue also illustrated the American war effort and I found a few of these especially intriguing.

black and white image of a hand pouring a substance into a container, labeled with words about fascism, created by Alexandre Hogue

The Crucible of Public Opinion

Just like Spindletop 1901, I love how much this picture provides so much to ponder. While he was referencing the Italian press of the 1930s, this image’s timeless nature resonates just as well here and now as it did when he created it.

black and white image of bombs, missiles, and tanks with soldiers aiming for the Italian peninsula, which features an image of Benito Mussolini, created by Alexandre Hogue

Nightmare of a Heel Trembling in His Boot

Hogue illustrated the might of the Allied forces against Axis powers by taking aim (figuratively) at Italy’s Benito Mussolini in the work Nightmare of a Heel Trembling in His Boot.

black and white image of an American flag, a small dove, and two airplanes flying on a background of clouds, created by Alexandre Hogue

Liberators

This work in particular surely bolstered Americans’ support of the war effort through its powerful imagery of liberation and peace framed around America.

 

If you’d like to see Alexandre Hogue’s work or one of the many other collections we hold, please contact us at speccoll@utulsa.edu for arrangements. We are currently open only to TU students, faculty, and staff by appointments made at least 24 hours in advance. You are also welcome to browse our Catalog and Digital Collections and request photocopies or digital scans of materials through the same email. Kelsey and I fulfill requests as quickly as possible, but especially large requests or a high volume of requests may take us up to 4-6 weeks. We are happy to help you as best we can and we hope that you stay safe and healthy!

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Women in our Digital Collections

Not every person represented in our collection is “famous”. Many items in our collection capture seemingly insignificant pinpoints in time, letters and notes and photographs of people just living their lives. Sometimes the items can be sad, confusing, or even silly!

Sometimes I think about how archives will look hundreds of years from now, when snippets from our lives are in archives. The letters of yesterday have become the texts and emails of today. Texts we send to one another and photos that we put on our favorite social media sites may be removed from their context and put in an archive, where people can look back and see how we lived.

On the last post of Women’s History Month, I decided to flip through some photographs of women in our digital collection.

This first photos are from the Perry Douglas Erwin WW1 Letters. Erwin was a Lieutenant stationed at Ft. Sill during the war and his wife, Vivian, wrote him nearly every day. The photo was tucked into a letter and it is believed to be Vivian, but we don’t know for sure.

Black and white photograph of a woman holding a rifle and aiming it to the right while she stands on a set of stairs

Woman with a rifle

That photograph and this one were included in the same letter to Erwin dated May 3 1918 and I really wish I knew more about the women in the picture. The title of the photograph is “2 women playing leapfrog”. They have cigarettes hanging out of their mouths while they play!

Black and white photograph of two women in overalls jumping over one another with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths

2 Women Playing Leapfrog

This next photo is from the same time period. From the William Hurtford Hutchins archive, made up of a diary, photo album, and some memorabilia. I can feel and hear this photograph, and with the weather warming up I definitely wish I was in that field with lambs!

Black and white photograph of a woman in a dress with five lambs at her feet

Woman and her lambs

This final photograph is not of . A part of the Roger Blais collection of Sious Uprising of 1862 Photographs, which are photographs of people who may have been involved in the Dakota War of 1862. It’s a portrait of Azayamankawin, also known as “Old Bets”, a Dakotan woman who was known among Minnesotans for her bravery and kindness.

Sepia portrait of an elderly woman looking at the camera

Portrait of Azayamankawn

These little slices of history and many others can be found as digital materials right on our website. If you would like to learn more about them or other items in our collections, don’t hesitate to email us at speccoll@utulsa.edu. We are still closed to the public, but TU students and affiliates can come and see us with an appointment.

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The Tulsa Women’s Club Collection

Continuing with our theme of covering Women’s History Month, this post is about a little archive of the Tulsa Women’s Club. I found that it hadn’t been digitized at all yet, so I scanned as many items as I could during an incredibly busy week at Special Collections! This post is rather picture heavy, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

While working on this post, I discovered that a few years ago, a previous GA wrote about the Tulsa Women’s Club, with a ton of in-depth information about its history, which you can read here. Let’s take a closer look at what these women accomplished!

Scanned image of a letter titled Resolutions about a recently deceased member of Tulsa Women's Club

Check out the letterhead! 

This early letter commemorates a Mrs. J.R. Ebright who died on January 28th, 1919.

During this time frame, the name bounced back and forth between ‘Tulsa Woman’s Club’ and ‘Tulsa Women’s Club’ and this president seemed to favor ‘Woman’ for some reason. Generally, everyone else used ‘Women’s’ instead.

Scanned image of a letter titled Tulsa Woman's Club Report of the President 1949-1950

Many of the papers in the collection concerned annual reports for diffent clubs and committees. These letters demonstrate the variety of their clubs and give you an idea what being a member entailed.

From the historian’s report covering the scrapbooks…

Scanned image of a typed letter titled To the Members of Tulsa Women's Club 1948-1949 Historian's Annual Report

I’m always partial towards historians

…to the Literature Department’s membership…

scanned image of a letter titled Literature Department's Report signed at the bottom

The Literature Department

…to the Psychology Department’s speakers…

Scanned image of a letter titled Report of the Psychology Department Tulsa Women's Club

The Psychology Department

…to the Telephone committee’s problems with phone number changes…

Scanned image of a handwritten letter about the telephone committe of the Tulsa Women's Club

Telephone committees would look so differently today!

…to the Varied Arts Department and their name change…

Scanned image of a letter titled Report of the Varied Arts Department of the T ulsa Women's Club 1950-1951

Any guesses about what the ‘Varied Arts Department’ covers?

 

 

…you can see how these women covered as many aspects of their daily lives as possible. It looks like a woman could join as many or as few departments as she wanted to. Membership in the Tulsa organization also included membership in the Oklahoma State Federation of Women’s Clubs as well.                     Scanned image of a card from Oklahoma State Federation of Women's Clubs

 

They bought a house on Admiral Blvd to serve as Club House and, as this Treasurer’s report shows, they had saved quite a bit of money in 1949!

Scanned image of a letter titled Tulsa Women's Club Treasurer's Report 1948-1949

$10k in savings in 1949!? That’s fantastic!

The equivalent amount today would be $104,000! So what did they do with that money?

Scanned image of a letter titled Birthday Cakes Polio Ward Hillcrest Hospital

Birthday cakes and yarn dolls

They made charitable donations to several local organizations, like Hillcrest Hospital’s polio ward to bring patients birthday cakes and yarn dolls…

 

Scanned image of a letter titled Salvation Army Doll Project with a picture attached

I bet there were lots of happy little girls at the end of this project

…or performed acts of service like sewing doll clothes for the Salvation Army’s Christmas presents program.

Scanned image of a page with newspaper clippings and a March of Dimes card attached

Quintessential 1950s Housewives

They donated money to the March of Dimes…

Scanned image of a letter from a Tulsa Women's Club scholarship recipient asking for continued support with TU tuition increasing

Yes, tuition was once ‘only’ $275 per semester!

and funded scholarships for members attending TU.

That’s an impressive club! I only scratched the surface of this collection, too, which means they probably did quite a lot more than what you see here.

 

If you’d like to see the this collection or one of the many others we hold, please contact us at speccoll@utulsa.edu for arrangements. We are currently open only to TU students, faculty, and staff by appointments made at least 24 hours in advance. You are also welcome to browse our Catalog and Digital Collections and request photocopies or digital scans of materials through the same email. Kelsey and I fulfill requests as quickly as possible, but especially large requests or a high volume of requests may take us up to 4-6 weeks. We are happy to help you as best we can and we hope that you stay safe and healthy!

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Stevie Smith Collection and Library

Stevie Smith, the English poet and novelist, passed away 50 years ago this week on March 7, 1951. Special Collections has a sizable collection of hers, with 30 document boxes containing manuscripts, drawings, and original poem drafts. We also have over 1,000 books from her personal library that includes her own books and novels by other authors.

Our collection also includes photographs and correspondence. We have photographs of her that span her whole life. These two are my favorite because she looks so happy in them, especially the one of young Stevie standing in a boat.

Black and white photograph of two women standing and smiling for the camera Black and white photograph of a woman standing in a row boat, holding an object, and smiling for the camera

Smith wrote three novels, all fiction based on her own life, however, she is most known for her poetry. Our collection comprises of over 800 sheets of poem drafts and her library has some annotated copies of her published poetry. She struggled with depression and nervousness for most of her life and it is evident in her writings, many with themes of death and separation. Her best known poem is “Not Waving but Drowning”, a poem about a dying man.

A poem and a hand-drawn illustration of a woman

This poem made me chuckle

Most of her poetry is accompanied by her own illustrations. These illustrations appear quite whimsical when viewed independently from the often dark subject matter of her poems. She was a big fan of cats and in her papers are many poems, stories, and illustrations of them. She even published a coffee table book dedicated to the inner lives of cats entitled “Cats in Colour” (1959), of which we have an original copy.

Pencil drawing of a cat on its back legs with front legs raised and an angry face

Galloping cat illustration

Pencil sketch of a cat sitting and yawning with eyes closed

Cute little doodle of a yawning cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I flip through Stevie Smith’s papers, I am struck by the quantity of writing, drawing, and editing that she must have done in her 69 years. Most margins are filled with handwritten poems and illustrations, there are typed drafts on the backs of manuscripts, and even small scraps of paper have content. Her mind seems like it never stopped creating. Stevie Smith won multiple awards for her writings and a play with a film adaptation was written about her life. She died of a brain tumor in 1971 and her legacy lives on.

If you would like to see anything from our Stevie Smith collection or any others, we are still open by appointment to TU students and affiliates. You can make requests or ask us questions by emailing speccoll@utulsa.edu.

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