Within The Ames Library’s 4th floor department called Tate Archives & Special Collections are thousands of unique materials and all are available to benefit people in the IWU and surrounding communities.
This image shows selections from the Ecology Action Center Collection, one of a group of records about local and IWU environmental organizations. The EAC collection is comprised of 8 linear feet of administrative and non-for-profit business development information as well as historical information and publications pertaining to Operation Recycle (estab. 1971 by ISU Professor Derek McCracken) and the Ecology Action Center (EAC, estab. 1994).
The Ecology Action Center, created in and based out of Normal, Illinois, continues the education efforts of Operation Recycle which was officially disbanded in 1998, by providing the community with tours, workshops, classes, earth-camps, fairs, and many other events.
This items displayed in these posts are just a small portion of the kinds of materials found in Tate Archives & Special Collections. These collections are in a variety of languages and formats (artifact, book, manuscript, and media) and creation dates range from the 11th-21st centuries. Some collections are completely described and identified and some have yet to be thoroughly organized or examined.
Although many holdings do have a direct connection to the University, many are distinct and unrelated to the others such as the supporting materials for research on the people who created and collected the pottery and basketry items displayed in the entry level rotunda.
Curious minds seeking inspiration for creative works and original research are welcome to stop by and explore the possibilities!
The Minor Myers, jr. Welcome Center, honoring Illinois Wesleyan’s 17th president (1989-2003), houses the Admissions Office and the Hart Career Center. Myers tenure saw the creation of the Shirk Center, the Center for Natural Sciences and The Ames Library.
Craig C. Hart, former president of IWU’s Board of Trustees, is the Career Center’s namesake. The Welcome Center received Silver certification as a leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building – the first building in Bloomington to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Tate Archives & Special Collections is pleased to announce that over 170 interviews, originally recorded on audio- and microcassette, are now available in digital form. Due to privacy concerns, researchers are required to use these sources in Tate Archives & Special Collections, The Ames Library, or make special arrangements with the University’s archivist (email@example.com). Nevertheless, these unique primary sources contain valuable perspectives for people interested in 20th century America theatre and film.
The following guest post was researched and written by Archives Student Assistant Noah Jett, Class of 2020, who recently completed comprehensive descriptions of the recordings. The digitized originals were edited by Archives Student Assistant Giovanni Garcia in order to make it possible to hear a single interview subject in a single audio recording.
An analysis of the Jared Brown collection of biographical sources
Emeritus Professor Jared Brown taught theater full time at IWU from 1989-2002, and was director of the School of Theater Arts from 1989-1999. Brown has had a lifelong connection with show business. In addition to his own career as a professor, he has written multiple biographies on notable film and theater figures to positive receptions, and his father was a radio and film star who was blacklisted in the McCarthy era. These biographies include: The Fabulous Lunts: A Biography of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, Moss Hart: A Prince of the Theatre, Zero Mostel: A Biography, and Alan J. Pakula: His Films and His Life (abstracts for all are available below). Brown chose his biographical subjects not just because they were important to theater or film, but because he felt they had been neglected in literature, and were being forgotten by the public despite their contributions.
Upon completion of his books, Jared Brown designated Illinois Wesleyan University’s Special Collections as the repository for all of his research materials. The sources are primarily original interviews with people who knew or worked with the research subjects, including actors, directors, writers, and producers from multiple generations of Hollywood. Also included are correspondences, broadcast interviews, and recorded performances. These materials possess a wealth of knowledge on their subjects, and would be beneficial to researchers, or to anyone interested in seeing firsthand the process of researching a comprehensive biography. These sources contain all descriptive information that was provided to the library, as well as descriptive notes on the content created during a 2018 collection analysis by this author.
Abstracts of the four books created with the research material available in Tate Archives & Special Collections:
In Moss Hart: A Prince of the Theatre, Brown explores the life and career of theatre director and playwright Moss Hart. Hart was known for his long time partnership with George S. Kaufman, who wrote many of his plays. Hart’s biggest success and surviving legacy was his direction of the original My Fair Lady in 1956, which played for over seven years and won Hart a Tony award for best director. He also wrote scripts for films, such as A Star is born and Gentleman’s Agreement. Moss Hart: A Prince of the Theatre is one of the foremost biographies on Hart, and the only one listed on Hart’s Wikipedia page.
In The Fabulous Lunts, Brown recounts the glamorous lives of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, two of the original superstars of show business who are widely regarded as the best acting duo in the 20th century American theater. The Lunts are known for their incredible stagecraft and acting technique, and Brown explores in detail how this is the result of their hard work and dedication. Despite their stardom, and their reputation for class and elegance, the Lunts resided in a country home in Genesee Depot in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, Alfred Lunt having attended nearby Carroll College. The Fabulous Lunts is a comprehensive biography of the duo, discussing both their exceptional talent in the theater and the personalities that left them so fondly remembered by everyone who knew them.
Zero Mostel: A Biography is an attempt to pin down the truth about Samuel “Zero” Mostel, an actor, comedian, and artist most well known for being the original “Tevye” in Fiddler on the Roof. Described as irreverent, boisterous, and exuberant, Mostel was a polarizing figure who garnered strong feelings from everyone who knew him. Mostel had a tendency towards storytelling and exaggerations, but Jared Brown sifted through story after story until his book represented the closest thing to the truth as could be found. Mostel was also a victim of the McCarthy era blacklisting, but he is one of the few who survived, and even went on to have a greater career afterwards.
Alan J. Pakula: His Films and his Life is an extensive insight into the life of a talented and influential, but widely forgotten director. Pakula’s notable films include his “paranoia trilogy”: Klute, The Parallax View, and All the President’s Men, for which he won an academy award. He also directed Sophie’s Choice, and produced To Kill a Mockingbird. Pakula died tragically in a traffic collision in 1998, and was fondly remembered by all who knew him as a deeply intelligent and caring man. In this biography, Jared Brown discusses Pakula’s life and how he came to have such keen psychological insights, as well as how his directing career could be so successful yet so largely forgotten.
A recent archives researcher helped shed light on a mysterious collection of books in IWU’s Special Collections. Why do we have a set of scripts from radio and TV mystery series that were produced on the West Coast?
We now know to thank Riley Jackson’s (’38) work in radio and television for donating more
than five year’s worth of the original scripts for the Suspense radio series, as well as the screenplays for the entire series of The Front Page Detective. These scripts and screenplays contain unique details about the production of these series, such as the actors, air time and dress rehearsal times, as well as directions related to the cuing, staging, and camera angles. Several of the Suspense scripts and all of The Front Page Detective screenplays are rare. Illinois Wesleyan is one of the few locations in the United States known to hold copies. Some recordings of these productions are available through the Internet Archive.
The following guest post was researched and written by Archives Student Assistant Katharine Teykl, Class of 2019.
Riley Jackson came to Illinois Wesleyan in 1935. Although he never graduated from Illinois Wesleyan, he is considered a member of the class of 1938. He was actively involved in campus activities, particularly with the radio station and the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity (1936 Wesleyana, p. 123). One of the most distinguished roles he took on at Illinois Wesleyan was radio announcer for the 1937 Homecoming program, which included the Homecoming parade and football game (Argus, p. 1, Sept. 29, 1937). After leaving Illinois Wesleyan, he took a position at WJBC radio, located in Bloomington, IL, as a radio announcer (Argus, p. 3, October 17, 1939). In 1938, he left WJBC and began working for WIND, a Christian-based radio station located in Chicago (Argus, p. 1, April 6, 1938). There, he took on the role of radio engineer, working behind the scenes. This experience would serve him later, as he took on various roles in production and management for different media companies.
In 1951, Jackson and his wife Margaret (nee Reeser) ’37 moved to North Hollywood, California. There, he became the radio and television manager for Cecil & Presbrey (IWU Bulletin, p. 11, Aug. 1954). In this role, he supervised the production for several radio and television series. Many of the series that he helped to produce and supervise dealt with suspense, mystery, unexplained phenomena, and science fiction. Among the most well-known were Suspense, an immensely popular radio mystery series on CBS, and The Front Page Detective television series, which ran from 1951 until 1953 on the DuMont Television Network. After The Front Page Detective finished its run in 1953, Jackson worked in the film industry in Hollywood, serving as the executive producer for films such as Storm over the Pacific (1960) and Mill of the Stone Woman (1960), and serving as the post-production supervisor on the US version of King Kong Escapes (1967) and dialogue supervisor for the US version of The War of the Gargantuas (1966). (compiled from information on Jackson’s IMDB page, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0413979/).
Despite living and working on the West Coast, the Jacksons returned to Illinois Wesleyan on multiple occasions, maintaining a close connection with their alma mater. On their visits, they took interest in various student activities, such as the Spotlight Alley Theatre, run by the Illinois Wesleyan School of Theatre Arts, in addition to attending dinner at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house (IWU Bulletin, p. 15, Aug. 1956 and Argus, p. 3, Dec. 6, 1938, respectively).
As radio productions become all but extinct, looking at these scripts and early TV screen plays provides an interesting look into the history of popular culture and a fresh perspective on the ways in which Americans engaged with the media available to them at the time. Anyone interested in viewing the scripts for the Suspense radio series or The Front Page Detective should come up to the archives (The Ames Library, 4th floor). You never know what sort of mystery could be waiting inside!
Last summer a diligent student assistant started evaluating our analog audiovisual recordings. Old media formats deteriorate or sometimes becomes unplayable just because the machines are no longer available. Before that happens we want to make sure we transfer content into new formats that are not media-dependent. Thanks to funding from the library we have started to digitize these selections.
The two interviews linked below were conducted by Development Officer Yvonne Jones in 1999 for the Minority Alumni Research Project. More information on the project is available in archives Record Groups 4-3/1/9 and 12- 2/1/3.
We don’t have transcripts for them yet but I’ve created robust abstracts and added links to related material whenever possible. Enjoy!
Edelbert Rodgers, Class of 1933
This photo of Rodgers should be familiar to anyone who has visited Hansen Student Center. Dr. Rodgers is part of the mural that’s behind the information desk!
He was a Sociology major at IWU and in a previous blog post I provided links to campus news sources he appeared in. Rodgers earned a Ph.D. in Psychology at New York University and had a career in both private practice and teaching.
Below are two photos of Luther Bedford, Class of 1959. Bedford was a Physical Education major who lettered three times in varsity football and was also on the track team. After graduation he taught at Marshall High School, Chicago, IL and was Athletic Director for 33 of his 40 year tenure.
A local store purchased an impressive full page ad in the August 25, 1970 Argus — no doubt a back-to-school style advertising strategy! The last page of that issue caused an alumnus to reminisce on campus life and the value of research to cultural studies. The following comments are posted here with permission of Larry Ekin, Class of 1970.
Looking through a 1970 Argus, I was struck by an ad offering three packs of cigarettes for 89 cents! (that’s three packages of 20 cigarettes each). This prompted several lines of thinking. First, I hope students (and faculty) realize they have a potential trove of research material within easy grasp — I think a really interesting study — or series of studies could be designed using ads in the Argus as an indicator of merchants reaching out to a student audience. This could be done both in-depth in a year or two, or across several decades.
Second, I have long believed that if we were to identify the most striking social changes in American society over the past 20 -30 – 40 years, of course technological change would probably be number one, and I could easily see women’s role in society being second. However, I think a close third might well be tobacco. I’m sure most students today would be shocked at the thought of a student-run and student-oriented publication promoting cigarette use thought its advertising. But that would only be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In 1970, you could smoke almost anywhere, even at IWU. Students smoked in their dorm rooms, in their fraternity and sorority houses. Faculty smoked in their offices. And, while I don’t believe you could smoke in class, every classroom building would likely have several standing ashtrays on every floor. You could smoke in the student union. I seem to recall a cigarette vending machine in the student union, but that should probably be checked against other people’s memories. In Magill, one of my floor mates came across a discarded toilet that he somehow dragged up to his room and used as a giant ashtray until the dorm mother (yes, we still had “dorm mothers”) made him clean it out because it really did stink up the whole dorm. My memory is vague regarding whether or not smoking was allowed during Student Senate meetings as well as in the cafeteria, but the point is that the norms were entirely the opposite of what exists today — the assumption was you COULD smoke. As a side note, my parents were considered somewhat eccentric because if someone visiting our house asked to smoke, my parents provided them an ashtray, but then told them to do it outside the house.
Out of curiosity I did a little research — at that time, a pack of cigarettes cost between about 35 to 60 cents, which was consistent with what popped into my mind — which was a cost of 50 cents a pack — 2 quarters pumped into the cigarette vending machine, which likely carried at least half a dozen brands. So, three packs for 89 cents was still quite a bargain — a rough adjustment for inflation would mean that it would be approximately 3 packs of 20 cigarettes for a total of $6.00. Big tobacco always worked to make their product cheap, plentiful, and easily accessible.
Here’s a serendipitous find: While looking through the 1916-1918 Faculty Meeting Minutes I came across the entry below that indicates this year could be the centennial of academic advising at IWU! (I haven’t read every meeting’s minutes back to 1850…any volunteers?)
About midway down on the page number 61 it says,
“The committee on Advisers made a report and the faculty passed the following points. 1. That advisers be appointed for students in the Freshman year to serve until the student has elected his major. These advisers are to be appointed by a committee of which the President is a member.”
The minutes go on to state, “2. The duty of the adviser is to k [sic]
(a) To know as much about the student as possible, such as his previous training[?], special talents or inclinations etc.
(b) To help him select his major.
(c) To receive reports of the work of the student in his charge.
“The following action was taken.
No student shall be permitted to change a study without the consent of the adviser.”
The recording Secretary that day was Pearl Cliffe Somerville, Professor of English Literature.
Here are the Advising Center’s services today
Visit them at http://www.iwu.edu/advising and wish them a Happy Birthday!
In honor of this year being the centennial of Gwendolyn Brooks’s birth, Ross Hettinger from the English Honors Society Sigma Tau Delta contacted the archives about putting together an exhibit based on her connection with our campus. As a result of that request, archives’ staff found news articles and photographs that document her five visits to campus between 1972-1999. Ross created an exhibit that will remain in the library’s entry level rotunda until November 30th. This post provides links to news stories and a selection of photos found in response to this query. All black and white photos were scanned from University’s collection of negatives and the color photos were scanned from slides.
A March 3, 1972 front page Argus story details the plans for the March 9-21, 1972 Fine Arts Festival. The story states that Miss Brooks “will head a list of dignitaries” who would be visiting campus.
The Argus published on the 24th provides a detailed recap of her reading.
The 1972 Wesleyana also contains photos of Brooks and others who shared their talents during the Festival.
The following May The Argus announced that Brooks would be the Commencement speaker for 1973. Only a small photo made it into the IWU Bulletin that summer and fall but details on her remarks are lacking, except for a brief mention in the 1973 Wesleyana.
There was speculation that Brooks would return for her third visit during the Black Fine Arts Festival according to the March 2, 1979 Argus at the invitation of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The March 23, 1979 Argus carried a photo and caption on p. 1 showing that she did.
In 1988 the February 12 Argus stated that the English Department and the Student Senate were sponsoring Brooks’s visit on February 18 at an event to be held at Evelyn Chapel. A follow up article on the 26th described her visit in detail. She titled her presentation “Life, Love, Laughter, Liberty and Laceration.”
Her final visit to campus was as the speaker at IWU’s annual Soul Food Dinner. Her appearance was announced in The Argus on February 2, 1999. A follow up article notes that IWU student Teri Lahmon, Class of 2000, introduced Brooks and read one of her own poems at Brooks’s request.
The Argus also ran an obituary for Brooks on December 8, 2000 which briefly recounts her 1999 visit and mentions that IWU awarded her an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1973.
While researching her own Great Aunt Agnes Swift’s involvement with the American Expeditionary Forces WW1 hospitals in Contrexeville, France, Molly Daniel of Charleston, IL came across the diary of Maude Essig’s experiences, who worked with Swift in the same facility. Maude Essig was Brokaw School of Nursing Director (ca 1923-56). The Brokaw Hospital School was the forerunner of IWU’s School of Nursing.
In writing to ask about using a photo of Essig on her website, Daniel shared comments about her research process that others may find instructive as well: “I have especially appreciated having access to Maude’s journal as well as the academic article about her published by her former student [and former IWU School of Nursing Director], Alma Woolsey. Her journal helped me put into better context the information in my great aunt’s letters to family members.”
Daniel also discovered a picture in the National Library of Medicine’s Digital Collections that has a caption indicating it is from Base Hospital No.32, Vittel, France but she is “confident that it comes from the Contrexeville hospital” based on her research. Daniel also believes Essig may be the second nurse from the left–the only one shown with glasses. Additional photos of Essig from the University’s archival collections are below.
For information about the School of Nursing program’s development, see “Nursing Education at Illinois Wesleyan University: 1923 to 1976” by Lori Ann Musser, Class of 1992.