Paper, Silver, Gold . . . Oil Anniversary!

This week is the 155TH anniversary of the discovery of oil in Titusville, PA.  Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well on August 27, 1857 and launched what would become the modern petroleum industry.

Are you interested in learning more about the history of petroleum? American Heritage Center holdings include more than 200 collections related to various aspect of the industry.  The collections include Wyoming, the West, the U.S., and even elsewhere in the world, individuals and corporations, and variety of time periods with the strongest emphasis on 20th century. A few highlights of this collecting area can be found at

With so many petroleum collections to choose from, here are just a few examples.

Oil Gusher and Overflow, Carbon County, Wyoming, 1920. Frank Meyers Collection

Oil Gusher and Overflow, Carbon County, Wyoming, 1920. Frank Meyers Collection.

Frank J. Meyers (1890-1973) was a photographer who lived in Rawlins, Wyoming where he ran a photography business for 50 years until his death. The collection contains photographs and negatives, some postcards, and photograph albums.   More than 900 images from his photo albums, including images of petroleum work in WY are digitized and available online,

Dave’s Standard Gas Station, Rawlins, WY, ca. 1914. Frank Meyers Collection, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Dave’s Standard Gas Station, Rawlins, WY, ca. 1914. Frank Meyers Collection.


M. King Hubbert teaching, ca. 1935

M. King Hubbert teaching, ca. 1935

AHC collections go beyond Wyoming’s borders, too. Geophysicist M. King Hubbert, is best-known for being the first scientist to articulate a model for depletion of energy resources, a theory that came to be known as “peak oil,” or “Hubbert’s curve.”    He taught at Columbia University primarily in the 1930s,  served as senior analyst of world mineral resources on the Board of Economic Warfare during World War II, worked for Shell Oil, and as a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.  Hubbert’s papers contain 61 boxes of correspondence  with colleagues on his research interests and teaching; lectures and class notes on physics and geology; publications; research notes and subject files; glass negatives; maps and charts. You’ll find the collection guide here:

And, just for fun, let’s provide just one example of corporate records from the collections.

Ethyl Corporation Records, 1823-1983

Ethyl Corporation Records, 1823-1983

The Ethyl Corporation originated from the research efforts of scientists and chemical engineers Kettering and Midgley who discovered an anti-knock agent for automobile engines which they named “Ethyl” gasoline.  Midgley and Kettering founded the General Motors Chemical Company to provide distribution of the new product. Standard Oil Company of New Jersey joined General Motors Chemical in its manufacturing to create Ethyl Corporation in 1924.

The 25 box collection, 1823-1983, contains mainly historical materials for the history of the petroleum industry and gathered by James Boudreau, who served as vice-president and director of public relations.  The collection includes account books, stock certificates, newspapers and maps, advertisements, and other materials. Also included in the collection is a set of Thomas Midgley’s papers.

With hundreds of collections to choose from, these examples are just a start!

-Ginny Kilander, Reference Department Head and Acquisitions Archivist for Economic Geology

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UW Professor Phil Roberts Discusses Teapot Dome Scandal

Recently, the American Heritage Center hosted a film crew from the C-SPAN network. While at the AHC, the crew sat down with UW History Professor Phil Roberts and interviewed him about the Teapot Dome Scandal that rocked U.S. politics in the early 1920s.  Archival materials from the AHC’s collections also played a starring role in this interview!

Click on the link below to watch the interview with Dr. Roberts.  We bet you’ll learn something you didn’t know about this old-time scandal!

Professor Phil Roberts talks about the Teapot Dome Scandal with C-SPAN


Other AHC faculty members also talked with the C-SPAN crew and their segments should be airing soon.  You’ll find more information about the C-SPAN visit and the expected air dates of those interviews in this UW Press Release.

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Meet MEChA!

With the immigration symposium (“Where Are We Now? Immigration Policy and Its Impact from a Wyoming and a National Perspective”) approaching next month, we thought it would be timely to share some background information on one of the organizations that has been involved in the planning of this event, the UW student group, MEChA.  Here, one of the members of the UW chapter talks about the history of the group and its involvement on the University of Wyoming campus.  

Members of the UW chapter of MEChA.

Members of the UW chapter of MEChA.

Nationally, MEChA was born out of the Chicano rights movement and other civil rights movements across the U.S.  Founded in Denver in 1969, MEChA slowly began gaining momentum within the Southwestern states where there was a heavy influx of Mexicans or descendants of Mexican immigrants, eventually becoming nationally recognized at universities across the nation.  More importantly, this group also helped give birth to programs of Chicano Studies within universities.  In order to resist oppression and hold on to cultural ties, members of MEChA, as seen in the name, identify as Chicanos. This was used in place of “Mexican-American”, which implied one had lost respect and ties of their mother culture.  MEChA’s purpose is to “encourage pride, dignity, and unity among all students; to further our educational standards and opportunities; to establish an awareness and sensitivity of the value of Chicanos to the entire student body.”

MEChA has been a student organization at UW for more than 25 years.  They are involved in social, political, and educational actions and events to help build Chicano/Latino pride, confidence, and identity.  And they encourage and support their gente in attaining higher education.  One of our primary objectives is to bring forth cultural awareness and its importance to the University of Wyoming and the Laramie community.

Members of MEChA have attended national conferences that benefit the advancement of Chicana/o people, one conference being the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS). MEChA holds an annual Cesar Chavez Blood Drive every spring to honor his activism within the Chicano Movement and they contribute to UW Diversity Week.  In 2013, we had Cheech Marin as our guest during his visit to UW. This year we also had the opportunity to organize a successful event on the UW campus—Fiesta Primavera.  MEChA members have volunteered for numerous student activities on campus as well as communal services and we collaborate with other student organizations to promote cultural awareness on campus.

-Norma Lira-Perez, UW student and member of MEChA

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Save the Date! MEChA and the AHC to Host Unique Event with Art, Music, Poetry and Discussion

The UW American Heritage Center (AHC) and the UW student organization Movimiento Estudiantíl Chicana/o de Azltán (MEChA) are hosting an exciting event on September 17 from 6:00 P.M to 8:00 P.M. at the AHC, which is located in the Centennial Complex, 2111 Willet Drive on the UW campus.  Join us in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and to kick-off the symposium, “Where Are We Now? Immigration Policy and Its Impact from a Wyoming and U.S. Perspective” (September 18, Hilton Garden Inn).


The event will open at 6:00 P.M. with time to allow everyone to settle in and enjoy the art display and music.  Snacks will be provided.  The artwork will speak to the immigration experience here in the United States.  The display will include Community Artist/Muralist Ruby Chacón’s famous piece, Trabajo Y Suenos En Todo Los Generaciones de Mestizaje en Wyoming (oil on canvas, 2006) that is part of the UW MEChA Collection.

Beginning at 6:30 P.M., five UW MEChA members will discuss how immigration has affected them either personally or through people they know.  The purpose of sharing these stories is to promote cultural awareness among community members in Laramie.  There will be an open Q&A session after the panel presentations.

At 7:30 P.M. there will be poetry readings by students – submissions will feature work done by fellow MEChA members.  Students will also read monologues about immigration written by Chicano authors.  Please plan to join us!

-Norma Lira-Perez, UW student and member of MEChA

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Looking at Asia through Art and Archives

The University of Wyoming Art Museum has (for a few more days) a wonderful exhibition of Cyrus Baldridge’s work during his travels in China.  The exhibit is a lot like a visual travel diary, and well worth seeing.  The exhibit closes on Saturday, August 2nd, so you only have a little more time to check it out!

final week

If you’d like to continue your study of how Americans have historically viewed Asia, you might be interested in many of the collections that are among the American Heritage Center’s holdings. We have a number of collections that tell the stories of Americans encountering new cultures, often for the first time.

A few of these include the Mary Hoyt Williams Crozier journal, which gives a fascinating look at one American’s adventure in Japan and China in the early 1920s, as well as the Dorothy Eidlitz papers, which shed light on the life of an American society woman in Kobe, Japan.  We also have the papers of Bailey Willis, a geologist who worked extensively in Asia. His collection contains lantern slides and photograph albums of travels in China, Sumatra, Java, India, Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Egypt. There are also maps, artwork, and souvenirs from Willis’s 1903-1904 trip through China.  One of the particular feathers in our cap is the Irene Kuhn papers; Kuhn was one of the first women foreign correspondents to work in China. The China Press was her employer in the early 1920s and she documented the experience with a considerable number of photographs.  It’s a fascinating look at Chinese culture and customs between the world wars.

Chinese street scene, ca. mid-1920s, Irene Kuhn Papers, Collection #8536, Box 26, Folder 6. American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Chinese street scene, ca. mid-1920s, Irene Kuhn Papers, Collection #8536, Box 26, Folder 6. American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Many of the collections currently in the AHC’s holdings related to Asia overlap with other collecting areas, most notably with the areas of military history and journalism. Many of the individuals who spent time in Asian nations did so during times of global conflict—World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars, for example. Many of these individuals served as soldiers, sailors, and pilots, as well as journalists assigned to foreign correspondent positions. Other collections share topical areas with the AHC’s focus on politics, as several personal papers were donated by individuals who served in the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Treasury Department, and various branches of the U.S. Foreign Service in consulates and embassies around the world. Also represented heavily are collections that document Americans’ experiences as energy, mining, or infrastructure consultants for foreign firms, universities, or international affiliates of U.S. companies. In addition, mountaineers are fairly well represented in our existing holdings, as certain mountainous regions of Asia include popular climbing peaks, such as Mr. Everest and K2.

So, make sure to find time to take in the UW Art Museum’s exhibit before Saturday! And if you’d like to examine additional historical perspectives on Asia, the AHC’s collections are always open.  Do come and see us sometime!

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Celebrate summer cycling with Elmer Lovejoy!

Summer seems to be the season for multi-day bicycle tours–each state seems to have its own unique ride–RAGBRAI in Iowa, Ride the Rockies in Colorado, the Tour de Wyoming, and of course, internationally speaking, there’s the mother of them all, the Tour de France.  With so many bicycle events taking place this summer, we thought it would be fun to share some local bicycling history with you from the Elmer Lovejoy papers.

Here's one way to make the miles go by faster--on a bicycle built for two! Elmer Lovejoy (left) with a tandem bicycle he built in 1893. Elmer F. Lovejoy Papers, Collection #176, Box 1, Folder 21, Negative Number 1335. American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Here’s one way to make the miles go by faster–on a bicycle built for two! Elmer Lovejoy (left) with a tandem bicycle he built in 1893. Elmer F. Lovejoy Papers, Collection #176, Box 1, Folder 21, Negative Number 1335. American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Elmer Floyd Lovejoy was a Laramie, Wyoming, businessman and inventor. He came to Laramie in 1883 for health reasons and soon developed an interest in mechanics. Lovejoy was active in the Laramie Bicycle Club and was an amateur photographer.

Laramie Bicycle Club members at the corner of 3rd and Ivinson in Laramie. They look as if they could be rolling into town for a rest stop! Elmer F. Lovejoy Papers, Collection #176, Box 1, Folder 20.

Laramie Bicycle Club members at the corner of 3rd and Ivinson in Laramie. They look as if they could be rolling into town for a rest stop! Elmer F. Lovejoy Papers, Collection #176, Box 1, Folder 20.  American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

A little background on Lovejoy might be helpful here, too.  He opened a general repair shop, Lovejoy Novelty Works, at 412 S. 2nd St. in 1893, and a few years later he built a steam-powered automobile incorporating design innovations of his own. In 1902, he built and drove Laramie’s first steam-driven automobile. In 1905, he invented an automobile steering gear, and in 1918 and 1921 he patented designs for automatic garage door openers. Lovejoy also operated a dealership for Franklin automobiles.

The first page of the Laramie Bicycle Club's rule book.  Elmer F. Lovejoy Papers, Collection #176, Box 1, Folder 3.  American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

The first page of the Laramie Bicycle Club’s rule book. The rules begin by stating, “The orgranization of the club having been affected for the purpose of thereby obtaining increased facilities for, and enjoyment in the pursuit of Bicycling as a manly and healthful pastime” before continuing on to spell out the specific regulations that governed the group. Elmer F. Lovejoy Papers, Collection #176, Box 1, Folder 3. American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

 Hope you have enjoyed this brief dip into cycling history in the Laramie area.  (Also, we are entirely confident that your bicycle seats are much more comfortable than the antiques in these photos!)  We wish you happy riding this summer!

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Wyoming Represents at National History Day!

Each year, a group of Wyoming students competes at the regional and state levels of National History Day for the privilege of continuing on to compete at the national level.  And each year, Wyoming performs exceptionally well at the national contest.  This year, Wyoming continued the tradition of stellar projects. Here are some photos of the students that placed in the top ten for their divisions.  Wonderful job, everyone!


The three Lander students who won the junior and senior outstanding state awards. Sydney Polson and Sadie Thatch won for their senior group documentary “A Question of Loyalty, Civil Rights and Responsibilities: Heart Mountain Draft Resisters,” and Li Platz won for her junior paper “The One-Child Policy: A Violation of Human Rights or a National Responsibility?” Li place fourth in her category and Sadie and Sydney placed seventh in their category.


London Homer-Wambeam minutes after he was awarded third place for his video documentary, “The Hollywood Production Code: A Right to Express, A Responsibility to Censor.”


London talking to his judges during the competition.

If you are a teacher or student who would like to compete in next year’s National History Day contest, you can learn more about getting involved.  Congratulations to all of the Wyoming students who participated this year–it was another strong showing by our state’s students!

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